A Privileged White Man’s Solution to Privilege Guilt — You’re Welcome!

“My Life Sucks, But I Still Feel Guilty!”

exhasperated_business_man_299x200Let me guess. Life has dealt you shit cards, but you actually feel guilty because you know so many others have it worse than you.

Tell me about it. If you think you’ve got privilege guilt, check out my sob story:

To begin with, I’m autistic, which, frankly, is basically the world’s greatest excuse for pretty much any situation in which one might need a great excuse, and let me say that I can hardly get through a week without needing at least one of those (“bro, I’m sorry I knocked up your girlfriend, but after all I am autistic”).

But even though my life has always been something of a train wreck because of autism, I nevertheless still feel guilty because I also happen to be a white, college-educated, fairly handsome man (or so thinks my best bro’s girlfriend, heh, heh); and not, for example, a black, dangerously underweight, crack-addicted, HIV-infected baby girl born 16-weeks prematurely to a teenage sex-slave and tossed into a dumpster by her mother’s pimp to starve, freeze, or be smothered to death by all the trash that will soon accumulate on top of her.

I know, I know — it’s like these days everybody’s a victim!

Well, if you find this situation to be as frustrating as I do, today is your lucky day! Because after pondering this problem far more than I ever really wanted to, I have finally figured out what to do with all of my frustrating privilege guilt!

And for the low, low price of just $2,000.00 US Dollars, I will share with you my amazing solution for the problem of privilege guilt!

Har har, just kidding.

No, seriously, I’m going to just give you this sweet little fix for free as a public service because, honestly, I suspect that this whole privilege-guilt situation is actually accomplishing the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to accomplish, which is to help us all be kinder and more caring human beings. To be clear:

I’m pretty sure that privilege guilt is a force for evil in this world, for the most part, and that whatever good it may appear to do in some situations, in the end it actually tends to make its practitioners more selfish and cruel.

I especially think it likely that the sooner we all abandon privilege guilt — yup, toss all of it straight into the aforementioned dumpster instead of that black, dangerously underweight, crack-addicted, HIV-infected baby girl born 16-weeks prematurely to a teenage sex-slave — really the sooner we can all fulfill our true potential as kind and caring human beings. The core epiphany here is that privilege guilt may actually be a trick we play on ourselves so that we can hoard privilege (surprise, surprise)!

Let me say it again:

Privilege guilt is a trick we play on ourselves so that we can continue to hoard privilege!

I know, crazy, right? — paradoxical, even. But I really think it’s true.[1]

It seems to work like this: because I have all these great privileges following from the fact that I am a college-educated, fairly handsome white man (more handsome than my best bro, apparently), I know people are going to think I’m a selfish bastard if I just hoard this bounty for myself. Ah! But if I torture myself enough with privilege guilt — maybe even throw a few bucks at some charity — they’ll think, “well, at least he feels bad”, and then leave me alone to enjoy my white-man privileges. And because these privileges are truly wonderful and do indeed make my life quite the vacation resort — that is, with respect to the vast majority of human beings on Earth, and this despite my autistic neurology — oh, heck, a bit of privilege guilt is really a small price to pay in comparison with all to be gained by privilege-hoarding.

Doesn’t that strike you as wicked? Honestly, when I look at it like that, I suddenly I feel quite gross and have a really hard time feeling guilty for hoarding all of my white-man privileges, which — and here’s the kicker — actually makes me want to share those privileges with others!

Isn’t that weird? It seems paradoxical, and please don’t ask me to explain it, but somehow it’s only when I stop feeling guilty that I actually feel motivated to help those in need. It’s almost as if my privilege guilt is gobbling up the very motivation I need to actually do something to help others, with the highly suspicious end result being that I get to keep all my white-man privileges to myself.

“But What If I’m Not A Privileged White Man?”

smiling_woman_300x200What’s great about this solution to privilege guilt is that it will work for pretty much anybody. Of course, privileged white men like myself are the ones who tend to suffer most from privilege guilt, and really if this solution can work for us, believe me, it can work for you or anybody else who happens to have less cause to feel privilege guilt. Really, the only possible exceptions that I can think of all involve babies who are simply too young to feel guilty about anything. For example, I find it quite impossible to imagine that, say, some dangerously underweight, crack-addicted, HIV-infected baby born 16-weeks prematurely to a teenage sex-slave and tossed into a dumpster by its mother’s pimp to starve, freeze, or be smothered to death by all the trash that will soon accumulate on top of it might ever suffer from privilege guilt, even if the baby does happen to be a privileged white boy!

So there it is! Now, please stop wasting your time and energy on useless privilege guilt, and instead, get out there and actually share whatever privileges you may have with some poor abandoned dumpster baby — beginning with all of the baby black girls, of course!


[1]In my opinion, for now, of course, and until I encounter the sort of evidence that could change my mind. Note: if you think you may have such evidence, please share it with me in a comment, below — thanks in advance!

 

That Time I Felt Guilty For Stealing My Own Car: The (Sometimes) Failure of Guilt (and its Absence)

I’m not sure how exactly, but the other day I had been sitting in the driver’s seat of my car, having just parked it and checked my phone for text messages, when somehow I set off the car alarm. Much more bizarre, however, was that I instantly felt guilty for stealing the car itself. Let me repeat that:

I felt guilty for stealing my own car!

The same thing happens whenever I’m exiting, say, a bookstore with a book I just purchased, and somehow the store’s anti-theft alarm chimes loudly.

Apparently juries aren’t the only ones capable of making mistakes in determining whether someone is a thief.

The history of Civilization is a junkyard cluttered with all manner of obsolete fake crimes for which human beings have both felt genuine guilt and for which they’ve been punished in every conceivable manner, from the public and humiliating scolding of an employee to being burned alive at the stake for witchcraft.

On the other hand, an absence of guilty feelings has its own problems as well. The following chilling words, spoken by serial-killer Ted Bundy, should be studied by anyone aspiring to lead a totally guilt-free life:

“Guilt? It’s this mechanism we use to control people. It’s an illusion. It’s a kind of social control mechanism — and it’s very unhealthy. It does terrible things to our bodies. And there are much better ways to control our behavior than…guilt.”

— Serial Killer Ted Bundy[1]

In consideration of the above, I’m inclined to conclude that contrary to Bundy’s own maleficent advice, at least some guilt is healthy and should be acknowledged and valued, if for no other reason than as a sort of safety check on one’s behavior — a spontaneous alert from the more primitive centers of the brain to tread carefully to ensure the safety of others. I’m thinking that guilt should be viewed as a valued source of information regarding the moral status of our own actions, but it should rarely be treated like an infallible source of such information. However guilty I felt for doing so, in no sense whatsoever did I try to steal my own car!

As I see it (for now, and until I encounter the sort of evidence that could change my mind) Guilt should be viewed as an input to careful, conscientious thinking, not an output of it (which would have to be some sort of action, I believe, not merely a feeling or emotion), and guilt should surely not be used as a substitute for one’s real Conscience, which I believe is surely something else entirely.

What do you think?


[1]Cited in Baumeister’s Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty, pg. 305

Image Credit: iStock

 

Rape Is Not Really About Sex: The Rape Spectrum

I’d always heard that rape is not really about sex; it’s about power. But one thing I’ve learned from relentlessly studying my own experience being gang-raped last year, is that rape need not actually involve any physical violence, necessarily, nor even any sort of physical contact at all. If you’ve never actually been raped yourself, this is probably going to sound completely nuts indeed, but it’s actually possible to rape someone merely by looking at them.

If this sounds impossible to you I would guess that it’s because you are misinformed about rape in the same way that autism researchers used to be misinformed about autism, because they didn’t realize that autism is best conceptualized as a spectrum of disorders, with great variability being observed across the entire population of autistic people, and all of these blending more or less seamlessly into the general population.

I suspect rape is like that — best conceptualized as a spectrum, with some cases of rape being perhaps more obviously examples of rape than others, but all of them recognizable as rape nonetheless — most especially by the survivors.

 

 

 

Autism: Best Excuse Ever

I love being autistic! It’s really the perfect excuse for everything!

–Whew! Sorry about all the farts. It’s this new anxiety medication I’m taking because I’m autistic.

–Whoops! Didn’t mean to grab your pussy like that. I guess autism made me misunderstand President Trump when I listened to that recording of him saying ‘grab’em by the pussy!’

–Your honor, the defendant is autistic, and thus cannot be held accountable for the collapse of civilization that ensued when every autistic person on the planet believed his bullshit about autism being the best excuse ever.

Now, we autistic people are just terrible at figuring out what everybody else is thinking, but I’m going to go way, way, way out on a limb here and randomly guess that you are just furious at me for calling bullshit on the idea that autistic people really have two kinds of problems: those that are “really” caused by autism, and those that are caused by a lack of that special kind of abuse that you seem so good at providing.

Well, I call bullshit! Come on, folks. Who do you think your kidding with that? Clearly you’re just envious, right? Or — whoops! — did  the autistic guy misread that?

Oh, come on, just admit it! Really, who wouldn’t want the perfect excuse for absolutely every possible situation in which a good excuse is sorely needed? Certainly not just those of us who constantly need one to survive, right? I mean, doesn’t everyone get to use the ramps and automatic doors that have been installed for folks in wheelchairs? Why should only autistic people be liberated from the burdens of personal responsibility?

Look, face it, you’re just envious because I get to do whatever I feel like doing and if anybody complains — BOOM! — out comes the “A” card, my personal licence-to-weird. Yup, you are positively ready to puke because I get to indulge all of my whims and desires, like getting fired from yet another job; or forgetting to give my daughter her seizure medication because I’m fucked up in the head because I got fired from yet another job; or botching up the new job I finally found because, yup, I’m still fucked up in the head because I got fired from yet another job!

Ahhhhh, this is living. Yes, autism — best excuse ever.

 

 

America’s First Mentally-Ill President

I doubt I’m the first to observe this, but it just occurred to me that in the same way that Obama was our first black President, Donald Trump is our first mentally-ill President.

Now, I do realize this coin has two sides. Heads: he’s completely unhinged and armed with nuclear bombs. Tails: now even we crazies can aspire to political careers!

Yeah, yeah, I know. The guy makes my skin crawl, but the silver lining to that cloud is that the moment Trump entered the Oval Office, he completely abolished this bizarre and pathologically confused pseudo-distinction between so-called “appropriate” and “inappropriate” behavior of which neuro-typicals are so proud, and which keeps so many of us with psychiatric disabilities unemployed, lonely and off in the shadows where we won’t offend anybody.

Thank you, Mr. Trump. You disgust me, but you’ve made the world a lot safer for your crazy-brethren, provided you don’t kill everybody with your nuclear bombs.

 

 

 

 

Autistic until Proven Guilty: More Good Reasons to Blame Autism for Everything

In addition to the Six Good Reasons to Blame Autism for All Your Problems that I posted a few days ago, we might add a seventh, which is that doing so is a natural, consistent, and thoroughly reasonable adaptation to the domain of personal ethics of certain cornerstone legal principles enshrined in the U.S. Justice System and even in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In particular, it is essentially an adaptation of the well-known Presumption of Innocence principle that requires guilt to be proven instead of innocence, but it is also an adaptation of the principle that a witness cannot be compelled to give testimony that is self-incriminating.

With respect to the current context, I think it’s imperative to recognize that quite to the contrary of pop-culture exhortations to “trust your gut”, feelings in general are often terrible representations of reality. What could be more common than irrational anxiety or fear, especially for autistic people? As another example, anger can make us feel powerful, even as it renders us inflexible, impulsive, and blind to relevant information (i.e. contextually stupid). And of course, who hasn’t fallen madly in love with someone who can only reciprocate with boredom?

In particular, pro-social feelings like guilt, shame, regret, remorse, and embarrassment are notoriously misleading. Human beings on either end of a given accusation — both accuser and accused — are vulnerable to what might aptly be referred to as delusions of culpability. Of course, delusions of innocence are also possible, and so clearly we should not pretend to be sociopaths, who themselves have a dangerously misleading lack of such pro-social emotions. Feelings aren’t always wrong either, and should never be denied or ignored.

But I think especially when we feel guilty or ashamed, for example, we absolutely should demand that our feelings be confirmed by the facts. Even a quick study of history and current events shows that it is very easy to manipulate someone into feeling guilty or ashamed for all kinds of ridiculous pseudo-crimes — homosexuality, masturbation, witchcraft, being black, Jewish, etc. Once our feelings of shame or guilt have passed the test of being grounded in fact, I think then and only then should we agree to accept appropriate personal responsibility for the events, actions, or consequences in question. I think a firm commitment to “autism made me do it!”, at least initially, is an excellent way to ensure such an outcome.

Yup. Autistic until proven guilty. That’s my new credo — for now at least, and until I encounter the sort of evidence that could change my mind.

And if you think you may have some of that kind of evidence, or any other thoughts on the above, please let me know in a comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life’s Not Fair, But We Can Still Strive for Fairness: The Idea of Good-Luck Insurance

The fact that life isn’t fair is usually offered to victims as an alternative to despair (or maybe revenge), but I think this is short-sighted. A much better way to use it, in my opinion, is to let it inspire us toward behaving fairly. The fundamental unfairness of Life is — or could be — a principle axiom of personal ethics.

“Why should we strive for ethical excellence?”, some unscrupulous cynic may ask. Because Life is unfair, I say! To the extent that Life is not fair, we should do what we can to make it as fair as we can make it.

Now, when we think of examples of Life’s unfairness, we often think of unhappy examples — being born with a crack addiction, or with your intestine’s on the outside of your body, or with cancer (can you tell that the mother of my children is a NICU nurse?). But that is just half of the story, really. Life is every bit as full of happy examples: being born to wealthy parents, or surviving a cancerous tumor, or guessing the winning numbers in a large-payout lottery (arguably an unhappy example, since many such winners lack the financial expertise for managing the prize, wind up blowing the whole jackpot within a year or two, and many even accumulate an overwhelming mountain of debt in the process).

And in the same way that we have invented insurance to mitigate the risks of unhappy examples, I’m thinking it might be good to invent a different kind of insurance to mitigate the risks of the happy examples too. We might call it something like Good-Luck Insurance.

The basic idea here is that a subscriber or customer would receive a regular stream of payments — we might call them anti-premiums, because they flow toward the customer instead of toward the insurer — and in exchange, whenever he or she got especially lucky in some way (as defined by the policy), then he or she would have to give back to the insurer some portion of the “prize”.

So, for example, let’s say I “bought” a surgery policy. Once “purchased”, I would immediately begin receiving monthly anti-premiums, which I could then spend on anything I wanted (food, clothing, shelter, leisure, etc.) But if I ever survived any kind of surgery, I would have to pay back to the insurer some portion of the premiums I had received over the years. On the other hand, if I never even had surgery, I would just keep all those premiums!

Now, you might think this is basically what Communism is all about (or is it Socialism, I know there’s supposed to be a difference, but I’m not at all clear on what it is — feel free to explain it to me in a comment below!), but there’s really a huge and critical difference, which is that Communism (Socialism?) is imposed on all citizens, whereas good-luck insurance is strictly voluntary. Nobody would be obliged to purchase a policy, and you would only purchase the particular coverage you wanted.

I think one great benefit of such an insurance product is that it would be yet another means by which we could all choose to strive for fairness in the context of an unfair Life. Given that Life is as unfair as it is, I’m thinking we need all the help we can get.

That’s the basic idea of Good-Luck insurance. Please let me know what you think in the comments!