In earlier ages it was a lot more dangerous to be different in any way from the mainstream — you could be put in prison for acts which are now celebrated on television — and yet many of the odd and the deviant went on to do whatever they wanted anyway and even attained fame and fortune. The problem with society today isn’t that we are so gosh-darned mean, it’s that we no longer feel it necessary to instill people with strong characters so they can deal with life’s shit. Instead we told them that shit had been outlawed. But you can’t outlaw shit.
Well, maybe a couple of us are gosh-darned mean.
Still, outlawing shit was the desired solution: it didn’t actually do anything, but it met the basic standard for Making A Statement. In the best of all possible worlds, we wouldn’t have to deal with shit, and everybody loves the best of all possible worlds, because (1) well, it’s the best, dummy, and (2) everything you hate automagically has ceased to exist. You can hear evocations of this sort of utopia from both sides of the political spectrum, and if you’re wise, you believe none of them, because no one has the slightest clue how to make such a place exist. Never had, never will. “I dream things that never were, and ask why not,” said Bobby Kennedy, and shortly thereafter was given an explanation in .22 caliber.
There will always be frail, weak people who can’t take it. There’s not much that we can do about that either, except to not make things even worse by telling them lies and giving them false expectations of a perfect, kindly world where nothing bad will ever happen.
This does not mean, of course, that we are licensed to behave like assholes — but we are, as a matter of intellectual honesty, compelled to point out that the sphincter is pretty damned universal, and that no one is entirely free from its influence.