Monday, May 12, 2014
Week of 05/12/2014
I despise bullies.
Yes, I’ve been bullied by others for a very long time, and I’ve been a bully at times. But my bullying was short-lived, whereas the bullying against me went on for a while.
I know it seems strange that someone my size would be the target of bullies, but in some instances that actually worked to the bully’s favor.
What makes bullying so effective is that the victims are caught in a perpetual Catch-22 situation. If they tell someone, they’re accused of being crybabies and nothing happens. If they fight back, then they’re punished and branded as perpetrators. If they do nothing, then the bullies not only continue their attacks, but they will actually find new and even worse ways to hurt their victims. No matter what, the victims just cannot win.
That’s why I was the target of bullies. Even though I’m big and strong and could probably squash that other person like a bug, I wasn’t allowed to. And they knew it. I was never allowed to prevail because the thugs held all the cards.
And, yes, I know there have been media efforts for kids to tell an adult, to pester that adult to do something about bullies. But this overly-simple solution goes against another dirty little secret about bullying…namely that bullies are allowed to do what they do because they know that they will get away with it.
Yes, bullying is passively condoned by those in charge. I’ve seen it myself.
In fact, the adult world rewards bullies. They’re hailed as “alpha dogs”; recognized for their aggressiveness and assertiveness. Their domineering and abusive attitude is mistaken for actual leadership, so they’re promoted to positions of authority, while their victims can only get larger in numbers and hope for Karma to drop a house on their tormentors.
And now the highest court in America has validated and sanctified the actions of the worst of America’s bullies.
In a 5-4 decision earlier this month, the Justices of the United States Supreme Court ruled that local governments can start each session with a religious prayer, even one that oozes a dominant religious faith. Even worse is that the majority – and it should be noted that all of them are Catholics – use the bullies’ own reasons to validate this blatant and violent slash of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Now before we go any further, I’ll point out that a lot of what bullies engage in is a matter of showing ownership of a person or object. It is more psychological than physical.
Remember when little kids would “touch” the other kid or violate their personal space just to show dominance? Yeah, you think that is petty when you hear “he’s touching me”, but that is really what a bully does. They continually violate one’s personal space and their belongings to show they own that other person.
Yes, “own”. Literally, own. As in slaves.
It’s a continual message: “I own you. I own everything you have. I own everything you are. I own you, body and soul. And I will prove this by touching your body and messing with your belongings and violating your space. Because this is all mine. I own all of this, and I own you.”
Like the three young women held captive in Cleveland for years by the late Ariel Castro. Like the religious extremists in Nigeria who kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls and threatens to sell them like cattle (if they haven’t already). That kind of ownership.
Just like urban street gangs spray paint their group’s name or “sign” on buildings and cars to show that they “own” these things and the territory it sits on, religious bullies demand that signs of their dominance infest everything they see and touch and interact with. To let everyone know that they literally “own” these things. These are “theirs”.
We’re not talking about fish symbols on your own car or crosses on your own neck or pictures of Jesus in every room in your own home. We’re talking about religious symbols of your own religion in government buildings, religious messages included in legislation, references to your religion on government parks, and, yes, dominant religious prayers at the start of every public assembly. All to say “I own this! This is all mine! Not yours; mine! This is my government. My assembly. My parks. My community. All of this is mine. Not yours.”
Like Ariel Castro forcing one of his victims to bear his children while forcing another to have a miscarriage. Like Abubakar Shekau threatening to sell the young Nigerian girls into forced marriages or slavery while further terrorizing other communities. All to show dominance. It’s all the same message: “I own them.”
And while you may think the last two examples are sick, that still does not negate the fact that this the same mindset as America’s religious dominionists. It is all about showing dominance and control and ownership.
That is what a bully does. That is how a bully thinks. They presume that they are entitled to control and own everything and everyone they survey. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sibling, a playground bully, a campus queen, a BMOC, the housewife next door, the local minister, the head of the neighborhood homeowners association, a corporate manager, a state governor, members of Congress, the President of the United States, or the justices of the United States Supreme Court. Or, for that matter, a sick and twisted monster who kidnaps and terrorizes the innocent. It is all the same mindset.
Let’s get brutally honest here… this is what the majority of the justices validated when they ruled on Greece v. Galloway. They literally sanctified and validated dominionist bullying!
The majority – again, all Catholics – claim that allowing these clearly Christian-dominated prayers is simply carrying on with tradition. Like when slavery was traditional, and even mentioned and allowed in the King James Bible. Or when you can kill your spouse or your children for “misbehaving”. America allowed slavery for almost a hundred years of its inception. Did that justify Ariel Castro taking three young woman as his slaves? Or Abubakar Shekau over in Nigeria? Does that justify “honor killings” here in the United States? No? Then the justification is patently wrong, and so are the majority of justices for using it!
The judicial majority say that prayers are okay as long as one does not “try to convert people”. Then why have the prayers in the first place? That is precisely what the dominionist bullies are trying to do! They are imposing their will on the rest of the people, forcing them to go along. To either submit or be submissive. Convert or enslave. Sound familiar? This is what radical Islam believes as well.
And what is one to do when the local government bully decides to impose his or her dominance on you, the taxpaying community? Because, remember, you are paying for that bullying, whether it conforms to your own bigotry or not. Walk out? Not take part in local affairs? You’re playing right into the bully’s hand with that idea. Simply ignore the dominance? Again, the bully wins. Petition to have your own prayer inserted? Good luck with that, since the bully controls the message and the selection of messenger. Vote the bully out? Again, good luck with that. Even if you do prevail, you’d have to also get rid of the bully’s allies and lackeys, while fighting off accusations that the ousted bully was a “helpless victim” and that you are the “real aggressor”.
The only real options at this point when dealing with the local government bully are the ones that violate the law. Either vocalize your own objections and call out the bully – which will get you arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and will probably get you barred from ever showing up in the government building – or else engage in the unthinkable, insurrection. In either way, the bully prevails, and you are forever condemned. Catch-22.
Are you happy, Justices of the Supreme Court? This is what you have created when you ruled in favor of your prejudices instead of what is right. You have sanctified government bullying and you have placed people into a situation to where the only recourse is to be an even bigger monster than the ones you sanctioned!
Do you think someone like James Madison or Thomas Jefferson would be happy with what our justices have just sanctified? Madison, in his speech to the Virginia legislature in 1788, said “There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” In a letter to James Monroe in 1786, Madison wrote, “There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore needs elucidation than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.... In fact it is only reestablishing under another name and a more specious form, force as the measure of right....”
And then there is this commentator’s personal favorite quote from Thomas Jefferson on this subject: “The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society.” And that certainly applies here!
While we will travel the world and spend untold trillions to combat the bullies in other countries, we do so with the odorous stench of hypocrisy, because we do so while we sanctify and justify and canonize the same kind of bullies in our own neighborhoods, in our own local governments, and in the highest courts in the country. We do ourselves, our predecessors, and our successors, a grave injustice with what the Justices have wrought.