Traditional Americans believed that people were always susceptible to bad behavior and had to choose to walk the “straight and narrow” path of good behavior. If they behaved badly, they had no one to blame but themselves. However, newthink offers a plethora of rationalizations for “antisocial” behavior – so much so that progressive sympathy often goes to the traditional evildoer rather than his victim.
The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:
- Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
- Our bad behavior is caused by society damaging our nobility.
- Demanding standards of behavior are damaging because they hurt the feelings of those who can’t meet them.
- Most antisocial behavior is caused by society, which corrupts or damages the inherently noble wrongdoer until they break.
The unconscious logic of this belief’s single entailment is:
- We must excuse those who act antisocially because it’s not their fault.
One of the most difficult tasks for the legal system is to sort out willful wickedness from mental disease. If a woman drowns her five children in a bathtub, is she evil or insane or some mixture of the two?
Newthinkers redefine traditional evil-doing as antisocial behavior caused by an oppressive and exploitative social system.
Newthinkers tend to reject the idea of evil. As God is absent under their universe metaphor, so is the devil. They tend to place the blame for antisocial behavior on gradations of mental illness, from maladjustment to a full-on psychosis. Progressive language again tips us off: the word “antisocial” focuses on acts against society, not acts that are inherently bad or unprincipled. Newthinkers redefine traditional evil-doing as antisocial behavior caused by an oppressive and exploitative social system.
Next consider the phrase “criminalized populations” – so common that it generated nearly a million hits on Google – which implicitly characterizes felons as blameless, passive victims of criminalization. To criminalize means to turn a person into a criminal by making their activities illegal. In other words, crime is society’s fault for defining it as such.
Newthinkers sympathize with those who behave badly. Progressive sympathy often goes more to traditional evildoers than their victims because newthink tends to see traditional evildoers as damaged goods – inherently noble beings damaged or corrupted by society. They are tragic figures; the victims are just props in their drama. Taken to an extreme, this belief in socially-caused misbehavior leads to the idea that no punitive action should be taken against those traditionally considered to be evildoers. Murderers shouldn’t be executed; terrorists should be released. It is a cold sympathy which forgets the victims.