Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bullying is now name-calling

Wikipedia defines:
Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively to impose domination over others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual.
I always thought of bullying as physical violence, or the use of threats for coercion. But more and more, the term seems to used to describe simple name-calling, such as one of the biggest sports stories of the year being this NFL football scandal:
Incognito was suspended earlier this month after Martin went public with allegations he has long been harassed and bullied by teammates, including receiving voice mail and text messages from Incognito where be berated him as a "half-nigger" and threatened to "kill him."
Our current school anti-bullying fad seems to be directed at name-calling. When I was in school, bullying referred to getting beaten up, and no one got so upset by a little silly name-calling. We must be raising an extremely emotionally fragile generation.

Now using the word "retard" can get a comic banned from Facebook.

The most outrageous recent example of bullying was how the Mandela memorial interpreter mocked all of the speakers on international TV:
The South African sign language interpreter accused of using fake signs at Nelson Mandela's memorial service this week said he suffered a schizophrenic episode at the event, but another interpreter says it was not the first time Thamsanqa Jantjie has done bogus interpretations.

Jantjie, who has been called an imposter by sign experts, told Johannesburg's Star newspaper Thursday that he hallucinated and heard voices during the memorial service.
Why do some people find name-calling so offensive? Apparently it is a cultural thing among non-Europeans:
Shame is the primary means of behavioral control in most societies. If you are seen breaking a social rule, you will feel shame, and this feeling will be reinforced by what people say and do (gossiping, malicious looks, spitting, ostracism, etc.). Shame is much less effective if you break a rule without being seen or if you merely think about breaking a rule.

Guilt is more important in European societies, particularly those of Northwest European origin. It operates even when you act alone or merely think about breaking a rule. Behavior can thus be regulated in all possible situations with a minimum of surveillance.
The rise of individualism in northwest Europe is closely related to the shift from shame to guilt.

As the USA is being flooded with non-European immigrants, we are accommodating a shame culture.

Update: More info on the fake interpreter:
JOHANNESBURG - eNCA can reveal the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial on Tuesday faced a murder charge in 2003.

Thamsanqa Jantjie, who is being treated for schizophrenia, has also faced rape (1994), theft (1995), house-breaking (1997), malicious damage to property (1998), murder, attempted murder and kidnapping (2003) charges.

It’s unknown if the case was ever concluded as the court file is mysteriously empty.

The man now known by many as the ‘fake interpreter’, stood just a foot away from world leaders, including US President Barack Obama, who is one of the most heavily protected men on the planet.

President Jacob Zuma and leaders from China, Cuba, Brazil and India were also on the stage.

eNCA's investigations have found that Thamsanqa Jantjie, who is being treated for schizophrenia, has also faced rape (1994), theft (1995), housebreaking (1997), malicious damage to property (1998), murder, attempted murder and kidnapping (2003) charges.

Many of the charges brought against him were dropped, allegedly because he was mentally unfit to stand trial.


Douglas Anderson said...

Interesting article but somewhat fallacious for two reasons; first languages evolve all the time; gay once meant happy, girl had no sexual connotations. Just because in the past name-calling was not listed in the Oxford English Dictionary under bullying in the past does not mean that it should bot be included nor that it cannot be included. Wikipedia has a far more inclusive definition of bullying: 'Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively to impose domination over others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power. Behaviors used to assert such domination can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion, and such acts may be directed repeatedly towards particular targets. Justifications and rationalizations for such behavior sometimes include differences of class, race, religion, gender, sexuality, appearance, behavior, strength, size or ability.' On the other point about verbal being a non-European version of bullying, may I direct you attention to Ryan Halligen, Phoebe Prince, Dawn-Marie Wesley, Kelly Yeomans, Jessica Haffer, Hamed Nastoh, April Himes, Cherice Moralez and Rebecca Ann Sedwick?

Roger said...

I guess that you are going to argue that school programs against name-calling will reduce teen suicides. I doubt it. We are doing the experiment today and I hope that someone is analyzing the results.

C.Takacs said...

Hello, I discovered your physics blog first, and have commented there occasionally. I do find your idea that Shame is an external controlling force, while Guilt is an internal controlling force fascinating.
* The beauty of guilt is that it is always in the mix even when an person is not observed, but sadly, it becomes moot if the person has no conscience, or is amoral, sociopath, etc.
In such cases where the individual has no conscience, shame may be the only societal tool for correction left short of direct force. Shame has the weakness that is must rely upon constant surveillance to be effective. Shame and guilt are also incredibly different in how they may be considered in legal situations. Shame is easily transferred to groups (you have brought great shame to our family)Versus guilt which is non- transferable both morally and legally (Your child is not responsible for the crime/guilt of the parent). Interesting to note that almost all progressive societal engineering projects revolve around manipulation of public humiliation more than logical argument, (i.e. You don't agree with the president, therefore you are a racist bigot).
* I was just having a discussion with a friend a week ago where I was cheerfully told that if I didn't support forced racial quotas in hiring, financial assistance etc, I was a racist. When I laughed, he was shocked, and practically had kittens when I told him "Choosing people by their skin color alone is racism, even when it serves your mandated purposes (legal racism). Choosing a person by their personal merits or qualifications regardless of racial background is color blind." I would add however, that it is very tricky judging actual racism by statistical sampling methods when cultural preferences play such a large part in prosperity in any human society such as language skills, manners, and attitudes towards education, authority, customs. Great article.

Roger said...

Good comments. I am intrigued by how the guilt/shame distinction seems to be cultural. Some societies rely more on guilt, and some more on shame. Those raised on one find the other strange.