For a bit now I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts properly, to find some coherent way of communicating them in hopes of formulating a post. The truth is, the means of explaining my thoughts on the matter didn’t hit until I saw a few nasty things about Sarah Palin (and, no, this post is NOT about her – but utilizing her as an example) on facebook and of course through our inestimable (*sarcasm*) media.
I don’t like her. Never liked her. Probably never will like her. She is not someone I admire on just about any level. But you know what? I’m not calling her names or blaming her for things that, please pardon me, had absolutely nothing to do with her. The attacks on her are not limited to thoughtful criticism or discourse, but instead remind me of that terrible book from junior high that everyone knew existed: The Slam Book. [To those unfamiliar with this particular blend of emotionally cruel venom it’s a book with people’s names in it and on those pages not so nice things are said about the individual. If this still sounds a bit weird and nonsensical then I would advise you to watch “Mean Girls” – it’s seriously a good commentary on such pettiness.]
Some of the people who denounce bullying, who somehow want to outlaw this behavior, are being hypocrites. Acting out displeasure through ad hominem attacks shows children, peers, students, etc, that this is an appropriate way of conducting one’s self. It shows that bullying is okay so long as we have a justification for it.
Argument and discourse is a wonderful thing to encourage. It demonstrates application of critical thought, of self scrutiny and awareness, and moreover that a rebuttal should be pointed and that smearing the subject or the person offering a counterpoint is petty and juvenile. You want things to improve in this society? This can’t happen through laws, but through each and every person’s actions. Don’t denounce bullying while posting messages of hate; don’t stand high on a pulpit marketing yourself as the next martyr for the poor lambs being led to slaughter in a malevolent and over ridden with bully system while calling “those” people you don’t like the foulest of names. Kids do as we do. If they’re acting out and being cruel it is not an anomaly, but a testimony to what is perceived as normal or acceptable in society and home.
Same for the victims. People distraught over name calling and ostracism are not secure in themselves. And why aren’t they? Is the message given to be like everyone else or is it one of support for who they are REGARDLESS of if/how they fit into a societal mold?
We want to fix this problem we need to take a good hard look at ourselves, at the words we use and the actions we take, then confront ourselves with it. As soon as humanly possible we should then proceed to talk about it with those we love and those who might need the words. Think. Talk. Own it. Show that all of this makes you a better person, not a weaker one.
** I will have a book review of “Practical Magic” posted on Monday. This post was near and dear to my heart as well as on the tip of my mind and so it got priority billing as it were.