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Monday, November 14, 2011

David Brooks, "Let’s All Feel Superior": I Don't

In a fascinating New York Times op-ed entitled "Let’s All Feel Superior" (, David Brooks observes the "outraged reaction of a zillion commentators over the past week" concerning the Penn State molestation atrocity, and inquires how many of us "would have taken action and stopped any sexual assaults." Brooks writes:

"People are really good at self-deception. We attend to the facts we like and suppress the ones we don’t. We inflate our own virtues and predict we will behave more nobly than we actually do."

Had I been present at Penn State, I would have "taken action" and forcefully intervened, but then how many other persons are there like me, who have had to contend with his or her young child coming home from a prestigious school after an attempt by older children to molest him.

Until today, I am still outraged by the attempts of the school and even other parents of children attending the school to portray the attempted molestation (my child fortunately opposed the attackers and was "only" kicked and beaten) as a game. It remained a "game" until the police stepped in and another child stepped forward, describing the horrors that had befallen him at the hands of the same attackers.

And I remember how, while working for a large institution, I blew the whistle on an attempt by senior management to distribute very significant "gifts" to themselves. When my complaint reached the board of directors, they refused to address it, because it was "anonymous." However, it didn't take long for senior management to determine that only one of two persons (I was one of the two) could have written the letter to the board. I still remember being called in by senior management in order to interrogate me and determine whether I was indeed the evil author of the complaint.

Yes, I know a bit about how people are capable of self-deception. Unlike in Hollywood movies, whistle blowers pay a price in real life, and I have the scars to prove it.

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