Ask A Genius 430 – Asshole
November 1, 2018
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is an asshole?
Rick Rosner: An asshole is someone who continues to take more than their fair share in a socially understood context. Someone who continues to speak on their cell phone. Even though, we understand that, at some level, you should not do that. There is no reason for you to be standing in a line and yammering really loudly.
That is a violation of social norms. Smoking has become an asshole move, at least in enclosed public spaces.
Jacobsen: I see three levels there. A single of each and then a combined. One example, it was smoking. It was making some spaces unacceptable for smoking in public. Then it became possible for the culture to disapprove.
Even though, at the outset, there were campaigns to get pregnant women to smoke. In North America, now, we have #MeToo and all its variations. It is an interesting one. It is happening massively consciously.
There can be comedic representations of what to do and what not to do.
Rosner: We do not know where it is going to end up. Some things will be unacceptable that used to be, more or less, tolerated, like grabbing someone on the ass. If it is a man grabbing a woman on the ass in the context of “I like your ass, sexually,” it will go away.
One baseball game, the manager slapped one of his players on the ass, after a noble strikeout. He took a lot of pitches but he just didn’t manage to get on base: “Good job!” I was shocked.
It was obviously not sexual. I was shocked to see an ass slap in the era of MeToo. It made me think if these sorts of ass slaps will survive or not. General assholery is taking something other people have the good manners to not take, like taking the space with your noise or smoke.
The violations that generally aren’t reaching the level of reaching criminal consequences down on the perpetrator. One is texting while driving. It is also illegal but it is almost never enforced. They have better things to enforce. In LA, the first offense is a small fine.
If you are a big enough asshole, the 50 bucks will not teach you the lesson. Being an asshole is little offenses as opposed to Bernie Madoff that loses people millions of dollars, he wasn’t even good at what he was doing. He was good at the sales part of it.
He was a good salesman. But in terms of keeping the scheme going, there were plenty of people that what he was doing was so obvious mathematically that people tried to raise red flags. Because he was bad at the math part of it.
But they couldn’t get anyone in authority to believe them. Anyway, that is being an asshole.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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