Objectification: making dehumanization okay.


In Trump’s post-PC America, it’s become okay to dehumanize people or groups of people you don’t like. Then they justify it by calling it “straight talk” or “honesty,” which of course it is anything but.

Dehumanization means objectifying a person or group in such a way that it becomes okay to treat them as second class citizens or even resort to abuse or torture.

“Gay people are all abominations.”

“Jews are vermin.”

“Women are all stupid c__ts.”

The trick is to make the target less than human.  Make them an object and it’s okay to do whatever you want with them.

It works on an individual level too, of course.  Narcissists and sociopaths dehumanize their victims all the time, which has a way of making them “feel better” about the abuse they proceed to dish out.  Serial killers and rapists use it; so do abusive parents and spouses.

“You’re a fat pig.”

“You’re a disgusting waste of air.”

“You’re a nothing.”

In David Pelzer’s autobiography, A Child Called It, the harrowing story of a boy who was scapegoated by his narcissistic, alcoholic mother until the age of 13 when a sympathetic teacher finally reported the abuse to authorities and he was removed from the home.   Pelzer describes how his mother went so far as to referring to him as an “it” before meting out her horrific “punishments” and abuse.    Making him eat off the floor with the dogs and not recognizing his humanness (by making him a thing, an “it”) was how she was able to justify the horrible things she did to him.

In the larger sphere, hate groups use dehumanization to “feel better” about abusing, ostracizing, torturing, or sometimes even killing members of the groups they target.     The Nazis dehumanized the Jews and others they deemed “unfit” in order to justify their killings and other atrocities. KKK members dehumanize their black victims in a similar manner.  This is how they are able to justify carrying out the crimes they commit.  Dehumanization is also used during wartime, and may in some cases be a necessary evil in order for a combat soldier to psychologically process the massive guilt over having to kill another human being, though I don’t think it ever justifies atrocities done to women and children, or innocent civilians.

We see it more than ever now, since we have a president who regularly dehumanizes and makes negative generalizations against those he doesn’t like, especially at his rallies.   His hostile rhetoric riles up his supporters, who then feel justified to mete out verbal abuse and even violence at Muslims, liberals, reporters, gay people, peaceful protesters, or whatever.

Dehumanization isn’t confined to the right though.  I’ve seen it on the left too.    Both sides are using objectification and dehumanization to justify abusive behavior toward those they disagree with.    It’s a national disease, and it’s contagious.  We are not living in normal times.

I want to share this story a friend of mine told me about a man she met through a dating site.   He sounds like a sociopath to me, but I’m also pretty sure he’s been indoctrinated by his “hero” that this sort of toxic rhetoric is okay.

This new man and I had met on a dating site, and we spent quite a while on the phone getting to know one another, before we met at a fancy French restaurant.

I overlooked one or two overly crude flirtatious comments, as I have a weakness for outgoing, A- type personality men, and we had tasted a lot of wine.

But somehow, at a bar, the subject came around to Trump and Muslims. I was saying that I didn’t like that Trump said we should target their women and children, because they target ours. I could understand that during war, some innocents will be killed – say if a terrorist purposely housed them in his compound, but terrorism doesn’t justify intentional revenge terrorism.

He said, “We should target them, because they’re all cockroaches. Muslims are all coakroaches, and criminal invaders.”

He then went on to call all Mexican illegal immigrants criminal invaders and human coakroaches as well, who by nature of their race, “like blacks”, were disproportionately “more criminal”.  When I compared his remarks to Hitler calling the Jews coakroaches, and said it was racist and fascist to dehumanize whole classes of people, his voice got louder and louder against me, and no one at the bar verbally came to my aid.  He called me an emotional liberal and mocked me, “Wah, wah, wah” as if I was crying while getting up to “walk me to my car.”

Gone was the charming man who had induced me to go out with him, and I had to follow behind him to find my car, while he mocked loudly passers-by for “being fat” and “farting” in his face.  When we were alone in the parking lot, I had had enough and my temper and voice rose in an attempt to stop him from talking over me.  He had said I hadn’t experienced trauma like his because I had never been shot.   I said, “I may not have been shot at, but my own mother attacked me when I was only five years old, and I can tell you one thing:  I would never dehumanize all of humanity by calling the mentally ill, the handicapped, or any human race ‘coakroaches'”.

He said he would have slit my mother’s throat.  I got in my car and got out of there as fast as I could, and reported the incident to the dating site.

This is what we’re up against.  Sociopaths like this man now feel perfectly justified to amp up their abuse and hatred, because of the political times we are living in.

10 thoughts on “Objectification: making dehumanization okay.

  1. Yay for an end to scapegoating. Here’s a thought: Let’s call a moratorium on calling everyone we disapprove of “sociopaths” or “psychopaths.” You have said “Make BPD stigma-free.” Don’t we deserve the same consideration?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not a technical term though, and a sociopath is not the same thing as a psychopath. A sociopath’s behavior is always antisocial, while a psychopath’s may not be. That’s why I use the term.


  2. Sounds like a horrible date. I would have walked out of the bar time his mouth opened & the bad air started rushing out.
    Its not ok to dehumanize, even those individuals/groups who do commit atrocities against humanity. Even dehumanizing these creeps is lowering ourselves down to their level.
    I get tired of this ongoing rhetoric between democrats & republicans. It’s constant bashing & its not doing anyone any good. In fact it’s pretty stupid. Its labelling registered voters, & respective party members, things that most of them really aren’t (extreme right wing, extreme left wing, etc.). Surely a few in each party are those things & isn’t it a shame that that causes such crap.
    FYI: psychopaths have no conscience; sociopaths have one but its buried.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m tired of the hateful rhetoric between the parties as well. I’m also tired of one of the parties who regularly dehumanizes foreign terrorists (and making generalizations about all people of a certain religion), while their leader is actually encouraging terrorism here (and is supported by far right Christians who want to institute a religious theocracy here).

      But yes, both parties are guilty. It annoys me when I see someone on the left say that all people who voted for Trump deserve to die if they lose their healthcare. Just because they voted for the wrong person because they are misinformed? That seems a little harsh and I’ve called out people like that.
      It doesn’t help our side when someone acts like an asshole. It does help when we show by example how we would like the world to be.

      Re: psychopaths vs. sociopaths — it was always my understanding that psychopaths are born with the disorder, ie, they are missing the conscience part of the brain; while sociopaths are those who weren’t born with a missing conscience, but develop an antisocial personality due to abuse or training.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It seems like powers that be have always used their religion (whatever it may be) to dupe & control people, not to mention getting people to hate everyone else. Right-wing Christians are just as good as it as everyone else is. They have been for a long time actually (re:feudal Europe). Its a shame because a lot of regular folk, whatever their faith may be, are really pretty nice.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s exactly like fuedal Europe…or the witch-burnings in Puritan times…or the Inquisition. Far-right Christians think they’re somehow exempt and can use these dark methods of manipulation and coercion because it’s their holy duty to do so. Yet they hold themselves above Muslim extremists and others who operate in the very same manner and believe THEY are similarly ordained by their god(s).

          Authoritarianism attracts narcissistic, authoritarian, and antisocial personalities. Hence, what we have here in America today and why those with the most power are morally bankrupt and seem to have zero conscience or empathy.

          The rise of the authoritarian Christian Right is a slippery slope into fascism and an oppressive theocracy — but of course, because they’re “Christians” they believe they are ordained by God to do what they do. I won’t even get into how unbiblical or un-Christlike it really is (I’ve already gone there in previous posts). This is why religion and politics should NEVER mix. It corrupts both. The founding fathers knew this from their own experience and those of their British forebears and any true Christian or person who can think rationally knows this instinctively.

          Authoritarianism of ANY stripe –radical Islam, Communism, Nazi-ism, far right Christian dominionism, Kim Jun Un’s insane dictatorship in North Korea, Putin’s Russia, Stalinism…you name it, it’s all bad and will only lead to suffering, poverty, misery, shortened lives, and death. It’s terrifying what is happening here and I pray every day it will stop and we can go back to being a democracy with liberty and justice and freedom for all.

          I agree with you that many otherwise nice people are drawn into the fray without knowing it. Fortunately, most Christians are still not like this, and hopefully, never will be.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Nope. I’m a Christian (regular one I guess). I won’t even go to church though anymore. I do not expect perfection in one because we’re all human. But the last 2 churches I went to were super NPD filled. (Not spirit filled as they claimed they were). Well, wrong spirits. I know if someone calling themselves a Christian, tells me what I’m supposed to do & then they turn around & do something that’s exact opposite, or other evil stuff, then I know I’m in the wrong place. I’d best high tail it out of there. They do fool so many people. It’s unbelievable. There’s no point in arguing with them either. They’ll just wriggle out of it, lie, get mad & accuse me of something I’m not doing, etc. Yes, they definitely want attention. Its almost (sadly) hilarious though, to watch them try outdoing each other. They’ll turn against each other!!! Esp. if they’ve got nobody else to mess with. They have a love hate thing for this whatever-you-want to-call-it, yes indeed weird, behavior. Its truly so off the wall as to almost be unbelievable.

            Liked by 1 person

            • So many churches have become snakepits. I hear so many stories about the way church members form tight, exclusive cliques, and look down their noses at anyone who isn’t just like them. They talk about charity but ostracize the poor in their midst, acting friendly but also chiding and talking down to them, acting like their own crap doesn’t stink. Fortunately, I haven’t experienced that in my church (which I only attend sporadically anyway) but I know many people who have.

              People are just becoming meaner everywhere it seems, but i think churches and religion attracts a lot of narcissistic types who use religion to hide behind and a means to act superior and holier-than-thou. “Bless your heart,” they’ll say, while stabbing you in the back. No wonder so many people are turning away from the churches and religion — and all the hellfire and brimstone stuff is a major turnoff too.


  3. Well, there is a silver lining to get from this: If they feel bolder to talk this way, then we can identify them much more easily. Think of all the trouble this woman won’t have to go through because he showed his true colors on the first date and she dumped him. 😛


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