Bullies Knights Savages and Komissars

Yesterday’s topic which was supposed to be about men fighting (why men fight – eh) got sidetracked into schoolyards, bullies, fights, blatant abuse, wife beating as related to fist fights and the advisability of authorities intervening in all this. Which was bad. Very bad. Because it got me thinking. And that’s bad. Very bad.

It’s very bad because I never come to the expected conclusion which I suppose is that I was wrong, violence is bad, etc., etc.

I wasn’t wrong, violence isn’t – by itself – bad but – more importantly – you can’t eradicate it from a human society, and we’re going about the problem of keeping the savage part of man controlled upside down and sideways, when we KNOW the solution. What we’re doing deliberately ignores hundreds of years of experience and we’re going to pay for this. We’re going to pay for this in awful ways. In fact, we’re going to pay for this in a lot of violence that will be targeted mostly at the defenseless.

We’ll start with me as a mother. No adult fully understands the world of children, the sudden violence and the vile ways they go after each other. In a way this is because we have a softened recollection of our own childhood. Part – son would say – is because our brains aren’t fully developed as children, and as things change, things get stored elsewhere and lost. Think of it as moving and shoving some stuff into the garage which you only open 13 years later and go “oh, wow, I didn’t remember that.” Only in this case you don’t open it ever again. (Son, who can be incredibly literal wants to point out I have the process wrong.  It’s more like living in the garage and then moving out, because memory doesn’t get moved out and into another place.  You just grow out of it, and stop using it. — He insists it’s vitally important I correct this.  So, now you’re enlightened.  Right?)

So we’ll start with my being in my early thirties and taking older son to kindergarten, and waiting outside the row of kids, then watching the teacher come to gather them in.

These were good kids, in a little mountain town. Since the mountain town is a dormitory for the larger city, most people there were white collar workers, a few artist and other creatives. There was exactly one blue collar worker, a dad who was a carpenter. (He was my buddy while standing outside with the kids, waiting for the teacher.)

And yet an observant adult could see the tides of violence beneath the surface. My kid was often a target because we’d taught him NEVER to hit anyone, because he was so outsized. (We later had to modify that. More on that later.)

When the teacher came to get the kids, not only was I relieved that I didn’t have to arbitrate those disputes, as I was totally baffled as to why an adult, any adult would want to spend their time with the kids.

They were, to put things mildly, little savages, without a glimmer of mercy, order, compassion or justice, or any of the higher values. They lied, hit, bullied and formed gangs to prey on the weak as easily as they breathed.

Here’s the thing: I don’t think the teacher was aware of all the currents (I know I wasn’t.) And I don’t think she was often able to do justice. I think most often, like a policeman, she made peace – by the method of getting them to shut up and go away – but not justice. And I know, from being in charge of kids, that it’s very easy to give in to the sweet and angelic looking one who brings you tales of the awful stuff those rough boys are doing. More on that later too.

I know many of you had experiences of awful PHYSICAL bullying in school. Note I said “physical” and note I said “many of you.” No, I was never physically bullied. I was attacked and there was what I THINK was an attempted rape, but that was middle school and I dealt with it.

I wasn’t attacked, not because I’m some sort of uber mensch but due to accident of genetics. At 5’7” by 12 and weighing in at just over 100 lbs, I was a moose. Even fighting with boys wasn’t a problem until I was about 14 and they got the testosterone boost. By 12 I was taller than most of my teachers, including males.

Given that and – yeah, I know myself – a tendency to crack heads first and ask questions later, in fact, given a preference for the fast, clean solution of a blow to the offender’s noggin I must have been a bully right?

Throughout most of my childhood, I was the center of a group of small and mousy friends. When I was fourteen the bete noir of my childhood, the man who liked arguing politics with me to prove his superiority, and who was at that point losing interest in me because I was too old for him, (and yes, that means exactly what you think it means) and who had always thought of me as a more sexual being than I thought of myself, accused me of picking as friends the skinny, the fat, the ugly, and those who would make me look good.

This startled me, because a) I didn’t think of myself as any different from my friends (and more on that later too.) and b) I was inside my head a boy. Physical beauty didn’t come into it. I knew by then I liked boys, but I had this hazy idea the boy I wanted would overlook the externals. (A surprising number of guys I dated did, considering most of them are now happy with guys. Eh.)

Throughout elementary school and into early high school, my friends were my friends because I stopped people hitting them.

Look, I knew myself – still do – and I knew I liked violence and hitting. (Physical. I’m not a verbal happy warrior.) That has receded somewhat as I got older, though sometimes I wonder if it’s just I learned to control it and sublimate it into stories.

My dad, bless him, knew that too. Probably because he recognized similar savage tendencies in himself. So he taught me a code. It wasn’t a new code.

The people I could hit were those doing harm to others. Tattle tales, particularly those either bearing false witness or distorting things were free to hit too. I was never though, under penalty of being pushed off the human race for shoving in line, to hit anyone smaller, weaker, or more defenseless than myself. Ever.

So by default I became a champion of the weak and the bullied. Until high school. When I found that my strength and size didn’t save me from one kind of bullying. What was more it was a kind of bullying I’d saved my friends from in the past, but it could still get to me.

Those of you who are women know exactly what I’m talking about. That kind of bullying was the whisper campaign, the snide remark, the glance that said “who, her?”

Look, I entered high school in seventh grade, but here I’m talking about high school as in the US – 9th to 12th grade. I entered it functionally a boy. Not physically. I had breasts from the age of eleven, which proves G-d has a sense of humor because what in heck did a tomboy want those for? But in my head I was a boy. Externally to an extent, too. I lived in my brother’s discarded sweaters and cut down shorts and pants. I had leather elbow patches. My mom had to sew holes caused by my fighting.

I left it in 12th grade, after a stint in the US, where my host mother finally got me to see the benefits of lipstick and hairdos, as a proper young lady. Okay, a weird young lady. Like my older son I dressed entire in thirties style, complete with fishnet or lace stockings, (Robert, fortunately skips those and goes with the male version, including Fedora and trenchcoat.) but hey. By that time I’d also learned to ignore idiots saying stupid things about me. But it had been a hard climb.

Which means in 9th grade I was totally unprepared for the “feminine way of fighting and enforcing group cohesion.” I was unprepared for the whisper campaign, the put downs, the giggles when I did something the group had arbitrarily decided was wrong.

Most of you were physically bullied. Let me tell you something: if that’s all you were, you’re lucky.

I won’t tell it, because it’s not my story, but one of the people who regularly guests here had her life nearly ruined by concerted, sickly sweet, concern trolling BULLYING. I’ll let her tell it if she wants to.

One of my regrets is not having gone to her school, because I’d have descended like vengeance from above and shoved the bullies’ heads in till they stopped it. Which they did.

I couldn’t do it when it was directed at me, but I came to the states as an exchange student and left them behind, and that’s a long story we don’t need to go into.

What we need to go into is violence and the way humans hurt each other, both in school and in the larger society.

It’s relatively easy for the “authorities from above” be they playground guards and the civil authorities alike, to “suppress violence.” Unfortunately that leaves the bullying of a different kind in place. It also takes off the table the solution that was used throughout the centuries to keep the violent nature of mankind under control.

Humans are violent and nasty. Every human. Given a chance the little mouse of a girl will kick the bully, or at least fantasize about it. I think most of those feminists fantasizing about hurting men that Cedar quoted a while back, were in fact bullied/hurt little girls who know they can’t fight physically. But they can fantasize.

Faced with a classroom full of violent kids, or a world full of violent adults (none of us are angels) it’s very easy to say “I’ll just stop all fighting. I’ll beat anyone who fights.)

Here’s a problem – you too are a fallible human and filled with violent impulses. (And before one of you asks – did I as a kid dispense the wrong justice? Probably not often. It was a small school and I was aware of the personalities and proclivities. Sometimes, though? Probably.) You’re going to listen to the side that seems right to you. The angelic looking and cleaner side does it for most adults. And half the time it will be the wrong side. Plus, you can’t be everywhere. One of the worst beatings I EVER got as a child, was when I cut between two houses on my way to buy mom some butter at the dairy. I was trying to save a few blocks of walking. I was jumped on by a group of the guys I’d often beat at the school (because they were repeat-violent-bullies and at this point all have criminal records.) You can’t fight a group. While patching me up mom asked “Why did you go out of the main street, where people would have intervened on a fight of many boys against one girl?”

And that’s the second part. You can’t watch everyone and everywhere. You can do two things:

You can teach kids to watch themselves, which makes them adults who watch themselves. You can’t tell them “never, ever, ever, ever fight/have a violent thought.” They’re still humans. But you can tell them the acceptable… ah… boundaries to their savagery. “Fight on the side of good. Protect those weaker and more innocent than yourself.”

And you can communicate that to the greater community. You can teach people what’s “fair fight” and what’s not. If they learned it as kids, they will enforce it when blatantly violated as adults.

In the same situation “never fight, ever, ever, ever, ever” is just going to disarm those who would otherwise jump to the rescue. (And the victim, should she ever wish to fight back.) The untamed savage? They don’t care. They’ll continue committing acts of lawlessness.

Faced with a similar problem, rulers of the middle ages, who needed their vassals in good shape to fight off invasions and aggressors in the time of chaos after Rome, invented chivalry, which is basically “you fight to defend the weak and poor and helpless.”

Did it work? Eh. In default, often, like my happy go lucky violence in elementary school.

Were these men still horribly violent to underlings and women? Surely – it was the time it was – but often FAR less violent than they would otherwise have been.

It could be argued not only isn’t there a link between wife-beating and inter-male personal violence but that there is a reverse link. I’m not sure about this. Don’t know if a study has ever been done – or a non-doctored study – and I know anecdote isn’t data. BUT I know that in the village the worst wife-beaters were the lame, the halting, the ones under suspicion of being less than manly, the ones in fact who couldn’t hold up their own as men among men. Take it for the price I’m selling it, which isn’t very much, just “this is what I’ve seen.”

In this as in everything else, it’s impossible for the authorities to be everywhere at once. It always was. It always will be.

It’s better to teach each person to channel his or her violence.

But why not teach them to suppress it then?

Because you can’t. What you’re asking is “why not make men angels, then?”

Look, we’ve cut down on personal assaults dramatically, but we’ve done it at the expense of the wave of non-physical assaults.

I think middle school was always h*ll on Earth, but I didn’t know how bad it could be until eighteen girls bullied my son by using the school authorities as weapons.

If the rule is “don’t fight” and “if I feel uncomfortable, I’ll go to the authorities” clever bullies are always capable of running to the authorities with stories, real, invented or exaggerated. In the case of my son they were wholly invented, and to boot these girls were perpetrating violence on him out of sight of the authorities. (Which I only know because I accidentally observed it.) BUT the authorities believed it was possible to completely suppress violence, and that the physical side of it was the only violence, and that a big, strong male must be at fault, always.

We’ve seen what the “don’t fight” and “use the authorities as whips instead” has done in our society at all levels. The male is always guilty and always suspect, but women can make up things out of whole cloth and no one questions it, because “they’re not violent.”

This puts power in the hands of women and men of a certain stripe: the weasels, the tale bearers, the plausible liars, the yellow streaks of sh*t, who would never face another man (or woman) in the full light of day, but who will lie and connive their way to the top.

This way, anti-bullying initiatives become bullying. Someone was discussing on FB how the Goodreads “anti-bullying” groups come down like a ton of bricks on any author trying to defend his book, or anyone else trying to protect himself from group evisceration.

Same as it’s ever been. Take away physical weapons, and people will use the authorities as physical weapons. (And psychological ones too, which is worse.)

Now, the weasels we shall always have with us (I think that’s in the Bible, somewhere.) And the wicked flourish like the green bay tree.

But when you take from society the manly weapons of open and clean, minor and non-lethal violence, what you’re left with are the female weapons: the denunciation, the stab in the back, the laughter, the snark, the reputation-destroying rumor. And the advantage is not just to women (the wrong kind of women) but also to entirely the wrong kind of man. Some men are very good at it indeed.

And what results is what we’re seeing in certain professional organizations: bullying of the ones perceived as weak. Hounding of those who don’t think with the group. Abuse of elders. In fact, the full panoply of the crab bucket.

This is because people have been taught violence that’s not physical is okay, and because they’re human and violence, group fighting and group protecting has to go somewhere.

And the advocates of non-violence can wipe their hands to the wall. I hope to heaven I’m wrong, but I predict that in less than a decade, those will be very bloody fingerprints.

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers and thank you to Glenn Reynolds for the link.



300 thoughts on “Bullies Knights Savages and Komissars

  1. I had the opportunity to work in a school-age program for six months. The currents of savagery are real– in groups of that size with kids under 12.

  2. Think of it as moving and shoving some stuff into the garage which you only open 13 years later and go “oh, wow, I didn’t remember that.” Only in this case you don’t open it ever again.

    To be picky, as The Daughter explains it: you shoved it all in a big heavy trunk, the lock has rusted shut, but that doesn’t matter because you have lost the key. Anyway, if you were able to open it, you would find that the journals were all written is a private secret code which you have long since forgotten.

    1. Hah … I’ve still got the diary that I kept in junior high … but my handwriting was so ghastly that it might as well be written in an undecipherable secret code…

    2. Unless you’re the sort whose main memory associations are those which went with embarrassment, humiliation, etc, in which case, you can relive most of those events in living color, even 35 years later.

      I swear, the longer I live, the more I’m convinced that if I live long enough, all of my memories which survive are going to be of regret, humiliation and embarrassment.

      1. Thankfully, I’ve forgotten most of that period of my life. Oh, I remember it happened and the “mind-set” caused by that period remain but “remembering events from that time, thankfully no”.

        Strangely, I have had “mental pictures” of pre-school events popping into my head from time to time.

        Of course, I suspect we all have such “mental pictures” pop up if we see an actual picture that calls to mind those past events.

        There’s a picture of me (five or six) with my arm around the shoulder of my little sister (she’s 2 & a half years younger than me).

        We had gotten home from going to church with Grandma Howard and she had ran down the sidewalk for some reason.

        I ran to catch her and my arm was to prevent her from running away again. [Very Big Grin]

        1. It’s been proved that negative memories are often stronger than positive ones. Of course, this is supposed to help us avoid things like “testing the burner heat with your hand,” and to make lessons sink in strongly. But it doesn’t always work to our advantage.

      2. I hear you on that one. People often congratulate me on my very good memory. What they don’t realize is how much of a curse that is. And you want to talk trigger warnings…I have little control of how easily some of those bubble to the top and just have had to learn coping skills to the point that my wife knows when one has hit most of the time.

        1. On top of all the rest of these, you keep thinking that everyone around you is a habitual liar and never keeps promises.

      3. Amen, Wayne. Here, also. I’m also hearing things now about how my schoolmates thought of me that I had no clue of when I was in school. Some of it’s good, some of it’s not. ALL of it’s a surprise.

      4. Strong emotions. Ditto.

        A thousand blessings on whoever it was that started showing me the change-the-subject-to-an-attack-on-the-person-you’re-arguing-with combox tactic. It’s impressively powerful… if someone is acting in good faith and doesn’t recognize it, especially if they’re the sort who tend to do the “I must have been unclear” thing.

  3. It’s different in single-gender schools, which I attended until college. We had wannabe bullies in middle school, but I was early to puberty and large for my age, even younger than my classmates.

    More importantly, I was stubborn — I could not be defeated, because I refused to give up, no matter what. I reached an early modus vivendi of “leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone”. Ultimately I became the rallying point when there was a call for class rebellion against rules (and the encyclopedia when someone wanted a factoid. “Hey Karen, what’s a …?”)

    The point is, though there was plenty of girl-bully behavior at the verbal level, it’s very different when there are no males to play to, and when just about all the adults are female, too. They’ve seen it all before and are less taken in (at least they were, in the 60s) by oh-so-innocent girls. Everyone is wise to everyone else. That lets some of the normal human violence work its way out for the girls like it does for the boys — fights, if necessary. It seems to end at a younger age than for boys (where it may never quite end), but the phase is definitely there.

    All girl behavior changes when there are boys present.

    1. I went to a women’s college and things were pretty hang loose compared to what I saw later in Grad School. The sniping existed, but more people also said, “Hey, drop it. We were there, that’s not true, chill.” Interestingly, no one poached boyfriends – on campus. Off campus competition was different, but it stayed off campus. The last year I was there they started admitting a few males into a side program that got some federal funds and the chemistry around that program shifted.

    2. All girl behavior changes when there are boys present.

      And vice versa. Boys on their own can certainly bully and be generally nasty, but they get even worse when they want to impress a girl with their manliness

      It’s different in single-gender schools, which I attended until college.

      Me too. I think single sex education between the ages of ~8 and ~18 would be a good thing to (re)instate.

  4. The other day I was watching Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes, made just before WW2. Minor spoilers: near the end, there’s a scene where a cowardly Brit tries to negotiate with the fascists attacking the train, using a white cloth as a flag. He gets shot the instant he steps outside.

    1. I know it’s a classic and all, but that’s the only scene I remember from the movie. Now, the good 50’s “War ofthe Worlds,” I remember it all. Especially the three who walk out with a white flag to the Martian lander. Famous last words: “what do we say to them?” ” Welcome to California?”

  5. Great article. The “Can’t we all just get along” crowd is doomed by the fact that if you won’t fight for yourself, you won’t fight for others either. Then the more aggressive individual/group/country will walk right over the kumbaya group.

    1. As the saying goes, “Those who beat their swords into plowshares… plow for those who don’t.”

  6. Ah yes, the whisper campaign, which sometimes escalates to entirely in the open. I think it is far more prevalent in girls, and girls can be so very very mean.

    As a child you are taught the saying, ‘Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but names will never hurt me.’ Physical wounds generally heal. Undermined and ruined reputations? From this you may never recover.

    1. I hated “but words will never hurt you”. [Frown]

      Mind you, now I’m more to the point of “letting the words pass by” without response but people who use words to hurt still belong on my “won’t be missed list” (not that I’ll likely do anything about them).

      1. *Shudder* I hate that line, too. Like you, I’m mostly in the camp of letting words pass by (One exception is if someone calls me a liar. Then it’s on.), but I get pretty incensed if I see someone using very hurtful words against someone who clearly doesn’t have the attitude to deal with it.

        1. It’s a lie.

          Even then, I understood what they were trying to say… but it was a lie, and they knew it.

          Wish the adults had instead said “sure, it hurts, get over it. You can, because the person using words like that is worthless. Adapt and overcome.”

      2. Coming to the realization “if I think you’re a piece of #5$&, then why would I care about your opinion of me?” is part of maturity.
        Which kids definitionally don’t have.

        I’ve known a whole lot more people scarred by whisper campaigns than I have those scarred by a fist fight.

        1. Yep – I wasn’t bullied physically, but there was a circle of mean girls in the seventh and eighth grade who managed to make me miserable. And then over one summer – at summer camp, actually – there was a girl in my cabin who tried very hard to make me miserable again, and I just rebelled. I had looked forward all year to summer camp, I loved everything about the place, and why should I let this one girl ruin everything for me? I decided that I wouldn’t – I would just ignore her entirely. I did exactly that – and had the usual wonderful time, and even came to a bit of a rapprochement with the girl. When school started again that fall, I just blew off the bullies. I walked away, and ignored them … and it was the most marvelous, liberating feeling. They weren’t anything to me, I didn’t like anything about them, they were less than dirt and why should I pay them any mind at all? It felt like suddenly having a suit of armor.
          I’ve never paid any attention to that kind of nasty mean-girl cr*p since.

          1. Interesting; the tactics that they push for physical bullies worked for the emotional ones for you?

            (I am just glad that I prefer adult company and had the internet. Casting someone out of a social circle doesn’t do much if they’d rather be reading.)

            1. It worked for me, Foxfier – like a charm. Better than a charm – like a powerful spell that would let me walk unharmed through all kinds of sh*t. THEY HAD NO POWER OVER ME! I walked through the rest of junior high and high school without any qualms or fear … because I didn’t care about them, or their petty little head games.
              I think (and I am looking back over *ahem* a number of years) that later on, I did collect a small circle of acolytes, and I tried to encourage them. Better yet, I fell into a circle of nerds and odds – mostly the kids taking the AP courses. The brainy kids; we had our classes together, and a table of our own in the lunchroom. There was no open warfare or harassment among the various groupings at my high school then – just a kind of casual sifting into like groups forming like associations. Different circles, in interlinking circles. There were the Socials, the Brains, the Gangsters, the Outcasts, and likely any number of others, to include the Non-affiliated. (see the movie Ten Things I Hate About You for a version of this). High school might have been a jungle, but as I explained to my mother once – it was OUR jungle, and we knew the rules.

              1. My school was small enough that we didn’t really have the circles. There was In, Working In and Unaffiliated. I got along with anybody who wasn’t actively screwing with me.

                The physical bullies took a failure to respond to verbal bullying as indication that you were a good target– thankfully, I pretty much accidentally ended that when the moron who did a snatch-and-run on my bag found out that it is very heavy, and my automatic reaction was to jump up, sprint, grab my bag and yank it back…which sent the bigger guy rolling, short circuiting the physical bullying. (I count destruction of property as physical bullying.)

                I still got stabbed with a chisel in my hand. “Accidentally,” of course. I still have the scar on my thumb-joint, and once again the farm reflexes probably saved me; I grabbed the thing from the blanker and yanked it away from him while calling him an idiot. (or something)

                Possibly if I’d been a good verbal victim first and then became immune? No idea.

                1. I once got a bully, whose MO was to take thing out from in front of me, with a ball point pen. Having multiple siblings and dinner difficulties was good training.

      3. I know a woman who tells her daughter she shouldn’t have listened if she minded the spiteful and nasty things the mother says.

        1. That’s classic “blame the victim” by the victimizer. [Frown]

        2. Dang– I agree with Paul on this one. BTW my mother and I have a really strained relationship because of the way she treated me and mine (siblings). She is my first experience with full-blown manipulation and she inoculated me to a lot of it. It’s a sad thing when the whisper campaign is started by your own mother and sisters. So no, I give those people no mind. When someone tries it, I tell them (usually a woman) that they are immature. Some women never get past that stage.

        3. *sigh* They can only hurt you if you care… and what kind of a mother scolds her daughter for caring about the mother?

          1. That kind– and the same mother will cry when her daughter (or other children) refuse to live near her because they don’t want their children manipulated the same way.

            1. One of the best Christians I know took her abusive mother– who kicked her out of the house when her father died of alcoholism, when the girl was 17– into her own home for at least six months, and now visits her every day at the Care Facility. While spending all their “spare” money to keep it nice.

              Let’s just say I’m glad I wasn’t given that challenge– my family is awesome and supportive of the idea that You Have Worth, even while rather odd and frustrating– because I’m pretty sure I would’ve failed it.

        4. There is a reason that we quail at the saying, ‘for the children.’ Who knows what crimes are committed in the name of caring?

          Yes, some parents are simply too broken to parent. But there are many things a ‘normal’ parent says, which unknowingly, are bullying. Think about the archetypical mother who is obsessed with the daughter’s weight, appearance and deportment, or the father who has an image of the all ’round boy who excels at sports and does well in classes. Things, often not in and of themselves harmful, may be said intended to be helpful, that will haunt their child. A friend called this the tapes that run in the background and rule our lives. As The Spouse notes, because these comments came from a parent they have hold a resonance out of proportion.

    2. I think that is taught as a counter-taunt, not because it’s true, but to remind the victim and help the victim throw off the verbal abuse. It’s a reminder that you don’t *have* to engage with the verbal abuse, not to defend yourself, not to try to convince the abuser it’s not true, and not to convince others that the abuse isn’t true. I think it was also taught as a counter-taunt to try to take away the motivation for the verbal abuse, “you’re stupid, you’re not hurting me, why do you bother?”

        1. To some extent I prefer, ‘I’m rubber, you’re glue, words bounce off me and stick to you,’ or ‘Takes one to know one.’ But not all children are capable of being verbally agile. This is particularly true under stress. As has been noted, it takes a certain maturity to realize that when others say such ugly things about you they don’t define you, they demonstrate their own ugliness.

          Adults cannot fix everything in children’s lives (they haven’t found a way to fix everything in their own). I am not sure most parents know quite how to explain some of life’s challenges to their children in a manner that a child can hear. They can cause more trouble, if the child thinks that no one is taking the fear and pain seriously, which is why I can’t endorse a simple, ‘Get over it.’ Yet, ultimately a child does have ‘to get over it’ by coming to terms with this imperfect world and finding a way of dealing that works for them.

          Note: If that taunting, etc. rises to endangerment I do think an adult who is aware should intervene. As has been recognized before, there are children who have sadistic streaks and children who get pushed to breaking point.

          1. But not all children are capable of being verbally agile. This is particularly true under stress.

            (Raises hand) ME! ME! ME! I can appear fairly nimble (compared to average people – I suspect some of y’all are scary verbal fencers) when in a forum like this, where minutes are quick response times, but face to face, I’m lost when I get stressed.

  7. We had surprisingly little bullying in school that I know of. And I should know, maybe, because I was an oddball and a geek, but nobody picked on me. In fact, few people picked on anyone at all. (I wonder if it’s also because we had advantages to being at least semi-friends: skipping classes together, cheating on tests together, sharing homework and so forth. Nothing unites pupils better than knowing you really, really don’t need a snitch, or you’re all in trouble.)

    From what I observed, boys would fight. Boys would get to blows. Boys would get punished for coming to blows (“I don’t care who started it!” snapped teachers). Boys get back to being friends. I’ve come to consider that a normal cycle of how-things-function, but somehow physical violence in your side of the world seems to have become an unforgivable sin, for a reason I don’t get.

    1. Yes, a lot of boys (and men) basically work off dominance hierarchy questions and steam by pounding on each other, and then become friends. But kids don’t get much chance to be kids anymore, and so boys tend to divide up into bullies (pound on people expecting not to be pounded back), and “good kids” who don’t fight.

      Of course, a lot of boys these days apparently “play wrestle” instead of fistfighting, which also lets them work out dominance but doesn’t leave as many marks. They claim it’s just playing, of course.

  8. 1) I dislike working with women. The tendency to gossip and not work is hard enough, but the snide passive agressive fighting is, for me, untenable. Guys work, and they don’t catfight.

    2) I never quite figured out how to let verbal jabs slide off. Ignoring the hurt, that I eventually got the hang of. In my better days, I can see a glimpse of my future, where I not only let the jabs slide past, but am still able to deal with that person on a rational adult level, and not respond in kind. In the future, I say.

    3) I *still* hold that “names will never hurt me” is the way to go. We-as-humans are not good at differing between ‘accidental not on purpose’ and ‘oh darling did I say that outloud?’. For the sake of society, and our own sanity, we do need to ignore and shrug off a lot of what bruises us. To do that, I think, we need to build a tough skin.

    4) What I said above not withstanding – if I went through jr high, hi school, and early college again, *as the adult I am now* omg I would have such fun. And I would do a better job of meeting other teens and young adults half way, and protecting those around me. However, if the choice was only to do so as the teener I was then – highly insecure & socially inept – or to be beaten black and blue, for an equal number of days…well, tell me more about this beating. Do I get evenings and weekends off?

    My point is that it’s not the words that damage half so much as not knowing how to deal with them. We need to put more effort into teaching kids to treat schoolyard abuse like stupid childishness, and not cheering on snide snippy catcalls in return. In encouraging kids to play pranks and tease with a light hand, not to the point of driving each other to suicide. And, as said above, being able to turn and say, “Dude, Sal, ease up on Karen. You’re being a witchface.” And for Sal to lighten up, and Karen to shrug and say, yeah, whatever. But that would make Sal & Karen guys, and not gals.

    1. I dislike working with women. The tendency to gossip and not work is hard enough, but the snide passive agressive fighting is, for me, untenable. Guys work, and they don’t catfight.


      If only “women” and “guys” lined up better with the plumbing.

  9. I was late to puberty so the times I was in school, I had to be creative in dealing with bullies. When I hit puberty I shot up to 5 ft. 8 in. It was a strange feeling. Plus I dealt with three sisters growing up– it was like having my own cliche and bullies in one package.

  10. The only bullying I endured as an adult came from an “adult” male who had zero control over his children (five of them) and whose wife was too tired from trying to keep up with everyone to enforce the necessary discipline. And everyone in the small town knew it. (Kid bolted into traffic and ran into the side of a car during Cruise Night because Mom couldn’t keep him in line and the first thing on everyone’s lips once we knew both kid and car were OK was “Must be one of the [redacted] kids.” It was.) So he took it out on his subordinates at work. No, I didn’t go to the boss because 1) the other guy outranked me and 2) I suspect the boss would have sided with the other guy for cultural and economic reasons. I added that to my “never do this to subordinates” file.

  11. Bingo.

    Not all violence is physical. In fact, most of it isn’t.
    I have learned, though, that much non-physical violence can be curbed with the threat of physical violence in retaliation.
    My opinion is that no tolerance for fighting has made the school a much more brutal place, and bullies much more prevalent.

    1. Bringing back the concept of “fighting words” would go a long way to civilizing a whole bunch of people.

      Of course, the Face Punch over Internet Protocol (FPIP) would do a world of good, too, if we could implement it.

    2. I was not physically bullied, possibly because I would hit back if I needed to even if I would feel guilty about it. But I did get the verbal variety some. And I was in some ways badly handicapped by the fact that I had been pretty much totally brainwashed into thinking that hitting, even hitting back when somebody else started it was wrong, wrong, always wrong – I’m no good in verbal fights, but I have the temperament for physical ones (and in spite of being short, before puberty also the physically needed attributes, I was strong for my size) and things might have been a lot easier for me in school if I had felt a little bit less restricted with the physical stuff. As things were I was constantly scared, more of my own temperament (what if those boys calling me names come and do something like push, and then I will do bad things… and they damn well can see when you are feeling like that).

      And yes, the fear of maybe ending where I might hit somebody has meant I have most times just stood on the sidelines and watched when somebody else became the victim. Because hitting is always wrong and so you can’t risk that (watching others getting bullied mostly happened back in school but yep, I may have gotten over that ‘violence always bad’ on the intellectual level, but it’s still very firmly entrenched in my subconscious so no guarantees I would be any more proactive now unless maybe the situation looked very serious, on the life or death level, and I knew the victim or at least he/she was somebody I could wholly sympathize with – and I thought I might be able to actually achieve something positive if I tried to help, I would not start yelling at an enraged bodybuilder beating a girl no matter how much I sympathized with her, I’d just call the police).

  12. I wonder if perhaps there is a certain amount of grass-is-greener syndrome going on here. By our gracious hostess’s example, and some of the others I read yesterday, one of the real yearnings seems to be: “Since hostility is inevitable, I want to be able to respond to it in a mode where I can give as good as I get”; or alternately, “I want it to be channelled into a mode which I know I can take, if any comes at me.”

    This is a reasonable and universal desire. But the problem is that our perspectives on it are inevitably skewed by our own experiences and aptitudes, hence the “grass is greener” idea. Sarah says, and perfectly reasonably by her experience, that those who were only physically bullied were lucky compared to those who were socially ostracized; the long record of teens who commit suicide from such ostracization supports her point. Somebody who acquired permanent injuries by sheer bad luck from a “casual” fight, or got stabbed because they had been taught the old-fashioned way to meet violence with violence and overestimated their opponent’s willingness to fight fair, may have a very different perspective on the issue, as will the relatives who go to school boards or city councils about such events; they may wish the aggressors had contented themselves with nasty words, or that they had taught the victims more forcefully to simply ignore mere words (it is possible to escalate a conflict from both sides). And somebody tough enough to take physical hostility without much fear, or independent enough to take social hostility without much angst, will have to work harder to realize why others see those things as more of a threat than they do, (I myself was never big enough to endure much physical abuse nor ever thick-skinned enough to endure much emotional abuse — I hated the “words will never hurt” phrase too, because it was obviously not true; hence my own biased inclination towards the idea that hostility of any sort should be smacked down wherever found. Though I rationally recognize the impracticality and problems of this stance, too, if carried too far.)

    The complaint, in other words, is not that people are hostile but that society prevents us responding to that hostility in the way we feel we can be most effective, or the way we think will be most effective against our enemies, or the way which will have the lowest eventual overall cost to society. And the practical difficulty is that in order to make the rules consistent we have to pick one mode to legitimize and stick with it, and whichever mode we pick, there will be people disadvantaged by it; there will be people who have to suffer what they otherwise might have been able to fight back against, because their preferred mode of expressing or reacting to aggression has been delegitimized.

    For myself, I think free speech is ultimately a better thing to protect than free fists; we may need fists to do that protecting, but the notion of physical violence as an acceptable response to mere social hostility is simply one that strikes me as sufficiently mine-laden that it is better avoided than navigated, whatever its putative benefits.

    1. The notion of free speech has become drastically reinterpreted over the past couple hundred years, and probably to its detriment. The modern version, which you are using here, is that anyone should be able to say anything without any consequences.

      This is not what the concept was intended to be. It was intended to be a prevention from the Federal Government from punishing someone for criticizing the Federal Government. It was never intended to allow people to do the vicious, incredibly harmful things that they get away with today, simply because they don’t have any fear of repercussions.

      1. Also, this:

        … the notion of physical violence as an acceptable response to mere social hostility is simply one that strikes me as sufficiently mine-laden that it is better avoided than navigated, whatever its putative benefits.

        The problem with this is that suppressing that response is what leads those of us who are less stable to simply killing their tormenter when they can’t take it any more.

        1. And the problem with the opposite is that legitimizing that response, if it is not done in a very consistent, proper, controlled and careful manner, leads to poorer impulse control in general, more fights, more injuries, and more deaths. In every other age or culture where violence was legitimized this way, the per capita rate of murder and crippling injury from violence was far above our own, even compensating for poorer medical care. (I find the idea of being able to deck a foulmouthed jerk appealing too, but I don’t know that I want to live in a society where I can get decked myself the moment somebody else decides I’m being a jerk.)

          Now none of that is to say that in certain specific contexts (like school) we have not overreacted in the other direction or that non-physical aggression can’t be abused to cause significant harm. All I’m saying is that when deciding whether the brawny bully or the rules-lawyer commissar is to be preferred as an enemy, one should bear in mind that one’s own inclinations in that preference may be strongly influenced by one’s own capacities, and may not be the best choice for society overall.

          1. Usually, the best response is to walk away and not interact with the bully anymore. The problem is that it is illegal to walk away from the school, so the bullies have a captive pool of victims.

            1. IMO, that’s the biggest issue. Not only are all the various *adult* options for conflict resolution denied you, but you can’t lie about your age and join the Navy either, and you can’t drop out of school after 8th grade. Noooo… you have to stay there until you graduate or turn 18.

                1. Advancement determined by time served rather than ground covered?

                  We ought encourage all schoolkids to start referring to teachers & administrators as screws, and the Principal should be addressed as Warden. Teachers’ pets could be called kapos, flunkies or maytags, as appropriate.

          2. …if it is not done in a very consistent, proper, controlled and careful manner…

            There is the key. I fear we are sitting on the bubble between those who learned some measure of control through a careful system and those who learned suppression from external deligitimization.

            When the bubble ruptures, I suspect we shall see a violence and conflict in society few anticipate.

            Those of us who learned restraint are so very, very tired of people presuming on that restraint to attack us. Imagine what those who learned only suppression will do when they no longer value the external limitations.

          3. I think we understand what you’re saying but people who have been tormented by words dislike the implication that “torment by words” are less important than physical torment.

            Since I wasn’t good at the physical responses, I’ve thanked God that I didn’t have access to hand guns during that time period.

            Back in the 1980’s (IIRC) there was a case where a bullied student did have access to a hand gun and the idiots I was working with decided the “problem” wasn’t that he was bullied but that he had access to a hand gun.

            Oh, IIRC it wasn’t physical bullying but the teasing and mockery that caused him to get a guy and start shooting.

            1. Having both options means that whatever you’re bad at… if you’re bad at verbal come-backs, or if you’re particularly small or uncoordinated… you’ve at least got the option of the other solution. I’d like to think that even if a particular target is bad at both, that someone else would have laid a beat-down and taught the bullies some manners, or at least got it through their skulls that some things are *funny* before the bullied kid finds a gun.

              And school is awful. If you stand up to bullies *on someone else’s behalf* you risk them making you the target instead. About the only thing that really works is if someone who is good at verbal-fighting *and* has the physical to back it up steps in to defend the bullied kids and apply some corrective measures. But even in the 80’s schools were already punishing everyone who got into an altercation instead of finding out who was on the side of right and who… wasn’t.

                1. Don’t you have a sense of humor? [Sarcastic Grin]

                  Note, “Don’t you have a sense of humor” is a phrase I strongly dislike.

                    1. In one of Fred Saberhagen’s “Lost Swords” books, he has a bunch of mercenaries laughing their heads off at the sight of a comical ring-master of a circus trying to protect a female circus member against rape.

                      The only survivor of the mercenaries was a young guy who didn’t find it funny. The others had literally died laughing. IE they couldn’t stop laughing until they died. It seems that the ring-master was a powerful magician. [Very Very Very Big Grin]

                    2. I actually confronted someone who was taunting another girl and her answer was, “I talk to my friends that way.” Yes… you say “hey, you slut” to your friends… but it is NOT in the same way, and that girl is not your friend.

                  1. I’ve often felt that the best answers to that smarmy “don’t yiu have a sense of humor” attitude were “No, but I have a fist” or “Yes, but you don’t” depending on circumstances.

                  2. “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.” – Mel Brooks

                  3. “Don’t you have a sense of humor?”

                    Yes, I do. And I find the blood flowing from your broken nose to be a particularly amusing sight. (true story)

          4. To note the obvious, you *can* get decked the moment somebody decides you’re being a jerk.

            Just because there are rules, does not mean all people care to follow them.

          5. “(I find the idea of being able to deck a foulmouthed jerk appealing too, but I don’t know that I want to live in a society where I can get decked myself the moment somebody else decides I’m being a jerk.)”

            I’ve noticed that when there is a video of someone who gets decked for being a jerk… they always have a surprised look on their face. But their jerkness is never in question. They’ve always been warned, sometimes several times.

            There are two classic videos… there’s the “Don’t taze me, bro!” video. The guy knew he was being a jerk… he just thought he was special. He kept on even when security showed up. He KNEW nothing was going to happen to him. Nothing in his life led him to think there was any limit beyond which he should not be a jerk. And he was *surprised*.

            The other truly classic is Buzz Aldrin decking the guy (it was Buzz, right?) who was way inside his personal space as defined by our culture, within inches of his nose, and was being verbally abusive and yelling and calling him a liar over and over, and he was warned several times… told to back off, more than once. And then he got one, pop, right in the kisser…. and he was *surprised*.

            And I know I’m late to this party, but Stephen, the scenario of not realizing that you’re being a jerk and getting clobbered with *no warning* is a particular sort of straw-man. It’s the exact same argument that gun-grabbers make when they (very piously) explain that *they personally* are such an unstable violent psych case that if someone looked at them wrong they’d haul out their gun and shoot someone if *they personally* were allowed to carry one. It’s a lie. If they believed they were so unstable and potentially dangerous they’d go to therapy.

            So basically I’m calling bull shit on the idea that you in any way honestly fear that if society accepted a fist to the chin as an appropriate response to jerk-face bullies that you think you’d be risking a fist to the chin without ever realizing that you were being an unmitigated jerk. Of course you’d realize it. You’re not an idiot.

            1. That said, I actually agree that the “punch a jerk” thing would be abused.

              Even when it’s not acceptable, I’ve had folks threaten to assault me for being a “jerk”– that is, not doing what they want.

              It was definitely not in the line of following a guy and his granddaughter, yelling harassment and accusations, and getting in his face.

              Most recently, the guy who would have charged me if I hadn’t responded like I would to a dog was a guy who objected to me being on a public street and his dog being so poorly trained that it went nuts over the fact. I ended up having to call the police because the guy kept doing these stupid like start-charges to try to spook us, and there was a rather senile little old lady talking to me.

              I was in the right. I’m sure that would be a great reassurance while I recovered from the broken bones, or worse, inflicted by a moron that claimed “his property” extended to the middle of the public street.

              1. But when there was a code, it was NEVER right for a guy to hit a woman, Foxfier. NEVER. And it would be right for any guy around to take the idiot to the cleaners in your defense.

                  1. Oh, no doubt. BUT the code can’t be brought back until the bleating of “no violence” stops. Look, you were lucky. You were where you could call the police. What if you couldn’t? (This is why I carried mace in my purse when the kids were little. A very similar situation with the dogs leaping the five foot fence and making for the carriage.) (Although my guess is that guy would not have touched you. It was the “feints” that’s chickensh*t behavior. A true madman would attack.)

                    1. You were where you could call the police. What if you couldn’t?

                      That is part of why I have a pocket-knife. It’s not like I’m some kind of knife-fighter, but I’d get one free slice and then the “blades are scary” factor kicks in. Depends on what he was on, drugs or stupid.

                      It’s also when my husband informed me that if I was going to walk that direction, I would be carrying my CC. Not like I’d be able to draw it fast enough– and honestly, I think the guy is slime enough that he’d do an ambush murder instead, so I haven’t gone back that way again, even though I hate to let a blanker like that even think he’s won but I have a bigger responsibility to my family than to general society.

                      Mace has a way too high for me failure rate in virgin soil; the more times someone is exposed, the more likely they’ll develop tolerance. We’re near several popular out-processing centers for military services, so I really don’t count on any variation of pepper spray.

                      Although my guess is that guy would not have touched you.

                      Not if he thought there was any kind of resistance, I agree; I didn’t think it out until later, but he was acting like a dog. An animal, not a madman.

                      Dogs don’t attack if they think they’ll get hurt.

                    2. yeah, where I was and when it was, mace was my best option. It was for the animals, though, not the guy. The guy I probably could have taken. (It will shock you, I know, but it turned out he was a child pornographer. Right across from the elementary school.)

                    3. Sounds like a reasonable place for a child pornographer to set up. A target rich environment if you would. That’s where I would start looking for them.

                    4. I also made sure that after I was off the phone with the police, I called my husband, kept an eye out for being followed, and walked a block past our house to make sure I wasn’t being followed.

                      Basic Navy counter-terrorism stuff.

                    5. –until the bleating of “no violence” stops–

                      The “no violence” crowd are, mostly, perverts in the sense of taking something good and making it something bad. They don’t scream “no violence” because they don’t want to see others hurt. They scream it because they don’t want to get involved. They want to take the easy road. I’ll grant that there are exception; that there are those who aren’t afraid of having violence done to them but are still unwilling to do it to others, but they are exceptions.

                      In order to return to a time when right and wrong made sense, you can’t fight the symptoms but the disease. Once upon a time love was recognized as a reality and something apart from sex. Now it is synonymous with sex and merely considered to be a chemical reaction created via evolution — which really doesn’t make a bit of sense if you think about it, or ever been in love.

                      For violence to be justified and accepted, we have to once again return to a certain understanding that there is something greater than the material.

                    6. Rules are a good way to limit problems, but they will never solve all problems. Daddy worked for the D.A.’s office in Philadelphia and was quite familiar with the crime statistics. He noted that some areas of the city were decidedly much safer than others, because the people in them held to internal social rules (as well as the legal rule) that reduced risk. Still, even the safest neighborhood is no longer safe, when a mad man is moved to violence.

                      (This is an answer to those who want to discard the social/legal rules because they have not rendered the world perfect.)

                    7. For a while the Delaware County Daily Times (suburban Philly) was on a gun control crusade citing murders in Chester City. It did not dawn on them that Chester that has a murder rate this year of 53 per 100,000, which is higher Detroit’s and the year is only half over, is subject to the same gun laws as the the neighboring communities were murders are rare.

                      Putting ink on paper just to feel warm inside is always a bad idea.

                      The Times has changed its tune a little bit after an armed psychiatrist kept an armed nutcase from going on a murder spree at a local psychiatric outpatient center.

                  2. Very true, and said codes (there are multiple variations) are actively being destroyed by public schools and the welfare system. See, these codes of behavior depend on self responsibilityand accountability. These qualities do not produce the complacent serfs desired by the ruling class.

                  3. The code is not dead. The assholes are just pushing the limits of what they can get away with. Even so, they are very, very careful about choosing their victims. One just has to be very, very careful to insure unassailable justification.

                    This is nothing new, we’ve just allowed this scum to thrive and to train people to sheepishness. I think there never were a large number of knights errant in the population. They are as few as Readers. Even less. How many readers are capable?

                    Appraising acquaintances, I estimate it’s always less than one percent who would stand up at need. Probably always has been.

                    1. http://gunssavelives.net/self-defense/video-florida-resident-shoots-and-kills-14-year-old-convicted-felon-and-gang-member/

                      People are starting to defend themselves, too; still, that it’s not insanely odd that a 14 year old is doing home invasion robberies (what they usually mean when they say burglary), armed robbery, battery, and getting into a “taunting” fight that he loses bad enough to PULL A GUN?!?

                      Note, this kind of failed being is who would be deciding if someone else was being too much of a jerk….

          1. How about instead of condemning violence we contextualize it i.e. condemn aggression and other actions that seek to destroy self-respect and self-confidence, and make others live in fear.

            How about we recognize that living in fear is bad thing and that we should oppose those things that make people live in that state — even if it means using violence.

            1. Because we’re not allowed to be nuanced any more.

              That which is not compulsory is prohibited.

          2. What “pisses me off” in the political arena are the people with “mastery” of rhetoric who excuse their hateful words as being “just rhetoric”. IE if you dislike it, there’s something wrong with you.

            1. They are the ones who struttingly proclaim their moral superiority in abhorring all violence, simultaneously preening themselves and using it as a slam against those who might – no matter the reason – resort to other means of redress.

              I recently quit replying to an online discussion on a friend’s Facebook page about the historical context of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings when I realized the other party (friend-of-friend, not – thank G*d – my friend) would not accept that there were *any* circumstances, even the worst-case Allied scenario (hundreds of thousands Allied troops dead, possibly millions of Japanese) was sufficient justification for dropping the bombs. For that matter, he denied the possibility of the worst-case scenario, anything close to it, or the possibility that Truman and his advisers might have believed it *possible*.

              As nearly as I could follow his reasoning, it went something like: Violence is bad. You should never use violence if there’s even a possibility that talking will work. Everyone will talk if they know they’re losing – people will never prefer “Honor” – as they define it – over defeat. Therefore the Japanese military command (not the Emperor) were ready to surrender, and Truman and his advisers knew this (Despite the directly opposite experiences they’d had, including civilian suicides in places like Okinawa). Since they were obviously open to negotiation, the only reason for Truman to drop the atomic bombs must have been that he was a bloodthirsty monster. Supporting evidence: a single few of the military advisers weren’t certain that the resistance would have been as strong as others. Since there was at least some disagreement, Truman must have *wanted* to kill people to have given the “strong resistance” camp any credence.

              Then he said that a military commander should always try to minimize deaths, and should weigh the deaths of enemies as heavily as those of his own troops.

              At that point, I gave up. I’m one of the folks who believes that in time of war you should be as civilized as your enemies allow you to be. But no more. And that – if they won’t surrender, once they know defeat is inevitable – your moral obligation is to minimize casualties for your own troops, If possible, given your first obligation, you should also minimize them for your enemies. But if they could have prevented casualties by surrendering even a single additional death on your own side is too high a price to pay for their “honor”.

              I’m sure the other party in the discussion believes me to be a heartless monster. I regard him as a hopeless chucklehead. Of course, we may both be right.

              1. One of the best alternate history novels I ever read was, “The Burning Mountain: a Novel of the Invasion of Japan,” by Alfred Coppel. It is based on Coppel’s extensive reading of translations of plans for Ketsu-go, the defense of the home islands. They did not intend to evacuate civilians before the invasion forces. The last draft was theoretically limited to males 15 to 60 and women 17 to 40, but they ultimately seem to have intended to charge the allied invasion troops with anyone capable of wielding a club or spear.

                1. Yup. I’ve noticed that the “violence is never the answer” crowd are usually in denial of reality. When presented with evidence such as this, they need to insist that it wasn’t seriously intended to be carried out. They believe that nobody could *really* behave like this, because they believe *they* would not behave like this.

                  They’re certainly mistaken about the majority of humans. I suspect, if put to the test, they’re also mistaken about themselves.

                  1. “Violence is never the answer”?

                    Go tell the Spartans.

                    Go tell them Thank-you that you don’t have to speak Persian.

                    1. ” violence never solves anything? Have the city fathers of Carthage and Dresden debate it with Hitler to moderate.”

                      Pretty badly paraphrased quote from Starship Troopers
                      Don’t have the book in front of me.

                1. I’ve found that the best way to shut down the “no justification for Hiroshima” idiots is to say that we should change the Enola Gay display at the Smithsonian to include a banner, in Japanese, saying “you rape Nanking again, we bomb you again”.

                  They ususally start edging away from me then.

    2. Since hostility is inevitable, I want to be able to respond to it in a mode where I can give as good as I get

      Which goes a long way to explaining why, in general, guys prefer to punch and gals to snip.

      whichever mode we pick, there will be people disadvantaged by it

      *yes* – this. Valuing retoric, or the quick zinger burn? Disadvanages them with stutters, or with thick accents, or who by nature step back and think before replying. We’re not going to get a level playing field, no matter how much bedrock we blast into orbit.

      Seen narrowly, the “American” response of filing a lawsuit seems petty and destructive to society. Looked at in the broader context of all possible human responses, though, and it looks very mild and agreeable.

      One might object to the differential raised by wealth, in that the richer man can buy the better lawyer. But push it down to tools that even the poorest people have access to, and we’re talking rocks, hammers, and matches. I’ll take my chances with the lawyers, thanks.

      1. Yes, but suppress the latter, let society become all the lords who can do whatever and the ones who have to take it — just wait for the rocks hammers and matches. you ain’t seen nothing yet.

        1. weeeellll…I am not cheering for the advent of the pitchfork mobs, myself. Revolutions break things. Terrific waste of resources, interfere with cable show times, etc.

          I also don’t think that society as we know it is really in much danger of becoming “them and us”. We are far too interwoven, much too interdependent, for all of our bold talk about how different we are. I also reject the idea that there is all that much suppression going on. Something we should be on guard against? Yeap. Something here and now? No, not really. Not by my count.

      1. Well, some will. The loudest, most crass, most vicious of them. Which is what we’re seeing today.

      2. I acknowledged that point. But the thing that you use your fists to protect free speech from is other people using their fists to punish someone for what they’ve said.

        Which brings this whole argument, I think, full circle.

      3. You have the rights you’re willing to fight for. If you’re not willing to go to the mat, you will be a mat.

  13. “The modern version, which you are using here, is that anyone should be able to say anything without any consequences.”

    What I’m saying is:
    – That (in ascending order of seriousness) the consequences for words should be more words, the consequences for non-physical actions should be other non-physical actions, and the consequences for physical force should be physical force;
    – That the circumstances under which one can licitly respond to a lesser provocation with a greater reaction should be as uncommon as possible and very formally defined; and:
    – That the right to respond to hostility in the mode most effective for you tends to legitimize the choice of others to use their most effective mode against you, which is why I think the more ultimately effective approach is to delegitimize hostility in general as much as possible. (Can this ever be perfectly accomplished? No. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? No.)

    1. What I’m saying is:
      – That (in ascending order of seriousness) the consequences for words should be more words, the consequences for non-physical actions should be other non-physical actions, and the consequences for physical force should be physical force;

      This is because, for some reason, you have the notion that physical force is more serious than emotional. It’s not. I sit here with an arm I damaged two and a half years ago, which I no longer have full range of motion in, cannot bend in certain directions without serious pain, and have lost a significant portion of the strength of, and I tell you I would take this in trade for being able to go back and keep the people I went to school with from being able to make me descend into tears on a regular basis. Any. Day. Of. The. Week.

      – That the right to respond to hostility in the mode most effective for you tends to legitimize the choice of others to use their most effective mode against you, which is why I think the more ultimately effective approach is to delegitimize hostility in general as much as possible.

      So that means that I, who is HORRIBLY inarticulate when emotions get heated in a face-to-face confrontation, should be hobbled from effectively dealing with someone who is provoking me? Thanks but no thanks.

      1. “This is because, for some reason, you have the notion that physical force is more serious than emotional.”

        Yes, I do; and so does the law, and so does the Judeo-Christian tradition, and the record of the degree to which violence-related injuries have declined in our culture suggests a very good reason for that. If all of those are wrong, I’ll need a better argument disproving them than “look at the jerks who go unpounded because of it”.

        “So that means that I, who is HORRIBLY inarticulate when emotions get heated in a face-to-face confrontation, should be hobbled from effectively dealing with someone who is provoking me?”

        If you want a person who has full range of both arms and more physical aptitude for violence than you to be “hobbled from effectively dealing with” you when he decides you’re provoking him, yes. Hence my point: it doesn’t matter what mode of aggression you legitimize, there will be people unjustly disadvantaged by it.

        Let me add for the sake of amity here that I in no way mean to dismiss your experiences. I myself had what I believed to be more than my fair share of tear-inducing humiliations growing up. But I cannot say that I would take any kind of physical maiming in order to erase those experiences; that may say nothing more than that mine weren’t that bad, but for most people, humiliation *is* more temporary than crippling or death, and designing society around the opposite assumption has historically tended to produce cultures I don’t want to live in. But if arguing this point hits too many of your buttons (and I have a few buttons myself), I will concede and withdraw at your request.

        1. This is because, for some reason, you have the notion that physical force is more serious than emotional.” . . .Yes, I do; and so does the law, and so does the Judeo-Christian tradition,

          I disagree regarding Judeo-Christian tradition. Eight of the 10 Commandments concerni non-physically aggressive acts.

          The Old Testament law demanded death for witchcraft, adultery, idolatry, homosexuality, and bestiality, all non physically aggressive acts, while only an eye/hand/tooth for physically aggressive maiming.

          Jesus equates calling someone a fool with murder, and says we will be judged by every word we speak.

          1. Jesus equates calling someone a fool with murder, and says we will be judged by every word we speak.

            But He doesn’t suggest that people who shout insults should be stoned at the city gates, either. And he says to turn the other cheek when
            we are physically struck.*

            If we think we will be judged for our words, how much more for our actions?

            (There is a load of cultural baggage associated with that phrase – the short version is that Christ wasn’t suggesting to be a doormat, but to practice passive-aggressive defiance – forcing the aggresser to either stop or escalate to the point of social imporiety.)

            1. He doesn’t suggest anybody get stoned at the city gates but those who commit physical transgressions like thieves seem to get cut more slack than the non-violent sinners like hypocrites and the indifferent and those who call people fools.

              This is not a defense of theft or assault, btw, It is just pointing out that Judaism and Christianity take the view that sins against emotion are as serious — maybe more so — than sins against the body.

              Frankly, I think those who publicly ridicule and ostracize the geeky kid in a school are doing something far worse than if they were shaking him down for his lunch money. That’s not saying that getting shaken down for your lunch money isn’t very bad, if that needs to pointed out.

        2. Intentionally or not, you seem to be legitimizing the idiot who says “we didn’t hate him, we just liked to tease/mock him”.

          We’re seeing too much of “well since there wasn’t physical violence involved, what they did wasn’t bad”.

          Oh, yes this is a hot button for me.

          1. You talk about “not right to live in fear”, but what I went though didn’t “cause me fear” per say but I extremely disliked going to school.

            1. Kids who get verbally abused at school *do* live in fear. Soul killing dread. Stomach turning stress. Medical and psychological disabilities from having to go through every day forced to get up, get on the bus, and wait for that first taunt… that first remark… the laughter… the humiliation if they crack… hoping you can avoid certain people in the hallway but knowing you can’t…

              1. Anger turned inward is depression: “We didn’t know anything was wrong until he hanged himself in the garage.”

                Anger turned outward is rage: “He was such a quiet boy, why did he build seven pipe bombs and destroy the football team?”

              2. It’s been a while and I’ve forgotten most of the “feelings” of that time.

                1. Yeah, this has really been digging up bones I’d forgotten even existed….

                  Hopefully mom doesn’t try one of her “I wish I’d pushed you to be more social” laments until I get them re-buried, my response at this point would be pointless and really hurt her. (It’s not like I knew any better back then, either.)

        3. Yes, I do; and so does the law, and so does the Judeo-Christian tradition, and the record of the degree to which violence-related injuries have declined in our culture suggests a very good reason for that.

          No, it doesn’t.

          Last to first, violence related injuries might be interpreted to suggest what you want to push.

          Judeo-Christian tradition and the law hold that in cases where the harms are roughly equal, physical harm is worse.
          That does not mean that slapping is worse that, say, watching your wife being raped to death, for one example of “emotional force.”

      2. Agree. It’s hard to “fight back with words” when you’re not good with words and are really pissed off. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that good at physical conflict either.

        1. I wasn’t, either, but simply being willing to go there makes a difference, even if you lose.

    2. Delegitimizing hostility is a pretty notion. It’s effective in restraining those who concern themselves terribly with legitimacy.

      For everyone else, it leaves the aggressive feeling no consequence for their actions. The subtle and corrosive escalation of interpersonal conflict eventually has a tipping point. I’ve seen far too many examples of unrestrained “non-violent” interpersonal conflict to believe the tipping point down that path will be so benign as a punch in the nose.

      I’m all for restraint, you understand. Most particularly in the adult. One of the ways restraint is learned and reinforced is the discovery of consequence. If we “delegitimize violence” consequence is minimized or lessened.

      Let’s just take an example I’ve seen personally. Small woman, under 5’5″, exercising her passionate and demonstrative culture by loudly berating a large man, over 6′ and strong. Standing in public and screaming, making swinging gestures, jabbing towards, if not contacting, the man. Denigrating and insulting him. Proving she controls the psychological power balance. Likewise proving she does not understand and has dismissed the physical power balance.

      What happens when he decides this gentle pattern of reasonable escalation you’ve laid out isn’t working? When he decides legitimacy is irrelevant?

      See, this woman has assumed a disproportionate power as a result of the deligitimizing of violence, she’s misread the restraint of the man and assumes she need have no restraint.

      What happens as this disregard spreads?

      1. Proving she controls the psychological power balance. Likewise proving she does not understand and has dismissed the physical power balance.

        She only controls the psycological power if we, psychologically, permit her.

        It does not follow, for me, that the only possible effective response is for the man (or some bystander) to punch the hyperactive little frothing git in the honker.

        That she acts in this way does not, I think, forbid any of us bystanders from stepping up and standing beside the man under (verbal and emotional attack) and saying, clearly and firmly, “Ma’am, you are out of line. Please compose yourself and engage in conversation like an adult.”

        Ideally, one would turn to a buddy and say, “Hey, hold my beer, and film this” before standing up beside the fellow under attack. That way when the little git takes a swing at you a) you’ve got a buzz to take the sting off and b) you’ve got evidence that she started the beatdown that follows.

        1. No, it does not follow that the only possible effective response is violence from the man. For me, such violence would be abhorrent and a failure of restraint.

          But that’s not the point.

          Violence has been delegitimized, neither of them are considering the possibility of violence, or comporting themselves accordingly.

          She is blithely haranguing a much larger, much more powerful individual while, consciously or not, relying on his restraint for her safety.

          This works. Until something snaps. What follows is brutal.

          In the absence of any understanding of our own violent natures, one naturally learned when small and less effective, that snap surprises people. They can blow past any barriers or controls and give in. Indulge in the ascendant baser nature. They’ve never learned control and restraint in the heat of a fight.

          Eliminating violence and dismantling stifling codes sounds logical and rational. Except, we’re not rational creatures, at base. Rationality, like every other element of civilization is an overlay.

          You’ll note in my example, the woman is using the body language of threat and dominance. She is using physical indicators of incipient violence. She is poking the lizard brain in all the wrong ways and relying on the civilized conscious overlay to keep her breathing.

          This is commonplace in our society. Joy and light does not follow.

          1. Rationality, like every other element of civilization is an overlay.

            I agree. And it takes a great deal of jiggling and compromise to keep the lid on right.

            She is poking the lizard brain in all the wrong ways and relying on the civilized conscious overlay to keep her breathing.

            And you note that I don’t suggest that she be given a pass in doing this. She’s wrong, she’s not keeping with the civilized bargin, and we-as-a-society should not stand for it.

            That doesn’t mean that we allow it to continue, especially not to the point where something snaps. If people stand by and let her poke at the guy until he explodes, we are as complict in our actions as we would be if we were at a bar and watched a clearly drunk woman get talked into taking off her shirt and dancing neeked on the bar. No, it’s not our fault that the person was an idiot, but it *is* our fault for standing by and letting it happen.

            Civilization and adulthood call on us to not allow error to be commonplace in our society.

            1. I think we’re speaking a bit past each other. I don’t disagree with anything you’ve proposed in reference to the specific incident. Though you should consider just precisely how you’ll go about ending it.

              But the point under discussion is whether or not the attempts to eliminate all violence, particularly the low-level interpersonal physical disputes of childhood (not bullying), have created unrecognized hazards in our society. The associated point of some form of codified behavior constraining interpersonal interactions being necessary/unnecessary is also in place.

              I’ve suggested that the attempts to eliminate violence and remove low-level conflict resolution from consideration have sowed threats in our society. In the larger society they have not yet come to fruition, but I’m not confident this will hold into the future.

              My example is not illustrative of a question regarding how do we defuse similar situations. It is an encapsulation of a large store of potential energy, and indicative of how fragile our current relations are.

              More pointedly, when I first returned home after Iraq I was faced with multiple instances every day of people presuming on my restraint to abuse social convention. There were traffic behaviors that in the prior week would’ve ended with the offender in the ditch (at best), and physical disregard that in the streets of Mosul would have required response.

              All of this accomplished with a sneering disdain for any response I might give. Except, in that time and place, my reflexes were not aligned terribly well with social constraints. Combat has a different set of constraints, see.

              I maintained my restraint, of course. I maintained my restraint. They laid their safety in my hands, unaware.

              That is the status of our society when we delegitimize violence.

        2. That she acts in this way does not, I think, forbid any of us bystanders from stepping up and standing beside the man under (verbal and emotional attack) and saying, clearly and firmly, “Ma’am, you are out of line. Please compose yourself and engage in conversation like an adult.”

          And then the corrector is physically assaulted by the witch, and any of her friends, while the man who was the target is not allowed to even grab the assaulter or he will be up on charges.

          And if the “you’re out of line” person dies by being kicked to death by a mob, they’ll decide it wasn’t murder.

          1. Just remember, if you are male you are in the wrong and probably a rapist. The law will proceed from this assumption. Being hit by a woman will buy you a DV conviction.

          2. I’ve warned my son about women like that. Fortunately, he’s seen how I and my lovely bride interact, and he’s not going to be willing to put up with the other sort.

            Well, at least hopefully he won’t. Women can make a guy do strange things… not all of them in his best interests.

  14. I’ve mentioned before my canted brain. When I was young I quickly figured out I didn’t understand all these alien folk wandering around. Their motivations and responses were opaque.

    It became particularly pronounced when I hit school, when I just couldn’t parse the society. In due time came the infighting and the bullying. (Notably the most psychological damage I suffered came from bullying teachers, but that’s a tangential story) You form fairly clear opinions on bullying when you can’t separate it from other behavior. I mean, I didn’t understand why anybody did anything, much less why they decided to be violent. It’s compounded when you’re an elementary school kid getting waylaid by a random thug high schooler acting out his father’s abuse.

    By the by, the physical abuse was bearable. It wasn’t yet the time or place where a bullied child realistically had to fear a visit to the clinic, certainly nothing worse. The psychological, on the other hand…

    It’s worth noting here that I learned to read very early, a boon and a hindrance. The important point for this narrative is — I was forming my understanding of human beings from heroic fiction of various stripes. Motivation, action and response, goals. Good and bad.

    Needless to say, the people around me frequently left me baffled and angry. And hurt. I don’t just mean the kids, my peers. I’d figured out they were a bunch of gleeful savages, so though I couldn’t understand them or predict them I was less surprised by them. But the older kids, the ones far enough away to seem almost adult? And the adults? Baffled. And hurt.

    It’s not the absence of heroism that hurt (not much). It was the needless little cruelties.

    Fortunately, for me, I wasn’t a small kid and I got bigger. People still baffled me (maybe leave that present tense?) but I had one clear understanding: I hate bullies. So over time, when I was filling the role of the bigger kid, I stood in the way of the bullies. And suffered the attentions of ignorant teachers. Still I stood.

    I lay all this out to illustrate I have some understanding of the position of the bullied.

    End part one.

    1. Part two:

      Now that’s out of the way, here’s my on topic point:

      It’s not clearly acknowledged these days, in fact implying it is considered gauche in many circles, but men are aggressive. We evaluate the world aggressively considering how we can pit ourselves against it for advantage. The mechanisms are tempered by age, education, training and restraint, but the base code is still running.

      I’ve seen many people who don’t understand this, or forget it. It’s not quite dominance trials — but it is. It’s not precisely honor or face. It’s testing and questing and establishing the right to stand on this piece of ground.

      This results in subtly different ways of interacting, slightly different assumptions in conversations. These are often misread, particularly by women. For instance, if a man notices lapses in behavior, or misjudgements by his peers and wishes to address them he’s faced with a choice. How confrontational does he wish to be? You’re expected to back it up, you see. So for minor things, you might address a group in generalities rather than details. Everybody should know what’s going on, but nobody feels called out. If you call somebody out, best be prepared to meet them.

      Because that’s the rest of it, you know. Questing, testing, proving you can stand here among the men. Somebody might call your hand.

      Codified conflict of the “take it out behind the gym” sort exists to answer the call and prove your mettle without escalation. As you gain experience and age, the need for this lessens dramatically. Unless you never get to show your proof.

      Our host mentioned her experience regarding the type of man likely to abuse women. Consider, is he the type who doesn’t feel he can quite claim his place? Is he striking out to prove his worth? Note, I expect no sympathy for the bastard and would extend none. There’s been some research into this, but I can’t put my finger on anything at the moment. I suspect the research is as disavowed as the rest of the exploration of male interpersonal relationships.

      She also mentions chivalry, sublimating the aggression and the impulse to worthy social goals. We’ve stripped this away.

      What does this leave us? Boys who can never test themselves, and prove themselves (notably, to themselves), find their limits and the limits of others. Men who don’t inherently understand their strength and their impulses. And women who don’t either. It leaves us with a broken and disdained code of respect and protection that channeled and controlled the natural and inherent aggressions of our species to the betterment of society.

      Where do we go from there?

      1. I think, and I’m probably way off the mark, but I think we start by recapturing the stories. The stories can make all the difference, not for everyone, but for enough to build a core, I suspect. What got me through the h-ll that was jr high and high school was, in chronological order, 1) Voltron (I commanded the Black Lion, at least in my own mind) 2) the Heralds of Valdemar, 3) fairy tales, 4) Kipling, 5) military history and WWII stories, and the determination to be the people I read about, not the @sses I went to school with. And then, one day, a bigger guy stood up for me, and chivalry worked, at least once, in a way I’ve never forgotten. And adults I admired called me honorable and trustworthy. And those made all the difference. Yeah, chivalry and defending the weak and keeping your word were for guys, or Heralds, but in my case they stuck to a girl.

        And we find ways to encourage the boxing clubs, and dojos, and after-school fencing clubs, and teach youngsters the ways to settle things and blow off steam before verbal sniping becomes pipe-bombs in a locker.

        But I’m an Odd, so what do I know.

        1. The stories worked for me. I was baffled, sure, because people didn’t meet my storied expectations, but it didn’t stop me from believing in the stories.

          I don’t know if it would work for people with better understanding of human interactions, but I think it would. I’ve heard enough anecdotes to believe.

          1. “Maddest of all, to see life as it is, instead of as it should be.” ~Minguel Cervantes, Man of La Mancha.

            (hopefully this time it lets me post it.)

        2. Completely off-topic: I just finished Cities and Throngs and Powers. Very nice reboot, quite enjoyed it!

          Was a nicely timed read for today, as well.

          So thanks!

      2. “Where do we go from there?”

        Wait for the melee and try to save whom we can. There is no stopping it now I think.

        Your experience was very similar to mine, especially when we moved to New England. Not only did they talk funny, they made no sense. Thank God for books.

          1. The civilized tradition has been very long-term effective, even while we suffer in the short term nasties.

            All the way back to Rome, and saving the “worthless” baby girls. 😀

  15. Fighting dirty in self-defense. I’d forgotten this. Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. Sharon van Decker. We were all between five and eight. She lived up at the corner of Paterson Turnpike and Hershfield Park Place. She’d come down with her siblings and her little gang of terrorists and play in our yard. (We were right next to the ball fields and a half-block from the swimming hole.) She’d bully me, using every passive-aggresive move — tattling to my grandmother, etc. — until one day, I’d had enough I got her down in a tulip bed, pulled on her hair and pounded her head against the ground. I was about to wail on her with a Tonka dump truck when my grandmother intervened. She never even so much as spoke crossly to me again.

    I was always a good kid. My mother spoke proudly of this. Did what I was told. Played by the rules. (Well, there was that time with the creme-filled donuts, but the less said about that, the better.) And the rules were: don’t fight. I was confused and bullied. There was a second message that eventually penetrated: stand up for yourself; nobody else will. The teachers in grammar school colluded with the bullies; which outraged my inborn sense of injustice. So I suffered various slings and arrows. Until, one day, the inner wolf cub broke loose and a beat the shit out of one of the ringleaders of the gang. That was near the end of sixth grade year. I never had a problem with physical bullying again. Then I shot up to six feet plus and — to my eternal puzzlement — seemed to be a chick magnet. I wish I had figured that last out at the time, but I was typically clueless and could never get the girl I wanted, only the ones who chased me. Does it work that way for everybody?

    Later, I was taught to be a sheepdog in the sheep-wolf-sheepdog triad. Like Sarah — to fight for the the right and just, to defend the set upon, the downtrodden. But not in a squishy, liberal feel-good way: ready to do violence in defense of the defenseless.

    Sorry for running on.


    1. The statute of limitations on infractions on incidents involving cream filled donuts is, hmm, twenty minutes in all 57 states, IIRC.

      1. You may change your mind. Dad had gone out and bought a dozen. I saw them (was maybe five, had no notion of property) and thought they’d be filled with fruit jelly. So I took one bite out of each one, rejected the creme filling, and threw them in the garbage one-by-one. I got through the whole dozen before Mom caught me. Also got a tanned hide, IIRC.


        1. It should be obvious here that fruit jelly filling is The Way, The Truth, and the Light, where as banana creme filling is the devil’s own poison. Just so’s you know.


            1. Dunno. But I do remember from that time Boston brown bread — the kind that either came in or was baked in a can — with cream cheese and jam.


            2. The term “boston cream” references Boston Cream Pie, a vanilla cake filled with custard and frosted with chocolate. Wikipedia says it originated at the Parker House Hotel in Boston, circa 1856, which sounds right.

          1. OK, for banana cream you get a big pass. Boston cream, or whipped cow cream would be grounds for my tracking you down and beating you with a Nerf bat, turning over your outhouse, and then placing “Hillary&Diane 2016” campaign signs in your yard.

            1. See, he was right. You totally reconsidered the statute of limitations on it. 🙂

            2. Who is Diane? Any relation to Sam and Diane? Jack and Diane? Princess Diana? Jewish American Princess?

              1. Diane Feinstein (D-CA). Although those two females would probably do about as well as the gingham dog and the calico cat if placed on the same political ticket.

                1. Diane ” Turn ’em all in” Feinswine, she really has a hard on for disarming the citizenry.

                  She doesn’t realize that this is NOT Britain or Australia and the progressive bullying had pushed us to the breaking point. Any serious lawfare attack on us will inevitably cause blood in the streets.

                  She also doesn’t seem to understand that a significant percentage of us were given graduate level courses in asymetric warfare taught by the V.C., the Taliban & Al Qaeda (or ISIS).

                  I’m not sure that when the smoke clears that there will be any sanity left to come back to. But, on the other hand, they’ll get the “fundamental transformation” they wanted.

                  1. Recognition where it is due: DiFi’s service on the Select Committee on Intelligence has been relatively distinguished (for a Democrat), making her one of the least harmful senators on her side of the aisle.

                    Faint praise, admittedly, but her head, unlike those of so many of her allies, is only partially up her bum.

  16. This post seems appropriate, in a week when President Peace-Prize has blundered into yet another armed conflict.

  17. I was able to avoid most fighting in school, and most of the behind the back sniping by having a well established reputation for ending the fight with maximum use of force. I didn’t fight for prestige or honor. I didn’t start fights. But by the monkee gods if you did start one with me, it was going to end fairly quickly – and you were not going to like the way it ended. Fighting to me was not a sport, nor was it a means to an end. I firmly believe Cicero was right – If you want peace, be prepared for war.

  18. Glad I’m not the only one who has noted how the tyranny we’re evolving in this country is like a junior-high “Mean Girls” clique writ large. Except that these Mean Girls have armies of bureaucrats and presstitutes – and SWAT teams – to enforce their bullying.

    1. I view the movie “Mean Girls” as a documentary. Outside of a few very blatant swipes at Christians and other progressive checklist items., the evisceration of feel god/friend mom/can’t we get along culture is amazingly thorough.

      That and it’s one of the few movies I can think of where, unlike SVU, not only did the girls do it, but it wasn’t because they were disadvantaged, or some guy made them….

      It also reflects the style of bullying that I’d already sen since middle school in the 80’s. Not the locker room stuff, but the pushing you out of line, so you catch the teachers attention. if you push back, YOU get in trouble. If you don’t, well, you STILL get in trouble. Slamming a locker door on your head and getting tattled on for calling the guy an asshole.

      My daughter had it worse – all from girls.

      The one thing I think worthwhile about teaching Lord of the Flies (and lord do I hate that book) is that it teaches what a bunch of kids, left largely among their peers, will do to other kids.

      Of course, the people teaching us this supposed lesson never consider how close large public schools are to that kind of environment – very little active adult supervision compared to old journeyman culture, little interaction with adults outside of capricious, petty, sometimes merciful gods….

  19. I’ve always thought that the “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me” was supposed to be seen as a taunt, not an actual saying.

    Similar to “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off of me, and sticks to you.” (Which doesn’t quite scan), Or “Missed me, missed me, now you gotta kiss me.”

    So, not something to be taken seriously.

    1. Well yes, the way I learned it was by listening to kids sing that saying at whoever was calling them names, usually while dancing just a little ways out of reach.

  20. Training people to be snitches rather than stick up for themselves, indeed not to dare to stick up for themselves. I’d say it was intentional statist behavior, but perhaps it’s just instinctive weaselness.

    1. I’d say it was intentional statist behavior, but perhaps it’s just instinctive weaselness.
      It is statist endorsed and nurtured instictive weaselness

  21. One of the guys I have ridden to lunch with has an ex who will abuse herself to use the authorities to abuse others. He has a video of her beating her face into a door knob to try and frame him for spousal abuse, because of what most folks would consider a reasonable refusal to do as she demanded. Luckily he had his iPhone in hand and just fired up the video camera as she went ape and he was shocked at her actions, but she didn’t seem to notice he wasn’t physically trying to stop her and instead was just staying out of arms reach and holding his phone up at her. After clearing himself of the charges, and getting a clean divorce, he found out she was doing it again to some other poor fella, and so made available the video to his lawyer. iirc, this time there were counter charges and she has actually been punished for her lies, but all the other times before she has gotten off scott free (aside from the damage the bint has done to herself).
    We see it all the time now, especially in college, where a girl merely accuses a guy of assault or rape and he is pilloried (in college expelled immediately) and no mater how solid his alibi, his name never fully cleared, yet the female is far, far, too often not punished in the least, and like this guy’s ex, a repeat offender.

  22. I was one of Sarah’s ‘odds’ in school, and was bullied both physically and mentally. I eventually grew big enough to deter all but the worst offenders, but what finally broke me of the non-defence habit was reading C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra Trilogy. Perelandra, the second book, was an epic argument by Lewis on the justice of “Righteous Rage”, and the words seemed to glow on the page. I never backed down again.

    1. Bruce,
      I’m reminded of an interview with Tom Wilson, most famously known as “Biff” Tannen from the “Back to the Future” movie. He was, by his own words, “A little tweaky guy” who did chess club, drama, the whole nerd thing. Then something happened…

      The summer before his senior year of high school, he put on a growth spurt to end all growth spurts, achieving the size you see in the movie. Then, as he put it, “the social conditions facing me and my friends somehow changed…”

      The above “quotes” are my best recollection and paraphrase of the interview as I cannot find it online. But one of my favorite points in the interview concerned how, given his history, he was so good at portraying a bully. He said, “Well, I just remembered all the crap that was done to me and channeled that.” Talk about method acting!

      1. At my first (10-year) class reunion, I saw the eyes of one of my chief tormenters get VERY big when I greeted him, when he suddenly had to look UP to look me in the eye. I had had a bit of a growth spurt in high school, but had started out so short that I was still shorter than him when I graduated, but kept growing until about age 20, so I wound up a good two inches taller than he.

  23. In partial reply to Stephen J, no, words are not necessarily sufficient to deal with verbal abuse or verbal bullying.

    I am the friend Sarah referenced. The one who nearly had my life ruined (for that, you may read “ended by my own hand” when I eventually ran out of me). What that kind of treatment does is worse than physical damage – which, despite being not particularly physically robust or willing to tolerate pain, I’d take instead of the verbal abuse.

    It eats your soul. Depending on temperament, someone on the wrong end of this kind of bullying will wind up in one of two places unless they can break out of it (or be broken out). If their nature is to explode, they’ll do the whole “go down in a blaze of glory” thing, taking as many of their tormentors and those who facilitated the tormentors with them as they can. If they’re not, they’ll just kill themselves – often believing that in doing so they’re doing a favor for the people they care about most.

    I came close enough to the latter course that I knew exactly how I would have ended it. My plan was possibly a little overcomplicated, but there’s a good chance it would have worked. What stopped me was knowing the cats depended on me to feed them, and I wasn’t going to let anything hurt them, even if *I* wasn’t worth the saliva it took to spit.

    *That* is what verbal bullying and shunning does to people. It destroys any self-confidence you might have and leave you convinced you somehow did something to deserve the treatment you’re getting – and if you try to tell someone about it, you’re just as likely to get blown off because it’s not physical.

    Before I could *start* to become functional, I had to learn to see myself as having value. As *being* someone other people could actually like. Maybe even respect. It took me over twenty years and several suicidal episodes after the bullying stopped to get to a place where I could accept that people might actually *want* to spend time with me. I’m still pleasantly surprised when someone shows they respect me – or when someone remembers me.

    The really adept psychological torturers don’t even need to manipulate the authorities. They can set the whole thing up so they’ll come up roses no matter what. Meanwhile, their victim doesn’t dare leave anything of value out of their sight – because it will be vandalized and there will be nothing to point to who did it – and is constantly belittled in hundreds of little, spiteful ways that nobody ever thinks to stop or ask about.

    Yes, my parents noticed something was wrong. They had no idea what the problem was, and no idea how to ask. At least if I’d been beaten up they’d have known what was going on and I wouldn’t have spent years convinced there was something wrong with me.

      1. Yes. Upper primary through the whole of high school – two different schools, grades 4 through 12.

          1. What I went through is more properly described as “psychological torture”. The age of the perpetrators doesn’t make it any less so.

            1. No matter the age a sadist is a sadist. Yes, the youth of the perpetrator does not lessen the impact or justify such acts.

        1. Gawd Kate – You have my sympathies. I was lucky in that I had someone who told me that I was of value when I left home. It took a long time to sort the voices from “other people” to my voice. But, that exercise helped me to heal the cracks. On the other hand I only trust one or two people in my life. My trust issues are legendary. I think you understand–

          1. Yeah, Cyn. I’m glad you did have someone to support you and help you find yourself again.

    1. Shit. Kate, I never came close to suicide, mostly because I considered it morally wrong, but I understand completely what you’re talking about. I was there as well. Mind you, my temper reaction may have helped me not goes as far as you.

      1. Possibly, Paul. However it worked for you, I’m glad you didn’t get to that point. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

    2. We had something like that happen in our school my senior year. My cousin was the one that blew it all out in the open, and demanded it stop. I was oblivious to it.

      As I’ve said more times than necessary, my school years were different than that most of you experienced. First, I went to the same school for twelve years, mostly with the same people. Many of them also attended the same church I did as well. Second, during those twelve years, I went to school with two aunts, fourteen first cousins, and between 25 and 30 second, third, and fourth cousins. Anything that happened at school was immediately relayed to parents and grandparents at home. Finally, most of my neighbors were also relatives — grandparents, three aunts and uncles, and three adult cousins. Those that weren’t relatives were frequently treated as if they were, and addressed (and treated) that way.

      I was the oldest of the post-WWII generation. I was often responsible for taking care of my younger brother and several of my cousins, both at home and at play. That eventually also carried over into school. It also resulted in the knowledge that if you attacked one of us, you would be the target of the whole clan acting in retaliation. Oh, and ours wasn’t the ONLY family like that, just the largest. Most of my school years were rather quiet.

      1. That is not a bad thing… I was pretty much alone what with one thing and another.

        I did the best I could, but I eventually ran out of energy to try to fight it. There’s a reason Stockholm Syndrome is a thing.

    3. *shudder*
      In support: remember that abusive spouses must first make their victim believe that they deserve so much worse than what the abuser does.

    4. For several reasons, I’ve rarely had friends my own age. A year ahead, a year behind, and as years plural meant less, several years in either direction. But none in my own year. This becomes significant when, as an extreme introvert, I became something of the flavor of the month for many of the popular kids. The few friends I had were always elsewhere, or at a different school. It becomes easy to assume there’s nothing of worth when the people who matter most (yeah, yeah: peers are often idiots. I figured that part out much, much later, but at the time, everything said that parents/teachers/authority figures of any kind weren’t who was really important. A major failing of our society, says I) consistently tell you so. My achievements were nothing, as musical skill and intelligence count for little in a small, logging town. Oh, and I read books. For fun. I’m pretty sure that drove half of my peer group more than a little nuts, all by itself. Upshot is I’m pretty sure that what held me back was that I always knew that I was valued, if only by my parents (the few friends in my own year seemed to find my predicaments as amusing as my tormentors. to this day, I don’t take well to being laughed at). I never really understood it – and in most ways still don’t – but I knew it. It was knowing how much pain I’d cause them that kept me from going one direction or the other. If it had been an outward expression, ahhh, nobody would have found a thing.

      1. Oh, yes. I’m an imploder, and about as introverted as it’s possible to get. If I’d been an exploder, things would not have ended well for anyone involved.

  24. “the worst wife-beaters were the lame, the halting, the ones under suspicion of being less than manly, the ones in fact who couldn’t hold up their own as men among men.”

    We, er, I, have seen this time and time and time again in 28 years of law enforcement. The wife beater, the child beater, the child abuser, the one that we really, really wish would take a swing at one of us, is the last one that will ever try it.

    as for violence. well, We’ve all seen this one. “”Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent”, which is alleged to have been one of Isaac Asimov’s favorite sayings.

    The addition I prefer is. “Because the Competent will use violence when it’s appropriate instead of waiting till it’s too late”.

    Growing up reading L’amour, and Piper and RAH, watching John Ford films, reading Ivanhoe, Errol Flynn as Robin Hood, etc, etc, Being given a set of ideals to live up to, a code to live by, Being told by Grandpa’s, Uncles, cousins and Dad, “don’t look for a fight, but don’t run away from one”. “Don’t start a fight, but make sure you finish it” and at the very least, “make sure he knows he’s been in one”.
    I know that has twisted me into what some would consider a pathetic, warped sham of a human being, the same people that use Boy Scout as a pejorative. Or as I mentioned to a young man as I sat on his board of review for his Eagle Palms this week. Call me a Boy Scout ? Thank you.

    1. About that “… the Competent will use violence when it’s appropriate instead of waiting till it’s too late”.

      The bloggers at Powerline explain how the failure to use violence in a timely and effective manner has caused disaster in the M.E.:

      Posted on by Paul Mirengoff in Iraq, ISIS, Obama Foreign Policy
      President Obama finally moves against the “jayvee,” sort of
      In an interview with the New Yorker’s David Remnick in January, President Obama dismissed ISIS as the “jayvee”:

      The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.

      Yesterday, with much of Iraq now in the jayvee’s hands, Obama finally recognized it as enough of a threat to warrant the authorization of U.S. military action. Sort of:

      To stop the advance on Irbil, I directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move towards the city.

      What is magic about Irbil? For one thing, many American diplomats and other U.S. nationals are there. In fact, the State Department relocated staffers from the embassy in Baghdad to the consulate in Irbil on the theory that the Kurds could keep the jayvee out. And then Obama ignored warnings from the Kurds that, without U.S. military supplies, they could not defend their territory.

      To this conditional authorization of force, Obama added another conditional one. He authorized airstrikes “if necessary” to help Iraqi forces break the siege of Mount Sinjar.

      Here, one assumes, Obama is being disingenuous. How else besides through U.S. military action might the jayvees’ siege of Mount Sinjar be broken. Diplomacy?

      Speaking of diplomacy, Obama’s reliance on it is what permitted the situation in Iraq to deteriorate to its current state. Months ago, it became clear that the jayvee was on the march and would not be halted without substantial U.S. assistance.

      But Obama conditioned such assistance on the overhaul of Iraq’s government and sought that overhaul through diplomacy. Naturally, Prime Minister Maliki liked his government just fine so, naturally, no overhaul occurred. And then the jayvee continued its bloody march.

      Ironically, Obama ended up liking Maliki’s government well enough when it came time to decide whether to grant the Kurds’ request for weapons and ammunition. Obama turned them down on the theory that he didn’t want to bypass the central government — unreformed though it was. And then the jayvee overran the Kurdish border.

      Assuming Obama deems his conditions for using force satisfied — and, objectively, they surely will be — the questions become how much force is needed and will Obama authorize that much force.

      As to the first question, Fox News’ military expert, Ret. Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney said last night that “pin prick” strikes won’t be enough. He called for round-the-clock sorties.

      Other military experts, including active service commanders in Iraq, say that air power won’t be enough. Apparently, the jayvee, having seized all sorts of U.S. military equipment and grown significantly in number off of its successes, has become Kobe Bryant after all. As Army Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek, U.S. chief of the Office of Security and Cooperation-Iraq, put it: “[ISIS] is an army, and it takes an army to defeat an army.”

      Gen. Bednarek was talking about “neutralizing” ISIS, though. Obama, presumably recognizing what doing so would entail, described his objectives much more narrowly as protecting Ibril and ending the siege of Mount Sinjar. These objectives can, perhaps, be accomplished without an army, and conceivably even with pin point strikes.

      But if this is all Obama accomplishes, he will have accomplished little. And pretty soon, the jayvee’s blitz will produce another crisis that will grab the attention of even our criminally inattentive president.

      Lack of violence, applied in timely and effective manner in Syria is the “horseshoe nail” which has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and potentially millions.

      Violence, applied in timely and effective manner in the Rhineland in 1936 would have likely precluded the Second World War — in which case the pacifascists would have denounced Europe’s “over-reaction” and deplored their frustration of “legitimate” German aspirations.

  25. Second grade, two boys are the main bullies. One day while walking home, they decided to fix the reaction I usually had to their bullying; I refused to respond. I beat them both up. My motto then, as now:
    Ignore if you can, if you can’t there are no rules regulating the fight. Worked in high school also.

    In both those instances, I wasn’t bothered by anyone again.

    1. Junior year in high school, a 2nd semester transplant arrived from California. Two of the local thugs thought they’d teach the new boy who was who, etc. So they both went after him at the same time. He evened the odds by kicking the closest one in the crotch.

      As he lay sobbing on the ground, his sidekick protested, “That’s not fair!”

      My friend responded, “Yeah? And two on one is?”

      Ah, the mindset of the bully. They get particularly peeved when their victim fights back. And a lot of our institutional bullying harkens back to this same mentality. Ask the IRS why the bulk of their “enforcement” is done against lower income people.

  26. My son is 12 years old, 5’9″, 160 pounds, abd the best mustache senn in any elementary. He also has a slight learning disability and is truly a gentle giant. School has been very hard for him. He slouches down and talks into his chest to try not to draw attention to himself.
    Two years ago he had a horrible problem with a bully in school. A girl who was half his size decided to constantly make fun of his clothing. Nothing he said would satisfy her. He would come home in tears from her bullying. I at least have to be thankful to his teachers for noticing this. She wasn’t doing this to just my son but also other children in the class. The bad thing is the rules are not made for this kind of bullying so it took a while for the school to come to a determination that she was “disruptive to the learning environment” and moving her to another class.

    1. Now you have at least a part of what my younger son went through. He had, unbeknownst to us a sensory disability. This causes you to hear all sounds at the same level. your classmates’ breathing can overshadow the teacher’s voices, for instance. There were other issues, too, but but this is not immediately obvious. I thought he had mid-range hearing loss, because I do, but they didn’t even suspect that. And the TEACHERS joined in making fun of him and tormenting him. Oh, yeah, all the girls were children of teachers or staff. We ended up bringing him home to teach for a year. We also got threapies for his issues, and an hearing apparatus. At nineteen he’s ALMOST normal sensorily and in the third year of engineering. (The year he was at home he skipped a grade. Technically a grade and a half. He discovered learning was fun and learned EVERYTHING.) BUT here’s the thing: I think of that year as the year I almost lost him. He was incredibly depressed; slept all the time and ate constantly. He also thought we hated him, because “everyone does.” There are still scars. Why? Because these girls wouldn’t be curbed and had nothing to fear. Also let me say my son is a better person than I. If I’d endured what he did, they’d have found body parts all over that school.

      1. And the TEACHERS joined in making fun of him and tormenting him.

        Strikes a little close to home, that does. I’ve got a couple of teachers from the primary days that I haven’t bothered to stop hating. I am still coming to terms with the deeper scars. Lasting damage, I’ll probably carry some of it to my grave.

        ‘Tis why if I ever had kids they’d never darken the door of a public school short of HS. Probably not then.

        1. Understood, Eamon. That kind of of scar is harder to deal with than the physical, I think.

          1. Oh, yes, I do think so. For one, physical scarring can be seen and adapted to. The psychological BS pops up unexpectedly and buggers the day.

      2. I think that one of the reasons I have a near congenital hatred of bullies comes from my first grade teacher who ‘joined in’ and facilitated the bullying. From the first day, when the cute girl behind me opened up my scalp with her triangular ruler and I was punished for desperately trying to interpose my own more plebian measuring stick between her ruler and my head, my teacher used me as the focal point of her discipline. I was always the ‘bad boy.’

        This included refusing bathroom privileges, and, when the inevitable happened, standing me in front of the class in my wet pants and leading the class in ridiculing me.

        I started 1st grade at 5 years old and knew my alphabet, how to read and write, and was doing addition and subtraction. By the end of the grade, I was reversing Es and Ls and was no longer readin’, ‘ritin’ or ‘rithmatickin’ and they wanted to hold me back as ‘learning disabled.’

        Fortunately, my Mom refused to go along; she’d taught me before I went to school and knew that something was wrong and that it wasn’t me. (I was not exactly communicating what was going on and was still a bit ambivalent as to whether or not I deserved what was happening. Forcing a kid to break toilet training at that age will do that.)

        My 2nd grade teacher was an absolute gem. She took a few minutes each day to review phonics – which I should have gotten in 1st grade, and she was so nice to me that I think I fell in love with her a bit. By Christmas I was reading on a 6th grade level – Hardy Boys, Tom Swift (including the WWI versions!) etc.

        I ran into her in the local grocery store when I was a college freshman. Well, technically, I was a sophomore because I’d CLEP’d my entire first year. She said, “I see that you made the Dean’s List this semester. Congratulations.”

        I was flabbergasted. Of course I remembered and recognized her as adults don’t change that much in 12 years and she was always someone I cherished. What surprised me was that she cared enough about me to follow my educational career a decade later.

        Thanks Mrs. Clauson. I think you saved my life. As for you, Ms. Suwatti. I hope you’re dead and burning in hell.

        1. Oh wow. It’s wonderful to know you were lucky enough to get a teacher who actually taught. I know someone who had the misfortune of having a similar experience and was actively being held back as ‘learning disabled too.’ He was lucky enough to have a teacher – much later than yourself I’m afraid – to notice he wasn’t disabled, and in fact, very intelligent, but was VERY BORED. She pushed for him to be retested and soon he was in the advanced classes, interested in the lessons and doing very well.

          And yeah, Mrs. Clauson saved your life. I’m glad to hear you survived.

          1. I’ve had a few teachers who wanted me in special ed. the last was in 7th grade and my homeroom teacher told him, when he brought it up in a parent/teacher conference, “The problem is he is smarter than you are, and we are boring him most of the time.” I almost never completed homework, or required reading, yet I always passed nearly every test all through my school years. What tended to bring about the calls for special ed were those teachers I actively hated, and they seemed to return the sentiment. When I hit high school, I had a teacher whose wife was one of the two first grade teachers, but I really don’t recall having any classes with her, but I must have (my memory does odd things like that …remember back to age 1 but can’t recall things like that) and he said she had warned him about me. Even back then she could tell I would be bored in class and likely not exert myself.

  27. I wasn’t bullied in school. We did move around a lot though perhaps that helped. I was pretty oblivious in junior high and high school and perhaps they tried to bully me and failed because I lived too much inside my own head. I guess you could make the case for clinical depression being the bully inside my head.

  28. I was the kid no one liked in elementary school. It wasn’t fun, I didn’t like it, I would not be willing to go through it again.

    But I wouldn’t trade it for what some of you have been through for a million dollars.

        1. OK, the thing to remember about turning the cheek is that the one turning the cheek has to continue to understand that he is in the right and is loved even as he is being abused.

          A middle school kid being the subject to two minutes of hate by the kids his peers say are the cool crowd is not likely to get that. If he can show indifference to the abuse and “turn the other cheek” it would be quite powerful and effective. If he can’t though, he is better off punching one of the tormenters. It would very likely do the tormenter some good.

  29. This is in sole reference to young males:

    I often wonder if the training of young men is being neglected. The father’s traditional role was to bring the boys to heel. The appropriate conditions for the applications of force used to come down through him. In this day wherein half of marriages end in divorce and the social convention that the father’s onle contribution is monetary, who can raise heroes? Mother, being female, will not have the same perspective. Thus the “always, always wrong” proscription. Frankly, this is not realistic.

    I don’t know if this is an accurate take. My father was quite thorough in his instruction of the application of force.

    1. I don’t think it’s been studied that well but I agree that it isn’t good for boys to grow up without a good “male” model. I suspect that fatherless boys who grow up OK had one or more men that took a favorable interest in how they grew up.

    2. Anecdata: Dad Red tutors in several public schools. The boys who trample over the female volunteers will shut up, settle down, and work when a man who is willing to lay down the law shows up. Dad Red usually has to boot one back to the classroom per year, but after that no problems. (It’s a voluntary program and a privilege to participate, so students who get tossed stay tossed for the rest of the semester.)

    3. I am not a very girlish girl. Even so, my husband who is NOT the disciplinarian needed to step in and set boundaries for the boys in their teen years. I think it’s normal for the young challenger to try to unseat the silverback.

      1. That sort of friction may be necessary to knock the edges of a young turk a make him an actual human being.

    4. I spent four years working at a Boy Scout summer camp. And my experience from the few troops with female leadership has convinced me that I should never, ever volunteer as a troop leader. This in spite of the fact that I have a wonderful model for how to be a Scoutmaster in what my dad did—I could follow his template perfectly and the interactions still wouldn’t be the same.

      Funny thing is that a friend of mine is now the camp director and asked me, out of curiosity, how I felt about female staff members—I think that’s okay. And he told me that some of the female members he had on staff at the same time were ambivalent to not happy about the idea of having female staff—probably for similar reasons to me not choosing to be a female Scoutmaster. (I think the difference is that camp is a transient thing and having a few females on staff isn’t a problem… and besides, the youngest Scouts need someone to crush on, after all. 😉 )

      1. That is actually one of the more common and harder to get across issues we deal with in BSA today. Cub scouts respond well to a Den Mother. Webelos and older, slowly stop responding and as they get older, that changes yet more. MOM is still important, but a den mother is less of an impact. By the time the boys move up to scouts, we try hard to get the helicopter moms out of the day to day structure of the troop. We try even harder to get the hovering dads out as well. At that point in their lives, boys need a bit of direction, guidance, consequences when choices turn out to be bad, but it is critical that the choices be Theirs. This is the time in their life when they NEED to be making decisions, making choices, especially the ones now, small choices, small decisions and learning that their choices will have consequences. Something as small as forgetting the toilet paper or the salt and pepper not getting in the camp box has consequences. You have to let them make those mistakes so they learn. If Mom hovers over and checks everything and makes sure everything is proper and correct and packed away, the boys will never learn to make a choice and live with the results.
        Some are capable of learning from the experience of others, some have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.

        1. My mom and I would sometimes go out to visit the troop when they were camping nearby. Sometimes we’d get there and the camp would be dead quiet, and that’s when we knew the Scouts were playing Capture the Flag, in the dark, in as much stealth as they could. That was nice, because then we could hang out with the adults and actually have a good conversation.

          He was also very adamant about leaving at the time stated. Most parents only took one time of being late and having to follow to understand that when he said “9AM” he meant it.

          In terms of food or other packing consequences, he did have some lovely checklists that the Scouts could use. Part of the reason they went camping once a month when they could was to get that experience of meal planning and everything else. He did a good job and I think he got a full sweep of “his” Webelos* to Eagle, even if pretty much all of them were screaming Eagles.

          *Long story short: The troop had a lawsuit-level problem and pretty much evaporated right before the Webelos were to move up and my dad stepped in because there was nobody else to do the job. He was an engineer—not so much by profession (that was more of a coordination role) but by temperament. So he set out to be a Scoutmaster in a logical and consistent fashion.

    5. Oh, and to make you feel better, even if half the marriages end in divorce (a statistic that is being challenged), far more than half of married people stay married.

      1. Half the marriages end in divorce?

        Elizabeth Taylor married, what, eight times? Mickey Rooney went to the altar seven? So fifteen other couples parted not until death.

        Blanche Taylor Moore* had (IIRC) five marriages, none of which ended in divorce.

        *aka, The Black Widow, even though she is Caucasian, once again demonstrating America’s racism.

        1. Know one guy who got married six times– twice to the same woman– and my folks went to a marriage ceremony (now dissolved) where they had something like fifteen prior marriages between them.

        1. I was working from some old stats I learned probably twenty years ago. Divorce numbers aside, the father’s affect upon the son is largely ignored and belittled by TPTB. Or so it appears.

      2. For ALL causes of marriage ending, there’s this:

        Click to access 12s0131.pdf

        At no point before women’s 40th does it reach 50% of marriages ending at all, and given the “% that reached 40th anniversary” stat for men, that probably means that the guys are dying off. Which makes sense, although it’s sad.

        This is WITH unilateral divorce, too, and from memory they include “separation” as ending a marriage.

  30. I learned a lot about human evil in preschool.

    Another thing I’ve said before; notice how many of the folks who espouse the feasibility of suppressing the violent impulse fully embrace the sexual impulse, and would see no limits on it?

  31. Mrs. Hoyt,
    If you are right and it all goes naf, there is a significantly reduce chance of survival if we stand alone. As you are the den mother of this pack of radical thinkers, shall we rally together? If so, where?
    I like your beautiful bit evil self feel the sands running out. I am eager to hear your ideas, either over this forum or privately.

    Thank You


    1. If you mean a permanent gathering of Huns, that’s rather unlikely, for all our occasional jokes to the contrary. Too spread out, and too many of us have important roots in too many places. On the other hand, there has been … *shifty eyes* talk of a possible, recreational gathering of Hoyt’s Huns in the near future. Not that I’m involved in such a thing, of course! I just know a fella what knows another fella…

      1. Oh, that reminds me. I tried holy water on the chtulumari to get it to throw itself back. Um, two flavors of Wiccan blessed water, what was supposed to be Roman Catholic, and it just growled. Irish “holy water” made it start either singing “Popeye the Sailor” in Latin or chanting part of the Necronomicon in Gaelic; it’s hard to tell. What did I do wrong?

  32. I got both the concern troll bullying and the physical ones. I ignored the first kind – through the virtues of having earphones in my ears all the time, and a bag full of books, and when one teacher got on my case for not being more social, I said I didn’t have my earphones on all the time, and I heard the things they were saying about me. I had no reason to want to be social with petty little shits like them, and they weren’t saying anything I considered in any form or way valuable. And that I flat out did not care what they said about me – I considered the whole lot of them brainless little stains of boring mundanity that would never hold anything of interest to me. And I said it within the hearing distance of that entire high school year level. So a few of the morons felt it warranted to escalate it to physical violence.

    And I’d already warned the teachers and principals what would happen if any of them tried to take it out of the words and to physical violence.

    Because I’d consistently ignored the verbal jabs, sneers, falsehoods and pettiness – in fact, I did not react to any of them – the faculty, which is probably one of the last reasonable ones I’d ever encountered – backed me up when some of those attempts at violence actually hit my ‘kill that threat’ level.

    It really, really sucks that we’re not likely to see that kind of reasonableness again. Not without a significant amount of violent change first.

  33. Being mostly home schooled, I didn’t deal eight hours a day with other kids. Which is probably just as well, for them, because the one time I did find myself stuck with a larger, older, male, psychological bully (he had decided sexual harassment was the way to go–I was twelve) in a public school setting I punched him in the gut. I’m young enough that there was supposedly a zero tolerance policy in place, and he’d apparently been relying on that to protect him. He was shocked. The teacher (and to this day I have no idea why the teacher didn’t step in sooner) told the bully and his buddies to apologize and I never had any more trouble with them.
    The result is that, as an adult, I’ve told my kids if they ever start something and I find out about it they’ll be eating standing up for a month, but if someone hits them I want them to be the only ones walking away when it’s done.
    I had to deal with plenty of the female sort of bullying, but because I was never in those settings for more than an hour or two at a time, and I *knew* I was objectively smarter, more talented, and otherwise better than they were, it didn’t hurt me like it did others. Being able to justify one’s superiority does wonders for the self-esteem.

    1. It’s amazing the memories that come back when reading other posts. Back in the 5th grade (48 years ago) there was one really well developed girl in the class, as well as one boy who needed to shave (I think he had been held back a year or two). Mrs. Farmer was lecturing the class as the girl returned from a bathroom break and as she passed in front of him he loudly said something rude. She raised her hand to slap- and stopped and looked at the teacher. Mrs. Farmer continued talking as she turned her back to the class and started writing on the board. When the echo from the slap subsided she turned back to face the class and continued lecturing, never missing a beat.

      No police were called, no parents were involved, no discipline or trips to the principal’s office happened.

  34. I nearly killed some little twit in middle school. It was during gym.,he decided it would be a,using to nounce a vollyball off my head as hard as he could, several times. I saw red, picked up a,metal folding chair, and missed him by about three feet across the length of the gym. I’m happy to say that the gym teacher yelled at HIM.

    In high school, I had a jock classmate who was one of most gentle people I have ever met. He was also strong enough that his workout inclided sets of 350 lb. bench presses. One fall a new student decided (gods know why) to pester him unmercifully. Multiple fellow students told the pest “You really don’t want to be doing that”, which the pest ignored. After three days constant harassment, my classmate hit the pest. Once. Broke his nose, blacked both eyes, and knocked out four teeth.

    The Pest, and the Pest’s parents (who had evidently been asked to speak to their spawn) were called on the carpet and read the riot act. But that was a private school.

    Gods know what the gaurdians of political correctness would have done. Nothing good.

  35. “Don’t know if a study has ever been done – or a non-doctored study – and I know anecdote isn’t data.”

    You might want to strengthen those anecdotal feelings with support from Baumeister’s “Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty”, which explains the why behind the what you’ve already observed.

  36. There was a tv show used to watch called Home Improvement. One of the things that made me stop watching(there were others) was an episode where a older, smaller son was about to get beat up by a much bigger guy. Younger son, who’d been taking karate classes, put the guy in an armlock, then booted him into something, and both brothers got out.

    Next thing is the parents giving the younger son hell for fighting… I desperately wanted to yell “What the HELL are you doing? You’d have preferred if he ran for help while his brother was getting his face punched in?” It was disgusting, and it was a fine illustration of the ‘violence is always bad’ attitude that’s been pushed.

    1. Yeah, there is a real moral inversion going on in our ‘zero tolerance’ school systems that generally seem to punish the victim and ignore the perpetrator.

      My friend (the same one that evened the odds by kicking one of his assailants in the crotch) had his son and nephew (who was living with his family) assaulted by a gang of 14 that terrorized the local middle school. The administration had assiduously ignored these little hoodlums because their parents were wealthy and connected.

      But they’d made a miscalculation. The two prospective victims had advanced belts in Tae Kwon Do. And proceeded to kick the crap out of the first 4 guys that attacked them whereupon the remainder took to their heels.

      Guess who got expelled…

      And that’s when my friend went in with a lawyer. Actually brought the guy to the first “conference.” Along with the affidavits of numerous parents whose kids had been victimized and who had contacted the administration to no avail.

      He told the principal that while he knew that the gang of 14’s parents were politically connected, he figured that his evidence would trump their connections in a civil law suit that would specifically include the principal as defendant in his own person. For fostering an unsafe educational environment among other things.

      The expulsion was reversed and the gang of 14 was remarkably quiescent for the remainder of the year.

        1. In this case, because the principle knuckled under on the expulsion, it was just the lawyer’s consulting fee. Not quite pro bono but not financially crippling either.

            1. I thought it was fun-da-metal? (runs in zigzags in case C Andrew has been around here long enough to know where the carp cannon is and is minded to shoot a volley of dead fish at me.)

    2. When my younger berserker son (for the purposes of this it’s easier to think of #2 son as my male clone. He’s actually just like my dad, and I’m like my dad’s mom. Unimaginative genetics) beat heck out of the bully who’d been terrorizing his older, much bigger brother (you see, we told Robert NEVER to fight. Because we weren’t sure of his self-control and because he’s MASSIVE. When he entered kindergarten he was almost four feet tall and HUGE and we were afraid he’d accidentally kill another kid. We were wrong. The other large kid in the class was larger than Robert and hadn’t been told that. So this kid had broken Robert’s glasses — twice — and kept bruising him BADLY. Marshall, who at the time weighed maybe 25 lbs, soaking wet, was tall but a strippling and three years old, took off after this kid, climbed up on him, and bit, scratched and punched while perched on his shoulders, causing bully to run in circles, screaming, which was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.) I took younger son out for an ice cream sundae after pre-school. But then I’m a well known evil person.

        1. I think it’s one of the seventy maxims of highly effective mercenaries by Howard Tayler of Schlock Mercenary fame. Considering today’s MDC post, please check

  37. There are lots of anecdotes about enduring bullying of various sorts and what should be the response. No one has admitted to being on the other end of the stick – as a perpetrator or enabler. I was bullied a fair amount in junior high and high school (though not as bad as some of the accounts above). But I a;so know that on at least one occasion as a boy, I harassed another boy out of cruelty.

    So I have a different question. What motivates bullies, and how can that deformity of character be prevented? Deterrence is good, but it doesn’t address the mindset of the bully. I don’t feel good about living in a society where a substantial want to do such things, even if they are restrained from doing them.

    I’ll also throw out a SFnal idea. What happens with regard to bullying and teasing when video recording of everything becomes ubiquitous? “Everyone that doeth evil hateth the light.”

    (I wish we had it now. It would have saved me 10 minutes Thursday, looking for a deposit envelope that I’d laid a book over.)

    1. Cruelty is innate. And if you have never had any reason to control it and are strong and outsized, then you become a bully. I wasn’t a bully because my dad would have flayed me and used my hide for a mat. Oh, not physically. Dad was not the physical punisher in our family. But he would look at me and say “You fell short” or “I’m disappointed” or “I thought better of you” and frankly I’d rather fall on my sword than see my dad look at me like that or say something like that. End of story. The cruelty and will to power were there, but I had to channel it in ways that didn’t get dad upset. So. I beat up on the bullies (and engaged in minor head games, admittedly, to keep them scared) and I was the best in the class.
      Cruelty can be sublimated. And if you have the father I have, you learn to do it.

  38. I had an unpleasant childhood myself. I was rarely physically bullied because I was big for my age and very strong. However, I had a weakness that my weaselly younger brother took advantage of and that I was easily hurt by betrayal. After a series of emotional hurts at a very young age I pretty much shut out much of the outside world especially other children. I read a lot…. one to two books a day. I’d clean out the school library fairly quickly and my mother was a reader so she had bought a lot of books that I consumed also. Of course sci-fi and fantasy were my favorites. 😛
    Other children were essentially aliens to me though I did get along well with adults. I didn’t understand or trust other kids so I ignored them. I became very skilled at ignoring people and situations that I found uncomfortable. While that trait I did get me through much of childhood relatively unscarred it did have some unfortunate consequences later in my adulthood.
    My issues with my peers continued until my mid-twenties and then disappeared almost overnight. All of a sudden I got along just fine with my peers. I have always wondered if it was something in me that changed or my peers. Maybe both.

    1. Same set of peers? Or did you move into a new job and place with new peers with similar interests and backgrounds?

      1. My family moved a lot and I was on my own since 18 having gone into the military. In my mid twenties I was attending college and did run into some peers who were into gaming. However, for the most part my difficulties disappeared with all peers not just those who shared my interests. I still seemed aloof to many which wasn’t surprising but in the main we got along just fine.

    2. The same, nearly overnight, transformation happened with me, as well, though a little sooner – about midway through my Senior year in High School. As I’m viciously introspective, I know that for me, it was an internal change, and that change was that I realized that the people tormenting me were children, and didn’t truly understand what they were doing. I also realized that many of the things that I was reacting to were not meant to be as hurtful as they were, and that if I had laughed off their jibes, it would have ended there, but because I reacted badly, it was like chumming the waters for the sharks.

      I honestly don’t know what I would have done in the face of the kids of malicious, hateful tormenting that some of the rest of those here had to deal with, though if I remember my thinking of the time correctly, I suspect that increasingly intense demands for martial arts classes would have been forthcoming.

  39. On consideration, it seems to me that neither “no violence, ever” nor “free hits on jackasses” is the answer. What I grew up with (born in 1961) was the knowledge that if you hit somebody there would likely be punishment no matter what had been said to you, but in the other hand it wasn’t so extreme that punching some jackass who richly deserved it was off the table. A balance, not codified and written down. It worked well enough to be going on with. Verbal bullies knew that beyond a certain point their victim was going to go for them, while those inclined to punch first and ask questions after had some reason to think about proportional action.

    We seem to have lost this. Maybe we were losing it when I was growing up. I know that very few people I have ever spoken to are willing to acknowledge that there is the Law, and then there are the Rules. The Law says that cops aren’t allowed to beat on citizens. The Rules say that if you throw excrement in baggies at a line of Chicago Cops getting your head bashed in is as expected as hitting the ground when you fall.

    And we have somehow arrived in a place where the cops clobber random citizens, and aren’t punished, and yet people say the most outrageous things are have the nerve to be surprised if somebody hits them.

    We’ve forgotten how to have rules that a computer couldn’t parse.

    If you call somebody’s mother a whore, and he punches your lights out, and you complain to it to The Authorities the expected result should be that The Authorities ask if you called his mother a whore, and if you did they say “See? Don’t do that, dim bulb”. The idea that my right to swing my fist ends at your nose should ALWAYS depend on where the hell you put your nose.

    Would there be abuses? Sure. There are abuses NOW. And I will believe in a totally nonviolent society when Christ returns, and not one moment sooner.

  40. I was on that cusp to enter kindergarten or wait a year- I went to kindergarten. I was physically smaller then most of my classmates until senior year. 6 different school systems growing up and was never bullied. I always turned out to be liked by the big dumb guys, the ones who needed help with their schoolwork. And when I helped them, I never acted like they were dummies. I just worked with them until they understood the work. Even at a young age, treating others nicely can pay off.

    Even so, I grew up reading Heinlein, being a Boy Scout, and getting the lessons to stand up for myself, to never start a fight, but always end one, etc, etc, all of which I took to heart but never had to use.

    I have seen one tragic ending of bullying. One kid in HS never defended himself. 3 or 4 times I walked upon a crowd watching him getting pummelled- after he was already down and fetal- and said “Stop!”. Which ended it with everyone walking away. It happened to this kid a lot more then those 3 or 4 times, and I have no idea how long his beating went one before people got bored and stopped, or smeone else stepped in and said “Stop!”.. Don’t have any clue what his home life was like. I knew of him, and knew he was a target. That was about it. After HS, he came home on Thanksgiving break and killed his mom, dad, and 2 brothers. He’s still alive, in jail, and denied parole each time it comes up.

    And I can clearly recall one bully from my 5th grade year- a 3rd grader. With a police record as long as his arm in 3rd grade. More then once me or another safety patrol (remember those?) pulled him physically off another student. Spent only that one year in that school system. As fate would have, while on hometown recruiting program, the head recruiter handed me a name and told me to go to W– HS and ask around about him for a background check. I looked at the name, turned to him and asked, “You’re kidding, right?” Recruiters once had easy access to sealed juvenile records- but this was after that became near impossible. Told him what I remembered, and got sent off to find out more. Went right to the HS pricipal to ask questions, explaining I was running a background check. Got a lot of hemming and hawing and misdirection. Finally, I said “I knew him in the 3rd gradw and he had a police record as long as him arm then.” The principal looked dumbfounded, then answered, “It got longer.” and wouldn’t elaborate further. He didn’t get in. Some people never change

  41. For us American boys growing up in the 50s, we were taught the code either at home or from our Saturday matinée cinema hero’s. You don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t ever start a fight but never run from one. You protect the weak and the innocent from the bullies of the world. And you never hit a woman. These values seem to have fallen out of style. I much appreciated you post and have passed it to all my friends.
    Living in the UK I saw what an inversion of these values has caused, the weak and elderly are at the mercy of thugs and often find themselves in the dock if they dare defend themselves.

  42. In a sophomore speech class I was tasked to make an impromptu speech and I chose women’s liberation, so much in the forefront in ’70. I said that females taking away all forms of defense from males would eventually lead to their hardwired and default modes; violence. As Hoyt plainly says, justice supresses violence and no good substitute is to be found. I did not score well. I stand by that speech. The same precepts apply in the arena of civil life. So, because simple justice is almost an extinct part of modern, civil life we hear heated rhetoric; a precursor like gorilla chest thumping, to violence. Don’t say we haven’t been warned.

  43. I realize I’m a day late and a dollar short on this, but it’s fascinating to read things from the perspective of a girl who got into a lot of fights because that was SO different from my personal experience. I don’t think we usually did physical bullying in my neck of the woods, at least for the girls, but definately the other kind. I didn’t think of it that way, but basically 7th grade was hellish, and this was at a small, ‘christian’ school. (got accused of stupid stuff I’ve never done, like smoking (quelle horror!) and stealing – and I distinctly remember someone telling me I was trying to get attention with tight jeans when what actually happened was my hips filled out about that time I hadn’t bought new jeans yet). The teachers were obviously aware but didn’t give a shit.

    I went to public school after that and it was glorious by comparison because it was so large it was easy to find your ‘group’ and just let the rest go.

    I think part of what you are talking about is also a sneaky vs. straightforward way of living ones life. The children that are sneaky by nature get away with quite a lot and the brash, honest ones never look innocent. At least that’s how I felt growing up.

  44. Sarah, some of us were talking and I realized…

    And the advocates of non-violence can wipe their hands to the wall. I hope to heaven I’m wrong, but I predict that in less than a decade, those will be very bloody fingerprints.

    Do you think that’s what we’re seeing now in Ferguson? That you didn’t even have to wait a decade, but a week?

        1. I believe that our esteemed hostess is an excellent observer, but she is not responsible for the actions of humankind. I am no spring chicken and I read history. Ferguson is not a first of its kind, and, because people are people, it is far from likely the last.

      1. I thought the communists from Chicago bussing in the Molotov tossers was a nice touch. Spontaneous local demonstrations carefully orchestrated for a small fee, et cetera.

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