Dehumanizing

“If you ladies leave my island, if you survive basic training, you will be a weapon.  You will be a minister of death, praying for war.  But until that day, you are pukes.  You are the lowest form of life on Earth.  You are not even human f*cking beings.  You are nothing but unorganized grabastic pieces of amphibian sh#t!”

        —R. Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket

 

Imagine, if you will, a 24-year-old single mom, with her five-year-old in the car, being assaulted by a man who repeatedly shoves her to the ground.  Imagine she’s berated with a flood of curseword-laden epithets.  Imagine she’s dragged around by her feet until her dress rides up over her head.  Imagine, then, her tearful, angry, frightened, and, yes, f-bomb-laced report to the police officer at the scene gets recorded.

Does this sound funny to you?  Is it even remotely entertaining?

Well, it was to CNN anchor Carol Costello, who last week broadcast the audio with this gleefully grinning introduction (just watch her face in the video embedded in the linked story):

“This is quite possibly the best minute and a half of audio we’ve ever come across.  Well, come across in a long time . . . Sit back, and enjoy.”

Best.  Audio.  Ever.  Enjoy.

That’s her introto audio about an assault of a single mother (she later repeated the “best minute and a half of audio” remark via Twitter).  Following the audio, Costello returned to the screen, still smugly grinning, and confided that a lengthy expletive bleep was her “favorite part.”  She closed by telling viewers:

“You can thank me later.”

Wow.

Not that it matters, but did I mention that the young single mother in question was Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin?

Actually, it does matter, because it turns out that just three months earlier, Costello posted an op-ed at CNN.com demonstrating that she, in fact, knows better.  Boldly piling onto the Ray Rice assault story that by then was already nearly six months old, Costello—rightly, I might add—got all over Rice and the NFL and condemned the cowardice involved any time a man assaults a woman.  I mean, that’s bad when a man assaults a woman, right?

Unless that woman is the daughter of a much-reviled star of your political enemy, apparently.

After a week of being blasted for her callous display—and it’s worth noting that CNN never even suspended her, much less fire her—Costello finally apologized.

Via Twitter.

She refuses to apologize on the air, and you know she hasn’t had the guts or decency to call Bristol and apologize personally.

Classy.

Ms. Costello herself has been a victim of a violent assault.  She—taking her at her word—knows what that’s about.  When the victim is Janay Rice, or herself, she knows that’s a heinous, despicable act.  Why, then, is it hilarious when the victim is Bristol Palin?

The answer, I’m afraid, says a great deal about the very dark place to which we’ve allowed ourselves to slip: Carol Costello does not view Bristol Palin or anyone else associated with the political Right as a human being.

[As an aside, I don’t think anyone knows what Bristol’s political views are, if she has any, and she’s never run for office or held herself out as a pundit.  In this instance we’re talking pure guilt-by-association]

This is where we are now, kids.  We’ve reached the point where those with whom we disagree—and their children—are no longer human beings, and therefore any mishap, epithet, or mistreatment that may befall them—or that we, ourselves, may cast upon them—is not only OK, it’s the height of entertainment.  And this is what then allows us to take joy in the physical abuse of someone on the other side.  Or publicly equate someone with barnyard excrement just because we disagree with them.  Or mock the fact that a political opponent is confined to a wheelchair.

I’ll confess this is not confined to to the Progressive Left, although I submit you’ll find more examples of it on that side of the discussion.  This is running through our society, and it’s a direct result of us allowing ourselves to slip into a culture of dehumanization and death.

TheCollegeFix.com reports that a growing number of students on college campuses not only support unlimited abortion on demand, they support “post-birth abortion.”  And for those of you who have previously ridiculed the slippery slope argument against abortion, I want you to pay attention:  some of these students favor killing children up to age five.

Five years old.

That’s not a sperm or egg.  That’s not a zygote or embryo.  That’s not a fetus. That’s not even an infant or a toddler.  That’s a kindergartener.

The argument these people make is that—supposedly—human beings don’t become “self-aware” until age five, and until they reach that stage of development, they’re not fully human.  Therefore, it is not society’s place to substitute its moral judgment for that of the mother.  Having reduced the child to sub-human status in their minds, they then view it as OK to kill the child as a matter of convenience.

Once this mindset takes hold, there is almost no limit to the depravity it will permit.  The Holocaust was not possible without the Nazis first being able to reduce Jews, in popular thinking, to less-than-human status.  Slavery was not possible—or at least could not have been sustained from as long as it was—on these shores without a prevailing mindset that African blacks were not human beings; indeed, the argument that blacks are human beings was the most powerful intellectual tool in eliminating the practice.  Today’s Islamists would not be beheading unbelievers and apostates without the same kind of thinking.

This is a dangerous place we’re heading.  We’ve become all-too comfortable with casting people into the pit of the sub-human, or watching others do it and being OK with it as long as it’s not us.  We should be profoundly, viscerally, uncomfortable with the abuse of another (whatever our political differences), or with the killing of a four year old child (or any child).

That we’re increasingly not is very, very disturbing.

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