Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mad Dogs and Mean Girls

"Happy the age, happy the time, to which the ancients gave the name of golden, not because in that fortunate age the gold so coveted in this our iron one was gained without toil, but because they that lived in it knew not the two words 'mine' and 'thine'." Don Quixote

If you haven't been in a cave for the past week or so, you may have seen this story about a group of teenage girls who beat up another teenage girl for writing something disagreeable on her MySpace page. Two teenage boys enticed the victim into an apartment where she was savagely beaten by other girls. The beating is relentless and the girls seemed unstoppable. They behaved like mad dogs. This wasn't some minor-league ass-kicking. The victim will likely lose part of the sight in her left eye and some of her hearing. During the taping, one of the girls cautioned the others to avoid the knickknack cabinet. She didn't want anything to get broken.

The video which they proudly displayed on YouTube was one of the more appalling things I've ever seen and I've been on this planet for a while now. I've seen lots of appalling things. Usually, I can watch them with a healthy degree of detachment but not this time.

When the kids were finally arrested, they showed no remorse for their actions and harangued the police about needing to get out in time for cheerleading practice. One of them quipped, "Well, I guess we won't be going to the beach this weekend."

When I was able to get beyond flaming anger at the girls themselves and at the people of my generation who raised these hideously sociopathic beings, I began to look at it from a larger perspective - which is generally where the real answers are. This stuff doesn't happen in a vacuum.

This is an outcome and result of a culture and a society that believes we are separate, that has so dehumanized all of us that my pain isn't yours and yours isn't mine. It becomes possible to look at each other as objects to be managed and controlled ~ and ultimately conquered.

That further allows that the only thing that matters is getting what we want, that we have an inherent right to have what we want, that annihilation of any opponent by any means is acceptable and children can be raised to believe they should have everything they want - right now - and that no one has the right to put any limitations on them. They are separate beings. Separate from the rest of us. Their "dreams" matter most of all. This view is written into the culture's mythos and cosmology as well as the economic system.

It is a worldview that is doomed to implode ~ and should. There is no small print on everyone's birth certificate that guarantees that all their "dreams" should come true - or that life is "fair" or that just by virtue of birth, anyone has the right to oppress or abuse someone else. It is a sense of entitlement that has gone on long enough - far too long - and it's time for a smackdown. It is time to put the brakes on the Culture of Sociopathy



Rima said...

There is the sense of entitlement, most definitely, but I still think that - and I'll use the cliche - the gratuitous violence that permeates throughout every pore of this culture does not help matters one bit.

A "smackdown", indeed.

jen said...

it's horrible. but we create it! i was reading M Snow White for the first time this week - the stepmother (of course) wanted someone to cut her heart out and put it in a box.

what the hell is that? and it's a Disney fairy tale. and then horrific things happen and we wonder how on earth it could be possible. it's batty.

ps. i so loved your previous post, thinking of you being pampered.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god, that's a horrific tale. I had not heard of it before now, I must be a cavedweller. (I suppose I am considering my low television participation beyond PBS, not going near the news and working too many hours.)

Yes, we are all responsible.

Just horrible.
And it was taped and aired? Disgusting.

Gladiator mentality.

I'm going to stop there. I can feel the poison rising.

May all sentient beings awaken to the light of their true nature.

Julie Pippert said...

Oh the many levels this hits.

I've been reading this amazing series of books--absolutely addicted. In the last one I read, a character, Signorina Elletra, was investigating a company she had stock in that shifted operation to one of the old Soviet republics. The main character asked her conclusion. She said, "I'll sell at a loss. These people have the morals of pit vipers. Five years ago they were in the stone age, trading hammers for corn. Now they are the ultimate capitalists, and will do anything for a profit."

Or a sentiment towards that end.

In the end, that's a bit of what is going here, isn't it? We've taken on a "anything for a profit" mentality, and its a trickle down from the top, isn't it?

It has a profound effect...not the least of which is the dehumanization and self-aggrandizement you mentioned.

These girls quite mafia-esque, aren't they?

I'm tired of the sentiment that children don't understand. I bought it for a while, but now I have children, whom I hope I am imbuing with strong morals, and I see a comprehension in a 3 and 6 year old that children ten years their seniors allegedly "can't be expected to have."

Watch...the blame will shift to MySpace within ten seconds.

Julie Pippert said...

No, I was wrong. It's worse. The mother of one has shifted the blame to the victim.

"Lindsay's father said the teens' motivation for the attack was to produce a video that would become popular on YouTube, a video-sharing Web site. But the mother of one of the girls said that Lindsay had provoked the other teens by threatening and insulting them on MySpace, a social networking Web site."

No, MOM, nothing said should provoke someone to something like that.

Yes, it can make us mad.

No, it doesn't prompt us to lure, imprison, and torture a fellow human being.

Just a newsflash.

P.S. Chani, it's probably a Gen Jones/Transition Boomer-X parent.

flutter said...

um, that photo scared the shit out of me.

Anonymous said...
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we_be_toys said...

Hear, Hear!!! It scares the living crap out of me, the level our society has sunken to. I'm doing my best to raise my kids to have a social conscious and sense responsibilty, but what happens when they have to go to school and deal with the average indulged/neglected/on their way to sociopathy kid that some selfish, self-absorbed twit gave birth to and left for the rest of us to raise? I agree our society has an inflated sense of entitlement, and its way off balance, but the other cause of this kind of behavior can be laid at the feet of every parent who can't say no, who isn't there to teach their kids, and who thinks buying stuff takes the place of being a parent.
Whew! Sorry - you touched a nerve!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Such news doesn't often reach my cave, but it's truly grotesque behavior.

All your points are valid and well-taken. It's an excellent post, to which I can add nothing but "amen."

Hel said...

"This stuff doesn't happen in a vacuum."

I could not agree more. Understanding the culture behind this kind of behaviour gives us the power to ask how we can change things. It gives us a starting point

Mariposa said...

OMG...what a news!!! Just before going to work, I was talking to Yummy and my Mom about raising kids and relating to them the story of my friend's daughter who has been teased in school to as a student who came froma public school and the students in that school telling each other you are "poor" because you have only 2 cars?! We were saying, parents should put their feet on the ground and start imposing discipline to these kids! Then I read this one...arghhhh! Are these the future leaders of the world?! If they are, can somebody shoot me before I see this world run to the dogs? But I'm young...and I have plan of getting marriend and having I guess, I can be the change I want the world to I can start with raising them with the best morale/ character I can! Oh my...

QT said...

Ugh - the story disgusted me. There is a scary sense of entitlement firmly tucked into the hearts of many.

I had to laugh a flutter, tho, because that photo is priceless!

Gillian said...

I am disgusted.
I am sad.
I can't believe this happened, regardless of what that girl one deserves that.
It solves nothing. Absolutely nothing. I think I am in shock from seeing that video.

All we can do is teach our children well, and keep teaching them well.
Oh my.

Jen M. said...

I saw part of that. Just reading about it, just the thought is more than I can bear. I can still cry just thinking about it.


Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

This is an outstanding post, Chani.

The girls and the boys who were lookouts have their “fifteen minutes” of fame. The cost of those fifteen minutes needs to be very, very high for the culprits. Perhaps they should video their incarceration and post that on You-Tube!

I agree with you regarding the way society has become so egocentricitic that it dehumanizes and devalues others.

Angela said...

This was horrifying, Chani, I agree. Your perspective is dead-on, and I honestly think that there is so much more that needs to happen in order to prevent things like this from happening. I think I have a post brewing about this...soon.

Angela said...

This was horrifying, Chani, I agree. Your perspective is dead-on, and I honestly think that there is so much more that needs to happen in order to prevent things like this from happening. I think I have a post brewing about this...soon.

Dandelion seeds said...

thank you for posting about this and bringing it up.

I have nothing profound to say. You are right. You are absolutely right.

The Fool said...

I keep hearing terms like "animal behavior" used in relation to describing incidences like this. This is not animal behavior. Animals do not bully like this. This is "learned behavior." Until we start calling it what it is we will remain with our blinders on.

Thanks for calling it like it is, Chani.

Christine said...

this story just tore me apart as a parent and simply as a human. how can these girls be so disconnected to the physical and emotional feelings of others? how can they be such, dare i say it, monsters?

niobe said...

I guess it's lucky that they were stupid enough to videotape their grotesque behavior. Because if they hadn't, it seems possible that they might have been able to get away with it.

Molly said...

For all that I complain about how it was having the nuns teaching us at school in the "old days", I sometimes think we need them back, both for the quality of academics and for the rules to live by that they constantly reminded us to be mindful of, chief of which was "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."There are some wonderful young people out there. Unfortunately they're not the ones that get the attention. Its better for newspaper sales to emphasise the negative. I hope these beauties spend a long time locked up. And I hope the next administration will not go charging off, slaying dragons in faraway places, before taming the monsters we've grown at home.

Mary said...

I think this is frightening - something I've seen coming for a long time. ENTITLEMENT. When parents give up their rights as parents and enable their children to believe the world won't touch them. Started back in the late eighties, I think.

This story is appalling and I hope they are tried as adults and face some harsh consequences. I want to follow this story.

Anonymous said...

That is a truly horrifying story. I have little hope for the rehabilitation of sociopaths, and think these kids all need to be imprisoned. For a long, long, long time. And you're right - things need deperately to change.

Janet said...

These stories scare the hell out of me and make me want to move my children to the middle of nowhere and home school them.

That wouldn't solve the larger social problem though, would it?

Lex said...

So how do we hasten the implosion?

Carla said...

I am so appalled. This behavior should not be acceptable anywhere. We need to start calling people on this kind of stuff. I just can't imagine how one gets to this point so that there isn't even any remorse...that's probably the scariest of it all.

crazymumma said...

Something similar happened in western Canada years ago.

And the girl died.

I live in fear of this for my girls. Huge fear of this kind of girlbullying.

Anonymous said...

But I like to HOPE that the majority of us are trying to raise kids who know that they are responsible for their actions.