Sunday, October 7, 2012

When bullies cry bully, and other bullsh*t

I'm beginning to seriously hate the word bully. It's currently going for the gold in the overused-words Olympics.

Nevertheless, it's an apt description for a lot of bad behavior.

But here's one thing I really love (and by love, I mean it makes me want to pull my hair out): bullies who whine about being 'bullied'. I've seen enough examples of this lately to render me nearly bald.

Let me give you a few examples.

I read an article today about about the 'bullying' of Australian shock jock Alan Jones. For those of you outside of Australia, Jones is a popular conservative talk show host (think Rush Limbaugh in an akubra) who regularly lands himself in hot water for his provocative comments. The latest brouhaha involves a comment he made about the Prime Minister, suggesting her recently deceased father had died from shame. There has been a tremendous public backlash and he has apologized.

Anyway, an article in the DailyTelegrah condemns the public for their 'bullying' crusade against advertisers on Jones' show. What is this crusade? Citizens have called for a boycott of advertisers on his morning show and are circulating petitions via Change.org,private Facebook pages, etc. Many people are calling and emailing the businesses directly.  "What we are witnessing is 21st century cyber-bullying," Jones said.

Okay. Let me see if I have this straight.

Jones makes cruel and derisive comments about a public figure. When he does so, he's not being a bully, he's exercising his right of free speech. Citizens who don't like his comments call for a boycott of those businesses that are choosing to align themselves with his show by advertising on it. But that's not free speech, that's bullying.

***Leaves room momentarily to pull out more hair***

I understand that some of the backlash against Jones' and these businesses has been vitriolic and hateful. I don't like that. I think everyone should hold hands and sing Coca-Cola songs. But the reaction is not all that surprising. Vitriol breeds vitriol. Like attracts like.




Let me backtrack a bit so you have a better understanding of my perspective.

In the aftermath of the assault, when I was trying to make sense of abuse, I read a book called "Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by the quite brilliant Lundy Bancroft. Bancroft is one of the world's top experts on domestic abuse. He ran the nation's first counseling program for men who batter and has written several bestselling books on the topic. If you have ever been in an abusive relationship and are trying to make sense of it, I cannot recommend his work highly enough.

Anyway, according to Bancroft (and about a million other people who write on the topic), one of the hallmarks of the abusive personality is projection. It's not them, it's you. Always. Whatever they did, however heinous, they were justified. You on the other hand, are critical, angry, illogical and abusive. That's right, you are abusing them.

I will never forget when I showed up for the initial hearing following my ex-husband's arrest after the assault. I was required to be there, as the victim of the crime. I was terrified. I did not want to be anywhere near him (or in this case, his video image, broadcast from jail). I brought a couple of friends with me for moral support and a DV advocate from the court stood next to me as I testified.

I was prepared for him to be furious (and I'm sure he was). But what I didn't expect was what I actually witnessed. On the video screen, in his bright orange prison jumper, he looked lost and confused. When the judge asked him if he understood the charges, he just shook his head and, like a deer in the headlights, explained that he had no idea why he was there. He acted as if he had been sleeping peacefully in bed two nights before, dreaming of rainbows and bunicorns and alms for the poor, when he fell into a time/space warp and was delivered, quite accidentally, to the local jail.

When the judge asked him if he wanted to retain his own attorney or have one appointed by the court, he responded that he had no money, as his wife had taken it all (translation: he had recently been ordered to start paying child support). However, despite this injustice, he elected to retain his own high-powered attorney.

When my friends and I walked out of the courtroom, we were now the proverbial deer in the headlights. What had just happened? I wasn't sure. It was the most bizarre performance I had ever seen. (“Ah grasshopper, you have much yet to learn”, says current-day me to two-years-ago me).

In his mind, he was the one being unjustly treated. He was the victim.

Two days ago I noticed a number of hits to my blog coming from a forum I was not familiar with. Curious, I clicked through and noticed there was a discussion going on about a blog written by the wife of a man charged with possession of child pornography. 

The blog in question was about all the turmoil and injustice this family faced as a result of the charges, how it had created great upheaval in their lives and it was all just so unfair. Anyway, someone had left a link to my blog as an example of a similar situation, different perspective (thank you).

What struck me about this blog was that it went on and on about the poor, publicly-maligned viewers-of-child-pornography. How they are branded and ostracized when, after all, they are not really child abusers – they were just looking at pictures for goodness sake – or something like that, I was too busy pulling my hair out to actually read much of it.

For the record, I don't believe for a minute the blog is written by the wife of the perpetrator, and I'm not leaving a link to his, er... I mean her blog or the forum discussion because the last thing that blog needs is more pageviews. Rather, it needs to remain in the land of obscurity and die a quiet death from neglect.

I am not trying to equate Jones' comment with domestic violence or child pornography. I know very little about Jones and I've never listened to his show. I'm pretty certain I never will. Life is too short and I'm running out of hair.

My point is that Jones' is simply employing a tactic successfully wielded by many serial abusers of power. He's blaming everyone but himself.

Here's the deal. If you choose to regularly make incendiary comments, people may not like you very much. If you choose to advertise on a show where incendiary comments are regularly made, people may not like your business very much. If you assault someone, you will likely go to jail. If you participate in the exploitation of children, you will likely go to jail and people will definitely not like you. If you are married to someone who gets caught exploiting children, your life will indeed go to hell in a handbasket.

Choices. Consequences.

Life is full of both.



P.S. If you feel I've misrepresented the Jones situation (based on the two articles I cursorily read on the topic), feel free to let me know. It won't be the first time I've mouthed off about something going on overseas that I know little about.


36 comments:

  1. I laughed out loud, in a room by myself thus looking slightly deranged, when I read the article this morning. The irony is just amazing. I can't stand Alan Jones and I disagree with pretty much every single word that comes out of his mouth - but if he's allowed to say it, why can't I say I disagree? Last I checked I wasn't alluding to throwing the Prime Minister out to see or falsely accusing senior police officials of forging documents. GAH NOW I HAVE NO HAIR EITHER!

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    1. But Trae, he was just making a little joke (can't people take a joke these days?). You, on the other hand, are being mean and trying to punish innocent businesses. It's not fair that they can no longer profit off his vitriol.

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  2. Isn't it amazing how bad people try to justify the terribe things they do?

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    1. Life is a lot easier when you never have to take responsibility for your actions.

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  3. Some very interesting comments today about the Alan Jones debacle. People saying that it just wasn't a case of irony but one of karma. Funny how it's all so different when the shoe's on the other foot. As you wisely said, choices and consequences.

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    1. As I mentioned above, I really haven't kept up with the story other than to read a few articles, so I haven't heard the karma comments (or many comments for that matter). But, yeah, it's fitting.

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  4. You are spot on re Jones - his "apology" was merely an exercise in self-justification (he was only sorry he got caught) and his very personal vitriolic comments today about the poor Benz executive charged with retrieving his car make it quite clear that he refuses to accept any responsibility for his own unsavoury actions

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    1. Yeah, you know, when they came and repossessed my 100% comped $250k Mercedes Benz after I mouthed off on my blog, I totally understood. I realized right away it was my bad.

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  5. You are absolutely spot on regarding Alan Jones - he is a bully and a nasty one at that. I am just surprised it has taken this long for people to react the way they have. He is a "shock jock" so he is paid to be a bully and be rude and be nasty to anyone he chooses to offend. I think people are finally prepared to walk with their feet and $$ and are prepared to tell the businesses, who condone his vitriol and pay him to speak it, that they will not be buying/using their businesses anymore.

    Australia is seeing the public forum debate raise its fearsome head through the various media available - people are prepared to voice their angst on Facebook, Twitter etc and do so comfortably. They are finally speaking out against Murderers, Rapists and Commentators who do wrong.

    I for one hope Alan Jones disappears into oblivion - we have heard enough of his dirty mouth.

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    1. You know what was really interesting is that during the debates here KitchenAid (KitchenAid!?!) tweeted something very similar - basically that Obama's grandmother died 3 days before he became president because she knew how bad he was going to be. What is such a contrast is that it barely even raised eyebrows here. No one could care less. There were one or two stories and the company quickly apologized. It's fascinating to me to watch this play out in Oz.

      But seriously, KITCHENAID?!! I'm so disappointed. I'm rather in love with my mixer. But I'm pretty sure I'll never buy another one of their appliances after that.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. Funny, I came across this post on My BIg NUtshells, where she is calling bloggers out on their crap, and telling people to own their words.
    Look I haven't listened much to e whole Alan Jones debarcle. I actually really don't care. But I do feel sorry for people that have no idea that the reason their life sucks, is because of them. I think it must be so sad to live so incredibly un self aware.

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  8. Alan Jones has been saying controversial things for years and years. (And ad execs must know that when they advertise on his show.) I can't say I sorry for him at all as I have no doubt that he knew what he was doing and will probably keep doing this sort of thing in some way. I guess now he is just facing some long overdue consequences...

    I felt that what he said was inexcusable. I am not a huge fan of our PM but no-one deserves such a personal attack after just losing their father. Plus some respect must be accorded the position of Prime Minister, even in this day and age. Having a go at someone's politics is acceptable but not their personal life.

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    1. I think when a person like this continues to get away with such talk, and is even rewarded for it, they begin to feel above it all, as if they are somehow immune to consequences. No one is immune to consequences.

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  9. You are so right. Jones even said (in his so-called 'apology' about the hideous comments about the PM's father), that he was only repeating what 'someone' had said to him earlier in the day. He didn't even have the guts to admit that what he said was his own opinion.

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    1. He was just repeating what someone else said? Oh, well in that case it's perfectly acceptable. Textbook a-hole apology.

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  10. Uh, no you pretty much nailed it.

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    1. So I can keep my honorary Aussie status? Cool.

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  11. Got it in one! What's worse than a mean, unrepentant bully? A mean, unrepentant bully who gets air time & loads of money to be one!!
    Jen xx

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    1. No kidding. Nothing like getting reinforcement for your bad behavior.

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  12. STANDING OVATION! Yes, yes, yes. Thank you.

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  13. Bullies have gaping wholes in their psyches and see themselves as tragic heroes fighting back against a cruel world and their world vision is inevitably as skewed as the way they navigate their hurtful path through life.

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    1. Oh, Steve, that is so true, and so beautifully and succinctly put. If I get waylaid in court or something can I hire you to ghostwrite my blog? Kthx!

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  14. I am glad you wrote this. A topic near and dear to my heart as I brace myself to write a document to help a woman who left an abusive marriage keep her children.

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    1. Good for you, Jodi. I hope the woman you speak of soon learns to see through the lies she's been told, too.

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  15. I think you've pretty much nailed it. I'm glad that his 'tactics' are getting this airplay but I don't know that it will change many fans of Jones's mind, or his mind for that matter. He must have ratings so gets away with it. I don't listen to him either - couldn't think of anything worse.

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    1. Yeah, there will always be a market for such hatred, sadly. Though still, I'm an idealist at heart and really do believe in collective change...eventually.

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  16. Most of us are actually horrified by the bullying of advertising sponsors on his program.
    A school for autistic kids that Jones personally (and till now, privately) supports, was contacted and told (not asked) to revoke his support.
    Small businesses who advertise on 2GB (not necessarily on his show) were told that their businesses would be destroyed if they didn't pull their sponsorship.
    That IS bullying. It's disgusting.

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    1. Hey hon, I know we disagree on this one. I respect your opinion. x

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  17. I found your blog through said forum, and I cannot applaud your level-headed approach to such an emotional topic enough. We've witnessed bullying in the Australian Parliament for far too long (on both sides) and this Alan Jones thing just leaves my mind boggling. How people think they can make such remarks, and not have a backlash happen against them, is so naive it's almost unbelievable, and then claim to be the bullied? Ridiculous. If nothing else, it robs the word 'bully' of its power. The vitriolic remarks against sponsors shouldn't happen, but to claim that that is bullying towards you? Utterly unbelievable. Thankfully, Jones' audience is actually quite small and he doesn't really have that much influence over the voting public in this country. He tends to come across as an angry old man most of the time who doesn't know any better. The Daily Telegraph, as well, is Jones' #1 defender in this country, so it's no surprise at all that they would come to his defence.

    That blog? The less said about it, the better.

    Sorry for the long comment, but this Alan Jones stuff, and parliamentary bullying, really angers me.

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    1. Hi Kate, thanks for coming by and leaving a comment. From what I gather from reading Aussie blogs and FB updates, things are pretty heated at the moment over there, around this and other related political issues. Lots of stuff being hashed out and lots of hackles raised.

      Thanks for your compliment. I've had a couple of years now to wrap my head around issues related to abuses of power. I can look at it now with a lot more clarity than in the beginning.

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