An Unethical Website, Golden Rule Malpractice And The Worst Anti-Bullying Program Ever


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The Golden Rule is a valuable ethics tool. No question about it. Its best feature is that it compels an ethical point of view, causing us to think about the impact of one’s conduct on others. This simple shift of perspective—that’s the other virtue of the Golden Rule: it’s simple; a child can understand it—-distances us from the powerful ethics alarms-muffling effects of non-ethical considerations, which are primarily our subjective wants and needs, and forces us to look past them to more ethical objectives.

The Golden Rule is not, however, a panacea, or even the most useful ethical system. It doesn’t work in complex systems , or when multiple inter-related interests are involved, or when chaos looms. You can’t run a successful business, organization or nation using only the Golden Rule; you can’t have a coherent legal system, or the rule of law, or a banking system. Yet there are a lot of people, many of them with advanced degrees, best-selling books and millions of followers, who continue to practice Golden Rule malpractice and preach that it will solve all society’s ills, despite the fact that the most cursory examination of history and human nature makes it blindingly clear that much as we would wish it otherwise, this just isn’t true. Some of these people are well-meaning, good-hearted chumps. Some are insane. Many are fanatics. Some of them are con-artists. All of them are dangerous.

The latter was illustrated when the fifth-graders in Lincoln, Nebraska’s Zeman Elementary School received flyers on how to deal with bullying. (To get the side issues this blog deals with periodically out of the way at the outset, the incompetent and naive advice the flyer contained is one of an endless number of examples of how the education establishment is inadequately trained, staffed and regulated to be trusted with the welfare of young children, and how any parent who blithely entrusts their offspring to public schools without monitoring them closely is irresponsible, because teachers and school administrators cannot be trusted to exercise good judgment.) The flyer contained some “rules” for bullied children to apply after and during bullying episodes. The flyer was disavowed after the Lincoln, Nebraska school system’s Facebook page melted from the abuse poured on it by shocked and disgusted parents, and so far, at least, nobody has transcribed all of what is barely readable on this photo of it, and I don’t see or type well enough to do it myself:

bullying rules

Here is a partial version, however, and it is sufficient to illustrate the problem. (My horrified reactions are in bold):

1. Refuse to get mad. Anger is a feeling we have toward our enemies, not our buddies… (And remember, people who punch you in the face and call you ugly are your buddies!)

2. Treat the person being mean as if they are trying to help you.  No matter how insulting or mean they might sound, be grateful and thankful that they really care about you…( You know, like the racist thugs holding the fire hoses really cared about the civil rights protesters in Selma!)

3. Do not be afraid. Fear is something we feel toward enemies, not buddies… (Good to know! Silly me, I always thought fear was something we felt toward people and things that we had good reason to believe would put us on a respirator.)

4. Do not verbally defend yourself. We defend ourselves from enemies, so we are treating the other person as an enemy, not a friend. (Friends help each other. Punch yourself in the face, too!)

5. Do not attack. We attack enemies, not friends. If I attack you back, I am treating you like an enemy, so the bully will in turn treat you as an enemy… (OK…wait, WHAT? The bully attacks me because he’s my friend, then you attack me (WHO ARE YOU???) , and because of that the bully treats me as an enemy? And if he attacked me while he was being my friend, shouldn’t he be nice to me when he’s my enemy? What the hell is going on here???)

6. If someone physically hurts you, just show you are hurt; do not get angry. If someone hurts you, you want them to feel sorry and apologize. (Good luck with that.)

7. Do not tell on bullies. The number one reason bullies hate their victims is because the victims tell on them. (Huh. Interesting. Then why do bullies attack their victims before they tell on them? And if they are really attacking me to show they are my friends, don’t I want them to hate me, so they’ll leave me alone?)

8. Don’t be a sore loser. No one likes a sore loser. Would you like to play with someone who gets all upset when they lose? (Sorry, I can’t type when I’m laughing….this is too ridiculous. Actually, given a choice, I’d rather not play the “Let’s punch Jack in the groin” game at all, thanks.)

9. Learn to laugh at yourself and not get “hooked” by put-downs. Make a joke out of it or agree with the put-down. (Or, you can save time and just indenture yourself to the bully as a slave.)

I’m trying to choose the worst rule, and I’m stumped. With the exception of #9, which can be effective if a child is a nascent stand-up comic (and indeed, many comedians and comics are created by developing such defense mechanisms as children…many of them are also emotional basket cases for the rest of their lives.), they are all equally terrible. The rules defy too many principles of ethics, common sense and logic to take in.  The duty to report misconduct? No, this is wrong. Self-defense? Wrong.  Self-respect? Courage? Self-reliance? Wrong.  Insisting on responsibility, fairness, respect, and accountability? That’s no way to go through life, kid!

The kind of adult that such advice is likely to create will be submissive, vulnerable, a perpetual victim,  a bad citizen, parent, employee and friend. Also perpetually bruised, filled with rage, and perhaps a hermit. Or dead.

This wishy-washy, magical thinking, Care Bears life advice appears to have come from a certifiably batty website called Bullies2Buddies, the creation of a sincere, credentialed, certified, educated, dangerous psychologist named Israel Kalman, who you see above. He is welcome to his theories, of course, but he is not welcome to the harm they do when passed along to children who have to deal with real life conflicts, not abstractions.  Kalman appears to exist in some parallel universe where good triumphs over evil with no assertive resistance or action whatsoever. He is certain that the solution to every problem is to turn the other cheek, smile, and play along, because most people are good, and everything will work out. His philosophy, in fact, sounds like it was devised by Anne Frank….before she was killed, of course. He is also John Lennon, Neville Chamberlain, Jane Fonda, Joan Baez, the Berrigans, Barack Obama, Barney the Dinosaur and my grandmother, all wrapped up in a neat package of homilies and nostrums—“All you need is love, love…Love is all you need!” that has won him a frightening number of consulting contracts.

Bullies2Buddies may be the most unethical website I have ever seen, worse than Chimpmania, worse than the wide range of misleading, cynical, culture-rotting or manipulative websites that Ethics Alarms has critiqued,worse than any of the horrible pages I exposed on the old Ethics Scoreboard.  Almost all of those, in various ways, signaled their true nature; they didn’t engender trust by expounding in sincere and authoritative tones  about the power of love and friendship.  There are few things more unethical, ignorant, irresponsible or dangerous than advocating the universal application of the Golden Rule.


Pointer: Alexander Cheezem

Sources: Bully2Buddy, Liberty Voice, Evil Autie

83 thoughts on “An Unethical Website, Golden Rule Malpractice And The Worst Anti-Bullying Program Ever

  1. I’m sorry, I don’t like to swear, but this instance warrants it:

    What a load a disempowering, enfeebling, pile of shit.

    Whatever. At least it seems to mirror our current foreign policy.

  2. And for the modified version:

    1. Get MAD. Anger IS healthy. Anger means you have a modicum of pride, a notion of self-worth, and a belief that your autonomy and person SHOULD BE respected by others. It also means you believe that autonomy and your person has been violated by another. The healthy and balanced person will ensure they have been actually disrespected or had their person abused, lest they become kneejerk and thin skinned. The healthy person also does not stay mad and seethe with anger. Anger must convert to action to rectify the situation appropriately.

    2. Treat the person being mean as if they are a jack ass. Because they are. They have debased themselves and are attempting to debase you. Stand up for yourself and let those around you know that this individual is a jack ass. Then if he ups the ante, knock him on his ass.

    3. Fear IS healthy. It means you value your well being and believe it is under threat. Related to #1 though, you can’t stay afraid. Fear must convert to some sort of beneficial action. Either walk away or develop the situation.

    4. Verbally defend yourself! That IS STEP 1 of conflict resolution. It establishes a level of contact from where one may defuse the situation, or determine if the bully intends to elevate the aggression. Staying calm and developing the situation allows you to determine if you need to lay the bully out or seek assistance.

    5. If verbal attempts at defusement lead to the bully escalating before you can try other means, then ATTACK! Nothing cures a bully of his love of force than being met with equal or greater force from a good guy.

    6. If the Bully bypasses all lesser forms of contact and physically hurts you, FIGHT LIKE HELL. Even if you don’t win, he’ll know you are there, and bullies don’t like being hurt. You may lose, but it will probably be the last time you lose, and it WILL inspire other good kids to start standing up for themselves. Soon the bully WILL be outnumbered.

    7. If the Bully actually learns his lesson, don’t tell on him. Shake it off, forgive him, and move on. That’s how civilized people behave. If the bully continues, hopefully you don’t have authority figures are zero-tolerance nitwits and are involved enough in students lives that they can resolve the issue AT THEIR LEVEL, then you can tell on him.

    8. Don’t Lose. But if you do, give a good account of yourself. 95% of the time, the bully won’t try again with someone who fights back and the plus side is other good kids will be empowered. Eventually the bully will be outnumbered and hopefully learn his lesson, grow up and move on.

    9. Yes, learn to laugh at yourself (just not with the bully). Don’t take yourself to seriously, lest you are unable to forgive a bully should he become repentant and change. However, while being bullied, just don’t show emotion. Bullies feed on “getting to you”.

  3. This is too ridiculous. It has to be parody or satire or a hoax. Even I, having no problem believing the worst, find this a bit much.

  4. I saw this on my email provider’s home page this morning and found it appalling. I can’t pick out which is the worst of the rules. And are they really advocating encouraging the bullied kid to turn his family members into a joke in Rule #9?

  5. While I largely agree with what you wrote I dd skim through the article which the Bullies2Buddies link took me to and it did say that “Nor does the GR mean that we must let people abuse us, injure us or kill us. We are required to protect ourselves and to stop others from hurting us. The GR even requires us to kill people if there is no other way to stop them from being murderous. But it is not because we hate them. It is because we love them and they give us no choice.” So at least in regards to protecting yourself, it seems that the school flyer goes against the advice in the Bullies2Buddies article.

    • It is consistent with other text on the site, however, which is contradictory in many ways. And what you quoted—we kill them out of love? Who believes such crap? What does that even mean?

  6. Thank you, buddy. I was really having difficulty spilling my notes and homework all over the hallway floor. Boy, without your help, these papers might have just stayed in my arms the whole way from first to second period. How tragic!

    And you know what, if I told the teachers, they would probably just force me to carry them the whole way without incident! Meanies! And, they much have made me carry my lunch tray all the way to my table. Gosh! No food on the floor! Horrors!

        • I would say a lot of them, even if his scientific standards are quite a bit too low for my liking and he underestimates the problems in the psych field.

          • That’s not necessarily a bad thing. A certain degree of cynicism is likely needed to keep from taking this guy seriously, but …

            • Not sure what I did to get this posted as a reply to you, Alexander, but it was supposed to go to Eeyoure. However, since I am here, I agree on both points, his scientific standards are quite low and I don’t think it is so much that he underestimates the problems as he doesn’t recognize them.

              • He recognizes enough of them to be pushing for standards that are higher than they are at present — and that’s very much a step in the right direction.

                It’s even a *large* step, given how much flat-out nonsense there is in the field.

                Enough? No. Just… a step.

  7. First! the other person has to be obeying the golden rule. Then, and only then, he/she can expect you to follow the rule. people who don’t understand that don’t understand the concept.

  8. And expand this type of behavior outward – if the ‘bully’ is an abusive spouse or parent? Remember to keep loving them, let them do what they like, don’t defend yourself, and don’t tell anyone! Or an abusive authority figure – say, a government trying to take your cattle…

    This is an instruction manual put out by wolves on how sheep should dress for dinner.

  9. This is just nuts. This is seriously the most insane thing I have seen in a while.

    It’s not even close to a proper application of either the Golden Rule or “turn the other cheek”. The expression “turn the other cheek” is about purposefully being a bigger person than those who hate you, and actually loving your enemies in order to get through to them. You don’t force or teach little kids to do that unless they are ready to take on monk-like levels of spiritual maturity and handle high-pressure adult situations, Marthin Luther King style.

    Guess what, elementary-school kids AREN’T ready to do that. That’s why Dr. King, I presume, didn’t throw kindergardeners in front of the fire hoses.

    The “don’t tattle” part is just sinister. I think this psychologists just hates kids.

    • I know—I am struggling to find words. It is sinister. I lost an ethics client today, and it was one that I had done a very good job for over almost a decade; raves from students, innovation…and at a discount. (“New regime, trying new things, the usual…”) Then scam artists like this pick up mega-contracts paid for by taxpayers to warp our kids. Makes me want to hurl myself into a thresher…

      • how DARE you use that word for it? I, along with MILLIONS of fellow left-handers, are FED UP with our dominant-hand being used as a term to describe things as evil. Use a word other than “sinister”. Try “insidious”, or “reprehensible” instead.

    • Unfortunately, I can’t even claim that.

      For one thing, people with psychiatric difficulties deserve better than being compared to these people. For another, so do people with intellectual disabilities — so I can’t even call this “stupid”.

      But, after dealing with the Genesis 2 Church of Healing for a while (Google them if you really want to know)… this barely registers as a 6 on my 1-10 scale.

      … gyah, am I ever jaded.

  10. The Golden Rule is a valuable ethics tool. No question about it. Its best feature is that it compels an ethical point of view, causing us to think about the impact of one’s conduct on others.

    Huh? You know, that can’t possibly be true, if only because that never occurred to me personally before and because one counter-example is enough to disprove it; anyway, it always struck me as a ready reckoner substitute for ethical insight, not an ethical point of view principle at all. No, the Golden Rule never struck me as involving considering the impact of my conduct on others, the way (say) the lesser of the Two Great Commandments involves considering others’ actual situations. Rather, the Golden Rule struck me as being a pragmatic or utilitarian black box allowing avoiding considering others by substituting a projection of myself and dead reckoning against that, in the hope that others would reciprocate – which doesn’t mean that they would treat me the way they would like to be treated themselves but rather that they would follow a tit for tat strategy, repaying me the same way if they liked what I did to them and also repaying me the same way (a way I liked) if they disliked what I did to them. (One of my most uncomfortable experiences ever was when a girlfriend I was helping with her luggage insisted that I drag it on its rollers rather than just picking it up with one hand and switching hands if it got too heavy – because she felt uncomfortable with me carrying a load she thought heavy and she felt comfortable with me putting a crick in my back twisting over and around to pull the luggage from an angle that wouldn’t topple it; that was the Golden Rule in action.) So consideration for others as they actually are doesn’t enter into it but only projection of myself, as an attempt to bring their behaviour around to something I feel comfortable with – which is precisely why the lesser of the Two Great Commandments is not equivalent to the Golden Rule and is actually a genuinely ethical position: it does advise genuine consideration for others rather than a work around. Although I can see how following the Golden Rule can lead to paying attention and developing empathy and consideration, I don’t see it as advising those at all but only as advising projection.

    If you think about all that, you may see that the ethical issues you are picking out here flow from treating the Golden Rule as an ethical rather than a pragmatic device; the lesser of the Two Great Commandments simply wouldn’t suffer from these defects, if properly applied.

    • But of course, compelling an ethical point of view rather than a self-centered one IS what it is meant to achieve, which is why it is universally regarded as an ethical system, and ethics alarm ringer. The fact that the misnomer “reciprocity” is attached to it explains your confusion, but the rule is not, “do unto others what they did unto you,” or “Do unto others so they’ll do the same unto you.” THAT would be pragmatic. Izzy’s interpretation of the Rule is right; his application of it is misguided.

      • Other versions of the GR may be clearer:

        Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.

        Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.

        Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.

        Taoism: Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.

        Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself.

      • What “confusion”? If anything, your suggested variations might confuse people into thinking I thought those. But I myself know perfectly well what the Golden Rule is, and my use of it and my views of it are entirely coherent and, in fact, square far better than some with the theme of this post.

        No, I went as follows:-

        – The Golden Rule is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

        – That means, think of what you, yourself, would like, and then do that to them (and never mind what they like – if you like gravy on your cereals or custard on your rhubarb, then everybody is getting that; this is a blind rule).

        – Result: profit.

        And that’s why I think that rule falls short, whatever its authors meant it to achieve, since it can so readily be used as a substitute for the application of ethical insight – and that’s just precisely what happened in the material this article is about. There’s no confusion at all in my treating the Golden Rule as a succedaneum rather than as a true ethical principle; it not only lends itself to that quite coherently, treating it like that allows one to avoid confusing genuine ethical principles like the lesser of the Two Great Commandments with the Golden Rule. I don’t know how many times I’ve told people those two are not the same, with reasons, only for them still not to get it. Thinking I am confused is apt to lead people into confusing those two things!

          • And the more I think about, the more annoying your theory is. Because you warp the GR and manage to use a version of it that makes it “profitable” doesn’t mean that’s the rule, what it means, what it was intended to mean, or how it is best used. It’s an ethics alarm. It stops vengeance and cruelty and selfish manipulation in its tracks. It complements many of Kant’s imperatives.In no respect does treating others according to the Rule ensure that you will benefit in any way.

            • His interpretation also neglects the assumption that the individual is of sound mind and emotionally stable… that is to say, someone who likes hurting themselves doesn’t get a Golden Rule pass when they hurt others…

              That assumption in place, “Love your neighbor as yourself” actually are logically equal.

              • Circular reasoning: He interprets the rule in a way that ensures that it no longer assists ethical judgment, and uses that as the argument that it’s not an ethical rule. The misreading of “as you would have them” is key: it doesn’t mean that you treat people a certain way to compel them to act similarly. The Golden Rule precludes self-centered mistreatment of others, such as lying to them, gouging them in business, tricking them into bad deals and contracts, not mention basic decency like not victimizing and bullying others. Sociopaths, who don’t care anything about “others” except as a means to their own pleasure and gain, are incapable of executing the Golden Rule.P.M.’s version, however, would be very useful.

        • (and never mind what they like – if you like gravy on your cereals or custard on your rhubarb, then everybody is getting that; this is a blind rule).

          The Golden Rule is *not* about forcing choices on anyone, it is about treating people as you would like to be treated; treating people fairly, with kindness…not forcing your personal likes and dislikes on them. That’s just bossiness, and is unfair. A real-life example similar to what you are talking about (custard on rhubarb) is my mother refusing to have in the house any food that she personally disliked, like honey, or pickled herring (two of her forbidden items that I can recall at this moment), and of course there are the parents that make their kids eat foods because they love them, people who try to force other adults into wearing certain clothing or colors
          even if they dislike them, because they think they’re the cat’s pajamas. Would you really think that someone taking away your choices is an application of the Golden Rule? If the answer to the question “Is this fair?” is “No” then the issue at hand is not an application of the Rule.

  11. There are few things more unethical, ignorant, irresponsible or dangerous than advocating the universal application of the Golden Rule.

    Please explain the downsides of applying the Golden Rule to the criminal justice system.

    • Every sentence would be as lenient and merciful as possible. No lawyer would zealously represent a client when it meant embarrassing and discrediting a witness. The GR does not acknowledge hierarchies of obligation…everyone is “others.”

  12. If everyone followed the golden rule there wouldn’t be any need for methods of handling bullies. By the time a person has been wronged the golden rule has been broken. The person on the receiving end of bullying has a different rule to follow. That rule is the right of self-defense and the defense of others who can’t defend themselves.

  13. “The number one reason bullies hate their victims is because the victims tell on them.”

    Like the way they tried to chicken-or-egg that…the bullies loved the kids they were picking on up until the instant their victim told someone? Sinister is the perfect word to describe this. The whole list is making my skin crawl.

    • Sinister is putting it mildly. This list is encouraging foolishness and powerlessness on the part of victims and laziness on the part of teachers and administrators. It’s not even the more realistic message of “to Jack, and all the other kids who take the long way home, we hear you, just tough it out and after gaduation you’ll never have to deal with this idiocy again.”

      It kind of reminds me of Homer Simpson’s monologue about “the playground rules that teach a boy to be a man” which ran something like “Don’t tattle. Always make fun of someone who’s different from you. Never express an opinion unless you’re sure everyone else feels the same way.”

      It is the worst example of blaming the victim I have ever heard or read, frankly. Going by this it’s perfectly ok for four or five kids to target one kid, beat him up, tie him up, and leave him in a ditch somewhere. It’s also perfectly ok for one kid to make a prank pizza call, giving some other kid’s address, and, when the ruse is discovered and his parents come down on him for deliberately causing problems, to attack the other kid for ratting him out. If this sounds farfetched, the latter actually happened to me, this idiot not only expected me to ignore this but to actively cover for him.

      It should come as no surpise that the guys who are the football players, weightlifters, and bullies later on become the cops who beat suspects and then expect other cops to cover for them, or (in the case of the more intelligent ones) doctors who operate while drugged up and expect staff to cover when the patient dies. At its most basic, this leaflet is a primer of Darwinian evolution run amok, where the strong take what they want, and if the weak can’t stop them, then they shouldn’t be there in the first place.

      • The first episode of the FX drama “Fargo” this week has another possible outcome for grown up bullies: a wandering hit man (Billy Bob Thornton) feels sorry for one of your long-time victims and puts a knife through the back of your head while you are banging a prostitute, so your wife knows how you died.


        • Or you overreach and the Feds come down on you for using the badge to bully, which is what happened to one of those who became a bullying cop. Just call him Ben, Ben Dover. Sometimes things do boomerang, but not as often as we’d like them to.

  14. Y’know…. I want to point out that vengeance is cyclical. That a lot of this blog’s expounding blatantly misinterpret these “rules.” “If I attack you back.” That doesn’t mean “If you get attacked by a bully, and then by someone else.” How is that “back?” The rule is “Do not attack” immediately “If I attack you.” You’re being asked to place yourself in the shoes of an attacker. NO ONE attacks without feeling angry, hurt, or victimized.

    Why do homophobes beat up gay kids? Fear that they might be gay too, or offense at people mocking their God. Fear of what’s different. No, fear isn’t always a rational response to something that might but us on a breathing tube. The word “phobia” by it’s definition means “irrational,” and this pertains to everything from Xenophobia to Homophobia to Genderphobia to Arachnophobia. I guarantee that garden spider isn’t going to put anyone a breathing tube, but how many people shriek when they see him anyway?

    Now here’s the issue– if you lash out irrationally because you’re afraid of someone, and you punch them in the face– that person now has a very rational reason to punch you in the face. But, being an emotional creature and not understanding why your own initial attack was wrong, you’re not going to say “Well, I punched him…..” You’re going to say “Ow! My nose is bleeding you little shit!”

    Until someone does decide to turn the other cheek, it’s only going to keep going back and forth, if not escalating. That’s the entire purpose behind such things as the Golden Rule and Christ’s “Turn the Other Cheek” argument. Read Gandhi. Try to follow the rules of Satyagraha. These rules lead a nation to Freedom without bloodshed. No, it wasn’t a “perfect revolution.” Yes, there were years of hardship that followed. But if you want a perfectly demonized bully (aside from maybe Hitler) British Empire’s your best bet. And these tactics DID take them down.

    You can argue that “kids aren’t ready for this.”

    But I’m sorry, I can only laugh at you for underestimating children. I was 12 years old when my older brother was killed in 9/11. I grew up involved in activism against the wars. I was shoved into lockers, thrown down stairs, beaten up, called a “terrorist” and a “traitor to my nation.” And that was just the latest permutation of bullying I had faced.

    I was taught, however, that our duties were to “think globally, act locally” and “become the change we wished to see in the world.” I was told that I wanted to be a voice for a non-violent response to a terrible act– I HAD to learn to respond non-violently to children being children.
    And you know what? It didn’t turn me submissive. It didn’t take away a single ounce of pride.

    I knew that the assholes picking on me lacked fundamental understandings of most of the reasons -why- they claimed they were picking on me. I knew that if any of these rich kids with their Hallmark Card homes (and, yes, when you go to a private parochial school of 8 kids, you do pretty much know that) had stood so close to national tragedy as any of the family members I was working with– they wouldn’t have handled it. They already couldn’t handle adversity. The gay kids? The black kids? The poor kids? They beat them all up. If other people’s hardships were so terrifying, how would they react to their own?

    I laughed at these kids. I went on to graduate third in my class, was the first accepted to college. By which point I’d already worked for 3-4 years with a twice Nobel Prize nominated organization. Already helped organize lobbying campaigns (including one to shut down GITMO with PT & Amnesty International, which Obama recalled the involved groups to respond to in his first press conference) I’d already been a founding member of the World Conference for Peace and shaken hands with one of the last of the habakusha, with a minister who trained under Desmond Tutu, with mothers from Isreal and Palestine working side by side (minority though they’ll always be) to end conflict.

    In college, when I came out as pansexual, no one batted an eye.
    Afterwards, when I lost weight and started performing with the NYC Rocky Horror Cast (to an audience of at least 200, weekly. Not factoring special performances at other venues and in NYC cultural events) started performing Off-Broadway, started working with NPR (where a workshop I head-lined along with a few other youths effects by 9/11 won 4 awards including Bronze for “Best Radio Doc of 2011” from the Society of Professional Journalism) People FLOCKED
    Not only was I a hot commodity professionally. But socially as well. I’ll refrain from speaking of my exploits, as this is a mature site– but, when my buddies and I play the “Cassanova” drinking game, I’m usually one of the first to lose, and I always do so in a single scene.

    The only argument you can make against any of this is “you’re life’s not that great” and No, you’re right, it isn’t. I’ve faced many hardships including the death of my brother. Lost my job and apartment in a Hurricane last year. But none of that had to do with my response to bullying. And while some of those events may have had me, at times, not in places where I was able to deal to the best of my ability
    it’s not MY ability in question

    ANY child can learn to find personal pride in their own accomplishments, can learn not to take bullies seriously (BECAUSE THEY AREN’T) Can learn not to perpetuate cycles
    And in the end, years down the road, they’ll be getting Facebook requests from their former bullies with notes saying “I’m sorry.”
    It’s not delusion. I’ve lived it.

    • Fascinating take, and the Comment of the Day. I’ll post it later today. Thanks.

      That said, I don’t doubt your experience, but I really question the application of your conclusions as a general proposition. This, for example,is clearly in error: “NO ONE attacks without feeling angry, hurt, or victimized.” In fact, you can’t possibly mean it. Kids attack other kids to get things that kid has that the bully wants. To look like a big shot. To establish dominance. To intimidate others. To show physical prowess. For the fun of it. That’s one reason fighting back can work: it’s not fun when they fight back.

    • I grew up involved in activism against the wars. I was shoved into lockers, thrown down stairs, beaten up, called a “terrorist” and a “traitor to my nation.” And that was just the latest permutation of bullying I had faced.

      So what were we to do in the wake of 9/11?

      Give surrender a chance?

      And how were we supposed to surrender? Kill all Jews? Enslave all women?

      Until someone does decide to turn the other cheek, it’s only going to keep going back and forth, if not escalating

      There is truth to that. The Germans and the Japanese turned the other cheek after being threatened with national destruction.

    • Incidentally—I’m omitting the first paragraph in your Comment of the Day, because you misunderstood my point about that passage. The Rule, by switching pronouns, adds an extra person, “I,” to the “you and the bully” interaction, making it incoherent. That was the point of my comment about being confused, and I apparently confused you.

  15. That said however, there are two rules in this article which I feel completely invalidate the approach
    1) Don’t Respond Verbally. No. Fuck you. Perhaps “Be smart about responding verbally.” But if you can defeat your bully with logic, you SHOULD. It’s the one form of response that doesn’t perpetuate the cycle. Take that away and all you’ve got is “ignore.”
    Yes, you should remember that bullies aren’t to be taken seriously. You won’t always be able to. I know if I didn’t have my razor sharp wit in these situations, I would not have turned out the way I did.
    2) Don’t tattle. Okay… now, you do understand that bullies are more often than not going to try very hard to not get caught? If no one tells on them, how is anyone going to know? As far as anyone’s aware, it never happened. And if it never happened, nothing can be done about it. You’ve taken the power to defend the victim not only out of their hands, but also out of the hands of the authority figures. You’ve just given the bully a free pass.

    The others, sure, fine. I agree with. I’ll defend tooth and nail, as I’ve just tried to. They’re about breaking cycles, about not keeping it going. Even the name “BulliestoBuddies.” Woot! But just because the child is rising above, keeping things from escalating, not feeding the cycles and letting it grow– doesn’t mean you’re going to see it stopped if the two rules above are followed. If NOTHING, nothing AT ALL happens to a bully…. they’re not going to be turned into buddies.
    If they realize that picking on the kid gets them into trouble without seeing the emotional rise of their victim, without causing trouble as well– yeah, then they’ll get bored. Oh, they’ll want to vent the frustration of getting in trouble first– but when that creates more trouble for them, and the victim is still pridefully maintaining higher ground. The bully gets tired. Gets annoyed. Finds another outlet. Because the cost to them is greater than anything else.
    But that’s the only clinch pin of what is, in theory, a moral argument.
    You take THAT away, and it becomes abuse. Well intentioned abuse. But abuse.

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