Is it still moral to declare someone a total jerk?

I am a psychoproctologist. I pursue careful, non-partisan diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of what in popular psychology are commonly described as holes. I chose a light name for a very serious subject because it is dangerous to claim to be an expert on who is and is not one. The bullies and their mobs are sure they know who the assholes are. I am not sure. I have to hold myself lightly. Despite a quarter century of research, I am a specialist, not an expert.

More fundamentally, psychoproctology burdens me with a great moral question. Are there holes or do people just do hole stuff? Is it always okay to decide someone is just an asshole or should we blame the sin but not the sinner?

This question can be avoided in several ways:

  • Use clinical terms vaguely. Call people you don’t like psychopaths, narcissists, gaslighters, or sociopaths. This way you can call them holes and still look clinical.
  • Emphasize that you should never swear, but do it in a low voice and make exceptions.
  • Pretending no one is a hole or everyone is.
  • Act like they’re a different species, but don’t call them names. Be mystified by their behavior but not curious about it.

I believe we are all human but that does not make me charitable to everyone. Being charitable with psychopaths is deadly. Being charitable to morons is also dangerous.

Still, total jerks are human. Nothing human is foreign to any of us. As a psychoproctologist, I also recognize every hole pulse in my natural repertoire.

There is an argument that insults are dehumanizing – but it’s a weak argument. If we call someone a talent, doctor, lawyer, alcoholic or criminal, we don’t forget that he is also human. We might forget that a hottie is a human being, but that’s another matter.

Here’s where I’ve come to so far on whether there are holes or just holes. Sinners or simply sins.

I begin with the original, often misquoted quote: Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

We all use power games. Take gaslighting – we all do it. When we want our interpretation to prevail, our impulse will be to reject alternative interpretations, even raising our eyebrows at the “misinterpretation” of the situation by others. It is we who put the thumb on the scales in our favour. It is a coup de force. This tends to bribe. It’s not always the case. Sometimes it’s just what the doctor ordered, and yes the doctor is human too – I haven’t forgotten. Yet absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is the fist of self-deification on the scale.

If you launch all the challenges to your authority, you become what I call a trumpet – a more precise and descriptive term than a hole. A trumpbot robotically plays fake trump cards, allowing it to spurn any challenge to its fake authority.

Being trumpbot has nothing to do with what you claim to believe. It’s easy to become a trumpbot for any cause or no cause at all. All it takes is not caring about what’s true. In BS, they trust. A trumpbot is a human god playing what is easy for a human to do. Let the impulse be your guide. Say whatever makes you feel heroically invincible in the moment.

Being a trumpbot is absolute and in the original sense of the word: dissolved away from reality. This is the current technical sense of BS as opposed to lying. A lie is a known untruth. BS doesn’t care what’s true. We can fall into a BS addiction. If we keep failing in reality but need to stay positive about ourselves, we can just let go of any worries about reality and BS-ing claim an eternal winning streak. superhuman. It’s easy to fake it once you’re addicted to BS. You can say anything. Life becomes a gambling game: tails I win, tails you lose and if it’s not convincing, tails I win, tails you lose.

This is the paradox of psychoproctology. Trumpbots want to forget they’re human. We diagnose them in our effort to get them to admit that they are human. We need to diagnose trumpbots in our effort to change them, but they have no interest in changing. Not having to change is the whole point of being a trumpbot. Our goal is to demote them to the lofty status of mere humans.

Prominent anthropologists have recently argued that humans are a self-domesticated species. We have bred violence out of ourselves for 300,000 years. Anthropologists cite evidence from cultures large and small that the arrogant and violent have long been systematically ostracized and executed. Paradoxically, becoming an exceptionally tolerant species may have required millennia of intolerance towards trumpets.

The United States has experienced a rapid transition away from such ostracism. After World War II, life here became so tame that some of us began to believe that the way to collective kindness was universal kindness and that the secret to greater tolerance was universal tolerance. Therefore, they wince at insults.

There is something. When we try to overcome a problem, we can either fake it or deal with it until we realize it. By pretending until you do, we can act like unbridled arrogance is going away, and maybe it will. But sometimes it’s wiser to face it until we get there: stay vigilant as our ancestors were, ostracizing the arrogant.

I think of trumpbots as humans struggling with double-edged swords. I’m not trying to catch their blade. No matter how you catch it, they’ll cut you off. Heads or tails they win; heads or tails you lose.

Nor do I attack the restless human who, like me, is only human.

Rather, I grasp the hilt of the sword, the connection point between their humanity and their double-edged sword. I expose them as saying anything to feel invincible. And I don’t give up. They keep fidgeting and I keep exposing that they would say anything to pretend they’re invincible. They are one-trick imposters. Everything they do confirms the diagnosis.

And if they let slip the slightest hint of their humanity, I’m here to hug them, adult to adult: Welcome home!

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