Spoiler Alert! In case you’re one of the three people on the planet who hasn’t seen “A Christmas Story” more than 50 times, you might want to stop reading now. Without retelling the story I offer one lesson learned by young Ralphie, the lead character, as food for thought on a huge topic of the day; bullying. In the film Ralphie is “bullied” by a young hooligan named Farcas.
One of TV’s most popular shows, “The Andy Griffith Show” also featured an episode called “Opie and the Bully”. In both cases the young heroes ended up standing up to their respective bullies and, after getting a little bruised and dirty, ended up rid of the cowardly harassers for good.
As I fully expect a flood of emails and Facebook messages disagreeing, I absolutely believe that is the best and only way to effectively deal with bullies in this world.
Criminal laws and civil lawsuits are not the way to handle it. It teaches the “bullied” nothing about standing up and defending themselves when the lawyers, principals, teachers, parents or bigger friends aren’t around. In virtually all bullying cases the perpetrator is really a coward trying to prove their worth by terrorizing seemingly willing victims. They bank on the belief that the recipient would never have the courage to defend themselves.
As with any theory there are obvious exceptions to the “rule” which fall outside those normal boundaries. I’m talking about the vast majority of cases.
In the interest of full disclosure, I broke that rule once. As a parent you hate to see your child bullied. As a very young boy, our son was bullied. I marched him down to the bully’s house and dealt with the parent. I never should have done that but there was no real harm done. It did happen again and this time our son handled it. And like Ralphie and Opie, our son never had trouble again. And I’ve always been confidant that if it did happen again, he could deal with it himself.
I bring this up because I just saw the 1000th story on the Miami Dolphins’ Jonathan Martin’s bullying claims. For those who have been living on Mars the past few weeks, Martin, a second-year Pro football player, departed the Dolphins recently after what was called an alleged “malicious physical attack” and “daily vulgar comments” from his Dolphins teammates. As a result teammate Richie Incognito has been suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins, and the organization’s locker-room culture has been challenged with respect to hazing and bullying.
I played high school football and am very good friends with college and pro players. While what Incognito allegedly did was tasteless and perhaps mean, Martin was well-paid to walk into that locker room every day. He is certainly big enough, and one would assume smart enough, to deal with it. And that’s exactly what he should have done.
Rather than let the alleged bullies get their way, he should have dealt with it; not by quitting or going to court or to the league, but dealt with it. He needed to put on his “big boy” jersey and demand respect or whatever he felt he was lacking. While I know many will disagree, we’ve lost that in America today. We don’t deal with things ourselves. We turn to others to “make it all right.”
And that is all wrong. I’m in no way promoting violence but I am suggesting individuals, young and old, stand up for what’s right and do whatever is necessary to fix it themselves (within rational limits of course). They’ll sleep a lot better after it’s over knowing THEY handled it.
Mike Scinto is a 37 year veteran talk show host serving locally, statewide and nationally behind the microphone. “Friend” Mike at http://www.facebook.com/mikescintoshow or visit http://mikescintocolumns.blogspot.com Mike’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.