There's an old Polish proverb that says, "Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose."
It's a conflict as old as time -- the individual vs. mass society. It plays out every day. It takes many forms.
For example, cosplayers. I know a woman who works as a booth babe at comic shows and cosplays as well. One day, while dressed as Black Cat, as she was heading into the women's washroom, some asshole reached over and grabbed her breasts. As the discussion grew about what form of punishment this guy deserved, a counter argument gained steam -- if she doesn't want guys treating her like a piece of meat, maybe she shouldn't have dressed as Black Cat.
Which resulted in an all-out war. I actually made the first strike, pointing out that, just because a woman dresses sexy, just because she acts sexy, hell, just because she exists (because there are guys who can find almost anything sexy) does not mean she is giving up her right to be left alone. She wants to dress like Black Cat? All she's doing is going out in public, not inviting you to do anything more than look. And yet, the final tally was about a 50/50 split between people like me and the other side saying, "She was asking for it."
(Side note: "Asking for it" has always struck me as about the dumbest validation ever. You don't hear people say, "Well, you went walking down the street. Of course, you were going to get mugged!" It's only when women are sexually violated that this comes out. Guys have a different problem -- they are called "lucky" instead of "victims," but that's another topic. It's almost like, unless a woman is wearing a burqa, she should expect to be violated.)
As I said, this goes on all the time. Crude social interactions, such as women showing some leg to a bunch of construction workers, have the insulating layer of social convention -- the women know the guys won't go any further, and the guys don't go any further. Everyone gets their attention, and they move on. The problem is when that insulating layer is removed, when one or the other not only has the option of taking it further, but they act on that option.
It isn't just sexual situations that get unwarranted attention. We live in an era where everything is something to react to. Message boards, YouTube videos, all kinds of things are no longer about getting into the usual fanboy arguments (I admit, I do it, too) and are about calling out the perceived enemy. From the furries with Watch Your Step to the Tea Partiers, everybody is on a quest to eliminate contrary thought and behavior, even when that behavior is mild enough to be left alone.
This isn't to say no one has the right to react. Everyone does. I get strange looks for being almost 43 and drawing an all-ages comic series with mermaids. Guys like me just don't do that. Likewise, I know that, when I go out wearing a My Little Pony T-shirt, I'm going to get some odd looks on occasion. This is to be expected when you advertise your enjoyment of something that falls outside expected conventions (it IS a show for little girls, after all). But that's as far as it goes. If someone decided to come up and start insulting me or pushing me around because he thinks I'm an easy mark, he has no right to do that.
I recognize this is a lengthly introduction, but it does tie in with what I'm about to write about. Just bear with me, and I'll explain how this all comes together.
You have to keep in mind, I don't like bullies. I was bullied for most of my school life and even outside of it for several years (one of the best moments was a few years ago. Turns out one of those old bullies was running for local office, and came up to ask if he could put a campaign sign in my yard. I told him to suck a dick, but that wasn't enough for me. I hit local bars and food places with Regular Morning Gatherings, and working my way into their election conversations. I eventually got around to how he bullied me and some other rotten stuff he did in school. Suddenly, people started remembering what a prick he was, and he lost by nearly 2 to 1. Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate). It didn't stop until I started picking back or, in extreme cases, actually fighting back. I, however, was lucky. I could do that. I had a frame that gave itself strength and a fast and ingenious mind. Lots of kids aren't like that, and they need to be protected from society's predators.
And schools suck at that.
Schools know who the bullies are. They know what they do. They know who runs the school and they show an active disinterest in addressing these predators. Some just cling to the quintessential notion that any conflict can be resolved if everything is just talked out. Others let it slide because they think it is a coping mechanism for social anxiety on the parts of the bullies and should be understood and treated, not condemned. And others say nothing because they figure, life is tough, better for the runts of the litter to learn that now, that there are evil people who will seize on ANYTHING you do, even if they do it themselves, just to beat you down. The long and the short of it is, they put more effort into protecting the liberties of the bullies than the liberties of the victims.
And now, our latest indoctrinee. Pictured here is Grayson Bruce. Bruce is 9 years old and attends elementary school in Asheville, North Carolina. Poor kid has been bullied quite a bit over the years. Not helping matters was getting a lunch bag in the motif of Rainbow Dash from his favorite show, My Little Pony. I want to point out that this kid is not rambling endlessly about the show or doing anything bothersome, the only thing he's done is carry a lunch bag. Now, the kids are really stepping up the abuse, pushing him around, punching him, and more. All because of the lunch bag. (I guaran-fucking-tee you that if it was a Batman bag or a Transformers bag, he wouldn't be picked on. The bag would be stolen, but he wouldn't be picked on.)
Naturally, he did what all good citizens are told to do and alerted the authorities. The school said it would take steps to stop the bullying.
And the first thing they did was, on Thursday, they banned Bruce from bringing his Rainbow Dash lunch bag to school.
The school's stance is that the bag is a "trigger for bullying" and by leaving it at home, the abuse will stop. How do people who spend so much time around kids have such a poor understanding of how they operate?!? I was picked on for being from Idaho! Hell, I get picked on now reading Deadpool comics! Abusers just look for excuses, any one they can find! Do they really think just leaving the bag at home is going to solve this?!? Apparently, yes, because no further steps to address the bullying have been taken yet, the process is still "ongoing."Noreen Bruce is Grayson's mom, and she finds the school's reasoning preposterous. "Saying a lunchbox is a trigger for bullying is like saying a short skirt is a trigger for rape. It's flawed logic. It doesn't make any sense."
Sadly, message boards are filling up with people saying the kid was asking for it, completely overlooking that he was being picked on before, the lunch bag was just a convenient excuse. They are saying the kid is asking for it, that he basically deserves to get picked on. I bet you that every one of those people were bullies themselves in school.
I just hate when people say someone deserves to be a victim. Because people who honestly believe that should be the first to be victimized.