Often after people find out I used to work as a social worker one of the questions that they used to ask me was what does a child abuser look like, I used to say pick up a mirror and look at the reflection. Abusers come in all shapes and sizes they are a percentage of the population. In a population you will find all sorts of people however, living in a small town amplifies deviance. Clique groups and power brokers seem to wield influence beyond their sphere of influence and conservatism rules. This is not necessarily a bad thing, the problem lies with how deviance is defined.
The fact that my children are relatively safe walking the streets compared to where we used to live is an example of a how in a small town deviant behaviour is much easier to see, and to a degree it is not tolerated. This is fine when we are talking about anti-social aberrant behaviours which are harmful to others however, the way behaviour is classified as deviant in a small town is very different to big towns and city. Not in my town I hear the howls, we are tolerant and accept all kinds of people, well perhaps.
I completed a directed study at university looking at representations of West Auckland in New Zealand Literature http://goo.gl/qxEMdF, what I found surprised me, West Auckland was not the preserve of Bogans driving fords and wearing wife beaters, but of oets, otters artists, writers, viticulturlists, living in relative harmony. I did look at some theory and it seems that boundarys between pioneerism and self sufficiency and city boundaries may have something to do with this, especially when there are physical boundaries or barriers such as mountain ranges. One of the books I read for this was “The Fatman” by Maurice Gee. Set in a mythical town of Loomis the villain was a character who had been singled out as a youth for his difference and bullied mercilessly, he was dehumanised, one of the key things that enables bullies to carry on doing the things that they do.
Here in our small town there is a character who all the children call Mad Max. An elderly gent who lives outside of society’s norms. His name is Aubrey. Now Aubrey is probably Autistic, I got to know him after an incident when he threw something at one of my children. Some other children had been tormenting him and he mistakenly blamed my daughter. When it first happened I was outraged, how dare someone do this, the pitchforks were made ready and if the Police didn’t do something about it I would. After some investigation and an apology from Aubrey our family got to know him. Aubrey was no monster, merely a lonely old man trying to make his way in a tough world full of prejudice and intolerance. There are a number of characters like Aubrey who live in our small town whom are relatively free from persecution even though they are deviant (different). Why is it that they can live a reasonable life without discrimination?
Characters like Aubrey pose no threat to society, certainly no physical threat nor moral threat so are left alone. Characters like myself pose a threat because we challenge the norms and accepted wisdoms, our thinking is different and it challenges people on many different levels. Over the years I have been called many different names, some to my face others not so brave talk about me behind my back. I will always pose a threat to the status quo because of the conservative money loving, pseudo moral, anti intellectual mantra that small towns produce.
The simple truth is that I do not fit into this small town and I am never going to. Why well because I will not compromise my beliefs and I will go with the flow because I know who am and I know what is right. What I do about it I don’t know watch this space!