I was not bullied much as a kid, which is surprising given that I was funny-looking, nerdy, and bad at sports. I would have thought I’d be a prime target, but no, I can only think of two incidents.
When I was in middle school, there was a gang of older girls who liked to intercept me as I was walking home from school, and surround me and mockingly tease me — ruffling my hair, telling me I was cute, asking about all my girlfriends, giggling as they made fun of me. It wasn’t your classical kind of bullying, but it hurt just the same, and I would linger by a corner of the school until they’d moved on, or change my route to avoid them. Even today I still feel the sting when anyone compliments me, so don’t. I only mention it for completeness’ sake.
The other incident was in third grade, and better fits the typical mold. There was a huge kid in my class, I’ll call him Huey because he had that kind of physique and was a bit on the dim side, and one day he grabbed me as I was walking home, threw me down, and sat on me and started punching me.
The thing is, Huey wasn’t the bully here — we later got along just fine, in part because I didn’t talk to him or about him. No, the real bully was the principal of the school, Pete Baffaro (his real name, boy did I despise him) who charged over to the grassy lot where I was visibly outclassed, grabbed both of us and hauled us into his office, where he pulled out a wide leather strap and proceed to brutally beat us both to the point I was uncomfortable sitting down for days afterwards.
I learned an important lesson that day. The real bullies weren’t my peers, but the officials who lorded over us and felt they could abuse us with impunity. Ever since, I’ve been deeply mistrustful of the kind of bullying assholes who get on school boards or other elected positions, or who are hired by bigger bullies into positions of power, who just want to control others.
This reminiscence was triggered by an article by AR Moxon, writing about the bullies who want to be elected governor of Missouri. He’s discussing the story of the Republican political candidates who put on a show of using flamethrowers on a pile of boxes, to demonstrate what they’d do to them there woke books if they get elected.
This is nothing new these days, really. Republican office-holders and aspiring office-holders have been burning and shooting all sorts of effigies for years now, indicating the types of things and people they would like to see eliminated in one way or another.
A lot of people are alarmed by this, because they understand that burning and shooting things meant to signify certain people is always the precursor to burning and shooting the signified people.
However, I’m told the difference between burning books meant to signify certain types of people and burning cardboard meant to signify books meant to signify people is a very important distinction.
I agree, actually.
It tells us where the permission levels are right now for our national gang of genocidal bullies, by which I mean the Republican Party.
I look at that photo and I see a bunch of Pete Baffaros, seeing an excuse to batter children in the name of protecting them. Don’t elect them, Missouri. There is no kindness in any of them.