Pink Shirt Day

Today is Pink Shirt Day.  It is a day to raise awareness of the impact of bullying.  I am one of the lucky ones.  While I received my fair share of teasing as a child, nothing rose to the level of bullying.  I did see it first hand, though.  My brother is autistic, and he was relentlessly bullied in high school.  He was an easy victim because he couldn't defend himself.  Back in those days, schools did little to prevent bullying or to protect children who were bullied.

It seems simple to say that bullying is bad and that it needs to stop.  What is more complex, though, is understanding what bullying is and what it isn't.  I know of at least four bloggers who hesitated to blog about Pink Shirt Day out of fear, and I think this fear arises out of some common misconceptions about bullying.  Being outspoken, opinionated, critical, or controversial is not the same thing as bullying.

We have rules in society.  Those rules are called norms, and they operate in our everyday lives.  Norms tell us how we should dress and behave, and what we should believe.  If someone violates those norms, they experience social control.  Social control includes all those things that people do in society to get people to behave.  From police arresting criminals to parents scolding their children, we have numerous techniques to keep people in line.  Norms and social control are both necessities for society to function efficiently.  There has never been and there never could be a society without rules and punishments.  While it may seem trivial to punish those who dare to step outside the norms, it serves important purposes.  It teaches us what the rules are, it builds social solidarity, and it paves the way for society to progress.

Social control includes public shaming, gossip, finger pointing, and teasing.  Those things are a normal part of life and a product of the way society functions. Just like there are norms regarding how we are supposed to behave, there are also norms about what the appropriate punishments are for violating those norms.  Bullying arises when someone goes above and beyond these norms.  For example, it is not appropriate for someone to make fun of an autistic person for being autistic, and it is not appropriate for people to throw things, push around, yell obscenities at, or rape a recent immigrant because she is different or new.  It is never appropriate to use violence, threats, or abuse to get people to do your bidding or to hurt people for your entertainment.

To me, the difference between bullying and engaging in every day forms of social control is clear, and while some bloggers are controversial and outspoken, they should not fear or shy away from taking a stand against bullying.  So, I say bloggers, go for it.  Continue to blog and state your opinion and be controversial.  Engage in the debates.  And, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson,

"Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."

Eyes: ( DP ) Eyes - Light Blue (slurl could not be found)
Hair: I Love Olive - Betty Hair in Pink Flamingo
Skin: L.Fauna {Lapine . Pale 1} [Eve]
Outfit: A Netherworld - Glory to the Geeks (Pink Shirt Day Freebie)
Shoes: HOC Apparel - Knee Boots Female - Plain colors
Necklace: Lolapop! G33k Keys Choker
Glasses: .:*December*:. Glasses No.42 GropGift Kyouiku-Mama Megane
Poses:  Everglow


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