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What is bullying

Now this is bullying. A 68-year-old woman driving who’s a monitor on a school bus was taunted by four teenage boys.

ABC News says that despite the relentless taunting from the group of boys about her weight and physical condition obviously bothering her, 68-year-old Karen Klein will not leave position as a school bus monitor.

In the video, shot on a school bus in Greece, N.Y., four teens repeatedly call Klein fat, make fun of her hearing aid and, and one point, call her “dumb, poor and sweaty.”

I haven’t looked at the video and I’m not going to. I can’t stand that kind of thing – and I mean literally can’t stand; I’m going all scrunched inside just thinking about it. I’ve told you the story about that time I was on a bus…

…well I say “you” but it’s not the same “you” over time, so I’ll just tell it again. I was on a bus and a woman got off and then a teenage boy in the back got up and rushed to the door to call after her – and I felt faintly pleased, thinking he was going to tell her she’d forgotten her sweater or something helpful like that – to call after her, “Miss? Miss? Lay off the doughnuts!” Some other asshole laughed. It was well over ten years ago but it’s scorched into my memory.

That’s bullying. Humiliating people because they’re fat, ugly, old, brown, black, poor, sweaty, wearing a hearing aid, spotty, shabby, foreign – that is bullying.

You browse #bullies at Twitter and you see a lot about Karen Klein and a lot about school kids…and some guy ranting about “FTB.”

Comments

  1. dogeared, spotted and foxed says

    A little good news. An acquaintance of the family started an Indiogogo fundraiser to raise $5000 so that Karen, the bus monitor, could afford a vacation. So far, it’s at over $340,000 with more than 16,000 funders.

    http://www.indiegogo.com/loveforkarenhklein

    Based on the comments, some of those pledges might be trolls but the majority are people who just want to help.

    Trigger warning for horrible bullying in the video. I watched about 10 seconds and I really, really wish I hadn’t.

  2. Onamission5 says

    What is the connection between public transportation and bullies? Does it seem to anyone else that abusive people congregate on public transport in larger numbers than ordinarily encountered on the street, or is it just me?

    Some of my own worst memories regarding interpersonal conflict that don’t have to do with family, have to do with the effing bus, be that school or city. For some reason though, not private bus service like Greyhound.

    From the article:
    “She said it got especially bad, though, when one student commented that she ‘didn’t have a family because they all killed themselves.'” Niiice.

    Nice without any sarcasm, the fund to send her on a vacation has already reached 120k! That’s a lot of trips around the world. I hope she takes at least one.

  3. dogeared, spotted and foxed says

    Oops, a correction. The person who started the fundraiser was a total stranger who just wanted to help.

  4. RahXephon, Waahmbulance Driver for St. Entitlement's Hospital says

    356,000 dollars would pay for an AMAZING vacation. I’m so happy for her.

  5. 'Tis Himself says

    Bullying is making life miserable for someone who can’t effectively respond to the attacks.

  6. says

    I’ve seen a screencap from the video, she was not driving. Here in the states a school bus monitor is a person who rides along to keep the kids safe and in line without needing the driver to do that.

    When I was a kid we didn’t have them. Perhaps in a few years they’ll need TWO per bus.

  7. says

    I don’t really have any memories at all before I was in 2nd or maybe 3rd grade, but the I vividly recall all the beatings I got in school between then and 6th grade when I managed to win my first fight. The couple of weeks I was followed home every day from school that only stopped when we had Xmas break. The time I was held down and two of my teeth were punched out of my face. The other time I was held down and kicked in the head until I got loose and grabbed the guys leg and bit down until I broke the skin through his jeans and then kept biting down. The times I was followed home while kids shouted taunts and threw dirt and rocks at me. People tossing my food on the floor in the cafeteria and threatening to beat me because I picked the wrong table. And on and on and on.

    Bullying doesn’t have to be physical. I’ve been in fights since I stopped being regularly bullied, I won some and lost some, and getting beat in a fight isn’t being bullied. Being called names isn’t necessarily bullying. Being made to feel powerless is being bullied. Having a real fear for your existence is being bullied, whether physically or just as a person. Bullying can make you feel like your self is threatened, like someone can crush you and make you disappear even though you keep breathing and moving and talking.

    People who attack FtB bloggers as being bullies for not putting up with bullying, for daring to disagree with people who have power and cannot be made to feel powerless someone being impolite to them? Seriously?

  8. says

    Onamission, it may not be just you but it’s possibly to do with poverty more than public transport? Busses are pretty safe spaces most of the time where I am. Some late night ones in some areas can be dangerous; I did hear some bad stories about Sydney.

  9. F says

    What happened to not tolerating any shit from students on school buses? I mean, frequently to the point of students themselves being bullied by authority figures – which isn’t cool either. But where the hell is the school system in this?

  10. Jen says

    While eating at Subway during my lunch break from work last week, I listened to a group of four twenty-somethings loudly make rude harassing comments about every person who came in, then proceed to laugh about how clever and unafraid they thought they were. It was equal opportunity…weight, race, financial status, social class, sexual orientation, perceived gender, etc. all up for grabs. It was disgusting and made me genuinely sad.

  11. says

    F, I seem to recall bus drivers a few years ago catching hell for using the old “cut out the crap and settle down or I’m pulling this bus over and we’ll all wait right here until you behave yourselves” getting into trouble for doing that.

    The news articles practically accused them of kidnapping. Kids frantically calling parents on cell phones, outraged parents demanding drivers be fired, etc.

  12. K.R says

    I live near Greece so this is a local story for me. I am glad that the bus monitor is receiving so much support from the community and complete strangers who are touched by her story. I hope that the fact this video went viral and that so many people have responded against the bullying kids/in support of the victim will help people see that this is what goes on in our schools and that parents and teachers/administrations need to better address how bullying gets treated. No one should have to go through this.

  13. KT says

    The only time I was ever really bullied it was on the school bus in elementary school. I believe the bus was was a perfect environment for bullying, at least in my case, because we didn’t have any monitors, only a driver. Our driver never did any sort disciplining of the kids on the bus so my bully felt very confident that he could go after me continually with no fear of repercussions. In hindsight, I could probably have told the driver and she could have made him sit up front, but since she didn’t actively monitor and discipline the kids, it didn’t occur to me that she would do something if I spoke to her. I also didn’t want to be a “tattle tale”. The other kids on the bus knew, but were afraid to help me, and I never blamed them because I wouldn’t have wanted them to be targeted as well.

    It was really frustrating because I was basically trapped with him. He got on the stop after mine and if there was no space next to someone else and I was forced to sit by myself, he would come sit next to me and just heap verbal abuse on me, mostly centered around my ears, which stuck out to the sides, calling me “Dumbo” and such.

    When I tried to tell my parents, they didn’t really understand how relentless it was and so the gave me the ” he is teasing you because he likes you” lecture. Luckily the bus routes changed the next year, but I ended up getting surgery on my ears while I was still in elementary school to correct them because I became so self-conscious about them. No one had ever really made an issue about them before, but they suddenly became all I could see when I looked in a mirror.

    I can understand why kids feel confident about bullying on the bus because it’s a temporary space and unlike a public bus they cannot be kicked off. There’s not much serious discipline that could deter them.

  14. Musical Atheist says

    What is it about the school system that makes so many kids such horrible human beings while they’re in it? Is it just being herded together in unnaturally large numbers? The powerlessness? Is it a microcosm of the prejudices at work in the wider world, filtered through the kids’ perceptions? I was psychologically bullied and loathed the social aspect of school and was a bit of a loner for years. One teacher at my secondary school was off sick for months, and rumour said it was a nervous breakdown due to an extensive taunting campaign from kids. I grew up and went to school in a poor area, so maybe that’s a factor, but it’s not like rich privileged kids aren’t also at times disgusting.

  15. avh1 says

    Musical, I can’t speak from anything but personal experience but my guess is it isn’t that complicated – they think (in many cases correctly) that they can get away with it.

    Of the things you’ve mentioned I don’t think the numbers is an issue, the powerlessness might be, and the final one sounds pretty plausible as well.

  16. Dave says

    It’s our monkey nature, really. Crossed with the profoundly unhelpful notion that we don’t actually have a monkey nature, and are all sweetness and light, if you just squint at the picture hard enough. The reaction against all forms of ‘authoritarian’ treatment of young people [especially, but everyone too] has swung so far you do wonder sometimes how much further it could possibly go.

    As with the current wave of evidence that teenagers are simply bad at judgment, for neurological reasons: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/10/teenage-brains/dobbs-text

    What you don’t see, in this context, is the obvious response that, if that’s the case, they need to be monitored more closely – but no, it’s all about ‘understanding’ them better. We already understand them fine, they’re thoughtless assholes.

  17. prochoice says

    @ comment 2:
    Other way round.
    Buses are a place where the helpless congregate (trains and planes have density problems too, but a bit less so, higher ticket prices and therefore some risk of security personnel!) and therefore the bullies know they can do what they want.
    And that is why school buses are the worst – need to attend school, and risk for the victim to be blamed for being late, torn up etc.
    As long as society does not react to bullies at the very beginning of such behavior, they cannot be stopped.
    The feeling of power gets addictive (perhaps someone have a try to medicate them with that substances given to “drug offenders”. Outcome would interest me.

    I do not want to go into my past schoolbus experience, it would be much too long; only that now, being old, disabled and poor, I do avoid school bus times as soon as I know which time the numbers of potential bullies is high.

  18. says

    @Onamission5 in #2: bullies don’t actually have to congregate on public transport to make it look that way. It may just be that public transport gives the bullies that happen to be there in have more opportunities to bully: boredom and victims that can’t get away easily.

  19. says

    Just read this on a Dutch news site, which unfortunately didn’t give a link to a source that everybody else here would be able to read, but it appears that four of the kids’ names have been found out, and they’ve been getting a taste of their own medicine in the form of massive amounts of hate-mail. My vindictive side can’t help but feel a little glee at that, but unfortunately some of these mails contained threats too, to the point that the police decided to give extra protection to their neighborhood, and that’s going too far.

    Also, the article had a few remarks from a supposed “bullying expert” by the name of Stephen Birchak. Guess what? It’s all the fault of the media. Supposedly, political debates and reality TV or YouTube movies where people are humiliated on camera show kids that it’s OK to do this sort of stuff. This guy can’t be serious and shouldn’t be allowed to call himself an expert. This sort of crap predates the internet, predates television even. Don’t blame the media. Blame the school administration. They are the ones who can control the environment in which this happens. That guy just makes me angry.

  20. Egbert says

    Bullying to me, is when a gang collect together and diminish the physical and mental well-being and dignity of another person.

    I tried to point out the dangers of group mentality and identity politics, whereby I was met with the typical response of hostility and alienation.

    Few people are interested in listening to actual victims and neurotics, rather, the game seems to be that they are gaslighted, explained to, ignored, censored, and of course bullied.

  21. joel says

    The doughnut boys should be applauded for excising their manly duty of advising women. Our male minds are not contaminated by actual experience of living as female, therefore we enjoy an unbiased perspective.

  22. Lyanna says

    I’m actually really comforted by the fact that everyone on this thread recognizes what happened to this woman as bullying, and that she should get recompense for it.

    It seems like whenever I have a meatspace conversation about bullying, including with people who I’ve previously considered very nice, there’s always someone who pipes up and says, “Everyone gets made fun of! People should toughen up! People should stop trying to get money out of this!”

    It’s just such utter victim-blaming macho crap, based on the delusional view that the speaker is too strong and tough and valiant to be bullied. And it’s very disheartening to hear.

  23. Onamission5 says

    @ #10:

    I don’t know about poverty being a factor. Having been quite poor most of my life I can say IME that poor people aren’t any meaner or nicer than people of means. I believe that general abusive behavior crosses socio-economic boundaries, and I’ve ridden buses (both school and city) where pretty much any and/or everyone rides the bus or train. Just because a person chooses public transport as their stage for being an asshole, doesn’t inherently mean they are impoverished.

    @ #20 & #21: You may be right in that access and proximity is everything in situations like this. That, and/or a lack of accountability for the doers. I remember (back in my day, lol) that our school bus drivers would pull the bus over right then, write a referral for misbehavior, radio it in and have dispatch call the parents to come pick their kid up. If it was bad enough behavior, the child would no longer be a bus rider from that point onward, for the safety of the passengers and the driver, too. I guess kicking bullies off mid-route isn’t allowed any more? I can understand that on the one hand, because the driver is responsible for their safety, too, but not on the other, because a lack of immediate consequences can lead people to believe they can do whatever they wish.

  24. Musical Atheist says

    Dave, that article was very interesting. And avh1, I guess my question was loaded because of personal frustration – I assumed that school is a contributing factor to bullying because it’s the context in which teen bullying usually happens. But of course teens are generally in school, so it would be. It would be interesting to know whether different models of education – combinations of classroom and community based learning, for instance – contributed to lower levels of bullying from teens/children of each other and of vulnerable adults, or whether it would be largely the same in any cultural or learning context due to the neurological factors that the article discussed.

  25. says

    Lyanna, really? God, I’ve never thought that – making fun of people is the worst. As I said in the post, humiliating people is the worst. Mockery is the worst.

  26. says

    @Onamission5: yes, that’s the sort of measures I expect a school administration to take against this sort of behavior. It isn’t going to stop all bullying of course (most of it will happen outside of the view of the administration) but firmly establishing what is and isn’t accepted does go a long way. Also makes it much more likely that bullying gets reported too.

  27. Lyanna says

    Ophelia: yes, really. I hear it EVERY TIME. I even heard it most recently in a discussion of the suicides of bullied LGBT kids, where this young woman I knew opined that the suicides happened because the bullied kids had “weak character.”

    I had trouble keeping my cool (read: not hitting her) in that discussion.

    People just seem to think being “made fun of” is harmless.

    Perhaps it’s an American flaw? A combination of macho hyper-individualism with an insensitivity to humiliation? Maybe other cultures are better at understanding how horrible humiliation is.

  28. says

    I tried to point out the dangers of group mentality and identity politics, whereby I was met with the typical response of hostility and alienation.

    This smacks of more co-option.

  29. says

    Well, being made fun of can be harmless. Especially if it’s also funny to the target. It also depends on who’s doing it. But it’s really the relentlessness that makes it bullying.

    @Lyanna: My first guess would be that these people have likely never been on the receiving end of systematic bullying, which means they have probably always been on the other end of it.

  30. says

    Deen –

    I don’t think so. I mean, yes, friendly teasing among friends may be harmless…if everything goes well. But even then, it’s so easy to hit a nerve. In any case teasing is a little different from making fun of. (Maybe not in Dutch?!)

    I’m wary of the whole thing. I’ve known too many people who think they’re “teasing” but are actually belittling and jeering and mocking. (It’s ironic when someone with a bad case of that become a crusader against “bullying” [in a very selective way]. Project much?)

  31. says

    I mean – if it’s not funny to the target, then in what sense can it be harmless?

    “Teasing” is (I think – I’m making it up, here) joking about admitted foibles.

  32. says

    Alethea:

    Onamission, it may not be just you but it’s possibly to do with poverty more than public transport?

    Yeah, because bullying totally doesn’t go on in affluent schools and especially boarding schools. Poor people are just thugs.

    /bitter snark

    Jafafa Hots:

    The news articles practically accused them of kidnapping. Kids frantically calling parents on cell phones, outraged parents demanding drivers be fired, etc.

    While there are plenty of exceptions, apples generally do not fall far from trees. The little darlings learn that bullying is OK because their parents are bullies too, and/or they coddle them from consequences.

    Egbert:

    I tried to point out the dangers of group mentality and identity politics

    Indeed. How awful, when people who are grouped into certain oppressed identities by society, actually try to agitate for rights for people of such identities.

    It really must be nice, Egbert, to be considered society’s default. The worst thing you have to deal with is “bullying” from people who are tired of shutting the fuck up every time you open your ignorant mouth around them and pretend the playing field is level already. But it’s OK, because society compensates you with the “right” to dictate to such people the “right” way they should fight for their rights (i.e., nothing that ever makes you uncomfortable).

    Ophelia, “toughen up” is a really, really common attitude in the U.S., especially in the more conservative parts of the country. It reflects the sociopathy of their political beliefs perfectly: The strong are in the right, the weak are contemptible.

  33. says

    @Ophelia in #34: that’s pretty much what I mean. Friends are allowed to mock each other to an extent – but they are also expected to back off if it makes the target uncomfortable. Or they won’t be friends for long.

    In #35:

    I mean – if it’s not funny to the target, then in what sense can it be harmless?

    I’m thinking of situations like where I actually agree I did something so terribly stupid that it deserves to be mocked, even though I’m not enjoying the embarrassment of it. But I guess that would fall into the admitted foibles category as well? Like anger, or shame, I think mockery has a function, you just have to be careful when to use each of them.

    I do want to make it clear, though, that I consider what happened in this incident to be way, way beyond mere “mockery” and “making fun of someone”. Don’t want there to be any misunderstandings about that :)

  34. says

    Oh dear – I suppose that’s right, Ms Daisy Cutter.

    Thus we find ourselves back at Rand. All roads lead to Rand. Combine Rand and baby jesus and you got yourself a hellhole.

  35. Lyanna says

    The strong are in the right, the weak are contemptible.

    You know, I’d think that wanting to tear others down is a sign of weakness. Not vulnerability–it’s a myth that bullies have low self-esteem–but weakness of character. A desire to build oneself up by putting others down, rather than to use your social power responsibly.

    And yet, it’s the victims who get despised as weaklings, for being unable to single-handledly stop the bullies.

    @Deen: I’ve had people tell me they were bullied and they were fine and so bullying is no big deal. I always suspect them of lying, or at least misunderstanding what bullying is. I was never seriously bullied, only very mildly as a small child by older kids. But that was enough to make me very, very angry at the phenomenon. And to want to become tough so I could stop others from being victimized like that.

  36. avh1 says

    Musical, it’s quite alright – I mostly agree with you. The only place I’ve been bullied in my life or seen people getting bullied was at school (primary and secondary) which does seem to suggest it’s an environmental/cultural deal not for example a biological one (I hasten to add that I’m not trying to suggest bullying doesn’t happen elsewhere).

    Ms Daisy, Lyanna, I’d completely agree with you both that the ‘toughen up’ idea is unacceptable, but it’s not completely limited to the USA.

  37. CT says

    It really must be nice, Egbert, to be considered society’s default. The worst thing you have to deal with is “bullying” from people who are tired of shutting the fuck up every time you open your ignorant mouth around them and pretend the playing field is level already.

    My son is “society’s default” and was bullied to the point he screamed at everyone within earshot that he was just going to kill himself.

    Is the message that “society’s default” can’t be bullied because they must be having entitlement issues really the message you want to convey here?

  38. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    My son is “society’s default” and was bullied to the point he screamed at everyone within earshot that he was just going to kill himself.

    Is the message that “society’s default” can’t be bullied because they must be having entitlement issues really the message you want to convey here?

    Seconded, though this shouldn’t distract us from the generally greater difficulties of people in marginalized groups. :/

  39. CT says

    Seconded, though this shouldn’t distract us from the generally greater difficulties of people in marginalized groups. :/

    Appreciated and I totally agree. nothing my default (so far anyway default) sons experience has anything on what marginalized groups go thru. To be fair as well he was being bullied about his skin color, snow white and very much fair game in the racist world. .. ha, I made a pun.. anyway, yeah, even tho he’s default, the very people doing the bullying were the same ones that marginalized people have to deal with all the time everywhere.

    All the crap he’s gone thru tho has mad it very easy for him to understand and empathize with others. Sadly, a good thing out of a bad thing.

    /end derail

  40. says

    Everyone gets made fun of! People should toughen up!

    I’m not sure those people realize what happens when victims toughen up.

    I know I had thoughts of that nature more than once.

  41. CT says

    he noted that teachers commonly looked the other way when confronted with bullying

    This is basically what happened to my son, in the main, they told me, because they didn’t think white people tormenting another white person about skin color was even a thing.

    okay so you hear and see bullying but because you don’t think it’s about something you deem serious, you ignore it. 0_o yeah they took it pretty fucking serious after he completely lost his shit and they had to talk him down, then fucking call *me* and tell *me* that they fucked up. and hell since I’m ranting the fact that they waited hours to call me because they wanted him calm — seriously majorly fucked.

  42. Anat says

    Onamission5 – in my school district if a student misbehaves on a bus on the way to school the child is sent to the principal with a report from the driver upon arrival, and if a child misbehaves on the way home the driver turns around, brings the child back to the school for the parents to pick up and continues the route. And yes, repeat offenders can lose school bus privileges. So at least in some places there is some discipline around. Of course there is still the problem of a kid being taunted until s/he loses it and hits the taunter and then getting in trouble for that.

  43. Chris says

    Bullying is evil. I was a victim just because I had the audacity of being a child whose father went to the Army’s Command and General Staff College in Ft. Leavenworth, KS. after spending time in Ft. Ord, CA.

    But because there was limited housing in Ft. Leavenworth, my father rented a house in Weston, MO. It was in another state across the Missouri River, and as far as I was concerned in another decade.

    Apparently in 1967 it was considered weird in Weston, MO to have curly hair, need glasses, have lived in California and be able to show some intelligence (apparently scoring 100% in a science quiz and not knowing what happened on TV is grounds for ridicule).

    I will forevermore mock Weston, MO for being the town that time forgot, with its tobacco fields and its distillery. But it is where I, as a mere ten year old fourth grader, picked up the habit of going on long walks and not caring what anyone thought about me.

    I did not care that I was not supposed to like math in 7th grade as boys tried to throw paper balls into my cleavage in Portland Jr. High, Bloomington, MN.

    And I did not care that I was one of three women in my aerospace classes in college (one of those other women being the first test pilot of a major American aircraft manufacturer). Even though some classmates thought it was “fun” to tell randy jokes at my expense. I actually graduated in the middle of the pack, while half of that class did not.

    While there is point that one should ignore the teasing, my question is: why should they?

    Really? One aero classmate failed because he did not show up when I was doing all of the work in a lab class. What I am thinking is that I may have had a better lab partner if he/she had not been scared away by stupidity.

    Seriously, why should good scientific and technical talent be scared away by bullies?

  44. Yaqub - White Knight of the Hypatia of Puntland, Ayaan of the House of Xirsi Magan says

    I haven’t looked at the video and I’m not going to. I can’t stand that kind of thing – and I mean literally can’t stand”

    Exactly how i feel. Spoilt, vain, entitled shallow brats. This kind of disrespect to other people, and of all people one’s elders, enrages. While these kinds of cruel juvenile bullying behaviours have probably always existed, this is the first generation in which technological gadgets and marvels on which to record their pathetic inadequacy and insecurity are so ubiquitous. Did you see the video of the beheading of a Gaddafi loyalist before a crowd of people holding up their smartphones to capture this gruesome lynching for posterity? Internet harassment and bullying is simply an ugly reflection of the society which uses it. In the words of Boris Yelnikoff, “We’re a failed species”. It really seems that way sometimes.

    When I was knee-high to a grasshopper in Africa, this kind of treatment of an elder, especially a school employee would not wash. Mores suffer when all order, hierarchy and tradition are overturned, as Mao’s cultural revolution showed, and as Peter Godwin writes in When a Crocodile Eats the Sun in the nightmare of Mugabe’s dictatorship. Hats off Ophelia, good work for blogging the stories you do, I stumbled upon your writing via Harry’s Place long before I started reading FTB. The situation of gay people in Africa presently (especially Uganda, Zambia, Liberia) strikes a particular chord reminiscent as it is of Mugabe’s virulent homophobia; something to which Peter Tatchell can attest having been assaulted by Zimbabwe Special Branch heavies for daring (in the most polite and respectful way it might be added) to challenge the old tyrant’s vicious hatred of gays. Sad to see that in the borough of Tower Hamlets he gets similar treatment from Galloway’s sturmabteilung , ahem, constituency, when he has come out ostensibly to support them against the EDL hooligans.

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been hounded by these kinds of bullies throughout her life and has fought them and beaten them. I was more than dismayed to read Sikivu Hutchinson’s dismissal of her. Her inspirational courage, deep integrity of character and values, brilliant mind, piercing intellect and sparkling sense of humour shine through in Nomad and other writings, and in her public speaking. She is an existentialist and atheist thinker of profound depth and astounding originality, and communicates it expertly in writing. I would ask Sikivu if she has read it, because Ayaan addresses her own hesitance at working for what is known as a “conservative” think tank, and affirms her steadfast principles on women’s reproductive rights and gay rights. The fact that this is not a problem, because the whole point of the exercise is to obtain independent, free thought on policy is what convinces her that she would be happy to submit her input. Apparently unlike in much of humanities academia, thoughtcrime is not an occupational hazard.

    She is extraordinarily qualified and capable person for any high level position and then some: a former member of parliament; speaks Somali, Swahili, Arabic, Dutch, English and one could go on… All this she achieved by herself, escaping the strictures of Islamic and Somali clan culture, having to endure being disowned by her family for choosing freedom to fulfill her human potential over forced marriage into a brutally patriarchal culture. How ironic then that Norm accuses Ayaan of a “Eurocentric worldview…. romanticising the West”, and of “downplaying” homophobia and sexism in “the West”. Complete and utter bullfrog.

    Pull the other one Dr Hutchinson; on Islam, patriarchy, post-colonialism, paternalism and feminism (not to mention atheism) I will take over your word that of a woman who was born (and circumcised) a Somali and grew up there, in Kenya and in Saudi Arabia. Ponder the “people of colour solidarity” which even the high-caste Xirsi Magan clan faced as blacks in Saudi, a society which like every Arab society (and arguably every ethnically distinct and homogenous society) is notoriously racial supremacist. Ask the Kabyle people of Algeria about their history (indeed that of all the Imazighen of all the territory of ancient Numidia) about the “liberation theology” of Islam and the “indigeneity” of the Arabs outside of the Arabian peninsula. Investigate the conditions of migrant workers (especially from the subcontinent and SE Asia – viz. public beheadings of sorcerors and Indonesian domestic workers in the Magic Kingdom, for real?!) in the member countries of the Arab League, here’s just one recent example, in fact quite similar abuse to the video Ophelia posted which I didn’t watch. I watched this one:

    http://www.pashtunforums.com/showthread.php?t=29631

    Take into account that Arabs, Afghans and Persians consider themselves “white”(as does the US Census Burea), just as Ethiopians (Amharas and Tigray-Tigrinyas) historically considered themselves “red” in contrast to Nubian “black”. Medical anthropology (scientism trigger warning) actually classifies Somalis and all of the aforementioned peoples (bar the Nubians) as “Caucasian”, that word evoking the Kavkazi cradle of H. Neandertalensis, H. Erectus and other hominids. Under the strange logic of PC groupthink and newspeak someone actually from the Caucasus is no doubt regarded as a “person of colour” or “black” in British parlance – witness the disgraced head of the “National Black Police Association” Ali Dizaei (actually Iranian but you get the gist, geographically adjacent) – as long as they don’t profess Judaism or Christianity (of which there are ancient indigenous populations throughout all of Asia). No prizes for guessing which Prophet’s followers have been putting bombs on Caspian sea beaches to teach a lesson in modesty to any wanton strumpet who has the temerity to so much as think that the universal human pleasure of a day by the beach is not a heinous affront to Allah.

    Does laying the blame for everything under the sun, ever, so squarely and solely on capitalism and Western imperialism not force or presume the abdication of any sense of agency and personal responsibility by individuals and groups? This hackneyed idealisation of Marxist internationalism and Soviet socialism is so tiresome, and characterising virtually all evil in the world as attributable to “the West” and “whitey” (not least by white leftists) seems to be the perhaps its most significant unifying theme. The cynicism and venality of damnable Soviet imperialism in the Middle East is lain bare in the review of Pavel Stroilov’s forthcoming Behind Desert Storm by Claire Berlinski, a thinker of Ayaan’s intellectual calibre:

    http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/103576/the-cold-wars-arab-spring?all=1

    Rather than “downplaying homophobia and sexism in the West” (of which Ayaan does nothing of the sort) is it not perhaps more salient to point out the way in which adherents of “Afrocentrism” (a pseudo-intellectual movement thoroughly and conclusively debunked with even the lowest skeptical standards) ignore and minimise Arab and Islamic imperial conquest? The Arab slavers operated on both the Atlantic and Indian littorals of Africa and killed, raped abducted millions of black people over the centuries with every bit as much the inhumanity of European slavers. Tony Martin of Wellesley College, to give one example of the kind of kookery so prevalent in so-called “liberal” academia of today, goes so far as to spin grotesque anti-Semitic racial conspiracies by which Atlantic slavery was the Jews’ doing. Don’t worry, Tony Martin, Malik Zulu Shabazz, Louis Farrakhan, Mohamed Mahathir, Gorgeous George Galloway and Charles Barron have got it all figured out, and David Duke likes what he hears.

    Salman Rushdie was right when he defended Western civilization for the fact that enlightenment values are universal values. Loath though it may be to the ears of the socialist internationalist, the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam is a travesty and joke and not the counterpart to the Universal Declaration. This is a good post related to this discussion from some years back:

    http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org/2007/rushdie-sparked-calls-for-his-own-execution-right/

    It is uncomfortable to face up to the reality that it’s not “the West against Islam” nor evil Eurocentric imperialists against heaving, sighing, oppressed masses of colour any more. This is not to deny the historical ramifications on contemporary society of white supremacist racism. But it is Islam qua Islam, both every school of Sunni Islamic fiqh and Orthodox Shia Islam, which is waging war against both the West and the rest (the “non-aligned” in the obsolete terminology). These are some interesting meditations on these themes:

    http://newhumanist.org.uk/2052/shadow-boxing

    Accusing Ayaan of “selling out”, (innuendo verb: “prostituting”) to the evil Western conservative white supremacists is the most egregious and offensive claim in this turgid review. Ayaan brings a universal message for the human inhabitants of planet earth rather than ad hominem attacks, cheap race-mongering and boilerplate leftist politics. Ayaan skewers it on how when Europeans (such as her) says they are liberal, it means liberal, whereas when an American says it means leftist unless qualified classical liberal (something seen as even more heinous than neoliberal!). Never more apparent this culture gap than in Allen and Hutchinson’s hit-job on Ayaan. Vitriolic hatred of Israel like that of Sikivu’s fellow traveller Alice Walker and that of the buffoonish Charles Barron is not liberal. Making excuses for Islamic hate preachers in the UK or anywhere else is not liberal. Murdering Theo van Gogh and Pim Fortuyn is not liberal. Police covering up years of paedophilia, rape and forced prostitution in the UK for fear of being branded bigots and upsetting “community cohesion” is not liberal. All these things are the fruits of some kind of insanity, but it is not liberalism. These things are the doctrines of leftist ideologues, the useful idiots and traitors of the 21st century.

  45. Yaqub - White Knight of the Hypatia of Puntland, Ayaan of the House of Xirsi Magan says

    BTW sorry for the wall of text thread derail, I did start out just writing a response on topic of bullying but this was mulling in my mind, and I couldn’t find an email address for Ophelia.

  46. says

    CT:

    Is the message that “society’s default” can’t be bullied because they must be having entitlement issues really the message you want to convey here?

    You really have a knack for derailing, don’t you? It doesn’t matter that oppressed groups eat much more shit than non-oppressed groups do overall; what matters is that CT and hers suffer too!!!

    BTW, I’m a victim of long-term bullying myself.

    Yaqub:

    Mores suffer when all order, hierarchy and tradition are overturned…

    Mmm. Get dem uppity queers, females, and colored people back in the closet, because hierarchy and tradition say so.

  47. says

    Oh, and as for redefining bullying, I just found this lovely comment in a thread about the most offensive advertisements of 2011, many of which were pulled.

    About 1/2 of them were pulled because some group of victim bullies decided they were offensive. Our culture seems to be reduced to gangs of roving bigoted bullies who pretend to be offended at others free speech or sexual behavior so that it gives them an excuse for a violent virtual vigilante riot. We live in the age of the virtual riot. It’s not that gangs of angry, ignorant women or blacks were offended by these ads, they just are looking for an excuse to fun rampant in their violent attacks. It’s a virtual riot culture.

    Must be a sweet existence, to be so insulated from actual violence, bullying, or riots that you can mistake such protests for same.

  48. CT says

    You really have a knack for derailing, don’t you? It doesn’t matter that oppressed groups eat much more shit than non-oppressed groups do overall; what matters is that CT and hers suffer too!!!

    I apologize. I obviously touched a nerve with you as you did with me and I shouldn’t have responded at all. If there was an edit button, I’d just delete everything I said because it was all stupid and stupidly emotional. You aren’t the first to tell me that and probably won’t be the last because I’m an ignorant emotional person. So, again, I apologize that I hurt your feelings.

  49. mero says

    Jesus CT. It’s not about you. What happened to your son does suck. But the larger point of the thread is to point out that certain populations of people get more flak and LESS resources for coping than others.

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