Mad Maxxed

madmax4_movie3The news out of New York City was almost too unbelievable to believe.


A rabid pack of bikers chased down an SUV, pulled out the driver and beat him in front of his wife and daughter.

Why does a story like this sound so familiar?

  • 300 teens break into house, throw a massive party, cause $20,000 worth of damage – outraged parents threaten to sue the victim after he reposts their social media selfies on his own website: link
  • Members of a high school football team transport, undress, photograph, and repeatedly sexually assault a 16-year-old girl incapcitated by alcohol, documenting their actions on social media – the incident divides a small town, half the residents defend the actions of the accused (two of whom are later found guilty of rape under Ohio law): link
  • A 15-year-old girl is raped at her homecoming dance while up to 20 witnesses watch – for over two hours no one notifies the police: link
  • A man is part of a 30-motorcycle gang that terrorizes a car on a family and gets injured during the incident – the man’s wife demands that the victim be punished: link
  • A teen soccer player in a recreational league received a yellow card from a volunteer referee, then punched the referee in the head which killed him: link

The futuristic Mad Max movies portray a post-apocalyptic world where groups of survivors fight over resources like gasoline. It’s kill or be killed in that horrific vision of an imagined possible future.

But, here today, stories like the examples above are far too common. I theorize it has something to do with a dearth of empathy in our modern society and that, in the vast majority of cases, “bad” behavior goes completely unpunished.

I’m just guessing but I bet 99.9999% of all reprehensible actions are never held accountable. Personal responsibility has largely become a myth.

An inability to feel any empathy towards members of one’s own society and an utter lack of consequences is a volatile mix. We seem to be hellbent on making the world of Mad Max seem civilized.

Hell, in most of these cases, we can’t even seem to agree on who should be held responsible. Good and bad, right and wrong, are being diluted to the point of irrelevance.

One way or another there will be consequences of that, too.

15 responses

  1. It’s sad, but when I meet somebody new I just assume they’re a total douche already and hope that they convince me otherwise.


    1. That’s SOP over here, too.


  2. Hooray instead of horror is SOP in the world today. If you don’t know the difference between right and wrong, and go on to have children, we are doomed as a species.


    1. I’m reminded of the story of the bank robber who broke into a house then sued the homeowner for injuries. Topsy turvy.


  3. Snoring Dog Studio | Reply

    I hope to God that empathy isn’t going the way of extinction. We are truly lost if we fail to appreciate the consequences of our behavior. And I have to keep asking, “Where the hell are their parents?”


    1. Um, we know exactly where the parents are. Right in the face of our children teaching them everything they know. This is decidedly not a good thing.

      Parents are, absolutely, the least qualified people to have children I can possibly imagine.

      Let me ask this question: What, as a society, do we do to make sure that empathy is being taught?

      I can’t think of a damn thing.


      1. Snoring Dog Studio

        So many parents need parenting – what if they were held financially accountable for the rotten behavior of their offspring? Once in a while, I’ll catch Dr. Phil intervening in a parent-child conflict and I’ll realize that as a civilization, we’re doomed.


  4. What you describe is commonly medicalised under antisocial disorder and its cognates and comorbidities. The literature on Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorder – related conditions – often cites the lack of empathy as a main characteristic. The highest proportion of diagnoses of ASPD are of violent prisoners. It’s notoriously difficult to treat. The psychiatric side to this is widely known in judicial systems.
    Recent advances in neuroscience have led to the isolation of a brain area that is responsible for our empathic responses. The development of this region has strong genetic correlation, however, people born with poor development aren’t automatically serial killers. Family and other social factors can mitigate the excesses. It seems unlikely that the funding for this new area of research will get expanded on in a hurry though. It rather avoids the Judeo-Christian tradition of using the word ‘evil’.


    1. Very interesting stuff. It really makes me think. I can’t help but wonder, though, what, if anything, is routinely done in our society to teach empathy? Besides leaving the entire matter to chance via spotty parenting? It seems to me the earlier a child is approached with a systemic introduction to empathy the better. Perhaps empathy could be added to the curriculum at elementary schools? Things like ethics and social concerns seem to be woefully under-taught in our society.

      If we did somehow teach empathy to our young, would it make any difference?


  5. Now I look back at your original post, I realise that you’re actually talking about the social psychology of sociopathy. These are worth a look:

    There’s also this problem with the way that mediated events can be taken as if they are measures of social breakdown etc.:


    1. Oh yes, I’ve heard of the Milgram shock experiments. People are capable of reaching amazing limits. I love well designed social experiments that expose humanity for what it truly is.

      One thing that strikes me the most about some of these types of stories: The fact that it’s just “random” average Joe participants. Like the case of the homecoming dance rape. Just a random bunch of strangers. Yes, I’m sure there are “group think” and peer issues and other factors that kick in, but there has to be some base element of anti-empathy that makes something that heinous even possible.

      I like to think that if I happened onto the scene (or, perhaps, an old fuck raping a young man in the shower) I might be fearful about stopping things myself. But I’d at least go running for the nearest phone and immediately dial 911.

      The fact that in most cases like these no one ever does is really a depressing thought.

      When I think of an example like the Titanic, I like to think about the quality of the people who have been randomly chosen to die with me. No doubt a certain percentage of them would try to conk me on the head to use as a floatation device and as a snackable while awaiting rescue. That seems to be about the average level of chivalry in our society.


    1. Did I leave you speechless?


  6. I bought my husband a book once when he was on deployment called “Eyewitness to History” which is just personal accounts of historical events. I’m usually a little OCD about finishing books once I start them but about halfway through I had to put it down. It’s a really good illustrator of what a cruel and ruthless species we can be. I know we’d all like to think we’ve evolved into a kinder gentler primate. Maybe. Well some of us, anyway. But I think it takes just a very small amount of stress to the system to cause people to revert back to “lizard brain mode”…and I think the constant, hyper media 24/7 coverage of everything just adds to the stress. I know that’s a cynical, very un p.c. view to have, but that’s how I see it.

    I shudder to think what will happen if/when the oil or water runs out.
    Just call me Debbie Downer! =) =) =)


    1. I’ve not heard of that book. Sounds interesting. I often feel that we’re much worse to each other than I can possibly imagine. Like Han Solo, I can imagine quite a bit. I’ve actually lived a fairly sheltered life and have seldom come face to face with the evil. I’m lucky, I guess.

      “Lizard brain mode” FTW. That’s as good an explanation as any!


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