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Do You Get Bullied?

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Just out of curiosity, are there any completely normal socially awkward people these days, or did they all get infected with the asperger virus?

 

I don't want to offend anybody I don't know personally, but I just have a hard time understanding how someone could have a mild form of a debilitating mental disorder. How could you tell the difference?

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Originally Posted By: Enraged Slith
Just out of curiosity, are there any completely normal socially awkward people these days, or did they all get infected with the asperger virus?

I don't want to offend anybody I don't know personally, but I just have a hard time understanding how someone could have a mild form of a debilitating mental disorder. How could you tell the difference?

Psychological analysis by several therapists. I also have Borderline Personality Disorder.

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What we term 'bullying' is a natural condition in all societies. It is a way to feel out each persons position in the societal hierarchy. It is also used to try to cause the victim to alter some undesirable trait. Non-conformity is often the target of such bullying. Lack of self-esteem is one trait that is considered a weakness.

 

My family moved around several times. Each time we moved, I would find myself stuck in a new society, one that had established its own status quo. As the new kid on the block, I was always 'tested' by the established alphas to see how I would respond. Not being as physically strong as them, not having a talent or drive for sports, I did not have much in common with those people. I also lacked a strong sense of self-esteem. I could not stand up to them and push back. Therefore I was designated as 'not in'. I had to put up with their 'testing' until I either found ways to avoid it, or to make it less fun for them. Ignoring their taunts was quite effective for that. But it involved swallowing my pride a lot, and that soured my belly.

 

I did not learn how to rise above being a target for bullying until I went to college and enrolled in ROTC. I pledged to join the special operations group there, which involved daily pledge classes and to what some people would term 'hazing'. These pledge classes, unlike an ordinary fraternity, involved a lot of intense physical training as well as advanced training in other military skills; patrolling techniques, map reading, leadership etc... I was pushed physically and mentally beyond what I thought I could do. I learned to develop confidence in myself, and that confidence became visible to others in my demeanor and carriage. When I became a commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, and assigned to be the platoon leader of a combat engineer platoon, this confidence was vital in my being able to be the leader, to project authority.

 

This has served me well in the many years since. I currently work for a boss who, shall I say, is difficult to work with. My self confidence has served me well here, defusing situations that could have turned out badly. My boss has now promoted me to a position of high authority, and responsibility. I had to train to take this position, but it also took showing my confidence in myself that I could do the job that gained me this position.

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The State exists because it monopolises the legitimate use of force. It then regularly utilises this force (or the threat of force) against individuals to keep order. Justified or not, the use of coercion by a strong individual against a weak individual in order to obtain compliance is the very definition of bullying.


Governments are not individuals.

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Originally Posted By: Enraged Slith
Just out of curiosity, are there any completely normal socially awkward people these days, or did they all get infected with the asperger virus?

I don't want to offend anybody I don't know personally, but I just have a hard time understanding how someone could have a mild form of a debilitating mental disorder. How could you tell the difference?

"Mild" is a relative term. The diagnostic line between Asperger's and social awkwardness is "significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning." I'm a mild case compared to some other people with Asperger's I've met, but I still meet that standard.

It's also important to note that there's a list of diagnostic criteria that goes well beyond mere social awkwardness, so it's not like they made up a disorder for everyone who struggles to make friends in elementary school. Some people on the internet might self-diagnose just because they feel awkward or they want to have an excuse for being a jerk, but that doesn't mean Asperger's isn't a real thing.

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Originally Posted By: Enraged Slith
I don't want to offend anybody I don't know personally, but I just have a hard time understanding how someone could have a mild form of a debilitating mental disorder. How could you tell the difference?

Because the human psyche is a complicated thing, and it isn't just composed of a table of boolean variables for various disorders?

There is a lot of room for interpretation when it comes to diagnosing mental health issues. Researchers have tried to remove the subjective factor from the process, and largely failed. The problem is that people act differently in different situations and there's no way to take a single snapshot that accurately reflects the entirity of someone's psyche. Plus, what's actually going on inside the psyche is often easy to see in external behavior, but sometimes it's not.

What you can do is say, well, these symptoms seem to cluster together. And you can also say, this symptom cluster looks pretty similar to this other common symptom cluster, but here are some differences that we think are consistent enough to warrant differentiating the clusters. That's exactly what you have with Asperger's versus traditional autism. It's not that the people affected by one will necessarily present the same way as people affected by the other -- far from it, in this case, at least in my experience.

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Originally Posted By: Brocktree
Originally Posted By: Preprandial Beliefs
Often, Person A will be a designated bullying target because an alpha-bully picked Person A and everyone else goes along with it. Yes, it's usually because A is different somehow, but that somehow can be being foreign, or more interested in academics, or small, just goody-looking. How do you fix those things?


They don't need to be fixed, because they are rarely (if ever) the core problem. I've known clever, small, goody-looking and foreign kids who were *not* routinely bullied. Indeed, some were bullies themselves.


Brocktree is right that there are no absolutes for bully target characteristics. There are certainly examples of all kinds of people who are not bullied, or who are bullies themselves. However, this effect is dramatically dependent on environment.

Today, in the places that most of us live, the characteristics Alorael brought up above are what I'd call sometimes-scapegoated: they may make you stand out a bit for general scapegoating and bullying, but they don't guarantee it, and I think I agree with Brocktree that how you handle yourself has more of an impact.

However, this is environmentally dependent.

If you were a Japanese American kid in high school in the US during the second half of WW2, what chance do you think you'd have of not being bullied?

Or suppose you were an openly gay kid in a more religious area in the 80's. Again, chance of not being bullied is zero.

Obviously these are extreme examples, but the point is that these scapegoatable characteristics are relevant. Being very different does not condemn you to a life of being bullied, but it sure as heck makes it more likely.

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Originally Posted By: HOUSE of S
If you were a Japanese American kid in high school in the US during the second half of WW2, what chance do you think you'd have of not being bullied?

Or suppose you were an openly gay kid in a more religious area in the 80's. Again, chance of not being bullied is zero.


Not to be pedantic, but the vast majority of Japanese-Americans living in the US in the 1940's would live on the West Coast, and as such would be in concentration camps at the time, not high schools.

And coming out as openly gay in the 80's in the Bible Belt is a move that's so 1) shockingly stupid and 2) easily preventable that you are definitly responsible for the abuse that results.

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Like I said, they were extreme examples to make the point that these bullyable characteristics are relevant to some degree. But I think my point is only supported further by your comments. Prejudices that lead to bullying can be so endemic as to involve state-organized bullying; and many people who aren't prejudiced and don't want to participate in bullying nonetheless have an attitude of "it's their own fault, it's their own responsibility," which allows this environment to persist.

 

"It's their own fault" CAN be constructive, if the person has a gap in their deal-with-the-world skills, and has the ability to learn from the situation. So a kid getting bullied at school because of his or her personality can benefit from toughening up. But if that toughening up isn't happening, then taking that attitude is definitely not constructive.

 

In that case, "it's their own fault, it's their own responsibility" begins to sound awfully like a lead-in to First they came for the communists...

 

EDIT: I guess what I'm getting at here is that while I agree there is constructive value in kids learning how to deal with bullying and in not just "rescuing" weak kids, I also think there is essential value in a social contract that helps protect the vulnerable from the sociopathic.

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I'm surprised by the comments here. Most of them seem to revolve around bullying in high school. I was bullied in elementary school and some in junior high. I don't recall any in high school. I saw very few cases of others being bullied in high school.

 

I would never report bullying to school authorities or my parents, because i knew that would make the problem worse. I had no self-esteem problems. I was shy, intelligent and non-athletic. I overcame the shyness in college. There is no way that I could have become more athletic. My body lacks both coordination and upper-body strength, and my interests have always been cerebral in nature.

 

That bullying is caused by the one being bullied is an absurd notion to me. In my mind, it is caused by natural aggression in children and sometimes by adults abusing future bullies. I believe that bullying is allowed to fester in schools because the type of person that is likely to become a school administrator was never bullied as a child. This means that they were either bullies or bystanders (neither bullied nor bullying) as children. I suppose the ideal bystander is one who would discourage bullying. I do recall people of such high character, but they sometimes did the wrong thing (notify the authorities.)

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Brocktree, I think you've confused bullying with any kind of enforcement of behavior through the use of or threat of force.

 

States don't routinely interact in any directed way with their citizens. Unless you do something that requires intervention, you're free to go about your business. Being forbidden from stealing and assaulting isn't being bullied! Yes, sometimes having to fork over your hard-earned money to the IRS feels like having your lunch money stolen, but if you can't see the difference between what governments do to keep the state functioning for the good of citizens and what bullies do for their own good, you need to spend some time in a more dysfunctional and tyrannical state.

 

Dantius, coming out as gay in the Bible belt may seem like a terrible idea, but how about all the kids who have committed suicide because they have been picked on for being gay, whether or not they were? And how about bullying for religious reasons? You can always change that, after all. We just generally find forced religion abhorrent.

 

—Alorael, who thinks that's the big difference. Coercion covers anyone trying to get you to do anything for any reason. Coercion can be for the greater good, or for your own good. Bullying isn't for you at all, and there isn't always something you can do about standing out. The closest thing to being able to teach the victims not to be victims is giving lessons in conformity. And that's a big problem in and of itself.

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Originally Posted By: Enraged Slith
Just out of curiosity, are there any completely normal socially awkward people these days, or did they all get infected with the asperger virus?
I don't have any friends in school, but there are many I consider acquaintances. I say that because (from what I know) even though they don't dislike me, they find being near me for over ten minutes an uncomfortable experience.

. . . does that count?

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Originally Posted By: HOUSE of S

Because the human psyche is a complicated thing, and it isn't just composed of a table of boolean variables for various disorders?


Not really. The human psyche most certainly can be reduced to a table of boolean variables- there's just quite a few. I remember once working out that you'd need around 2.5E42 bits of information to perfectly reproduce a human brain using the Bekenstein bound of an adult male human- it's probably around 2E42 for an adult female, and less for children. So yeah, it's Boolean.

On the subject of psychological disorders, I find that there's a tendency on the side of parents, who I do have regular contact with, to explain away thenfailings of their children with psychological disorders. Billy not doing well in school? He must have ADD or ADHD and is really brilliant in his own way, but he's just not suited to the way the school teaches. No parent ever really wants to hear that their kid is as dumb as a box of rocks, so I attribute the upswing in diagnoses of ADD, ADHD, Aspergers, etc. to a conveniet way to explain away the D's on the report card while still being able to retain the illusion that their child is somehow special.

But hey, I'm just a childless cynic, so what do I know about the nuances of parent/child relationships? It's not like I can draw on my own experiences being diagnosed or anything, so I might be totally off base here, too, though I do think I'm closer to the truth this time.

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
On the subject of psychological disorders, I find that there's a tendency on the side of parents, who I do have regular contact with, to explain away thenfailings of their children with psychological disorders. Billy not doing well in school? He must have ADD or ADHD and is really brilliant in his own way, but he's just not suited to the way the school teaches. No parent ever really wants to hear that their kid is as dumb as a box of rocks, so I attribute the upswing in diagnoses of ADD, ADHD, Aspergers, etc. to a conveniet way to explain away the D's on the report card while still being able to retain the illusion that their child is somehow special.

I got straight A's in school, I wasn't diagnosed until I was 20, my parents were skeptical.

As a counterexample, since I was diagnosed, pretty much everybody who knows us both has told me that, if anything, my grandfather had Asperger's worse than I do. The fact that he was never diagnosed with it probably has something to do with the fact that it wasn't included in the DSM until he was in his 60s. Our knowledge of everything advances with time, including disorders that used to be too subtle for us to detect or treat.

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Originally Posted By: "Work-related hydrargyria"

Being forbidden from stealing and assaulting isn't being bullied! Yes, sometimes having to fork over your hard-earned money to the IRS feels like having your lunch money stolen, but if you can't see the difference between what governments do to keep the state functioning for the good of citizens and what bullies do for their own good, you need to spend some time in a more dysfunctional and tyrannical state.


Ahh, but bullying tactics *are* used to prevent us from stealing and assaulting, and to coerce us into paying our taxes. Force and, more importantly, *the threat of force* are used to coerce individuals into behaving in particular ways. That is the *literal* definition of bullying.

You mention that this is done for our own good. Even if I were to agree with this (I don't), all I have to say is... so what? That's a massive red herring. Can you find me a definition of bullying which clearly states that bullying tactics used for the victim's 'own good' do not qualify as bullying?

Essentially, your argument is that X isn't bullying, because X isn't bullying. That's circular reasoning.

Originally Posted By: "Tribe"

Governments are not individuals.


Nor are mobs of bullies in high school. However, they consist of individuals who enforce their will against weaker individuals through the threat of punishment.


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No, Alorael's argument is that you have the wrong definition of bullying. The two of you disagree on how to delimit its meaning.

 

Let's see what the web has.

* Google dictionary defines the noun as "A person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker"

* However, it defines the verb as "Use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants"

 

Quite simply, typical police activities _could_ be described with the word "bullying", but that isn't what most people mean when they use the word. The similiarities are well worth noting, but there are substantive differences between taxation backed by force, which at least in theory is for a common good, and extorting lunch money, which is for personal gain in theory as well as practice.

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Originally Posted By: HOUSE of S
Quite simply, typical police activities _could_ be described with the word "bullying", but that isn't what most people mean when they use the word.

It depends upon whether the police are using bullying to prevent others from doing criminal activities or if the police are doing the criminal activities.

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Originally Posted By: HOUSE of S

Quite simply, typical police activities _could_ be described with the word "bullying", but that isn't what most people mean when they use the word. The similiarities are well worth noting, but there are substantive differences between taxation backed by force, which at least in theory is for a common good, and extorting lunch money, which is for personal gain in theory as well as practice.


brocktree's argument seems to be that a bully beating you up and taking your lunch money contributes to the common good because anyone who lets it happen to them deserves it

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*agonizes over whether to post*

 

I try not to get involved in serious discussions like this on the internet. I've just never found it a good forum for such things. But...hmm...

 

 

If I'm understanding Brocktree's argument...

 

"Victims" of bullying are the ones at fault, not the bullies, because they should have acted differently and could have avoided the bullying.

 

Would the same hold true of all who get robbed? They deserve it because they didn't take enough precautions to avoid it? Would the same hold true of women who are raped? It's their fault because they could have avoided it? What about those who are swindled out of their savings by Bernard Maddoff or whoever? They should have been more careful, is that it?

 

Certainly it's good to encourage people to behave wisely, to take precautions, to avoid some dangerous situations or defend themselves in others, etc. I'm not opposed to those things.

 

But I'm troubled by an approach that seems to absolve bullies (by applying similar reasoning, as far as I can see, all thieves / rapists / murderers / swindlers / etc) of responsibility and guilt for their actions. Simply because the apparent "victims" could have done more to prevent the situation.

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It has already been affirmed that it is not the 'fault' of the bullied, per say, but rather a natural consequence of having the qualities that make bullying them, well, enjoyable.

 

When I think of the kids that got bullied in my own grade, I remember them saying and doing very odd things to begin with. But then they would lash out with even odder comebacks and dramatic reactions when picked on for it. Personality traits or genetic tendencies that caused them to behave against the norm and some kids find enticing that kind of reaction enjoyable. It wasn't their fault for processing information differently, but if more effort would have gone into teaching them how to behave 'normally' than just punishing those who bullied them for being odd the bullying could have been lessened rather than policed.

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Originally Posted By: Brocktree

Being forbidden from stealing and assaulting isn't being Can you find me a definition of bullying which clearly states that bullying tactics used for the victim's 'own good' do not qualify as bullying?

In a sense, yes, what governments do is not bullying because we have, societally, decided on what behavior is prosocial and what behavior is antisocial and government use of force is prosocial.

If you want to bring it to an ethical scale, good government's implicit threat of force is something that we would all, generally, desire to have made universal. Having police deter crime is good; having more police deter all crime is very good. Having bullies deter nonconformity is bad; we wouldn't want to generalize that maxim.

More broadly, bullies use force to either cause undesirable behaviors or in ways that have no positive social ramifications. Taking someone's lunch money because he is a dweeb that no one likes does not actually do anything good. Punching someone because it's funny and she can't fight back does not improve any social bonds.

This is so basic to the idea of bullying that we haven't defined it well, but now we have. You can consider government to be a bully; the Tea Party would back you up on some of those claims. Still, there's a line to be drawn between legitimate and illegitimate use of force.

—Alorael, who thinks that it's also worth considering the outcome you'd prefer, which is that people be able to resist bullying. Would you rather have everyone categorically resist the government? That's anarchy, and while philosophical anarchy has a healthy history, actual anarchy, a total breakdown of law and order, tends to be lawless and disorderly. See also: Hobbes and state of nature.

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Part of the problem I have with the idea of teaching people to carry themselves in a way that will keep them from getting bullied(aside from the parallel with rape apologists – thank you so much for posting, Triumph!) is that there are some things that directly interfere with the general idea of confidence. When I was being bullied, I was still ill, and the medications that I was being given made me shake constantly and be generally a little out of it. My mum's best friend has MS and has trouble finding words, and so speaks extremely slowly, which I know can be seen as lacking in confidence. I do think general people skills classes would be good, but I think I'd kind of want them to be a combination sociology/people skills/tolerance class, which is probably way too much to hope for.

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One of the fundamental aspects of civilized states, especially democratic ones, is that governments hold a monopoly on the use of force (the notable exception is self defense, where the state does not have time to act). While it is easy to see where this can easily go wrong, this is generally viewed by sociologists as a net positive.

 

Prior to civilization, if you angered someone, if you had the misfortune of having something another covets, or simply not being liked by someone, you had no real protection or redress against that person should they act aggressively toward you. Even if we have a series of codes of honor detailing what acts of aggression are permissible, there still comes the fundamental question of who is the final arbiter of the code. Having cycles of violent feuds between groups of family and friends are usually destructive for localities.

 

Nonetheless, there are undeniable needs for violence to protect members of society. For example, serial killers must be stopped before they harm others, thieves must be apprehended to protect property. This authority must be had somewhere for the general welfare, and the most logical entity for this is the state. As I said, it can be abused, but there are means, albeit often messy, to address that as well.

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The essential points of human/government interaction and the social contract can be distilled into a Word document of about 15-20 pages worth of text in chapters 14-20 of Leviathan. Please read them, they are some of the most powerful ideas that have ever been conceptualized by mankind, and if you have the time, you will certainly never regret reading the whole book.

 

After you understand those ideas, feel free to argue that government exists as nothing more than an institutionalized bully, when in fact it exists for the very purpose of stopping violation of contract- or, in short, to stop abuse of the weak by the strong.

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Originally Posted By: "House of S"

Quite simply, typical police activities _could_ be described with the word "bullying", but that isn't what most people mean when they use the word.


Why should I let the supposed opinion of 'most people' influence me? 'Most people' are dim-witted morons whose mastery of the English language leaves much to be desired. 'Most people' have far less authority than a mainstream dictionary, which is *the* reference for definitions of English words.

As the dictionary definition of 'bullying' makes no mention of the legitimate/illegitimate use of force, any talk of such is, quite frankly, a waste of my time. I refuse to get enticed into a point-counterpoint debate on the legitimacy of government when it has no relevance to the topic at hand.

Originally Posted By: 'Lilith'

brocktree's argument seems to be that a bully beating you up and taking your lunch money contributes to the common good because anyone who lets it happen to them deserves it


Nope. The notorious bullies are trash and cowards, who only prey on the weak. However, think on this. What does one call an individual who is intimidated and cowed by a coward?

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Originally Posted By: Brocktree
Why should I let the supposed opinion of 'most people' influence me? 'Most people' are dim-witted morons whose mastery of the English language leaves much to be desired. 'Most people' have far less authority than a mainstream dictionary, which is *the* reference for definitions of English words.


sorry bro, the English language existed before dictionaries did; dictionaries attempt to follow usage, they don't define it

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My position on English usage is pretty much that dictionaries get written by people like me.

 

Well, people who are like me except in being a tad fussier. I could do it if I wanted to.

 

Could too!

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How do they deserve it, that the small get their money taken, wich makes them even THINNER and WEAKER witch means the more they deserve it? I think thats just cruel

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
Originally Posted By: Brocktree
Why should I let the supposed opinion of 'most people' influence me? 'Most people' are dim-witted morons whose mastery of the English language leaves much to be desired. 'Most people' have far less authority than a mainstream dictionary, which is *the* reference for definitions of English words.


sorry bro, the English language existed before dictionaries did; dictionaries attempt to follow usage, they don't define it


So dictionaries define words as they are used in society? Um, gee, thanks. By attempting to contradict me, you just completely deflated Slarty's argument, and vindicated my stance.

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Originally Posted By: Brocktree
So dictionaries define words as they are used in society? Um, gee, thanks. By attempting to contradict me, you just completely deflated Slarty's argument, and vindicated my stance.


they attempt to do so, but may or may not succeed. actual usage is still the gold standard for what a word means. if most people wouldn't recognise something as bullying under their understanding of the word, then describing it as bullying is not effective communication unless you are trying to be dishonest

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Originally Posted By: Lilith

they attempt to do so, but may or may not succeed. actual usage is still the gold standard for what a word means. if most people wouldn't recognise something as bullying under their understanding of the word, then describing it as bullying is not effective communication unless you are trying to be dishonest


You just acknowledged that dictionaries are an authority on how words are defined by society. Yet when I adopt the dictionary definition of 'bullying', I am not engaging in effective communication.

Pray tell, do you claim to speak for 'most people'? If so, what authority do you have to do so?

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Originally Posted By: Brocktree
You just acknowledged that dictionaries are an authority on how words are defined by society. Yet when I adopt the dictionary definition of 'bullying', I am not engaging in effective communication.

Pray tell, do you claim to speak for 'most people'? If so, what authority do you have to do so?


So all I have to do to be acknowledged as an authority on the English language is write a dictionary? Dictionaries aren't authorities, they're attempts to describe how words are used in society, which attempts may or may not be successful.

In any case, you're not effectively communicating with anyone else here, because none of us accept your proposed definition of "bullying", regardless of whether a dictionary backs it up.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith

So all I have to do to be acknowledged as an authority on the English language is write a dictionary?


I'm asking what qualifications you have which give you the authority to determine how 'most people' define a word, and why your perception is inherently more valuable than that of a mainstream dictionary. After all, dictionaries are compiled by individuals who are qualified in studying the use of the English language in modern society.

Quote:

Dictionaries aren't authorities, they're attempts to describe how words are used in society, which attempts may or may not be successful.


Attempts by *qualified individuals*. When a student wishes to clarify a term in an essay, they will cite a dictionary, rather than making the unsupported claim that 'most people believe X is defined as Y'.

Quote:

In any case, you're not effectively communicating with anyone else here, because none of us accept your proposed definition of "bullying",


Quite the contrary. I am communicating quite effectively. This is evidenced by the fact that people are arguing against me. A failure to communicate would result in a lack of understanding, not disagreement. After all, one can hardly disagree with a point of view that they cannot comprehend, can they now?

Your disagreement with me is not due to my failure to communicate, but is instead fueled by your arrogant dismissal of a legitimate source of information. And this brings us back to my first question (which you have yet to address). By what right do you proclaim yourself to know more about what *most people* believe in regards to the definition of words than the people who study such topics for a living?

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It's pretty clear that most of the people you're arguing with - and thus, most people relevant to this discussion - do not share your definition of bullying. If you insist on using it to your definition, well fine, that's a bit confusing but we can probably get your meaning out of it. If you insist on disregarding our definition, though, you're pretty much saying that you don't want to argue with us until we agree with you.

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No matter how you define 'bullying', it is a sad fact of life that people will attempt to force their will on you via coercion. Bullying provides children with the opportunity to prepare for such experiences, in a controlled environment.

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Originally Posted By: Brocktree
'Most people' are dim-witted morons whose mastery of the English language leaves much to be desired.

Look, I'm as much of a misanthropist as anyone here, but your posts have started to have a bit of a vicious edge to them. Just an observation. If I were you, I'd leave the invective out of my posts.

Originally Posted By: Brocktree
Originally Posted By: "House of S"

Quite simply, typical police activities _could_ be described with the word "bullying", but that isn't what most people mean when they use the word.


Why should I let the supposed opinion of 'most people' influence me? 'Most people' are dim-witted morons whose mastery of the English language leaves much to be desired. 'Most people' have far less authority than a mainstream dictionary, which is *the* reference for definitions of English words.


In fact, this is not true. (The last sentence, at least.) As Lilith wrote, dictionaries follow language, not the other way around. Language changes constantly. Now, it is certainly possible to take a snapshot of a language at a given time, edit up some of the untidy bits of grammar and say that this is how you think things should be. You can also take someone else's snapshot and say that's how you think things should be. English teachers did this en masse in the early 20th century, with numerous edits to make English more like Latin, and the French Academy does it, etc. However, this does not magically change how language is used to conform to said standards.

So the question is, do we care about how English is actually used, or about how some authority thinks it ought to be used? If we want to communicate with others, or know accurately how others communicate, it must be the former.

So to be clear, I introduced the dictionary definitions just to look for another viewpoint on how the words are used. It wasn't meant to be an authority, simply a third point of departure beyond yours and Alorael's.

Originally Posted By: Brocktree
I'm asking what qualifications you have which give you the authority to determine how 'most people' define a word, and why your perception is inherently more valuable than that of a mainstream dictionary. After all, dictionaries are compiled by individuals who are qualified in studying the use of the English language in modern society.


Actually, that last part is often not true. Dictionaries tend to be compiled by individuals who are qualified in using the English language, and in studying its output -- writers, editors, and professors of English. The people who are actually qualified in studying the use of a language -- linguists -- are significantly less plentiful, and also generally descriptivist rather than prescriptivist in bent, so it's much harder to get them involved in dictionaries, particularly dictionaries for languages spoken in as many different places and dialects, and changing so quickly, as English. However, as any linguist will tell you, somebody's personal qualifications are meaningless: they might make us more inclined to take them seriously, but if they appear to be describing language inaccurately, they are wrong, and that's that. Studying language for a living does not trump the voice of the crowd who speaks that language.

However, I think the simple qualifications we have here is that word 'most'. Most of the people in this discussion disagree with your definition of bullying. We agree that the things you are talking about happen, we just think they fit only partially and uncomfortably under the standard definition of bullying. If I had to choose between weighing more heavily the opinion of 4 native speakers, versus 1 native speaker and a dictionary, I would pick the 4 native speakers every time.

Finally, there is the issue of whether the dictionary cited even supports your definition of bullying in the first place. I don't think it does. Typical police and tax activity _could_ be described by those definitions, but as I said above, the fit is partial and uncomfortable. If you were writing a definition of "bullying" and wanted to make sure it included typical police and tax activity, you would probably write it differently than the definition I cited.

Quote:
Attempts by *qualified individuals*. When a student wishes to clarify a term in an essay, they will cite a dictionary, rather than making the unsupported claim that 'most people believe X is defined as Y'.

Hah. A student citing a dictionary in an essay is laughable. Yes, obviously "most people believe X" is not acceptable for a serious essay, but using a dictionary definition is kind of like citing the World Book.

If you look at legal opinions -- and here we're talking about long essays that are incredibly concerned with the specific, minute details of language use -- they will often go to a dictionary definition when they begin to examine a key word whose meaning is in dispute. It's a place to start. But they will then examine ways in which the definition may or may not be accurate. They don't use it blindly as an authority, and neither should you.

Quote:
Your disagreement with me is not due to my failure to communicate, but is instead fueled by your arrogant dismissal of a legitimate source of information.


It isn't an arrogant dismissal at all, it's a wise dismissal. This particular source of information is "legitimate" only to a certain degree, and ought to be questioned when it seems to conflict with actual usage.

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Originally Posted By: Jewels in Black
It wasn't their fault for processing information differently, but if more effort would have gone into teaching them how to behave 'normally' than just punishing those who bullied them for being odd the bullying could have been lessened rather than policed.


Why is nobody commenting on this? Is victim-blaming less important than getting out the vote? Don't worry; the liberal state will take care of the evil-doers.

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Apologies, but I do not understand your comment. Nico did expound on the statement though not directly. And my statement does not victim-blame, neither does it absolve the aggressor. Rather it criticizes the way that bullying is dealt with.

 

Really, more than teaching people to be 'normal', though, I think society would greatly benefit from actively teaching all children to have more compassion. Schools have left this critical piece of social learning to parents, counselors, and religions to teach. I think parents(including myself), though mostly well meaning, drop the ball in the execution. The same for religions. Counselors do a pretty good job as far as they can but so few people invest in utilizing them.

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Helping people fend for themselves is a perfectly reasonable solution. For instance, if women were armed, there would be drastically less rape. And, they wouldn't have to wear burquas to do so: Win-win, right? Granted, this solution may not work for children in uncaring schools, where they are passive recipients of violence with no power or recourse. (They might cause a school shooting!) It must suck living under powerful, unsympathetic leaders.

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The problem I see with teaching people to fight off attackers is that it can (can does not mean the same as will) cause situations like bullying or rape to escalate into violence and even murder. It is better to stop people from trying to bully than it is to teach the victims how to help themselves.

 

And at this point, the burqa is very much a part of tradition. Eliminating rape would hardly cause certain Islamic sects to stop wearing the burqa.

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Originally Posted By: Master1
And at this point, the burqa is very much a part of tradition. Eliminating rape would hardly cause certain Islamic sects to stop wearing the burqa.

That is a fair point: I know nothing of Islamic culture. A reference to Western humility would have sufficed.

And, it would be nice if those in power could be taught restraint: But, I am not hopeful. I agree that a victim should not provoke violence if they are at serious risk, but in that situation, I don't see any immediate recourse. However, technology gives would-be victims more of a chance to overcome physical force. And, would-be victims can band together, creating spaces where they are safe from assault. I just think it's brutally naive to believe that you can ever tell your assailant to just stop: They had simply better learn before you kill them.

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Brocktree, let's get past the semantics and cut to the heart of our differences. Are you arguing that there is no meaningful difference between schoolyard bullying and interactions in the workplace, between citizens and police, or between citizens and the government? If so, you'r position is incoherent to most of us, because we do see a large difference. If not, please try to explain how enduring bullying and learning how to fend it off will help with later life. The way you defeat a bully is not the way you escape tax returns, after all.

 

If resistance to bullying is teaching psychological resilience, well, that's a very useful skill, but it's actually quite hard to teach, and it's harder to teach in the face of learned helplessness, which is a substantial part of what bullying inculcates.

 

Handyman, if women were armed, there would still be quite a lot of sexual assault because most assault isn't armed men attacking in alleys. It's mostly acquaintances and friends, and most people, even when attacked, are reluctant to shoot. For good reason! But I actually don't understand what point you're trying to make. Encouraging violent retribution works to a point, but only to the point of creating de facto gang warfare in schools.

 

—Alorael, who thinks this topic is nearing the spinoff stage. There are too many distinct lines of argument here, and there is high risk of quote pyramids.

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Mr. Work, I agree that much of abuse is psychological and economic. I was proposing physical resistance principally as a response to Mrs. Jewels' suggestion that victims learn to "act normal." My underriding suggestion is that the only response to abuse belongs to victims and their supporters, and that it will come through resistance. This resistance may include support or critical understanding, but abuse is based principally on coercion, no matter how cleverly disguised; so every degree of support is futile if it does not actually challenge the situation.

 

As for "gang warfare": Abusers have already formed their "gangs." The potential violence of victims is not as horrifying as the present violence of abusers. When abusers' violence is met with sufficient resistance, abuse will no longer exist.

 

I do not believe these topics are necessarily discrete; however, Mr. Brocktree has not been able to describe the connections particularly well. It is probably best that you move the discussion away from the political philosophy of the seventeenth century.

 

(As an aside: Have you ever been to prison?)

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No, I have not.

 

Enabling victims of bullying to physically fight is tricky because there's no clear demarcation between the abusers and the abused. If you want the victims to have the chance to fight, you open the door for everyone. If you arm the victims, you have to arm everyone. Armed children are a recipe for disaster, as you can see in many schools with high gang presence. Bullies in groups are not gangs, and the violence almost never escalates when it's one-sided. That's not to say that one-sided petty violence is good, but it's better than shootings.

 

—Alorael, who thinks one more critical distinction between bullying between children and all these other imbalances of power is the presence of a superior authority. Adult supervision at least nominally exists. Would-be victims don't need to band together (and often can't, because bullies are more likely to pick one or two designated targets rather than take on a potential mob). And again, it's hard to carve out a safe space when all the space available is designated by school rules. If you're describing general power dynamics in society, the weak banding together to keep the strong in check is one way to summarize the idea of the social contract, if you'll forgive 18h century political philosophy. The state has power so that the bullies should not.

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(spiderwebforums.com loads up.)

 

Oh, wow! There's been a lot of posts on this thread for the past day. Someone must have posted something really thought-provoking and-

 

Oh. Never mind.

 

--------------------

Dintiradan's Law: As an SpidWeb thread grows longer, the probability of a debate between prescriptivism and descriptivism approaches one.

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Wow, I actually have nothing to say about this topic anymore. Nothing except that I visited my uncle last month whom is in prison for a reason that I still don't know.

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Your "gun control" arguments are blatant trolling. It is degrading that you call victims' suffering "petty" when it drives them to violent suicide. My point is that victims and their supporters simply must resist by whatever means are available to them. (I admit that it's growing repugnant to persuade a liberal whose overriding interests seem to be management and policy.)

 

Bullying is not an individual affair, because the rest of the class must already be submissive to or aligned with the violence. It is residue of an environment thoroughly polluted with violence. Adult supervision may be occasionally benevolent, but the only force ensuring this is active care for victims through direct relationships. Authorities who set policies will always claim moral superiority for petty acts of benevolence, when their only motive (indeed, their only function) is to prevent resistance.

 

You seem like you are either in college or salaried. You have already admitted that you have not been inflicted with inprisonment. You are not living in a neoliberal colony. And, most importantly, you approach this discussion with an eye to manage a crisis that you do not seem invested in whatsoever. Perhaps you have been made to identify with the abusers.

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Originally Posted By: Dintiradan
Edited by Dintiradan (58 minutes 17 seconds ago)
Edit Reason: Yes, I know other good stuff has been posted. It's just amusing how often linguistics pops up here.


First they came for the linguists, and I did not speak up, because seriously, **** those guys, they always hijack the good threads.

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