August 26, 2007

My Poor Imitation of Augustine, ie, re, re re Confessions

Marc Comtois

Justin, I understand your argument and I may have appeared to have crossed back and forth over a line, so the lack of nuance is my fault. My initial post and response weren't an either/or, but an elaboration that one's perspective of "generic stranger" changes over time.
And I do think this is a fairly nuanced argument. It just has been my experience--and I acknowledge that we equate our own experience with societal generalities at our own peril--that my kids have neither the intellectual nor social sophistication to make the logical jumps you ascribe as possible; ie; that someone else may be a dad and I should be wary, so I should be wary of my own dad. I simply don't agree that kids can make the extensions such that the societal prescription against trusting men is that no dad's can be trusted.

I certainly am not arguing for the over-zealous do-gooders who see a predator in every man. My only perspective is the one I have, that of a Dad--and coach--who can live with being profiled if that allays the fears of parents. I'm confident my actions--getting to know me--will take care of the rest (I hope). I suppose it could be compared to the traffic-camera debate, for instance: if you have nothing to fear, then don't worry. Perhaps I'm stepping back over the libertarian line on this, I don't know. But my gut reaction is to understand the reason why society has gotten to this level of suspicion while also recognizing that it's too bad it has. In the meantime, I think it's up to individuals in their private interactions to show that any initial fears former strangers may have had can be forgotten.

I think you're arguing that our admittedly too-cautious approach--the thickening of the cocoon--is actually perpetuating the problem and causing long term defects in our a priori view of men in particular and other people whom we don't know in general. And if "society increasingly pushes aside the very people who most needed its direction...." well, hasn't it always been thus? Maybe this is too cynical, but I think that these socially maladjusted individuals have always been around, we're just more aware of them now. That was another point in my original post, mass-media certainly increases the decibel level on these things and affects our perception--and resultant reaction--to tragedies of all types. And now we could get into a multi-beer discussion on cause and effect, but I won't.

Look, I know that I'm arguing from primarily a personal level. I recognize that by buying into profiling even in its lightest form that I may, somehow, be contributing to some big-picture consequences for all men. (Heck, maybe it's because I have only daughters). But I'm just not as concerned over your "what ifs" on this one, that's all. We should certainly take the "do-gooders" to task when they go too far, we just might not agree on how far that is.