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Friday, October 20, 2017

Virtue signaling, high and low

One correlation that becomes clear when you look at the prison pen pal advertisements is that inmates who are obvious sociopaths always take pains to let you know what good people they are.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with Death Row inmates. If you were to take them at their word, there has never been a more giving, loving, caring group of people.

Take a look here, and here, and here, and here.

They are, to use a phrase generally used in another context, virtue signaling.

And even with the inmates who were not on Death Row, generally, the worse the crime, the more effort they take to let you know how virtuous they are.

Inmates who are in for, say, a minor drug offense rarely take such pains to tell us what wonderful people they are. (Generally, they try to emphasize how sexy they are.)

We've seen that the only people who ever talk of their consciences as distinct entities are people who lack one.

And one of the distinguishing traits of sociopaths is their emotional falseness. We saw it with Lance Armstrong telling us that if he ever cheated at golf and got caught he would be heartbroken forever.

We saw it when Bill Clinton told us that he feels our pain.

We saw it with Karen Sypher telling that desk sergeant about what a devout Catholic she is, how much she cared for her dying grandmother, and how much she regretted her abortions.

We see it when Tony Robbins says, "To know that in some small way I’ve made a difference for at least one person and that I have helped them to begin to create the quality of life they truly deserve is what drives me most."

These are all just poses. And we see them over and over again.

(If you look closely, you'll see the more skillful sociopaths actually pose physically, too, as Bill Clinton demonstrated here and here. One sociopathic tell, as both he and Karen Sypher have demonstrated, is the wiping away of nonexistent tears.)

One thing that has become clear after the recent pecking party directed at Harvey Weinstein is how similar the virtue signaling crowd is. There's a strong parallel here with the sociopathic inmates: the more loudly people proclaim their goodness, the less of it there is.

I'm not referring to the women who were Weinstein's victims; they've had to keep their outrage and hurt bottled up for many years because they feared Weinstein's clout in the industry, and are now finally getting a chance to vent their anger. That's certainly understandable.

I'm talking about the people who were not his victims, but who are releasing statements about how shocked they are and how much they disapprove of that type of behavior. It doesn't take exactly the same form as when the inmates saying directly what loving, caring people they are; but the underlying message is exactly the same.

This is virtue signaling, plain and simple. And it's really not all that much different than when the Hollywood crowd virtue signals by paying lip service the right causes. (Actually, Harvey himself, an extremely outspoken liberal, is a prime example of that.)

It's like that old saying about how the only people who advertise their honesty and integrity are those who have none.

It's true of Death Row inmates, and it's true of Hollywood stars.

The harder they try to look noble, the worse they are. It's almost a straight line correlation.


Anonymous said...

Good point. One of the most enjoyable things about this is watching the frantic virtue signaling, and seeing so many insufferable people disgrace themselves.

My prime suspect is Meryl Streep. Yes, she's given some good performances, but she's also given some really bad performances and I think the reason no one will say so is because a lot of her performances were given in Weinstein vehicles and no one wanted to cross him. In recent years she's become unbearable.

"No one knew." Total bullshit. She's disgraced herself.

I hope this goes on forever, but it won't. Nothing does.


John Craig said...

Willard --
What were Streep's bad performances? I hate everything she represents, would never go out of my way to see a movie she's in, and don't find her particularly attractive, but she's always impressed me as an actress.

So true about "no one knew." If I, living the life of a recluse in CT, knew, then everybody in Hollywood knew.

The funniest thing to me is that so far, from what I've read, Weinstein thinks he's going to be able to come back. He doesn't seem to realize that he's been completely Bill Cosby-ed.

Anonymous said...

Of the ones I've seen I thought she stunk in Julie/Julia (a caricature of the real Julia Child, a warm and brilliant woman), The Bridges of Madison County (not remotely convincing), and Postcards from the Edge (meh), A Cry In The Dark (overrated), The Devil Wears Prada (massively overrated).

I haven't seen Florence Foster Jenkins or Osage, but I heard on good authority she chewed up so much scenery they had to buy all new furniture.


John Craig said...

Willard --
Thank you. Of those, I've only seem Bridges of Madison County, she didn't strike me as bad, but I suppose i wasn't looking with a critical eye.

I guess she does have a tendency to overdo it.

Shaun F said...

I do find it disturbing about the straight line correlation between actors and prisoners. Only because after thinking about it - I agree.

But what is the difference between an actor, who is a con, and a person in jail - who
is a failed con?

It would make sense that the behaviour would be the same.


John Craig said...

Shaun --
Inmates have gotten caught for a crime bad enough to be sent to prison for, whereas most actors haven't. That's about it, as far as I can see. But it's not just actors: anyone who does that is basically telling us that he doesn't have the virtues he's signaling. It's the whole "The lady doth protest too loudly" thing. And the same principle applies no matter what walk of life the "protester" is from.

Shaun F said...

John - Yep. That's the answer. And I agree it's not just actors who does the virtue signalling. But what I was trying to illustrate in the context of what you wrote about is that I see both actors and prisoners as "cons" misrepresenting themselves. I guess some cons are just engaged in crime, while others work in Hollywood.

John Craig said...

Shaun --
Exactly. People who are public figures of any sort do it. Lance armstrong did it, with his foundation. I wrote recently about a graduation speech Tim Cook gave at MIT, in which he espoused views and attitudes which Apple's corporate policies directly contradict:

Generally, the more noise they generate in this regard, the louder their hypocrisy. Look at Harvey Weinstein himself, constantly upbraiding the Republicans for their war on women etc. (while he had his own little personal war on women going), the NRA for their opposition to gun control (while he glorified gun use in movies like Pulp Fiction etc.), and Donald Trump for his insensitivity and favoring the rich (while Harvey himself treated all the small people -- like waiters -- whom he dealt with like garbage).