Robert Barron | – How to Avoid Scapegoating on Social Media

The recent confrontation between a grinning young high school student and a Native American elder has led to much anger and vitriol, especially on social media. But as Bishop Barron suggests, it also exemplified the “scapegoating mechanism” described by philosopher René Girard. How do we avoid this scapegoating? How can we bring more light to the online world? Bishop Barron has some advice. A listener asks whether our memories will transfer to Heaven.

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Bishop Robert Barron These are brief and insightful commentaries on faith and culture by Catholic theologian and author Bishop Robert Barron. The videos complement his weekly sermons posted and podcasted at

Comment (47)

  1. So happy to hear bishop robert barron talking about this. I was present during the incident at the memorial. Im not a member of the school but I was a bystander who saw these kids during their school chanting. These kids are completely innocent.

  2. It seems to me that the bishop‘s remedy for online harassment is entirely inadequate. I can tell myself that I am acting me in love no matter what I say. That I am willing the good of the other, even though my words may be harsh. I can tell myself truth hurts; that I am engaging in “tough love.“ I think, in this way, the bishop entirely underestimates the ability of one so disposed to rationalize whatever one seeks to undertake.

  3. Bishop, Thank you for addressing this social media debacle. I’ve been wanting the US Bishops to stand up in EACH DIOCESE against these dangerous precedents /mob mentality, esp. online. * * Satanus the Accuser is active indeed and creating irreparable damage to civil society.

    Regardless of what one thinks of this young mans’ actions in WDC, the VIOLENCE encouraged online and the complete lack of his family’s privacy was beyond the pale and must stop.

    Social Media platforms MUST monitor their platforms and quash death threats/ sharing of private citizen information – it would create hundreds of jobs and law enforcement/ FOP would welcome the help…

  4. I did this with religion…my scapegoat for years…now I am in conversion process to become Catholic…still reeling over where I find myself…from where I was seems impossible…yet all is made possible through Christ

  5. That was good preacher. I like that we will be "reconstituted" kinda like reconstituting dry veggies, but more so, us!
    My question I always had is, at what age will we be brought back (reconstituted)? Nobody knows of course, but thinking about it is interesting for shore.

  6. You know, if you're going to talk about scapegoating I think large part of that conversation should be aimed at President Trump. I think high school Trump supporters are probably the least marginalized group in modern American.

  7. I know someone that had a terrible injury and no longer has a functioning short-term memory. Also, my great aunt had Alzheimer's for the last 10 year of her life. Will either of these people have better memories of the time they had on Earth than they actually had when they were on Earth?

  8. When the news/limited video footage first came out, I remember thinking that the teen had a friendly smile on his face, rather than the look of a young guy making fun. I remember the mocking/making fun look from guys I saw when I was a teen. Nevertheless, I thought a professional reporter must have known what they were witnessing and I blamed the parents for raising such a racist kid. I am glad, however, that I didn't say anything on social media. That reporter should be fired, along with getting sued. There is no need for such careless reporting or showing a piece of video footage in such a biased way.

  9. I think if people read Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas . Unfortunately in my generation (born in 70's) even AP classes, it isn't taught anymore widespread or in detail outside of philosophical and theological circles. Getting into both those brilliant men helps you out in everyday life. It helped me find my strengths, and weaknesses.

  10. Scapegoating on social media is the very least problem. All mainstream media, Facebook etc are antichrist. The REAL issue is WHY were the lefties at the bus stop? WHO sent them? Who PAID them? This was a set up from the start to demonise Catholic prolifers. But it backfired. No one is investigating who engineered this malicious set up? Of coarse it shows just how fickle the public, & church leaders can be. If the second video was not released, the children’s bishop would still be penalising them. What a joke. This is a perfect sample & proof of what President Trump calls FAKE NEWS

  11. the evil has just popped up like the popcorn which blows up. The evil comes from the devil . this witch hunt has a provoker .we know it!!! . Let's pray for our holly church, the pope , the bishops and priest and our nuns.God bless them!
    My admiration to Bishop Barron. He plays very well the role of a modern Saint George .

  12. Thank You Bishop Barron for explaining to Catholics, who should know they are lower than the dust and ashes we tread on because the dust has never sinned against God while each of us has sinned. This satanic behavior of accusing even our brothers in Christ is in dire need of disavowing such Non-Christian Activities that undoubtedly please the evil one.

  13. Thank you Bishop Barron for your insight and response to the question about memory. I think this kind of perspective is very comforting to people pondering the 'last things' in relation to Catholic dogma and spirituality, especially to those who have or had loved ones suffering from the effects of memory loss and related problems.

  14. I don't think anonymity had much to do with it. Considering some of the main contributors were open media persons/journalists who had their full names and jobs listed, and celebrities like Kathy Griffin who wanted the kids doxxed.
    I think the wanted violence was mainly just because he was white (and Christian), and when we admit that we can start to see the problem.

  15. Sensitive topic. When I was dying in the hospital. Nurse asked me. Would you like to watch some t.v.? She was reading my mind. She knew I was catholic. She said to me. Your catholic, I’m going to leave the catholic channel. When you can’t speak, act, or have a say. It is God, that helps you fulfill the journey of the Human Soul; to be taken to a restful peace to natural death.

  16. Anyone who has taught school boys would immediately understand the smile on the kid was not a smile. It was a nervous look by a kid who had no idea what to do in this situation other than be conscious of not making a mistake. The kid is a damn hero! I've never been more impressed by a kid, and I've taught hundreds of very good, very intelligent, very articulate boys. That kid is going places. God bless him.

  17. Thank you so much. I just wrote in big block letters, the test of love: "Am I willing the good of the other?" And I engraved this on my brain. I don't use social media but I am going to stop myself any time I am compelled to disparage anyone and challenge myself with this question.

  18. Amen…a lot of posts bashing political leaders, other religions like Islam, all this is offending me and with the good Lord living in me I know it is the Lord that is hurting, I pray when I see posts ie. politicians scandals etc. thanks Bishop for all your good teaching and insight to be the best version of ourselves, become the christians God wants us to be

  19. I completely agree that it is terrible to demonize in this way a 17 year old. It is incitement to violence. However, the boy was on a demo supporting Trump who scapegoats people all the time, Hispanics above all. And that crude rhetoric has unleashed actual violence and the death of jews, immigrants, black people, Mexicans… The usual scapegoats.

    It is sad and ironic that the kid will have found out the hard way what that feels like.

  20. 11:10 Not only does Bishop Barron reveal the dangers of the fever swamp of reactionary comments but he provides a litmus test for a genuinely helpful comment which is to will the good of the other when deciding whether to hit send. I know I can quickly come up with with something nasty when I am offended and have had to train myself to edit my own comment or just delete when I've calmed down. Thank you Bishop Barron for your helpful advice.

  21. All wise words and though I agree and feel the same, I found myself once making the mistake of scapegoating and making a non-nuanced judgement. It was a somewhat ironic and black-humoured comment. However I regret it because I realised I had taken part and become, somewhat, part of this evil which the Bishop is pointing out here. While social media has many merits, I have exited from Facebook and the media in general simply because the spread of scapegoating and general negativity weighs too heavy in my heart, and I don’t see why I should carry that. The problem with this approach though, while making me feel better, is if regular, decent people leave social media, it will then become a echo chamber for this devilish and hellish mentality.