I hate bullies. Always have.
Hard to discern where the depth of that sentiment comes from but it's there. And it doesn't take much to get me going on the subject, as you're about to hear.
In high school we had a kid, a good kid who labored under the misnomer common to our times — he was known as slow. There were and are harsher terms, of course, some of which were used against him during the all-inclusive '60s, but to me he was always just Jim (name changed because old classmates are turning up on these pages with increasing frequency).
Jim was a departure from the "cool" kids at Campo and they let him know about it. His pants were high-waisted, he carried his books differently, he always was rushing to compensate for an innate lateness, his glasses were thick.
Even at a "good" school, Jim soon found himself with a bulls-eye drawn on his back. Kids tripped him, kicked at his legs, called him names. Not all of them, but enough to make you stop and say: "What did he do to us that we hate this kid so?"
And yes, a few of us burgeoning Flower Children tried to protect him, shielding him from the Golden Boy athlete who loved to trip Jim both ways during his many trips to the front of the room, our "crowd" calling him over to sit with us when the verbal abuse got too hot.
And now, with kids of our own making their way through the schools and horrific tales of cyber bullying and worse making their way to me via this screed, I wonder why things haven't gotten better. Naive, perhaps but, damn it all, it hurts to see that kids still are being horribly abused by their peers.
Some of you have sent me examples of those cases, of children singled out for whatever reason and subjected to sophisticated, coordinated attacks of cyber-bullying more suitable to a CIA Psy Ops campaign than 12-year-olds with time on their hands.
And it's not all Kid-On-Kid, with some of our Future Leaders using their technical acumen and cellies to spread horrible, vicious rumors about adults who have fallen under the crosshairs for whatever reason — or to smear a "different" parent, even a teacher, with dangerous rumors of impropriety.
So much of this is going on that it is almost refreshing to hear about the return of the schoolyard punch-out (not really, but you catch my drift), the face-to-face settling of differences. Now, I know I'll get the "C'mon, J.D., this has been going on for decades. Kids'll be kids"argument.
And yes, I know, but there appears to be an escalation of cruelty these days, a new dynamic for abuse and persecution of those regarded as different. As I said, I don't like the trend.
I hate bullies. I always have, always will.