1,000 words on a girl burning alive

When someone is a bigger jerk than a jerk they’re an asshole. When someone is a bigger asshole than an asshole they’re a ‘sociopath’. The term now, as it has been for ages, is ASPD. “Sociopathy” isn’t even sociopathy anymore; its primary purpose is to give melodramatic teenagers a word stronger than ‘asshole’ because they’ve hyperbolized its strength away.

This might be the worst thing you’ve seen. Even when it’s the worst thing you’ve seen you still aren’t calibrated to reality, because it’s a vivid moment in your memory. You’re fully calibrated to reality when you can look at this and react like the few hundred people around her did, like this is just something that happens.

When you’ve fully accepted and digested the reality of what happened here and what happens there, normal 1st-world middle class “sociopathy” is a joke.

“How can you be so apathetic about the abusive things said to [idiot on social media who felt bad for an hour]?!”

I’ve been calibrated toward what humanity in its sadistic normality has to offer. Like this shit.

I know people who know people who have had family mutilated this way, via drive-by burning at a gas station. But not by a public mob. Not at once like this. There are so many things about this video that make it go beyond where others haven’t.

I thought it would be impossible for an internet video to shock me or shake me up or disturb me in the way that it used to, then I saw this. I think this is the first time in years I’ve responded the way I have to any media. The way she just lays down makes me ache, and wish I could do something and I have to turn this video off and accept that her lying down, her staring into the sky is her last visual perception as the flames burned away whatever consciousness she had left while these people were yelling. That helplessness, crushed by her agony and their rancor, is the last thing she felt and no amount of hope can change that.

There are videos like this happening to Muslims, but on some level it’s easier to understand why psychotic shit happens when you have a religious doctrine that defines punishments and beliefs. Religion allows for anomalies in human behavior you’d never see elsewhere.

These are normal people. They look like regular people I could meet at an HEB in San Antonio, on practically any side of San Antonio. Their motivations aren’t religious. This isn’t an anomaly. They’re doing this because their police are useless and they’ve resorted to vigilante mob sentencing. You could be one of these people. How can I say I wouldn’t be either, had I been pushed to similar circumstances? I’m lying in a fucking bed with pillows on my ass and my feet on the cold side of the fabric. I’m not lying on concrete and burning alive because the police in my city are useless. Any prediction of how I might behave when pushed to similar circumstances is a guess at best.

Reports say this happened in Rio Bravo, a village 77 miles west of Guatemala City. The distance between this incident and the comfort of their capital is the distance between my house and Austin. No one in San Antonio thinks “things could be worse; if I drove to Austin I could see a teenage girl burned alive.” The thought is unreal.

Apparently — and I say apparently because information is scarce and gleaned from Spanish translations — she was the daughter of a gang member, and the public believed she had been sent to do prison gang hits. Her and two other boys were alleged to kill a 68 year old taxi driver named Carlos Enrique González Noriega. I don’t know this girl’s name; I tried. So as best as I can understand it, this is the public feeling threatened by gang control and the public’s way of sending a message against it.

This is the kind of shit I think about when I hear people screaming about empathy on the internet or cyber-harassment or whatever. “How could you say those mean things?!” — how could a whole village of people be so chill while *this* happens? Do you think every kid and parent and relative in this video is a psychopath?


At some point you have to acknowledge that this is something regular people will do under the right circumstances. This is what humanity is. And for profound majority of human history, “the right circumstances” were commonplace. I’m not talking like, 70% of human history was great and you’re part of a minority. It’s 99.99+%, with disputes only about how much that ‘9’ repeats. You won an existential lottery in the way that a Powerball winner wins the actual lottery. We can only be so lucky to call them “the right circumstances” now.

How many people have died this way in the whole of human history? Millions? That they did so hundreds or thousands of years ago doesn’t matter. They were nevertheless real people who suffered as much at the hands of other people.

And I’m supposed to care about a fucking gorilla?

When the reality sets in that people *do* die this way, a lot, and it can even happen to people you might know one day, you look at things differently. Maybe you don’t care because it just seems so distant. It’s not distant when your daughter is being burned alive, that’s for fucking sure. And that’s like, two degrees of separation from me at most. Probably one, depending on how I define a degree of separation.

This kind of shit puts suicide in perspective. Millions of people — maybe hundreds of millions — have died in agony like this, just hoping they might have another chance at life, at breathing and laying and seeing and hearing like you are now, with a functioning body. This girl in the video sure as shit would have loved to keep living when the fire was burning her ability to scream into garble and turning her vision into white-red unconsciousness.

And people want to kill themselves over… what? Their life is just mediocre, not awesome? No one likes them? They don’t feel like they have anyone who loves them? Yeah I bet that’s what this girl felt too as she burned to death, after her body’s physiological response drowned her internal and external screams.

I can’t take these nitwits seriously who say I should have this touchy, whining concern for people who *might* see some information that *might* lead them to kill themselves. Anyone who has seen the struggle of people who cling on for life and beg for their last moment of existence can’t possibly pretend like they’re comparable. So many human beings have lived half-existences, blips in the existential radar, in utter agony. All you’re telling me is that maybe I might lose a few people with a colossal lack of perspective for how much they’re throwing away. No, I don’t care. If anything, I wish I could give their tremendous disregard of their own fortune to someone who wants nothing more than to be alive for just a dozen more breaths.

That’s what checking your fucking privilege looks like.

When your brain is adjusted to realities like this, the LAST thing you can be bothered to think important is civility on the internet, or hurting someone’s feelings on fucking twitter.

This species has been fucked forever. What we’re seeing now is a rare interlude.


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