A Bully Rorschach Test

 Posted on March 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

You've seen this already, I'm sure:

[flv: 480 368]

It's video of a 10th-form (as I understand it, the equivalent of 10th grade in the U.S.) kid in Australia being picked on by a vicious little 7th-form bully, while some fan of bullying shoots video.

The little punk gets in several shots at the bigger kid, eliciting no visible reaction until the bigger kid gets fed up and hits him with the biggest, hardest thing he has at hand: the Earth.

The bully's mother wants him to apologize to his intended victim (the article describes the bigger kid as the bully's "victim"; that characterization is incorrect), which is a good start, though the apology should be video-recorded and posted on YouTube by one of his punk friends on the theory that a proper apology is made in the same forum that the apologized-for behavior occurred.

The intended victim's father

said his son had been the victim of bullying for several years and feared for his safety if he spoke about the fight."There'll be reprisals from other kids in the school and he still has to go to school somewhere," he said."He's not a violent kid, it's the first time he's lashed out and I don't want him to be victimised over that."He's always been taught never to hit. Apparently other people's parents don't teach their kids that."

(Other parents don't teach their kids never to hit? I'm shocked. Shocked!)

It's unlikely that there will be reprisals from other kids in the school. Bullies by definition don't pick on people who fight back; when, as here, bullying carries a substantial risk of serious bodily injury (would you like to be dropped on your head from three feet above the pavement?), bullying is unlikely to recur. If it does, then three feet simply wasn't high enough.

The "if you fight back against a bully, there'll be reprisals" attitude that dad has taught the kid is exactly what the bullies are counting on; it's this fear that made the kid the victim of bullying for several years.

Dad displays naive pacifism; the school demonstrates something much worse: hypocritical pacifism. The former is misguided; the latter, immoral.

The school suspended both bully and the hero for four days. The bureaucrats claim that the school "does not tolerate any violence and deals with all cases according to its community-agreed discipline code," but clearly violence is tolerated, since the little punk felt safe, not only picking on his intended victim, but doing so on camera.

The little punk had five opportunities to walk away without getting hurt: before he started; and after he threw each punch but the last. His intended victim stood there and took it. Yet the school treats the hero's conduct as the equivalent of the bully's. It is (do I really need to say this?) not equivalent.

Despite his dad telling him that violence is always wrong, and the school telling him that violence in defense of self is the same as coldblooded aggression, I hope the hero of this story knows that he did right, and would do the same thing if put in the same situation again.


The bully's mum sees that her little boy screwed up.

The hero's dad sees that his son will be more of a victim.

The school sees that the use of violence is a categorical wrong that must (at least when it gets international attention) be punished.

I see that giving government a monopoly on the lawful use of force is dangerous to us and corrosive to society.

What do you see?

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