Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On Being a Shit: What the Book is About

On Being a Shit: Unkind Deeds and Cover-ups in Everyday Life shows the many ways that people evade responsibility for their behaviors and, whenever possible, to blame others. I use humor and tongue-in-cheek scholarly language to contrast with the earthy term shit. I’ve thought a great deal about my use of the vernacular and decided to keep it since this is how people think about persons who dump on them. I realize that I in turn may be dumped on for using such a term.

I wrote this book for persons who encounter others who enact being shits, a broad audience indeed. For more than 25 years, I did research on serious violence, such as rape, child molestation, and murder. In their own words, perpetrators described multiple and ingenious ways they evaded responsibility for their behaviors.

As I became familiar with their tactics, I began to notice variations of them operating in everyday life among persons who had committed relatively minor unkind deeds and sought to cover them up through evasion, obfuscation, and blame. Eventually, I termed these everyday acts being a shit and decided to write a book about them. I wanted to let others know what I have learned from years of research and in so doing to help them avoid being ensnared in the machinations that are now so familiar to me.

Given my sensitization to the topic, I freely admit that I have been a recipient of unkind deeds and cover-ups and have attained expertise in enabling these behaviors. I am much better at being a recipient than an enactor, although I have some talent in that regard as well.

I am a professor at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. I have an extensive publication record and have lectured, consulted, and done trainings nationally and internationally on the ideas that are the basis of the present book, as will be shown in more detail later.

Buy On Being a Shit at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Kindle, Mobipocket, and other on-line book sellers. It will change your life!

On Being a Shit: Table of Contents

Just look at the table of contents. Have you ever seen anything as interesting as this? Who ever thought there were that many ways to cover up unkind deeds?

Read this book! You'll know just what to do the next time someone tries to pull a fast one on you.

Buy it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, and other on-line booksellers.


Developing a Theory of Being a Shit

When someone dumps on us and then tries
to cover up, a typical response is “You shit!”

Shedding Light in Dark Places
Getting others to believe it is their fault
is the crowning achievement of being a shit

Scholarly Inquiry into the Origins,
Cognates, and Meanings of Being a Shit

Shit is one of the most versatile words
in the English language

Humbug, Bullshit, Lying, and Truthiness:
Conditions Related to Being a Shit

Being a shit differs from related
human conditions

A Preliminary Theory of Being a Shit
Being a shit is impossible
without the consent of recipients


Testing a Theory of Being a Shit
on Stories from Everyday Life

A Son Borrows His Dad’s Car

“It’s Easy to Lie to an Honest Guy”

Sophie and Bill Dump on Each Other

Early Successes:
“Stick Your Head in, You Clam”

Cover-Ups in the Mining Industry

Actions and Not Words as Cover-Ups
in the Business World

Commentary on What to Call Enactors
Who Fail at Being Shits

Drama in the Scottish Highlands:
A True Believer, a Schmuck, or Both?

Dick Cheney Shoots Lawyer
While Others Cover Up

The Case of the Missing Coffee Grinder

Drama in Dublin:
Success and Then Failure at Being a Shit

When a Man Wants Two Women

Clarence Thomas Markets his Book

Karl Rove Scores


Applications of the Theory
to Stories of Coming Clean

On Accountability

A Daughter Steals Her Dad’s Painting
but Sees the Error of her Ways

Commentary on Accountability:
Billy Pittman’s Near Perfect Apology

Harry Dent Sees the Light

Drug Makers Admit Guilt,
but are They Sincere?

Oprah Winfrey Demands Accountability

Commentary on the Differences
Between True and Fake Accountability

What Not to Do:
Jimmy Carter Waffles


Discussion and Conclusions,
or Where Do We Go From Here?

The Final Version of the Theory

New Types of Cover-Ups

The Resistance That Some
Recipients Mount

Significance of the Lesser Statuses

The Joys of Being a Shit

Final Thoughts: Standing Up to Them


Table 1: A List of Cover-Ups
and their Enactors

Figure 1: A Status Hierarchy
of Types of Enactors

Further Details on Method



Excerpt from Child Sexual Abuse: Perpetrators
and Child Survivors Tell Their Stories

About the Author

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Removed from Craigslist: Is Writer Talking Dirty?

Craigslist took down my ad for On Being a Shit: Unkind Deeds and Cover-Ups in Everyday Life on June 12, 2008. Here I am a serious writer, eager to share my hard-won insights, and I'm accused of talking dirty. What ever happened to due process?

If the powers at craigslist had read even the first paragraph, they would see that I am not talking dirty. I am informing people about the clever and not-so-clever strategies that people use to cover-up their bad behaviors.

Craigslist did not give me due process. I have no right of appeal. So what do other people think of this censorship and lack of due process?

You can read this book free at http:/ and see for yourself if I am talking dirty.

I've pasted below the Craigslist notice that my ad was taken down.

craigslist to me
show details Jun 12 (3 days ago)

Your posting has been flagged for removal.

Approximately 98% of postings removed are in violation of craigslist posting guidelines.

Please make sure you are abiding by all posted site rules, including our terms of use:

If you need help figuring out why your posting was flagged, try asking in our flag help forum: Include posting title, body, category, city, how often posted, any images, HTML markup, etc.

If your posting was wrongly flagged down (2% of flagged ads are) please accept our apologies and feel free to repost.

Sorry for the hassle, and thanks for your understanding.


Date: 2008-06-11 16:33:36
PostID: 716627802
Title: (books) On Being a Shit: Unkind Deeds and Cover-Ups in Everyday Life
On Being a Shit: Unkind Deeds and Cover-Ups in Everyday Life. Browse free or buy at for $19.95 plus postage. Also on and as downloadable books from $5.99-8.99.

No one has ever written about this topic before. Read this book and you will be ready to dethrone the next person who dumps on you. For those who aspire to be shit, this book is a step-by-step guide.

Buy for yourself or put-upon relatives or friends. A gentle hint to troublesome co-workers or neighbors.

Location: internet
it's ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Reply Forward Invite craigslist to Gmail

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Check out my other site

Check out my other site at

Other places where you may find On Being a Shit include:
Magers and Quinn bookstore in Minneapolis (Uptown),, and

Read the book, send me a comment, and never wonder how to be a s*it again!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Read Free or Buy On Being a Shit: Unkind Deeds and Cover-Ups in Everyday Life

Read Free or Buy

On Being a Shit: Unkind Deeds and Cover-Ups in Everyday Life

go to

A humorous look at a serious topic

The it book for 2008!!

Read this book and you will dethrone the next person who dumps on you. For those who aspire to be shits, this book is a step-by-step guide.

Readers say:


“a humorous look at a serious topic”

“There’s nothing ‘girly’ about this book!”

“We all live with shits. Heck, I live with one—being one myself.”

“It’s smart, provocative, and I’ll never take that phrase for granted again.”

An excerpt from the book

Cara said to her lover Nick when she found out he had been seeing another woman, “What do you want? A harem?” An impish look appeared on Nick’s face, and he said, “Two women? That’s not much of a harem.” Cara laughed, tickled by the charm that endeared Nick to her. With her laugh, Cara’s tension lifted, and they talked about other things.

Nick had finessed Cara in an elegant, tailor-made way. His involvement with another woman had hurt Cara, and he covered up through humor. He had been with Cara long enough to know that a humorous response would distract her and lift her mood. Cara cooperated. She enabled Nick to be a shit.

JANE GILGUN is a professor, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She based the theory of being a shit on years of research, professional experience, and personal observations. With Alankaar Sharma, she has published Everything You’ve Wanted to Know About Child Sexual Abuse, or Maybe You Didn’t. This book is available at and other on-line book sellers. She has also written short literary pieces that are available at

Some Thoughts On Being a Shit

When recipients of unkind deeds refuse buy-in to cover-ups, enactors fail at being shits, but succeed as bastards, pricks, schmuck, and weasels. What lesser statuses enactors at-tain is up to them. Recipients who resist are in powerful positions.


When someone dumps on us, we may wonder what WE did wrong. In reality, we typically have done nothing wrong. If we did do something wrong, we simply have to say that we did, listen to what recipients have to say, apologize, and mend our ways. No big deal. We still have to resist the unkind deeds and cover-ups of others, even when we may have had a role in these actions.

It is hard for some recipients to believe that other peo-ple commit unkind deeds and then do whatever it takes to cover-up. Many recipients prefer to blame ourselves. Sometimes standing up to unkind deeds and cover-ups raises so much anxiety that recipients prefer to blame themselves. The fear of consequences silences them. Sometimes recipients have solid grounds for fear of consequences. At other times, their fears are residues from earlier experiences and have nothing to do with present circumstances.


Through my research, I have listened to thousands of stories that show how selfish and self-centered some people can be. They do not think about the effects of their behaviors on others. Some do not care. Some even enjoy hurting others and think it is funny. It gives them a rush. Some enactors enjoy roar-ing back. They enjoy resistance because it gives them reason to be even more harsh. Finally, some are genuinely confused hu-man beings who, with some help, could learn to be accountable.


Recipients could use the present theory to test whether or not someone else is being a shit. Did the other person commit an unkind deed? Do they have reason to hide what they did? What did they do to cover-up? How did their actions affect re-cipients? These questions can help detect shitty behaviors.


Recipients who become enactors are part of a chain of unkind deeds and cover-ups with recipients and enactors switch-ing roles. As good as revenge may feel, it is a temporary solution and becomes part of the problem. Accountability is the only way to stop the cycle of shitty behaviors.


Individuals can use the theory of being a shit on their own actions. Enactors may believe they have much to lose if they become accountable, but when they stop dumping on oth-ers, they may find life lightens up. Repentance and reconnection are their own rewards.

More to be Learned

There is more to be learned. Being a shit appears in many forms and truly is a shape-shifter. To outwit them, recipi-ents must marshal the skills of Clever Foxes and be willing to face facts. Some people, including people they know, love, and trust, may enact unkind deeds and cover-ups and let recipients feel as if they have done something wrong. The present research is an important move toward understanding a pervasive human condition.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Clarence Thomas Markets his Book

Excerpt from On Being a Shit: Unkind Deeds and Cover-Ups in Everyday Life
available to read free at or to buy

Unkind deeds and cover-ups burned through cyber-space in September 2007 when Clarence Thomas revived a controversy that had been dormant for more than a decade. The controversy was whether or not Clarence had sexually harassed Anita Hill when he was head of the Equal Employment Oppor-tunity Commission and she worked under his supervision at the Commission.

Clarence gave the controversy great play in the launching of his autobiography. He granted an interview with Steve Kroft of CBS’s 60 Minutes, his first interview since the Senate confirmed him in 1991 as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

On national television, Clarence described Anita Hill in words used that throughout history have silenced women: “touchy” and “sensitive to slights.” He also said Anita was a hypocrite in her religious beliefs and that she was incompetent enough to be “let go” from a law firm. In his book, Clarence said Hill was used by left-wing radicals, among many other charges.

Clarence said all of this with an ironic smile on his face and in a gentle tone of voice as if everyone knows this is true of Anita Hill. Machiavelli recommended just this kind of delivery.

Anita responded a few days after his first national interview. In a New York Times commentary, she said she refused to let him “reinvent” her. She denied this depiction of herself and presented convincing evidence that Clarence’s words were untrue. She was not fired from a law firm. She was a professor of law for many years at Oral Roberts University, which is a conservative Christian institution. She reaffirmed that Clarence had been sexually inappropriate with her.

Background of the 2007 Controversy

The controversy goes back for decades. In 1991, President George H. W. Bush nominated Clarence to replace Thurgood Marshall as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. At the time, it was thought that the president wanted to maintain the racial balance of the court, while adding a conservative justice who reflected the president’s conservative political base.

The nomination was instantly controversial. The NAACP, the National Bar Association, and the Urban League opposed the nomination out of fear that Clarence would roll back the civil rights gains for which Justice Marshall had taken major leadership. The National Organization for Woman opposed the nomination out of concerns for abortion and civil rights. Many groups and individuals were concerned about Clarence’s lack of court experience. He had served two years as a federal judge.

After a hearing within the Senate Judiciary Committee, the nomination moved to the Senate floor without a recommendation. The committee vote was split seven to seven. A few days before the final vote of the full Senate, National Public Radio and Newsday reported leaks from an FBI investigation that a co-worker had alleged that Clarence had sexually harassed her between l981 and 1983.

Women’s groups and seven women members of the U.S. House of Representatives demanded that the woman who made these allegations testify before the Senate. Anita Hill stepped forward with reluctance. During three days of televised hearings, the story dominated print and electronic media in the United States and internationally.

Anita testified that Clarence had been sexually inappro-priate with her after she refused to date him. He repeatedly asked her for dates and made sexually graphic comments and references to pornographic films. While some senators kept an open mind, others questioned her motives and some speculated that Anita was delusional.

Clarence roared back. He denied Hill’s allegations and called the hearings “a high tech lynching of uppity blacks.” Within days after the hearings ended, the Senate voted fifty-two to forty-eight for confirmation. Public opinion polls showed that the majority of voters supported Clarence. He did a good job of playing race card. Counting on the Senate’s fear of being perceived as racists if they did not confirm him, Clarence’s use of “high tech lynching” and “uppity blacks” solidified his confirmation. Many believe the hearing was a high-tech lynching of Anita Hill.

Application of the Theory

Application of the theory will show whether Clarence committed unkind deeds and then covered up.

Unkind Deeds

If Clarence had sexually harassed Anita Hill, then Clarence has committed an unkind deed. He compounded his unkind deed because he abused his power as Anita’s supervisor. He could have redeemed himself by admitting what was going on with him at the time. He may have been misguided as a younger man as to the respectful way to express romantic interest in a woman. Maybe he simply wanted to convince Anita to sleep with him. He might have used verbal sexual aggression to punish Anita for not dating him.

Perhaps growing up he had seen men behave this way toward women and get the results they wanted, or maybe he had a sense of male entitlement (a natural byproduct of a patriarchal society) that led him to believe that he could treat women any way he wanted, including abusively, with no consequences, particularly if the women are perceived to be of little value in society, as black women often are.

Motivation for Cover-Up

If Clarence had harassed Anita, his possible motivations for cover-up include face-saving and avoidance of public shame. Clarence did not mention in his 2007 interviews how controversial his nomination had been even before Anita appeared before the Senate. Picking on Anita Hill may have been a cover-up, a way to avoid being seen as the affirmative action justice of the Supreme Court.

He may have wanted to distract attention away from the possibility that other people thought of him as unqualified and that his nomination and confirmation were matters of race-based politics. He may have also feared being viewed as a “race-traitor,” a “sell out,” or an “uncle Tom” by African American civil rights organizations that opposed his nomination in the first place.

It is clear that racial politics had a lot to do with Clarence’s nomination and confirmation. So what? As a Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas has had a golden opportunity to make a huge difference in the quality of life of countless U. S. citizens, particularly those whose Constitutional rights are violated. He could have learned on the job. Instead, his decisions have led many to conclude that he has set civil rights back and will continue to do so for decades to come.


Focusing only on Anita’s allegations in the 60 Minutes interview, Clarence used several different cover-ups that served to distract, distort, and shift blame and attention away from Anita’s allegations. He invoked sexist stereotypes when he characterized Anita as “sensitive to slights” and “touchy.” In 1991, he invoked racist stereotypes when he referred to the hearing as “a high tech lynching.” These are harsh cover-ups indeed.


Though he won the appointment, he failed at being a shit in regard to Anita Hill because she had no buy-in then or now. She did not enable him to be a shit. Many other people shared Anita’s views and gave her the support that helped her survive the enormous hurt she endured.

Other people had buy-in. That Clarence became a justice and that a majority of voters supported him showed that he distracted attention away from his own scanty qualifications for highest court in the United States, not to mention his abuse of power and sexual aggression toward Anita Hill.

In 1991, his behaviors were spot-on, perfect. He did what was necessary to get the job he wanted. He showed the skills of a Clever Fox. Clarence succeeded at being a shit in relation to the Senate and American voters who supported his confirmation. He certainly put one over on them. It is possible that the Senate was his real target and Anita was just a means to an end, collateral damage to his goal of becoming a Supreme Court judge.

Anita Hill as Collateral Damage

In 2007, it can be argued that his behaviors fit those of a schmuck, a foolish person who refuses to take responsibility for his or her own behaviors, who shows little depth of thought, and who is insensitive to the consequences of his attack on Anita Hill. Once again Anita Hill may be collateral damage in his goal to sell his book.

Clarence’s knowing smile and smooth delivery during his 2007 television interviews suggest that he thought he was a Clever Fox, but he may have been a True Believer. He appears to have convinced himself that his version of what happened and his views on Anita Hill are logical, true, and fitting.


Many commentators have noted that the 1991 contro-versy, as hurtful as it may have been, raised awareness of sexual harassment. For example, the number of complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission doubled between 1991 and 1996. The image of a solitary woman testifying before an all-male Senate that questioned her mental state and credibility may have been a factor in twenty-nine women being elected to the national legislature in the years following Anita’s testimony.

Whatever may have been Clarence’s motives for reviv-ing a controversy and once more invoking sexist stereotypes to smear Anita Hill, his memoir made the New York Times Best-seller List for many months. Thomas may retire from the Supreme Court a rich man. As Richard M. Nixon said, “It doesn’t matter what they say about me, as long as they spell my name right.” In the case of Clarence Thomas, it does not seem to matter that he has inflamed old hurts and humiliations, as long as his book sells.

Note: Valandra contributed to this blog and book chapter