Monday, September 08, 2014

Sociopaths Unite!

In a society where we celebrate sociopaths as great American mythical heroes, from Tony Soprano and Nucky Thompson to Don Draper and the Seinfeld gang, is it little wonder that they keep appearing in real life? The latest example comes not from an NRA recruitment camp, Fox News or Wall Street, but a school. Last week a security guard thought it would be “funny” to push a Down syndrome African American boy, taking a picture with his family on the first day of the school, against the wall to “assume the position.” He lifted the boy’s hands up as if to be frisked, started laughing and then turned and said, “Now take the picture, he’s in the right position.”( Daily Kos) The security guard, or sentry as they are called at Huntington K-8 school, was summarily suspended, but how does someone like this even end up in a elementary school?

The most interesting aspect of the incident to me is the strong possibility the guard actually thought this was funny and didn’t realize the racist undertones of his actions. If that is the case, it might be a perfect demonstration of a society that appears to lack basic empathy far too often. On the other hand, if the action was done as a racist confrontation, that makes it even worse (in my mind), as the security guard was using the little power he has to embarrass a black boy with down syndrome, and his whole family, reasserting his meager hold on a white supremacist sense of privilege and superiority. In either case, the lack of sympathy for a disabled boy, white or black, is troubling on its own, only made worse by the fact he was the latter. Can a society survive without empathy? It can, but it is certainly not one where prosperity, freedom and the pursuit of happiness reign.

No comments: