At Carrefour

Dora Longo Bahia. 13. Escalpo Paulista, 2005 Acrylic on fiber cement 210 x 240 cm


About outsourcing and regret notes

In December 1888, after Abolition had passed, Machado de Assis brooded over the way in which the death of an executioner from Minas Gerais, who would have exercised the “despicable job from 1835 to 1858” was reported: must an office created by law be despicable? It was the law that decreed the death penalty, and from Cain until today, to kill someone, someone needs to kill. The beautiful society established the death penalty for the murderer, instead of a reasonable pecuniary compensation to the deceased's relatives, as Mohammed wanted. To carry out the sentence, one does not have to go to the scrivener, whose fingers must only be dyed in the blood of the inkwell. We used to employ another criminal” (Bons dias!, 27/12/1888).

I confess that I also struggled with the first note issued by the Ricoy supermarket regarding a torture session on the premises of one of its branches, recorded by the torturers themselves:

1 - we were shocked with the content of a gratuitous and senseless torture on top do victim teenager.

2 – Since its founding in the 1970s, Ricoy has exercised the strictest principles of valuing human beings, either in our stores or in our community. we were very shaken with the news which caused us immediate disgust.

3 - The two security guards accused of committing the acts are from a third-party contractor and they no longer provide services to our supermarkets.

4 – To maintain our coherence in contribute to investigations, this Tuesday (3), an employee of the Yervant Kissajikian store, 3384, testified at the 80th Police District.

5 – Ricoy already made available a social worker to talk to the victim and family. we will give all support whatever is necessary.

The italics are mine to highlight some of the conventions typical of this type of genre, practiced in such a way in Brazil that it would not be a bad idea for discourse theory to address it, especially since it would have a corpus that does not stop expanding. Or maybe we can propose a thematic and interdisciplinary project, backed by good empirical research, with anthropologists, sociologists, linguists, jurists and whatever else is necessary, all dedicated to studying an increasingly intense, albeit always monotonous, production. which seems to bear the watermark of the country and time. The basic structure consists of 1- expressing astonishment and indignation, 2- manifesting that the company itself defends principles contrary to those underlying the act that made it very indignant, 3-clarifying that the security guards are outsourced (which is not just a linguistic cliché or rhetorical, of course, although it is too), 4-let them know that you've already fired them, 5-show interest in the investigations, in which you intend to to collaborate, 6-manifest that you will do all possible to give bracket to the victim (the word bracket becomes an emotional, material, spiritual, social handyman and whatever else fits there). Don't skimp on the use of indefinite pronouns (all, all, everything, nothing), adverbs of intensity (extremaments, strongly, very, very much), and also in the use of an already classic repertoire of verbs and nouns (repudiate, repudiate, outrage, indignation, abhor, repulse, shake), all of which are variations of the superlativist tendency that they show in form. Superlativism which is, so to speak, a delayed or recrudescent activism, which commerce borrows from “rejection motions”, typical of this time too, when spilled milk is spilled many times more than the last time. But, as it is a rosary of commonplaces, with small nuances between one note and another, in addition to the date, which luckily is not always the same, the spirit that manifests itself there as if touched by an enormity is a little dampened by the lyrics, even if superlative. There is no hyperbole that does not wither a little with so much repetition.

As for the first item, “We were shocked by the content of gratuitous and senseless torture on top of the adolescent victim”, it is worth asking that torture is not gratuitous or can make sense. For that lapse escapes a little smoke. Let's imagine that the press office doesn't know how to write properly, or doesn't have a certain notion of conducting, which is perceived by the "torture above" - ​​even so, it is necessary to agree that the moral demand or the most frank astonishment always find a way to be express, even if this path is a little twisted or depredated. But, if this is not the case of a linguistic indigence, it would have been much more pleasant to read something like: “We were shocked by the content of torture — as such, always gratuitous, meaningless, in addition to being abominable or hideous, not to mention diabolical. —practiced with a teenager, etc.” Torture it is an absolute, intransitive name, whose meaning, always macabre, is enclosed in itself, not capable of being graded in its essence by any adjective or adverb. The original sentence, however, indicates that the world of those who wrote this note seems to reserve some place for its practice. Not to mention anything about the “we were shocked” cliché, one of the most important because it is from him that these important people are pulling the string of empulhation. We'll come back to it later.

Regarding the second point: “Since its foundation in the 1970s, Ricoy has exercised the strictest principles of valuing human beings, whether in our stores or in our community. We were very shaken by the news which caused us immediate revulsion.” As I said, the use of the verb repudiate it's already a classic – but what would be “the most rigid principles of valuing human beings” that the establishment has practiced since its foundation? Where do I find these principles so unshakable? Would they be the same as the Declaration of the Rights of Man? Undoubtedly, a universality of conduct is proclaimed there, with rules valid for everyone, and I imagine that regardless of race, class and gender, but I would like to see them described, and not only them but also the particular moments in which Ricoy would have the opportunity to “wield that flag”. Because, let's face it, here it is no longer a supermarket, but, since its foundation, during the military dictatorship, it would be more like a kind of organization that militates in favor of human rights, and commerce would be more of a screen or facade for the valuing not your money, but the spirit – the spirit of the clientele or the employee? Or the outsourced human being?

The third point brings another convention typical of this form, in addition to the ever-present insistence on to reiterate (they are indefatigable) who do not accept any act of violence and will not exempt themselves! (the tonic in i almost allows them to shout, nonconformist, to the murderers on the other side of the sidewalk). The topic in the case is the announcement that they have already fired the security guards, who will always be outsourced, a nauseating cliché of this time as well. They are, in short, like the executioner of Minas Gerais, despicable. I'm not going to say, watching the video with the boy whipped with electric wires between tomato boxes and other boxes, in addition to being prevented from screaming, as he was gagged, and severely forbidden to protect himself in any way from the successive blows, I'm not going to say that these men are not a little sadistic (and it is also to be noted as an element vintage, the whip, has been updated a bit, which is not to say it has lost old resonances). Stating, however, that these men have no employment relationship with the place where they committed the violations allows a subterfuge that the State had not had in relation to that executioner, hired by it directly and sought among assassins to exercise the trade of killing, making it move from marginality to the center of order or the maintenance of social order. Let us also remember that a profession common until the end of slavery, such as that of captain of the bush or catcher of urban slaves, was often, contrary to the position of executioner, autonomous work, no less requested and indispensable, although also considered abject by the society of the 19st century. 1850, especially after XNUMX, and even by those who remunerated him after taking the prey. Even then it stank like the work of a slave trader, but for stinking he was no less in demand.

It is true that the official letter from Ouro Preto, which had reported the fact that had interested the chronicler, mentioned that the man had exercised the trade between 1835 and 1858, therefore a few decades before his death; be that as it may, the death penalty still existed at that time, and with it the task of the executioner. “My God, I don't say that the job is the most honorable: it is much inferior to that of my boot shiner (…); but if the executioner goes out to kill a man, it is because he has been ordered to do so”. And the executioner is still a poor devil, whom the State should thank for the services rendered.

It is no less ingratitude to point the finger at others against those who served you, as they do from supermarkets more modest than Ricoy to large chains, sometimes also with more distant and abstract powerful shareholders, like Carrefour. It is also unfair to fire security guards and, even more so, to become a “collaborator” with those who will investigate them. Let's agree that commerce is just washing its hands, by the artifice of seeking in other companies those who do the dirtiest service, or even is infringing a kind of ethics, loyalty owed after all to those on whom it relied to protect its holy patrimony. In the end, they collaborate with the enemy, that is, justice, supposedly equitable, that will judge the crime committed against a boy, in this case a homeless person. From object Ricoy and so many other “entities” become the subject of the accusation, but in fact they are degrading themselves into a kind of collaborationism – because of seeing the verb so much to collaborate walking through these notifications makes it easier to add the “ism”. It would be as if the generals of the military dictatorship mentioned the death of a faithful torturer not without qualifying his type of work as repulsive. It would cause the same cognitive dissonance – in this sense, it must be said that the current President of the Republic does not provide collaborations of this type, that is, going against his own notion of justice, and if he can personally and publicly graces the executioners he can use. He would never call them "despicable", he would never be disloyal within his own order - that goes without saying.

In the information from the Extra network recently written by its advisor regarding the death of Pedro Henrique de Oliveira Gonzaga, the result of a rear-naked choke applied by one of his security guards, it also stated that the unworthy element had been “immediately and definitively” removed, and the The company then showed interest in helping, had set up “an internal investigation” and monitored “the progress of investigations together with the security company and the competent bodies”. As facts of this type are repeated, we conclude that outsourced workers are constantly being removed, which, by the way, already characterizes their condition, as if the company were always changing them to improve its “strictest principles of valuing human beings”. Being engaged in this, they give us the comfort of warning that they will always get rid of all the obstacles that prevent them from fulfilling their purpose, even if they become their employees, although luckily they rarely are either, they warn. In any case, "nothing justifies the loss of a life”, and “the Extra network will not exempt responsibility for what happened”.

exempt yourself from... against… Here is another dissonance or incongruity. A preposition would change everything: “The Extra chain will not exempt itself from responsibility for what happened”. But his advisors don't really write that badly and realized that he would perform the miracle of metamorphosing a first-person narrator and dangerously malicious into the person of an observer or even someone absent from the scene, much less malicious, but very sorry for what he heard tell or seen on camera. That is, if the “domain theory of the fact” is not applied here, the one that imputes those who know and allow, even though they do not. But it certainly won't work in this case.

*Priscila Figueiredo is a professor of Brazilian literature at USP and a contributor to the website Other words.

This text is a slightly modified version and originally published on the website Other words.


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