This stuck in mind: the story about the kids who laughed and jeered while a disabled man drowned.
In a news story that sounds like something from Mad Max, a group of Florida teenagers who filmed themselves laughing and cracking jokes while a disabled man drowned, and then left the scene without telling anybody, will face criminal charges after all…
The callous crime, which is vaguely reminiscent of the infamous Kitty Genovese slaying in New York City, is indicative of a trend that has been bothering older Americans since the first signs began emerging in the early 90s. The contemporary breakdown in communal responsibility, fostered by smartphones and digitization of daily life, where violent videos inure children to death and violence. The boys can be heard in the video discussing Dunn’s impending death. One of the boys teased another about being scared to see a dead body, the boy replies “I ain’t scared to see no dead person.”…
“He started to struggle and scream for help and they just laughed,” Martinez said. “They didn’t call the police. They just laughed the whole time. He was just screaming … for someone to help him.” The teenagers didn’t stop joking about Dunn when he failed to surface in the water.
I think it stuck in mind because the way those kids treated the drowning disabled man reminded me of the way smokers are being treated: smokers have been evicted from society (tossed in the pond), and left to drown, while everyone ignores them, and just watches it happen, unmoved. In fact, they even laugh at them. It’s another contemporary breakdown in communal responsibility.
My attitude to the antismokers in Tobacco Control is that they’re worse than those Florida kids, because they’ve tossed hundreds of millions of people in the pond, and left them to drown. And probably those kids didn’t actually toss the disabled man in the pond. And although the smokers aren’t actually drowning, they’ve been “exiled to the outdoors”, and thereby placed in a danger – and in a danger far greater than any danger posed by their innocuous smoke.
The story raised a few other questions. How did the disabled man get to be floating in the middle of a pond in the first place? How deep was the pond? And could the kids swim? If you see someone drowning in a pond, should you always jump in and try to save them, even if you can’t swim? Might there be some element missing from this story – like, for example, that the drowning man was the kids’ hated math teacher?
Somehow or other this story got linked to the interview by Sam Harris of Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist and blogger. They were discussing Donald Trump from opposing points of view. Sam Harris thought that Trump was a “con man” and worse, while Adams thought he was a “Master Persuader.” Their two-hour conversation seemed remarkable to me in that neither man ever lost his cool (at least not during the first hour, which is all I’ve heard so far). The context was that Sam Harris wanted to hear someone defend the Trump that he personally thought indefensible, and Scott Adams had been drawn to his attention as a notable admirer of Trump: they were enemies meeting during a temporary ceasefire. They didn’t know each other.
Sam Harris took a high moral view of Trump. He saw him as con man, a braggart, a sleaze. He regarded him as a deeply immoral man – in fact the empty husk of a man. Scott Adams, by contrast, didn’t seem to see Trump in any moral terms at all. He judged Trump for how effective he was.
Listening to the podcast, it seemed to me that Sam Harris’ Trump was an imaginary man, a sort of monstrous caricature of a man, to whom the real Donald Trump bore little or no relation. One of Trump’s innumerable crimes, in Sam Harris’ view, was that he was cosying up to a Vladimir Putin who was well known to be an utter monster. Well, Putin may well be a monster. All sorts of stories get told about him. But all sorts of stories get told about Trump. All sorts of stories get told about everybody. And I’m someone who tends not to believe these sort of stories. I tend to judge people by what I know about them, not by what other people claim to know about them. And I’ve not seen Trump do anything really horrible yet. Nor Putin either. So it seemed to me that Sam Harris was probably someone who believed everything he was told. He probably believes in global warming, because he believes whatever any experts tell him. He’s probably an antismoker too.
And although he didn’t come over as much of a Hillary Clinton supporter, his high moral tone reminded me of her and her “deplorables”. Trump was one of those deplorables. And Sam Harris deplored him too. He probably wouldn’t have minded if she’d been elected president.
I take the opposite view. I think Hillary Clinton is utterly despicable. Far more so than Donald Trump. Why? Because she’s a virulent antismoker, just like Michael Bloomberg and countless other Abhorrent Toads. And these people, in my view, have thrown smokers into an outdoor pond, and are standing around watching them slowly dying, and laughing at them as they die. They think very highly of themselves, but I think they should face criminal charges for what they have done.
P.S. I’ve been listening to the second half of the discussion, and Sam Harris (around the 1 hour 30 minute mark) more or less said that you have to believe the climate scientists when they tell you that anthropogenic global warming poses a global threat, just like you have to believe 97% of oncologists when they tell you that smoking causes lung cancer. The guy does indeed believe everything the experts tell him.