The meaning of flung poo
A long-stemmed red rose. When you want to communicate the depth of your passion to the man or woman in your life, you can't go wrong offering one of these. Like the valentine, the rose is a recognized symbol of love. But the rose is the more serious gesture, more Eros than Cupid, and its currency is more than symbolic. Like foreplay, a rose stimulates the appropriate senses -- sight, smell, and touch. Open a bottle of wine after presenting the rose, and you can kiss the rest of the day goodbye. Being lucky has nothing to do with it.
A big pile of steaming shit. When all other avenues of communication have been closed off, nothing can better express disdain than shit. Like a freshly cut rose, freshly cut shit enlists both symbol and substance. It exercises the senses to recreate the very disgust in the communicatee that is felt by the communicator. And with shit, you needn't bother with a complimentary libation -- because the ultimate message de merde activates all five senses.
Most of us are well familiar with the conditions that prompt us to give a rose. But what circumstances could drive a person to say it with shit?
One proven method is to first imprison them and then subject them to humiliating and painful treatment . In his recent book, William Sampson details how he painted his cell walls with his shit as a way to get back at his Saudi torturers. Daniel Bowler, a man charged with murdering three people in Richmond, Virginia, had a similar experience while in prison (and probably while suffering delusions) -- he used his shit to paint himself and even fashion a pair of devil horns.
In his forthcoming book, our very own Dave analyzes this behavior -- "scatolia" -- and distinguishes it from its cousin, turd terrorism. He provided me with this passage, as it is relevant to both Sampson's and Bowler's experiences:
In a 1996 survey of hospitals, prisons, and regional secure units, 38 of the 50 facilities that responded to the questionnaire reported 2,693 incidents of fecal smearing in the preceding five years; while most were attributed to mental impairment or psychiatric disorders, 159 of them were determined by the reporting facilities to be a form of protest. Fecal smearing from rational individuals -- not crazy people, but people who were judged by the institution to be fully rational who nevertheless believed that smearing poop would somehow further their cause. Is this some sort of misdiagnosed mental disorder? Or is there something about smearing poop that somehow makes sense to people held in an institution?
The practice of smearing feces is clinically known as scatolia. When not associated with psychological impairment, it manifests when an individual faces extreme powerlessness and frustration -- instances in which an individual believes that his rights have been wholly stripped, and that the entire system is conspiring against him. He wants to communicate his frustrations, to lodge his protest, but he believes that the system has even assimilated his protests -- like when the system absorbs protests of with refrains of "Sure, buddy, that's what they all say."
A rational person held by what he deems an irrational system will feel intense, consuming frustration. As pointed out by Tom Mason in Managing Protest Behavior: From Coercion to Compassion, the prisoner feels the only way to communicate the irrationality of his plight is through a medium equally irrational. Poop.
Thanks to Bunga Din for sending the leads for this story. And by the way, Dave, if that fucking book of yours doesn't come out soon, the shit is going to fly.