‘Nice guys’ and psychopaths

Here’s a perfect example of a topsy-turvy phenomenon: the ubiquitous blog ‘Nice Guys of OKC’ (since removed from the web) takes pictures of the dating profiles of men who consider themselves ‘nice guys’ and then posts quotes from elsewhere in their profiles which reveal them to have opinions incompatible with our age. Humiliating men who are already struggling at life for their failed attempts to bargain for sex with their female friends seems rather unpleasant, but then so do they; opinions are divided. What’s amazing to me is that the post up at Jezebel praising the anonymous humiliatrice, with hundreds of approving comments, is written by Hugo Schwyzer, a man who remains inexplicably entitled to comment on matters of morality despite having confessed to attempting to gas an ex-girlfriend to death while she lay unconscious on his kitchen floor

How does this state of affairs not seem crazy to people?

In the West, where life is generally safe and there are few life-or-death moments for the ordinary member of the media/political classes, there are fewer opportunities to demonstrate moral and altruistic behaviour to others through actions. This leaves words  as the currency by which moral standards are judged- it becomes an increasingly important social signal to have the correct opinions about any subject, even if one’s power to influence the outcome is non-existent. After a while it seems that actions have become entirely forgotten and if one simply shouts moral opinions loudly enough horrific actions like this are forgotten:

I walked into the little kitchen only steps from where my ex lay. I blew out the pilot lights on our gas oven and on the burners, and turned the dials on everything up to maximum. I pulled the oven away from the wall, leaving the gas line intact, positioning it so that the gas was blowing directly at the passed-out young woman on the floor.

Having not grown up exclusively in the West I am much more inclined to discount proclaimed moral viewpoints as cheap signalling rather than evidence of rightness of thought- people are very likely to joke, speculate or engage in philosophical conjecture about things which may seem distasteful, but this is not a reliable guide to their likely behaviour. It’s crazy but it actually seems plausible that Hugo Schwyzer might have made more problems for himself if instead of actually trying to murder a woman, he had just joked about it.

8 thoughts on “‘Nice guys’ and psychopaths

  1. Yeah I saw this site too, as you say many of their ‘heinous’ statements were just disagreeing with progressive orthodoxies rather than evidence of them being actual dicks.

  2. I guess, one has to be sceptical of trite/simplistic opinions on such matters. Of course not everyone who’s trite will have a dodgy past as this guy, (btw that is such a creepy thing to learn, I wasn’t expecting at all) but trite grandstanding is fraught with problems and scapegoating, witchhunts/ generaly time-wasting on non-stories and old score-settlings arent far away.

    • The thing that most amazes me is the degree to which professed opinions are seen as reliable guides to inner morality, rather than past actions. A useful sociological rule of thumb is that in the absence of other information about a person’s likely behaviour, their past behaviour is a pretty good guide- if that is unknown, look at their parents. Not very palatable to the romantics, but there we are.

  3. Not quite sure what to make of it actually ‘the past behaviour’ or family background’…its not palatable certainly. and lets be fair, you are saying ‘rule of thumb’ nothing more.

    hmmm, I’m inclined to agree that in cases like this I can see how these would better predictors than professed opinions, particularly past misdemeanours

    • Talk is cheap! It’s the other end of the spectrum, but the Chris Brown/ Rihanna thing was a perfect example- they both hit so many predictors for domestic violence, yet people seemed surprised when it happened since Chris Brown had spoken out against DV in the past

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