Limits.

I’ve been thinking lately about my languishing Creepology manuscript. I’ve been stuck on it for a while, for various reasons. One of them is the lack of useful terminology, or the fact that the terminology we do have is used differently by different people, rendering it effectively meaningless.

In my current writing endeavours, I’m classing “cock-roaches” as a very specific type of person, namely those who:

  • knowingly and deliberately;
  • with a specific aim (i.e., to cause creeperation);
  • break the rules just enough to get the result they want, but not enough for their behaviour to be actionable.

The fact that their rule-breaking was so minimal is often treated as proof that they’re NotThatBad©. In reality, it is a manifestation of the fact that they are coldly calculating in their actions. It should add premeditation to their list of ‘crimes’; it most definitely shouldn’t mean that they get a pass. But, more often than not, it does.

I got thinking about how common that kind of attitude actually is, and not just in the world of creeps and predators. Way too often situations are evaluated solely on the basis of “how bad it was”, both with regards to methods employed and the final results. The people perpetrating certain acts are seen, and maybe even see themselves, as almost innocent. It’s the same mentality by which doing 40mph on a 30 limit is speeding, but doing 33 somehow is not. If caught, those drivers often claim that they weren’t doing anything illegal, not really; even though they knowingly went faster than the speed limit, and deliberately selected that speed in order to break the law while avoiding detection or punishment.

People display that kind of mentality in all sorts of situations. They won’t tell a full lie, because that could get them in trouble. But they’ll tell a half-truth and, if they are caught out, they will absolve themselves and demand others to absolve them, because they didn’t straight up lie, not quite, nor really. They completely disregard the fact that the half-truth was still designed specifically to deceive. They won’t slip rohypnol in a date’s drink, because that’s date rape. But they’ll happily buy round after round in the hope that alcohol will have a similar effect, even though they were specifically told from the get-to that sex was off the menu, and treat that as if it were ok.

I’m not saying here that we should punish those who commit minor transgressions as severely as those who commit major ones. I’m not convinced that doing that would help. But I’m increasingly convinced that we (or at least I) should be more careful when looking at people who only just barely minimally break rules a teeny tiny wee bit, particularly when they do so all the damn time. It could be that they’re almost wholly good people who just happen to slip up. It could also be that they are demonstrating a huge amount of orchestration and premeditation. That they’re liars or rapists or dangerous drivers and strategists. That they are deliberately arranging circumstances so that they can do a bad thing that they will never have been guilty of because it won’t have been that bad. And if that’s the case, I’m disinclined to play along with their game.

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