I Am Not Judging
How many times have you heard someone say “I am not judging?” It happens so often that there are even variations — not judging or no judgment. I guess it is supposed to make the someone feel better about himself for being accepting, but accepting of what?
We are constantly judging. How many things are rated? Like Uber rides. How many things are customer-surveyed like pretty much everything? All of these are invitations to judge and we seem to accept them. What is a tip other than a judgment on the service rendered? (Well, except that tips are now more or less mandatory and thus unrelated to anything resembling service.)
Yet we go on saying – to ourselves mostly – not judging, nope not me, not that guy.
By the way, despite a total absence of scientific data, I suspect that we use these words precisely when we are judging and especially when we are finding something to be wanting. Has everyone ever said, “you are terrific but I’m not judging.”
So, here’s a question: would the world be a better place with more judging rather than less? Especially the difficult kind where someone is misbehaving or something is in serious need of fixing. Are we enablers if we let miscreants get away with it?
Here is an example. Jussie Smollett is an actor on some show called Empire. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s not, but I have never seen it and I doubt I will. (Not judging?) Allegedly, Jussie was attacked by two Nigerians wearing MAGA hats who also used a noose as a prop. Alas, Jussie did not consider Chicago’s pervasive surveillance cameras that failed to record the incident as he reported it to the police. Oops. Turns out, it was most likely a stunt to enhance his position in contract negotiations. Evidence surfaced that Jussie knew and had paid the Nigerians.
He describes himself as black (pictures suggest this is accurate) and openly gay (why does anyone care whom he sleeps with?), presumably to establish himself as a member of historically oppressed groups. Yet, for Jussie, two is insufficient. He needs to add “hate crime victim” to claim an even greater share of the aggregate supply of sympathy from those who might actually deserve it.
Jussie is but an example. There are countless others that are equally deserving of opprobrium. Maybe there should be an annual awards show to honor examples of bad behavior. Seeking victimhood – especially when undeserved – could be a category. The undeserved victimhood award could be called the Jussie though he is sure to be forgotten well before that could get launched.
Years ago at college, I was part of a group that took much delight in something called the Mauvais Gout Award, which, in a spectacular display of what is now called “privilege,” we gave to miscreants who violated perceived societal norms. Not sure what to make of the choice of French for “bad taste” other than it was once perceived as the language of high culture. Full disclosure: I think I invented the Mauvais Gout Award.
Is it revival time? A Mauvais Gout Award comeback? Should we recognize and celebrate all manner of bad taste achievement?
There is the nagging question of who makes the choices and by what standards. Those who bestow the honor will surely be vilified for excess privilege, but might this be a small price to pay for a selfless effort to call out the conduct so richly deserving of our opprobrium.
Do you use that word often? I don’t. I recently confused it with its near-opposite “approbation.” My bad.
Here are some synonyms to ponder: vilification, vituperation, condemnation, criticism, censure, disparagement, disgrace and infamy. Do you ever encounter anything that might deserve these descriptions?
If so, we might want to consider the difficult but necessary steps to make such behavior stop. Opprobrium is one of them. In the criminal justice world it is called deterrence.