Bully for Critics

The Wylie Youth Council held a Youth Summit last weekend on the topic of bullying. The idea behind this summit was twofold, first to empower the youth to recognize they are not at fault, and finally to embolden them to tell a trusted adult. Many examples of bullying were tossed around, yet I find it a disservice to infer that all jokes and opinions are also forms of bullying.  As adults, we need to make sure that we provide our youth with the best possible definition of what bullying is so that we do not raise hyper-sensitive adults who not only are thin skinned, but lack any skin at all.  I believe the presenter hit the nail on the head when she stated that a remark that is said over and over again which is no longer funny is when it needs to stop, though some of her common sense statements were glossed over by others who were participating.

You see, people are full of opinions and young minds are certainly not immune to forming their own.  The key to this summit was to let the kids know they have a voice.  Using that voice means reporting bullying, but it can also sometimes mean that we must critique in order to improve.   We should celebrate humans becoming critical thinkers and questioning the world around them. This enables them to critique someone or something as a means of making the world better, in the case of critiquing a person, they do it because they know that person has the means to be better than they are. It is when the person does not have the means to be better, such as when someone has a lisp, or a limp, or large lips, or is cross-eyed, that the critiques become a form of bullying. The acute discernment is in the idea of the receiver is considered weaker or less-than to the giver.  This definition is critical.

In this dialog on bullying, we must be very careful about comparing ‘critics’ to ‘bullies’ as our fine Mayor Eric Hogue did at the meeting.  It is easy to lump all criticism into the rather negative category of bullying, but it is not a logical argument.  A bully is someone who provides intentional aggressive behavior to degrade and overpower a victim viewed as weaker than them.  A critic is someone who judges the merits of someone or something and expresses an opinion.  To combine the two is a copout.

It’s time for Mr. Mayor to move along and stop verbalizing his opposition to dissent over his political posturing. The comments he made about everybody being a critic define his views accurately.  If it makes him feel better to think of his political detractors as bullies, then shame on him for not rising above his own inequities.  He is capable of so much more and I have witnessed that, yet he clings to the old ways of pointing fingers and playing the game without true conviction. This is a man who is fully capable of cogent argument, yet he has been known to take the easy way out and merely play along.

This is precisely the go along to get along attitude that is prevalent all over the US and is displayed in no better a location than Washington DC.  It isn’t working there and it doesn’t work applied locally either.  This is why Senator Ted Cruz is wildly popular among conservatives and wildly opposed by the old tide Republicans.  I’m sure Mayor Hogue intended to be helpful, but I cannot help but feel his statements were a bit accusatory and they did not serve an appropriate purpose for the students.