Victimocracy Because Reasons
In There’s No “Ick” in Victim, in which she lauds victims for speaking up, Brooklyn lawyer ((And cousin of my officemate Jay Cohen!)) C.A. Goldberg turns her truly dizzying intellect my way:
Then you have the George Wills and Mark Bennetts of the world who argue that society is victimized by victimhood. The former famously claimed that victims revel in their victimness and that “victimhood” is a “coveted status that confers privilege,” and results in the “proliferation” of victims. In a post called “Victimocracy is for Sociopaths,” Mark Bennett, a criminal defense attorney and blogger in Texas, growls at the “ascendancy of victimocracy, in which victimhood is esteemed above merit, and victims are given special authority to determine the course of the state.” He accuses many victims of “feigning” it. He flaccidly stabs at some blurry claim that self-identifying victims comprise much of the purported four percent of sociopaths, revealing himself to be the one person in America gullible enough to drink Martha Stout’s pop psychology Kool-Aid. “The more power we give victims, the more power we give sociopaths,” he says. Attitudes like those of the grandfather, the blogger, Wills, and Bennett, shame not just the crimes, but also try to corrode any dignity the victim may have in self-identifying as such, creating false categories that attempt to separate out the “true” victims from the “feigning” ones. (Anybody else hearing the echoes of Todd Akin here and his marble mouthing about “legitimate” rape?) These people take offense to persons stepping up and saying, “Hey, I was harmed,” acting as though the V-word itself is a diminishing resource, conservation of which they must personally defend. And so what do they do? They engage in ad hominem attacks to discredit the victim: she was complicit in it, is lying, doing it for the attention, is a sociopath. It’s as if some defense attorneys, perhaps as a group the most vocal about they would call “victomania,” can’t zealously represent their clients while respecting the “victim” concept.
Here’s the post she’s referring to, Victimocracy is For Sociopaths. ((For which I’ve already taken an undeserved ration of shit, which put me off my blogging feed. Other posts about victimocracy in action: Honoring the Dead with Destruction?; Happy Victims’ Week; Revenge Porn and “Rape Culture” Culture.)) I won’t rehash the argument, but you’ll see that it’s not what Goldberg wishes it to be.
Because some victims bravely speak up, ((I doubt neither the bravery often required for an actual victim to come out as a victim, nor the societal value in doing so.)) Goldberg wants us not to question whether victims are victims.
The problem is that, whether sociopaths are four percent of the population or one percent or less, they will feign victimhood, using our solicitousness toward victims—the solicitousness modeled by Goldberg in her post—to get away with creating more actual victims. By feigning victimhood, the sociopaths (who, because their “victimhood” is planned and scripted, are more willing than real victims to present themselves as victims) also harm the actual victims
The solution is nothing more than a sensible skepticism. Opposing skepticism is natural—nothing is more laudable than protecting the weak, and we want to believe that those who present themselves as needing our help in fact do—but nobody’s life is improved by credulity.
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