Violence: It’s Never Okay
My first involvement with the skeptic community was subscribing to Skepchick and TS with Google Reader. I’m much more involved now than just checking my RSS feed, but it’s still part of my daily routine.
One of the sites I’ve subscribed to is MoveOn.org. They post a lot of graphics about the economy, politics, social issues, etc from a democratic perspective. Sometimes there are redundancies in their updates, and this particular picture amused me the first time I saw it and gave me pause the second.
Like I said, the first time I saw this, it made me giggle. It seemed righteous and good to have a big, brawny guy on our side, ready to defend this openly gay kid.
On the other hand: this could also be vengeance we’re talking about. It doesn’t explicitly say “If you try to beat this kid up, I will prevent you from doing so, using force if necessary”, although this is what we’d like to assume. “I dare you” is a provocative term, and it sounds like a threat. A threat is aggressive and not just defensive, which I think is unacceptable.
What if he (I assume this person is male, I apologize if that’s presumptuous) did just beat up the bully in response to him tormenting the boy, after the event? Or, what if he defended the boy from the bully and took it too far? If he made an aggressive move, like punching the bully instead of holding him still, what would we think then? What would his fathers think?
While I’d love to be the size of a football player sometimes, even if only to intimidate, it’s still a private desire. I don’t act on my violent impulses because it violates my personal code of ethics, which is explained very neatly here.
In general, I don’t think we should be advocating violence; even defensive violence. We try to prevent LGBT+ kids from being bullied, especially when it’s physical. We declare “safe spaces” for certain groups, or for everybody (schools as violence-free zones). I think it’s hypocritical to punish violent behaviour in some cases and condone it in others, just because we want some vengeance.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for self-defense. If you’re going to be harmed, call for help and/or try to get away. Try to deflect the situation, prevent it from happening, walk away from it before it gets heated. Take a martial arts or boxing class to learn how to protect yourself. If I’m attacked, I’m going to defend myself, but we should all do what we can to avoid violent conflicts in the first place.
Also: If this kid knew that bullying was taking place, maybe he should have gone to the administration instead of posting threatening notes in another student’s books.