December 20, 2011

I was the shortest child in every grade, cursed with crooked teeth, thick glasses, and a permanent frown. Yet despite (or because of) my “Wednesday Addams” mien, I was never bullied.

Except for once. My first week of high school, some older girls stomped around the cafeteria at lunchtime, picking out Grade Niners for mild hazing.

Three approached me. Their leader proffered an egg, trembling on a tablespoon.

“Walk this from here to there,” she told me, nodding toward the far wall.

I swatted the props out of her hand. The egg smacked on the floor.

“Clean that up,” I snapped flatly.

No one bothered me again for four years.

So all that, and the fact that I don’t have children, means the current moral panic over bullying leaves me cold and confused.

“For every kid who’s allegedly bullied to death, how many not only survive but thrive, driven by an admittedly toxic urge for revenge?”

Why now? Surely everyone’s experienced playground persecution or is familiar with its fictional depictions. British public-school “fagging,” anyone? Carrie? Nelson on The Simpsons?

If you’ve wondered how bullying suddenly became “the new black,” this latest “epidemic” was brought about by our old friend, the miracle of “progressive” arithmetic.

Casting about for a new cause to keep their comrades ungainfully employed, the West’s “educators,” bureaucrats, professional homosexuals, craven politicians, and, presumably, colored-ribbon manufacturers latched onto some careerist academic’s table magic.

Mark Taylor explains, pointing to the work of one Valerie Besag, author of the 1989 book Bullies and Victims in Schools:

From having originally set out the term as based on adult definitions of children’s behaviour, Besag (being exploratory) was necessarily open to wider applications. Perhaps a bully could also be a victim—and vice versa? Thus, she identified—in fact, conflated—a number of different types of bullies and victims: colluding victims; false victims; bully-victims; anxious bullies and racial bullies.…

This widening of the approach to bullying has now led to a complete methodological inversion. Recent approaches to bullying have understandably (based on highly ‘ethical’ anonymous reporting) ‘discovered’ a hidden bullying problem, and policymakers have responded. Some school policies now define bullying in the widest possible terms.

Decades ago, radical feminists broadened the definition of “rape,” fiddled with statistics, occasionally just made stuff up, and successfully invented the still-lucrative Harassment-Abuse Complex. The newly spawned bullying industry followed that blueprint.

It helps that the idea of the “bully-as-lonely-misunderstood-victim” (who is just a hug away from redemption) is already a familiar pop-culture trope. The next task is to mesmerize timid, conformist parents with statistical shell games and “studies” to give them a new cause to siphon off their abundant free-floating guilt.

Allergies, asthma, and ADD are so last year. On to the letter “B”!


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