18 Apr 2021

The Threatener

I’m going to start off this letter in an unexpected way… do you remember those way-back-when TV series and movies with titles such as: The Equalizer, Eraser, Viper, etc.?

Well, now we have a character called the Threatener. No lie.

His modus operandi (MO in crime law parlance) is to threaten those who are critical of him. You ask him uncomfortable questions, or say something seemingly critical of him, his first words to you are words to the effect (wtte) that ‘you seem to have inside knowledge – alternatively, in-depth knowledge – of the issue, you will be contacted for questioning’.

You are then forced to undergo several hours of questioning, which has nothing to do with the original issue, or the matter at hand, but… you have dared criticise the next best thing to God. How dare you?!

The Threatener gives truth to the words of D Bonhoeffer – killed by the Nazis for expressing his thoughts too freely:

“… the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one.

“Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”

Tying the two threads together, we see that not only is the Threatener highly dangerous, he certainly lacks maturity of thought to be able to handle critique and criticism. I imagine I can write and publish this only, as one reader pointed out, I am ‘safely ensconced’ 5000 miles away.

I will digress to another point. True learning comes from maturity. One must have maturity to be reflective, understand what that reflection is about and change one’s behaviour to demonstrate that learning has taken place (Schön, Bawden et al). Clearly, the Threatener hasn’t developed sufficient maturity to face uncomfortable truths about himself.

But I think we have enough for a Netflix series...  Go figure.