While the call for Ben Bradley to be sacked is entirely justified by the obnoxiousness of the views he has expressed, it does nothing to alter those views. It does not address a mindset that finds police brutality justifiable. It doesn’t affect a worldview that regards the unemployed as lesser beings and children as no more than the products of breeding. The attitudes and prejudices evinced by Bradley will persist. They are deeply ingrained in a significant part of society. And influence a far larger part than we would, perhaps, care to acknowledge.
Each of us has a Ben Bradley somewhere in our psyche. It’s just that most of us have the good grace to keep that bit of ourselves caged. And the good sense to keep it gagged. Which of us has not secretly wished a dose of police brutality on some particularly nasty piece of humanity found to have visited unspeakable horrors on a child? Who can honesty say they’ve never entertained a single negative thought about those society labels failures?
But these unworthy thoughts are not expressed. The inclinations to violence are not revealed. They are not allowed to become part of our public persona. For the most part, there is no conscious effort involved. We are not perpetually engaged in an effort to suppress these things. Nor are we constantly aware of them being forcefully repressed by some external agency. For most us us, it’s a totally subconscious process as base urges and social pressures find a workable, liveable balance.
What should concern us is, not that those base urges exist, nor even that there are some among us who find themselves unable to keep their inner Ben Bradley caged and gagged, but the possibility that those social pressures may be altering in a way that makes them less effective as moderators of our base urges.
There will always be Ben Bradleys among us. They won’t always be elevated to high public office. The necessary conditions won’t exist. The normal constraints of society will prevent it. And if they don’t, we should be concerned.
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