Guilt by Reason of Aforethought

This may seem like I’m stereotyping. Okay, I’m stereotyping. I’ll admit that up front, before the reader gets to that point at which I am clearly stereotyping. So, there will be no condemnation of the fact that I’m unwittingly stereotyping a particular class of people. It’s not unwitting at all; I’m doing it consciously and with aforethought, but absent the malice that one typically associates with aforethought. At least I don’t think my stereotyping here is malicious. Yet what does one really know of oneself? We are what we believe, right? Or are we? That’s a philosophical question for which the number of conflicting answers is nothing short of mind-boggling; two hundred trillion to the eightieth power is my best guess. But that’s neither here nor there, is it? The exponential measures of conflicting truths are beyond the scope of today’s post, so I shall abandon them for another day. Maybe another year. Perhaps another dimension.

Okay, I’ll get to the stereotyping. If I see a man, a male person, take a tube of lipstick out of his pocket, especially in or near a bathroom or public restroom, I automatically assume he is or soon will be a murderer. Why? Because, as a rule, men carrying lipstick either have written, or soon will write, psychotic messages on bathroom mirrors. Those messages deal with, sometimes in convoluted ways that are almost impossible to comprehend, a murder the writer has committed or intends to commit. My assumption is based largely on vague recollections of films in which psychopaths write about their dastardly deeds on mirrors. While my memories of these films is admittedly fuzzy, I seem to recall ever so vaguely that the message writers seem always to be men. Now, if there were no truth in this, why would such instances be so common, albeit deeply buried, in my memory? I ask you that.

How am I supposed to deal with a situations in which I encounter men carrying tubes of lipstick in or near restrooms? Do I call the police and say, “I just saw a man carrying a tube of lipstick. He was near a public restroom. I fear he has, or will, commit murder and will write the demons driving him to do it on a bathroom mirror.” If not that, then how am I supposed to respond? What if I call and the police laugh at me? And, then, that same lipstick-carrying psychopath kills someone and writes about it on a mirror? Then what? I’ll tell you what. The police have a record of my call. They can figure out who I am. And they’ll assume I am the one responsible for the murder and the lip-script. I will be charged and my trial will be a travesty of justice. I will be imprisoned for a crime I didn’t commit simply because I stereotyped someone. That is reason enough to eliminate stereotypes from one’s mind. It’s just not worth going to prison for. Even if I can’t eliminate the stereotype from my head, I’m not going to turn someone in for carrying lipstick; better the psycho kill someone than find myself in prison, right? Ach, that’s not the way this was supposed to turn out. 😉

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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