People mainly know Chris Jericho as a WWE superstar and metalheads like me know him as the lead singer of the band Fozzy, but very recently, he as taken on another role as a spokesman against bullying. It happened when he came across an eleven second tweet which showed his 12 year old niece being bullied in what looks like a horrific attack. Chris immediately used his status to alert the world via Twitter about what happened to his niece and how wrong bullying is. For the full story, click the link.
For the past few years, WWE wrestlers have used their statuses to call out and discourage bullying. The fact that it happened to a relative of a wrestler should amplify their calls more. I am sure the Chris’s colleagues will get behind him and his niece and will stand up against bullying even more.
So, let’s put our hands together for Chris Jericho and I will celebrate by sharing my favourite Fozzy song, “Drinking With Jesus.”
Normally, I am the first to deride celebrities and their over-privileged lifestyles. But this article I read today on how they are rallying around an eleven year old boy who had to have his finger amputated because he was trying to escape racist bullies is heart warming. You can read the article here.
As I promised a few weeks earlier, I am writing my review on Cherie White’s book, “From Victim to Victor.” It’s an account of how the author endured years of horrific bullying and eventually overcame it and has gone on to lead a full and glorious life. As I read the book, Cherie’s experiences had me reflecting back to my own bullying experiences and comparing and contrasting them. Her well written, no holds bared account was very eye opening and very honest. While she was the target of such awful bullying, she doesn’t try to play the victim card and expect you just to give her sympathy but she does earn it!
Like Cherie, the bullies came out for me on the first day I started school in my new town. It seems neither of our towns were tolerant of new arrivals. I was immediately branded weird while without even getting to know her, Cherie was thought of as thinking she was better than everyone else. It was clear in the book that it wasn’t the case. Another similarity is that the bullying didn’t always end when we left school. Cherie’s happened on the school bus while in my case, I was targeted while walking home from school. Another similarity is that we eventually found someone lower down to unload our frustrations on. We sometimes were the bullies and fair play to the author here, she doesn’t try to justify it or sugar coat it in any way. This has given me thoughts for a future post but this isn’t about that.
Our schools showed little or no interest in our plights. However, while teachers at my school showed feigned some interest in what I was going through, although they were quick to believe the bully’s version of events over mine, teachers and the principal at her school blamed her for the bullying she was suffering. While I had some instances of victim blaming, she had it all the time. This includes parents. My mother thought my bullying was my fault because I didn’t fight back but Cherie was afraid to even speak to her parents about it as she felt it would have been worse for her. It eventually became that way for me.
Not that they weren’t there already but my sympathies were totally with Cherie at the end when she moved out of the town where she was so badly bullied. When I moved out of the town, I had no more connection with anyone living there. I think they were just as glad to see me go as I was to leave. And for both of us, our lives drastically improved when we got to our new towns. Our grades improved and Cherie was able to use her singing talents while I made the basketball and baseball teams. Unfortunately for her, the bullies caught up with her. First, she was accused by residents of her former town of destroying the high school. Then she was called up by some of those bullies and threatened with violence and even death. Thank God, I didn’t have that and that is why Cherie is a true victor!
In conclusion, I will go out on a limb and declare Cherie White’s book, “From Victim to Victor,” the Bible for anyone who has been involved in bullying in any way. Whether you have been a target of bullying, a parent of the target, a teacher or other school official or even a bully, then this is a must read for you. I know that the experiences of the author with stop and make you think, it did me. However, the best message this book can send is that even if you are being bullied, it’s not forever and you can overcome and go onto lead a full life. You can overcome!
After reading this book, I feel unworthy to post a link to He Was Weird in this post.
Originally, last week’s post about whether the police should be involved in bullying incidents was going to be a one off. However, this past week or so, I have been reading the book by author Cherie White titled: “From Victim to Victor.” It’s Cherie’s own account of how she was badly bullied in junior high school and then high school and how she eventually was able to move past her experiences and lead a great life. At the moment, I’m still on the victim part and not to the victor but when I do finish reading, I will give a full review of it here.
For the purpose of today’s post, I want to share a part from Cherie’s book which is related to the subject of involving the police. In this instance, one of her bullies (and there were many) follows her home from school after she refuses to give up her seat on the bus and attacks her in the street in the presence of her brother and his friends. Cherie’s injuries require hospitalization and her father decides to go the legal route against the bully. Without wanting to divulge too much, the bully is given probation and ordered to stay away from Cherie and pay her medical bills.
Reading this account, it had me reflecting back to my own experiences and my post about involving the police. In one instance, my mother did threaten to press charges on two bullies if such a thing was to happen again. My fear would have been that even if I had pressed charges on those or any other bullies, I don’t think they would have even received the sentence Cherie’s bully did. At worst, they would have possibly been handed a restraining order or some light ‘slap on the wrist.’ Worse though is that there would have been a good chance that they would have been acquitted! See, the father of one of the bullies my mother threatened to press charges on was a well respected lawyer in the community. Many lawyers did live in that town so if not the father, there would have been another highly paid attorney to do the job. Combining that with the fact that I was a kid nobody liked, there would have been a good chance of an acquittal.
Another point I would have had in common with Cherie is the aftermath. She received a lot of bullying from a friend of the bully that was reported to police. In my case, a light sentence or acquittal would have encouraged the bullies more. After all, the son of the lawyer wore what he had done to me as a badge of honour and boasted about being threatened with being charged. I knew he was confident that lawyer daddy or one of his associates would have got him off.
In spite of the gloom scenario I have just painted, I think there is a time when enough is enough and if the school or parents won’t address the bullying, the police should be called when it escalates and believe me, it will! If the police don’t do anything, then it should be the newspapers. No one should have to suffer the bullying torment that Cherie and I both had to suffer.
In my book, “He Was Weird,” there is a scene where Mark, the protagonist, is beaten up and his bicycle wrecked. When his mother learns of what happened, she goes into the school and has the parents of the two perpetrators brought in for a meeting. In this meeting, she informs the other parents that should something like that happen again, she would seek to press charges. In other words, she would involve the police.
This did actually happen to me and it happened pretty much as how I describe it. It also had a contrasting effect on the two boys involved. One boy was genuinely sorry and even offered me the use of his bike while mine was being repaired. (The bike repair is another story.) On the other hand, the other boy wore the whole thing as a badge of honour. He went around saying that next time, I was going to have him arrested for assault and battery. As a result, I was made out to be some sort of wimp because first, I got the school and my mother involved and then the idea of the police. As often times with bullies, these two boys were seen as heroes.
Now I admit, I may have made a mistake after the event. I thought that people would leave me alone if faced with the threat of being arrested. Therefore, if anyone threatened me with bodily harm, my response would be that I would have them arrested for assault and battery. In fact, one of the boys would sometimes warn the bullies that I might do that because I did it to him. The actual fact was that we didn’t actually press charges, we just said we would next time. However, this didn’t deter any bullying but in fact some bullies would carry on more to see if I would actually go through with it. One teacher even said I was using it to pick fights. After a few occasions when I told my mother of the bullying and she didn’t go to the police, I knew it wasn’t going to happen.
While it didn’t happen to me in real life, in the story, Mark’s mother and grandfather is able to get a restraining order on another of his bullies. Unfortunately for Mark, it only encourages more bullying as the bullies would taunt, “I want you to get a restraining order on me.” I do believe that would have actually happened. Then shortly on in the story, the bully continues the bullying because he knows the police won’t do anything even though there’s a restraining order in place. The police don’t believe the bully is violating the order.
Another point in relation to this is that one of the bullies in the initial instance’s father is a top lawyer and well respected in the town. Something I convey more in the story, although this bully never said that everyone should beat me up so his father’s law firm can give them a discount defending them in court. If my mother did press charges against this bully, daddy or one of his criminal lawyer friends would have got him off. There was also the case that one of my other bullies and there were many, was the nephew of the chief of police. In small town politics, no charges would have ever been brought against him.
So, it begs the question, should the police intervene in instances of bullying? Well, if the target is at risk of physical harm or the threat of it, then definitely. Furthermore, schools or rich daddy lawyers should not be allowed to block any police action. Furthermore, some legislatures and local governments are taking steps to make bullying a crime. I think that might be a good thing.
I have been really feeling old this week when I realized that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of one of the greatest heavy metal movies of all time, “Wayne’s World.” I absolutely loved that film and I got my children hooked on it when they were growing up. The film is about Wayne Campbell, a heavy metal loving young adult who hosts a cable access TV show in his basement along with his best friend Garth. In the film, the pair are discovered by a TV producer who promises to make them big stars. Of course things don’t quite pan out that way and things result in a hilarious ending. Actually, you get three endings, the sad ending, the Scooby-Doo ending and the mega happy ending. For metalheads, this is the ultimate heavy metal party film.
However, in this post, I want to concentrate on the character Garth, brilliantly played by actor Dana Carvey, because it has been said that the Garth character is on the Autistic Spectrum and possibly has Asperger’s Syndrome. Let’s look at the evidence. Garth is socially awkward, often times missing social cues. He also avoids eye contact with people and doesn’t like touching. One example is that he withdraws a high five from a club doorman, played by the late Meat Loaf. Furthermore, he is especially shy and introverted. He has a serious crush on a girl who works at the local donut shop but fears the notion of going up and talking to her. That was me many years ago.
Like with many people with Aspeger’s, it seems that Garth has limited interests. In one scene, we see him working with a lot of electronic equipment and he is very good on the drums, though he is very humble about his ability. When complimented, he simply responds, “I like to play.” There is one scene which confirms to me that he is definitely on the Spectrum. When going over the contract, the TV executive, played by Rob Lowe, asks Wayne and Garth if they’d like to have their lawyer look at it. Wayne responds that they’re in between lawyers because their last one screwed their affairs so bad but Garth goes off on a tangent saying, “I went into his office, grabbed him by his fat head and said, ‘I’m not going to jail for you or anybody.” Wayne reminds Garth about his pills.
More evidence comes when the show finally premieres and Wayne walks out after a row with the executive leaving Garth to continue on his own, resulting in a near break down. My favourite scene comes right after where we see his imagination come to light. He’s in the donut shop where he’s made characters out of donuts. He role plays them with the one character, Mr. Donutheadman, getting stabbed with full commentary. Many people with Asperger’s are capable of wild imaginations such as this. I know I was.
All right, I know that Garth Algar is a fictional character from a film but his mannerisms are so much like people who have Asperger’s Syndrome, it’s almost uncanny. However, don’t take my word for it, watch the film and enjoy it.
If anyone went to Margate, New Jersey, the town where I was horrendously bullied for three years and told them about the bullying hell I experienced, provided they remembered me and I’m sure someone there would, they would try to justify their bullying on account that I was a liar. That I told fake stories and lies. However, many of my supposed lies, although exaggerated in some cases, were just instances miscommunication because I couldn’t properly explain them due to my DAMP. Although, in many of those cases, they misinterpreted, sometimes intentionally, what I said so they could use it against me. So, I will now list those supposed lies and explain them.
I broke the world’s running record. My first two days of school, I ran home from the school. I was still in pretty good shape from playing football so I was able to run about a mile without stopping. At the time, I didn’t know that athletes ran much further so in my mind, I broke the world’s running record. When I told of my feat in school, it was immediately misinterpreted. Kids took it that I was saying I was a really fast runner when I wasn’t saying that at all. I was just happy I ran such a distance. Unfortunately, my attempts to explain this fell upon deaf ears.
2. Jim Lefebvre was my cousin. Throughout my childhood in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Jim Lefebvre played second and third base for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Often times, I was asked if I was related to him because we have similar sounding surnames. At first, I would be truthful and say no. However, one day, someone suggested that I should say that he was as a joke. So, when someone asked me the question when I first moved to Margate, I said yes. Unfortunately, people there didn’t see the joke and I was made out to be a liar and as was the case, got blown totally out of proportion. In fact, a few years later, someone said that I was telling lies like the time I said my cousin was on the Mets. Jim Lefebvre never played for the Mets but my supposed lie evolved into me saying that. This brings me to another point. As is the case of bullies, they claim to only be joking but a target makes a similar joke, it’s conveniently not seen as such.
3. I was in a movie. Before I moved to Margate, a friend and I had this great plan of producing our own sci-fi movie and sending it to a local TV personality who presided over showing horror and sci-fi films on a local TV station in the early 1970s. This was just an outlandish fantasy of two nine year old boys. Now, we did have a home movie camera in our attic so we could have used it if allowed. My friend asked his father to be the director, which he declined. So, I was sort of telling the truth when I said the movie director turned me down. Once again, this got totally blown out of proportion, although it didn’t help that due to my Asperger’s Syndrome, I couldn’t properly explain it like I am now. Then again, even if I had explained it eloquently, those listening would have intentionally misinterpreted it so it could have been used against me.
4. My grandfather was a world champion miniature golfer. Okay, this was an untruth. Well sort of, he did win a local senior citizens tournament and I totally embellished it. By this time, my mind was so twisted by my DAMP and the intentional ignorance of people that I wasn’t sure what I was saying anymore.
5. I played ice hockey for the junior Philadelphia Flyers. This was a lie but I will still explain. First, my bullying had become so bad, that I coped by creating a fantasy world where I was the star hockey player. It helped me cope with all of the crap I was going through. Secondly, no one was believing my truths or totally misinterpreting them that this sinister part of my brain thought that why not tell a big whopper. What I should have found sad at the time was that some people seemed to want to go out of their way to prove my lie. These days I find it amusing.
Of course, should anyone from the town read this post and realize who is writing it and remember me, I am sure that they will say that this is me trying to explain my lies away. No, if I was able to explain things better back then and people weren’t so quick to want to twist things around, then there would have been no need for me to write this post. On the other hand, did any of my lies or fake stories really effect anyone? I didn’t bare false witness against anyone, everything was about me. Some might respond with “We don’t like liars.” Well nobody does but the things I said which were perceived as lies was not an excuse for bullying and abuse.
Since then, I have met others who have told taller tales than I ever did. While they may be talking bullshit, their bullshit doesn’t effect me and if someone wants to build themselves up by creating myths about them, then it’s not going to effect my life in any way. So, I simply say, “Leave them to it.”
People soon get tired of trends, fads or fashion, this is a given. Advertisers, the media, (television for sure) and even politicians know that if you make something trendy, people will quickly get tired of it and move onto the next one. My experience of this came in the 1980s when I was an anti- Contra Aid protester. Opponents of one protest I went on said that we were living in the 1960s because the days of protest and rebellion was over. What those in power did was attempt to make standing up for what you believe in a social trend and anyone who protested anything was out of style and living two decades earlier. This is dangerous and historically inaccurate! Protesting never came and went with the 1960s. Historical fact, if a mass of determined women didn’t take to the streets to protest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, women might not still be allowed to vote. Just a thought but I won’t harp on this too much as I want to get into the meat of what this post is about.
Because there are so many people speaking about against bullying these days, it is in danger of becoming a trend. Already, I have heard or read online statements by a few people who are ‘fed up with all of this anti-bullying nonsense.’ The fear is that if anti-bullying is treated as a trend, then people will get fed up with it and don’t want to hear about it anymore. Furthermore, they could have the misconception that bullying is a thing of the past, so there is no need for so many people to speak out against it. Likewise, people in the 1980s thought there was no need to protest because the Vietnam war was over. If this backlash against anti-bullying is allowed to prevail, then bullying will regain a momentum it should never have and we will be right back to where we were a few years ago. This is a dangerous way to go, especially to targets of bullying.
Another consequence from this is how it might effect the next generation. Young people do not want to do the same things their parents did. The ‘free-love’ attitude of the 1960s supposedly led to the an attitude by the youth of the 1980s to be more selective about sex and love. In the case of bullying, I fear that the youth of today might see their parents getting all caught up in the anti-bullying cause and not wanting to be like their parents, ignore it totally thus creating a bullying backlash, possibly an epidemic. This must never be allowed to happen! We must teach all children that bullying or anti-bullying is not a trend. Bullying in any form is wrong and must not be allowed in any circumstances. That’s my two-cents for today.
The title should be self explanatory and for the most part it is, but there is more to it. I know this from my own experiences and did cover it in my book, “He Was Weird.” It was especially the case during my three year bullying nightmare but there was an instance in later life too. Bullies will go after the easiest target, even when the target might have not had anything to do with whatever fired up the bully’s anger. If there is an easier alternative, the bully will go for that.
In “He Was Weird,” the target, Mark, had a so-called friend named Gene Lancaster. In the story, Gene would mouth off to people and then run away and leave Mark to catch the person’s wrath. Sometimes, Gene didn’t even have to run, those people would go after Mark anyway because he was the easier target. I actually had a friend like this and there were many instances where I would take the brunt of someone’s wrath who this so-called friend mouthed off to. There were even instances when I wasn’t present at the time, but the bully would eventually use me to take his wrath out on. Plus, they would ignore any reminders from me that I had nothing to do with whatever incurred his wrath. I was there so I became the target.
There were also cases where another person was involved and the same thing happened. One time, the person who influenced my creation of the Gene character took some kid’s hat and began throwing it around. He threw it to me once and I threw it back to Gene but it landed in a puddle. First, the kid told the teacher that I took his hat, I didn’t. Then the kid’s brother threatened me with violence over it, again impervious to the fact that I didn’t take the hat. Here’s where it gets interesting. The brother stated the he looked after his brother. I wish I was a quick thinker at the time because I could have pointed out that another boy was constantly picking on his brother and making his life a misery all through the school year. I could of asked, “How come you’re not going after him?” Today, I know the answer, it is because bullies will always go after the easiest target.
It didn’t happen in “He Was Weird,” but when I was in the service. It seemed that the African Americans in my unit targeted me but ignored the redneck mountain boy from West Virginia who openly stated he was in the Klu Klux Klan and it was said that at one clan meeting, did a rather horrible thing with a broom handle to a young black girl. Still, while they nicknamed this redneck, ‘The Grand Dragon,’ they never seemed to bother him. The reason why, it was because the redneck was able to stand up for himself and was quite good with his fists. This left my Asperger’s mind to conclude that as long as you can stand up for yourself and use your fists, you can belong to an organization that spouts race hate. As a result, I developed racist feelings on the grounds that African Americans go after the wrong white people.
Some people believe that the notion bullies are cowards is a myth but in this particular scenario, it is definite fact! Anyone who will take out their frustration at a perceived grievance on someone who may not have been involved in that grievance because it is easier to take it out on that person is a coward, plain and simple.
Last year, I made a New Year’s resolution that I would stop procrastinating and finish the book I am current working on, I’m calling it “The V Network.” I regret to announce that I haven’t finished the book, only about halfway through from my perspective. Fault lies with me completely. You see, during this past year, I’ve allowed myself to be distracted by an online computer game, “Forge of Empires.” Now, I love historically based strategy games and when I thought that when I first started playing it, it would be a good distractor or a way of rewarding myself when I achieved a writing objective. It’s actually become too much of a distraction and in danger of becoming an obsession if I didn’t act on it.
The first alarm rang back in the summer when I went away for three days and worried about leaving my empire vulnerable to attack and plunder, especially since there was this one saddo who was constantly attacking and plundering me. Not just then, I find myself worrying if I will be able to harvest my empire’s goods and supplies from my buildings before I am attacked and plundered and doing other things related to the game. In short, my life was in danger of becoming controlled by the game.
The fear of upsetting others has always been a worry in my Asperger’s mind. I belong to a guild which expects full participation from its members in expeditions and guild battles. My Asperger’s fear of upsetting others has me worried that if I am unable to contribute to the guild through less time on the game, I’ll be booted out. My only solution is to approach the guild saying that I have to lessen my online commitment and hope they understand.
“Forge of Empires” wasn’t my only distraction though. At work, my main client, Melvin, has been home for a month. He went home early for Christmas because of a potential lockdown. Therefore, life at work hasn’t been as hectic and stressful as it usually is. However, instead of using the time to write, which I could have easily done, I wasted it watching DVDs and playing the game on my I-pad. I feel ashamed that I haven’t written anything when I easily could have.
So that’s this year’s resolution: Drastically cut down on playing online games and limit my DVD watching at work when Melvin is at home to maybe one a shift. Kicking out these distractions, I might even complete my book this year.