Exceptionalism vs Humanity/Common Sense

America is perhaps the poster boy country for exceptionalism. After 2.5 years here, I have come to realization that exceptionalism is revered around here and by-product of the optimism and entrepreneurship that have become the hallmarks of the American dream. Unfortunately, exceptionalism is pursued and achieved in some cases at the expense of humanity/common sense.

Take the article on Elon Musk and Tesla today on Bloomberg as an example. The article revealed the length Elon and Tesla went to to ruin the life of a whistleblower. I highly recommend you to read the article. Below are the pieces that disturbed me:

The leaker, they determined, was one Martin Tripp, a slight man of 40 who’d spent his career in a series of low-level manufacturing jobs before finding his way to the assembly line at the Gigafactory. Tripp later claimed to be an idealist trying to get Tesla to tighten its operations; Musk saw him as a dangerous foe who engaged in “extensive and damaging sabotage,” as he wrote in a staff memo. He implied that Tripp had shared the data not only with the press but also with “unknown third parties.”

On June 20, the company sued Tripp for $167 million. Later that day, Tripp heard from the sheriff’s department in Storey County, Nev. Tesla’s security department had passed a tip to police. An anonymous caller had contacted the company to say Tripp was planning a mass shooting at the Gigafactory.


When the police confronted Tripp that evening, he was unarmed and in tears. He said he was terrified of Musk and suggested the billionaire might have called in the tip himself. A sheriff’s deputy attempted to cheer up Tripp and then called Tesla to tell the company that the threat, whoever had made it, was bogus. Tripp wasn’t dangerous.

Musk’s treatment of Tripp threatens to complicate this legal and regulatory mess. The security manager at the Gigafactory, an ex-military guy with a high-and-tight haircut named Sean Gouthro, has filed a whistleblower report with the SEC. Gouthro says Tesla’s security operation behaved unethically in its zeal to nail the leaker. Investigators, he claims, hacked into Tripp’s phone, had him followed, and misled police about the surveillance. Gouthro says that Tripp didn’t sabotage Tesla or hack anything and that Musk knew this and sought to damage his reputation by spreading misinformation.

The following day, news of the lawsuit hit the internet. Tripp Googled himself and saw a story titled, “Martin Tripp: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,” which said he lived in a rental apartment in nearby Sparks, Nev. Panicked about who might come find him, he sent an email to Musk. “You have what’s coming to you for the lies you have told to the public and investors,” he wrote.

His former boss, of course, engaged him with gusto. “Threatening me only makes it worse for you,” Musk replied. Later, he wrote: “You should be ashamed of yourself for framing other people. You’re a horrible human being.”

“I NEVER ‘framed’ anyone else or even insinuated anyone else as being involved in my production of documents of your MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF WASTE, Safety concerns, lying to investors/the WORLD,” Tripp responded. “Putting cars on the road with safety issues is being a horrible human being!”

No one can question Elon’s greatness. I myself read a book on him and had a lot of respect for the guy, but what was described above was really difficult to read. No matter how great you are, that’s not how you should treat a person who has nowhere near the power or resources you have.

I read the Bad Blood book, which chronicled the scam of Theranos. It’s mind-blowing to read about how such a deceptive scheme transpired, how many people got hurt along the way as a select few individuals sought exceptionalism and how such individuals, like Musk, went out of the ways to ruin the lives of others who stood up to them.

There is also no lack of documented materials on how millions of dollars in savings vaporized through the Internet bubble and the 2008 economic crisis because exceptionalism was pursued in spite of common sense.

I am pretty sure I am and will be nobody in this world. But at the end of my days, I will still be proud of myself for not screwing anybody over to get what I want. To me, compassion, common sense and humanity matter more than exceptionalism.

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