Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tipping Point

Last week I read Tipping Point (a non-political book) by Malcolm Gladwell. Wonderful book that proves the world doesn't not work as we expect. The point of the book is it's subtitle: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.

One example that Gladwell gives regarding "permission givers" is suicides in Micronesia. Apparently one day in the 1950s, a teenager killed himself after a parental rebuke about a trivial matter. This was almost unheard of in that culture in that small population. Over the next 10-years there was an outbreak of suicides among teenage boys.

The first boy was the permission giver. His act gave implicit permission to other boys would would have thought about offing themselves but wouldn't have acted on it because of societal restrictions.

Gladwell used this to illustrate that many people carrying out weird acts don't so much follow an example or are influenced by people "bad boys" but are given permission by these permission givers to behave in a way that they want to.

In another example, he cites a study that says that the rate of suicides in a town go up for 2 years or so after a well publicized suicide. Not only that, but single fatality auto accidents go up proving there's alot of hidden or subconscious suicides by auto.

That struck me when I read this article off of drudge reporting that the Amish killer not only brought himself an arsenal to the school but also some lube - as in K-Y Jelly. This follows the Denver school killer who actually did molest the girls before he killed them.

So there's a few guys out there day dreaming about diddling little girls then killing them. One permission giver does it so the rest follow. Nice. I guess the same could be applied to the Mark Foley situation. He heard about diddling - or was diddled himself so he feels he has permission to do the same. The examples could be applied across a wide range of situation.

What's the conclusion? How is it stopped?

Well, in the Mark Foley case, we could go all Mooslim on him and stone him in the public square. He's giving permission to people to go out and diddling teen boys, so we as a society need to bring the hammer down with a stark statement of disapproval.

But the wrong people get in charge and we'll start stoning homosexuals or interacial couples or even supply side conservatives who pledge fealty to the Laffer curve.

What it comes down to is - as a society - we're not even sure what's wrong anymore, are we? So as we slouch toward gomorrah or define deviancy down are more and more permission givers invoking Nike's to all their sicko breatheren with a 'Just Do It' shout?

Stay You.
Back to Main Page