May 16, 2013

"Look at this Boston bombing. The pictures of those two brothers. Aren’t they cute?"

Said I, as quoted in The New Yorker today in a piece by Paul Bloom called "The Dzhokar Tsarnaev Empathy Problem." I was being sarcastic and criticizing the media for using a strikingly baby-faced picture of Tsarnaev in practically every report.

Bloom concludes:
Relying on the face might be human nature—even babies prefer to look at attractive people. But, of course, judging someone based on the geometry of his features is, from a moral and legal standpoint, no better than judging him based on the color of his skin. Actually, both biases reflect the parochial and irrational nature of empathy—if Tsarnaev were black, would he evoke the same response from the mothers [Hanna Rosin described here]? When someone talks about the warm feelings she has for Tsarnaev because of his sweet face, we should treat this with the same wary understanding that we would give to someone who admits to caring more about those who have the same color skin. It’s an empathetic response, and a natural one, but hardly one to be proud of.
Bloom says nothing about the baby-faced picture of Trayvon Martin that the media tended to use. Sweet faces manipulate us emotionally even when they are black. And an individual's face isn't quite the same as his skin color, because the mind is revealed through the face (albeit incompletely and often deceptively). Bloom displays the media's favorite photo of Jared Loughner and declares that we don't feel much empathy toward that face. But the problem with that face is not inborn ugliness. It's craziness in the expression. We are properly repelled by that.

It is the true sociopath — I would suggest — whose does evil things but keeps a normal-looking face. We need to challenge ourselves to recognize the sociopaths in our midst. And let's not try to overcome our aversion to faces like Loughner's or Adam Lanza's. These people have terrible problems that we ignore at great risk.

ADDED: The post title corrects a typo that appears in The New Yorker ("bothers" for "brothers").

26 comments:

edutcher said...

One could say the same about Barack Hussein Obama

mmm, mmm, mmm.

Of course, I'm pretty sure the New Yorker felt the same way about the Viet Cong.

Carnifex said...

sorta like Trayvon Martin heh? Those sneaky bastards using their baby pictures to push an agenda...oh wait....

Larry J said...

A lot of women had a crush on Ted Bundy, too. Just goes to show that some people are poor judges of character and, even when female, are engaging in small head thinking. You're bound to have problems when you go through life thinking with your small head.

harkin said...

Not a fan of Bloom or much of the statist reporting at The New Yorker but he seems to portray your comment tone correctly:

"the law professor and blogger Ann Althouse makes a similar point, commenting, sarcastically, on the media coverage: “Look at this Boston bombing. The pictures of those two bothers. Aren’t they cute?” If the "sarcastically" was added later it is not noted.

The NYTimes cover photo of the pouty teen idol Dzhokhar for some reason seems to be everywhere while the photos of his victims are almost nowhere. And it's kind of strange how you never heard the murderers of Matthew Sheperd described as "troubled youths", as the vampire brothers were. Both sets of perps were murderous thugs plain and simple.

Ann Althouse said...

"but he seems to portray your comment tone correctly"

I know. I appreciated that.

Jeff Teal said...

Danger hides in beauty.Ted Bundy looked like a normal American kid.Jodi Arias manifests as a smallish female.Tsarnaev and Martin are just cute young guys.Gangbangers wear oversized pants and sloppy baseball caps like litle Russell Cosby-and carry pistols.Praying Mantis alook like sticks.Arrow frogs are bright and pretty.Coral snakes are beautifully banded.Tigers are magnificent.So?

John said...

What about Uncle Ruslan?

What did he, with his high level CIA relations, have to do with the bombers getting into the US in the first place?

What did he have to do with da boyz not getting thoroughly investigated by the FBI?

John Henry

Shanna said...

It is the true sociopath — I would suggest — whose does evil things but keeps a normal-looking face.

My roommate said the same thing 'isn't he cute' when we were watching a documentary on Ted Bundy. That stuff your mama told you about not judging a book by it's cover? It's actually true.

traditionalguy said...

An outer charm is why sociopaths ( aka Toxic Narcissists ) capture their prey so easily. But they have NO empathy for any person they use in their games designed craftily for meeting their narcissistic supply. Once a usd person's role is over, then that person is killed off as if they never existed.

The mistake we make with these folks is hanging on expecting them to suddenly change their ways. Get away from them and never look back.



Methadras said...

Titus would be all like, "Hot guys who blow shit up... Just not in my face. Sad. Hog. Tits"

Meade said...

Toxic narcissists? I like to think my own narcissism is non-toxic but maybe that's just my grandiosity doing the thinking.

gadfly said...

The media is using the Trayvon Martin trick by displaying an old Jahar Tsarnaev pic. Recent photos, including one from his Russian Facebook page which shows Jahar as a not-so-attractive adult.

Cedarford said...

I can understand why black racist hucksters and liberals and progressive jews running the media sided with manipulative imagery "adorable black child Trayvon" in the narrative of the orange jumpsuited evil racist white hispanic murderer who had a loaded gun to compensate for penis inadequacy as he stalked the child...

But sans black racist hucksters...what is the rationale for the liberals and progressive jewish media puppetteers using images to cast Tamerlan as the Boxing hero and Dhokar as the sweet manchild??
I mean, we haven't had the liberals and jews that orchestrate the imagery give us pictures of the dead 7 year old with a scary angry face yet, or an amputee's past DWI mug shot.....

But there is an eerie consistency, similar to the liberal and progressive jew's "Journolist Cabal".
Same pictures, in all publications, when they had access to dozens other pictures of Trayvon, Zimmerman, the Tsarnaev Brothers.
Why?
And why particularly in this case of vile bloodthirsty, cop-killing Muslim terrorists is their consistent imagery so focused on playing on emotions to manipulate viewers into seeing the 2 Islamoid butchers in a good light??

Sam L. said...

That's why all the early pix of Travon were from when he was 13.

ad hoc said...

I have had several converations recently with young women each of whom expressed sympathy toward the 19-year old brother. I pointed out that nice young women probably felt the same way about Ted Bundy right before they went to their horrible grisly deaths. This guy placed a bomb next to a small boy and walked away. He should not be an object of symapethy under any circumstances. Old-fashioned but good advice - it is the person inside that matters, not the outer shell.

Oso Negro said...

Ann said "Sweet faces manipulate us emotionally even when they are black."

Oh my god! Post-intentional racism alert! Do they have a walk-in diversity clinic in Madison? You will want to get this attended to ASAP.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

So one of our survival mechanisms is the ability to be discriminating in our initial impressions of someone, until we can get more facts?

Why, that sounds like profiling.

Paul said...

"It is the true sociopath — I would suggest — whose does evil things but keeps a normal-looking face. We need to challenge ourselves to recognize the sociopaths in our midst."

Apparently we're not well able enough to recognize a sociopath to avoid electing one President Of The United States Of America.

Methadras said...

Hey, if women lie to you and say it's not about length, but how you use it, they will certainly lie about those horrid terrorist brothers not being cute. ROFL!!!

creeley23 said...

Apparently we're not well able enough to recognize a sociopath to avoid electing one President Of The United States Of America.

It's armchair psychology and unfair, but that's my impression of Obama.

My stepfather was a straight-up psychopath. I know the breed.

traditionalguy said...

Wasn't Trayvon that Boxer who won the fight but only brought fists and not a gun to the fight.

Narcissists are self centered but entertaining folks who are centers of attention...like most of us are.

The Toxic Narcissist has a strong mental illness that most psychiatrists refuse to try to treat because they are so harmful to everyone who threatens to expose them...like King Obama.

creeley23 said...

BTW, the book Althouse links, The Sociopath Next Door, is quite good.

According to the author, about 5% of the population are sociopaths and most of them are not spectacular villains like our Chechen friend here. Nonetheless, they are more than capable of manipulating the crap out of people in their immediate vicinity and creating much misery without batting an eye.

Nichevo said...

I'll remind you, Cedarford, not for the first time, that "Jew" is a proper not a common noun and it, and its other firms, are properly capitalized. This is a mistake I see you make often with "Jew" but not with "Christian" and never with "Muslim" or even "Islamoids." Why is that?

Nichevo said...

Forms

The Godfather said...

It's not just sentimental women who can be fooled by a cute face.

Back in the olden times, when O.J. Simpson was arrested (after the slo-mo car chase) for the murder of his wife and her friend, there was speculation whether the prosecution would seek the death penalty. I remember one of my friends, a usually sensible guy, who (like all of us) was convinced that O.J. had done it, nevertheless saying, "Oh, no, not death for The Juice!"

master cylinder said...

I was being sarcastic and criticizing the media for using a strikingly baby-faced picture of Tsarnaev in practically ever report.

How about correcting your own?