Bullied for Being Different

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Sophie Lancaster

A few weeks ago, I happened to be flipping through the television channels when I came across and interesting programme being shown on BBC. It was called, “Bullied for Being Different,” about the murder of Sophie Lancaster in Manchester, England who was attacked and kicked to death by a group of teenage boys for dressing like a goth. The show was very well done and it provoked a lot of thoughts within my mind and I have been pondering over them for the past couple of weeks.

Back in the intolerant times of 80s Reagan America, I was often bullied for dressing different. Okay, I wasn’t subject to or threatened with any physical violence but I was teased and excluded on account of my dress sense, which didn’t conform. Eventually, I came to the UK thinking that it was going to be a utopia of tolerance. Okay, I was wrong about it being a utopia. I was in college about a month when a few individuals made some comments about my dress sense. One person made a lot of homophobic remarks because I was wearing a leather biker’s cap. At the time, that was a major homophobic British stereotype. However, that instance was the exception than the rule. For the most part, I was able to adorn my heavy metal dress sense and do so without any grief from others, unlike being in America. For the most part, Britain is still much more socially tolerant than the US.

I loved these boots and wore them most of the time

In spite of what I think, there are many Americans who think it’s the other way around. When I mentioned that I was going to England, some advised me to take out my earring and leave my boots (above photo) at home. When I told them that I had been to England three years earlier and wouldn’t need to do so, they looked at me with disbelief.

Now, I don’t know if the Sophie Lancaster killing made the news in America. If it did, it would have been used against American youths who are teased and harassed for dressing in such a way. I can hear some American man saying to a goth, “You think you have it bad here, you’re lucky you’re not in England. They’ll kill you for looking like that.” It doesn’t matter that the murder was more a one off and although some people who dress different get stick, Britain is still more tolerant of different dress senses than America. Unfortunately, we have cases of the few who are intolerant taking it to the extreme and that’s what happened in Sophie’s case.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to sugar coat this horrific act which occurred in 2007 just because I think Britain is more tolerant than America. It was a despicable attack and those who carried it out didn’t get long enough sentences in my opinion. What I think the Americans would have got right in this case was that the perpetrators would have gotten longer sentences. Of course, the skeptic in me would wonder had this attack occurred in America, would it have gotten to trial and would the victims be taken seriously. After all, in the mind set of many, Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend would have been asking for trouble on account of the way they looked. After all, in school shootings like Columbine, the goth culture gets blamed almost immediately. I’ll be writing more of that in my next post. In short, intolerance sucks and no one should be bullied or harassed for being different, anywhere.

To buy He Was Weird go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501440478&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

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Interest or Obsessions?

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What is normally found with people who have Asperger’s Syndrome is that many are really focused on their personal interests, sometimes to the point where it looks like an obsession. From my experiences, many of the people I work with have their own interests and can become very obsessive over them. Take the two service users I work with most of the time. One likes to read the Teletext pages on his TV to keep abreast of world news and he has a ritual in town where he counts cars. The objective of this is only clear in his mind. The other gentleman has different interests and can border on obsession. He is interested in wars, especially both world ones, naturally disasters and attacks on humans by large predators. I’m talking sharks and crocodiles mainly. He helps to satisfy these interests by purchasing DVDs, post cards and models and if we didn’t keep it in check, would spend all his money on it.

I realized many years ago that my interests have sometimes bordered on obsession, especially when I was a lot younger. Like my client, I too liked war. In fourth grade it was the Native American wars with the US Cavalry and one George Armstrong Custer became a hero of mine. The war interest re-established itself inside my mind in my last three years of high school but this time it was World War II. I began collecting the Time-Life books on it, which I still have.

General George A Custer

However, my interests came and went, sometimes with the school year. In fifth grade, war changed to sports and that changed within itself when I hit sixth grade. My fifth grade interest in American Football gave way to ice hockey. While I still loved those sports in seventh grade, they took a back seat to an interest in the solar system after learning about it in school. I especially have a fondness for the planet Uranus, don’t ask where that came from. Thanks to the film in 1975, my freshman year in high school was spent in what some called obsession of Rollerball. And for those who read my 80smetalman blog, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I had an ongoing love for music, at least hard rock and heavy metal anyway.

My favourite planet other than our own, Uranus

While these interests came and went, they never left my mind totally. My fourth grade interest in General Custer laid dormant in my mind enough for me to write my junior year history essay on the Battle of Little Big Horn. He also propped up when I watched a documentary on the Civil War and was quite pleased that he played a role in the Union victory at Gettysburg, even if it was done by a series of reckless charges. World War 2 interest has always remained with me although like most of America in the 1980s, I too was fascinated with the Vietnam films. I still enjoy watching “Rollerball” and love American football and ice hockey. However, my interest in the planets in our solar system is the most recent one to return.

Of course I can say that my interest in it never left. It made a strong comeback in 1999 when the BBC aired and eight part series called “The Planets.” I really enjoyed that series despite being a little disappointed that NASA found my favourite planet boring when Voyager II flew past. But as it’s the rule with the BBC, if I really like something they show, they never show it again. Recently, I finally purchased the series on DVD and am watching it again. It might be out of date by now, for instance, the planned Cassini mission to Saturn has happened in 2003, but that hasn’t stopped my enjoyment of it. Plus, whenever I get the chance when supply teaching, I will teach a lesson about the solar system.

The problem with having strong interests is how the ‘rest of the world’ perceives it. In school, I was often ridiculed and even bullied for having these strong interests. “Is that all you think about?” was a standard question asked of me a lot during this time. People’s justification for their intolerance and bullying was that my constant talk about my interests annoyed them. However, what I should have said to them back then was their slight ‘annoyance’ was no excuse for violence or threats of it. In many cases, these so called annoyed people simply let it annoy them as an excuse to bully. A simple, “I’m not into that” would have stopped me from talking about it.

I wonder how many people with Asperger’s Syndrome were bullying victims because of people’s ‘annoyance’ with their interest or obsessions. I know Mark was in “He Was Weird” and like when I went through at the time, the adults blamed him for going on too much about his interests. That’s a big trait of someone with ASD. They are interested in it so much, they want to talk about it. Those in the ‘normal’ world need to understand that and while they have every right to not be interested in the interests of another, bullying, intimidation and violence is not the way to get them to stop.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1500801442&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

 

Patterns of Abuse | How To Recognize a Mind Fuck?

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This Hits the Nail on the Head for Me

 

American Badass Activists

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Fuck being a victim, or continue experiencing abuse after it’s spotted.

If I can recognize it, and when I do recognize it, done. No apologies. And an extra go-fuck-yourself automatically included. Free of charge. 

The trick is how to recognize an abusive relationship when Autistic (or Neurodiverse) traits make it not understood until far too late.

Cutting ties to an abusive person includes a few consistent patterns in my experience — actually all my past abusers from childhood to recent (physical, sexual, emotional or gaslighting type) shared these traits:

IMG_0257I’m to blame. They are the victim and I’m the one that caused the issues and at fault for the abuse. If the abuser suffers any consequences for their behaviors, that’s some fault of mine they had to suffer.

The abuser is always publicly, loudly, quietly, always the victim. Someone is always at fault for their behaviors and no responsibility is…

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Good Parenting Skills?

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Today’s post is inspired by a comment made on my previous post when I talked about bullying as portrayed on television. David Prosser, I hope he doesn’t mind me naming him here, pointed out that parents teach their children how not to be victims of bullying but not how not to be bullies. David’s words of wisdom were spot on! Plus, it gave me food for thought about parents and bullying.

Absolutely true that parents teach their children not to be victims but not how not to be bullies. However, from my experiences, some of which I highlight in my book, “He Was Weird,” parents seem to like the fact that their children are bullies. They seem to wear this fact as some sort of sick badge of honour. Some even go as far to think that their offspring being bullies is a good reflection of their parenting skills. Their justification is that they have taught their children how to stand up for themselves, wrong! 

There is a major difference in standing up for oneself and being a bully. The two certainly don’t go hand in hand. Some of the best people I know who know how to handle themselves can do so without being a bully and more importantly, using their words instead of their fists. This is what parents should be teaching their children, not teaching or encouraging them to be bullies.

I have seen many instances when the parents of bullying victims have tried to address a bullying issue with the parents of the bully and the bully’s parents either dismissive or even patronizing over it. One famous response a bully’s parents has used is “You should teach your child how to fist fight.” So does mean if the victim, next time they’re bullied, picks up a baseball bat or even a gun and seriously harms or kills their bully, the bully’s parents will think that’s all right? I don’t think so. What needs to happen is for the bully’s parents to take a stand in encouraging their child in not being a bully. Linking it to that “Criminal Minds” episode, I believe that those murdered parents and the murdered teen would still be alive if the parents had taken a pro-active stance in teaching their child it is wrong to be a bully.

I have experienced this. In one of my worst instances of being bullied, my mother had the parents of both tormentors into school. One of the parents was reasonable about it but the other, a successful lawyer, was very dismissive about the entire affair. As far as he was concerned, his son could do no wrong and I was to blame for what happened to me. Yep, that bully’s parents also used the age old tactic of blaming the victim. What is needed here is more education, both to adults and children. It needs to be drummed home that all bullying is wrong and it’s not a status symbol if your child is a bully.

To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499885767&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

Bullying As Seen On TV: Criminal Minds Part 3

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Some of the team from Criminal Minds

Not long in the past, I wrote a series of posts about bullying and school shootings as portrayed on television. Two of those posts were inspired by episodes of the hit American TV series, “Criminal Minds.” It was always my intention to write a third post from that series as the season of “Criminal Minds” that has just ended had a very good episode involving bullying. However, I had to wait for it to become available on Sky Box Set and recently it has. So, now I’m going to write about it, way hey!

In the most recent episode about bullying, the Criminal Minds team, officially called the BAU, get a case about a family who was murdered except for the teenage girl. At first, the team think it’s some kind of organized crime hit or a killing by a jilted love because the mother is having an affair. Not long after, another family is murdered only this time, the teenage son is allowed to live. It is at this point that the BAU come to the conclusion that the survivors of both family massacres are the intended victims. Someone wants both teenagers to suffer. A check through the school records show that both teens were accused of being bullies although nothing is put down on their permanent records. The school counselor is suspected as he was a former bullying victim and thought of as a joke by most of the school. Then things take another turn when, instead of the family, the teenage boy is murdered. Seeing the brutality of the murder leads the BAU team to reconsider the killer and established that it is not an adult but a bullied teen.

Cue the killer! We discover that he was a bullying victim and belongs to a group of other teen bullying victims calling themselves ‘The Anti- Terrorist Squad.” Note here, the programme does very rightly liken bullies to terrorists because for the victims, that is exactly what they are. The killer tells the group that he was the one who murdered their bullies and their families. However, most of the group doesn’t see him as the hero he thought they would. As a result, he takes the group hostage at gunpoint and marches them to the outdoor basketball court where law enforcement arrives. It is then we find out that the killer suffered a horrendous bullying incident when he was tied to a pole at those same courts, had a basketball thrown at his head, to the amusement of onlookers and left tied there til the morning. When he was found, no action is taken against the bullies. I say, no wonder he snapped.

I wonder what would have happened if the bullying I suffered during those three years was as bad as that. That I was tied to a pole and humiliated and abused like that. Unlike the killer, whose father was an alcoholic, my mother would have noticed that I hadn’t come home. When phoning my friends did not reveal my whereabouts, she would have phoned the police and in a small town like that, I would have been found.

If this had happened to me, I wonder what outcome there would have been on those who did it to me. Knowing my mother, charges would have been pressed and arrests made. However, some of those kids’ families had money and would have lawyered up and probably would have gotten off with a slap on the wrist. Some of the not so rich kids might have been prosecuted to the full extent of the law but what sentence would they have received? As for me, I probably would have been made more of a target for ‘getting my mother involved’ and getting so many kids in trouble. The bullying might have been worse in one sense as supporters of the bullies would have gone after me for their friends. Hopefully, that would have been the final straw with me living in that town and I would have moved out sooner, thus a silver lining there. But what baffles me is the fact that kids can do this to others while feeling totally untouchable. Again, is it any wonder kids snap and shoot up their school?

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499199984&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

Music Can Soothe, Even in a Crowd

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Three weeks ago, I went to the Download Festival. For those who don’t know, Download is a huge three day heavy metal festival that takes place every year at Donington Race Track in the UK. I had a great time over the three days, enjoying some magnificent musical acts as well as a wrestling event on the Saturday. I saw bands, I’ve grown up with or have been listening to for ages as well as bands who I had never heard of but impressed the hell out of me. I won’t go into details about the festival but if you want, you can read all the details on my 80smetalman’s Blog.

The Download Festival

What I’m going to write about in regards to Download is a self discovery I made about myself that weekend. Normally, I get very anxious in huge crowds. Many people with Aspereger’s Syndrome do. While I can control it, being in a crowded super market does send the anxiety levels up several levels. What can really send it up very high is when I’m in a crowded aisle and can’t find the item I am looking for. If I can’t find what I am seeking straight away, it’s not unusual for me to leave that aisle and come back later when it’s not as crowded.

It would appear to be obvious that at a festival with tens of thousands of people, my anxiety levels would have gone through the roof. They didn’t. In fact, they stayed quite low, even during the Saturday Night Headliner, Rob Zombie, when everyone was packed in so tight, they could hardly move. My only worry was that I wasn’t able to take as many pictures of Rob as I wanted to because I could hardly move. So the question is: Why I wasn’t so anxious then?

My answer to this was the fact that I was enjoying the music. Rob Zombie not only delivered some great music, he also had a kick ass stage show. The fact that I was enjoying myself with the music I love so much overrode any anxious worries about being in a crowd. This happened a lot throughout the weekend. Enjoying a weekend of great music, I had no anxieties about crowds. Even crowd surfers, although a nuisance at times, didn’t send me into overload. It has been said that many people with Asperger’s Syndrome or what has been called ‘pure’ autism can find relief in music and that music and help soothe their anxieties. I found it true in my case during this weekend.

I did have one anxious moment on the Sunday. After one of the bands finished, I was supposed to meet my stepson and his friend. Failure to locate them combined with walking around and through a massive crowd did begin to send my levels up. There was no music going on at the time to calm me down either. Fortunately, I did find a seem in the crowd and went through it and not long after I found my stepson and therefore, avoided any mental catastrophe. If I did have a meltdown, it wouldn’t have lasted long because the next band would have been on stage soon enough.

To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1498766467&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Humble Thank You

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Thanks to all of those who visited my last post about heading north. Even four likes makes me feel good to know that there are others out there who can empathize. Having returned from Grimsby, I can say that my mother in law is as well as can be expected. However, her dementia is severe enough that she will probably never return to her home and will live out her remaining days in a nursing home. In her case, that’s not such a bad thing. But thanks to all who shared their concern.

Heading North

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It’s been a roller coaster fortnight for me. Last week I had all the heavy metal thrills of going to the Download Festival, this week my wife and I have received news that her mother has been sectioned by social services for 28 days. Naturally, this has had a devastating effect on my wife and I’m doing my best to support her. However, it hasn’t left me time to write and at the weekend, we’ll be heading North to Grimsby to see my mother in law. Thank you all for your patience and hopefully, things will return to normal next week.

Yet Another Victory for Bullies, Thanks to the School

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When I read about this last week, I had already written my weekly post for Peaceful Rampage and therefore, I thought I’d wait a week to see if there were any further developments. To my knowledge, there are none. The teacher in Newport, Kentucky who was suspended by her school for speaking out against bullying, remains suspended. If this is the first time you’ve heard about the story, then click the link below.

http://www.fox19.com/story/35501794/school-suspends-newport-teacher-for-speaking-out-about-bullying

In short, here we have a teacher who is concerned about bullying at her school, so she speaks out about it. The school in response suspends the teacher for the rest of the school year without pay. Furthermore, the school has refused to speak out about bullying and even downplaying, it stating that the bullying problems were down to that teacher’s lack of classroom management. However, bullying has been reported to have happened throughout the entire school.

What we have is a school who wants to downplay or deny any bullying going on at their school. Furthermore, they take action against a teacher who is brave enough to speak out about it. So, chalk up another victory for bullies.

My question is when are schools going to own up to the fact that bullying still goes on. While I can understand that no school is comfortable with bullying happening at it, the answer is not to sweep it under the carpet. This happens all too often and I had no problem highlighting the point in “He Was Weird.” Furthermore, the worse thing the school can do is to take action against the person(s) who speak up about it. Sometimes it’s even the victim! Instead, what we need is for schools to get it out into the open, identify all bullying and come up with effective strategies that not only stop the bullying but prevent it from happening in the future.

To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496174939&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

Further Influences of Jello Biafra on He Was Weird

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It would be a complete lie if I didn’t admit that a large part of my writing “He Was Weird” was influenced by the speech by Jello Biafra I heard in 2005. After all, it was that speech that made me realize that in the case of school shootings, this could have been me. Also like Jello, one of the reasons why it was never me was that I had no access to guns or any money to go out and buy them. What I can say was that speech made me think and reflect back to less happier times in my past and that got me to write the book.

For the record, I never intentionally plagiarized anything Mr Biafra said in that speech. If anything, I took what was said and went the opposite way with it. The best example was with Jello’s constant identification of religion. In some of the school shootings he refers to, Columbine included, he points out the “being bullied to believe” attitude that permeates many small towns in America. He attacks the attitude that if children had more religion in their lives, they wouldn’t do such horrible things. Yes, I find it difficult not to laugh at that notion too. So what I did in the book was to make Mark a Born Again Christian. Fairly early in the story, he accepts Jesus as his Saviour but that does nothing to quell the bullying hell he is suffering. While his conversion leads to the best week of his young life, it is also short lived. What religion does do for Mark in preparation for his big day is to give him courage to carry out his rampage via two verses in the Bible. I guess hanging the ten commandments up in the classroom wouldn’t have prevented the shooting in this case.

Jello Biafra

Another big part of that speech playfully attacks those who are convinced that Marilyn Manson and violent computer games like Doom causes school shootings. I never followed the argument that games like Doom desensitize a person from violence. Most kids and adults play these games as a release and nothing more. Killing aliens and monsters and even enemy soldiers on a screen is a good way to unwind after a tough day. However, in “He Was Weird,” Mark doesn’t own any CDs or computer games that would contribute to him carrying out his shooting. No Marilyn Manson or Doom, the only music the police find in Mark’s room after the shooting are by two Christian Rock bands and the only computer games are an ice hockey game and the Age of Empires series. Of course, the latter is blamed on Mark’s rampage by some people. They argue that those games gave Mark the military know how to carry out his plan that day. As a result, some victims try to sue Microsoft and others try to get the teacher who ran the computer games club fired. Well, they had to blame something I guess.

Marilyn Manson-

There are probably other things in Jello Biafra’s speech which also influenced my writing of “He Was Weird.” These are only minor points and if I remember them, I’ll post about those in the future. The biggest things were religion and the belief that music and computer games cause school shootings.

To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1495650963&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird