Thursday, September 29, 2011

Murder by Gaslight

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented to the victim with the intent of making them doubt their own memory and perception. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

So, perhaps you heard about the gay teen who killed himself last week. I'm referring to Jamey Rodemeyer, however if you typed in gay teen suicide I'm sure his is not the only name that will pop up. Or perhaps bullied teen suicide. I bet Google would have a lot of hits for that. If you'd typed that in a year ago, or the year before that, there would still have been a lot of news articles to read. So this is not the first time it's happened, nor will it be the last. We need to stop sweeping it under the rug when the sensationalism has died down.

I feel bad for the kid, and worse for his family. Especially considering that even after his death, the bullies continue to harass his family. What really bothers me, though, are the bully apologists. It's not their fault. He was mentally disturbed. He would have done it anyway. Well, you know what? I'm not interested in helping murderers sleep better at night. I've seen the videos this kid made, and I don't think he would have. I think he was gaslighted by bullies who were enabled by their parents and their school to kill him. Those bullies are murderers, and they're being allowed to get away with it. More than that, they are being allowed to brag about it, and perhaps turn their murderous intentions on that boys family.

I believe that we need laws in place to prevent this kind of thing. Perhaps children and teens who harrass each other at school should be considered juvenile offenders and given public service sentences. Perhaps three strikes and you're kicked out of public school permanently, having forfeited your right to a public education. You wouldn't allow rabid dogs to roam your school, and bullies should be seen in that light, viciously tearing at other students and turning a place of learning into a torture chamber. Why is it the bullied who is generally pulled out and homeschooled, not the monsters who hurt them? Why is it the innocent who lose their future and not the criminal?

As laws are slow, I have some ideas. Your phones have video capacity, don't they? If you see another kid being bullied, film it. Surreptitiously, if possible. Then email that video to kid's parents, the bullies parents, the school principal, your congressman, anybody, and everybody. When people talk about bullies, they look at that young, smiling face in the yearbook and they think, it's just a kid. He's not evil, he's a kid. They need to see how ugly he or she looks when they are psychologically torturing someone. The profane look of glee as they hurt someone, as each word tears a spiritual hole. The smug look that says, if I can hurt you, I can feel superior. I'm not talking about those obnoxious fight club videos that kids post to show they kick ass, even though those show evil pretty well too. I'm talking about capturing and showing the true faces of bullies so everyone can see.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mean Kids

So, lately the bullying talk is sparking everywhere. Is is a normal, natural thing that should be allowed? Or is is a destructive force that should be punished? Well, as someone who was bullied, my opinion is pretty clear. Oh, I was generally not singled out, and beaten or anything. Just the minor day-to-day cruelties heaped on me unthinkingly by people who believe they are entitled to hurt anyone they please, whenever they please.

Now, you might wonder at my use of the word people, rather than kids, or teens. Well, as far as I am concerned, people are people, whether old or young. I tend to believe that who you are at 8 years old is who you are at 80, deep down. All that change is really surface stuff, and if you feel entitled to hurt people at 8, you probably feel entitled all your life.

I have heard the arguments. Bullies make you strong. Being pushed around gets kids ready for the real world. Well, in the real world it is not okay, or legal, for people to harass you at your job. Also, if being bullied prepares you for the real world, then the bullies themselves are not prepared, are they?

I was looking through my freshman yearbook. I noticed that I had viciously scratched out the pictures of a bunch of people. I don't remember these people. To my adult eyes, they look just like any other teen - fresh-faced, smiling, relatively innocent. However, I vaguely remember when I got that yearbook, I went through and scratched out the pictures of everyone who ever had even the slightest mean word for me, and circled the ones who had ever shown me even the most offhand kindness. The were far more scratched out than circled.

This tells me what bullies really do. They teach mild-mannered pacifist types like me to hate. Yes, I am very mild in general, slow to anger, and deeply against violence. However, steeped in teen hormones and casually treated like crap, I hated these people. They were walking down the hallway a week, a month, hell several months later, and when I saw them, I directed a bolt of hate their way, which generally they were unaware of.

I was quiet. A reader. I wore heavy metal t-shirts, wore no makeup, and had probably the worst haircut ever. After the initial nastiness, these people probably never gave me another thought. And yet, as they wandered through their day, thinking about homework, classes, boyfriends or girlfriends, there was someone out there, silently hating them. It makes me think of all those cop dramas where they ask the victim's family or friends if there was anyone who would want to hurt them, and the family says something like "No! Everyone loved Joe Blow! He was great!". How would they know, if Joe was casually horrible to someone two months ago. Someone he didn't know, or even remember.

So, no, I don't think bullying is okay, and a necessary part of life. I don't think it teaches life skills to either party. I don't think it makes anyone stronger. I don't think that people should feel like mistreatment of others is normal, natural and consistent with being the good guy (which everyone thinks they are). I think that attitude should be corrected as soon as possible. Because if it isn't, when someday you have some emotionally fragile furious stalker who may or may not become dangerous, I will find it very hard to have any sympathy for you, and my usual way is to have sympathy for nearly everyone. Because as angry and bitter as I may sound to you, I don't wish anyone any harm. Not even those nameless people who were mean to me a million years ago when I was just an overgrown child struggling to get through my day.