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March 30, 2008 / cdsmith

How to Be a Jerk and Get Away With It

In modern society, being a jerk has been raised to an art form. Moral offenses that would shock most of us in plain view can be excused if you know how to play your hand. Here, I cover the basics of getting away with being an immoral jerk.

Step 1: Pick on the Right Victim

The most part of successfully being a jerk is to pick on the right people. If you’re going to mug someone, you wouldn’t pick the Queen of England as your victim. You also shouldn’t go for a successful businessman or politician. Instead, choose victims with whom the general public won’t sympathize. Here are some more specific rules:

First, your victim should be poor. Rich people are trusted, visible, and most importantly have access to the press and political representation. These all work against you. It may seem like it’s better to take money from people who have it to begin with. You would be wrong. Seriously, can anyone imagine Walmart getting away with what it does if its average employees (or even customers) came from upper middle class and wealthy families? Because most of power structure in the world likes to blame poor people for being poor, and doesn’t trust them, it’s actually easier to take $100 each from 10,000 poor people than it is to take a million dollars from a rich person.

Second, your victim should be a racial minority. For some background reading on the importance of picking on racial minorities, see here. You’d be surprised what you can do without getting much attention. Modern sentiment being what it is, having Arabic ancestry is like asking to be victimized. The United States federal government has got this figured out. You may as well take advantage, too.

Whether to victimize men or women is a tricky question. The answer depends on what kind of jerk you plan to become. Although women are disadvantaged in general, you are better off concentrating on which gender that will most reinforce more negative stereotypes about themselves by resisting. If you want to do physical violence, or take someone’s children away, your victim should be male. If you want to deny someone equal pay, a job, or a leadership position of any kind, women are ripe for the picking.

Targeting children is risky, but can pay off. Stay away from children under 12, as they elicit too much sympathy from others. Teenagers, though, are demonized for for their rebellious natures and their irrational “angst”. If you manipulate the situation in the right way, and especially if you can put yourself in a position of authority (which is not too hard; even a bus driver job will do), your inexcusable behavior will be dismissed in the name of preserving order.

As you can see, there are some subtleties here. It’s worth it in the end, though. Assuming you don’t leave definite evidence of having broken the law, the only reasonable way anyone can stop you from being a jerk is to elicit enough sympathy that large numbers of people stand up to you. Choosing the right victims can almost eliminate that unlikely event.

Step 2: Appeal to Written Policy

If you played the first step well, few other people will care about your victim, but your victim will care about him/her-self. There is no more effective way to deal with such victims’ complaints than an appeal to written policy. You can even write the policy yourself, but it’s better if you can arrange to have the policy written by some nameless unidentifiable person, whom no one can blame as a result. As odd as this may sound, it will rarely occur to anyone to blame you for enforcing a ridiculous policy or failing to change it.

This is a remarkably effective strategy. Average people are very receptive to the argument that if someone doesn’t like your policies, they should have never done business with you. Strangely, this remains true when you are getting tax breaks, driving others out of business, and basically providing people with no other choices. Remarkably, it even remains true when you’re able to get the government to pass laws requiring people to do business with you.

Step 3: Blame the Victim

If you’ve still got significant opposition, then you have clearly failed to pick a victim that no one sympathizes with. No worries. You just have to stop people from sympathizing. This will get ugly, though.

Guilt by association is an especially effective tactic here. All you need to do is make enough public statements lumping your victim in with undesirable sorts, and your victim will lose all of their remaining sympathy. For this reason, it’s a good idea to drag in a few genuinely evil people, if possible. That way, you can throw the name of your real victims in the middle of a long list of terrorists, criminals, gang members, and so on. People will conclude that your victims are all bad people anyway.

If guilt by association doesn’t work, you’ll have to engage in a direct game of character assassination. Fortunately, this is easier than it sounds. Most people are not accustomed to receiving the kind of abuse you plan on giving out. They will make mistakes. Perhaps some foul language, or even violence. Maybe they will phrase something improvidently. Unless you’ve made the grave error of picking media-saavy victims, they will certainly say things in public that you can take out of context. With some care, you should be able to make sure the public hates your victim in no time at all, and any scrutiny you’re under should dry up quickly as a result.

Step 4: Use Others’ Common Sense as a Weapon

Now things are getting serious. If you can’t blame the victim, then people must have found real evidence for suspecting you. This is no time to panic, though. Most people aren’t willing to believe outrageous things, and you can use that in your favor. If what you did is completely outrageous, no one will believe your accusers, and you’ll get away free.

You are already at an advantage here, because you’re reading a web page on how to get away with being a jerk. Most people would find that beyond the bounds of common sense. But you need to go further. Never, ever, under any circumstances, should you do pick a victim who has harmed you in any way. You should also not pick a victim that you’ve publicly argued with. These things create “motive”, which helps random people believe that you are guilty. Instead, you should pick random victims, do unbelievable things to them, and then just calmly laugh and ask whether we really believe that such a ridiculous story is true.

Step 5: Tell People Everyone Does It

Now things are really bad. You have no chance of convincing people you are innocent. So what do you do? Easy: make it sound like it’s no big deal.

Here’s the idea. People are going to be angry. You can either let them be angry at you (bad idea) or you can encourage them to just be disgusted with the state of the world as a whole. To accomplish the latter, you imply that you aren’t out of the ordinary, and that everyone does what you did.

Occasionally, you may not want to be on the record as saying something that outrageous. Then a weaker form of this strategy is called for. You can merely imply that everyone does it, by unabashedly and calmly making a public statement about what you are doing. If you word things right, you can make it seem like the most natural thing in the world for you to, say, openly defy a court order.

Step 6: Procrastinate Admission of Guilt

The most important step in avoiding responsibility for your actions is to wait until no one is looking to admit what you did.

A common beginner mistake is to avoid admitting guilt at all. For small matters, this can work. If you’re being enough of a major-league jerk to reach this point, though, people will launch investigations. No, you have to admit what you’ve done. but do it on your time frame.

At this point, get a lawyer. You can be assured that any lawyer worth his salt will advise you not to talk about the case. If he doesn’t, you should specifically request it. This gives you an excuse for not commenting. Later, you can wait until media fervor has died down, and quietly admit what you’ve done once the story is old and stale. Oddly enough, the media will almost certainly play their part, holding off on the worst accusations because they can’t get “both sides” of the story. They will forget that it’s you, whether under legal advice or not, preventing them from getting your side of the story.

Should the story resurrect itself later when you make your admission, you can always appeal to the stuck in the past line to avoid talking about it then.

Step 7: Cry Terrorism

It’s your last shot. Now people are openly protesting against you in the streets. There’s only one thing left to do: call them terrorists.

[Of course this isn’t serious. I am, though, looking for more links to add. If you’ve seen something that should be linked from here, please mention it in the comments.]


Leave a Comment
  1. Harold / Sep 29 2008 7:45 pm

    This is genuinely funny and well written. Thanks for writing it.

  2. Anonymous / Jan 2 2010 6:54 pm

    u sick

  3. Anonymous / Jan 2 2010 6:55 pm

    thanks u helped me so much. i am mean but u have perfected my method of moral destruction

  4. Anonymous / Mar 2 2011 5:40 pm
  5. bin-laden / Dec 18 2011 10:19 am

    nice one, should teach this to my minnions.

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