Bullying Isn’t So Bad

Our Internet world is filled with tales of tragic teens who die by their own hand. Cruelly tormented daily, these teens feel sufficiently alone and alienated from society that they don’t think that things will get better. They cannot see past their daily torment and feel the need to end it all. One of the main reasons for this is the religious and cultural bullying of any child outside the norm.

You are a target if you are outside the groups that form our society in schools.

In particular this is aimed at those kids who are homosexual or queer because society excuses bullying them. It provides a variety of reasons to bully them and most of it is grounded in religion.

So while most people are about halting and stopping bullying, Herman Goodden takes a different tack. A catholic tack…

Bullying is taking up an awful lot of space in our public and private conversations, making an old duffer wonder if some sort of qualitative change really has taken place regarding this age-old . . . phenomenon. I almost called it a “problem” but that would be to buy into the current thinking about bullying, which is unrealistic, not very helpful and dishonestly coercive.

Is it? Is it really? Bullying takes up space in our conversations but does it take up more space in our conversation than celebrities who consume raw animal testicles for fame? Does it take up more space in our conversation about millionaires with intelligent feet kicking balls at a giant net? Tell me what should we consider as adequate discussion of bullying rather than an excessive one?

Certainly it’s no fun to be on the receiving end of bullying. And in extreme outbreaks there can indeed be cause to enlist the help of school and even police authorities. But in the general run of things, I don’t believe we’re ever going to eradicate bullying and, furthermore, shining a spotlight on behaviour that will usually burn itself out in a few days can do more harm than good both to perpetrators and victims by commemorating that which might more beneficially be forgotten.

Extreme outbreaks? Again what do you consider as excessive bullying? While bullying may be hard to stamp out, you can reduce it and you can stop the worst effects of it.

Some bullying does die down, some carries on. The ones that die down generally die down spontaneously and never come to light. But the one that continues is the ones we are trying to stop because it’s the ones we CAN stop.

It might be pleasant (if a little boring) to believe that children could find a way to grow up without ever coming into conflict with one another, but they never shall. In the furiously churning, soul-shaping cauldron of adolescence, young people look for models of behaviour they might want to emulate and they also look inside as certain characteristics emerge, some of which they discover cannot be jettisoned, even if it might be “cooler” to do so.

I understand the world is a terrifying place and that bullying can help “toughen” kids up. Despite what we think the world is pretty horrid and sometimes we have to teach our kids that they aren’t special or unique. It’s a fantasy we tell our kids and it’s a fantasy that many of them take to their adult life where they are stunned into reality. Perhaps a little bit of the lash is needed. Bullies exist in adult life too, dealing with bullies made me better at my job. But that’s me. I don’t expect other people to grow out of bullying as I did.

You can teach kids these lessons without feeding them to the lions of social combat. Not everyone is up to it and not everyone comes to the fight equally armed. Some people blossom into tough savvy adults at different paces. And while I think teaching our kids that they are all super special and reducing competition can sometimes look foolish I understand the need to keep kids interested without some kids running away with all the prizes. There has to be a balance between universality and rewarding excellence. And between coddling and throwing children to the wolves.

During this process young people can be mercilessly judgmental of everyone, including their peers, some of whom (for today at least) they’ll decide they like and some of whom they’ll dislike. If someone watches the wrong TV shows or listens to the wrong bands or wears the wrong shoes — these are not some blameless and inexplicable whimsy of taste as most of us regard them later in life when we are comparatively sane. No, these are social, indictable offences that must be commented upon, put down and even punished.

Or you know… If they like people of the same gender. I know where this is going…

Most instances of bullying soon blow over with no input necessary from the authorities. Sometimes the perpetrators themselves come to realize that their actions are over the top and modify their behaviour. Often, the victims discourage its continuance by standing up to their bullies — verbally or physically — or else they remove the sting of bullying by sloughing it off and not rising to such cheap and inflammatory bait.

Yes, but I solved my bully problem with cutting sarcasm and by “being a bully myself”. It is not an ideal solution to this issue. And it’s hard to solve your bully problem if what you have done is universally regarded as “Pariah Status Worthy”. Like you know…if you are gay.

It’s very hard to live with the consistent and constant bullying and feeling of an outcast if you are in that situation because you are universally despised. You cannot say that it gets better because in many cases gay people have to put up with this kind of bullying all their lives. That’s the main group who are protected when we put anti-bully laws in place.

Either of these approaches is infinitely superior to letting elders get involved, mostly because young people deal with things more directly and honestly. Once you get the authorities involved, everybody has to start playing nice and affirming one another’s okayness. Smothering in officially sanctioned indifference probably doesn’t seem to matter much if the underlying disagreement is about Justin Bieber or high-topped running shoes. But there’s a danger that the lesson being learned is that it’s wrong to ever voice disagreement or disapproval and one should always strive to please everyone else.

It’s also wrong to respond to “I fucked your mum” with “I fucked your dad and he liked it” but it didn’t really stop me from saying it aged 14. And it was also wrong for me aged 15 to solve a bully problem through a fist fight. That’s one of the direct and honest ways of solving problems after all…

It is not about Okayness. We know it’s a casual implication that Catholics aren’t given free reign to tell people what they think of their lifestyles.

And no we don’t strive to please everyone. We strive to get along.

When busybody authorities start refereeing disputes, Catholic youth are particularly at risk of being bullied (in the blandest possible way, of course) into soft pedalling important tenets of their faith. Being cowed in this way in their developing years is bad training for standing up to the bullies we all inevitably encounter as adults — whether its bosses, unions, a hectoring media with a virulently secular agenda to promote or the atheists and over-sensitive multicultural types who emerge from the woodwork at about this time of year to throw a blanket over public expression of Christmas celebrations.

Catholic Youth Are More Prone to be Bullied… I have a message…

“Away and Boil Your Head you Sanctimonious Bastard. I fucking remember being a right twat at school because I was a bully and I was fucking excellent at it because I was a relatively small bespectacled INDIAN KID in a place full of huge white guys who had never ever seen one before. I had weird food, weird hair, didn’t burn in the sun and studied a lot. And back then that was fair game. I either beat them at their game or I got beaten so I got good.”

I know the elements “Catholic Kids” wish to Hard Sell. The kind of bullshit that tore apart cities in Ireland and poisoned Scotland’s football, the kind of bullshit that allows Catholics to tell other people they are going to hell if they don’t believe in Catholic Jesus or hate on gays. And primarily it is to hate on gays and perhaps shame a few of those teenage sluts. After all if you cannot flog guilt then what sort of Catholic are you!

It is not bullying to curtail the freedom of speech of someone who is using that freedom to flog hate. If your beliefs as a religious person are unacceptable in polite society then you are not allowed to voice them. For the same reason that kids aren’t allowed to follow Catholic kids around and tell them that false worship of Mary will doom them to hell.

A near-constant element in the modern concern about bullying is the magnifying impact of the Internet and social networking gadgets which, we are told, makes it seem like the victims can never escape their tormentors. They could, though, if they’d just summon the will to unplug the darned things. Last summer my wife and I were dining at an outdoor patio and saw six young people sitting together at a table across the way, each one of them ignoring their flesh and blood friends so they could noodle away on their nefarious handheld thingies.

Yes. Allow people to be bullied off an universal forum. You hear that Ophelia!

If only you UNPLUGGED your devices, the fake profiles would stop! Take advice from this man! He knows bullying!

Seriously? Internet Harassment may not be as bad as physical harassment but it is bad. It is detrimental and it does hurt people’s feelings. It is bullying and it isn’t funny. To harass people off a common forum and a massive social tool that binds our kids together is to not get what it means to our kids.

Our kids, thankfully, made it through school just before the use of such devices became so pathetically ubiquitous. And significantly all three of them have at various times recognized that their dependence on that virtual world was becoming disproportionate and unhealthy and have made a point of going off-line for a season or two until they got their equilibrium back.

What is pathetic is the excusing of bullies, not the usage of technology. We may be nerds, but it is we who make your world work.

And my grandfather never went to school. In fact my grandmother was the one who taught him to write… English… My Burmese grandmother taught him to write and count. What was common place once isn’t any more. Now the majority of us can read and write.

And therefore we can now read! Yes! Read! Instead of talking to each other! (My great grandfather has apparently said this…)

And the internet is a tool much like a screwdriver. It can do a lot of things but it is up to the parent to MONITOR it. The effect of bullying can be reduced by actually sitting down and having a good rapport with your kids. But to say “hide from something everyone uses”?

I play Video Games a lot. Do I have to hide from people who call me Paki? Do women have to hide from all the insults (Slut, Bitch, Whore,) that gets bandied around on video games? Black people hide from their racists? No? We try and fight our bullies here, then why the fuck should we tolerate bullies in the virtual world outside this?

Young people have a way of figuring these things out. The same would apply to bullying.

Well Suicide is Painless. That’s an answer that a lot of people have “figured out” too.

Bullying is wrong, we may not be able to stop the mild stuff but we should at least stop the big stuff and teach our kids to get along so as to curtail the mild stuff. To excuse bullying in this fashion as a method for toughing up children and then implying that “Catholic Kids” are prone to being bullied for flogging their beliefs is rather tasteless. Words hurt a lot.


  1. smrnda says

    It’s repulsive that a Christian, from a religion that was apparently based on a guy who said ‘blessed are the meek’ is more or less deciding to defend the bullies and argue that, suicides and all, the real problem is we’re giving the bullies too hard of a time. Shouldn’t a spokesperson for Jesus be taking the side of the kids getting bullied?

    All said, Christian kids are pretty obnoxious, but it’s the fault of their parents and clergy, who tell them everybody else is going to hell and that, on the slightest excuse, they should go into a rant about their religious beliefs.

    The other thing is telling kids to ‘go offline’ is like telling a bullied kid in the past to just not go to the park, football games or dances since, if they lock themselves in the basement, they won’t be bullied by anyone. Why should bullies have a right to dictate who can use a public space, and why, again, is this guy taking their side?

    Also, young people don’t deal with things better. Adults usually refrain from getting involved since they’re either lazy, or else overworked, or because we don’t really enlist the type of support staff that might make schools better for everyone, or because they perhaps share the sentiments of the bullies as to whose an undesirable.

  2. says

    Link to where he said all that?

    What a depressingly smug, indifferent take on bullying. He sounds like a bully himself, in fact – just toughen up and take it, punk.

  3. Stacy says

    Catholic youth are particularly at risk of being bullied (in the blandest possible way, of course) into soft pedalling important tenets of their faith. Being cowed in this way in their developing years is bad training for standing up to the bullies we all inevitably encounter as adults — whether its bosses, unions, a hectoring media with a virulently secular agenda to promote or the atheists and over-sensitive multicultural types who emerge from the woodwork at about this time of year to throw a blanket over public expression of Christmas celebrations

    In other words, all this anti-bullying sentiment is just making it harder for us to bully the heathens.

    It’s the same reason the fundies are against anti-bullying measures. They want their kids to have the right to bully gays and atheists and whomever else they deem beyond the pale.

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    Shorter Goodden: “Christians who bully gay teens aren’t the bigots! YOU’RE the bigot for trying to quell Christian anti-gay bullying!!!”

  5. says

    I tried to post a comment there, but it’s awaiting moderation. I’m unsure if it’ll get through, however. I didn’t swear or rant. Well I don’t consider it ranting, but they may see it otherwise. Just to get it off my chest, and because I’m not optimistic about my chances of it getting through, I’ll post it here:

    Mr. Goodden, your views on the serious problem of childhood bullying are painfully myopic. Your casual dismissal of this as just ‘one of those things that kids have to get through’, is offensive and ill-informed. Suggesting that systematic harassment of children by their peers is the sort of thing that will toughen them up is ludicrous. Campaigns of physical and cyber-intimidation are costing children their very lives!

    While I can’t know your motives for taking this patently absurd position, I suspect that your intention is to make sure that children of certain religious persuasions (yours) can continue to bully their gay classmates without consequence. You couch it in phrases such as, ” Catholic youth are particularly at risk of being bullied…into soft pedalling important tenets of their faith.”, but what you mean is “Catholic kids should be allowed to engage in homophobic bullying because it’s what the Church teaches”. After all, isn’t homosexuality considered worthy of scorn? Didn’t The Pope say as much this Christmas?

    I suggest, sir, that you are enabling bullying with this shameful denial of its seriousness while simultaneously claiming the religious privilege to engage in it.

    For shame, Mr. Goodden, for shame.

    Bah! Scumbag!

  6. MaryL says

    Don’t get those in authority involved?! Preventing such behavior is part of being in authority. As is punishing those who who engage in such horrible behavior. How else are young people to learn that there are consequences for such things?

  7. elfreda says

    I saw this article back in November in the local paper. Herman Gooden is a local freelancer for the London Free Press, which is owned by Sun Media, the Fox News of the north (Canada). He’s a real piece of work. In another charming column he defended the work and memory of Philippe Rushton. That gives you an idea of the kind of jerk Gooden is.

  8. sugarfrosted says

    I was horribly bullied in school. I think I have trouble forming relationships because of it. I developed social anxiety and often assume that people have the worst intentions. The idea that it’s not a big problem is laughable. Fighting back never worked for me, it would usually just get me in trouble and none of the administration believed me. I have some terrible stories of bullying. People pretending to be my friends just to make me more vulnerable often happened, which is where most of the trouble making relationships comes from. Other times they would make fun of me for having Muscular Dystrophy, which they thought meant I would die at 18.

    I really hate when people like this understate the harm of it, when I’m an example of what it can do.

  9. scenario says

    There are different leveils of bullying. A child comes to school with a new hairstyle and the other kids make fun of her/him for the rest of the day and then forget about it is at one end. Daily harrassment that lasts for years is at the other end. People who try to defend bullying only think about the tame end of the spectrum and refuse to admit that the more vicious end of the bullying spectrum exists.

    Kids do need to be able to handle the gentle kidding between friends type of bullying. It is a form of child abuse to allow long term harrassment as normal.

  10. says

    “Suicide is Painless”?


    An ironic reference. In the movie MASH where the song originated, it referred specifically to (and was played during) the attempted suicide of the 4077th’s dentist, “Painless” Waldowski, who took a placebo he thought was a poison.

    Because he thought he was gay… and couldn’t stand to live with the humiliation.

  11. MaryL says

    I’ve bothered people at times by singing the lyrics during the tv show’s opening credits and in stores when they play the ‘muzac’ version. It’s not a particularly ‘nice’ song, even though the last line of the chorus, to me, reflects guarded optimism:. “And I can take or leave it if I please.”

  12. StevoR, fallible human being says

    “Bullying Isn’t So Bad”

    Wish that were true. But sadly it is. Fuck bullies.

  13. unp0ssible says

    I was bullied as a kid. Then I punched the kid who bullied me. I wont say I necessarily WON the fight… but I didnt die… and he never bullied me again. Dont kill yourself you idiots it just means the bullies won.

  14. says

    An interesting discussion will be worth comment. I do believe that you should compose more on this kind of topic, it might not be a taboo subject but typically people are not enough to speak about such matters. To the next. Cheers

  15. says

    Catholic youth are particularly at risk of being bullied (in the blandest possible way, of course) into soft pedalling important tenets of their faith. ”

    HAH! I know this is rather anecdotal, but I assume this is true across the US, (considering we have major news networks who claim that this is a “Christian” nation!)

    But I grew up Catholic. I attended Catholic school, until 8th grade. I was bullied the entire way through by my Catholic classmates. Meanwhile, I had a LOT of neighborhood friends, whom I grew up playing baseball with. The amount of bullying just before, during, and after school hours, not just myself but others, that I was witness to, was incredible! Not on the basketball team? You’re a loser, and cannot play any other sport! (Heh, even though I was an excellent baseball player. I had to play the public Little League team, but we were a hell of a lot better than them.)

    Anyway, when I went tot he public high school in 9th grade, I saw maybe two or three fights over the course of 4 years. And probably about as much bullying.

    When someone has to make the laughable statement that somehow, Catholic are “being bullied into soft-peddling important tenets of their faith,” I cannot help but laugh and cringe at the same time. What. The. HELL!?

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