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Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Time Event
There but for the grace of God
So, I'm following this local story.

A woman claimed on her FB page that the Santa in the local mall spanked her kid with disabilities. Two people I know personally who work with that Santa -- one of whom was there at the time -- say this never happened. Other parts of the mom's story don't seem to add up. Nevertheless, apparently the mall Santa has received threats, or is afraid he might, and has gone into hiding. (Not sure about that last bit.)

This dovetails with what I said earlier on this blog about mob justice vis-a-vis #metoo and accusations of sexual harassment by celebrities, politicians, etc. Once a move toward summary judgment, toward revolutionary justice gets going, other people will hitchhike on it for their own ends.

I feel for this Santa. I have lived my entire adult life knowing that one unfounded accusation could probably sink my career. People hear things, they form judgments, and by the time everything has been sorted out, they've moved on, with that misinformation stuck in their heads at a level you can never dig down to and extract it.

People see things differently. They misunderstand things. Some are malicious, and others are just crazy. And none of us is perfect, so every harsh word you've ever said or ill-chosen action you've ever done is another hostage to fortune out there. Defending yourself against X means someone's going to bring up Y. As Hamlet said, "Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny."

And yet, to do good requires us to put ourselves out there, to lead with our chins. We can't help others if we go through life in a defensive crouch or wall ourselves off in a castle. Nor can you protect yourself just by working with the "nice" people. Yeah, working with sketchy people or the addicted or in foster care means that you're going to deal with a lot of nasty or crazy people. But "nice" people -- church people -- can be just as nasty or crazy, and it can be harder to predict when the stuff is going to hit the fan. They seemed so normal, you know?

I'm glad I'm retired.

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