We tell our children to not be bullied. And not to bully others. Maybe adults should look in the mirror and practice what they preach.
Anti bullying campaigns are rampant on talk shows, schools, media and community programs. Bullying is not limited to physical force or threat, the definition encompasses many ways of intimidating , silencing and dominating others.
Unfortunately, we’re seeing a lot of efforts to limit public discourse thru intimidation lately.
Locally, the legalization of fireworks has become subject of an emotional debate that’s turned into bullying. Those on both sides of the issue are harassed for their opinions in ways that we would never tolerate on a school ground.
When a group bullies, when people of a like mindset “pile on” someone with an opposing view, it’s called mobbing. Unfortunately social media is a ripe breeding ground for mobbing behavior. To small-minded people, it’s cheap entertainment.
Most recently, a woman opposed to fireworks was harassed, and as a consequence removed herself, from a local social media page. Her name and an address were later posted online, and threats made.
Were they real threats? Or just juvenile rhetoric? Whichever, the behavior is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.
Social media has taken on a very definitive place in society. Efforts to silence opposing viewpoints – whether thru posted harassment or blocking comments, is bullying.
And it’s counter productive to democracy, of which free speech is a basic tenet.
The American Civil Liberties Union recently championed a woman whose viewpoints were barred from an elected official’s social media page. According to at least one Gardner resident, the same thing has happened here. For an elected official, trying to use their power to silence differing viewpoints, is bullying.
We’re not sure when the civility of “we can agree to disagree” became the “It’s my way or the highway and I intend to run you down” mindset that it currently is.
But it’s bullying.
Pure and simple.
It’s bullying.
And rather than be bullied into silence, we all need to find our voices, rise up, and insist on civil discourse.
The only way to stop bullying, is to stand up. Don’t allow yourself to be silenced.