Can we talk about bullying? Let’s talk about bullying.
Did you ever get called names or shoved in a locker or beaten up on the playground or called a fag or called stupid or just good old-fashioned got teased about your physical self when you were a kid? I did. Are you better or worse off today because that happened? I'm better.
Will I teach my kid not to be mean to others and not to shove people? Of course. Will I jump in and bail him out when it happens to him? Absolutely not. Bullies in childhood teach people to overcome bullies in adulthood. In adulthood, there’s no daddy to come save you. And there will always be bullies in adulthood.
So you can have people reach adulthood knowing how to handle a bully (both emotionally and socially), or... ya know. Not.
Having said that, there's bullying and there's bullying. If my kid’s getting the shit kicked out of him on a daily basis, I don’t really have an ear for why. It needs to stop. If he’s getting teased and picked on and (physically) pushed around a little, he needs to learn how to stand up for himself.
Let's say there's this kid (we'll call him Jon) who's mom died giving birth to him and he doesn't know her name or who she was. He lives with his dad (let's say he's the governor of... I dunno... Ohio) and his step-mom hates him and treats him like shit. Doesn't beat him or anything; just doesn't show him any of the affection that she gives her own children and makes it known that she resents having him in her house. Everybody at school knows this about him and throws it in his face every chance they get.
This is a shit sandwich. This kid has some choices. He can let them beat him down. He can allow himself to believe that he's worthless and punch somebody in the face every time they tease him about his family life. Or he could curl up in a psychological ball and never come out. Or he can be a bastard. He can wear it like armor and own it.
Now let's say that none of that is true except for the core facts. The kid never knew his real mom and lives with his father and his step-mom. She loves him like her own and would give her life for his any day of the week. No one at school ever teases him about being adopted and he has lots of friends. The lesson he's going to learn is that people are basically kind-hearted and don't want to hurt his feelings. So when he grows up and discovers the world isn't that way, he'll have to learn as a man all the things he should have learned as a child.
If you think that's no big deal, I challenge you to try it. Go change something about yourself. Intentionally and drastically alter your own worldview as an adult. Go stand up to a bully like you never did as a child. Good luck with that. I HAD bullies in school and it took me until I was twenty-five to figure my own special brand of dealing with them (but I have a legitimate learning disability). Children are designed to learn and adapt to new and changing circumstances. Adults are notoriously not good at that.
So go ahead and make bullying illegal, so that every time a little boy playfully puts ink or glue in a little girl's hair he gets expelled from school for bullying. I guarantee that's what will happen. You will also catch the actual bullies, and that (I feel) is also a tragedy.
You'll have an entire generation of pussies who are completely incapable of standing up for themselves. Then you'll have a second generation of them because the first generation won't have the experience to teach their children. And that will be that. Bullies will run the world because no one else will have any balls.
In my opinion, it is imperative that you discipline one kid for punching another kid in the face. It is equally crucial that both of them learn their lesson in a constructive way. The lesson should not be "whenever you have a problem with someone, find someone who outranks you to settle it." That's what anti-bullying legislation teaches.
If you feel like someone has wronged you, don't try to talk to them about it, don't find a clever way to stick it to them, and for the love of God don't frankly and honestly express to them your discontent. Call the police and they'll decide what should be done. That's the penultimate lesson of anti-bullying legislation.
"Bullying" is such a non-definitive word that you can make an argument for any disagreeable act being labelled "bullying." All the things listed in this "graphic" I found on Facebook: part of growing up. Everybody goes through it. You learn to deal with it or you kill yourself. Almost all of us are strong enough to survive that particular rite of passage.
We need for the government to stop babying people. Should you wear a seatbelt? Yes. Should it be required by law? No. If you’re too dumb to wear a seatbelt, you’re too dumb to live. Should you smoke cigarettes? Should you shoot heroine? Should you put a steak knife in your butthole? Should you eat at McDonald’s? We all know you should never do any of those things: they’re bad for ya! You also shouldn’t swim for at least a half-hour after you eat. But let’s not make all that stuff illegal, okay? It’s unnecessary, and it dilutes the gene pool with people who should have been allowed to stupid themselves to death. To quote George Carlin: “The kid who swallows too many marbles doesn’t grow up to have kids of his own.”
If you want to pass legislation that mandates strict, no-nonsense penalties for underage perpetrators of violent crimes, I'm okay with it. On second thought, no I'm really not. When I was in grade school, I got in fights. I threw rocks at people. I got “punished.” I stopped doing it. If this anti-bullying horseshit had been going on when I was a kid, I’d be in prison right now. Kids need to be allowed to make mistakes with only perceived consequences. It's how they learn without fucking things up for them down the road. Anti-bullying legislation means there will be real consequences for kids who just need to be taught a lesson. You can't expel a kid for bullying somebody. That's what kids do. They behave like children: like there are no consequences for their actions and they can treat people however they want. AND THERE NEEDS TO BE NO LASTING CONSEQUENCES FOR THAT BEHAVIOR.
By expelling (or in extreme cases, prosecuting) a kid for bullying, you’re teaching him that he has to always follow every rule and never, ever, ever put one toe out of line or his life is over. He'll either take that to heart, still be expelled, and resent you and the system for a good long time, or he'll not take it to heart, continue being an asshole, resent the system forever, and never be a productive member of society.
You'll be teaching the "victim" that whenever anyone does something that hurts his widdle feelings, he should run and tell someone in authority and the person that said that mean thing to him will just go away. That's real healthy.
I've been bullied as a child and I've been bullied as an adult. I would not be the man that I am today if either of those things was not true. I would be a whiny, entitled mama's boy with a lot (I mean really a lot) of not-very-close friends, a room all to my self at my parents' house and no son to carry on the family tradition of being awesome. I’d also be a Republican, which is weird but nonetheless true.
If Bill Gates hadn’t gotten shoved in a locker every day in high school, he’d be a software engineer at Apple. I’ve been saying that for a long time, and I really hope somebody doesn’t somehow discover that Bill Gates was home-schooled or something. lol.
The bottom line is: nobody benefits from severely punishing bullies. The bully learns nothing, the bullied learns to be taken care of, and society gets polarized into whiny little pussies and serial bully assholes.
So let’s go to the phones. I know somebody has something to say about this.