Systemic Bullying

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered” – Michael J Fox

February 28 is “Pink Shirt Day“, that one day a year when the emphasis is put on the issue of bullying.  One of my issues with this is the strong focus on the bullying of an “individual”, usually children, but totally ignores the issue of systemic bullying based on policy.  We hear all of these wonderful words from our politicians and people in positions of privilege while their actions speak very differently.

One would think, following the horrendous event at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, that now would be the perfect time for our politicians to demonstrate anti-bullying behaviour. You would think that the tragic death of 17 people (mainly high school kids) would definitely fall into the realm of bullying.  What could be a more “extreme” form of bullying than a mass shooting?  Well according to the NRA “mental health” is the issue not the lack of gun regulations.

Kent State shooting
Kent State massacre Pulitzer prize winning picture 1972, are we heading back there?

Starting back to the Kent State massacre, I have never heard anyone say anything about doing away with the Second Amendment but have repeatedly heard the call for some protective regulations.  When the first car made it onto the road we didn’t have speed limits, today we do but we haven’t done away with cars.  It’s called progressive regulations but we still have cases of “road rage”. 

Protective regulations that have an impact on the Second Amendment are just that, protective regulations.  The same way speed limits are just speed limits and have nothing to do with eliminating the automobile.  Road rage is just another form of bullying.  The NRA continually hide behind the guise of “protecting the Second Amendment” which is nothing short of covert bullying.  The Florida survivors are taking a stand against bullying with their #StudentsStandUp campaign.  They have taken a stand and that’s worthy of a pink shirt.

Now with so many high level corporate entities pulling their support of the NRA we have politicians stepping up their personal bullying tactics.  Those corporations standing up to the bully tactics of the NRA should be commended, not bullied.  Let’s keep the well-being of the victims in mind and stop the “victim blaming” game.  Corporations are taking steps to curtail any form of bullying and acting in an ethical way which is their right.  We don’t need politicians supposedly elected by the people for the people behaving like a paid lackey for some deep pocketed lobby organization.

That includes politician like the Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, Casey Cagle, threatening to “kill any bills” aimed at supporting any business that takes aim at the NRA.  Any politician making this type of threat is “bullying” every law abiding voter out there who believes in a safe, free society.

It’s hard enough combatting bullying on the schoolyard without legislators threatening with their own bullying tactics.  It is difficult to help kids understand the complexities of bullying by simply writing it off as a “mental health” issue while cutting millions from the federal budget aimed at helping with community mental health program.

We have close to 3000 students heading back to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School next week after two weeks of hearing their President promote “school safety” while slashing almost $25 million from school safety programs.   We are bullied by policies and we don’t even realize it.  It’s a level of detail most don’t understand.  We are bullied into silence by policies that are based on intimidation and fear of retaliation.   When one person of privilege can threaten the well being of a whole generation of young people they are a promoting systemic bullying.

To the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, your dignity may have been assaulted, your safety may have been vandalized and your reaction may have been cruelly mocked but never surrender your determination.  Our future lys with you.  On Pink Shirt Day wear your pink with pride and don’t, for a minute, believe that pink is just about a person…it’s about an attitude.  Stand up to bullies on all levels!



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