Can you be a victim and a tyrant at the same time? If victimhood is the currency, then the answer is a resounding yes.
In this brilliant and disturbing piece from the Spectator blog, Julie Burchill identifies a chilling new phenomenon. Although her frame of reference is British, it isn’t hard to identify the trend, and it’s particularly prevalent, in the North American context, in academia.
As the Yale Hallowe’en costume lunacy heated up, one of the protesters wrote an op-ed in the student newspaper that included the line, “I don’t want to debate. I want to talk about my pain.” To which Richard Dawkins, no less, tweeted: “And she was accepted into Yale. Grow up, spoiled brat.”
It gets worse. In the wake of the horrific terror attack in Paris, some American activists complained on Twitter about the news coverage stealing the headlines they had previously enjoyed. You can’t make this stuff up.
Fortunately, I don’t think it’s too widespread. It does seem to be concentrated in the media and on campus. But if it goes further, and lasts longer, it will be interesting to see the effects spill over — on to marketing, for example.
Imagine if an in-depth analysis of a target market — say, a meaningfully large segment of Millennials — reveals that a sense of victimhood (and its corollary, helplessness) really is a major driver of attitude and response. What would be the implications for an ad campaign? I can just see the headline now: MAKE THEM BUY IT FOR YOU. (Works for just about every product category.)