Thursday, November 3, 2011

Well, Bully for You! -- A "Theme Thursday" David'Z RantZ Post

A little Anger Music, maestro, please!

This is only a tenuous link to this week's Theme Thursday theme, Gadget, but here 'tis, fellow babies: has a new app called a Bully Button for your iPhone. With it, you can record and report instances of school bullying. (I'm simplifying, of course. Here's the link to the full article if you want to read it.)

OptimizedApps CEO Thomas Murphy says: "Everything's on camera now. That's just how it is. If you're doing something that's good to be doing, it doesn't matter whether or not we see you doing it. If you're doing something bad that you're ashamed of doing, then you shouldn't be doing it."

Fair enough.

Bullying -- physical or emotional -- sucks. In fact, in the real world, we have another name for bullying.


"He abuses his wife." What, like, he beats her up? Or "just" belittles her and makes her feel like total crap in front of her friends, family, children, etc.?

Like either one is okay?

"He abused a child." You mean, he sexually molested some poor kid, or did he smack the kid around anytime no one was looking? Or "only" insult the child and make him or her doubt his/her self-worth?

Like any of those are okay?

Hell, you wanna know something? If you were a bully when you were in school, or at any time during your life... You suck.

And that's "suck" in the present tense, even if the last arm you twisted or the last crying kid you taunted was in the schoolyard thirty years ago... unless you've apologized to the kid(s) in question (if that's at all possible) and whatever God or gods you believe in (if you've got one or more).

What, angry? Me? Ya think?

I was bullied a few times in school. It wasn't so much that I was small ('though I was, kinda), or weak (not really, I wasn't) or cowardly (not at all). In my case, I was less likely to fight back because I was always afraid of "getting in trouble" for fighting. And those who knew that fact figured I was "safe" to pick on.

The worst that it ever got for me in grammar school was when I was in second grade, I think. Making a long story short, a guy named Mark would come looking for myself and a few friends every day at recess as part of a stupid game called "Yum, Yum, Eat 'Em Up!" Mark never did anything really violent to any of us, but he roughed us up a lot. And every day. That was too much.

I seemed to be his favorite target. I dreaded hearing that moronic yell of "Yum-Yums!" which signified that Mark had spotted me and was on the attack. And in Mark's case, I never even thought about fighting back. I mean... Come on. I was a second-grader. He was a third-grader. There's some kind of law of Nature or Physics or Some-Damned-Thing that says that a third-grader can automatically outfight a second-grader.

So I told my mom, and asked for her advice. Actually, it's not fair to suggest that I was mature enough to actively seek her counsel. Uhhhh, no. She had demanded to know why I kept "faking sick" and coming up with other ploys to keep me from attending school.

I'm not sure what my dad -- whom I rarely saw because his work schedule demanded that he sleep during the day -- would have advised. My mom talked to the school principal.

My own second-grade teacher walked up to Mark one day as he held me pinned against the school wall, and she trotted us both to the principal's office. As the other kids in the playground stared at us, she told me "Don't worry, David, you're not in trouble."

So, I walked into Mrs. Boyle's office with kind of a grin.

In a matter of minutes, Mark had explained that this was all a silly game called "Yum, Yum, Eat 'Em Up!" There was no actual bullying, just a little innocent, playful rough-housing.

"So, this was all a misunderstanding," offered Mrs. Boyle.


I was still the seven-year-old who was "afraid of getting in trouble," remember? So I didn't dare say what I was thinking.

And what I was thinking, of course, was my seven-year-old self's equivalent of "Are you kidding me? A misunderstanding? Is it a 'misunderstanding' when someone pushes you down, or punches you, or twists your arm behind your back? Are you f***ing kidding me?!?"

But no. Of course, I didn't say any of that.

Mark never bothered me again. That would have blown holes in his earlier "game" excuse. But that wasn't even the freakin' point any more.

At least... At least seven-year-old David learned some very important things that day.

1. Public school teachers, paid by the taxpayers' dollars, often want to please everyone. And as most people who try to please everyone eventually learn, when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.

2. Don't expect anyone to fight your battles for you. Maybe they can help you, but they can't do it all for you.... especially if you want the result to please you.

He hadn't written "A Boy Named Sue" yet when I was in second grade, but Shel Silverstein later wrote -- and Johnny Cash sang -- "get tough or die," and he had one helluva point.

3. To hell with "getting in trouble." Do what your heart -- your "gut" -- tells you to do. Just remain true to your own sense of fair play. As Jiminy-effin'-Cricket said, "always let your conscience be your guide." If you hit me, I'll probably fight back. If you hurt someone whom I care about, though... You just made a very bad enemy.

It's almost scary to think of how some of the later incidents where people thought I was cowed were just examples of my enormous self restraint. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to make myself sound like some sort of bad-ass -- I'm emphatically not a bad-ass! -- but there were a few instances where some guy who thought he was being tough didn't realize that while I was sitting or standing there, quietly & maddeningly smiling at him, I was actually thinking about how surprised he'd be if I lashed out, screaming like a madman, and smashed my stack of schoolbooks against the side of his head, and... and...

Oops. Where was I? Heh.

No, I never did anything crazy like that in school. Worst thing I ever did was when some prankster pulled my pen out of my shirt pocket. He caught me on a bad day. I grabbed his throat with one hand and slammed him up against my locker.

I got the pen back.

Okay, enough of my school days. Let's jump ahead, twenty years after Mark and the "Yum Yums," for not one, but two applications of the lessons I learned when seven.

When I was engaged for the second time, my fiancée Faye -- Number Two in a series, collect 'em all! -- loved to make me the disciplinarian -- a/k/a "villain" -- where her two kids were concerned. One day I came home from work to find that her son Jason was "grounded in his room," waiting for me.

Jason was ten or eleven at the time. I was to decide his "official" punishment.

"What did he do?" I asked.

"I'll let him tell you," she replied, rather smugly.

So she and I went to his room. "What did you do, Jay?"

"I got in a fight at school."

Terrific, I thought. I'm sure this could have been avoided...

So I asked for details. (And I'm going to make up some names here to make for easier reading.)

Jason's friend Steven was involved in a fight with another kid named Danny. Steven was losing. Jason stepped in to help Steven. I wasn't pleased at all that Jason had interfered, even if Steven had been losing what was, after all, a fair fight.

Ah. But that's when Jason explained that he had indeed stayed out of the fight until Danny's friend Eric had jumped in, to help Danny beat up Steven... who was already losing!

Faye was rather shocked when I looked at Jason and said "Oh. That's different. Go out and play."

As Jason ran outside, I matter-of-factly informed Faye "I would have done the exact same thing. I'm proud of him!"

Sure, he'd broken school rules by fighting. But I admired his motivation. Zorro, The Lone Ranger, Batman, Captain America... They would have all protected the underdog. To hell with "getting in trouble."

And there was another time... Faye's daughter Jen was being bullied by another girl at school. Jen was about twelve, I believe. Faye looked at her and gave her one of the dumbest pieces of advice I've ever heard, one which parents often use in cases of bullying, sad to say:

"Just stay away from her."

I stared at Faye as if to say what I should have said to Mrs. Boyle twenty years earlier: "Are you f***ing kidding me?!?"

Faye looked at the deranged expression which (I assume) was on my face, turned back to Jen, and said once more "Just stay away from her."

And it alllllllll came back. Mark. "Yum, Yum, Eat 'Em Up!" The stupidity of school officials. You name it. I'd heard the same lame-ass "Just stay away from him/her" before, and it always infuriated me.

"Don't tell her that!" I exclaimed. "Don't ever tell her that!" I then went on a verbal tirade, pointing out that these bullies seek out their victims. I literally challenged Faye to try to "stay away from" me. "Go ahead!" I dared her. "Just for the sake of argument, you walk into any room in this apartment, and we'll see if I can or can't follow you in there! What the hell is wrong with you? Don't ever tell a kid that!"

Yeah, I was furious...

But not as much as when I finally stopped ranting... because that's when Faye gave me that look that said "Are you done?" and she looked at Jen once more and said "Just stay away from her." As if I hadn't said a word.

Thank God I'm not the type of jackass who hits women. Cuz even though it didn't even occur to me then, that might have been the moment I'd have done it out of anger, frustration, outrage, you name it.

But even if I had, I'd never try to justify it.

Cuz you can't.

Cuz bullies suck.

Thanks for your time.


  1. Wow Silver...there is a LOT here...reading this makes me realize that although schools TRY to make it SEEM as if they are addressing bullying it is the same NOW as it always has been! INFURIATING!

    Oh, by the way...what ANGER music would you choose?? :)

  2. @Jill: Anger music? I could probably program a whole playlist, but just off the top of my head with NO time to think about it...

    "Had Enough" -- The Who.

    "I Don't Care Any More" -- Phil Collins

    "No More Mr. Nice Guy" -- Alice Cooper

  3. You can't protect anyone when you're too busy trying to be PC. Teachers can't dole out punishment, their hands are tied...and in a sinking ship, sometimes you just gotta do what's going to keep you afloat. (Statement One) Our laws and rule books are designed by people like teachers. Desperate for a vote or a payday, they try to cater to all, providing us with a 500page booklet regarding how we are supposed to behave. Biggest and best lesson in my life thus far...toss the rule doesn't cover what's right, it covers what's convenient. Doesn't mean you won't be punished by the laws of convenience, but it will keep your heart and your head your own.(Second statement)
    Third Statement? You're right Fox...bullies suck. And might I recommend Suicidal Tendencies most awesome tune "Bring Me Down" for the soundtrack for this particular write. Holy smokes, Batman....I just wrote a book!

  4. Wonderfully, rambling, fascinating post. Mind you, who needs an anti-bullying app when you have Mario Balotelli in the neighbourhood!

  5. I sometimes wonder if the bullies are being bullied by someone too and so are doing it to make them feel better about themselves. Many times bad things are part of an endless cycle. But more than that bullies suck, bullies are very weak minded people. Also I have heard that some people never realized that they were being bullies. I guess there is no end to bullies. And with everyone being afraid of doing anything wrong with what they say or how they discipline children nowadays the bullies even bully adults.

    What the hell happened to letting children have some fear of someone who has authority? Oh yeah, what Natasha said is probably the reason. So, so sad is the path we follow with everyone being afraid to say or do anything to upset the few. Big sigh!

    Nice TT rant SF!!!

    God bless.

  6. i am with you man...bullying is all too real and i have been a target and now my son is...and can you believe the teacher accused my son of telling lies....oh i almost went defcon yesterday when i read the letter...and then i took it up the channels...waiting for the shoe to drop on that one....anyway it infuriates me as well...nice rant man...

  7. If I ever want to bully you, I'm going to tie you up and feed you candy corn. :)

  8. Thanks for all comments thus far, people.

    There are probably 8 million variables that determine the person an innocent little baby becomes. It would be so nice if we could blame the parents alone, or the schools, or society... Some of us repeat bad messages learned, some rise above all that. Neither "solution" is easy, I suspect.

    Few problems have an easy solution, and yes, I know a lot of bullies probably were raised in a bullying environment. If you're taught that violence is the first and most logical reaction to nearly anything... *sigh*

    "Biggest and best lesson in my life thus far...toss the rule doesn't cover what's right, it covers what's convenient." Yeah, Natasha, my sentiments exactly.

    And Brian? Good luck solving your problem with your son's situation! (I re-read your "THRUST HOME" award-winning post last night, btw. It's still powerful.)

    "Pacifism does not preclude self-defense." -- Steve Englehart.

  9. @Alan: Thanks for the link, btw. Cool story!

  10. Could not agree more with Natasha's rulebook remark. Toss the damn thing out the window. I never went looking for trouble, but learned quickly what you did, teachers just try to please everyone. Who can really blame them though. I wouldn't want some nutcase parent to come in and accuse me of being hard on poor little "whoever" because he'd "never ever" bully anyone. The parents are just as at fault as the teachers, if not more so. A bully or too tried when I was younger, but they pushed and I pushed back. They soon left me alone.

  11. @Betsy: Candy corn? That's not bullying, that's cruel and unusual punishment!!!

    @Pat: Yep. It is NOT true that bullies will automatically run from anyone who fights back, but it IS true that they'll often move on to an easier target.

  12. OMG This is an interesting and amazing post! All these years that my twins are in school sometimes were bullying in different times, is the worst, maybe you laugh but I suffer with them, I remember a f...boy that was friend of Gerardo and live here in the Condominio, well Gerardo dont want play more with him, the f.. boy come and fall stones to my house and place some little types of bombs,etc.etc. finally he had some really porbems and stop.
    Now my twins are more strong but I know they suffer about a time and really DONT LIKE ME, and when I try to talk they dont like.
    I hjate all type of abuse, normally the most stong with the wak or this guy ho has a lot of money and sbuse, but I think in the world we live these things- Only I can make help to my twins be strong. And dont tolerate these abuses.
    Oh sorry I talk so much, Love this post Silver even hurt me a lot.

  13. @Gloria: Sorry if my post revived any bad memories.

    And I wasn't laughing when I wrote it. Promise.

  14. Only just want to add that when my daughter was a few years ago bullying was done time after injury so I know she sometimes wanted to die, remember even now makes me bad. I talk about this for Natasha said , a long time I feared that it was suicide. To this day she goes to a psychologist.

    Oh Silver I know you talk serious about this and I appreciate sometimes when we read some things help us understand a lot of things.
    Thanks so much gloria

  15. I was reading my first comment, sorry by my mistakes, sometimes I write so fast and Im passionate about this. x

  16. What you say is very important -- so important that I have a post planned on the same subject. As for yum-yum, occasionally I think that about a certain someone, but I don't bully people. Yummy means I like this person's mind, and I'd like to get this person in my bed. But I'll never say yum-yum now that I've read this post because I'll think of bullies. It's o.k. I can think of far better words to use like $%#! &!. Thanks for writing this.


  17. @Gloria: No need to apologize. I know English isn't your first language.

    @Lola: I suppose referring to "yum yum" would be okay unless the guy's read this post, haha! Glad you liked it.

  18. Very interesting, I am against all forms of harassment.

  19. I'm sure he read it. Shhhh! I have a crush on Pat Hatt.


  20. @Lola: Okay, we won't tell him. He'll never know!

  21. I LOVE your comments on blogs we both follow, and I'm so happy I came over to visit.

    Bullying does suck. My oldest had to deal with this. It got to the extent that she was scared to eat lunch. When four other girls stopped eating lunch everyday, the principal FINALLY addressed it.
    I'm glad it's taken care of now. That was so hard thinking about kids in 4th grade who were terrified to enter the lunch room :(

  22. @Elisabeth Hirsch: Glad you stopped by. You might want to look around a bit while you're here. This serious post was not the kind of stuff I usually write.

  23. Mr. Fox, I've heard you are very wise. I have a problem. I was in lust with someone and now I am in like with him and I don't know how to tell him. What would you suggest? You can write a message to the gentleman in question. Just send it to Pat and sign my name and then I'll pass it on to the real man. *sigh*


  24. Hi,

    I am not sure if you tried to visit Barb's site but Mr. Linky said her site did not exist. I have fixed her link and every one can visit her now. She has a most unusual gadget. Hope you visit to see it.

    God bless.

  25. @Lola: I just sent the following email:

    "Dear Sugar-Buns,

    Your kisses don't thrill me like they used to. It's over. But can we still be friends?

    If it will make you feel better, I hear that Kim Kardashian is available again.

    And you can just finish the leftover wine.


    How's that?

  26. That's not exactly what I had in mind, but once again, I'm laughing so hard the dogs ran in to see what's up with me.


  27. @Lola: Oops. Maybe I should have let you read it before I sent it?

  28. My first visit here and what a great posting! Many thanks to Mrsupole for fixing up my link, otherwise I'd never have found my way here.

  29. Well yes that was quite a rant but probably one that needed to be said. Then again, bullying is taken very seriously in school here, very seriously. I think the worst are the emotional bullies, passive aggressives and the 'silent treatment types. Know plenty of those sadly and they drive me crazy.

  30. @Barb: Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you again. Always something different here at the Lair. Enjoyed your post, too.

    @Baino: Hey there! Some cdall it anger management. I call it "David'Z RantZ!" Good seeing you again.

  31. I dunno -- my son seems to actively seek out the kids who end up bullying him. He will literally tell me stories about how he approaches them and tries to engage with them, and then (predictably) a few minutes later they are chasing him and hitting him.

    I tell him to stay away from them. NOT because I think he can avoid them if they seek him out, but because at least, if he will quit trying to "play" with them, maybe there won't be so many opportunities for them to pick on him.

    Just sayin.... it's not ALWAYS bad advice.

    That said, I agree with you. The schools punish kids equally for "fighting" without any real effort to determine who is picking on whom and who actually deserves punishment versus who deserves protection. It's just wrong on so many levels....


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