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Thread: Where did the "punish everybody" mentality come from?

  1. #1

    Default Where did the "punish everybody" mentality come from?

    It seems no matter where you go if a couple people complain about something/abuse a policy, whether it be a business, place of employment, housing complex, or whatever else that what happens soon thereafter is to change something that effects everybody instead of just dealing with the couple "bad apples".

    Why does it always happen this way?

    Is it really so hard to have a little backbone, and tell people that are complaining about petty crap to suck it up or that they really don't have a valid complaint?

  2. #2


    Because they tend to just keep going around griping until someone caves just to get them to shut up. At least that's been my experience.

  3. #3


    Pretty much what Cuddlewoozle said, a lot of the "bad apples" will continue to go around until they find someone who will cave. Usually the person who ends up caving is someone with some sort of influence, that or the person has some dirt on the person who caves.

    Punishing everyone atleast IMO is how you get rid of the bad apples, because its made incredibly clear who was responsible for it and then everyone just gets pissed at that person. Eventually the bad apple becomes outcast.

    Though, I also feel like, and this is probably going to be controversial, but I think "Punishing everyone" also comes from the whole race argument and has really been escalated recently. A really good example of this is in the news where there are constantly questionable legitimacy on stories such as "I'm white all black people are _______' or "I'm black all white people need to ________" Or "I've never taken any sort of pain pills or needed them so anyone who takes pain medication is an addict" So on and so forth. It's ridiculous. And I'm starting to wonder if these stories are true or if the media is trying to push everyone apart.

    So to summarize, my view is that "Punishing Everyone" is a bad idea in some scenarios, in others its a good idea. Good idea for things like "Oh you can't smoke here now" or "You can't party here now" sort of things because it shames the person who did it. But bad in things like race and political arguments because it ends up generalizing an entire group of people and ends up causing MORE problems.

    Edit*: "Punish Everyone" is a tool for discipline not a tool to win an argument. In schools its very effective at curtailing behavior as it singles out the one kid who was the problem in the first place. As adults however it's not exactly the best thing to use because by the point of adulthood that just hurts more people and the rewards of discipline are minimal. Too many people use it as an argument winner instead of the actual proper use.

  4. #4


    This needs a bit of context, I think. It's not actually one unified phenomenon, but rather a bunch of different ones in different contexts. For example, let's look at something like food sales. Sometimes the rules for food sales seem really restrictive and dumb (like not being able to sell your own baked goods at schools in a lot of places now, or restaurants having to throw out food instead of giving it to people who are hungry). However, the problem with food is that it's really, really difficult to tell when food is good or when it's very recently gone bad or has some kind of illness in it. So when a few examples of pretty bad foodborne illnesses like E Coli happened, the only way to get people to do better was to make the rules stricter on everyone. It has some bad results, but does significantly help the problem of making sure that food quality can be trusted the vast majority of the time (still not perfect, of course).

    On the other hand, if you're talking about something like the rules at an apartment building that get abused by a couple guests partying too late or something, leading to crackdowns on everybody, usually that's just laziness. It would cost too much and take too long to investigate the real wrongdoer, even though you could, so it's cheaper to punish everyone.

    Another one is when it comes to something like, say, the pricing on insurance that might have been discriminating (for example, car insurance often charges men more than women). In some cases, getting them to stop discriminating is good, but leads to them losing money because the discrimination was actually based on some accurate statistic (in this case, men do get in more car accidents than women), so the only way for them to make the same amount of money as they were before is to punish everyone by raising prices.

    Those are three different examples though as to why everyone is punished: you can't tell the good from the bad, you can tell but the one doing the punisher doesn't have the time or money to do the work, or fixing the problem leads to everyone being worse off.

  5. #5


    Except that sometimes punishing everyone really isn't punishing everyone, it's just punishing the majority of the people; most of whom probably didn't have anything to do with the persons complaint.

    Example - we used to be able to play our own choice of music at work through a phone/mp3 player or speaker; enough people complained about the type of music some people were playing, so they took away that policy and for a while there was no music; now its office choice and can get really repetitive even on classic rock (dull songs that get played more than good songs)

    They could have actually dealt with the individuals playing problem music, if it were in any way offensive as some people were claiming, or told the people complaining that there was no reason to complain.

    But these things tend to be majority rule, and once the lynch mob forms theres nothing you can do.

  6. #6


    The rugged individualism we worship in this country, combined with the freedom of expression we have and the lack of any moral standard, gives you the right to confront anyone over anything you don't like, and to complain to any organization to try to force changes. Businesses sometimes find it more cost effective to simply issue blanket policy changes limiting what all employees can do, rather than try to deal with the endless individual issues. Who can blame them?

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