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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

 
Psychological preparation

by digby

Limbaugh:



Now that these kids from Occupy Whatever have gotten used to urinating and defecating in the streets, when they go back home are their parents going to have to housebreak them again?


(I hadn't heard about the lice and the sexually transmitted diseases before. But there's always more.)



From Nashville. Headline. Staffer says she was urinated on from occupy protesters. No matter where you go here, Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Oakland, they're urinating on people. What is it, is there a syndrome I missed?... Every day we're getting stories that these Occupy people are urinating on people.

What is this compulsive need to shower other people with their bodily fluids?

What is this compulsive obsession the right wing has with this topic?

It's tempting to make fun of them for having a kinky fetish, but it's actually fairly serious. Limbaugh is being his typical self --- dehumanization is his usual schtick --- but this disgusting bodily function trope is everywhere.

And it has a purpose:

Dehumanization is the psychological process of demonizing the enemy, making them seem less than human and hence not worthy of humane treatment...

For individuals viewed as outside the scope of morality and justice, the concepts of deserving basic needs and fair treatment do not apply and can seem irrelevant. Any harm that befalls such individuals seems warranted, and perhaps even morally justified. Those excluded from the scope of morality are typically perceived as psychologically distant, expendable, and deserving of treatment that would not be acceptable for those included in one's moral community. Common criteria for exclusion include ideology, skin color, and cognitive capacity. We typically dehumanize those whom we perceive as a threat to our well-being or values.*


The protesters are being accused of being criminals, rapists, drug users and more. It's calumny, but perhaps that's par for the course in our overheated culture. But apparently people also want to believe something totally bizarre and shocking about the Occupy protesters: that they are literally behaving like animals by having sex in public and living in bodily waste. It's so astonishing that I've come to believe that it truly represents a dark psychological need to dehumanize these people. And the purpose of such dehumanization is almost always to prepare people psychologically for the next step:

Psychologically, it is necessary to categorize one's enemy as sub-human in order to legitimize increased violence or justify the violation of basic human rights. Moral exclusion reduces restraints against harming or exploiting certain groups of people. In severe cases, dehumanization makes the violation of generally accepted norms of behavior regarding one's fellow man seem reasonable, or even necessary.

There's no reason this has to devolve into violence. But it seems to me that some people are getting themselves prepared to mentally excuse it just in case.



*Susan Opotow, "Drawing the Line: Social Categorization, Moral Exclusion, and the Scope of Justice." In Cooperation, Conflict, and Justice(New York: Sage Publications, 1995).
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