Garden Variety Nasties….

Posted: June 10, 2011 in Assholes, Humans

Hey, Erik may have irked me some in that last thread, but that is a great term and I am stealing it!)

So, let’s talk about those now: Garden Variety Nasties, people who do not have oh, the Stalin-like ability to be horrible on a massive scale but are horrible none the less.  What makes a garden variety nasty?  Lots of things I’d wager.  Some are probably made-forged in neglectful and or violent homes or competitive and violent cultures, twisted by things they have endured in life.  Some are probably just born that way- having come into the world mean and wrong or missing something .   Some are probably a mix of both, as there are plenty of people who grew up in war zones, crappy neighborhoods, crappy homes and surrounded by violence, badness, abuse, so on- and they turn out pretty dang normal.  SO yeah, what about those GVN’s?

For instance, Vlad’s example of Mike R:  A guy who had the slick 90’s James Dean thing going on and seemingly an endless string of nice girls from good homes who wanted to understand his tortured soul and save him.  Girls he would then use, hook on heroin, slap around, then pimp out to pay off his debts or in trade for his own wants….and even though his actions were not unknown, his pattern no secret, the girls kept lining up to be the one who would fix him.  Or M, who yes, is American and thus privileged over a great many people in the world, but grew up in a crap neighborhood where violence was a daily thing, with working parents who were good people but rarely around and had some addiction issues, went without things most people take for granted: like food, clothes, and medical care- oh yes, and female, and one who used learned to use everything from weapons to her looks to get what she wanted and fuck with a world she’d come to hate and ended up being not only violent and mean, but rather calculating and sadistic and enjoyed causing havoc in other people’s lives just because:  she could.  Or E, who had everything, in that coming up way, that anyone could ever ask for:  Upper middle class home, awesome parents, a nice house, nice things, he (yep) was smart, funny, polite, talented- the type who got A’s in AP Physis and Calculus as well as Theater and English, but was a small, frail, sort of sickly sort.  He was doing well in college working on a Tough Degree with a gorgeous, smart, girlfriend and his only real vice was a bit of weed before he got deep in the pudding with M.  However, E was molested by a neighbor when he was very young and in a world where men are often judged by, well, being strong and fit and manly and athletic- he wasn’t any of those.  He ended up a very ill- mentally and physically, with a host of addictions, and barely able to make the payments on his car, apartment, so on, and were it not for family, he’d probably be dead.  He is also a screaming hole of need and attention.   Or, there was a person I knew I’ll call A, who was big on getting people hooked on both drugs and them, and because they had serious cash, could draw people to them like crazy…A was also the sort that would put someones face through a windshield if they leaned on their car.  Or someone I will call R, who is the ex-wife of one of the most solid, awesome, GOOD guys I know,  she’s  a former drug addict who would go out and find absolute scum bags:  gang bangers, drug dealers, so on, to cheat with in order to piss him off…all the time.  We’re talking tons of Not Good Guys…she invited a bunch of gangsters over and pulled a train on them while their kids were sleeping upstairs.  Her excuse?  She could not be intimate with people she really loved.  He put up with it for a long time and tried to do right by her, but finally, enough was enough.

All these people are Garden Variety Nasties, and while it could be that I just happen to know and inordinate amount of scum bags, I am fairly certain everyone out there knows at least one person who would rate as GVN.  I mean, I don’t know where Mike R is now or what he is doing- he was Vlad’s GVN.  M, I suspect, if she ever actually killed someone would find doing so again very easy and probably very fun.  E is probably very lucky he is still breathing.  A has been arrested for whatever many times, but money buys justice, and I figure sooner or later R will get beat up badly if not murdered by the company she keeps.  But what is it with GVN’s?

Of those I mentioned, unless one has …whatever sorta sense that lets you know it is just best to walk away… you’d never know most of ’em were GVN’s upon first sight.  E, it would not take long to recognize he was full of drama and bullshit, but they others?  They could be really hard to spot.  M & A have that full blown cult of personality thing going; attractive, smart, funny and fun, magnetic and charismatic…on the surface…and the stealth advantage of being female GVN’s of the non Damsel in Disturbia sort, but rather the Black Knight sort.  R looks and comes across as the most normal gal in the world, even looks the part and is very nice to most people she meets.  Hell, look at Ted Bundy:  smart, attractive, articulate…and a freakin’ serial killer.

GVN’s can be hard to spot.  People steer clear of Urban Youth in baggy clothes or Non-Neurotypical homeless people on the streets, but they could be dating, friends with, co-workers to, married to, or raising and GVN or GVN in the making and not even know it until…later…when the nastiness began.  Heck, you could have  GVN in your car pool or sitting next to you on the train…right now.

But it is my belief that GVN’s actually impact people’s daily lives more that my previous examples of Stalin and Pol Pot.   Why?  Because well, they are garden variety.  Hell, watch the news!  Your son or daughter could be dating one.  Your boss or secretary or minister could be one.  Your next door neighbor or the parent of that kid you mentor could be one, and I rather think the simple truth of GVN’s is they have one thing in common:  they are destructive.  They break and wreck shit- themselves and others.

But, I do find them interesting…how they got that way, what makes them tick, how they trick and sucker people in, how to spot ’em when you seem ’em….all that.  So yeah, I WILL blog about it if I feel the whim.

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Comments
  1. Erik Schwarz says:

    Well, what are friends for, if not to irk each other in the course of exchanging ideas. And to provide each other with catchy terms and phrases. About Garden Variety Nasties v. Grand Historical Nasties, I would say this. The former may have the power to disrupt and in extreme cases perhaps even destroy our lives, but we can divorce, ostracize and otherwise seek separation from them. Not always so easy, of course, and the most obsessive GVN’s may not be easily dissuaded. Still, we do have the law and the state on our side, though these instrumentalities can be bureaucratically pigheaded and slow to respond. In the case of Grand Nasties, however, we are utterly deprived of agency. They are the law and the state. Stalin owned the whole apparatus, and even if you hied off to Mexico you got an axe in the head (yes, I am referring to Trotsky). Even Regional Nasties like Leander Perez, the political boss of South Louisiana from the 1940’s-60’s, can impose themselves in unavoidable ways. If you were black and he kept you off the voter rolls and took your land or incited mob violence against you, there was no recourse. I am not sure whether the difference between the Garden Variety and the Grand Nasties is one of scale or psychology. Is Perez just “R” writ large (with the citizens of Louisiana in the role of the deceived husband, and the oil industry in the role of the orgiastic gangsters)? Or are Perez and his big brother Stalin an entirely different sort of phenomenon?

  2. dead_vladimir says:

    well Mike R ended up going to jail, coming out slightly cleaning up and destroying women on less a great scale; more of the sponge, beat up on their self estgeem, maybe smack them less obviously no longer hook them on drugs or pimp them out -well as far as i know been years since i moved in those circles -he could of utterly relapsed, but my understanding is his two years in prison kind of exposed him to real nastier sorts, the sorts who’d kill him just cause….

    now he was white priveleged, and later mythology has him coming from a molested background, but so did his sister and brotherm and they supposedly turned out fine. So while that is horrible and ugly, I am not sure it excuses or exemps evil. And i don’t know if i’d call these garden variety nasties, garden varitey nasty is cuts you off, makes you wait when they know you need to go pick up your kids just as a pwoer thing. Hooking you on drugs and pimping you out in trade for his stock to sell, the day we consider that garden variety is the day our society isn’t worh perserving

  3. rootietoot says:

    GNVs are what keep psychologists employed, not because they go to them (they don’t because you first have to believe you have a problem, which they don’t) but because of all the direct and collateral damage to non-nasties who get in their way. And from experience, that damage can last for years and impact people who never even met the GVN. I really believe there are more of them who are that way due to some kind of internal flaw- the missing piece or whatever, than come from a bad circumstances. Tho yes, circumstances can play a big part. however, I believe many times circumstances are an excuse, rather than a cause. I don’t know that GVNs are necessarily broken, because that would imply that once upon a time they were whole, as much as they are just wired differently. I am just as confident that I will be accused of victim blaming or something for having that opinion. I think there’s a difference between people who behave badly, and bad people. I am thinking of GVNs as the latter.

    • Erik Schwarz says:

      You victim-blamer, you! Wait – who are the victims here? The nasties who had bad childhoods/faulty wiring or the people to whom they do damage? I am all mixed up now, and I am sure someone is to blame.

    • Ren says:

      ” I am just as confident that I will be accused of victim blaming or something for having that opinion. I think there’s a difference between people who behave badly, and bad people. I am thinking of GVNs as the latter.”

      Agreed….after all, if it was MERELY a matter of past trauma and such, ALL people who had that would be…nasties. But that’s not how it is. M, A and R ALL have siblings who are….normal as it were. E is the only only child of the ones I mentioned. If it was merely a matter of raising and a rough life or whatever, would not ALL of them be…nasties?

  4. dead_vladimir says:

    In fact I think that is part of what lets these people get away with it, so many people call them garden variety nasty or thatthey are no “stalin” is what lets them get away with it. Because they ar eStalin’s just not with as much power

    maybe that is the discussion to have

    • rootietoot says:

      right- like what would theybe if they had opportunity+charisma+real ambition? I don’t know if the world is capable of producing someone like that more than one or two at a time…and there’s always the AntiChrist concept.

      I know my personal GVN is The Blackhearted Bastard, and seeing him experience Karma is a fine thing indeed. It has turned him from a dictatorial asshole into a sniveling and pathetic little man. It’s double gratifying seeng how he *needs* Terry now, when before he walked all over him and used him.

      • Erik Schwarz says:

        I do not know the story of the Blackhearted Bastard. His transmogrification from dictator to sniveller sounds like quite a morality tale! About karma – you know it is supposed to take at least 7 lifetimes for the fruits of one’s actions to manifest in one’s present life, but perhaps BB got some of the instant kind.

      • dead_vladimir says:

        except the world does produce them in whole batches-look at histor-from people who exploit aborignies to government bureacrats who extend it into a policy into the meglomaniacal leaders
        man’s cruelty to man, it’s well recorded from as soon as we recorded history

        I think these people are like sperm, the world coughs forth millions of them but only one or two reach the fertile highest levels of power

        • Erik Schwarz says:

          I agree. What distinguishes the Hitlers, Stalins and Pol Pots (perhaps we can categorize them as “Fearless Leaders” pace the cartoon dictator from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show) is not their badness but their charisma. Their bad qualities are the usual stuff: paranoid tendencies, control issues, disregard for others etc. Ren probably knows the list backwards and forwards from her study of abnormal psychology. What is distinctive about Fearless Leaders is their ability to communicate their visions to masses of people, to enroll us in their worldviews and engage our loyalties and best efforts. Remarkably, even as their visions fail and are seen to fail, so many of us remain committed to them amid the chaos and destruction. The kids fighting the last desperate battles around Hitler’s bunker as the Soviet Army closed in. The Khmer Rouge after the decimation of the Killing Fields and the Vietnamese invasion. I don’t understand it.

          • Ren says:

            Well, two of the GVN’s I mention ARE amazingly charismatic, like to a disturbing level really….think of, well, cult leaders…still no Joe Stalin of course, but yeah…an ability to mold, aim and shoot…either of them probably COULD inspire that level of…ew… if they were of the mind to do so. And yes, I do agree with Vlad in that some sorts of GNV’s, if they could figure a way to be Joe Stalins…get the money and the clout and get all into politics and such….they would, in a second, without question…but while they have the charisma really…well, lack the drive, funding, pedigree, time whatever to get there, and well, in my GNV examples…all are Americans…throw one of them someplace that is truly ripe for the rise of Joe Stalin sort, and heck, they just might do it…but, well, M & A would have in that case, the disadvantage in Joe Stalin becoming of being….women.

            BUT, lets take Joe Stalin out of it for a minute: The Khmer Rouge for example, or countless other military or quasi military groups who engage in violence, torture, so on, so forth…sometimes in the name of a cause and sometimes, well, just because….FILLED with GVNs.

            • Erik Schwarz says:

              I gather that your view is that the Grand Nasties like Stalin are essentially similar to the Garden Variety Nasties like M and E. All of them share the gift of charisma as well as various pathological personality traits. What differentiates them, as I understand you, is above all time, place and historical circumstance. If a Garden Variety Nasty found herself or himself in the right circumstance, s/he would ascend – if that is the right word – to Grand Nastiness. Napoleon at the siege of Toulon in 1793 with artillery skills and some political allies: future Emperor of France. Napoleon in Queens NY in 1983 with a big Corsican family to support and limited English fluency: an unusually domineering pizza parlor owner. Or the obverse: if the right virus had come along, Stalin might have been nothing more than a rebellious seminarian who died of the flu in Siberia.

              There is a lot to be said for this contingent view of history, though I still wonder whether there is something distinctive about the Stalins and Pol Pots of this world. By the way, there are some women who overcame the disadvantage of their sex and distinguished themselves by their monstrosity. Queen Boudicca comes to mind. She is often taken as a sort of English national heroine – her statue stands near Westminster Bridge on the Embankment – but she burned London to the ground and slaughtered tens of thousands. More recently there is Jiang Qing, Mao’s wife and the leader of the Gang of Four (not the rock band). Unlike Boudicca, she had no skills with sword and spear, but Jiang Qing managed to spill plenty of blood nonetheless. After Mao’s death, she was tried and convicted of persecuting 3/4 of a million people and killing over 30,000.

              About the followers – those who do the actual killing on behalf of their leaders – I am not so sure that they are nasty people. Torturers, sure. They are a special breed. But the foot soldiers? I have never met a Khmer Rouge, but I have spoken with Cambodian survivors. None of them conveyed the idea that the cadres were personally evil. The child soldiers who have come out of African paramilitaries? They did unspeakable things, but they are just confused kids. War can certainly turn one into a nasty, messed-up person, but most soldiers do not start out that way. Our military tries pretty hard to screen the nasties out. I have known a number of combat vets – some pretty well – and they have all experienced horror and been affected by it, but most are very decent sorts with very decent comrades.

              • Ren says:

                I agree that by in large most soldiers are NOT horrible people….they might get caught up and do horrible things, but they themselves are not.

                and I think SOME GVN’s have the stalin-like vibe, not all.

                • Erik Schwarz says:

                  Yes, I imagine E would make a very unsatisfactory Stalin or any other sort of Fearless Leader. M, on the other hand, might give old Boudicca a run for her money.

    • Erik Schwarz says:

      Hmm, I have never heard the “They are no Stalin defense” (as opposed to the “Twinkie defense”). I think the comparison of garden variety to grand nasties is just a conjectural exercise. You seem certain that the difference between the former and the latter is essentially one of scale, and that the small nasties would become Stalins if only they could get hold of a whole country to abuse. I am not sure. By the way, I see that you object to the term “garden variety nasty” as a descriptor of psychopaths or sociopaths and would prefer to reserve it for the merely rude, officious or otherwise unpleasant in everyday ways. You may be right. I coined the term with reference only to Ren’s subjects M and E, and I did not intend it to apply to a whole class of individuals. I was simply drawing a distinction between M and E, who make each other miserable, and the historical figures Ren adduced, Stalin and Pol Pot, who immiserated tens of millions if not more.

      • rootietoot says:

        I suggest you read “People of the Lie” by Scott Peck for a very interesting take on Garden Variety vs Grand Scale nasties. It’s a study of human evil and he particularly discusses the small scale types, but hits on the big picture ones as well.

      • dead_vladimir says:

        ah but i see by hiding behind the scale i think we let them off easy

        M and E don’t ahv ethe sort of power that a Pol Pot did, but based on their actions in the limited sphere they have now, we can extrapolate they’ behave just as abominably on a grand scale- after all how can we assume giving them more power would mean they would act better? Perhaps it is possible, but going on patterns, well I don’t think we’d be wrong to expect the worst.

        • Erik Schwarz says:

          Vlad, here is the rub: would M and E, at least as they are presently constituted, ever have the capacity to operate on a grand scale? I do not assume that giving them more power would make them act better. If anything, I believe like Lord Palmerston that the reverse obtains. My question is whether those who commit evil on a grand, historical scale are just blown-up versions of the nasties we know, or are they something else?

          I once had a classically paranoid girlfriend (delusions of grandeur, delusions of persection etc.) “S” was very high-functioning. Took me quite some time to figure it out. She managed to rise within her profession to become press secretary to a U.S, Senator but eventually wrecked her job and ended up with the Capitol Hill police knocking down her door to retrieve files.

          I was finally happy to wash my hands of her and the various prevarications and concealments in which “S” had involved me, but do I think she had the capacity to become a Stalin or even a Nixon – to name two paranoid personalities who bestrode the world stage? No, I do not. I cannot describe in psychological terms what I feel the difference to be, but I am certain there is one, or perhaps several.

          • rootietoot says:

            I think the difference would be similar to that difference that makes one person a really nice, kind and generous individual, and another one Billy Graham or Gandhi (Ghandi?)-charisma. I am married to a genuinely fine person, who the worst things he’s ever done is throw bubble bath in the town fountain and kick an unsuspecting squirrel (he still feels guilt over that),and he would give you his last dollar if you needed it, but he is not what you’d call charismatic, or charming (except to me,I think he’s fantastic). Some people simply have the THING, the Knack, something probably psychologists can name (but I can’t) that draws people in and makes them want more. How they use that, for good or bad, is what defines them as small scale or large.

      • Ren says:

        oh, don’t sell M & E short, they are pretty good at making vast numbers of people miserable, or annoyed, or on edge and nervous, so on….

      • Ren says:

        I think it depends on the small scale nasty. Some prolly actually prefer only messing with one or a few people because, well, its more low key and less likely to draw attention….others, hell yes, given a whole country to abuse and the might to do it? It would be like Christmas morning for them.

  5. Erik Schwarz says:

    Is charisma a unitary phenomenon, or is there good charisma and bad charisma? Is it like water? If you add it to strychnine you produce poison but if you add it to Scotch you get a highball. Or does the charisma Gandhi possessed differ in some essential way from the kind Hitler had? I have no idea. By the way, tell your husband that the squirrel is over it. For years he flew into unpredictable rages and kicked field mice and toadstools, but finally he got into therapy with Dr. Sigmund Chipmunk and worked through his issues.

  6. rootietoot says:

    charisma or charism (kəˈrɪzmə, ˈkærɪzəm)

    — n
    1. a special personal quality or power of an individual making him capable of influencing or inspiring large numbers of people
    2. a quality inherent in a thing which inspires great enthusiasm and devotion
    3. Christianity a divinely bestowed power or talent

    [C17: from Church Latin, from Greek kharisma, from kharis grace, favour]

    charism or charism

    — n

    [C17: from Church Latin, from Greek kharisma, from kharis grace, favour]

    charismatic or charism

    — adj

    Cultural Dictionary
    charisma [(kuh- riz -muh)]

    Extraordinary power and appeal of personality; natural ability to inspire a large following.

    I would say it isn’t defined as “good” or “bad”, it’s kind of like a tool- and can be used for either. Some people are equipped with it, and some aren’t.

    • Erik Schwarz says:

      I am with ya. Charisma for the purposes of this discussion is a morally neutral phenomenon. Let’s not get into the theological dimensions of the word. Charisma in the sense of gifts of the Spirit. Oy vey, that could take us all over the place!

  7. Ren says:

    OH, I also want to make a clarification about M & E, just cause, well, it might help. They are not together at this point, and were never what one would call boyfriend/girl friend or a couple or whatever. M did get E to – get ride of- the College GF, but they werent dating as most people would think of it. As it stands now- they are in diferent states, M is with someone else and putting up a fairly Normal Life Impression, and E is single, alone, and well, lets pretty much anyone and everyone use him in various kinds of manners. They are still in contact from time to time, and M will roll into town and brutalize him from time to time, but yeah,not together.

  8. Roy Kay says:

    I wouldn’t knock Stalin too much. After all, he did have the grace to kill off just about everybody who brought him to power and kept him there.

    That’s the heart of it. Rising in power has a lot to do with how well you use people, even people who can see their doom approaching before it’s formally planned. For the Soviet Communist, it was a matter of finding no meaning outside the reference of the success of the Soviet state. And so, people followed the only course they could even think of. Likewise for the other All Star, and minor league nasties. Sometimes they rise because they do for others the nasty things they want done, but are too squeamish to do themselves. Saddam Hussein rose in the Baathist Party because they needed a thug. At some point in the process the servant became the master. Being a useful nasty is what leads to the rise in power, and ye, you can apprentice as a GVN

    But some are just good for small time nastiness. They are useful enough to themselves that they aren’t motivated to subvert an organization and rise within it. I don’t know that it’s so much “getting away with it” and being rewarded for it. The luck of the draw shows that you can be successful with your fists, with your lies, with your facility for breaking down others. I think a huge amount of it is operant conditioning. Little by little, you get honed into a nasty, and the type of nasty is what dictates your future success in the field. It’s may be that something is missing, but that something is missing because it had no utility when things were internalized.

    • Erik Schwarz says:

      Ah, another Joe Stalin fan. There is something about him…perhaps the mustachioes.

      Quite right about rising to power: it is all about adeptness at using people. I think this is true whether in democratic societies with the rule of law or bare-knuckle failed states. Though the methods differ.

      “No meaning outside…the state.” As good a definition of the social psychology of totalitarianism as I have come across. Though we have to acknowledge the resisters, from the kulak class, who seemed to persist in deriving meaning from their relationship to the land, to men of conscience like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

      I am glad you brought up Saddam Hussein, a figure who has been notably absent from this colloquy. In my view, he was neither particularly pathological nor particularly interesting (his sons are another matter). Just a thug, as you say. He might have been a minor character in “The Sopranos” had he had not been perfectly positioned to take over the Baathist state in Iraq.

    • rootietoot says:

      As I read this Fred Phelps came to mind, a small scale nasty, who’s managed to subvert and poison about 80 people (most his family) but just pissed off the whole rest of the world, even ones who don’t Approve of homosexuality.

      as it was implied earlier, it’s a matter of ambition. Stalin, Hitler, etc, Hussien and Ayatollah Khomeni, were ambitious men. Pehaps it’s not charisma, as I said earlier, but ambition, that separates the Big Fish from the small fish, or a potent and particular combination of the 2 qualities.

      back to my husband, a very ambitious man, who’s risen to a certain level of influence and esteem in his area, but not particularly charismatic. People like him very much, and he can get the people who work for him to do just about anything he wants them to (thank God he’s a good man, and not Nasty), but he’s not a horn-blower on himself, so the people above him tend to not recognize the extent of what he does, until he isn’t doing it and then they all wonder why everything went to hell. People who rise to real power will point out to everyone around them what they do, and make people notice. They’ll surround themselves with sycophants (Terry prefers competent people to suckups) who make sure everyone knows what that person is doing and how wonderful it is.

      • kingschwarz says:

        Okay, I am on board to add ambition to the list of requisite qualities for a Grand Nasty. Charisma too, though perhaps not requisite, is very helpful. A distinctive mustache is also a great help. Optional in the case of women tyrants.

        Fred Phelps: had to look him up. The leader of the church group that pickets military funerals. When this was first reported, I thought it was just an unfortunate and regrettable expression of an otherwise respectable antiwar sentiment. Not so! It is a protest against homosexuality. I am still unclear about the logical connection to military funerals, and perhaps so is Fred Phelps.

        There are some surprises in his biography. He is Democrat, and has run for various offices on the Democratic ticket. His best performance was 30% in the 1992 Kansas Senatorial primary. Even more surprising, he was a locally prominent civil rights attorney. He also took some womens’ rights cases.

        Phelps does not consider homosexuality the ultimate evil in our society. He reserves that status for…Arminianism, a late-Renaissance theological movement stressing the freedom of human will. He considers it a “worse blasphemy and heresy than that heard in all the filthy Saturday night fag bars in the world.” Phelps may be the first person who has gotten this excited about prevenient grace and substitutionary atonement since the 17th century.

        Some of his other religious bugbears are more up to date. He decries Sunday school, Bible colleges and revival crusades. And he hates Billy Graham, Robert Schuller and Jerry Falwell. Oh yeah, and all Catholics, Muslims and Jews, along with Princess Diana, Sonny Bono and Fred (“Mister”) Rogers.

        • rootietoot says:

          According to Phelp’s children (the ones who left) he is essentially a Very Angry Man, and through his theological training, has found Arminianism a convenient target, and homosexuality a convenient excuse for his rage. Basically he’s a nutjob with a bit of education. He hates everyone who isn’t Fred Phelps or a sycophant of Fred Phelps. I saw a documentary about him that tried very hard to be objective, but the documentor was so taken aback by the constant and vituperative rage that toward the end he (the documentor) just kind of gave up trying to be objective and let his disgust show a little. You can look at Phelps, watch his body language and see a man so overcome with ferocious rage that he cannot function without it. His children and grandchildren show the same attitudes. I think it’s this utter lack of charm that keeps him small-time.

          • kingschwarz says:

            That sounds right. Thanks for the insights. My only cavil is about Arminianism as “a convenient target.” I submit Phelps had to really stretch to find that one! The Fellows of the Fund for Theological Education are convening in New Orleans next week, and I am doing a couple of workshops for them. I’ll see how many of them are conversant with Arminianism. I have to admit I am a little impressed by the abstruseness of this hatred. (“You wanna know what’s wrong with the world today? MONOTHELITISM, that’s what!”)

            Since you have a good handle on Phelps, can you explain the connection he draws between homosexuality and military funerals? I still don’t get that one.

            • Ren says:

              In essence, god is punishing us with wars and dead soliders ’cause god hates fags (according to him)

              • kingschwarz says:

                Aha! so that is the beginning of his logic chain. But what a crazy, twisted one. I guess it is somewhat of a piece with the view that New Orleanians deserved Hurricane Katrina because we are such a sinful bunch. (Actually we are not. We are just very tolerant and very poor, so we let visitors come here and do what they like so long as they pay their bills.) This theodicy eventually comes back thoughand bites its proponents in the can. We all die, don’t we, so God must hate us all. Btw, still don’t get Phelps’s move from saying war is divine retribution to picketing military funerals and harassing bereaved families. Even the New Orleans haters let us bury our dead in peace.

        • Roy Kay says:

          This is interesting. It also demonstrates how being Nasty can do 2 things:

          1) Be rewarded by others who find in a Nasty, a vent for their own hatreds. “Phelps hates fags. I hate fags. My hat is off to him for DOING SOMETHING about it. I should support him.”

          2) Progressively insulating the Nasty by accreting only supporters and thus never getting a reality check from anyone. In political marketing this is called “Staying on message.”

          • kingschwarz says:

            What you say makes sense, Roy, but in the particular case of Phelps the impact of your 2 things, I think, is minimized. 1) very few homophobes will support the harassment of bereaved military families as a legitimate expression of their view and 2) the message on which Phelps is so resolutely staying is too odd and idiosyncratic to have any but the most marginal appeal. Arminianism? Sonny Bono? But who knows, other crazy preachers have gotten big crowds to drink their Kool Aid,

            • rootietoot says:

              Phelps’ children say that he has always been terribly angry and abusive, it’s as he got older he focused his hatred on Arminianism and homosexuals. Not manyhave drunk of his Koolaid, most of the congregation of his 80-member church are family. He lacks the charisma of Jim Jones or David Koresh.

  9. xena says:

    Like I said, E is disabled and now addicted. The M&E couple, with the gender reversal is an extreme minority in terms of the overall pattern, even with the addiction issues. Able-bodied men still have the advantage in terms of finding work and being self sufficient.

    • Ren says:

      Xena:
      Even when those two first started up together there was not much of a size difference…E is a TINY dude, and M was in much, much better physical shape and had been in a few fights in her day- unlike E. It is not a normal thing at all.

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