Disagreeing *isn't* bullying. This has to stop

I was a victim of bullying behavior for most of my childhood. As an intelligent, inquisitive, and sometimes effeminate (according to social norms) boy who would rather read or play music than go toss a ball back and forth, I faced a lot of abusive behavior from peers growing up in a conservative town in Texas. The damage took years to overcome. It’s probably why I learned to communicate well and have such a strong reaction to injustice; words were my only defense.

It’s unfair to use dismissive name-calling to discredit someone who disagrees with you. It is also offensive to those who have been victims of actual bullying.

Bullying is psychologically damaging and occurs much too frequently in American schools. Please don’t use the term to advance any particular political agenda. Let’s take a little more care in the characterization of each other, and hopefully it’ll help make our neighborhoods a bit more inclusive.

For example… Although previously referred to as bullies, on the cover of this week’s Austin Chronicle, Uber, Lyft, and their supporters are referring to as whiney babies throwing a temper tantrum. While resorting to dismissive name-calling again to justify ignoring any contradictory opinions, the Chronicle has ironically characterized Uber and Lyft as both the bully and the victim.

From [StopBullying.gov] (https://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/definition/index.html):

###Bullying Definition

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.

In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:

  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.

  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.

Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Read more: https://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/definition/index.html


I don’t like some of the language that’s been used in this debate, and I think “bully” is an overused word. I haven’t seen it used to characterize any unpaid Prop 1 supporters though…mostly it’s just directed at the companies themselves.

FWIW, I noticed some extremely exclusionary language coming from Prop 1 supporters…but barring outright slurs, I usually don’t call them out. I figure if people want to put their biases on display, so be it.

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Agreed, it’s usually better to just let folks show their true colors. :+1:

Yet, sometimes you have to say something if no one else does. Bullying is a serious issue, and this seemed to muddle the meaning. I saw it used on both sides as well. And last Monday, I heard an NPR story about gender-identity and bathroom use where both sides were throwing “bully” around, too.

And I don’t know how many times people accused me of being a paid writer for Uber. Uber? Seriously? Ew. Lol.

It was almost like that one time Mike Huckabee released a statement accusing me of being backed by “Big Gay” funding because I got some folks to make out in a few southern fast food restaurants known for their chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. I guess I was pushing my belief that people should be treated like people on them. Always such a bully… :sweat_smile:

@skylar_buffington It was a brave and genuine thing you did, opening up so personally here. You have my respect.

Our culture is glutted in bullying and indifference to it. Folks come to accept it as “just the way things are” and it’s impossible for them to even recognize bullying. Unless they’re the target, naturally. The bullying culture displaces true debate. Folks don’t come together with open minds to talk things out. Instead, they come to add their voice to a shouting match. The most aggressive is declared the winner.

When things go downhill this way, it’s fair to point the finger at poor leadership.