Blunt Object terminology: “grass-eater”

Some have complained that my use of the term “grass-eater” in recent posts may unnecessarily offend vegetarians. Well, it ain’t vegetarians that I mean to offend.

I picked up the term “grass-eater” from the esteemed John Farnam, but I didn’t pick up a concrete definition of what makes a grass-eater. (Here’s a hint: Mr. Farnam often uses the term interchangeably with “sheeple”. Jeff Cooper might also call a “grass-eater” a “hoplophobe”, though the term seems more widely applicable.)

If you’re familiar with George Orwell’s novella Animal Farm, you can think of grass-eaters as the bipedal equivalents of the sheep. The term is intended to remind one of a herbivorous herd mentality, rather than simply munching green things. Grass-eaters are known for their passive-aggressive approach to life, society, and morality.

If your first reaction to a law being horrifyingly broken is “we gotta make more laws”, you might be a grass-eater. If you believe in angels — or the Just World hypothesis — you’re probably a grass-eater. Both of these delusions indicate a desire to give up responsibility (and, therefore, freedom) to a faceless “higher” power. Grass-eaters are perfectly happy to give up liberty for a little safety — even if the only safety they get is from the consequences of their actions.

In fact, you can ward off grass-eaters simply by shouting “consequences!” at the top of your lungs, or waving a copy of Sartre‘s Existentialism is a Humanism. They hate that.

Grass-eaters are deathly afraid of anything resembling personal responsibility. They are prohibited from assigning blame to any human being — such an act, after all, would imply that they themselves might someday be blamed for some transgression! Therefore, grass-eaters blame just about anything that isn’t animate for society’s ills — weapons, rap music, video games, black trenchcoats, money, red meat, or the hormone testosterone. They’ll put the blame on ephemeral concepts, too — generally liberalism or conservatism, but masculinity, feminism, globalization, religious fundamentalism, and secular humanism are also popular favourites. Under no circumstances may an actual human being be held accountable for his or her actions by a grass-eater.

That said, grass-eaters fear and despise people who accept — worse, seize — responsibility for their actions, future, and well-being. If you study awareness for personal security, grass-eaters will call you paranoid. If you study combatives in case your awareness fails, grass-eaters will call you a vigilante. If you store clean water in case — oh, just hypothetically speaking — runoff from heavy rains contaminates your city’s main drinking water reservoirs, grass-eaters will call you a survivalist nutcase. By taking responsibility for (gasp!) your own well-being, you threaten the grass-eater lifestyle of perpetual buck-passing and recrimination. In fact, decisiveness in any form infuriates grass-eaters — but that doesn’t stop them from complaining when their company (or their government) bogs down in endless committee meetings.

In retaliation, grass-eaters demand legislation which half-assedly provides for the lowest common denominator of common good at everyone’s expense. If you’re lucky, grass-eater legislation will take your money to buy services and provisions with no practical utility beyond making the grass-eaters feel good about “doing their civic duty”. (Guess what that means? You get to pay for it a second time, doing it right on your own dime, and thereby inviting scorn from the grass-eaters.) If you’re unlucky, the grass-eaters will still take your money to provide inadequate service, but they’ll also prohibit you from providing for yourself.

Grass-eaters, then, are those who seek to absolve themselves of responsibility for the conduct of their own lives. Alarmingly, they tend to force others to abdicate responsibility for the conduct of their own lives. Be wary.

27 Responses to “Blunt Object terminology: “grass-eater””

  1. November 25, 2008 at 21:37

    OMG – If you haven’t already, you should read Rollo May’s “Power and Innocence.” May’s thesis of how grass-eaters are created through neurotic drives that he refers to as pseudo-innocence and abdication of power is very much in the vein of what you’ve written here.

  2. November 25, 2008 at 21:42

    Damned if Rollo May doesn’t look like someone I should read. Thanks!

  3. November 27, 2008 at 10:12

    Greg Hamilton (founder and chief instructor of Insights Training) uses the term Grass Eater in the same context. Hamilton and Farnam have known each other for a long time… I wonder who was first….

  4. November 28, 2008 at 10:39

    I kind of favour the term “human chihuahua”, myself, given that like their canine equivalents, they’re small, dependent on their masters, incapable of fending for themselves, shrill, yappy, not particularly bright, and prone to shaking guncontrollably and wetting the carpet when startled. The sad thing? Their ancestors were wolves.

  5. November 28, 2008 at 14:26

    Fearsclave: Not a bad parallel at all, although I think it’s a bit unfair towards well-socialized chihuahuas. Actually, that fits — a properly raised snack-sized dog can be lovable and sweet (if shrill and yappy); one that’s been pampered, doted upon, and treated as a four-legged fur-baby rather than as a dog will come to the conclusion that it’s in charge.

  6. November 29, 2008 at 10:09

    I’m married to a grass eater. I love her to pieces- married 26 years, and I did it twice, but her GE mentality is my biggest challenge every day.

    This is a perfect term and you hit the nail on the head with this post.

  7. December 3, 2008 at 12:31

    What is especially interesting is that Eric Hoffer described just these “individuals” (if they could be called that…) in his 1951 work “The True Believer.”

    What is especially scary is the thought that when people forsake all personal responsibility and moral responsibilities, they’re capable of some fantastic carnage.

  8. December 3, 2008 at 18:47

    Walmart, Black Friday 2008 – grass eaters become killers.

    Maybe it’s time to fight back?

  9. 10 Brian Dale
    December 5, 2008 at 23:29

    Joe Huffman mused, “Hamilton and Farnam have known each other for a long time… I wonder who was first….”

    Perhaps one or both have read A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter Miller. ;)

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