Physically, I’m not all that big or intimidating. I don’t bully people that way.
However, that does not translate to mean I am totally incapable of mistreating other humans.
Quite the contrary. In other writings, I have previously recounted bits and pieces of one personal situation where I irritated, manipulated and cajoled one particular “adversary” to the point where he threatened to commit suicide on my front doorstep.
The point of mentioning this is not to brag. I’m not proud of that moment in time, a personal nadir.
Rather ashamed of myself, in fact.
My only point in mentioning the story was to acknowledge the fact that I am perfectly capable of being a bully. And I know it.
The question is, what should I do with that information? Now, in my defense, many would argue the person who threatened to kill himself because of my evil scheming was himself a thug and a supreme jerk, and “got what he deserved.”
Truthfully, it’s not like I was picking a fight with Mother Teresa. However, that’s no excuse.
To make another human being feel so bad about himself that he claimed he wanted to die at my feet, because of my words, was not a good feeling. I had to ask myself, is the only way to deal with a bully to become a worse one?
I think not.
The incident in question was not a proud moment to remember from my personal history, precisely because in order to defeat what I hate most, I became what I abhor. A bully.
Of someone several inches taller, and about fifty pounds heavier than me — but as we all know, size has nothing to do with it. Speed kills.
This person was afraid of me, simply because of the words that might next come out of my mouth. He was perpetually about three moves behind me in our little psychological game of chess.
Most bullies prefer physical intimidation, brawn to brains. But I am forced to use the limited weapons at my disposal, mostly my wits, which are often but not always quick.
I won’t flatter myself to suggest this person was incapable of matching wits with me. I think it was more a matter of he never expected someone that much smaller to be so much meaner than him.
It really bothered him that I showed no fear of physical altercation with him, to the point where I taunted him and dared him to come try assault me — from a safe distance away by phone, of course.
I believe it threw him off his normal avenue of attack because he couldn’t tell if I wanted a physical confrontation so I would have an excuse to fight back, have him arrested, or if I was simply insane enough to engage in hand-to-hand combat with him.
We’ll leave it at that. You may wonder, too.
These days, I ask myself: was I really forced to use this insidious tool at my disposal? Was getting what I wanted at the time really all that important? Were any of the hurtful things I said to him really necessary? Couldn’t I have dialed it down a couple of notches and accomplished the same goal, still gotten my way? Did I really have to make the guy feel as bad as I deliberately did?
Was there pleasure that I took in his misery?
In retrospect, the disturbing truth for me is, yes, I believe so.
I went for the emotional jugular vein because he’d made me angry. I wanted him to feel bad. I wanted to crush his spirit.
And I did. My only real defense is to point out in my case, at least I could say that the attack had been provoked. He started it, and I finished it.
At the time this exchange took place, I knew exactly what was wrong with my adversary.
Now, I’m wondering what in the hell was wrong with me. Of all people, I should know better.
My son was bullied by a gang of children at his middle school. Because his mother and I were blessed to hold jobs that paid well at the time, we could afford private school. We had the choice, and a simple solution, after the school administrators failed to protect our son and punished him if he dared retaliate.
Not every parent is so fortunate.
A sad, disturbing, but well made and excellent movie called Bully (that unfortunately had to be made) illustrates the problem with tragic real life examples of bullies in action.
In one trailer clip, Kelby describes what it feels like to be bullied for being gay in high school.
The school administrator in the trailer who was approached by the parents reminded me a lot of the teacher with whom I spoke, after my son had been terrorized in the bathroom by several kids. She defended the bullies as “good as gold” on the bus. In our case, the school official also implied the problems faced by our son on a daily basis were fictitious or grossly exaggerated.
This was after the school official in Bully saw videotape of children punching, kicking and choking the child allegedly being victimized. I merely use the word “allegedly” for comic effect, because nothing else about the movie is funny.
Watch the movie. See for yourself. If this doesn’t make you upset and angry, what will?
To her credit, the same official is later heard asking, “Tell me how to fix this?”
My answer to her: “you” can’t do it alone. You’ll need help. From every last one of us.
I remember feeling great anger and frustration after the school failed to address my concerns about my own son. I shudder to think what might have happened if we had done nothing.
Fortunately, we did have other options.
We pulled our son out the public school, and enrolled him in an excellent, and safe, private though expensive school for about $10k per year.
Sadly, many parents that find themselves in a similar position with their children being bullied, but they simply cannot afford the luxury of private school. Besides, avoiding the problem does not solve it. The bullies will simply find a new target.
If you think the problem is isolated and it cannot happen to your children, think again.
I get really angry when I see kids tormenting each other like common thugs and domestic terrorists. But my blood really boils into apoplectic rage when I read about teachers and adults actually exacerbating the problem.
In the one clip, when Kelby said the teacher called for “boys…girls…and Kelby”, I didn’t think it was the least bit amusing.
While I’m usually quite reticent to demand someone’s job over a single infraction, I found myself willing to make an exception for this supreme jerk. Pick on somebody your own size, and age.
Actually, there’s at least two supreme jerks and bullies who deserve to lose their jobs.
Besides the teacher in question, there is Obama’s “anti-bullying czar” Dan Savage, who uses his position of authority to bully students about their Christian beliefs. He unbelievably launched a personal tirade against students as they walked out of his presentation, after Savage categorized the Bible as “bullshit.”
Savage called the students “pansy asses,” a very curious choice of words coming from a homosexual activist. These words are coming from a very powerful employee of the Obama administration, a representative of the federal government.
Incredibly, though teachers in the room described the scene as “hostile” toward Christians, nobody voiced any objections to Savage — like to say, shut up, for example. Take the microphone away from the jerk, and send him packing. Who cares if he’s a minion sent forth by Obama to do his dirty work?
Savage is nothing more than a coward and a bully.
How does this end? Simple. We put an end to it. Dan Savage should lose his job. Today. If not immediately, come November.
Zero tolerance. One thing that we do not see in any of the clips in which Tyler or the other kids traumatized by their classmates is anybody on the scene sticking up for them. Why aren’t parents teaching their children to stick up for one another, and defend the weak and the outcast, befriend the friendless?
In short, we police ourselves, and each other. I don’t care if so-and-so is your “B.F.F” or whatever you want to call it, if you see that friend bully another human being, call them out. Embarrass them until they cease and desist.
Protect the innocent and shame the guilty.
Students who witness teachers picking on fellow students should tell supervisory school officials what happened. If they fail to take action, their parents must follow up with the school board.
The onlyway that bullying will continue is if we collectively allow it to happen.
Earlier I posed a rhetorical question: what should I do with the knowledge I have the capacity to be a bully. To which I say, bury it.
Don’t permit yourself become a nightmare of a human being, and don’t sit back idly and watch another human being be bullied.
Just say NO.
Do not turn a blind eye to the misfortune of others, simply thankful that you aren’t them. No one deserves to be bullied. Not even a bully.
Anyone who would mistreat an animal will do the same to a human being, if given half a chance. Don’t ignore cruelty to man nor beast.
While maintaining a vigilant watch for the bully in your midst, don’t forget to take a good look in the mirror.