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Karoka

Do You Get Bullied?

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Handyman, Alorael didn't call the suffering petty. Alorael actually made the point earlier that the suffering is serious and worth paying attention to. He called the violence petty.

 

Dintiradan: Heh. Don't you miss the days when Kel and Thralni and Synergy were here regularly too, and literally every thread became such an argument?

 

It does seem that this thread is sort of becoming a clearinghouse for the airing of ideological frustrations. I'm not locking it, because there have been some thoughtful comments here, but I am saying to everyone in the thread,

 

WAKE-UP CALL

- no more invective

- no more accusations about what other people "really" think

- if you are feeling bitter towards someone else in the thread, take a deep breath and either respond constructively and without venom, or sleep on it before you post

- and if you are describing a category of people, whether it is victims, aspies, or even linguists ( wink ), please be thoughtful about what you are saying. this forum should not be a source of hurt feelings.

 

Again, I really respect the thought that people have put into their comments in this thread, let's just make sure we are being thoughtful towards each other too.

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All right, time to start the block quote responses...

Originally Posted By: Handyman
Your "gun control" arguments are blatant trolling. It is degrading that you call victims' suffering "petty" when it drives them to violent suicide.

No, it's no trolling. You may disagree, but I am expressing the position that I actually hold.

 

Quote:
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.)

We are not talking about policy or management per se. We're talking about the best way to address bullying. You make the case that the best response is to arm victims. I argue that that will not reduce bullying, or that it will do so only at the cost of causing greater problems.

 

I suppose that, to the extent that limiting the amount of bullying and the harm done by it is bullying, I'm interested in management. But that's another semantic rabbit hole down which I don't think we need to go.

 

Quote:
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.

To an extent, yes. Some environments are prone to bullying, and others are not. It has less to do with saturation with violence, however, and much more to do with a culture of silents towards or acceptance of bullies, which in turn often depends on belief in the inevitability of violence or authority from bullies. The class doesn't need to be aligned with violence, but it does need to be complicit; the most common way of just going along with it is often the bystander effect, where diffusion of responsibility means no one will stand up for the victim.

 

Again, because it can be very hard to identify who are the bullies, who are the bullies allies, who are the victims, and who are the silent majority doing nothing about it one way or another, the easiest solutions are probably to try to build group cohesion and empathy generally. When people are willing to stand up for and with each other bullies not only have a more difficult time asserting their wills, they often never become bullies in the first place.

 

Quote:
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.

This seems like political or social philosophy being misapplied. The motive of authorities in school is not some diffuse thing. There are teachers and principals, and their motivations are generally fairly simple: they want to get through doing their jobs, maintain classroom order, and teach students. (Not necessarily in that order, but sadly often.) Still, no part of maintaining order is keeping the victims weak and the bullies strong. If anything, they have a vested interest in the opposite.

Quote:
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 discussio

n 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.

I don't even know where his is coming from. I have no personal stake in the crisis: I am not bullied, I have not been bullied, and no one close to me is a victim of bullying. That said, you're ascribing to me some kind of liberal agenda that I do not have and don't even understand.

 

Let me ask again: if you arm all students, small-scale bullying with taunts and shoving may be limited by the threat of overwhelming reprisal. How do you deal with the problem of bullies using the now-available threat of overwhelming violence, or the reality of children, who are not known for their emotional coolness, who are armed and able to turn any dispute into a gun battle on a whim? The argument for relaxing gun control because an armed population is safer cannot be applied to children; children often lack the rational capacity to make decisions that we'd consider sane, and with guns, that's hugely dangerous.

 

Maybe not all children. Maybe not even most children. It doesn't take very many mistakes to cause disaster, though, when they're packing heat.

 

—Alorael, who thinks Dinti's links come from the "maintain order at all costs" side of schools. That's reasonable in schools that have major discipline and violence problems, but it has, as he points out, been taken too far. It's also why you can't just arm students: an environment with such potential for eruptions of lethal violence can't afford tolerance, and zero tolerance results in terrible outcomes for children.

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Originally Posted By: Work-related hydrargyria
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?


No, I am not arguing that. I have already explained my position, several times in fact, and it is on record for everyone to see. I suggest you go back and re-read it, because I'm not going to continue restating it.

Originally Posted By: "Slarty"


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


It's not my problem if people refuse to use and understand the English language as defined by society as a whole. A professional dictionary is a more reliable indicator of how society defines words, than several individuals on a web forum.

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Originally Posted By: Brocktree
I'm not going to continue restating it
Awww

Originally Posted By: Brocktree
A professional dictionary is a more reliable indicator of how society defines words
The way society defines words is almost never the same as a professional dictionary. That's why there's connotation and denotation.

--------------------
"'Professionals' built Titanic. 'Amateurs' built The Ark." -some lady from a movie.

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Originally Posted By: Jewels in Black
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.


Glad that you clarified your earlier statement. You didn't victim-blame, but you did say that the victims are the ones that need to be fixed. I think that the bullies need to be fixed. Your clarification points to the parents or school staff needing to be fixed. Points for assigning more blame to the adults in the room.

Personally, I see one of the problems with the public schools is that they are attempting to make everyone normal (read: capable of passing standardized tests.) The world tends to be improved by people who are decidedly not normal. I can't get behind training bully magnets to be less so, because I can't see it working. Everyone is not the same and everyone does not have the same experiences or opportunities. Note that this last statement runs counter to many people's ideology.

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Quote:
A professional dictionary is a more reliable indicator of how society defines words, than several individuals on a web forum.


Not when you're trying to communicate with those individuals.

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Mr. House, I took "petty violence" to imply that the violence was somehow small. This seemed to make sense, since he said that he preferred the "petty violence" of bullies to the violence of victims using violence. Granted, it would be *relatively* minor if I actually meant that children shoot their bullies, instead of simply beating them up.

 

To be clear: I don't propose giving all kids guns. (Frankly, I'm still surprised you weren't purposefully straw-manning me.) But martial arts, for instance, may be a better recourse for many younger victims--assuming, as always, that they can overcome their abusers. It may simply suffice to show children tactics of social resistance, as long as those tactics are used to exercise real power. (Although, when the veil of deceit is lifted, there usually actually is violence underneath.) If they can't directly win against their oppressors in battle, then there are no real solutions. (Though I will add that when power is equalized, their environment will be less hierarchical and thus less violent and more cooperative.)

 

When I call you a liberal manager, it is not a semantic ploy: You are approaching the situation with an eye to manage it without being involved. You presume the (imaginary) role of a sideline policymaker with detached benevolence and political agency. (You "protect and serve.") You do so from a position where you have not experienced a relatively great deal of state violence, and it is unlikely that you ever will; so it will be more apparent to you that the state solves violence, rather than permitting or inflicting it. That is how you have been made to identify with the abusers.

 

The bystander effect is indeed powerful. On the other hand, you suggest immediately how such an effect to exist whatsoever depends directly and significantly upon believing in the power of the bullies or the inevitability of their violence. And, the bystander effect is aided by depersonalizing the victim, which is made easier by victim-blaming. (We cease to identify with them because their suffering indicates moral failure: Karma bites.) Victim-blaming is also made likelier when one believes the world is fundamentally just. Thus, more victim-blaming (or other forms of denial) is to be seen in situations where there is more violence.

 

Similarly, I don't actually think you're offering disagreement when you discuss the motives of authorities in schools and elsewhere. You correctly identify that authorities would be pleased if things suddenly turned around for the good. However, that is consistent with authorities claiming moral superiority for improvements in quality of life that they do not actually intend or desire. This should be obvious, given what you say about authorities' priorities: "Benevolent" policing is a lucrative career, directly proportional to one's jurisdiction. And, the further one gets from victims, the easier the bystander effect will be. Or, put differently: There is no more dispassionate of a bystander than a king. (Ironically, not only does power make one more of a bystander, but those who are natural bystanders--narcissists and psychopaths--will be drawn to power.)

 

Cheers.

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Originally Posted By: Handyman
But martial arts, for instance, may be a better recourse for many younger victims--assuming, as always, that they can overcome their abusers.

The problem then is that, just like in all the movies, some kids will abuse martial arts as an offensive rather than defensive art. And then you have the same problem that Alorael mentioned with guns, only less extreme.

Quote:
If they can't directly win against their oppressors in battle, then there are no real solutions.

This reminds me of the Self-Defense thread, in which I and a few others mentioned that running away works really well in many situations.

Oh, and good luck on your continued "debate" with Alorael... You'll need it*



*that isn't meant to be rude or insulting - Alorael is just very well informed and very thoughtful. And stubborn.

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I read "petty violence" as implying that the violence was enacted for small reasons, in the same way that you might talk about the recent fight over the U.S. debt ceiling as a petty argument: major issue, large impact, but it took place for petty reasons.

 

However, if I need to withdraw to avoid getting into an argument about what a second word "really" means, I will totally do that. Not worth it.

 

Originally Posted By: Handyman
You are approaching the situation with an eye to manage it without being involved. You presume the (imaginary) role of a sideline policymaker with detached benevolence and political agency. (You "protect and serve.") You do so from a position where you have not experienced a relatively great deal of state violence, and it is unlikely that you ever will; so it will be more apparent to you that the state solves violence, rather than permitting or inflicting it. That is how you have been made to identify with the abusers.

Citations please.

 

While this is certainly one possibility for how Alorael is approaching the situation (or are you talking about me now? I wasn't clear on that), I'm not sure how you can assume that based on his posts. Maybe I'm just not understanding your logic. But you are connecting dots that I don't see on the paper. Sorry if I'm being dense -- but can you explain exactly what makes you think he/I am approaching the situation this way? I understand your assertion, but I don't see what (if any) evidence led you to it.

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Violence begets violence. Compassion begets compassion. I would rather attempt to disarm the bullies and fail, then arm the bullied and succeed.

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Originally Posted By: Jewels in Black
Violence begets violence. Compassion begets compassion. I would rather attempt to disarm the bullies and fail, then arm the bullied and succeed.


on the other hand this is easier to say when you're not one of the ones currently getting bullied

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I would still not want to put a gun in their hands. That can lead to things like Columbine. A dead bully cannot learn to be a better person.

 

Self-defense training, good. Track & Field training, better. Offensive beat-up-the-kids-who-constantly-humiliate-and-torment-you training, potential for disaster.

 

In either case, the armed bullied person has just been taught how to be more like the bully. To use force or threats of force to gain what they want; to be left alone. And I would say they are more dangerous than the bullies because they would be more likely fight out of anger and revenge than for the laughs or social status. This may be Handyman's point, but I say it would only escalate the violence on both sides.

 

I look at it this way. If my younger daughter comes to me crying and says that her older sister has been mean to her, I do not say 'go be mean back'. It would only give my older daughter all the more reason to be mean in the first place, vindicating her actions in her own eyes.

 

Now, I could just punish my older daughter and make her say sorry though she say it through clenched teeth and likely feels more like getting revenge for the tattling. But if I instead say 'try doing something nice for her' and it is successfully executed, my older daughter now has more reason to be nice and may feel guilty for being mean in the first place eliciting a sincere apology. Is it rewarding the bully... or breaking the cycle?

 

In high school there was a girl who really disliked me. I wouldn't say she bullied me but she said nasty things behind my back and scowled whenever we crossed paths. At Christmas time I decided to give out presents to my friends, and I included a nice necklace with matching earrings for her. At school I handed it to her and said 'Merry Christmas' with a smile. To cut a long description of the effect short, she was dumbfounded and from that day was at least courteous if not better to me.

 

When the bullied fight back it enforces the cycle. When the bullied show kindness the cycle can be broken.

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Jewels, your advice is so far removed from reality, that it should be a sin to give it to your own children. Providing nice things to those harassing you simply reinforces the perception that you are weak, and provides your bullies with an incentive to continue with their bullying behavior.

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Originally Posted By: Cairo Jim
You'd be surprised how well it works.



The advice demonstrates a complete ignorance of human (or more accurately, *animal*) nature. Furthermore, just from personal experience, I can tell you that being nice to your bullies merely reinforces their contempt for you.

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presented with competing anecdotes in the absence of evidence, i have no recourse but to roll my eyes at both of you

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Just from personal experience, I can tell you that being kicked in the groin will usually stop bullies from harassing you.

 

Unfortunately, when debating in terms of the behavior of an entire species (human or otherwise), you need to have a bit more than personal experience on your side to make a solid point.

 

...aaand sniped by Lilith.

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Striking back at a bully with physical violence worked for me, but I can't say I recommend it in the general case. Certainly not for verbal harassment.

 

Jewels, I'm sorry; I don't agree with much that Brocktree has said here, but appeasement seems unlikely to have the desired effect with a real bully.

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Good Grief!! Leave this site for a day and what a torrent!

 

Having been bullied, and learning how to cope with, and then to rise above, I have experienced this societal characteristic from all sides. In addition, I served in the U.S. army during a period we call the 'cold war'.

 

First off, does the victim incite the bully? Not in all cases. Having a trait that is not the norm will often make one a target. Society has been built upon the basis of 'us' or 'them'. If a person does not conform to 'us', then they must be 'not us' and therefore 'them'. Other traits that are deemed weakness are also picked on. I mentioned earlier my issues with low self-esteem in high school. This made me the target of many a bully. I learned how to deal with it by not reacting to their taunts; no reaction, no fun.

 

Secondly, can a person whose main character flaw is low self-esteem overcome that weakness, and does it change the bullying dynamic? My experience says definitely yes. Training a victim to confront a bully is the most effective way to stop the bullying dead in its tracks. I'm not talking about arming people with guns. Just learning self-defense tactics. Interestingly, knowing how to use them more often than not means you won't have to use them. Knowing self-defense gives a person a self confidence that was not there before. This self confidence shows visibly in one's bearing, causing most bullies to back down without further confrontation. Bullies are, at their core, insecure and cowardly. They bully to make themselves seem more powerful than they really are, but when confronted, they back down quickly.

 

Thirdly, does knowing how to deal with bullies in school help in dealing with adult life or does bullying exist in the work place? Yes it does. I have had to deal with bosses who use their position of authority to intimidate their employees. Knowing how to peaceably confront them has helped me to gain a position of authority and responsibility in the company.

 

Fourthly, as to the status of bullying between nations, I served in the army during the cold war. I did so because I believed that by keeping our military strong, we would not have to use it to defend our freedoms in a hot war. Theodore Roosevelt put it most succinctly; "Speak softly, but carry a big stick."

 

Finally, as someone who took an oath to 'Defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic', it saddens and angers me that there are so many people who would gladly give up the freedoms guaranteed us by that Constitution just so some bullying government agency can violate those freedoms with complete impunity while presenting the illusion that they are making us safer. Those rights did not come cheaply. They were paid for with the blood of the many men and women who have died to protect them. To see them so readily given up, compels me to speak out in their defense. We must not let the government bully us out of those rights, so dearly purchased.

 

I'll go back to sleep again.

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Originally Posted By: Brocktree
Originally Posted By: Cairo Jim
You'd be surprised how well it works.



The advice demonstrates a complete ignorance of human (or more accurately, *animal*) nature. Furthermore, just from personal experience, I can tell you that being nice to your bullies merely reinforces their contempt for you.


some people can pull this off but it needs to be sincere. if you decide to do it and do it in a nice way it would work.

on the other hand if you do it because you think it would cut down on bullying but you don't really mean it, then it looks like kissing up to the bully and makes everything worse.

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Man, a soldier is calling his government out on bullying--powerful stereotype jamming, there.

 

Mr. House, I agree about the word "petty." I was simply indicating how Mr. Work's language made my assertion more than invective. My worry in general is that we tolerate and ignore the violence of present authorities, yet we express fear over violence of the powerless. Mr. Work has remained mired with the strawman that I actually want children to have guns, so such a fear may be valid. Mr. Master1, on the other hand, has provided a completely unambiguous example of this bigotry.

 

And, Mr. House, about my assertions about Mr. Work: I purposefully ended my assertion with the word "perhaps," because I may well be wrong. However, it seems like an important suggestion. I suppose a more constructive comment might be: If you do not think that the state is malevolent, you should research (neo-)colonialism, incarceration, slavery, police brutality, labor practices, bigotry in the justice system, rape culture, etc. This is probably important, because you will probably either never experience these things directly, or you will not notice them sufficiently; and it may cause you to interpret the state as something other than a brutal psychopath.

 

Mr. Ernie, all abusers are able to act cooperative with equals and submissive to superiors. It is part of how the violence remains hidden: We assume that it can be dealt with kindly, so our easy dismissal will be part of our grace.

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Quote:
Originally Posted By: Brocktree
Originally Posted By: Cairo Jim
You'd be surprised how well it works.

The advice demonstrates a complete ignorance of human (or more accurately, *animal*) nature. Furthermore, just from personal experience, I can tell you that being nice to your bullies merely reinforces their contempt for you.

some people can pull this off but it needs to be sincere. if you decide to do it and do it in a nice way it would work.


Facing down a bully does not always have to be violent. In fact if you can find a way to do it without resorting to violence, the better. The key to this is self confidence. This shows the bully that their attempts to intimidate you are not going to have any effect. Jewel, your technique is no less effective than any other, so long as you can do it with sincerity and confidence.

The problem with most kids who are bullied is that they are unable to summon the courage to face down a bully by any means. They cower under the assault and that only encourages the bully even more. Training in self-defense is only one method to correct this. It teaches a person that they are stronger than they thought they were and more capable to defend themselves. It is not so much the martial aspect of the training that deters the bully, it is the new-found confidence to stand up to the bully and show no fear.

There are times, in every level of bullying discussed here, from the personal level, through gangs to national affairs, where the only way to stop a bully is to resort to violence. Only when all else fails should we resort to physical violence, but at the same time we should be prepared and not get caught up in a Neville Chamberlain, Peace at any price.

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Originally Posted By: Brocktree
Jewels, your advice is so far removed from reality, that it should be a sin to give it to your own children. Providing nice things to those harassing you simply reinforces the perception that you are weak, and provides your bullies with an incentive to continue with their bullying behavior.


You speak of sin as if you understand what the word even means. From the authority on what is 'sin' and what is not:

"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" - Matthew 5:44 KJV

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Originally Posted By: Jewels in Black
snip - anecdote about kindness

My mom recommended that I do something similar a long time ago. I found ignoring the jerk to work just as well.

Originally Posted By: Brocktree
Jewels, your advice is so far removed from reality, that it should be a sin to give it to your own children. Providing nice things to those harassing you simply reinforces the perception that you are weak, and provides your bullies with an incentive to continue with their bullying behavior.

May I mention that my mom has been studying and teaching psychology since, well, before these boards were up? Much of what Jewels said seems counter-intuitive, yet it can work in certain situations. Certainly there isn't a single solution that will always work, or it would have been enacted already.
(Oh, and calling a parent's parenting techniques a "sin" is probably not a nice way to have a civil debate.)

Originally Posted By: The Turtle Moves
Striking back at a bully with physical violence worked for me, but I can't say I recommend it in the general case. Certainly not for verbal harassment.

My dad actually told me of a time in his childhood when he was bullied. One day, he punched the guy in the face, and he was never bothered again. But, as you mention, that's not always the best course of action.


tl;dr - people are complex and there isn't always a catch-all solution to ending bullying, or someone would have found it by now. Sometimes psychology works, sometimes ignoring them works, sometimes active resistance works. It really depends on the case.

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At the risk of describing a true Scotsman, I wonder to what extent those who give into kind requests could actually be described as bullies. My skepticism comes from the nature of the would-be victim: To what extent are they "normal," or otherwise in possession of social power (including artful appeasement)? Could they win? And, if the bully truly will give into a kind word from the truly disempowered, then that is almost the best diagnostic criterion I could make to say they are not actually a bully.

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Handyman brings up a good point. Much of what we may perceive as bullying is merely a method of determining social ranking or status. In this situation, the bullying eases up once such status is ascertained. The person being bullied either rises above it and is accepted as a social peer, or they are relegated to the level of social outcast.

 

On the other hand you have what is truly a bully; someone who gets some emotional satisfaction in dominating other people. These people have deep psychological problems that drive them to cause hurt just for the sake of it. When dealing with one of these, it becomes necessary to resort to some higher authority to intervene. If that should be lacking, then physical violence becomes the only solution, at least for the one who strikes back. However, leaving this kind of bully loose is not a desirable outcome. This person needs correction or he|she will redirect their bullying against another victim.

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I agree that there are both systemic and individual factors causing violence. I would just hasten to add that all acts of abuse of all types can be dismissed immediately and consistently, so merely behaving submissively should never indicate trustworthiness.

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Originally Posted By: Handyman
Man, a soldier is calling his government out on bullying--powerful stereotype jamming, there.

Interestingly enough, government taking away freedoms has become a rallying point for the left and the right in the USA. Under Bush, the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, and wiretapping became symbols of how we were being forced to give up rights for "safety" from nebulous threats. Under Obama, taxation, the imposition of universal health insurance, and other initiatives have become sore points for the Tea Party.

I have my side, of course, but freedom and oppressive government are now American fetishes.

Quote:
Mr. House, I agree about the word "petty." I was simply indicating how Mr. Work's language made my assertion more than invective. My worry in general is that we tolerate and ignore the violence of present authorities, yet we express fear over violence of the powerless.

I meant "petty" in the sense that the violence of bullies rarely leads to serious physical harm. Bullying itself is not petty.

Quote:
Mr. Work has remained mired with the strawman that I actually want children to have guns, so such a fear may be valid. Mr. Master1, on the other hand, has provided a completely unambiguous example of this bigotry.

Crazier views have been espoused on these boards! It wasn't clear to me that you weren't seriously advocating that position.

Quote:
If you do not think that the state is malevolent, you should research (neo-)colonialism, incarceration, slavery, police brutality, labor practices, bigotry in the justice system, rape culture, etc. This is probably important, because you will probably either never experience these things directly, or you will not notice them sufficiently; and it may cause you to interpret the state as something other than a brutal psychopath.

And what about welfare and social support, municipal services, military protection, infrastructure, and the like? No state is perfect, but they can be forces for good as well as forces for evil. I suppose my managerial bent is evident when I say that yes, I do think that it's far more important to reform and improve the state than it is to dismantle it.

Frankly, the idea that if the bullied can't fight back then "there are no real solutions" terrifies me. If we aren't able to deal meaningfully with problems except by throwing violence at them, and those problems are children, we've failed tremendously at being rational, intelligent, and civilized.

—Alorael, who agrees that it is best to give children the confidence to stand up to bullies. Most of the time, violence probably isn't necessary; the ability to project the willingness to resort to it might be. The problem is how to fix it: giving all kids lessons in martial arts seems likely to result in the biggest and most skilled having more bullying potential again. Self-defense only works when you're not fighting someone even better at other-offense.

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Quote:
so merely behaving submissively should never indicate trustworthiness.

When there is no way the victim can physically overcome the bully, waiting passively is used to lull the bully into becoming complacent and careless. That is when the victim can use some other tactic to exact his revenge.

Quote:
Man, a soldier is calling his government out on bullying--powerful stereotype jamming, there.
A soldier and a citizen. I did not volunteer to put my life on the line in defense of our freedoms just to watch them being given up freely by people who blindly accept whatever the government tells them. It is the purpose of government to police society, removing from it those bullies who take it to criminal levels. But the Constitution has an amendment that protects its citizens from illegal search and seizure. Our judicial system is based upon the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty'. When I see innocent people being treated as criminals, with no probable cause, presumably to make us safer, that is the definition of the government as a bully. When the director of a veterans memorial cemetery forbids widows and family members from having a prayer for their loved ones, she is violating their Constitutional right to freedom of religion. That is being a bully. And when people sheepishly give in to these violations of their rights, "Because they're the government." it makes my blood boil.

((Shuffle, shuffle, ...)) Excuse me while I put away my soap box ... ((Shuffle, shuffle, ...))

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The state is not a "force" for good; it merely acts to prevent anarchy and compete with rival states. If The People are not granted their daily bread, they will claw their way into Heaven and kill God--so let them eat cake. (Or, as Harehunter suggests, "our rights" are paid for in blood.)

 

And anyway, I still find your use of the word "petty" disturbing. While the physical violence of bullying may not be profound--though often, it is; and we disguise it with the narrative of schoolyard antics and bad apples--some of the most pervasive damage is the cycle of behaviors and expectations that it leaves behind. (Or, put differently, the psychological aspects of abuse are less punctuated but also more diffuse. And, they do an excellent job at obscuring physical abuse.)

 

Children are already totally inundated in violence; we adults are just bystanders, when we are not distracted by tee-vee. (This is generally how every social system of abuse operates.) My interest in violence is simply to say that the underpowered must always fight back; any other sort of optimism is pure fancy.

 

You believe in confidence (one might say "good behavior") as a means of escaping abuse. That simply does not suffice: Generally, having that belief shattered with violence is one of the tremendous shocks of abuse. It is the sort of violation of boundaries that leaves people expecting their boundaries violated, which makes it particularly offensive when it is suggested that they "man up." Were they not confident enough before, when they clearly and repeatedly said "no?" Maybe it was their fault. Maybe they're weak, and will never be able to beat back their oppressors. Maybe all they can hope for is that their oppressors treat them kindly this time. Maybe they really wanted it. Maybe they're too cowardly to admit their own desires for abuse. And to think--all they needed was some courage. Well, buck up, kids!

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SECOND WAKE-UP CALL

 

Brocktree, you now have an official warning. I don't agree with Jewels either, but "Jewels, your advice is so far removed from reality, that it should be a sin to give it to your own children" and "demonstrates a complete ignorance" is not an acceptable way to talk to people here, and I had already warned the entire thread about invective. Cut it out.

 

Jewels, I know you were responding to a really provocative statement, but please remember that not everyone here shares your beliefs. Posting about them is definitely welcome when they are relevant, as they might well be here. But in the same way that we ask everyone else not to post provocative religion-related statements ("Because Christianity is a sham") as if they are accepted by everyone, I think it's pretty fair to ask those of us who believe not to post religious statements as if they are accepted by everyone (calling the Bible "the authority on what is 'sin' and what is not").

 

All of these things -- bullying, psychological diagnoses, religion -- are things that are very important to people and can easily push their buttons. The Spiderweb Software Forums are explicitly not a place to have angry flaming debates, so either keep it friendly and civil, or it ends.

 

FWIW, the only reason I'm not locking this thread is because Harehunter and others are drowning out the sharp and angry posts with their long thoughtful comments.

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The satire in that comic is effective. If someone is coming at me with a knife, even if it's just the school bully, I certainly won't be giving him a birthday present for it. Then again, a lot, I might even say the majority of bullying in America (both in school and in the workplace (but not sibling)) is verbal. And with verbal abuse, striking back almost never works. That's why I like my stance - there isn't a single perfect solution. If I'm attacked regularly by a bully and can't get assistance, self-defense techniques make a lot of sense. If a guy calls me names regularly, I'll just ignore him.

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Originally Posted By: Handyman
The state is not a "force" for good; it merely acts to prevent anarchy and compete with rival states. If The People are not granted their daily bread, they will claw their way into Heaven and kill God--so let them eat cake. (Or, as Harehunter suggests, "our rights" are paid for in blood.)

If you're treaty the state as a philosophical construct, then I don't think we can really have much of a discussion. The state isn't an abstract construct, it's a lot of things—a lot of laws, revenues, projects, and people—doing a lot of things. Many of those things are good. Cynicism about politicians aside, there are people trying to ensure that work out for the best for people.

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And anyway, I still find your use of the word "petty" disturbing. While the physical violence of bullying may not be profound--though often, it is; and we disguise it with the narrative of schoolyard antics and bad apples--some of the most pervasive damage is the cycle of behaviors and expectations that it leaves behind. (Or, put differently, the psychological aspects of abuse are less punctuated but also more diffuse. And, they do an excellent job at obscuring physical abuse.)

Okay, it's a bad choice of terminology. I stand by the intended meaning, though: bullies do not, overwhelmingly, kill anyone. They don't inflict permanent physical harm. Most of the time, their level of violence doesn't require medical attention.

Is it terrible? Yes. Does it inflict lasting harm? Yes. Is it deadly force? No, it almost never is. Can we agree on this?

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You believe in confidence (one might say "good behavior") as a means of escaping abuse. That simply does not suffice: Generally, having that belief shattered with violence is one of the tremendous shocks of abuse. It is the sort of violation of boundaries that leaves people expecting their boundaries violated, which makes it particularly offensive when it is suggested that they "man up." Were they not confident enough before, when they clearly and repeatedly said "no?" Maybe it was their fault. Maybe they're weak, and will never be able to beat back their oppressors. Maybe all they can hope for is that their oppressors treat them kindly this time. Maybe they really wanted it. Maybe they're too cowardly to admit their own desires for abuse. And to think--all they needed was some courage. Well, buck up, kids!

Let's turn this around. If you encourage kids to fight back, and the bigger, tougher bully pounds them into the ground for their troubles, what has been accomplished? If they succeed, and then, drunk on the power of becoming the oppressor, they proceed to become the new bully on the block, what gains have been made? These aren't always the outcome, of course, but they can be.

—Alorael, who is left wondering why violence is the go-to solution in the presence of greater authority. Teachers are not "the State" in schools. Why should it be so impossible to teach children not to be bullies, to tolerate bullies, or to become easy targets for bullies? It is doable; it has been done. Perhaps it is not a universal solution, but nothing else is, and the chance of harm seems less than that of a militarized student body.

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The state is not a "force" for good; it merely acts to prevent anarchy and compete with rival states.

A rather pessimistic evaluation of society. I will grant that for many countries around the world, this definition is absolutely correct. However a country that has at its core the concept of limited government and codifies it in its founding constitution is designed to fulfill the idea that it be a "force for good". Does that necessarily mean that that government will achieve that goal? No, but that is why there are checks and balances designed into it, to prevent it from going too far off the course of the goals stated clearly in the preamble of the US Constitution. The only flaw to this system is that it is possible for one party to take control of two of the three branches of government and ramrod its policies through with a complete disregard of the position of half the population of the governed.

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My interest in violence is simply to say that the underpowered must always fight back; any other sort of optimism is pure fancy.
I think this brings us back to what level of bullying we are talking about. If you are talking about a pathological bully, then you are right. The only thing they understand is brute force. And while the underpowered may lack the physical ability to beat down a bully, they may join together and collectively gain the upper hand.

As for confidence being enough to back down a bully, it may not work in all situations. Most bullies are at their core cowards. They prey upon the weak because they can get away with it. Putting up a front to such a bully is often enough to give him pause. Is it really worth the trouble to have to beat this guy down, when there are easier pickings around? This can go either way, but more often than not the bully will back down. But only if the oppressed has real confidence that, even if he doesn't win the fight, he will have made it more troublesome for the bully to pick on him than the bully really cares to put up with. Faked confidence is just as visible as weakness just as surely as real confidence is visible as strength.

I had a terrier that would make larger dogs roll over in submission. Although he was only about 1/10th the size of the other dog, he had this dominant attitude when he approached the other dogs. In another analogy, I have had dogs charge at me with every intent of attacking. They would always stop short; I would simply turn to face them and stand my ground. By not backing down or otherwise showing fear, I presented to the dog the air of dominance. This is what I mean that confidence, true confidence, is visible, via body language. Dogs use body language for much of their communication. People do too.

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Maybe they're too cowardly to admit their own desires for abuse.

Your suggestion that the weak have a desire to be abused is intriguing. This takes the discussion into a much darker layer. I will have to concede that there may be some truth in your statement,but again, it does not apply to all cases. I think I will have to refrain from delving into this region any further.

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Let's turn this around. If you encourage kids to fight back, and the bigger, tougher bully pounds them into the ground for their troubles, what has been accomplished? If they succeed, and then, drunk on the power of becoming the oppressor, they proceed to become the new bully on the block, what gains have been made? These aren't always the outcome, of course, but they can be.

There are people who are more than qualified physically to be a bully, yet they do not. In fact, these people will actually stand up to a bully in defense of someone who cannot. Who are these people? People who have been raised with a sense of morality and decency. Your assertion that someone who stands up to a bully and ends up becoming a bully is a possible outcome, but I think it to be more likely that such a person would become the protector figure in his area of influence.
It all depends on his moral education.

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It seems to me that this thread is erring by considering bullying as just one definite thing. Different people may be taking it as different things, but in fact it's not any one thing at all. It's a broad category that includes a lot of very different things. Sure, a lot of different behaviors may all be well classified as bullying, based on some simple criterion. But it doesn't follow at all that there exists any one way to deal with all forms of bullying.

 

Some bullies want lunch money. Others seem to want nothing but the misery of their victims. Some bullying is verbal, or mildly physical, and might perhaps be ignored or endured. Other bullying is a lot more brutal. Jesus was one of the great proponents of non-violence, but even he didn't say, "If someone breaks your arm, offer him the other arm as well." If he had meant to urge that level of non-violence on everyone, he would surely have put it more strongly than he did — Jesus has been suspected often of hyperbole, never of understatement.

 

My view is that most cases of mild bullying should probably be dealt with by teaching the victim to ignore or resist, but that civic authority needs to step in to prevent more serious cases — and punish them when discovered too late. Which acts count as serious or mild can depend on the victim. A gang piling onto a linebacker might count as merely mildly annoying, but even mouthing an insult at a sufficiently unstable adolescent can be like nudging a kid in a wheelchair downstairs. And most people of school age should be expected to understand that — though some may not be able to, and this should also be taken into account.

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I misspoke. I do not miss TM. I miss the pre-censored days. tongue

 

But I regress. Apologies. I did not mean to be so short as to sound arrogant in my post. I should have waited until I had more time to respond.

 

I was simply pointing out that his definition of sin ignored its wide use to describe the violation of religious or moral law. Thus my 'quotes' around the word when saying the Bible was the authority on it. I know Buddhism does not accredit the existence of religious or moral sin and neither do atheists believe that any of their acts, morally good or not, are sin. I suppose, though, that I am biased to the New Testament for even the Old allowed for "an eye for an eye". Yet "...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Really, are there any? In all the laws of all the societies of all the world are there any laws against such tenants?

 

So why say kindness and peace should ever be wrong? A law against forgiveness? A rule against mercy? Foregoing religious influences all together, do you really believe, Brocktree, that there should be a law against teaching people to be nice in the face of persecution?

 

If everyone was always kind there would be no bullies. Just because the expectation of everyone (or even a percentage of people) adopting such a philosophy is, as you said, 'far from reality' why is it wrong to hope to instill such a value in even one person?

 

Edit: Just an afterthought... anyone consider Slarty a bully for using the threat of locking the thread to keep us civil? Anyone consider parents bullies for using the threat of grounding to elicit positive behavior from children? Anyone consider teachers bullies for using the threat of detention to keep students on task? They are inline with the examples of the police and governments.

 

In each situation I see potential for abuse. But having the authority to use such threats does not automatically make any of them bullies. It is in how they use that authority.

 

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f everyone was always kind there would be no bullies. Just because the expectation of everyone (or even a percentage of people) adopting such a philosophy is, as you said, 'far from reality' why is it wrong to hope to instill such a value in even one person?

Jewel, you are a beautiful person, and such hope is to be respected.

However, we must live in the real world. Kids will always vie for social position, a behavior that continues into adulthood. It is a social fixture in all creatures that live in groups. Wolves, dogs, chimpanzees, gorillas, ... These are creatures who live in groups in order to survive. For this strategy to work they must have a way of determining social order, to determine who is to become the leader of the pack. Without such a process, the group falls to anarchy, something that would mean the death of the group.

This sorting out process involves much of the behaviors we consider bullying. This is most commonly verbal, non-physical abuse, by people only trying to establish their own rank in society. These people can be easily appeased with presents, or you can get them to leave you alone by simply ignoring them. No confrontation is needed to deal with this class of bully.

Then comes the next class of bully; the insecure, cowardly kind. These bullies have a mental disorder which compels them to bully beyond the normal levels acceptable by the social bullies. This class of bully needs to be confronted. Because of their nature, it usually does not have to be a physical confrontation, but the threat of physical resistance must be convincing.

Then you have the truly mentally ill people who can be stopped only by physically detaining them.

Jewel, you have a beautiful hope, but unfortunately it does not prevent bullies like Adolph Hitler, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein who tear-gassed his own people. These people have cost the world far too much in terms of material goods and even worse in blood. Those people had to be taken down by force.

I pray that there will always be people of physical and moral strength who will stand up to defend the liberty that you now enjoy.

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Originally Posted By: Handyman

Maybe they really wanted it. Maybe they're too cowardly to admit their own desires for abuse. And to think--all they needed was some courage. Well, buck up, kids!


It's interesting you that you should mention that. I've noticed that some (not all) individuals who are abused by their partners will leave one abusive spouse, and end up with another.

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Originally Posted By: Harehunter
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Maybe they're too cowardly to admit their own desires for abuse.

Your suggestion that the weak have a desire to be abused is intriguing. This takes the discussion into a much darker layer. I will have to concede that there may be some truth in your statement,but again, it does not apply to all cases. I think I will have to refrain from delving into this region any further.

You missed the sarcasm there.

Dikiyoba.

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I may have. This discussion has taken more than a few dips into dark areas.

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Originally Posted By: Harehunter
Then comes the next class of bully; the insecure, cowardly kind. These bullies have a mental disorder which compels them to bully beyond the normal levels acceptable by the social bullies.

You're using the term "mental disorder" pretty loosely here, I hope.

Either way, I disagree with your characterization. Everyone has insecurities and fears. Some people do allow those things to compel them to bully others, but that doesn't actually make them MORE insecure or MORE cowardly than anyone else -- just less capable of handling those feelings in a constructive way.

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This class of bully needs to be confronted. Because of their nature, it usually does not have to be a physical confrontation, but the threat of physical resistance must be convincing.


The other way to deal with this sort of person is to satisfy their underlying problems. I do not mean appeasement here, nor do I mean "doing nice things" for bullies. You can't just allow them to bully. However, standing up to them may not solve the problem either, if there is an underlying trigger for it. What I suggest is changing the environment so that they have a chance to stop auto-bullying and eventually to change how they react to their own negative feelings.

There are kids (and adults), for example, who will bully others when something is making them feel unsafe. This is one common reaction in trauma survivors, for example. Tightening the rules of what sort of behavior is allowed, even if it's something they react against in the moment, can ease their own hyperalertness and allow them to establish and entrench friendlier ways of interacting with others, gradually eating away at the bullying impulse.

Also, I guess I should be surprised that it took _this_ long for Godwin's law to reach fruition in this thread...

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Actually, on the subject of horrible things people did in WW2, plus that dark area of wanting to be dominated: I heartily recommend Erich Fromm's book _Escape From Freedom_. It's a social-psychological look at why people sometimes seek to dominate others or to be dominated themselves, with an awful lot of historical discussion, and an exhortive earnestness that can only come from being published during WW2, amidst worries that totalitarianism was becoming contagious very quickly.

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Yes, I did mean 'mental disorder' loosely. I guess what I meant was 'emotional disorder', or rather lacking the capacity to properly deal with their emotions.

 

My suggestion to stand up to a bully applies only in the context where there is no intervention option available. The intervention you suggest is surely superior, but until such intervention can be brought to bear, one does need to find some method of coping with the bullying.

 

The biggest part of the problem is the number of people with personality problems vs those people who know how to identify and treat those problems. All of the interventions you suggest would be highly effective, and the outcome is nothing but good. We just need more people capable of providing such care.

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Godwin's law


Oops, my bad. I need to catch up on my netiquette.

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as an aside, i remember bothering my sister as a kid and the reaction i was looking for was her bugging out and throwing a tantrum.

while i am not justifying my actions i would say that my other sister who had a calmer personality didn't get bothered as much.

getting a reaction is the goal in most bullying and here i found her reaction entertaining.

 

that is not to say that i never got bullied in school. at one point i was bullied, possibly because i was an annoying hyperactive know-it-all, but all that ended when i punched out the one who was bullying me the most. when everyone realized that hyperactive meant two punches for everyone they could throw they left me alone.

i still tend to the annoying because i am hyperactive and get bored easily. but because of that i also tend to be fun to be around and it balances it all out. i always enjoyed camp because there were so many people to interact with that i never would overload one particular person.

on the few occasions where i would overload one person the interaction would appear to be a case of bullying. it all depends on the person and how they react.

but the point of this is that 'some' bullying is due to hyperactive kids bothering everyone that is near them. and if anyone gives a particularly weird reaction then they would fixate on that person to try to get that reaction again and again.

this past summer i dealt with a student just like that. even though he was a classic bully by his actions, he was just an overly excitable hyperactive child. when i changed his seat to another part of the room the bullying just went away.

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Mr. Darth, you are a true nihilist.

 

Misters All/Work and Harehunter, every system of dominance provides *something* to its subjects. Even feudalism had the promise of divine justice and every peasant got his fief. (One might say, his forty acres.) Hell, even slavery was disguised by the white man as bringing liberty to the negro. That example may seem too extreme, but it also seems applicable enough to draw out the following criticism: What is written on a piece of paper means nothing compared to actual power relations. Law is practically nothing more than its enforcement, from both the citizens and police. (In particular, the police will enforce whatever laws serve themselves when the citizens do not misbehave.)

 

And Mr. Harehunter, I do not think you understand the effects of power in general: It creates its own perpetrators and victims. Virtually every quintessential social psychology experiment screams this, loudly: Zimbardo, Asch and Milgram, for starters. You seem to believe that power is necessary, but perhaps power simply is. We do plenty of things for overwhelmingly arbitrary reasons; and our insanely hierarchical societies may be traits which we have not yet selected against.

 

And, I am still hesitant about the plausibility of ungrounded confidence. Well-placed lies are always possible, and I am fine with them when they work. However, most abusers tend to have chronic interactions with their victims, so they will have every chance to ferret out weakness--and when they find it, they will often play with that knowledge to torment their victims. (This sort of torment can often evade and even subvert "compassionate" authorities, when the tormentors have enough charisma and cleverness. The more of an authority one is, the less one can ever identify with those suffering below.) And most importantly, when the victims know that they are only safe because they are living a charade of strength, they are still experiencing violence: They are learning that vulnerability will be met with retaliation. Even when this is entirely true and practical in the moment, it encourages all sorts of repression and retaliatory denial which society simply does not prepare victims for in the slightest: In fact, people commonly respond to psychological defenses by rubbing salt in the wounds, and blaming victims for not being healed by the continued assault.

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