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Feb 25 2014

The Self-Aware Bully

Please, must I really feel sympathy for bullies?

I can muster up pity, but sympathy is out of my reach so far.

21 comments

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  1. 1
    Crimson Clupeidae

    Wow, that’s actually a powerful message, but the ones who need to hear it wouldn’t.

  2. 2
    Sunday Afternoon

    @1: agreed. My DVR generally catches the last couple of Key & Peele sketches ahead of that day’s Daily Show. I like most of what I’ve seen including this sketch.

  3. 3
    Hatchetfish

    The difference is important between a bully that acts out of unconsidered and unchallenged privilege and sadism and one that acts out of insecurity and unmanaged trauma. The first type get a lot of cover when mistaken for the second, and thankfully that’s more and more recognized, but the second type do still exist.

  4. 4
    otrame

    I love their Obama’s Anger Translator skits. Luther (the translator) tickles the hell out of me.

  5. 5
    carlie

    Kay and Peele are really smart and cut to the quick – I hope they keep getting more popular.

  6. 6
    vaiyt

    @3: They’re functionally identical from the point of view of their victims, though.

  7. 7
    Dhorvath, OM

    And I am not so clear on the distinction either, at the least I have found those bullies who I have known to have shades of both in what I knew of their motivations. This doesn’t absolve, but it makes it hard for me to merely vilify.

  8. 8
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    This doesn’t absolve, but it makes it hard for me to merely vilify.

    I can do more than my share. >.>

  9. 9
    Dhorvath, OM

    I wasn’t saying I have no hate to spare, just that I respond in more than one fashion.

  10. 10
    Hatchetfish

    vaiyt: No argument there, didn’t mean to imply one. How they need to be dealt with, and how much pity or sympathy I have for them, that’s quite a bit different. And Dhorvath makes a good point that the two ends of a scale I mentioned are not a binary system. Intent is not magic and motivation is not excuse, but can certainly inform how to put a stop to their behavior.

  11. 11
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I’m not completely buying it.
    Especially the “the bully is the real victim here” message.
    Especially since many bullies are actually rather privileged folks who have simply never learned that it is NOT OK to treat other people like this.

  12. 12
    darthchimay

    To be fair to the bully, the “nerd” is wearing a “Garfield and Friends” t-shirt. I don’t normally buy the “they-were-asking-for-it” argument, but there might be a case for it here.

  13. 13
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    darthchimay @ 12:

    So first he gets shot by Charles Guiteau, now his friends have to suffer? Oh, the humanity! ;)

  14. 14
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Seconding Giliell.

    Maybe there were just too many messages in one video, about a single person? Homophobe is actually struggling with interest in men, he’s violent because his father is violent, he picks on people smarter than him because he feels stupid…

    It’s all so simple. Maybe too simple.

  15. 15
    tbtabby

    I’ll start feeling sympathy for bullies when the bully apologists stop letting them off scot-free.

  16. 16
    methuseus

    I agree with the feeling pity that they feel the only way to deal with their issues is bullying others. I was bullied, so I may be a little biased, but many who try to say the bully is the real victim were bullies themselves. Yes, some do pretend they have issues when confronted, even though they really don’t have issues that cause them to act out. Many are just assholes for the sake of being assholes.

  17. 17
    don1

    I’m not sure that bullies can be simply divided up into privilged. entitled arsehole bullies and abused confused lashing-out type bullies. It could be a mix. But in broad terms I think bullying can come from feeling superior and enjoying that or feeling inferior and resenting that. I’ve worked enough with the latter to feel sympathy as well as pity. Pity doesn’t fix it, Sympathy (or empathy) can.

  18. 18
    augustpamplona

    Dhorvath, OM writes:

    And I am not so clear on the distinction either, at the least I have found those bullies who I have known to have shades of both in what I knew of their motivations. This doesn’t absolve, but it makes it hard for me to merely vilify.

    I thought the notion of bullying being caused by low self esteem had been debunked years ago and that bullies, in general, appear to love themselves just fine.

    The homophobe as someone with repressed same sex attractions hypothesis has at least had some studies done which are supportive.

  19. 19
    sprocket

    The part that bugs me the most is the tiresome insinuation that all homophobes are secretly gay. Are there any straight homophobes?

  20. 20
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Sprocket

    The part that bugs me the most is the tiresome insinuation that all homophobes are secretly gay.

    I agree it’s tiresome, but I don’t think that’s what this skit was implying.

    Are there any straight homophobes?

    Yeah, loads. Doesn’t mean there are none in the former category though. There have been studies done that show latent or repressed homosexuality is more common among vocally homophobic people than pro-equality people.

  21. 21
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    *…show latent or repressed homosexuality homosexual urges are is more common among…

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