A few more anecdotes and observations on the subject of bullying.
When I entered tenth grade at Tuscola High School I was assigned to take Biology 101. The first day of class the teacher produced a Bible and began to read from the Creation Account in Genesis. As a Christian believer, I was familiar with this passage wherein God created Adam and Eve. But as a child growing up in the 1970s was a bit surprised that this teacher had the temerity to quote from the Bible in public school (after all the various lawsuits brought before the Supreme Court and all the further misunderstandings that those decisions brought on this country).
After reading a portion of this passage, he asked the class: “Now why can’t that word, Adam, mean mankind? And why can’t that word, Eve, mean all women?”
Well, I was only fourteen at the time, but I knew enough about context to know that the author of Genesis had in mind one man and one woman. Not ALL mankind was being specifically referenced in that passage.
And so I told him so.
I think he believed that his question was rhetorical and that none of us would have an objection.
But I was not one to stand for such redefining of words to suit one’s own purposes–even then.
Thus began a series of arguments that took up most of my first term in that class. I was eventually flunked.
The thing was, if he had simply come into the class that day and said, “This is what Darwin said, and I want you to know that,” then I was perfectly willing to parrot those words back to him. But as he was trying to change my view on the creation of the world based on changing a meaning of a word here and there I wasn’t going to stand for it.
So he flunked me.
I had to re-take Biology 101 in the winter term. Fortunately this under a teacher who was less inflammatory in his teaching style.
At that time I was also a student in the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, or AFJROTC. As part of the “flight” I was expected to dress in uniform one day a week, keep my hair cut within military regulations, and do a lot of other duties beyond my regular studies.
Being in ROTC had its perks. It counted as a couple of credits in Science, we got out of Physical Education, and there were field trips that got us out of class. I was also a legacy in the program, as my older brother had done well in ROTC a few years prior.
But we were regularly verbally abused and spat upon by kids in the hall. We were called “Rot-Cee” (rhymes with “nazi”–get it?). It was not abnormal to be kicked or punched on the bus when one was in uniform, harassed if in uniform and caught out and about in town–so we often did our best not to be seen in uniform before or after school because of this.
The kids who treated us thus thought we had it coming. How dare we be in military uniform when everyone knew just how rotten the military was? We in ROTC were to blame for Vietnam you know–in spite of the fact that the war in Vietnam had ended four years before we signed up. So why not kick and spit and swear at us?
How dare we cut our hair short? How dare we wear those uniforms? How dare we say defending our country was a good thing? Hadn’t the news media made it clear that anyone in a uniform was beneath contempt? Hadn’t the popular media made it clear that anyone in the military was basically just another Hitler?
Eventually the bullying got to me and I tried to quit ROTC. When tenth grade ended we were given the forms to sign up for the courses we wanted to take in the fall. I filled mine out with no mention of ROTC anywhere.
When I returned to classes at the end of summer, I was still in ROTC.
I went to the guidance offices to protest and was told that they would “not be doing any ‘drop/add’ for two weeks.” When I returned at the end of two weeks they told me ” ‘drop/add’ was over two weeks ago. So I scheduled a meeting with my guidance counselor, who told me that if I could get the permission of the Annual Staff head that I could transfer to that program in the winter quarter.
No problem. I had that permission by day’s end.
Of course my counselor had been lying to me, and now insisted that I had to go to the Sergeant and get his permission to leave.
Did that too. Not the easiest thing I’d ever done. The Sergeant had imagined I was on the fast track like my older brother had been. I had been promoted to a Flight Sergeant by this point, and he was not happy that I was dropping out.
But eventually–in spite of all the unpleasantness–it was done.
However, the stress of that series of events (and a lot of other things that I won’t get into here) was taking its toll on my health, and I missed a lot of school. So much, in fact, that my parents had to take me out of school when I turned sixteen.
Frankly, it was a huge relief.
My point? Here’s my point.
It is possible for people in positions of authority to be bullies by means of their positions of power. Teachers and guidance counselors can attempt to force people to agree with them by manipulating the meaning of words.
It is also possible for liberals to bully conservatives–and for such bullying to go unnoticed because it would be inconvenient to be noticed. It would mean the media admitting that they are guilty of stirring up unrest and encouraging intolerance.
So a couple of weeks ago, when a very diverse group of people (from various ethnic and social groups)–numbering around 15,000 calmly marched in Washington in defense of the traditional definition of marriage, and were verbally abused, spat upon, and physically threatened by a group of those in favor or redefining marriage to suit another end
–I wasn’t surprised.
I also wasn’t surprised by the media not making much mention of it. It would have been inconvenient for the media to notice.
This notion, presently being touted by most major media, that conservative views are equal to hatred and bigotry–and that bullying is always the purview of social conservatives and never of “progressives” is an out and out lie.
I don’t condone bullying on anyone’s part–no Christian should. But citing certain instances of it (while ignoring others) as an excuse for redefining words and legal terms, or creating special classes of protected people is ridiculous.
We’re living in what is supposed to be a civil society. Tolerance cuts in both directions.
I know a number of people who have been following my blog lately are going to be disappointed that I am not in line with their beliefs on this subject. But I resent the attempt to railroad the debate on The Defense of Marriage Act (and similar issues). How many people are presently being bullied because they hold to a traditional view of marriage? Why doesn’t this sort of bullying make the headlines?