Sunday, October 07, 2012

Anti-anti-bully

I've stayed quiet on this topic for about a week because I was so frustrated that I couldn't even gather my thoughts. And then the topic died on the vine like every other Internet cause that has people spitting mad for about 8 hours - or so I thought. The Internet is ablaze with more people standing up for something without truly thinking it through. And yet I get called a sheep for buying Apple products, while the rest of the world blindly cosigns to anyone that uses the word cause.

So, recently some local newscaster from the Wisconsin area received an email from an occasional viewer that addressed her weight. She responds back, on air, calling him a bully. Of course the rest of the bleeding heart, liberal media came to her rescue and headlined every article to make it sound like she ripped him apart on air, which wasn't even remotely true. Before this gets any further, let's look at his email. Stick with me on this.

Hi Jennifer,
It's unusual that I see your morning show but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn't improved for many years. Surely you don't consider yourself a suitable example for this community's young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you'll reconsider your responsibility as a public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.

That's the entire thing. This is the email that has caused a shit-storm of anti-bullying rhetoric. I will say that I don't see the big deal. Where is the insult? Is obesity healthy? Put 2 people side-by-side and make one healthy and lean and one obese. Who will have heart trouble as life goes on? Who will have joint trouble as they get older? High blood pressure? Cholesterol? Breathing issues? Now, I'm not trying to pick on overweight people either, but let's face facts here. The human body is designed to be a certain ratio of height and weight. Over or under that by too much and you're causing issues for yourself. Look at anorexics, they are undernourished and the body cannot function.

Let me give you an analogy. You buy a performance vehicle that calls for premium fuel and you put regular in it, what will happen? It'll run, but it'll shorten the lifespan. I won't get into octane and compression ratios, so we'll just say that your car is malnourished. Likewise, take your run of the mill sedan and let it guzzle high octane fuel. You'll have the same issue. It's too rich for the car and won't run right over time either. Balance is the key to life.

Now, maybe it wasn't his place to tell her that and I certainly think there are parts of that that he could have worded better. For instance, when he added "girls in particular" to the end of that line, he made it about image and not about health. By saying "choices" he alluded to the fact that she wants to be this way. Those were stupid word choices, but they shouldn't dilute the intent of his message.

The next step is to reference the be all, end all bible of word usage - the least used book in 2012 - the dictionary. I do this a lot because it's important to know what the fuck you are saying, especially when you rant and rave and call people names like bully. So, how does the dictionary define it? "a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker." Here is where I have an issue with her calling him a bully. For starters, by calling him a bully, she admits to being weaker than him but her intent was to show her strength. Did he harm her? No. She said she wanted to laugh it off, but her colleagues and husband made her address it. Did he intimidate her? Did he "frighten or overawe (someone), esp. in order to make them do what one wants?" No. Nothing he did fits the definition of bully. At worst, he was just being a rude asshole. As a news anchor she should really have a better command of the English language.

She goes onto say that she's overweight. She even calls herself obese. So what the fuck is the issue here? She's obese. She knows it. He said it. And he's a bully for pointing out the obvious? Again, maybe he's rude. But he didn't even do it in a rude way. Not only did he avoid insults and flat out rude language, but here's the part that nobody in the media seems to have picked up on. He sent it in an email, which by nature is private. She is the one that brought it to the world. How can you be pissed off at the example he's setting when nobody knew anything about it until you told EVERYONE? I see her as the bully here. She used her power by being on air to intimidate him and get him to change his behavior and apologize (which he did after media pressure). Didn't she force him to do what she wanted by using power? Sounds like that fits the definition of bullying.

In her rant against him she fires back by saying, "attacks like this are not ok." It's not an attack. He's stating a fact that being overweight isn't healthy. She says, "do you think I don't know that? That your cruel words are pointing out something that I don't see?" He wasn't illustrating that she's fat. He said he was surprised that she hasn't done something to reign it in. At no point did he say, "hey by the way, in case you didn't notice - you're fat." She's attributing words to him that he never said. Then she says, "You don't know me, you're not a friend of mine, you are not a part of my family, and and you have admitted that you don't watch this show. So you know nothing about me but what you see on the outside." This is what really enraged me. He never once attacked her character or even made a mention about her as a person. Everything he said was exactly about what was on the outside and its unhealthy implications. To defend the type of person she is, is taking every word he said entirely out of context. She misappropriated his intent to bolster her defense (and, truthfully, attack him). Somewhat off topic, I have to mention the moronic comment she made that said "Luckily for me, I have a very thick skin, literally as that email pointed out, and otherwise." Being overweight doesn't thicken your skin. It's an excess of fat, but your skin is your skin. That comment there just proved that she missed the point of his message and went on a rant in return without making any sense.

"We need to teach our kids to be kind, not critical" is another thing she says that is completely inane. Have you ever heard of constructive criticism? How about critical thinking skills? Critical has multiple definitions, but not all are bad.

  1. Expressing adverse of disapproving comments or judgements - This is the one we have to be wary of.
  2. Expressing or involving an analysis of the merits and faults of a work or literature, music, or art - BOTH merits and faults. Not all bad.
  3. Involving the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment - thinking it through instead of responding blindly.
So what's wrong with being critical? Knowing our faults is how we get better. If I showed you a painting I did and it was just terrible and you told me it was awesome, who does that help? Is lying to me to save my feelings the way to help me hone my skill and get better? It is this mentality that creates kids sports that have no score, giving them no ability to know if they're doing well or poorly. Everyone gets a trophy. Kinder, gentler approach to life doesn't pay the bills. Competition is a part of life. Putting your head in the sand thinking you'll wake up as a successful adult just isn't reality.

Look, I'm not defending this guy. He's basically an idiot. Did he think this was going to stay quiet? While I don't disagree with the content of his message, I see why even sending it was a stupid idea. It's a David and Goliath fight with one guy at his computer and her with the wattage of a news organization at her back. The unfortunate coincidence of it being anti-bullying month didn't help.

At the end of the day, he had a viewpoint about an individual person and communicated it to that person - quietly, discreetly, and privately. She didn't like it so she addressed with the public and then vilified him for having this viewpoint. You want to talk about respectful communication? She should have politely responded and disagreed. I have NO support for this woman or her action. And neither should you.

1 comment:

Alex Alex said...

Here's an idea... If you're bothered by how people see you, (in her case, a fat individual), then change how you look! It's not hard to stop eating like a Tasmanian Devil if you don't need the energy to move like one.