Re: question about memes

From: Kenneth Van Oost (
Date: Thu Mar 14 2002 - 16:28:50 GMT

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    From: "Kenneth Van Oost" <>
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    Subject: Re: question about memes
    Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 17:28:50 +0100
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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Vincent Campbell <>
    Greetings all,

    > <I was pondering about memes while listening to the Andrea Yates
    > story on
    > > the radio. Remember, she is the woman who drowned her 5 children in the
    > > bathtub, because she wanted to save them from Satan.>
    > >
    > Hi, this story was initially reported in the UK, but hasn't been
    > followed on that much, so I wasn't aware of this "reason" for her actions.
    > For my money it's about time we stopped tolerating religious
    > as beng somehow legitimate, and recognised it for what it is- a kind of
    > psychological disorder, when can and often does lead to damaging behaviour
    > like this.

    << I don' t think religion is in the wrong here ! We had a number of
    simular cases here in the Low countries, never was religion the cause
    or the excuse. ' Believing ' was ! Believing in the sense that killing the
    children would be better for the children. The constant annoyance is
    and never was religion but only the sake of the children was the real
    reason to act. Yates, IIRC, was married into a fanatic religious move-
    ment where children were raised at home, where the father worked
    and the mother stayed at home. Contraception was taboo.

    Yates, according to rapports had a pro- natal- depression after her
    fourth child and she was then already expecting her fifth !
    The ' reason ' can be that a mother having a depression, expecting a
    child, obliged to raise three others, clean the house and support her
    husband, etc was just too much ! Killing the children is an option,
    and IMO a rational one.

    Memes are in cases like this, very powerful. They give indeed form
    to what actually emotionaly can be obtained but they overwhelm our
    instinctive immune- system which orders not to kill our children.
    The defense, in a way would be better off, if she explained this meme-
    tically... psychologicaly there are precedents. Insanity is IMO a lousy
    argument, forgive me. In one case, here in Belgium, the defense argued
    that society as a whole must bear part of the guilt. Having children just
    for the sake of social conformity give rise to just extremes.

    Both parents were found guilty, but only jailed for a short period of
    time, because ( in Belgium we work with a public- jury) the jury still
    believes that both parents must have a second chance.
    I doubt if the Yates- defense will come up with counter- religion
    arguments ( to give the environment a part of the guilt) to save her
    from the electric chair. IMO, her husband must be up there with her !

    > <At one level it might be argued that a meme was "working" here. But
    > I was
    > > wondering, if she would not have killed the children anyway even if she
    > > did
    > > not believe in Satan. Then she just might have replaced the religious
    > >
    > > with another one.
    > > The meme might have made it easier to kill the children, but there must
    > > have been a constant annoyance working within her which might have been
    > > the
    > > real cause of her action.
    > > A similar argument then might be made for example for the twin tower
    > > tragedy.
    > > The consequence might be that memes are actually not so powerful as
    > > sometimes discussed here. The memes might just give form to what
    > > works on a more emotional level.>

    << I doubt that the same line of reasoning can be applied to what happened
    on the 9/ 11. There was certainly an annoyance present, but killing 3000
    to you unknown people is quite something different from killing your own
    children just for the sake of the children, though. The 3000 deaths had
    no face, no names, but taking your 8 year old son onto your lap and
    killing him off with a knife ( like the couple mentioned above did) is some-
    thing, well.....

    > As you migh expect, I don't really see the 'protecting them from satan'
    > reason as a meme per se. Even if one accepted ideas as memes, as many do,
    > where did it come from? Are their biblical precedents for drowning kids
    > protect them from evil? Was someone influencing here in this way? If
    > then we're looking at an individual's disorder which religion may have
    > masked others from recognising (extreme and prejudicial beliefs are
    > legitimised within most societies by being associated with religion). I
    > suppose, though, that's not unlike what you're saying about memes as names
    > for deeper factors.

    << Yes, I agree, the Satan- stuff is not the real meme. The protection
    of the children is, and that is still a far more deeper lieing (f)actor than
    the believe in Satan. You have to understand people like those don 't
    really think straight, seen in the line along we ' normally ' think, but in
    their mind, the reasoning is quite rational.
    Also the fact that such events are not quite common can play a role
    in the case of Yates ( being a woman, killing her children that is). In
    Belgium we are quite " used to " to such extremes. IIRC, they even
    say it a typical fact of Belgium....



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