Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Bullying by the Government

Many of us have been bullied in the past. Bullying can take the form of name calling, and in such cases, it isn't legally actionable. It can involve social unpleasantness without physical outcomes. Bullying often escalates to become more physical, though, and it can  involve throwing things and hurting others, even to the point of outright murder. Most bullying is designed to punish people for being different from others, and its origins are tribal. While bullying may result in ostracism or even death to those bullied, the overall effect is to enforce uniformity in those who remain. Viewed scientifically, bullying has a social function. For those of us who want to put a stop to it, we have to address that function, and not just the symptoms.

In order to get to the bottom of bullying, we need to understand our own role in it, even if we are a victim or someone standing on the sidelines, neither participating nor reaching out to help the individuals being bullied.

The time to help is when it begins, not at the bloody end. The thing you have to be willing to do is to stand up and say that you support the other person's right to be different and are willing to put yourself at risk, even if you don't share their difference. It is not enough to just say afterwards that it's too bad that they died. Or that you had no idea it would go that far. Or that you were sure the other person would surrender before the mob put him to death. Because that's what every "sensible" person would do -- surrender!

If that is your attitude, then you are supporting the overall function of the bullying: to enforce uniformity.

When bullying is done by individuals and private groups, it is ugly. But when it is the government that takes on the role of the ultimate bully, that's when we should all stand together against it.

One of the reasons the Branch Davidians had so few people speaking up for them before they were slaughtered in plain sight of the entire nation is that they were smeared in ways that made people on the right and on the left have no sympathy for them. On the right, all you had to do was allege sex with minors, and no decent church going American was willing to lift a finger. On the left, all you had to do is call them religious nuts with Messianic leanings, and the same happened. Nobody cared because they were "too weird".

I tend to be tone deaf to exactly those "PR blunders" that are now tearing the Libertarian Party apart. It makes no impression on me if you attribute to Satan a libertarian sentiment. I'll agree with the sentiment and not worry too much about Satan. It does not worry me if freedom of religion involves having some people worship a man as a god, as long as I don't have to. And I want the Federal government to stay entirely out of the sex racket. The states have jurisdiction over those issues, and if Child Protective Services in the local jurisdiction have cleared someone, I do not want the Feds charging in there with their guns drawn.

Where were you when Mt. Carmel was under siege? I tried to organize a peaceful protest, but somehow all my Libertarian, Quaker, Wiccan and Unitarian friends were too busy to show up that day. The Feds, on the other hand, were very prompt.


  1. It was handled very poorly, and why were they such a nuisance that they needed that much attention. Were they not just another fundamentalist group, kind of like the polygamous in Utah that go pretty much ignored.

    1. It started with a complaint by a disgruntled ex of one of the women. And there were people who wanted the land the group owned. The problem is once something like this gets rolling, if ordinary people do not put a stop to it, then we are all in trouble, because it shows there is no safety except conformity.