Friday, January 25, 2013

Not bullying 101

If someone posts something on your blog and you call them an idiot, it might be rude, but it isn’t bullying.

That person will wake up to a comment or two in reply to something they said.

Other people wake up EVERY DAY to dozens of comments attacking them personally, not in reply to comments they’ve made on other people’s sites, but to things they said on their own blogs or places like that. Not to comments cunningly refuting their arguments but to ones calling them cunts and concerning their appearance, gender, sexual orientation.

Some people have been trying to tell me lately that calling someone an idiot on my own blog is exactly the same as many people systematically attacking others on their own blogs and in public for manufactured reasons that have nothing to do with what these people actually said.

Here’s my advice on not bullying. Address the argument, not the person. I don’t think it is any more complicated than that.


  1. Anonymous6:05 pm

    Addressing the argument is good advice. It's great advice, especially for the atheist community which one would think is grounded in logic and reason as opposed to emotion and superstition. But this idea that it's ok to call people names on your own blog but a big problem if someone responds doesn't make sense to me. The internet is a public place, and anything you publish gets broadcast to the world. If you publish insults, I don't know why anyone would expect a bunch of compliments coming back. There is a wave of people in the atheist community who have no problems suggesting that huge groups of people they don't know are racist, sexists, or encourage rape, but seem completely clueless when those people get angry at their suggestions. As long as these people fail to make the connection between their own actions and others' responses, we will continue to live in this circle of hate. Explaining the state of the atheist community to others is embarrassing.

  2. OK, you have one more chance to get this right. Take a deep breath. Have an energy drink. Count to ten.

    Bullying is SYSTEMATIC ABUSE. Which is DIFFERENT to someone pointing out that you are an idiot, based on your idiotic remarks.

    Are you genuinely saying that you can't tell the difference?

    I don't think any of the people you're talking about are opposed to criticism. But they might be opposed to constant criticism, at all times, for arbitrary reasons.

    But you know this and you're choosing to ignore it because.... well, I'm going to go with the s word again.

  3. Anonymous1:28 pm

    That still makes no sense, and just seems to be a way to avoid any sense of responsibility. If one person calls someone stupid, it's fine and dandy. If ten people do it, it's bullying and awful and everything wrong with the world? Come on, this isn't complicated. You can complain all you want about name calling on the internet, but as long as you engage in it, the complaints sound really empty.

  4. Will you accept that there's a difference between the following:

    1. Someone arrives at someone's website, makes some comments and seems mildly insulted at the response, which is admittedly mildly insulting

    2. Someone makes a blog post and is piled upon by dozens or hundreds of people who insult them horribly for arbitrary reasons that have nothing to do with the actual blog post because they don't like a person of that type saying things of that type

    Setting aside whether or not that has actually happened - we can get to that later - can't you be at least be honest enough to admit that there is a significant difference between those two scenarios?

    Because I've described it fairly carefully so far and you seem insistent that there is no difference at all.