I noticed that Ophelia referenced a paper on “institutional betrayal”. I sat up at something else: it’s from the University of Oregon, my ol’ grad school! And then…it’s out of the department of psychology, where my wife got her degree! Even before I read it, I was curious…and I discovered that it was an amazing act of prophecy, or, I guess, insight into human behavior.
Isn’t that what psychologists do?
Read the traits of institutions that feel like betrayals to their members. You’ll feel a familiar sense of deja vu.
They note that institutional betrayal is a dimensional phenomenon, with acts of omission and commission as well as instances of betrayal that may vary on how clearly systemic they are at the outset. Institutional characteristics that the authors say often precede such betrayal include:
• Membership qualifications with inflexible requirements where "conformity is valued and deviance quickly corrected as a means of self-policing among members." Often, a member making an accusation faces reprisal because of the institutional value placed on membership.
• Prestige given to top leaders results in a power differential. In this case, allegations that are made by a member against a leader often are met by gatekeepers whose roles are designed to protect top-level authority.
• Priorities that result in "damage control" efforts designed to protect the overall reputation of the institution. Examples include the abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University, the movement of clergy to other locations in the face of allegations and hiding incidents of incest within family units. More recently, Freyd and Smith noted, the NFL demonstrated this quality by denying it had seen video footage of one of its players battering his fiancee and its previously long record of minor penalties for such interpersonal abuse.
• Institutional denial in which members who allege abuse are marginalized by the institution as being bad apples whose personal behaviors should be the issue.
ALL OF THOSE THINGS. EVERY ONE. It is so freakily on the mark.
I’ve been watching those gatekeepers lately. Here’s Michael Nugent, regurgitating slymepit memes:
— Michael Nugent (@micknugent) September 20, 2014
No, I am not saying do not name names, period. Name them to the police, not on blogs.
Deja vu, again. This is getting creepy.
You know, when you create a black & white world within an institution in which the only two options permitted are silent submission or immediate punishment by law, you are creating an environment that acts to protect the status quo and completely shut down dissent. There are such things as shades of gray; sometimes you do have to speak out even over issues that are not clearly punishable by law. There is more to morality than legal vs. illegal, and legal isn’t even necessarily moral or immoral.
I’m wondering, though, why Michael Nugent is haranguing me on his blog, by name. Shouldn’t he stop that and call the cops instead?
Adam Lee is getting the full-court press right now — the gatekeepers are insisting that he’s a liar, without saying what he was lying about. Alex Gabriel rather diligently goes looking for lies and isn’t finding any.
I’m going to have to insist that either you have Lee arrested right now for lying, or everyone is going to have stop making those accusations on blogs or on twitter. SHUT UP ALEX GABRIEL, you aren’t allowed to argue with someone unless the police are standing by. Or is that only true if you’re arguing with a Revered Atheist Thought Leader?
Similarly, I’m afraid that Libby Anne has determined with great clarity that yes, Sam Harris is a sexist. She must be silenced, because it seems she hasn’t charged Harris with any criminal activity, hasn’t gone to the police and had him arrested for flagrant sexism. SHUT UP LIBBY ANNE, you aren’t allowed to criticize the Holy Gods of Atheism, especially not when you do it so well and thoroughly.
This is all terribly sad, too, because we know what happens next, when an institution becomes rigidly intolerant and starts sheltering its leaders from even mild verbal criticism: it implodes and dies, and only the most obliviously faithful remain behind as a fanatical core. Bye-bye, atheism, unless you can stop mimicking the Catholic Church.