Can Political Talk Be Considered Bullying
By alittlebiteoflife on November 04, 2010
I have stated in the past that I would never discuss politics on A Little Bite of Life, but circumstances the past few days have caused me to change my thinking. I am certain after reading this, that you will guess my political persuasion, and I am okay with that. I am not my political party. I am my own person with good and bad qualities, good and bad opinions. I hope you will look at the whole picture.
There has been alot of talk in the media lately about harassment and bullying of children and young adults. I won't get into that right now, as we, as a family, have personally dealt with bullying, and I think it warrants its own discussion. People, children as well as adults, are bullied for their sexual orientation, their religion, their gender, their smarts, and even the color of their hair. As mature adults we know that this is not tolerable. I think we all agree that it is never acceptable to ridicule, or call names to someone for being Catholic, gay, black, a woman, or any other persuasion. Bullying is never okay, and should never be tolerated.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, bullying is: "1: to treat abusively; 2: to affect by means of force or coercion. Another dictionary defines it as: a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates people; (v) to intimidate or domineer.
Why is it acceptable to harass others because of their political affiliation? Is this not also considered bullying? People are allowed to have opinions, right? Is it is really okay to belittle others for having a different opinion? By calling someone a name, or ridiculing them when their politics or vote are different than yours, aren't you exercising in a form of harassment?
Why would I stir up this maelstrom of controversy? Because last night on Facebook, on tv, and on Twitter, I repeatedly saw (and heard) remarks about the outcome of last night's elections, which deeply offended me. Even more so, the people who did it were people whom I previously admired. Those people made comments about my political affiliation, ridiculed and belittled my party (and thus me), as well as the state I live in: some who have ever met me personally, and know nothing about me. I have no problem with people supporting ones candidate on social media platforms, and have even done so myself. I have no problem with friendly debate on issues. But, I have never ridiculed someone for their choices. I have never spewed a litany of hate toward others because of their political beliefs. It is arrogant and wrong.
Case in point. A well known Arizona journalist, (who shall remain nameless.) stated on Twitter that anyone who voted for Ben Quayle and Jan Brewer were dumb asses. Sorry, sir, you do not know me. I am many things (flaky, scatter-brained, have absolutely no common sense) but I am not a dumb ass. As a political junkie, I really do read up on the issues. I have taken time to learn all the facts, and made my decisions based on those facts. I am no dumb ass, even if my opinion is different than yours. Stop harassing me because of my choice.
Also, someone who I have known for years, who is the husband of a old friend of mine, implied, on Facebook, that people who were part of my political party were Nazis or Klansmen. He also implied that we were stupid, ignorant, and did not know the Constitution. I am certain he does not know my personal political preference, so realize his remarks were not intentionally directed at me, but still, he greatly offended me. He is a well known public figure in his city. Surely, he must have some "fans" who are part of the same party as I am? Why would he knowingly risk alienating those fans, by explicitly stating such a harsh view point? Why would he risk offending people who do not think as he does? Apparently, he is not concerned with that. But here's the deal. I am so offended. Just because I think differently than him, does it not make me a Nazi. Or racist. Or a close-minded bigot. And guess what, sweety? As a former Pre-Law/Poly Sci minor, I have studied the Constitution extensively. I am one of "those" nerdy political freaks, who actually does like to learn about the laws of this country. He labeled me, belittled me, and stereotyped me because of my party affiliation. In my opinion, what he has really done is engage in harassment and bullying, with his harsh words of hatred. He displayed a close-minded bigotry with those comments, something he espouses to be fighting against. You tell me...how is what he was doing any different than other forms of bullying which occur?
Further, can someone please explain to me, how, when "the people spoke" in 2008 for "changes", those election results were a good thing, but now that the "people have spoken" again, those who made the new "changes" are the devils incarnate? Why is there so much love and support when things go one way, but no respect and understanding when things go in a different direction? We all want things our way, but the reality of the world is that not everything happens the way we would like. We need to be respectful, even if we do not agree. That is the great thing about the political process in our country. If we do not like what we see, we vote for someone new.
I have silently stood by and watched my party (and thus, my own character) bashed by the media, by celebrities (who have every right to voice their opinion, but no right to use their celebrity status to influence those around them), and even by friends. I have tolerated it too long. I am not a fanatic. Stop calling me a Nazi. Get to know me as a person, and you will quickly learn that I am so far from that image that you have conjured in your mind. I am a Catholic/Fiscally Conservative/Reagan-loving Republican. I bake cookies, chaperone school events, and go to church. I also drink rum, swear like a trucker, and listen to Eminem. I have a dear college friend who is gay, a friend whose parents were illegal immigrants, and was close friends with/dated a guy who was Muslim. I love and respect them all. I am multi-faceted (and not perfect), and will not be labeled or put into a "box." because of my political affiliation! Believe me, I have gotten "it" from within my own party as well. I am not conservative enough for some, too conservative for others. So be it. I answer to my family and God. I may not always agree with others, but I always love and respect. Each person has their own choices in life-who the hell am I to state whether that choice is right or wrong? Please do not judge me, and tell me my choice is wrong.
I know that there are those, on both sides of the fence, who take things too far. There are just as many Republican blowhards and fanatics, as there are Democrat. There are many within my own party that I am embarrassed and ashamed of. However, as a responsible adult with a voice, I know that it is up to me to make a conscious choice to support those who are most aligned with my own values and view points, regardless of where they sit on the political platform, and to be respectful of those who are not necessarily aligned with me, but are good people. I do not blindly support my party for the sake of supporting my party. I try to do what is right, not just for me, but for my children, and for those around me. In others, I look at the whole of that person: their character and their kindness, not whose political sticker is posted on their back bumper.
I am excited by the election results. I truly believe that both sides of the playground will have to start working together, if they want to get our country straightened out. I hope there is more compromise and compassion, and less hard-line politics. I hope that our elected officials will now open their eyes, and do what is right for their country, not just their own political careers. I am not hell bent on leading our country on a path to destruction. I love my country and everyone in it, even if their political affiliation is different than mine. But it is going to take more than just politicians working "across the aisle" from each other. It is going to take you and I, with very different political opinions, to start working together too.
Enough of the sand throwing and mud slinging. I do not bully you, so stop bullying me. Look past your hate, and see that I am a good person, who, although has a difference perspective than you, loves my children and my country...just as much as you do.
by Melissa Ford
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