Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bullying the Fatties

I’m fat.

I don’t care who notices it. I don’t care who notices it and tells me about it. I know what I am, I’m working on losing weight – but as a plus, I know how an escrow works.

[Curse NBC for policing YouTube so ruthlessly when it comes to SNL clips of Middle Aged Man.]

I’ve been fat since elementary school – and that’s a cruel time to be fat, because elementary school kids don’t have on that little brain filter that most of us develop over time that prevents us from stating the obvious and being cruel about another person’s abnormalities.

But I’m not jumping on the anti-bullying bandwagon when it comes to this viral video of a Wisconsin news anchor taking an email writer to task as a bully for suggesting she’s not a good role model “especially for girls” given her weight problem.

I think it’s a stretch to call email writer Kenneth Krause a bully for writing what he did. It’s constructive criticism as far as I’m concerned. Sometimes criticism hurts – but if we know the criticism is true, do we automatically have to call the critic a bully? He didn’t call her names or humiliate her publicly for her weight problem. He made a suggestion.

Ironically, I’ve seen many of anchor Jennifer Livingston’s supporters using the same kind of bullying tactics against Krause that she accuses him of – he’s a lawyer, so you know jokes abound there, and a photo of him, muscular and confident, leaning against a mountain bike, surfaced, along with comments filing him under jerky cycling nut stereotypes.

I don’t want to see us enter the age when a little criticism is automatically labeled as bullying – whether the criticism is accepted or not. Bullying, by definition, implies that the criticism can be ignored and the “bully” dismissed as a nonentity not worth listening to. Labeling everything as bullying shuts down discourse and creates even more animosity than the initial criticism might have engendered.

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