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June 27, 2014

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Karl Miller

Another "high road" tactic from school days that, I think, needs to be emended is the notion that people are only cruel because they're fixing some mirror hurt within themselves. We tell ourselves and our wounded children (inner and outer) that the bully was himself bullied once so the proper response is not just to ignore, but pity him. Turns out a lot of people are cruel because ... it's just really fucking fun.

D.W. Gregory

Cruelty is empowering for those who practice it, so it reveals an inner weakness, to be sure. But understanding the origins of abusive behavior is no excuse for it. Bullying is also systemic -- the kids do it because they get away with it. The culture encourages it by promoting competition over cooperation and a winner-take-all attitude. I don't know Emily Gould's work -- I never heard of her until recently, and I never heard of Edward Champion until just now. And I don't know what the answer is, but pointing out that his "critique" is grotesquely unprofessional and crosses into abuse is one step in the right direction, it seems to me. Calling out abusive behavior when it occurs and shaming those who engage in it is one way to break the cycle -- it works with sexual abuse; seems like it ought to work with other forms of abuse. Thanks for the great blog.

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