Bullies to the Left of me…

While avoiding grading papers a few days ago, I happened upon a Facebook post of a friend of a friend. The post was a screenshot of a woman’s post, on which she’d made a very dumb, very politically incorrect, very uncouth joke. It was offensive. The guy sharing the screenshot commented: “sharing is caring, let’s make her famous.”

So instead of (or more probably, along with) commenting on the post to express his offense, this guy instead decided to try to ruin her life. Because by sharing this post with this comment the intent was to make it go viral and to have thousands of people attack, threaten, and harass this woman. Maybe if it goes really well she’ll be alienated by her friends and colleagues and become an outcast to the degree that she has to leave Facebook and Twitter just to avoid the assaults. Ooh, maybe if it really catches on she’ll lose her job!

This is an everyday occurrence, where the rules of engagement are don’t read, react, don’t think, react, don’t reason, react, and be outraged about everything! No. We need to reject this line of thinking and (re)acting. Someone says something you don’t like, and instead of talking to them you decide to ruin them? This woman had made a racist, offensive joke and she should definitely be called out on it, but attempting to ruin her is ridiculous. This kind of reactionary bullying has to stop, and that’s what it is – bullying.

I despise the current President of the United States. He is a thin-skinned hypocrite who takes credit for things he hasn’t done and blames literally anyone else for mistakes he’s made. But mostly I can’t stand him because he’s a bully. You don’t think what I think? How about I run it up your ass until you believe it! You will believe what I do or else!  

Trump is a bully and, like every bully, he uses fear and intimidation to scare people into doing what he wants them to do. Sound familiar? Can you please tell me how the people sharing that woman’s post are any different? You can’t; it’s the same. What’s more, the foolishness of this tactic is massive. It is so myopic to think that strong-arming people is going to change the way they think. It does not work. It only proves to make them more frustrated and embittered. This is not the pathway to reasonable social change.

In no way does bullying work other than to create a fascistic atmosphere under the guise of social morality. I have had one horrible interaction with one of these bullies over an article I had written. She attacked brutally and nonsensically. She invented infractions and built a context around them, it was obvious that she was assaulting not what I said, but what she wanted me to have said. Each attempt to engage her and each olive branch I offered was literally ignored as her attacks became more childish and weirdly aggressive. In no way did she make me regret what I had written or consider a change in my approach.

If you want peaceful, honest social progress, then I am with you. I despise racism and sexism and any kind of sexual-phobe you want to come up with. I hate the fear campaigns that some governments and people are using to dupe others. Like many of you, I want people to be happy, healthy, and moving forward peacefully. If you think roughly the same, then I got your back. A lot of us do.

But if you are bullying people with purposefully misplaced outrage, if you are using intimidation tactics and threats to feed sinners to their internet hate machine, then I am not on your side. Additionally, you are alienating more reasonable people who are for actual social progress and reform. Because, and this will be hard to hear but it’s true, you are just as bad as those you think you are fighting against.

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