Have you ever heard that phrase, like from a super-villain in a movie, “Nobody’s innocent”? It’s usually the sort of thing that the villain says right before doing something really horrible to a lot of people, and the distressed protagonist points out that he’ll be harming a lot of people who have never done anything to him.
As a digression, it’s interesting to note that Christians believe, on a theological level, anyway, that that statement is true: Nobody is innocent. Man is born in sin. This is widely not seen as an excuse to treat people badly, of course.
There’s another phrase, however, that’s actually worse, and I’ve heard it expressed, not in so many words but veiled in angry tirades and teary pseudo-confessions and even coldly logical-sounding (but always wildly illogical) lectures:
“Nobody’s innocent except me.”
This is an inversion of, I think, an ordinary person. Most people are very harsh on themselves. They wouldn’t stand for people talking about their friends the way they think about themselves. Sure, they sin, and in sinning, look for ways to justify it, but that itself only feeds into their own debased notions of themselves.
But the person who walks around thinking “Nobody’s innocent except me” is a horror to be around. Literally without compunction, the only restraint on their actions are physical limitations, law enforcement and fear.
My sister is like this. I actually have a six-page (both sides) closely handwritten letter from her that contains the phrase, “I don’t blame you for being born but…”. It then goes on to detail how I am responsible for all the terrible things in her life.
My mother and father are also both 100% responsible for all the terrible things in her life, too. That’s 300% responsibility altogether, that I know of, and none of it belonging to her.
Fortunately for me, she’s very bad at this; It’s so over-the-top, it’s absurd. Generally, people who operate on this principle are much subtler. Confusion, provocation, repeated until someone strikes back usually mildly, and then it’s “How could you!” My sister’s version of this was—I’m not making this up—to provoke people into physically hitting her.
It’s a weird dynamic.
You can spot it by the person who (almost happily) recounts all the sins committed against him while having a complete ignorance of having done any wrong doing. And much like our “virtual traitors” the dead giveaway is a complete inability to receive communication.
I’ve caught my sister in numerous fabrications, where I can demonstrate factually that what she says could not possibly be true. She “concedes” (because she’s not quite insane) but it never sticks or deters her from fabricating future truths.
I’ve been able to find other people out the same way. It’s not that they disagree. It’s not that they’re not listening, it’s that they can’t.