Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Bullies and playing the "Psycho Card"

I have a visceral hatred of bullies-people who take advantage of not only size but rank and position and use it as a weapon with which to harass or intimidate those weaker or of lesser position. Most bullies are usually incredible wimps when they don't hold an unfair advantage and will back down if confronted properly. I learned this important lesson early on in my career. A local nutjob, who to spite his nextdoor neighbors and drive their property value into the ground, took to mowing his lawn wearing only a jock strap. After receiving pressure from the affected neighbor, the district attorney charged him with indecent exposure. I don't recall how the case played out but the events transformed this regular nutjob into an uber-nutjob. He took to penning threatening letters( all in bold colors with almost every word underlined) to all government officials and anyone that he imagined had any remote (and I do mean remote) connections with his case. His letters were initially laughable, such as the one asserting a dastardly coalition of Presbyterians and Mall Merchants to be in on the plot against him, but later they became increasingly more threatening and reckless. He wrote one that threatened the life of a local college basketball player and was convicted of that. After that he shifted his wrath and letter writing to the District Attorney and would frequent the courthouse ranting about his persecution. One day he made the mistake of actually confronting the DA. It was then that I learned how to deal with these folks. The DA took the jackass into his office, looked him right in the eye and told him that if he got one more letter or heard one more peep from him, he would beat the shit out of him. That is the mild version of their "conversation." And that was the last time I ever heard of the guy again. The DA played what I call the "psycho card."
The "psycho card" is a useful tool to make your way easier in this world if used sparingly, justifiably and in the appropriate circumstances. My theory is that most people will refrain from bugging, harassing or bothering a person who they suspect has the "psycho card" in his or her arsenal. It's simply deterrence. Let's say that you are the neighborhood prick-you spend your retirement taking pleasure in taking other neighbors to task for failing to rigidly abide by the Nazi-regime covenants of the subdivision such as the color of a mailbox or the planting of a tree without prior written approval in triplicate. You have three scofflaws who, in your scouring of the covenants, have committed heinous violations such as the ones cited above and you cogitate about confronting them. Let's further suppose that you know by experience or reputation that one of these folks has been known to play the "psycho card," and if you come to their door with your complaint you are likely to be roundly "dogcussed" and run out of the yard. Who do you think will not be bothered? You got it.
I was once aware of a loner who lived out in the country. He preferred not being bothered by door-to-door salesmen, Mormon missionaries or any other uninvited guests. Every day at a random time, he would go out on his porch and fire off his shotgun. For some reason, no one ever bothered him.
Inspiration for this rant came from catching a brief glimpse on the tube of some Senate Sub-Committee hearings on some unknown subject. Regardless of political stripe-the members of these committees are inveterate bullies. They subpoena some poor shmuck to appear before them, and he or she sits there while the venerable senators take turns going off on them. The "victims" aren't allowed to interrupt or be speak until they've been fully dressed down in public by this group of blowhards, then when they do respond they are expected to show respect for the esteemed committee members. This serves to further embolden and inflate the supersized egos of these megalomaniacs and these hearings get worse and worse. I would love to see one of these "captive" witnesses play the "psycho card"-just once I would pay to see one of them charge the dais and get in the face of these windbags, just as Earl Weaver did with umpires, Bobby Knight does with officials and John McEnroe did with referrees. Maybe even throw a chair. Please, just once!

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