An Introduction to Assholism

Posted: August 6, 2010 in Culture
Tags: , , , ,

Assholes are everywhere. Author of “The No Asshole Rule,” Bob Sutton, even has a test called A.R.S.E. (Asshole Rating Self-Exam) available to confirm whether or not you are in fact a Certified Asshole. I scored a 3 by the way.

Go on, take it! You know you want to. And post your results below under the comments section.

Now, whether suffering from assholism is based on basic stupidity or intended offense, I ask you this:

Does it matter?

Is someone you encounter – be it a co-worker, friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse or neighbor – an asshole regardless of intent or circumstances?

Using the book “This Is Not The Story You Think It Is” by Lauren Munson as an example, Husband #1 Sam, father of two, suffers a midlife crisis. He tells his wife of 15 years that he doesn’t love her anymore and asks for a divorce. Depressed and in denial about his own failures, he blames her entirely for this development and insists on moving out. The end result of this real-life scenario was that the wife, Lauren, said “No,” toughed it out and her husband eventually realized he was being retarded and returned home to his family.

Husband #2, Jeff, on the other hand, is emotionally and physically abusive towards his wife. Like Sam, he is also in denial about his failure to deal with an abusive childhood, but also fully aware of the legal and ethical ramifications of his actions. Jeff never seeks help, the wife does nothing, and the end result is a marriage full of denial, abuse, and enabling.

So who is the real asshole? Should Sam be excused because he was depressed, acting on a fight or flight instinct, and possibly an unconscious desire to save his wife from his increasingly destructive behavior? Is Jeff a straightforward, Certified Asshole or does an abusive childhood allow him some latitude? Do the wives bear any responsibility for enabling their asshole behavior?

What role does your conscious or unconscious intent play on your asshole status?

In my own, 3 score asshole opinion, there are degrees of assholism, and intent plays a huge part. It’s all about common sense.

The old saying about the road to Hell being paved with good intentions does make sense, but it also seems to apply to those lacking more than the fundamentals of reasonable judgment.

Common sense is sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts. For example, a reasonable judgment (and simple courtesy), when borrowing a friend’s car, would be to refill the tank. If you don’t, you could be an asshole. If you meant to and forgot, the intent was there, you’re just human.

And on a bigger scale, if you robbed a bank to pay for your wife’s cancer treatment and inadvertently killed someone, yes, you had good intentions, but you also lacked prudent judgment and fundamental common sense. You are an asshole… and now also a murderer which could inevitably lead you down that paved road to Hell, but perhaps that goes without saying. If, however, you were attempting to thwart the bank robber when someone inadvertently gets killed, you also had the best of intentions, shit just happened.

Good Intent + Common Sense = Less of an Asshole.

Taking into account intent (good and bad), common sense, and using the aforementioned Bob Sutton system and the help of, I have determined there to be 3 degrees of assholism:

Lazy Asshole
Examples: The oblivious stranger bumping into you or that annoying guy sitting next to you at a wedding.
Symptoms: Forgetful or lacking some common sense, but otherwise relatively harmless. Unintentionally making jokes or comments not realizing that others might find them offensive. Talking to someone while they’re on the phone. General everyday selfishness, ignorance, and laziness.
Conclusion: You may not be a certified asshole, unless you’re fooling yourself. Ask a friend and knock it off already!
ORANGE Inconsiderate Asshole Examples: Your boss or that idiot with poor iPod or phone etiquette on public transport.
Symptoms: Rudeness. Personal freedom, choice, or desired results favored over common sense, courtesy, or responsibility. Taking the easy way out. Aggressive traffic behavior. Parking in a handicap zone or taking up two spaces in a crowded parking lot. Taking credit for the accomplishments of others. Self-preservation. Starting or spreading “information” without proper investigation (i.e. Fox News).
Conclusion: Time to start changing your behavior before I have to kick you directly in the balls.
Full-Blown, Certified Asshole
Examples: Drunk drivers, bullies, and knowingly irresponsible individuals & organizatons.
Symptoms: Acting like the rules don’t apply to you. Cheating of any kind. Lying or taking shortcuts for personal gain. Threats and intimidation. Personal attacks. Slander. Harm with intent. Trying to force others to comply with your own ideas or beliefs. Controlling and manipulative behavior. Venting anger or frustration on others.
Conclusion: You are a Certified Asshole. Get help immediately, but don’t come crying to me. Not even Chuck Norris could save you.

So what do you think? You’re welcome to share stories of assholism as well as contribute your own philosophy on the topic. In the meantime, this chart will continue to be updated as I embark on this lil experiment; to study and reveal the assholes I encounter and the true art of assholism in everyday life.

  1. dylangreene says:

    Out of all things, I scored a “0” on the test. Of course, that doesn’t rule out my social issues that I’ve had to work on over the years.

    Since I have Asperger’s, I had to work on things like trying to make sure I don’t monopolize a conversation and pick up body language. It’s not that I enjoyed doing any of those things, but it did happen. I never wanted to make enemies….

    • natinanorton says:

      Thanks for the feedback! So you scored a “0” eh? Now I KNOW I need to create my own test. I at least know I can do better than a “3”:)

      I know someone with Asperger’s and I know it can be a struggle especially in social situations. You’re aware of it though and you’re working on it, so I think it’s safe to say you’re not an asshole… at least not for that reason anyway. 🙂

      It’s when we fail to make the effort, when our intent is to not give a shite about how our actions might effect others that we start leaning towards assholism.


  2. I scored 2, but I agree that it does limit the test a bit that it only seems to focus on office life. I loved my colleagues, we used to have the best of time. The pay was lousy though so I had to move on.

    • natinanorton says:

      Yeah, I gotta find or create my own generalized Assholism Test. Give me a few weeks and a computer programmer and I’ll give it a go. 🙂

      As for your own score and pleasant colleagues, well done. You’re one of the lucky ones, my friend. Although, I’ve also noticed there are very few fun, stress-free, fulfilling jobs out there that also pay well.


      • dylangreene says:

        I have programmed in BASIC, C++, and Java.

        An asshole test could be done rather simply. Please let me know what to do and I’ll be glad to help!

        • natinanorton says:

          AWESOME! You rock, Dylan! I now deem you worthy of a “-2” score on the current assholism test! 🙂 I’ll drop you an email and we’ll see what we can come up with.

          P.S. Everybody: Read this guy’s blog. It’s good stuff!


  3. cala4lily says:

    I got a score of 2 but I am sure everyone at my last place of employment would score 10 or higher! All certifiable A*holes. One manager actually yelled at his subordinate who was in tears that she needed to “STOP BEING A VICTIM!” He yelled it loud enough that everyone in the office heard.

    • natinanorton says:

      Well done on the 2!

      I’ve heard so many boss-related horror stories, I’m being to wonder if anyone likes who they work for. Sounds like your manager needed to STOP BEING AN A-HOLE.


  4. Agatha82 says:

    I loved that ARSE test. I see why I left my last job, most people employed there certainly would have passed that test with flying colours. Great stuff.

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