Friday, May 4, 2012

The Bully

You’ve probably already heard about high school students walking out on a lecture by “anti-bulling expert” Dan Savage when he launched into a diatribe against Christians and the Bible. In fact, his remarks are quite viscous and were aimed at the Christian students who were in the room. This from someone who has been described as “President Obama’s anti-bullying czar.” Obviously, President Obama would do well to try to distance himself from Dan Savage.

This type of thing is what has bothered me since the beginning of this emphasis on anti-bullying. The problem I see is that people are not as concerned about bullying as they are about someone disagreeing with them. Also, there is the problem that bullying is not clearly defined. I’ve read that 71% of people believe Dharun Ravi using a webcam to show Tyler Clementi involved in homosexuality is bullying. That’s what the news media called it from day one, so that number doesn’t surprise me. But how many of those people would be able to state why it is bullying? Is it because Tyler Clementi committed suicide? Is it because Tyler Clementi didn’t want people knowing he was involved in homosexuality? Just suppose for a moment that Tyler Clementi had been a Baptist preacher who was working to reduce college age drinking, but someone streamed video of him at home with a beer in his hand. Would that also be bullying? We would be less likely to call that bullying, but it is essentially the same situation.

To me, bullying is an attempt to force a person by psychological means to do a particular action. By that definition, the Tyler Clementi case would fit. I would imagine that Dharun Ravi might have hoped to shame Tyler Clementi into putting an end to his homosexuality in their shared dorm room. Perhaps he hoped Tyler Clementi would move out. I doubt he intended for Tyler Clementi to kill himself, but that’s what happened. What should have happened is that Dharun Ravi should have gone to the people responsible for the dorm, made them aware of the situation and told them that he was uncomfortable staying in a dorm room with someone who was involved in homosexuality. At the very least, he should have asked Tyler Clementi to not do that in their dorm room.

By the same token, what Dan Savage did and has been doing fits the definition of bullying. Calling people names for walking out of a lecture in which you are calling them names and criticizing their beliefs serves no purpose other than attempting to embarrass them into cowering in their seats rather than walking out. But Dan Savage isn’t concerned about any kind of bullying except that involving those who engage in homosexuality. Just read a small portion of his blog (not recommended) and you will see that is true. He wants people to stop criticizing him and others for being involved in homosexuality. I agree that bullying those suspected of being involved in homosexuality will not solve anything. But at the same time, we shouldn’t look the other way. People who are caught up in the homosexual lifestyle are hurting themselves and they need help from people who love them.

But we should be proud of those students who walked out of Dan Savage’s lecture. It is sad that it had to happen, but they will always remember it. The day will come when they are talking to their children about bullies and they will say, “When I was your age, I was sitting in a lecture being given by this guy who decided to bully Christians. A few of us walked out while he was talking, and the whole world heard about it.”