January 18, 2007

The experience of injustice...

'...When fairness is flouted, the universe is at risk. Injustice is always unacceptable... Being the recipient of such an injustice is more than emotion. It is excrutiatingly visceral. It invades the human psyche with the most lancing cut. Depending on the severity of the injustice, life may ever after be divided mentally between the time before and after the injust event.'

'The experience of injustice alters the percpetion of oneself, off the safety of the world, the security of life, and the belief that wrongs inflicted will be put right. Injustice destroys justice because it destroys belief in justice. It destroys the notion of justice as something more than an activity or an act but as a powerful principal at work in the universe...'

'For some what is perceived as judicial injustice is a crime upon the crime: a further defilement after rape and an insult that exceeds the original assault...'

'Clinically, the emotions and behaviours consequent upon persception of grave injustice are many... It is all action and immobility, all words and silence, all reality and illusory. Sometimes it chokes in indignation...'

From: Dealing with injustice, by Marie Murray

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bullying is good business - The Apprentice, Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen, Trinny and Susannah, Eurostar, X-Factor, Wife Swap - teaching us that inappropriate and esteem-destroying behaviours are effective and increasingly acceptable behaviours and management tools.

The pernicious reality of 'Peeping Tom' TV
It is time to demand that broadcasting standards be decent, ethical and upheld, writes Marie Murray, The Irish Times 18 Jan 2007.
The degree to which Channel 4 has resisted more than 25,000 complaints by viewers that what is taking place in the current British Celebrity Big Brother house is racist bullying, is almost as shocking as the bullying itself.
It demonstrates a new low in broadcasting standards, in media irresponsibility, in loss of ethical principles and in the grim reality of reality TV. The Peeping Tom of television has finally been caught in its n sordid gaze and it is not a pretty sight.
The current debacle centres upon the increased nastiness, bullying and latent racism towards Indian star and "Bollywood" actress Shilpa Shetty by the three female British housemates, Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara. This trio's claim to fame rests upon, in Jade's case, being an ex-Big Brother housemate; Lloyd is a former Miss Great Britain stripped of her title; and O'Meara a previous member of pop band S Club 7: collective credentials that hardly compete with the genuine celebrity of Shilpa.
This fifth Celebrity Big Brother has been particularly perturbing. Those entering the house were given little time to bond before the group dynamic was disrupted into a "master/slave" divide that required one group of "celebrities" to live in less salubrious conditions than the other group, whose every need they had to attend to 24 hours a day.
Into this fragile, unequal, age, education, race and class cocktail was added 25-year-old Jane Goody, whose "celebrity" was originally created by her own humiliations in the Big Brother house.
But why bother to recount this? Who in the real world cares what happens on a British reality TV programme? At a time when there are "real" issues in the world, what relevance has this populist programme to anything? The answer is that this is a unique opportunity to witness how bullying begins, is fed, escalates and becomes racial. It shows how simple are the ingredients that ignite hatred. It demonstrates the fragility of human relationships, particularly in situations where scarce resources have to be shared, classes and cultures collide and personal inadequacies are projected on to others. It shows jealousy at work. It shows how prejudice is learned and passed from one generation to another, for the antics of Jade are no different to the behaviour displayed by her mother.
This programme shows how easily ordinary people can be seduced into extraordinarily cruel behaviour. It shows how helpless observers feel about confronting and naming bullying, or racism, how easily injustice is enacted and allowed and how little insight perpetrators have into the injury they inflict on others, how quickly they ' rationalise it and how proficiently they blame victims for their situation.
It shows how witnesses retreat rather than challenge, protect themselves rather than defend others. Most of all it shows how those whom one would expect to arrest the situation refuse to recognise it for what it is and relegate it to "bitchy rivalry". Channel 4 has demonstrated this.
Despite the protests, Channel 4 continues to assert that what is happening in the Celebrity Big Brother house is not racism. What the station is demonstrating by this denial are the classic conditions necessary for injustice to continue: that is, that it be trivialised, euphemised and denied and that responsibility is put on victims for their predicament. Furthermore, all the research on bullying shows the injured party is often unable to name what is happening to them initially and how sufferers usually self-blame and ask, as Shilpa did, "What have I done? Why do they hate me?"
It takes time to realise "I don't deserve this" and to identify it as having a racial base. Shilpa said yesterday that she did not think she is a victim of racism. But if calling a beautiful, talented, dignified and self-respecting young woman "the Indian" and "a dog", accusing her of "trying to make her face look white", querying whether "Indians are thin through illness from under-cooking their food", sniggering about their handling of food, mimicking their accent and suggesting that Shilpa "should f*** off home" is not racism, then what is?
"I'm representing my own country," says Shilpa proudly, after a particularly vicious verbally abusive attack upon her. And so she is, with extraordinary dignity, tolerance and decorum. Shilpa reminds us that one does not stoop to the level of one's tormentors. She also reveals to us the powerful possibility that the rude, crude, hysterical, out-of-control naked hatred directed toward her might somehow, not just reside in one inadequate, enraged, British woman and her sidekicks, but that this might be "what today's UK is".
It is a question for us in this country too as the boundaries of decent behaviour are eroded and out-of-control, asinine aggression increasingly holds society to ransom and silences anyone who protests at the demise of decency and restraint as behavioural models for young people. The BB house is a useful microcosm of societal challenges today.
Voyeuristic insatiability is fed by this genre of exploitation, humiliation and degradation of people. Reality TV as a genus has distinguished itself by debasement of many vulnerable, mentally ill, Intellectually challenged and socially deprived people, the narcissistic need of fabricated celebrity and those with deep psychological, behavioural and social problems. But this time reality TV has turned the camera upon the reality of itself as an abusive genre with ingredients that can include incitement to hatred. It is time to protest, to revise what we define as "reality" and what we deny reality to be and to demand that broadcasting standards be decent, ethical and upheld.
Marie Murray is a clinical psychologist and Irish Times Health Supplement columnist