Friday, December 19, 2014

Them, Not Us

I posted this video on my Facebook page because the behaviour of the woman in the video appalled me and I made comment about how this video demonstrates what's wrong with society today. For me, I was trying to say in my comment, this behaviour is dreadful but not surprising. The number of times that people step in front of me, to be served first, pretending not to see me but communicating that they don't value my time as equal to theirs. So, I see this as an act of selfishness which, in our time, isn't atypical.

However, in reading a lot of comments about this short video, I see that many, not most but many, people state flat out that this woman must have a "mental illness" because only someone with a "mental illness" would behave is that way. They are ignoring, of course, all the people around her. Those she high fived with and those who saw the thing happen with no comment or intervention. They must all be "mentally ill" too.

It distresses me that so many people place any behaviour, beyond that which is saintly, into categories of human difference. They must have a "mental illness" ... their sense of fair play must be "disabled." It's clear from this that, since they hold those of us with differences in dangerously low regard. Historically we've been seen as 'sinners,' 'deviants,' 'drains of society,' 'moral degenerates,' and 'god's punishment'. We are the dumping ground for any behaviour deemed unworthy of the morally upright class of typical, blemish free, upright walkers. If they can make her 'us' then they don't have to consider that they, too, might be capable of acts of pure selfishness. I'm not them so I'm not selfish. I'm not them so I wouldn't do that. I'm not them so I'm loved by God.

Let me state clearly that I don't see mental illness here, I see human selfishness and greed. I do not see these as diagnostic criteria from the DSM-V. I think of  this as kind of a subtle demonization of people with mental illness that continues ugly and hateful stigmatization.

This woman's behaviour is this woman's behaviour. In 20 seconds it's impossible to see anything more than that one moment. We can't even tell if this was just an impulse that was not typical of her. We can't tell if, upon reflection, she's mortified at what she'd done. All we see is a single moment.

That's all.

A moment that anyone could have done because all of us have moments of selfishness and greed.

A moment that is more typical than one might guess.

A moment.

That's all.

There is no need to use those few seconds to slap people with mental illness with blame, or to attribute to her character anything more than a bad moment and a bad decision.


Anonymous said...

“The announcer on TV said what I did was ‘beyond wrong’ but there is nothing wrong with a kid learning that life is about competition and learning to take the hard knocks,” Brashkowitz said from her home in New York City where she works as — get this — a child psychologist of all things.

“I was on a cross-country vacation with my life companion Judy, and we decided to go to a baseball game. I even bought a special outfit at Nordstrom — white shirt with white pants and a huge leather belt — I looked great and I deserved to be on TV. I deserved that ball too. That little kid will have a lot of chances in life. Sometimes she will screw up and sometimes she will succeed. That’s the way life goes for everybody. So get over it!
That's her view on it!

Liz said...

It also seems that people are saying that it is ok for those with one impairment to be disrespectful of those with another. NO it is not!

Dave Hingsburger said...

Anon, it's not clear but I believe those quotes are real. There is no actual substantiated quotes from her on the net that I could find.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

I watched it - that woman (healthy, slim, energetic, well-dressed, stylish, 'normal') deliberately stole a ball from the little girl and delighted in having done so.

The behavior is appalling. There is no mental illness there - just selfishness and cluelessness.

'My pleasure is more important than anyone else's rights' is the message.

If the behavior had been the adult woman catching a ball and then giving it to the girl, there would have been praise for altruism all over the net. There should be equal condemnation for what she actually did.

Ron Arnold said...

I believe that all human beings can fall into this particular matrix:

Asshole | Not Asshole
Likable |
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _|_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Not Likable |

(I hope that look OK when it shows up)

On that day- at that time (and perhaps well beyond that time) that woman seems an unlikable asshole . . . .

wheeliecrone said...

Rude. Selfish. Thoughtless. Childish behaviour from an adult. That's what I saw when I watched that video. What a shameful way for a grown woman to behave. Taking the ball out of the little girl's hands.
It always makes me angry and sad to see an adult behaving like an ignorant, naughty child.

clairesmum said...

Mr Clairesmum has seen this happen fairly often on TV baseball games and in the stands....more in recent years than when he first became a baseball fan in the 1960s. Sad reflection of American society. I think that as a country we are still quite adolescent...

theknapper said...

I agree with you....what I see is a woman focused on what she wanted....she didnt register that a child was also trying to catch the ball. I think many people who have a "mental illness diagnosis" would have treated that girl differently.

Ettina said...

I have a developmental disability that supposedly causes a 'lack of empathy', as well as a mental illness.

In my case, I *might* have caught the ball the kid was trying to catch, simply because I didn't notice the kid. But as soon as I realized the kid was trying to catch it too, I would have turned around and offered it to her - even maybe chased her up the stands to give it to her.