When is a rose not a rose? Apparently when it can still be nipped in the bud…

Image by Clarita at morgueFile
“The Boy Scouts of America – as modern as phrenology!”
Image by Clarita at morgueFile

The Boy Scouts of America have still lost my support.

I used to buy popcorn from my neighbor’s son…then I found out that the boy scouts had kicked out a leader because, horror of all horrors, he was gay.  That’s right, he had the absolute gall, the nerve!, to not be in a heterosexual relationship.  Yeah.  So I had to stop buying the popcorn, even though it tasted good and even though I knew that my neighbor’s son was getting a lot out of boy scouts.  Because there was a problem.

The problem, as I see it, is that humanity has something wrong it.  Humanity can only think something is good if they can keep it from someone else.  It just makes it “more special” if you can withhold it from another person, regardless of the reason.  Kinda like a bully playing keep-away with a backpack in junior high.

Now the boy scouts have decided to go ahead and, if the vote is approved, allow scouts in if they’re gay, but, still, not gay scout leaders.

Honestly, there are only two ways for this to go.

1. They believe that gays choose to be gays.
2. They believe that people are born gay or straight.

In both cases, their decision is…oh…what’s the word?….moronic.

If one is true, then why let those boys in during the decision-making time of life?  What if they – gasp! – “turn” the other boys gay, too, what with their wiley ways and hidden agenda?  Unless the scouts think that their awesome paramilitary organization will “change” or “fix” the boy.  (Although the uniform kind of implies a certain kind of fetish…but I won’t go there…yet.)

If two is true, then what difference does it make?  If someone is born gay, there is no reason whatsoever to ban a group based on something that they have no control over.  That would be like banning someone for having cross eyes or freckles.  And even the boy scouts can probably admit that’s stupid, although I may be overestimating their intelligence.

Regardless, the boy scouts have once against disappointed people with a brain, and I’m sad to see it happen.  Maybe eventually they will grow up and get over their own bullying discriminatory agenda and realize that sharing is better than excluding.


When is teasing a jailing offense?

Students in a mock jail cell at Frontier Fiesta, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, don’t get me wrong – I am completely against bullying and teasing.  Pretty obvious to anyone who knows me or has read my blog.  But…when is it time to send someone to jail over it?

In Ohio, a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy was “mocked” by a 43-year-old man, William Bailey, who was recorded with a cellphone camera imitating the limp the girl had.  He denied that it was directed at the girl, but did apologize to the girl in a statement after pleading no contest and being sentenced to one month in jail on charges of disorderly conduct and aggravated menacing. 

Was he wrong in what he did?

Well, yeah, duh.  We all know that.

But why go to jail over it?  Can’t we all just agree he’s a douche bag?  Can’t we just use him as an example of what’s wrong with the world?  Can’t we just shake our heads and point to him and tell our children that he’s obviously the one with the handicap?

Why do we have to legislate common manners and decency?

And why do it when the guy is already in his forties?  We ignore the problem in schools, we ignore the problems in life, but once someone has kids of his own, we suddenly realize that it’s a problem?

Maybe we need to do something about it sooner.  Maybe we should have handled this guy’s urge to make fun of other people back when he was in school himself, instead of waiting and tossing him in jail.  Although, I have to admit, there’s something to be said for the thought of a guy serving a sentence for bullying…what will he have to claim to avoid getting beaten up?


Bully Blogs Continue…

Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows – Definitely a school that lived up to its name!

It’s not ironic that a bullied teenage girl in Canada committed suicide during a month dedicated to dealing with and discouraging bullying. It’s just tragic and a sign that no matter what we do, bullying will always be around until both parents and children learn to take personal responsibility for the world around them.

Because earlier this year, we also found out that teenagers who tried to stop bullying got in trouble, like in Florida where a girl on a bus stood up for a mentally disabled student and was then herself called a bully. And what about another case, this time this month, when a mother forced her 13-year-old daughter (here in the Houston area) to beat up another girl?

Do we really have no idea of what makes someone a bully?

The girl shot by the Taliban is just another example of bullies. Just like the Texas mom, they’re grown up bullies out of the school yard, but still trying to control other people’s actions through the use of violence, fear, and intimidation.

And I know I’ve said it before, but I know where this comes from. I spent five years in a Catholic school where the officials had no idea how to deal with bullying, other than blaming the victims or pretending it wasn’t happening. The parents of the bullies didn’t care, either. Their precious little snowflakes would never do such things. It didn’t matter that their precious little snowflakes were actually precious little bastards. The parents closed their eyes just as the school did, and my sister and I both suffered for it, along with anyone else who got in the way.

Now I wonder, just like I do when I see these news stories, how do the bullies feel? Do they feel justified? Do they feel proud of themselves? Are they honestly that devoid of humanity?

What about my now-grown-up bullies from 20+ years ago? What would they say if they met me on the street? Would they apologize? Would they justify their actions out of embarrassment? Out of a true belief that they’d done nothing wrong? Would they understand what they had done? What if their own children are being bullied? Are they outraged at the lack of response?

I can’t always blame children for doing childish things, but when it gets adults involved, and when it goes on for so long, I have to think that there is something going wrong out there…


Oprah.com – I’m calling you out!

My “weird” and “creepy” son!

Dear Corrie Pikul,

Obviously, you must be brilliant because you write for Oprah.com.  And that brilliance is further illuminated in your word choices for your title (or perhaps I should blame your editor?):

How to deal with your kid’s weird friends

And let’s see, number three of the “weird friends” are listed as “the obsessive.”  And brilliant Pikul (who shall henceforce be called p.u. just because I have that sort of sense of humor) quotes another brilliant person, a Ph.D. named Matthew Goldfine, who is a clinical child psychologist at Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders.  And this brilliant quote from the brilliant Goldfine is that “he often hears parents try to diagnose other people’s children with psychological or developmental disorders like obsessive-compulsive behavior, autism, or Asperger’s syndrome.”  Scary, scary.  Children with mental problems!  But, Goldfine, tells us, it’s okay!  Do you know why it’s okay?  “It’s not contagious, and there’s absolutely no harm to your child in hanging out with another kid who has one of these psychological diagnoses.”

Whew!  Thank god Goldfine and p.u. were there for us!  They’ve told us that we don’t have to revert to the turn of the 20th century (and earlier and later) where people with such obvious disabilities should have been locked up and shunned for fear of catching their madness.

So thank you, p.u., and thank you, Goldfine, for helping us know that it’s okay that we as parents don’t like these “weird” disabled children and their  “creepy” behaviors.  (Yes, that’s a quote – p.u. actually referred to those with disabilities as creepy!  Score one for being afraid of those who are different!)

Seriously, isn’t there a push right now to get rid of bullies, not give them more fuel for their fire?  Where is the editor with any common sense who would have edited the hell out of this article and made sure that Oprah.com wasn’t responsible for calling my autistic son creepy?


Time to give in to the bullies!

A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Berea, Ohio
A Bully Free Zone sign – School in Berea, Ohio By Eddie~S (Bully Free Zone Uploaded by Doktory) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

So, CNN is featuring a video of a girl who got plastic surgery to “fix” her problems because she’d been getting bullied since the 1st grade because of how she looked.  She was 10 the first time she asked her mom for the plastic surgery “to stop the bullying.”  Her mom found an organization online – “Little Baby Face Foundation.”  They flew her and her mom out there, and the doctor decided that she needed more than her problem area (her ears) fixed – he wanted to do her chin, too, because it was “too square.” 

Now, I have no problem with the fact that he wanted to fix her nose – her septum was completely deviated, and she stated after the surgery that she felt better physically because she was breathing better.  That, admittedly, is an important fix. 

But the fact that the doctor suggested the other changes because once her ears would be pinned back, her other problems would be more noticeable, and he wanted to “balance her features” tells me this is more about appearance and giving in to others’ perception of what we should be rather than what we are. 

I do want to note: There’s a difference between some of what is shown on the Little Baby Face Foundation’s website and the “problems” they fixed for the girl.  They show true deformities – microtia and other issues that causing hearing loss that can be fixed with surgery, cleft lip and cleft palate, and facial palsy.  These are true physical deformities, and ones that cause physical issues – unable to speak properly, inability to move portions of the face…  These are true problems that need to be fixed. 

Being bullied is not a reason to change.  Because, let’s be very honest, a bully is always going to find something to bully someone about.  The fact she had surgery, all by itself, is something she can be bullied about.  Talk about giving in to peer pressure!  And peer pressure from people who obviously have never been taught respect for others, compassion, or empathy.

But it goes further than that.  Is there an organization out there to provide money to people who are bullied for wearing the wrong clothes?  What about an organization to teach smart kids to act stupid in order to avoid being bullied for being “too smart”?  Do we really need to create a world where we force people to change to be more acceptable to the masses of asses?  (Why do I have that song by L7 running through my head?)  

Maybe my opinion here is being informed by personal experience.  I was bullied for more than five years in grade school.  I was in a Catholic school.  I have no idea why I was picked for bullying.  I had been popular in public school, but when my sister and I were moved to private school, the bullying began.  Did the other kids know that we weren’t as rich as them?  Did they mind that I didn’t care if they were my friends? (Even when I was popular, I still was a bit of a loner and was happy to have only a few friends…)  Did they resent the fact that I came in and went into the “A” group with the smart kids? (Aside – what educators really think it’s a good idea to have an “A” and “B” group with the smart kids being in the “A” group?  Why not just say, “Hey, you kids are stupid, so you’ll never get an “A” in your life, including the name of the classes you’re in!”) 

I also have what some might consider a physical deformity.  I consider it one.  I had severe acne and have fairly severe scarring now.  Do I consider plastic surgery at times to “correct” it?  Yes.  Do I ever get it?  No.  Why?  Because I don’t mind the scarring.  Sure, maybe I think I’d look better without it.  But it doesn’t interfere with my functioning, any more than this girl’s ears interfered with hers.  I do think that maybe I’d have more success with certain parts of my life with this problem “fixed,” but I know that to do so would be to give in to social pressure to conform to an image that isn’t me.  Why should I be forced to change who I am just to make other people happy?

I’d like to close this with something my father taught me many, many years ago.  Probably the best advice he’s ever given me.  Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.


Our Lady of Perpetual Motion

Image © Can Stock Photo Inc. / creatistaBecause it wasn’t bad enough that I spent 5 miserable years there, Our Lady of Sorrows (or, as any good George Carlin fan would call it, Our Lady of Perpetual Motion), is now kind enough to send their “Sorrow Scoops.”  (Seriously, who thought that was a good name?  It sounds like ice cream that would make you cry.) 

Anyway, so they send me this alumni pamphlet, and they don’t even spell my name right.  Talk about adding insult to injury.  It’s not like my name is hard to spell.  Katherine.  Easy, right?  Okay, not that easy.  I’ve seen it spelled plenty of other ways – Katharine, Kathryn.  Allowable options.  But Kathering?  WTF is that?

And the fact that they didn’t bother to catch it tells me that they are the same as ever.  They don’t care.  They never did.

Their little tag line claims that they have been providing students “…with a safe, structured and caring environment in which to grow, both academically and spiritually…”  Wow.  The stories I could tell.  If they considered any of the time I spent there “safe, structured, or caring…”

I’ll just tell one story for now.  Just one.  But I think it’s an excellent illustration of why I want to save up a stack of the pamphlets until I can use them to start a fire.

In fourth grade, the first year I was there, some other students watched Saturday Night Live and learned the terms “lezzy.”  Since my sister and I were foolish enough to still be friends and want to hold hands, we were called “lezzy.”  (Looking back, there’s perhaps another term they should have used, but no one said they were intelligent…)  Needless to say, things escalated because the school had no idea how to handle bullying.  When it finally got bad enough, they came up with a brilliant solution.  Rather than actually handle the people responsible for the bullying, they would punish the entire floor – the 4th and 5th grade classes that my sister and I were in.  So instead of recess, we all had to stand in the hall. 

Yes, you read that right, “we.”  My sister and I were included in the punishment.  For being bullied?  For reporting it?  For being miserable with their “safe, structured, and caring environment”?

Whatever their brilliant reasoning was, it was only the beginning of a horrible period of my life, and I while I should probably just get over it, every time I get one of their little “isn’t our school wonderful” Sorrow Scoops, I’m only reminded of everything bad about them.



Blaming the victim, part two, three, and four…and maybe five?

Okay, so we already know that rape victims are always to blame, either because they are in the wrong place, wearing the wrong clothes or the wrong gender.  But now Health.com (through CNN) has decided it isn’t just rape victims that are causing their own woes.  It’s school children, too.  Those damn kids!

In their “Are depressed kids bully magnets?,” they are kind enough to blame the kids for being bullied.  The title alone gives us a hint of that – they are “magnets” – e.g. they are causing the bullies to come to them.  But how, one might ask are these children doing that?

Well, you see, they’re depressed.  And this means that they “have the potential to appear vulnerable, and are easy marks for victimization.”

But, wait, there’s more!

A researcher pointed out that the kids really do bring it upon themselves by exhibiting “social skill deficits or behaviors…or excessively [talking] about their problems…these are all things that have the potential to be irritating to peers.”

Damn right, researcher! If only those depressed kids just kept their problems to themselves and didn’t annoy the others, maybe they wouldn’t be harassed and bullied.

I know, instead of stopping bullying, why don’t we just stop depression?  Let’s just drug up the depressed kids.  Once they’re happy, all the bullying will stop, right?

Sometimes I really wonder at the brilliance of these researchers.  Yes, it’s good to know that there may be a reason why bullies pick targets, but let’s think about the words we use and how we express that information.  Let’s not give the bullies excuses; let’s come up with ways to stop the problem.  Blaming the victim is not the way to go.