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Thread by @alexandraerin: "There's fear, and then there's fear of witches. Fear is what motivates you to act in self-preservation. Not always wisely or efficiently. Th […]"

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There's fear, and then there's fear of witches.

Fear is what motivates you to act in self-preservation. Not always wisely or efficiently. That is it is purpose.

Fear of witches is different.
The human brain is not a rational organism so much as it is a rationalizing one. It does what it wants, mostly -- we do what we want -- and then our instincts turn to justifying it.
The witch's house is what you call the haunted house in your neighborhood, when someone lives there. It might be the serial killer's house, or the pervert's house. It doesn't have to be a witch. The point isn't what it's called.
Everybody's afraid of the witch's house, and the witch who lives there. They demonstrate how afraid they are by running, not walking, past it. By crossing the street before passing it.

By going up and ringing the bell. By throwing rocks. By shouting and jeering.
For children, the function of the witch's house is to give them a way to demonstrate how brave they are, which first requires them to demonstrate how scared they are, to validate that the threat they are facing is real.
Children can be cruel, but adults can be so much worse.

Fear motivates you towards self-preservation.

Fear of witches motivates you towards... anything. Whatever you want to do anyway. Seize land, drive people out, get elected president, set people on fire. Whatever.
The woman who called the cops on another woman who was waiting for a rideshare is claiming it's not racism that motivated her, but autism. She has an extreme fearful reaction to strangers outside her house.
If this were fear -- real fear, not witch-fear -- then she would have been relieved when the other woman's ride showed up and she left. But she wasn't. She tried to cajole her into staying to face the cops, telling her it was a crime if she left.
Witch-fear. She did not want to escape a threat, she wanted to inflict consequences on someone.
She was no more in fear for her life than Andrew Sullivan is afraid he'll have to go live underground.
She was no more in fear for her life than the average TERF is afraid of trans women.

And, I mean, they do make themselves afraid, those who fear witches. But it's motivated reasoning, motivated feeling. They make themselves afraid to justify what they want to do anyway.
I guess I should maybe amend myself a bit, because I don't really want to emphasize too much the idea that there's a solid difference between really feeling the fear and faking it. There isn't. Kids will scare themselves out of the mind with the witch's house.
The point isn't whether the fear is genuine or not. It's where it comes from and where it goes.
Kids who run screaming past the witch's house because they heard a door open or saw movement will laugh and clutch each other and say "She almost got you! Oh my gosh, we barely got away with our lives!"
Darren Wilson, the armed police officer who was inside his vehicle and could have driven off, compared Michael Brown, the teenager he killed, to Godzilla and to a demon and said he looked like he was "bulking himself up" to "run through" bullets. He swore this under oath.
The first time I articulated my theory of the witch's house, I was talking about the aura of menace people paint on the targets of their online harassment campaigns. But the more I look at the world, the more I see it's part of a larger pattern of motivated and motivational fear.
At the point Wilson said that Michael was "bulking himself up" to "run through" the bullets, by the way, he had already shot him. The teenaged boy was physically reeling from the shock and impact of a gun shot wound. He was, in fact, shot while running away.
I just want to draw the comparison here between the two situations where someone claims to be in fear for their life but takes a step to prolong the encounter, to prevent the "threat" from disengaging.
That's witch-fear. No matter how "scared" you are, what you're really most afraid of is that you won't get a chance to do the thing you really want to do.
I get nervous when people hang out in front of my house. I get nervous when people hang out in front of the houses next to me. I get nervous whenever I can hear unfamiliar voices drifting in through the window late at night.

I can get a whole entire anxiety attack over that.
But I'm not calling the cops on people for making me anxious, and I don't get vindictive and nasty when they get into their cars and leave. I feel relief. Profound relief.
I can't imagine calling the cops because someone gave me an anxiety attack. Like. If I were the most heartless, selfish monster on the planet, so long as those were my faults. Calling the cops would just stretch out the situation making me anxious. It would add new anxiety.
If I'm having an absolute meltdown and am unable to function because someone else has done something that I can't handle, then honestly, calling the cops is just endangering myself, isn't it? There is no self-preservation motive for that.
Which leaves it as exactly what it initially looked like: a power move. An attempt to assert power over someone else.
Fear of witches is how you motivate yourself to do exactly what you want to do and simultaneously feel like a brave hero and a poor victim, but without preventing you from enjoying a single ounce of the sadistic thrill you get for victimizing someone else.
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