Eleana has ensured that the failure of the romance with Harry is Harry's fault, even before the first date. If the romance succeeds, well, then who cares? Laurie claims that gossip will help her step in if Eleana needs her help, armed with knowledge of Eleana's heart. But it's more likely that Eleana is disguising her desires with this preemptive strike than keeping her friends apprised of them.

And Harry? If he becomes one of us, he'll be safer from slander, or at least develop some defenders. And then he can join in the fun, helping to scapegoat the next scapegrace. We may help form and maintain our communities with our talk, but that doesn't necessarily make it ethical.

And only some of the talk we use to forge our bonds is gossip, thank goodness. To gossip is to be human, indeed. Or as Nietzsche the great theorist of scapegoating, would say, all too human.

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