Wednesday, April 10, 2013

We're All Bullies

Thousands of teachers and students across the country donned pink t-shirts to take a stand against bullying today. No one likes a bully. Too bad we're all bullies.

A couple of years ago I volunteered to help with a self esteem workshop for young children. We led a small group of kids through a morning session and there was a 10 year old boy at my table who was very outspoken about how he was bullied at school. Naturally, I was sympathetic to the young guy and he hung out with me through various activities the whole morning. Part way through a new boy from his class joined our group. The first boy said, "You can't sit here fatso." I politely said that the new boy was welcome to join us and we moved on. Soon we had an activity sorting candy, again the first boy says, "this won't work. Fatty is going to eat them all!" Finally I pointed out to the first boy that he was being the bully, but he just couldn't comprehend that he could be a bully too.

I thought of this a few months back when some radio announcers convinced a nurse caring for Kate Middleton that they were part of the Royal Family she shared way to much information and the prank went viral. The nurse committed suicide shortly after the prank presumably because of her shame at the incident. The radio jockies lost their jobs and had to go into hiding because of all the threats that they received after the incident. Nobody looked good in this situation the radio hosts and hundreds like them make a living tormenting and ridiculing vulnerable and trusting people and they are enabled by their audiences. After the news of the nurses death, the pile on of criticism and the threats the djs received were their own form of bullying.

In fact the pink shirted crusaders are likely shaming non conforming students that are uncomfortable wearing pink - they are inadvertinely bullying the students in the name of anti-bullying. It's typical, some of the worst bullies are those who seek conformity in the name of diversity, in fact the National Review Online has an excellent interview about a new book, Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America.

Let's stop bullying for good. Maybe the first step is to have the courage to wear blue next pink day.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I understand that part of the Harper government’s tough on crime agenda is to include some punishment for offenders who commit bullying and protection for victims.

Anonymous said...

I have to laugh how in the schools in Quebec they are teaching kids about how awful bullying is and then we see the student protesters getting away with all their bullying and intimidation. Also a lot of the unions are big on bullying and they get what they want.

I am afraid some of this anti-bullying indoctrination will leave kids without the experience of hitting back at bullies in the schoolyard because they are not allowed to do that anymore.

ciaranmyers said...

Is Harper's new tough-on-crime agenda not a systemic form of extreme bullying? Patrick didn't punish the first kind in the above scenario, he just helped him understand the situation better. The answer isn't more punishment, the answer is more understanding.

Patrick O'Neil said...

Ciaran,

Good to hear from you. I don't know much about Harper's plan. I do know that in the current environment I'm suspicious of anyone who claims to want to combat bullying. It's way too common and subject to interpretation and in many (maybe most) cases we don't even know that we're doing it.

blart masterson said...

I agree with you whole-heartedly.

When perspective is lost, it is easy to see how those who have themselves or have had loved ones bullied/oppressed/injured by others can ignore their own transgressions while attacking their "bullies".

It is one thing to protect one another, it is an altogether different beast to attack someone based on the offences they have committed.

Anonymous said...

COmpletely agree with you that "defeating a bully" often becomes bullying. However, the situation in Nova Scotia is that a student was violently assaulted for wearing a pink shirt, and then two other students wore pink shirts, and now others where them to show their outrage at bullying. To me, this falls into the realm of solidarity with fellow human beings, not conformity. It could easily become that, I suppose, but that is not the inherent meaning in the act.

The key problem is that, as humans, we still have the primitive desire to segregate based on differences. You wear pink, so you must be gay, so I have to beat you up. Or you don't support my charity, you didn't wear pink, so you must be a bully, so I shun you.