Horrible People: Apathy and the DO5 YouTube Scandal
You may or may not have heard about the scandal involving a horrible “family” YouTube channel, DO5, which is under fire for basically emotionally abusing their children for money. It’s pretty despicable. If you aren’t familiar with the story, I’d recommend DeFranco’s video on the subject, which summarizes things fairly well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvoLmsXKkYM (this was actually the first time I ever saw one of his videos, though I’d heard of DeFranco before, obviously).
Anyway, the parents are utterly disturbing (on so many levels). But what really creeped me out was the people who try to make excuses for this stuff. It also occurred to me that this family happens to live in the US State of Maryland.
I wrote an article on this blog just a couple of days ago about some animal rights legislation that was passed in Maryland. The legislation requires that veterinarians report animal abuse, much like doctors and social workers must report suspected child abuse.
But the case with DO5 prompted me to take a look at the actual wording of the legislation. It turns out there are some pretty large loopholes. And it’s not just what you’d expect. Of course it excludes farm animals (no big surprise there). But the legislation also excludes “activity that may cause unavoidable physical pain to an animal, including food processing, pest elimination, animal training, and hunting”. Given the fact we live in a speciesist society that doesn’t respect the rights of wildlife and farm animals, some of those are to be expected. But what about animal training? Why on earth would it be “unavoidable” to cause physical pain to animal for training purposes?
Making excuses causes real harm
There are some horrible people who will be horrible no matter what. Sociopaths exist in every society. But why do we protect them? Why do we make excuses for people who abuse children and animals? Why is it that we worry about the abusers instead of the victims?
In the video, I share a story about an experience I had back in high school, hearing a teacher brag to our entire class about killing his neighbour’s cat (and tossing it unceremoniously in a garbage can). The story sickened me. This man, an elder in the church where I grew up (though not yet), told a high school class about taking his neighbour’s cat (you’d think being a Christian he would have something against stealing), bludgeoning it, and then hiding the evidence. Oh, and I don’t make it clear enough in the video, but he’d JUST DONE THIS. This was a recent exploit. I’d never been that cracked up about him in the first place, but that story sealed the deal.
But I was even more taken aback by the reaction of my friends, They were disturbed, to be sure. But they immediately started making excuses, like “it was just a cat.” I was shocked that none of it really mattered to them. Apparently I was the only one who was outraged.
Later that year, the teacher in question ran in an election (and ultimately won the vote) to become an Elder in our church, which was quite a big deal. My mom, whom I confided in, told some of her friends that she didn’t feel like he could be trusted. Their response? Sure, he wasn’t perfect, but he was respected. He had other good qualities.
The real horrible people
Lots of people are horrible, to be sure. But the horrible people aren’t the real problem. It’s the people who defend them. The people who rationalize their bad behaviour. The people who watch the YouTube videos where they victimize their kids and either find it funny, or say “it’s not that bad.” Because, guess what? It is. And if you think that way, then YOU are horrible, too.