Scapegoats. Targeting. Bullying. Excuses for hate. Violence.
Increasingly, smokers are being seen as the New Niggers, the ones that it’s acceptable to hate. Especially in times of uncertainty, frustration, disappointment and edginess, lots of people feel they need targets. It’s not a rational thing. It’s not a fair thing. But the urge to aggress comes out, people want to act it out, and they start searching frantically for a reason to. What are they looking for? Someone who personifies all that rage they’re feeling. Someone who’s one of the morally reprehensible “them” responsible for their feelings of discomfort.
Such angry people may be – hardly consciously — musing about this as they arrive at the bus stop. They see a man who’s one of “them”. They pull out the stops.
When the incident hits the papers, the reporter, who describes the sequence of events in an authoritative way – the basic narrative has no quotation marks – ends by quoting the police as saying it was an “unprovoked” attack. Those quote marks are just that little subtextual suggestion that the police are going through the motions, may be bending over backwards (god bless ‘em) to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Because it was rather violent, after all. And the man was deaf. So some slack should be cut for him despite the fact that … he’s one of “them”.
Then our reporter returns to her authoritative style to remind readers that there is, after all, a smoking ban.
So let us not forget that the man attacked is one of “them”, an unacceptable one.
That’s no excuse for attacking him, of course — and the police are looking for the assailant.
But let us not forget the great distinction between “us” and “them”.