Tag Archives: bullying

Ad Hominen…add who??

Ad Hominen is a form of argument that occurs a lot on Twitter. This is the long winded definition:

Ad hominem (Latin for “to the person”),[1] … typically refers to a fallacious argumentative strategy whereby genuine discussion of the topic at hand is avoided by instead attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, …, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.[


I prefer the much shorter one: intimidation.

Too strong? Think about it. Why do people argue in the first place? To win. So if you can make your opponent back down, or back off, you will have won the argument…right?

Wrong. The argument has not been won. The argument has not been addressed at all. It’s still there. All you have achieved is to scare your opponent off by attacking them personally.

Isn’t this precisely what happens when a woman is sexually harassed but remains silent because she fears for her job if she speaks up?

Isn’t this precisely what happens when people in an organisation witness wrong doing but don’t speak up for fear of ruining their careers, or even ending up in jail as ‘whistleblowers’?

Intimidation can take many forms, but at its heart it is the need to win at any cost. Correction, the need to appear to win at any cost because intimidation doesn’t actually change things. It doesn’t solve any problems. It doesn’t persuade. It doesn’t change hearts and minds. It simply sends them underground where they fester.

In my head I see a weedy little guy shouted down by a big, burly guy. Mr Weed slinks away in humiliation, but in the privacy of his own mind he knows he’s right. And so the anger builds. The next time he sees the big, burly guy, he’s got a gun in his pocket. Bang. Take that. And so it goes.

I grew up respecting facts and logic, courtesy and genuine debate. To me, name calling was the last resort of a loser. I guess I really have become an old dinosaur because these days, name calling has become the first resort of many people on Twitter.

I shouldn’t be surprised. Western democracy is in trouble, people are becoming more and more polarised, and we all feel as if we’re not being listened to, or even heard. But intimidation only escalates the problem.

Intimidation also has the capacity to turn potential allies into foes. I discovered that yesterday on Twitter. I thought I was having a polite discussion with someone I follow when The Pack descended and launched a personal attack against me for daring to disagree with something. I became angry at the form of the attack and any sympathy I may have had for their cause went flying out the window.

The people carrying out this attack belong to one of Australia’s smaller political parties. I’ll simply call it party X because the followers of the bigger ones are no better.

I’ve never voted for party X, but I actually agree with some of their principles. But not all, and that was the problem.

“O con noi o contro di noi”—You’re either with us or against us. [Benito Mussolini]


Group think demands that there be no dissent, or else. As a result of yesterday’s ‘or else’, any chance party X had of winning my vote in the future is gone. That is the flip side of intimidation.

As an individual, my vote counts for very little. But there are a lot of people like me. We may not subscribe to the ‘group think’ of a particular party, but we do care about significant issues. We are potential allies in the fight for those issues, so using intimidation tactics against us is the equivalent of cutting your nose off to spite your face.

If we are to have any chance of saving the world, and ourselves, we have to start treating everyone with respect.



p.s. this post was written using Guttenberg for the first time.

10 things that marriage equality won’t do

A co-worker brought in a pamphlet yesterday. The heading read ‘3 ways gay marriage will change the classroom’. And I quote

More radical gay & lesbian sex ‘education’ programs in schools‘ like Safe Schools which ‘..already teach kids about various forms of sexual activity and encourages sexual experimentation from an early age‘.

Kids will be taught their gender is fluid‘…’something they choose, not something they are born with‘.

Loss of parents’ rights‘. ‘In other countries where gay marriage has been legalised, parents have found themselves in court after trying to pull their kids out of radical gay sex education classes‘.

We were all gobsmacked at the ignorance and blatant disregard for the truth. So here are some things that won’t happen when marriage equality is finally made law:

1.  Heterosexual kids will not suddenly become gay. Homosexuality is not a choice.

2.  Heterosexual kids will not suddenly become lesbian. Homosexuality is not a choice.

3.  Heterosexual kids will not suddenly become trans. Being transgender is not a choice.

4.  Kids in general will not be any more or less interested in sex than they are now. But kids who are taught that being gay, lesbian or trans is not ‘bad’ may become a little more tolerant. They may stop hounding kids who look or act ‘different’. And gay, lesbian or trans kids who struggle to make sense of their feelings and their place in the world may stop harming themselves and taking their own lives.

5.  Parents will not lose any of the ‘rights’ they have now. They will still be free to place their children in public or private schools according to their beliefs. They will also continue to have the right to homeschool their children.

6.  Religious institutions that allowed systemic child abuse to continue for decades will continue to marry or not marry people based on church dogma.

7.  Adults who disliked gay, lesbian or trans people before marriage equality can continue to dislike them afterwards. Marriage equality is powerless to stop prejudice and bigotry.

8.  Marriage equality will not harm any straight people.

9.  Marriage equality will not take anything away from straight people.

10.  Marriage equality is not the start of a slippery slope that will ruin Australia.

These are the countries that have already legalised marriage equality:

This list includes deeply religious countries like Spain, Portugal and Ireland. The sky didn’t fall in and nothing terrible happened.

Nothing terrible will happen here either. Life will continue the way it always has, but there may come a time when kids who are different can stand tall and live happy, productive lives instead of being bullied to death like Kenneth James Weishuhn. Rest in peace.

Vote Yes


Mitt Romney – once a bully always a bully?

I’m an Australian and we tend to see our politicians as being little better than used-car salesmen so I do not pay much attention to politicians at all, especially when they are not even from my own country, however a friend sent me an email recently [thank you Candy] that I could not ignore. It concerns the furore that has erupted over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Apparently Romney, aged 18, and his posse terrorized a fellow student at school by overpowering him and cutting off his long, bleached blond hair. It is unclear whether any of the boys in the posse thought the victim was gay, however it is clear that they remember the incident. Republican candidate Romney however asserts that he has no memory of the incident. When Romney, or his minders, finally decided that an apology was required it turned out to be a generic ‘sorry if I caused offence’ type statement.

Those are the facts that I could glean from the net where the media is polarized between the Romney apologists who seem to be determined to paint the incident as no more than youthful ‘hijinks’ and those who are determined to paint Romney as a dangerous bully. Which version is right?

I decided to dig a little deeper. We all know ‘what’ a bully is but what lies behind the label? The italics are mine.

According to Psychology Today :

“Bullying is a distinctive pattern of deliberately harming and humiliating others. It’s a very durable behavioral style, largely because bullies get what they want—at least at first. Bullies are made, not born, and it happens at an early age, if the normal aggression of two-year-olds isn’t handled well.”

Another source, Dr. Susan Lipkins, a psychologist for twenty five years, says :

“Many people think that bullies are either insecure or have low self-esteem. Recent research shows that some bullies may fit this description, but many bullies have high self-esteem.

The bully leads via intimidation. People follow to avoid being victimized.”

This picture of bullies with high self-esteem dove-tails nicely with an article in the American Psychology Association by psychologist Pat Ferris, MSW, PhD who says that her research into workplace bullying found that :

“…bullying tends to start at the top, trickling down through the ranks, and that bullying breeds more bullying, making it an entrenched cycle that’s tough to stop.”

So, can any of us afford to dismiss Mitt Romney’s bullying as just youthful hijinks? Something he grew out of when he became more committed to his religion?

I imagine that the right wing religious movement in the US would like to believe that getting religion is proof that Romney is now a good, kind, mature person who is well qualified to be a father figure to the nation. I am not so sure of that however my reasons rely on speculation rather than fact. I know that Romney is a Mormon. I am even prepared to believe that he is a true believer however that does not automatically make me trust him.

Why? Because of the possibility that Romney’s ‘slightly effeminate, long-haired’ victim may have been seen as gay. And, as far as I know, no religion on earth is prepared to accept homosexuality as a viable life option. I may be wrong in that assertion but I know that a core tenet of the Mormon faith is the Law of Chastity.

“The law of chastity … states that any sexual relations outside of opposite-sex marriage is prohibited.[1] Included within the prohibitions of the law of chastity is homosexual behavior. Violating the law of chastity may result in church discipline. Members of the church who self-identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual may remain in good standing in the church if they abstain from all homosexual relations and from heterosexual relations outside of opposite-sex marriage.”[wikipedia]

The ‘abstain from all homosexual relations’ part is key. Gays who abstain must be tolerated but what of those who do not abstain? What of those who not only do not abstain but do not even belong to the church? More importantly, how would an 18 year old young adult interpret that law?

Few of us can remember every little thing that we did as teenagers or young adults but most of us can remember the things we did that we are ashamed of. Those are the things that make us feel guilty. Those are the things we do not mention in our CV’s or bring up around the dinner table for fear that even those who love us the most will look away in disgust.  Those are the things that at least some members of Romney’s posse remember.

Methinks that Mitt Romney either does remember quite well and chooses to pretend that he does not. Or. He genuinely does not remember because that incident was just one of many that he believes show what a strong, powerful leader he was, even back then. ‘Of course in this climate of political correctness the boo-hooers have the upper hand but in time those bleaters will be the first to appreciate what a true leader can do…’

Does Mitt Romney as President scare me? Oh yes. Romney has achieved pretty much all that he has ever set out to achieve, which means that what worked at 18 is still working now. That is scary because if bullying worked at 18 then why would he want to change a winning formula as President?

Once a bully always a bully.

Kenneth James Weishuhn – Update

When I posted last night about the death of Kenneth James Weishuhn I knew that the post would not accomplish much and that made me toss and turn all night. This morning Sweet Mother posted an article that gave my anger a name : One Million Moms.

This organization does not contain one million mothers, it only contains about 40,000 of them but they all campaign against gays. And when they go back to being mothers they teach their children the same hatred and bigotry that they spew online. Those children then go to school or they go online and they spread the hatred to their friends. Eventually that culture of hatred finds a victim. Sometimes the victim is strong enough to fight back, or at least ignore the cruelty. Sometimes the victim dies. Like 14 year old Kenneth.

We all know it has to stop. We all say how horrible bullying is but when it comes to bullying victims committing suicide we think that there must have been something else, some weakness at play, some fatal flaw for which the bullying is just a trigger. After all, words can’t kill.

I used to think that but in reading more about Kenneth’s death I discovered that words can kill when they are accompanied by the kind of hatred that was directed towards this young boy. Hatred that can send the bullies to the funeral and make them say they’re glad that he is dead is no ordinary hatred. It’s not a game. It’s not just kids ‘teasing’. This is real, inbred, homegrown HATE. The kind of hate that would kill if it dared.

Yet where does this level of hate with a capital ‘H’ come from? You guessed it : from people like One Million Moms. Well this mum is about to tell those ‘moms’ that they are evil with a capital ‘E’.

Mothers from hell

If you are a mum and if you love your children and if you believe that all children have a right to live then please join me in condemning these women. Even if we only make one ‘mom’ change her mind that is a start. That is one less source of hate. One less family spewing bigotry into the world. And maybe it will mean one less child dying.

Enough is enough.

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