Today’s post is a follow up to a much earlier post entitled, “Scorn For The World’s Worst Neighbor”, which was about Jennifer Petkov and her bizarre harassment of a neighbor’s dying 7 year old granddaughter. The Petkovs’ behavior was so over the top that it elicited mass outrage from a worldwide community. But some of that outrage was carried too far so as to be as equally over the top in behavior as the Petkovs. Death threats, vandalism, terrorizing children, and invasion of privacy were some of the unacceptable (and need I say illegal) avenues some people took to express their disgust of the Petkovs. I felt it would be good to discuss exactly what public scorn should and should not look like.
1. Death threats means you are just as deep into the stupid as the person you are threatening. Numerous police interventions were not enough to stop the Petkov neighbor feud so what did? What appears to have compelled the Petkovs to offer their watered down apology with the added appeal that “we all live in peace” were the alleged death threats they received. While it may have been effective, I cannot condone this choice of action at all. Vague or specific death threats are the tools of the uncouth bruts of this world who know of no better way to communicate their disdain. A death threat is meant to terrify someone into changing their behavior and it is community terrorism at its worst. It has the consequence of scaring more than the intended target as innocent family members are affected by this.
Sometimes readers of this blog react to the more heinous stories with expressions of wishing death upon the antagonist of the story and I quietly delete the comments and ban the reader as being just another one of the twisted members of society I prefer to not encourage or interact with.
2. Vandalism is the brutish coward’s way of expressing disdain. If your cause is just and right, you should have the courage to stand up like an adult and express it in non-violent ways with your real name. The people who egged the Petkovs’s house are just as infantile and aggressive as the Petkovs because the only way they know how to deal with a troubling situation is with destruction and cowardice.
3. Public scorn does not inflict collateral damage on the innocent. The Petkovs reported being harassed via crank phone calls, a deluge of magazine subscriptions, and pizza deliveries to the house. Who really was hurt by that? Certainly the Petkovs but what of the magazine companies who will not receive payment for those subscriptions? And what of the pizza restaurants and delivery personnel who did not receive payment for their services and product? Those perpetrating these acts were pathetic losers who sent out unwitting accomplices to do their dirty work while inflicting a double whammy of stealing their time, money and product.
It should go without saying that children of the scorned are off limits but unfortunately, it has to be said because there are some truly deviant people out there who think offspring are suitable targets as well.
1. It’s OK to tell them what you think…within reason. If I were a member of that community, I would have likely said to Jennifer Petkov the following, “Your behavior has had some dire consequences for this neighborhood and it appears that our little community isn’t your cup of tea. It would be better for everyone, you included, if you were to find another place to live that better suits you.” This is a variant of a message I have used to “escort” troublesome members from the forum. The message is clear– there are consequences to actions, you are not happy here and we don’t want you here so move along elsewhere please — without any drama, hysterics, threats or other losses of dignity to oneself.
2. Shunning is good. There are some behaviors that are so vile that complete total shunning from good society is not only appropriate but a must. Without a doubt the Petkovs were deserving of being cut off from all beneficial associations within the community. But those perpetrating vile acts of retaliation are just as deserving of being removed from one’s social circle. Why remove one bully from one’s circle of relationships only to replace it with another?
So, what does appropriate scorn and shunning look like? The “persona non grata” approach is the most serious form of censure that treats the accused as if they did not exist. The person is not acceptable and therefore not welcome. There are no invitations to social events, no communication, no social courtesies extended to them. You ignore them.
If you must speak with them, one can adapt what I call the “Business-like approach” where you do engage in communicating but your demeanor is cool, business-like, sticking to the business at hand and offering no hint of camaraderie yet still being civil.
So, readers, how do you define “civil shunning”? Ever had to do it? What did it look like and did the person understand they had been shunned?