Awkwardness of Association

Kylie (that’s Freethought Blogs’ Token Skeptic for the uninitiated) precisely and humorously describes an experience of being awkwardly and unwillingly seated near a heckler:

I’m at a show, sitting with one person I know (let’s call them ‘Z’) and a bunch of people I don’t know (they’re friends of Z and I get a hurried introduction to the group). They’ve got drinks with them, which might be a contributing factor to what happens next. As the show starts, the performer happens to laud the name of a well-known figure in scientific history.One of the people (who I don’t know) screams out ‘HE SUCKS!’ in response.

I am mortified. Of course, I’m in the same row as this heckler, and Z promptly tries to shush their friend, leading to a little ‘But he DOES suck! He does, right? Huh?… what? Wha the problem? He sucks!’ confusion.

By then, the damage has been done, because once you heckle the guy with the microphone on the stage, their attention is inevitably directed in the direction where the sound came from and I feel like I’m sitting with the bad-kids-on-the-back-row-of-the-bus.

There’s nothing I can do. Apologetic waving from the audience runs the risk of making it look like I was heckling, and the last thing I want to do is draw more attention and further ruin the start of the show that hasn’t even got underway yet. In addition, I’m upset to think that the performer might think that I endorse this kind of behaviour. There’s nothing I can do. Except feel absolutely dreadful, of course.

But it turns out there are twists, like that the heckler had a legitimate case against the person he criticized. So Kylie raises the question, ‘Do You Give People A Pass Because They’re On “Our Side”?’ (And if you do not, when and how and with what constraints do you criticize appropriately?)

Give her Your Thoughts.

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Kylie Sturgess

    Wow, thanks for linking to it! :)

  • marybeth

    We saw Gilbert Godfrey. Someone I was with was heckling him…he actually deserved it because they guy was awful. Did I feel embarrassed? A bit…we should have just stood up and walked out of the ‘performance’…as actions do speak louder then words. He probably would have asked “Hey, where are all you people going”? We could have just replied at that time that we were spending our valuable time elsewhere.


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