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The Bully Culture

What should have been an uncontroversial blog last was plagued by online bullies who derailed the conversation. In how many other ways do bullies affect our culture and why do we tolerate it?

I will be the first to admit that I can be stubborn as a mule - I get that from my Dad. If there is a fight to be had, I am going to go all in. I respect everyone’s right to their opinion, but if you are going to post on a public comment section, do not be surprised if someone like me is going to jump in when we see a hole in your argument or an error in your facts. If you are secure enough in your beliefs, I do not see why having to defend your position should bother you. If you find yourself without a defense, perhaps you need to do more research or reconsider your beliefs. Apparently, this mindset has made me some enemies on The Patch. Of all the topics that I could have written about last week, I thought that writing about my children would have been relatively drama free. However, within 15 minutes of my blog posting I was proven wrong. The first negative comment questioned my commitment to my family. As each day passed, the accusations grew more vicious. Finally, the editor was forced to close the comments section. While I have never seen the online bullying rise to levels it did on my blog, almost anyone on this section of the Patch can expect some level of personal attack if they dare to express an opinion that is different than the majority opinion. For this reason, some bloggers have been forced to turn off the comments when they post. Other posters just go away, which is bad for the level of discourse. What does anyone learn from a comment section where everyone agrees? This type of public bullying seems to have hit epidemic proportions in today’s world. For example, not only did Lance Armstrong cheat his way through his career, he ruthlessly covered his tracks. Anyone who dared to expose was subject to his wrath. The courts were often his weapon of choice. Frankie Andreu was one of Lance’s teammates. He and his wife, Betsy, were also his friends and when visiting him in the hospital overheard him list to the doctor the performance enhancing drugs that he had taken. They did not release this information until they were deposed under oath. Lance retaliated for their refusing to commit perjury by interfering with Frankie’s ability to work in the cycling industry and publicly attacking his former friends. They also received threatening messages from a third party. Another example lies with the conspiracy theorists promoting their agenda about the Sandy Hook shootings. Today’s 24 hour news cycle requires news outlets to rush to the airwaves before a story has fully developed. This leaves room for lots of errors in the initial reporting, which in turn leaves the seeds for conspiracies to grow. The Internet serves as the fertilizer with the ability to rapidly spread these theories. However, to keep these conspiracies alive, existing knowledge needs to be questioned and this is where bullying comes in. Gene Rosen is a genuine hero of the tragedy. Six children ended up on his driveway after the shooting and he took them in, calmed them down and connected them with their parents. What does he get for his heroism? According to the Huffington Post, “truthers have so far posted Rosen's personal information online, created fake social media accounts using his name and harassed him via e-mail and phone.” As this weeks activities in Algeria remind us, the ultimate bullies in today’s society are the terrorists. They prey on innocent populations and use fear to try to promote their own agenda. Do as they say or innocent people will die. We expect our government to stand up to terrorists. Policies against negotiating with hostage takers are supported. We went to war with Afghanistan because they harbored Bin Laden. Certain Liberals were demonized for looking for reasons why the Arab world tends to hate us as if looking for these solutions somehow condoned the attacks on 9/11. Why is it that when the terrorism is more personal, society tends to look the other way? A “crudely edited” video on You Tube that is presented as Rosen’s “audition tape” has been viewed 27,000 times. In order for Lance Armstrong’s intimidation to work, he had to have the support of people within the cycling community. Bullies can only thrive in online communities if they feel they have the crowd behind them.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

DDMH May 27, 2013 at 10:06 AM
Happy Memorial Day. Very nice blogs. I read them all. Sometimes we realize what holidays should really be for. I know that this is a bit late, but as the saying goes, "better late than never." Your words do have meaning and consequence and I hope they gave rise to atleast a few who still can reason and understand that there just might be another way of looking at an issue without hating the ideas of someone whom they happen to disagree with. Exchanging ideas is powerful and yes possibly even enlightening. It's also the foundation of a free society. Why would anyone want to "tread" on that.
Ken Mayes June 01, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Question - how do we get a comment dated May 27 on a blog posted June 1st
Carl Petersen III June 01, 2013 at 03:11 PM
The article was actually posted in January. Apparently, editing the document causes the date to reset.

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