C's bookshelf: read

The Peculiar
Maggot Moon
The City and the City
The Road
A Certain Slant of Light
The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Brown Girl in the Ring
Well Wished
The Innkeeper's Song
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
American Indian Myths and Legends
The Left Hand of Darkness
The Return of the King
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers

C S Peterson's favorite books »

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Bully

I watched a disturbing video from March 3rd that was making its rounds on the internet.  Somewhere in Great Briton a group passing out leaflets against hate crimes is bullied by members of the BNP, an ultra nationalist group.  I don’t pretend to know anything about either group beyond what can be found on wikipedia, but I found the body language and word use of the bullies interesting and disturbing.

The aggressor was clearly intimidating the man with the leaflets, getting up in his face, telling him to leave.  His voice was loud and threatening.  But the words the aggressor chose were the words of a victim: 
‘No one is getting violent here are they?’ he says getting up into the leafleter’s face ‘You’re heightening the situation so you take a step back and stop threatening me!’ he steps forward again forcing the leafleter to step back. ‘No one is threatening you are they?’ he says as his comrades shout profanities over his shoulder at the leafleter, ‘You’re not welcome here.’

Eventually the leafleters return to their car and leave, coming back later to pass out their fliers.  The bully acts like a bully, moves like a bully, sounds like a bully, but uses words to paint himself a victim.

On the car ride home this afternoon I heard North Korea behaving in the same way as the BNP bully.  They swing around weapons, then declare themselves threatened when their neighbors react.

At school some of the teachers have been working through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to help students think about people's actions.  I’m trying to find where this interactions sits, if it sits there at all.  Why do we humans feel the need to frame ourselves as victims before lashing out? Why this dance and mincing of words?


  1. Perhaps it's instinctive to wear a wrap of protection before going into battle? Or it's a choice to lie to oneself & show off as vulnerable when that's just camouflage? Either way, it's not true, and others might be well suited to identify the falsity. Great observations, Katie!

  2. Bullying manifests itself in varied ways and through your piece you have highlighted the complexity of the issue at both a local and global level. A most interesting read and a well crafted piece.

  3. What interesting connections on bullying whic ha been around since the beginning of mankind but which rears its ugly head in new and very scary ways. This is a wonderful piece worthy of much discussion - on many levels.

  4. Alas, we see this type of behavior all too often these days - and it seems to have become the norm. What a wondeful activity you seem to be involved in, though, would you mind sharing the details?

  5. Many people who are feeling victimized (in reality or made up in their imaginings), have a need to victimize someone else. Complex behaviors that need watching and deciphering are involved in dominating.