Jun. 20th, 2014

Bullies

Jun. 20th, 2014 10:07 am
vostoklake: (punch)
"There are some people so repugnant that we refer to them as Icons of Hate." - St Janor Hypercleats

Some people have the wrong idea about bullying. I'm not talking, here, about childhood bullies, the beat-you-up and take-your-lunch money bullies, the chant-rude-names-at-you bullies, the ones who do bad things but do it in private because, really, they know they're being wicked and they don't want people to find out. (I'm ignoring here the phenomenon of teachers ignoring or encouraging bullying against students that they think "deserve" it.)

Nor am I talking about the equivalent among adults, the sexual harassers, the domestic abuser, the tyrannical boss. Again, that's far too obvious.

What I'm talking here is about the kind of people who misuse a precious gifts given to us by the holy Muses direct from Mt Helicon. I'm talking about the people who misuse satire.

As anyone familiar with Irish bardic lore, or at least Robert Graves' wacky distillation of it in The White Goddess, can tell you, satire has always been a powerful weapon. It's "left-handed" poetry. The paradigm of satire is: you follow someone down the street, mimicking him exactly, then you trip and fall, making sure to fall soft while he falls hard. Any decent comedian or political cartoonist has to learn to do this, and done right it's glorious, the Fool taking his privilege to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

But the bullies I'm talking about break a cardinal rule of comedians. They punch down. The Fool kicks a helpless stray dog.

This is different from other forms of bullying because it's not a dirty secret between the abuser and the abusee. It only works because it happens in public, with the abuser's buddies watching. It's a form of social control within groups.

Generally the victim is an outsider to the group, or one of those people only allowed on the fringes of the group if they accept their inferior status. Part of that status is to accept being the butt of the Satirist-Bully's hilarity.

Now there's nothing your average human wants better than social status. And sometimes one of these "beta wolves" will want to climb the pack hierarchy. They find something within themselves that they think might bring them status within the group - or they want to share it to see whether they can open stronger affinity channels that way.

That's when the Satirist-Bully goes to work. He ruthlessly mocks what the Inferior is bringing to the table. Not only is this new thing worthless and foolish, but the person who presents it is worthless and foolish. And he mocks and belittles it, and humiliates the Inferior, with enough skill that anyone else will think it's freakin' hilarious. It's "manufacturing consent", to use a Chomskyism, for social control and violence. Because the Satirist-Bully is a good guy, one of the team, then other people will tolerate or even support him using his skills of humour to break an "inferior's" attempts to gain status. Because they're already in the in-group. They're not under threat.

And then people like that end up in comfortable, middle-management jobs, occasionally honing their skills on trying to break the wills and independence of their own children; while the Inferior is lucky to go through life with nothing worse than negative self-esteem at having their attempts to just "be some one" ripped up, thrown back at them, and mocked as always having been worthless. If they're less lucky, they end up permanently damaged, on welfare, in hospital, on the streets, dead.

Mr Satirist-Bully, you gain your social status at the expense of the mental health of others. You misuse a holy gift which could be used to make the world a better place. My aim in life is to make sure that you end up chewing on broken glass, before you die, alone and in the dark.

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