Fear Of Whales

Tales of a reluctant minister

On Bullies

with 4 comments

Have you guys seen this video yet? It’s the one of the bully getting a taste of his own medicine.

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I’m interested to hear what you all think. Obviously the bully got what was coming to him, but from a christian perspective I’m not entirely sure Casey did the right thing.

I know what my mom would say. She would have no problem jumping in Casey’s corner. And honestly neither do I… If the alternative corner is the bully.

But what about “turn the other cheek”? Isn’t this exactly the event that Jesus talked about? Weren’t his instructions clear enough?

There’s plenty about this video that makes me cheer for Casey. I was picked on a bit growing up, and while nobody ever actually hit me, I can relate to the feeling and I feel a sense of solidarity with him. I love that he clearly did nothing to provoke it, I love that he calmly walked away after as the kid stumbled up, I even love that the video clearly showed how the other kids were part of the problem standing by and letting bullying happen (even filming it).

Still there’s something here that makes me cringe.

What say you?

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Written by RyanGaffney

March 21, 2011 at 3:50 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. First off, let me write: Since discovering your blog, I’ve so thoroughly enjoyed everything you’ve written, I never actually thought I’d find myself vehemently disagreeing with you. I also never thought I’d find myself angry about anything you would post.

    I was wrong.

    I think the video is neither funny nor entertaining. I agree that the kids who stood around doing nothing to intervene, giggling, and filming are a significant part of the problem. I also think using Matthew 5.39 is inappropriate in this context for a number of reasons:

    1. Jesus was speaking a shame based culture in which to strike a person on the right cheek was to backhand them in a gesture designed to “put them in their place.” “Turning the other cheek” was, in essence, inviting the other to strike with a closed fist, the intent of which is to cause serious harm.

    A. We no longer live a society in which shaming is particularly effective.

    B. This boy didn’t slap Casey as a means of “putting him in his place,” he punched Casey, intending to cause harm. Repeatedly.

    2. The news reports I’ve read indicate that this school has had significant, on-going issues with bullying. The administration has effectively done nothing to stop it. They’ve been “turning the other cheek” for years, and things are only getting worse. Casey needed immediate assistance, and it wasn’t being provided. Casey needed an adult to intervene and stop the bullying, and as past performance is the best predictor of future behavior, had no reason to hope anything effective would be done by reporting the behavior.

    3. Matthew 5.39 has been used for years by the church to defend the systematic abuse of women and children at the hands of men. Domestic violence continues to be a serious issue, and the effect it has on our society seems only to be growing. Abused children often continued the cycle of violence by:

    A. Becoming abusers as adults;

    or

    B. Marrying an abuser.

    It seems to me that the cycle of abuse has began to repeat itself at younger and younger ages, in which abused and/or neglected individuals are becoming bullies, perpetuating abuse against others.

    Do I think Casey should have struck back? I think he did what he had to to keep himself safe in a situation in which no one else was going to ensure his immediate safety.

    Do I think there was another alternative? No. I also think, however, that simply suspending both boys for fighting was the wrong course of action on the part of school officials.

    I think one of the most significant problems is that children are taught that it’s acceptable to violate another person as a means of getting their needs met. I think there is a whole lot that needs to be done in addressing this issue beginning in the family and continued through the schools via life-skills classes. I think in a school in which this kind of violence is an everyday occurrence, peace officers, teachers, administrators, or aides needing to be present at all times.

    I know that for some students, those 8 hours at school are the only safe 8 hours they experience in the course of a day. Schools need to be safe and much more needs to be done at all levels of society to rectify the situation.

    Boiling down complex social issues to a single verse in the Bible, while not taking the time to recognize the culture importance of that verse, and how the situation in which you are attempting to apply it is vastly different, is irresponsible, and in its own way encourages the ongoing problem of violence.

    Now, I’m a bigger fan of Jesus than I am of Edmund Burke, but I then widely attributed quote (which is really a mutilation of something he wrote) says it best:

    The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.

    http://sunshines-corner.blogspot.com/2011/02/and-then-i-turned-other-cheek.html

    MB

    March 21, 2011 at 7:04 am

    • Thanks for your honest opinion. I really respect your perspective, and honestly I don’t disagree with it. That part of me that was bullied as a kid, absolutely agrees 100%.

      But there is another part of me that wonders… Hence the invitation to discussion.

      I hope the post didn’t seem to you like me saying “These two kids are equally bad and here’s why”. I was really trying to say “I can see two sides here, what do you think?”

      Knowing you a little, I’d expect that you can see the other side as well. Before you researched it,before you found out about the school, when you first watched it, did you not cringe a little?

      Defend yourself sure… But was a full aerial body-slam necessary?

      ryangaffney

      March 21, 2011 at 7:18 am

  2. I guess I’m at a bit of a disadvantage, as I’d read about this when it first happened, and this morning is the first time I’ve seen the video.

    Yes, I did cringe, a lot, when I saw the video. I can’t bear to watch it again. And I do see the other side of the story–the side that says, responding to violence with violence is never okay.

    However, I feel this is way too complex an issue to cover in a single blog post. So, I like that you’ve invited discussion. And I do not want my response to be so loud as to drown out others.

    MB

    March 21, 2011 at 9:42 am

  3. Fair enough, but for what it’s worth, I think you’ve done an admirable job of opening up the discussion so other people won’t feel unable too.

    Now if the other 47 people who read this article would chime in we’d have something! (you know who you are)

    ryangaffney

    March 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm


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