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“You’re Stupid” “You’re Crazy” “You’re Evil”

A recent article in the New Yorker by Paul Bloom (The Root of All Cruelty?) argues against the view that cruel people view their victims as sub-humans.  No, the writer argues — the whole point of cruel people is they view their victims as humans.  That’s why they feel the need to push them around, denigrate them, subjugate them and kill them.  If they thought their victims were just malfunctioning robots or bad dogs the perpetrators wouldn’t be so exercised about them.  The evil view their victims a a human threat.

True enough.   “You’re an animal” is just one of the put-downs humans use to justify dominating and hurting other humans.  Others are “You’re stupid” “You’re crazy” and “you’re evil.”

In certain moods it feels to me like “crazy” “evil” and “stupid” don’t mean anything at all — they are just verbal weapons people use as a way of inflicting psychological hurt, or smoothing the skids to inflicting physical hurt, or death.

But at other times I think there must be some objective reality there because I’ve caught myself being stupid crazy or evil, or thinking or doing stupid,evil, or crazy things.

How can craziness, stupidity, and evil be both weapons and accurate linguistic tools of self-diagnosis?

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2 thoughts on ““You’re Stupid” “You’re Crazy” “You’re Evil”

  1. I confess that I don’t see the problem. It’s like asking how a car can simultaneously be a transportation vehicle and a status symbol.

    Kind of relevant, I’ve started watching a Netflix movie called “Vice.” It’s a cross between “Blade Runner” and “Westworld,” about a resort where guests may abuse and murder androids called “artificials.” The androids are self-aware but have no idea that they’re androids. The staff wipes their memories every night and puts them back into service, with no consideration for the real suffering that they endure every day. I had to stop watching it after a half hour because I just couldn’t take it, but it’s a powerful story about recognizing the personhood of others, even androids.

  2. I dunno – isn’t it a bit funny to think that ‘evil’ would be so good as to not call anyone else evil? Or that crazy would be so clear minded as to not call anyone else crazy? Or that stupid would be so smart as to not call anyone else stupid? It’s all a bit Dunning Kruger – the less qualified someone is on a spectrum, the more qualified they feel they are to judge.

    So crazy, stupid and evil aren’t ever weapons – they are always genuine judgement.

    It almost seems to make judgement ring hollow.

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