Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Bully Culture

As I read about Goposaur Shelby's blanket hold on Obama's nominations (read more), I was reminded of this creepy kid I went to school with when I was about ten or eleven years old.

He was a big, hulking, sullen mass of walking resentment. We all knew he had a shitty home life, but back then, considering the school and the neighborhood we were in, who didn't? He always harassed the youngest and the weakest, terrorized the shyest student, and mocked the most helpless. He lied, cheated and stole to get what he wanted. He got angry if he didn't get his way, and he implied what he believed was the only truth and those who believed differently were idiots, living on another planet, or commies.

Acording to Bully Online, he was a classic bully who fit the following characteristics:

* has never learned to accept responsibility for their behavior

* wants to enjoy the benefits of living in the adult world, but who is unable and unwilling to accept the responsibilities that are a prerequisite for being part of the adult world.

* abdicates and denies responsibility for their behavior and its consequences (abdication and denial are common features of bullying)

* is unable and unwilling to recognize the effect of their behavior on others

* does not want to know of any other way of behaving

* is unwilling to recognize that there could be better ways of behaving.

The shameful bullying engaged in by Shelby and his Republican Party is symptomatic of the cultural illness that has taken hold of this country. We have become a nation of bullies where one person can hold the rest hostage until he or she gets their way. This is not just the seedy realm of GOP political operatives and their ethically challenged enablers, but has infected just about every aspect of our society.

But not all bullying is obvious. The kissing cousin of the Political and Schoolyard Bully is Little Miss Entitlement, who is otherwise known as "I have an opinion and will make your life hell until it becomes your opinion as well." She (or he) has perfected the meme that in other times what was considered rude, nosy, none of your business, or excessive interference in someone's personal life--is now the holy grail of good for you as wielded by Joan of Political Correctness.

Here is a perfect example: A school in Kirkland, Washington has censored parts of Snow White because, as they ironically claim, it encourages bullying and other not so nice behavior. (read more) It's freaking Snow White, not little Miss Sunshine! But in their perfect vanilla world, I'll bet the evil stepmother is merely having a bad day and we should all be more understanding of her shortcomings, because in their world no one ever has to take any responsibility for their own actions. It's ALWAYS someone else's fault.

These people would never in their addled little imaginations ever see their own actions as bullying. They would never understand that by censoring something instead of explaining it, they are raising their children in a world that does not exist. They are sheltering them from truths that will whack them smack upside their poor deprived little heads the minute they have to live in the real world. They will never understand this because the idea they might be wrong, that their ideas might be wrong, that their actions might be wrong, would never occur to them. They are always right, which is what bullies also believe.

And they share this obsession with forcing others to live in a world they made for them, with the ultimate bully cult: religion. What do you want to bet those who made that decision for EVERYONE'S children, also share characteristics with the really whacked out religious loonies who engage in things like shunning, ostracizing, and denigrating anyone who might believe differently? How closely do they fit this description from the Wikipedia page on bullying?

" aggression or indirect bullying is characterized by threatening the victim into social isolation. This isolation is achieved through a wide variety of techniques, including spreading gossip, refusing to socialize with the victim, bullying other people who wish to socialize with the victim, and criticizing the victim's manner of dress and other socially-significant markers (including the victim's race, religion, disability, etc)." read more

I think being called stupid by a character invented in the 30's pales in comparison to their method of handling it. I suspect they're just looking for an excuse to control, convert, and manipulate information that already suits what they believe, just like any politician with an agenda, any crazy christian looking to inflict their version of imaginary playmates on everyone else, and any bully looking to intimidate the weaker kids into giving up their lunch money.

But the biggest damage done by bullies is the festering wound religion has opened up in this country. It has become a political tool used to manipulate voters into supporting the agenda of corporate sleaze balls. It has become the ultimate bully that treads on the individual rights of citizens, inflicts its agenda on politics, schools, the media, and people's personal lives.

What especially defines it as a bully is that no matter how much power or influence it has, it always wants more. For a bully nothing is ever enough. There is always more lunch money to steal, more humanity to destroy. A bully will not engage you in discourse but will shout you down, beat you up, and then proclaim him or herself the victim.

I believe this disgusting takeover of our country has come about because of the enablers who are like that Kirkland school. No one wants to stand up to a bully, and they count on that. They shout. They whine. They intimidate. They threaten to sue. They hold meetings where they reinforce each others biases.

Isn't it time to make these people grow up? How about if the next time some whiny ass Christian comes up and claims persecution, instead of walking politely away or being reluctant to attack their "personal belief," why not stand up for your rights to have some beliefs of your own? Why not say fuck you and your bullshit? They sure aren't shy about making what you believe seem evil or wrong or not worthy of the air it takes up to express it. Grow a pair and tell them to go back under their rock where everyone thinks the same as they do, and you will believe what you want, thank you very much.

The next time some corporate whore of a politician decides to throw a temper tantrum to continually fatten his own bank account stuffed from corporate "donations," why not get on the phone to him or her and remind them who they're really working for, and if they don't get it, vote their asses out?

And the next time some Little Miss Entitlement whines to you that rules and standards set by them are for your own good, remind them you also have rules and standards and it's time they really practiced some equality and lived by yours for a change. If not, then replace them. They are not the boss of you, even though they think they are. They're just schoolyard bullies who grew up and got someone to pay them to continue to be schoolyard bullies.

It's time to buy a broom and clean up some messes you helped cause by being too nice, oblivious, or indifferent. If you want to live in a Democracy, you're going to have to build it from the ground up again. It's what happens when you let the crazies take over. You have to clean up the really shitty messes they leave behind. Maybe next time, you'll pay better attention and speak up sooner and louder and you won't have to get on your knees to scrub the shit out of the floorboards.

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