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Why do people abuse complete strangers?

January 16, 2007

One reads plenty about domestic abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse…but what about stranger abuse? I think it is a very common form of abuse. The great are not immune to it. Yesterday, Herschelle Gibbs the South African cricketer was banned for two Test matches after he was found guilty of making racist remarks during yesterday’s play in the first Test against Pakistan at Centurion. Why did he do when he knew there could be consequences?
Surely he knew that he was being watched, that someone could hear, that microphones could pick it up? He did it even though he knew that if it was picked up he could be penalised. Was he so angry that he could not contain himself? So angry that a part of him wanted it to be heard?
True, it is believed that the crowd was rowdy (Dispatch) and some fans are believed to have abused the cricketers. But sports crowds the world over are known to become rowdy and are often uncontrollable. Surprising that a veteran like Gibbs was not able to handle it.
At this site I read this:
“Verbal abuse is hostile language that hurts the listener and is not accidental. For example, it’s not language that someone overhears by mistake; the speaker intends the listener to hear it.”
An intelligent person like Gibbs would know that there was a good chance that he would be heard but a part of him didn’t care. Rage overcame him. So much rage that he had to call these people names.
Road rage is stranger abuse. In fact stranger abuse can be racial abuse, road rage, abuse of a celebrity or a famous person whom one dislikes, abuse of someone who irritates you in public like say by breaking a line or abuse of someone who holds a different opinion from you.
The blogosphere too has it’s share of stranger abusers. Either the abusers vent their rage through comments or via blog posts – directed at those who hold different opinions from themselves. Some of them cloak themselves behind nick-names that hide their gender and identity…but surely they know that if it comes to the crunch they can be easily traced? The web host knows where they come from and today each and every computer can be traced. But they continue to do it.
If they want an outlet for their rage, I feel that tackling issues is far better than attacking individuals. Name-calling and abusing a strange person or a group of strangers is something that reveals the mental state of the abuser. If a person does this on a regular basis, counseling could help.
As I am a layman I cannot say why people do it…but perhaps their rage is so strong that it spills over to strangers? What are these people like in their personal life? Are they mild and sweet – reserving their rage for strangers? Using stranger abuse way to vent their frustrations at unknown people? After all, behaving like this towards their loved ones could jeopardise relationships. Or do these abusers behave in a similar manner with their friends and family as well?

Related Reading: Abusing drivers
A bunch of strangers on reality TV have a go at Shilpa Shetty

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 16, 2007 12:36 pm

    Strangers so often give uninvited verbal abuse that can end up in physical abuse. Seldom do they thin about what is happening?Why it is happening ? Strangers are usualy prejudiced or narrow minded ?
    I suffer from such abuse. People who know me usualy understand what is happening and react accordingly. Few strangers respond in such a manner.
    I suffered abuse when I was a child plus as a teenager. Several kinds that have affected me to this day in old age. Fear of strangers results. Especially after what what I see or hear in the Media that cause further fears arising in society. They are yet another form of terrorism that often make strangers seem hostile to all

  2. jaspreet permalink
    May 22, 2007 3:06 pm

    i live in a community of people who have come from different parts of the world to realise and be a part of an experiment in human unity in a small place in tamil nadu. many have been here for decades and there are still people coming in. however long some of the people have been here, some of them have extreme racist feelings towards indians. the other day, i was told by a white male that indians are dirty, they cant think, they are not aware …etc.. and it went on till i had to point it out to him that he had been in india for over a decade and he was making such remarks to an indian. it didnt matter to him … he just shrugged his shoulders and reaffirmed his views. and this was a guy who went around telling everyone that he was more indian than indians themselves!! i was amazed at his behaviour. i would really like to take some kind of action against this racist.

  3. May 24, 2007 10:17 pm

    Jaspreet, the person you mentioned is scum. Forget him. I agree with yu, he should be kicked out of the country. But remember, there are Indians who live in the US and Britain who think the white people are immoral etc, so I think there are people of every race who are racist. These kind of people don’t deserve any importance. But I agree – its very hurting to hear this person’s nonsense, and if you can’t avoid him, give it back to him. There are hundreds of things you can find wrong with America or wherever he comes from.

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