Hooray! I'm a Victim!

Column by Paul Hein.

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A few decades ago it occurred to me that historians might refer to those times as The War On the Middle Class. I think that designation might well apply today as well, although the war is, for all practical purposes, over (we lost).

Today I think a new term may be used, namely The Age of Victimization. In my youth, before the pencil had been invented, and when we hunted mastodons with spears, there were certainly victims—those mastodons, for example, could do a lot of harm--but the term “victimization” didn’t exist, except, perhaps, in a dictionary. So how did it come about?

Well, my theory--and it’s nothing more than that, a guess, really--is that victimization began, like most social movements, in an obscure, unnoticed, and minor detail. Insurance, perhaps.

I’m not speaking of life insurance, which is a different thing altogether. Life insurance is a way to prepay final expenses, and provide funds to the surviving family members. That’s a worthy objective, and I’ve yet to hear anyone complain that they had to die to get their money’s worth. Sooner or later the policy will provide the benefits you paid for!

During the war of the '40s (there’s always a war!) our Noble Rulers decreed that wages should be frozen. In that case, how were employers to increase the compensation of employees? The loophole in the law provided that benefits, such as insurance for health expenses, could be provided to workers instead of wage increases. A monster was conceived!

Today it matters not at all if you are young and healthy and would not put health insurance at the top of your list of desirables. You will have it, regardless: the Noble Rulers have so declared. This means that hundreds, or thousands, of families are paying large sums each year for insurance against illness even though there is no illness.

The concept of “wellness” enters the picture. Your insurance will pay, at least to some extent, for “checkups,” and the expenses associated with them: X-rays, CAT scans, lab tests, and even vaccines, which may account for the fact that vaccination has become so popular, even when there is no proven benefit to be obtained from it. You can even get health insurance for your dog, your cat, and, I suppose, your parakeet or boa constrictor. Can you believe that there once was a time when people simply paid their own medical expenses, or those of their pets? How did humanity survive!

Still, you need some sort of symptoms, even if only the sniffles, to visit the doctor. What a bummer! You have the misfortune of being well, and thus “deprived” of the benefits for which you are paying, and to which you are entitled. Is it your fault that you aren’t sick? Why should you be among the unlucky ones with no need for medical attention? It just isn’t fair! Why, come to think of it, you’re a victim! A victim of health!

Whatever its origins, victimhood has grown and prospered. Does your neighbor, whom you never considered to be particularly bright, have a Cadillac in his driveway, with a boat attached? What can that mean except that you, unable to afford those things, and much brighter, are a victim of economic discrimination? Are you anyone other than a Caucasian male? If so, you are surely being victimized by white male privilege. All of this would mean little, were it not for the fact that our Noble Rulers, always keenly aware of the need to please organized vocal groups, will pass laws forcing victimizers to compensate their victims, and/or be punished for their iniquity.

Of course, we mustn’t lost sight of the fact that there are REAL victims. If you are a baker, florist, or photographer, and you decide not to place your time, experience, and equipment at the service of any and all people who demand them, they may, instead of simply shopping elsewhere, declare themselves victims of your prejudices and sue you, with a very good chance of winning. Thus, in the insanity of American life today, the non-victims of your free choice may make YOU the victim of their demands.

Criticize the foreign policy of Israel, for example, and look out! But go onstage and tell your audience that if Jesus were alive today, you’d kill Him all over again, and get a round of applause. It’s all relative, you see. Just as we read in Animal Farmthat all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others, we all are “victims,” but some are more victimized than others. 

Well, don’t sweat it. Go to the doctor, have a thorough checkup, get a vaccine or two, and keep your mouth shut. Hopefully, no one will feel victimized by your silence.

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