RSS Feed

On Blame Assignment As a Socio-Political and Philosophical Position

Posted on


So, I’ve been away from blogging for way too long, but I’m finally starting to really feel like myself, so WAHBAM as my delightful sister likes to say. Here I am.

Also look, look, I have a vacation picture! LOOK AT MY VACATION PICTURE!

Alright, now that that unpleasantness is over, I have Big Important Things To Say.  Things fomented by a facebook kerfluffle on Paprika’s page, sparked by a link to a blog post by the ever awesome Cynical Nymph (o hai! Blog Love!), because 21st century problems here people.

Anyhow, it’s an excellent post, and please, go read it. Go, shoo, g’won, read that post!

Ok, good.

The first facebook comment on Paprika’s page (because my friends list is deliberately tiny and nobody starts shit with me, so yeah, hijacking Paprika’s page) in re that excellent post was about how the commenter had no sympathy for Cynical Nymph.

Which, wow, dick much? But also she wasn’t asking for sympathy. I pointed that out, because shit, I’m helpful.

This whole thing spun out into a weird argument about how someone (Cynical Nymph, in this case), with ED, or you know any mental illness, I guess (?) shouldn’t be thinking they deserve treatment because personal responsibility and she’s not really sick at all (LOLZ, LAAAHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOLZIES I SEZ), and liberals are just running around saying that OMG everyone is SO SICK and it’s not their FAULT! And people with mental illness just need to… well, I don’t know really, ride a bike, eat a waffle, get some sun and STFUor something.

Because they need to accept that it’s their own fault, this thing that they are living with. It’s their own fault, especially all the privileged bitches with ED (paraphrasing here, but that’s what it boiled down to, essentially), for being so weak and bending to the vagaries of their environment and neurochemistry. And because it is their own fault, fuck ’em.

My question was, as it always is in the face of galtian individualism, why do we need to assign blame? Why does it matter whose fault it is (if indeed it is any one person, which I very much doubt), and what is that value of increasing suffering in the world, which does nothing but increase suffering, shockingly.

Yes, news at 11 people, increasing the volume of suffering in the world, um, increases the volume of suffering in the world. COLOR ME SHOCKED (and Mediterranean blue, I love that color)!! ELEVENTY!!1!!!11!

The desperate need to assign (and escape by special pleading, of course) blame and fault and guilt and shame, is the hallmark of right wing patriarchal thinking. Magical thinking too.

When stinking filthy red socialists like myself say, I don’t care about assigning blame, I care about solving the problem and decreasing the suffering, what we are really saying of course, is it could happen to me. On the most basic selfish level, I know that there but for fortune go I.

I refuse to indulge magical thinking that sets me apart and above and stronger and just plain better, than all those other people.

This is the same basic reason why I loathe rape apologia from women, because it’s indicative of magical thinking.

I am not better or stronger than a person with ED. I just happen not to have found myself living in the nexus of genetic, social, familial and chemical factors that create ED. I have other troubles, I have other struggles. I’m just lucky that my struggles have been the kind that generally receive some empathy rather than the kind of kneejerk reaction that ED and other mental illness receives. I’m just lucky. I never happened to be sexually assaulted either, because I didn’t happen to be around a rapist who raped me. That’s all. There but for fortune.

Don’t get me wrong–blame assignment is socially, politically and philosophically useful within a framework of justice. And in that framework, we are almost always talking  about the individual and the state, or the individual and society, but very rarely just the individual out there individualing around.

Because it’s not useful really– for instance: Someone is hurt.

What is important? Immediately, what is important is that someone is hurt, and that we are shitty awful bastards if we deny them the resources to help them hurt less.

Whether or not I like that person, or feel sympathy/empathy for them matters not a whit. It shouldn’t, in fact, it absolutely can’t. Because that’s not a world that you or I want to live in– not if you’re reading this.

That’s the world where rape victims are afraid to come forward, because they will be blamed, and justice depends on sympathy. Where mean spirited assholes agitate against universal medical care that they themselves would benefit from because somebody they don’t like might get some relief and fuck that noise! See, we’re living in that world.

And it’s shit.







About Pepper

Pepper Lee Hales is a twenty something, married, vicious feminist liberal. She likes dogs, cats, spiders, epistemics and cake.

4 responses »

  1. Oh, the things I miss, being only tangentially connected on Facebook with mah blawg. Dude. LOL.

    I kinda figured that “I deserve it” line would tweak people of a certain persuasion. I guess it’s that whole thing where I believe that human beings in general (anything aware of itself, really; I’ve known cats on Prozac) deserve medical and psychiatric treatment regardless of their ability to pay for it. I guess I’m just weird like that.

    If this person wants to use “you brought it on yourself” thinking to ration out medical care, then I hope s/he has never smoked a cigarette or touched a drop of alcohol. Also, I hope they’ve never driven a car or willingly been a passenger in a car. Also, if this is a female, I hope she doesn’t decide to get pregnant. Or have sex. Or go hiking in the Northeast and risk Lyme Disease. Or eat sushi, or fast food. Or not leave the house and never get exercise or sun. See, these are all things that one chooses to do and that can lead one to need medical attention.

    >_< I'm going to stop while I'm ahead here.

  2. And p.s., nice vacation pic. 😀

  3. Oh Lawsey, I know right? It’s the same with the standard of suffering– not a starving Afghani child bride? YOU AREN’T SUFFERING!

    Yeah, basically the commenter in question claimed that all of us pinkos are just flibberty gibbiting around saying ‘I’m SICK and it’s NOT my FAULT!” and that eventually we have to diagnose someone as HEALTHY! LOLz.

    Oh and also, we want the government to shove pills down everyones collective throats, so we were just born in the wrong generation and must shut up about it. Or something. I should probably have put a trigger warning on the OP, but I’m forgetful.

    But yeah, blame assignment has VERY limited use, and even then it can only be a precursor to correcting the problem, insofar as the problem can be corrected.

    And it sure as shit shouldn’t be attached to basic human needs like healthcare.

  4. ugh, just ugh.

    you can always tell healthy people. just wait, blamey dood, you’ll find out exactly how it feels someday. and then I promise to be schadenfreudey rather than outright gleeful.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: