Pyramid of Denial (A follow up to “Stop Kicking The Dog. It’s About to Bite”) – Marc MacYoung

I’m wrestling with a ‘pyramid of denial’ in regard to the “Stop kicking the Dog” note I published. (Although it’s been suggested that I call this MacYoung’s Hierarchy of Screeds.)

As I’ve been tracking the shares and comments and the comments on the original I’m seeing a strong attitude “Well, I’m not kicking those ignorant rednecks.”


In trying to explain the problem with this I’m thinking of a pyramid. Dismissal and denial is the lower (bigger) level. A level that the higher levels rely on ‘that’ support. And yes, it is support. Or, if you will, a foundation.

In a 2014 note, I spoke of “Bleacher Thinking” were someone on a political side looks forth from where they are sitting and sees no misconduct on the part of the seats before him/her. As such that person dismisses the accusations of bad behavior from the fans of their team. Yet that person doesn’t turn around and look over his/her shoulder to see what the rowdies in the upper tiers are doing. People who are in fact, doing the very things the other side is accusing them of. Conversely, from your bleachers, it’s easy to see the entire other side’s — including that side’s barking moonbats. You know that side has crazies — just by never turning around you never have to see your side’s bad behavior.…

I want to expand on that general idea, but working in the idea that to a kicked dog, it doesn’t matter if you don’t think you’re kicking. Hell, you might not be kicking . But just standing next to and smelling like the person who is kicking puts you in danger of getting bit.

I hate to say it, but an argument that you deserve to get bit can be made. Still deserve or not, there’s a good chance of you feeling the teeth. Claiming you’re not kicking while being contemptuous of those mental midgets is a distancing technique. And while it might satisfy you, it’s not a very good one. It’s a spin on the “No True Scotsman” that I’ve seen many times in religion. It’s like:

“I’m a Reformed Baptist I shouldn’t be painted with the same brush as a Southern Baptist — we’re totally different.”

“Well you’re both Baptists aren’t you?”

“Well yes, but we’re nothing like THOSE Baptists.”

From inside the group there are all kinds glaring differences and massive distinctions. But, from an outside perspective — if we’re being generous — they’re subtle and nuanced differences. At the end of the day, everyone is still a Baptist. If we’re not being generous, they’re all the same.

To a pissed off Rottweiler calling someone a mental midget isn’t enough of a distinction from a kicker to keep you from getting bit. You’re still identifying yourself as part of the same group that has been kicking.

Those examples are indeed the more extreme (higher levels of the pyramid). Why the pyramid of denial idea still works is while they are openly hostile, abusive and even physically violent towards other, their morality, sense of righteousness and self-justification is so strong that their actions are pure and noble. Their outrage is their papal indulgence for attacking, and condemning those redneck mental midgets. (Or if you’re a millennial, “As a cis-gendered straight white male you directly benefit from Patriarchy, so check your privilege!”) Contempt is the identifier

Watch this video…

Now if you watched that video, odds are you have little support for the anti-homosexual street corner preacher. This even if you are a Christian. Because very few people go that far. (This is another reason why the pyramid analogy works, the further up you go the smaller the numbers.) But the student is completely off the deep end. While he was fortunately incompetent, his was a complete rage attack — which thankfully failed. If the student had a weapon he would have used it. (Thus is the nature of rage attacks.)

But ask yourself, why did that student feel comfortable to get to that point?

That is a very, very important question. What are the conditions that encouraged the student to get that far out of control? Why did that student feel he could safely, physically assault others for their views without repercussions? I’m not just talking about interfering with another persons freedom of speech, but commit a berserk attack? Because that behavior was ‘wrong’ on all kinds of levels. Yet that degree of out of control has to be carefully nurtured and promoted over a long period of time.

And that has all kinds of relevance to the growling dog.

I’m going to suggest that if you support the student’s actions — even if it’s “Well the preacher shouldn’t be allowed to spew hate” then you’re farther up the pyramid than just dismissal of ‘mental midgets.’ But those higher levels can’t exist without a huge foundation of intellectual contempt for those who think differently than you. And make no mistake, it is contempt — no matter how justified or warranted you feel it to be.

Why should you even bother to communicate with anyone you hold contempt for? Why should you care about infringements on their rights or insults and abuse heaped on them. Even if you don’t go so far as saying they deserve it, then schadenfreude (harm/joy taking pleasure from the misfortune of others) identifies you as a kicker to that pissed off dog.

My message of warning isn’t to the kickers. They’re so far up the pyramid and wrapped in their self-righteousness that there’s not a whole lot an outsider can do to put a lid on them –except for a fascist clampdown. (And yeah you might want to start worry about them pulling that down onto our heads). My warning is for those whom the extremists are using as a foundation for their actions. What you can do, is stop, reexamine your attitudes and see how you’re coming across to that growling dog. The next step is look to see how the kickers are using you as support for their actions.

Folks need to start pulling support from the extremists — on ALL sides. This mostly means standing up to the extremists in your party and not pretending they don’t exist. And the first step in that is realizing that just because you didn’t kick the dog isn’t enough, standing by and letting it happen (especially with a smug smile on your face) is enough for you to get bit.

Try standing up to one of your own before they get you into a fight you don’t want to be in.

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