From Capitol Hill to the workplace to the darkest corners of the internet, it can feel like our world is increasingly being manipulated by threats and intimidation. This week we look at the role of bullies in our lives and how we should and shouldn’t respond. Plus, as the GOP tax bill moves through Congress, a look back at the historical struggle over taxation in America. And finally, the story of an MSNBC contributor fired and rehired within the past two weeks and the far-right troll who was responsible.
Brooke on WNYC's own revelations of sexual misconduct and bullying and Dahlia Lithwick [@Dahlialithwick], writer for Slate and host of the Amicus podcast, on the potential danger for Democrats when they take the "moral high ground" on sexual misconduct.
Today is the last Friday of the election season. You guys, we made it. We are so close to all of this being over. No matter what happens in four days, we can all move forward together. It has been a rough 18 months and what we need now is a little pick-me-up post to push us on to Tuesday.
Here is that post, courtesy of Virginia-based rapper Kels, who aggregated it from Facebook to Twitter. The original video, posted by Facebook user Tae Moore is below:
In the video, Moore is seen giving a pair of shoes to a classmate he noticed being bullied for the way he dressed. That bullied student apparently created an Instagram account two days ago and posted the following:
Hillary Clinton has been attackingDonald Trump all week for hiring people who are considered by some to be racists. She’s been hitting him for catering to the alt-right and for promoting messages of intolerance and even cruelty. One of the things she said about him was that there has been a “Trump effect” in schools that involves more and more reported instances of bullying. Supposedly, children hear his divisive messages, go to school, and pick on kids who aren’t like them.
Is that true?
PolitiFact actually says that for the most part, it is!
Clinton, citing ‘Trump Effect,’ says teachers are reporting more bullying in schools. Mostly True. https://t.co/TXlB3Fp1ZL
In his sit-down interview with Megyn Kelly, to be aired on Fox Tuesday night, Donald Trump discusses bullying and affirms that those who are bullied “gotta get over it.”
According to the AP, describing an excerpt from the interview:
Trump says he’s a counterpuncher who goes after people when they go after him, only 10 times harder.
Asked if he was ever bullied, the Republican presidential candidate said no. But he said bullying doesn’t just happen to children. “People are bullied when they’re 55,” he said.
Kelly responded pointedly, with a smile: “Can happen when you’re 45.” She is 45.
“You know, it happens, right?” Trump went on, as if he didn’t hear her. “But you gotta get over it. Fight back, do whatever you have to do.”
During a campaign stop in Iowa, Hillary Clinton struck an emotional chord this week by giving a reassuring answer to a 10 year old’s question about speaking out against bullying in America. Now, the young girl’s mother is taking issue with Donald Trump, who said on Twitter that the whole thing was “staged.”
Fifth-grader Hannah Tandy attended Clinton’s talk at a school, and when she told Clinton about her experiences with being bullied at school, Clinton embraced her, complimented her bravery, and encouraged attendees to treat others with respect and care. Clinton also took a veiled shot at Trump by saying “it’s important to stand up to bullies wherever they are, and why we shouldn’t let anybody bully his way into the presidency, because that’s not who we are as Americans.”
Now, since Trump can’t go five minutes withoutstirring up the pot, he took the chance Continue reading "Iowa Mother Rips Trump for Calling Emotional Moment with Daughter and Hillary ‘Staged’"
Fox News psychiatric contributor Keith Ablow told Fox & Friends host Elisabeth Hasselbeck Wednesday morning that the answer to bullying was not, as a California mayor recently suggested, telling kids to “grow a pair,” but rather parents actively, even aggressively pushing schools to crack down on bullying — and using legal counsel to drive the point home, if needed.
“News flash for the mayor: bullies don’t generally target people who can plaster them to the pavement,” Ablow said. “Victims of bullying are often anxious kids, worried kids, and sensitive kids. So the idea like that they’re going to somehow summon this karate-like spirit?…I’ve treated very confident people who definitely grown their pairs, CEOs, lawyers, et cetera, who in adulthood are still struggling with the scars of being bullied as kids. So no, it makes no sense what the mayor said.”
RELATED: Fox’s Keith Ablow: Sex Ed Leads to Children Discussing Threesomes, Naturally
Hasselbeck suggested that the mayor “seemed to indicate that he was just saying look, you’ve got to stick up for yourself,” and wondered, “is this something that can be trained into someone?”
“I think that kids should be told, you should stand up for yourself,” Ablow replied. “But that can be its own form of abuse. If a child simply doesn’t have the wherewithal to confront somebody bigger and more aggressive, the people who should be standing up are the parents, going to these schools with lawyers in tow if needed, and saying, ‘You will enforce a policy that protects my child or you and the district will pay.’”
“Interesting point there,” an unimpressed Hasselbeck said.
Watch the clip below, via Fox News:
[Image via screengrab]
—— >> Follow Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) on Twitter
A California mayor is coming under fire for comments he made last week about bullying. Porterville Mayor Cameron Hamilton said during a city council meeting that while he’s against bullying, he’s tired of it being used as a “mantra” and said some kids should just “grow a pair” and defend themselves.
The city council was debating setting up a “safe zone” to combat bullying at local schools. The proposal would designate areas where kids can go to get help if they’re dealing with bullying at school. A frustrated Hamilton spoke up and said, “I’m against bullying, but I’m getting damn tired of it being used as a mantra for everything, and the ills of the world. All most people just have to grow a pair, and stick up for them damn selves.”
One councilwoman retorted, “It’s hard to just grow a pair when you’re a 10-year-old little girl.” Hamilton fired back, “Then maybe the other 10 year olds that think they want to stop bullying will stand up for her, instead of a safe zone with a placard and a bunch of training that goes on.”
Some local residents have already voiced their outrage. Melissa McMurray, from the group Gay Porterville, lambasted Hamilton for the remarks, explaining that what he said sounded a lot like a “witch hunt,” even though that wasn’t the intention of the safe zone proposal.
Watch the video below, via ABC30:
[image via screengrab]
Follow Josh Feldman on Twitter: @feldmaniac
The Weather Channel got in trouble Monday for sending out a snarky tweet to a gay Texas politician mocking his efforts to crack down on bullying, eventually apologizing for the offending tweet. The Weather Channel received some Twitter complaints from former Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, who is perhaps best known nationally for an impassioned, emotional speech he gave back in 2010.
For a refresher, you can watch Burns’ speech here:
Burns took to Twitter to complain about how the Weather Channel features photos of Dallas when you input Fort Worth into their app. Here’s the exchange between Burns and the Weather Channel (and to the Weather Channel’s credit, as of this posting, the original tweet has not been taken down).
@JoelBurns Sorry to see you go. Good luck on ending bullying.
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) May 12, 2014
It’s probably not wise to get snarky with someone for their advocacy to stop bullying of all children, especially gay and lesbian children.
Fort Worth residents started tweeting out photos with the hashtag #THISIsFortWorth to show they are a distinct and unique city from Dallas.
Hours later, the Weather Channel issued an apology.
.@JoelBurns we apologize for our reply this morning. Our response was inappropriate & we're taking steps to ensure it doesn't happen again.
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) May 12, 2014
And Burns also posted on his Facebook page later in the day that he spoke with a Weather Channel executive who said they would update their app with pictures of Fort Worth, and in addition to that, “They are making a contribution to The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and The Trevor Project.”
[image via The Weather Channel]
Follow Josh Feldman on Twitter: @feldmaniac
My Little Pony is considered to be a bit feminine, but the TV show does have male fans; one of them, a nine-year-old boy, brought a My Little Pony lunch bag to school, and was not only bullied for it, but the school put the blame on him for bringing it there in the first place.
Grayson Bruce enjoys the show, and decided to bring a Rainbow Dash lunch bag to school. As a result, he said, people were “punching me and pushing me down, calling me horrible names.” His mom revealed he was told by the school to leave it at home, which she didn’t think made any sense to quell the situation. She said, “Saying a lunch box is a trigger for bullying––you might as well say a short skirt is a trigger for rape. It’s flawed logic. It doesn’t even make any sense.”
When parents generally get wind of school bullying, they often act with cooler heads than the kids. That was not the case when a South Florida mother confronted a classmate of her daughters over bullying issues and ended up hitting and slapping her at Hialeah Middle School.
Irisdaly Rios spotted twelve-year-old Ashley Perez and thought she was trying to start up a fight with her daughter, so instead she did the fighting herself. Perez, who had to go to the hospital, told NBC 6 that she got scratches on her back and broken teeth.
Rios was arrested for simple battery, and complained after the fact that “this girl’s bullying my daughter every day.” Well, that’s one way to take a stand against bullies.
Rush Limbaugh took on the “angst” over the Arizona anti-gay bill Tuesday, noting that Governor Jan Brewer is likely to veto it because of economic concerns, mainly that it doesn’t make sense to have a state “known to have business that will turn away customers.”
But Limbaugh said that gay advocates are still outraged at Brewer for supporting the bill for the wrong reasons, and are now resorting to grade-school bullying in order to put political pressure on her.
“The governor of Arizona is being bullied. She is being bullied by the homosexual lobby in Arizona and elsewhere. She is being bullied by the nationwide Drive-By Media. She is being bullied by certain elements of corporate America in order to advance the gay agenda. I guess in that circumstance, bullying is admirable. In fact, this kind of bullying is honorable.”
Limbaugh said that to liberals, it’s not bullying, it’s fighting passionately for what they believe in. He said all the hubbub over Arizona is just a media “soap opera” to begin with.
Listen to the audio below, via The Rush Limbaugh Show:
Tamera Mowry, current talk show host and former star of Sister Sister, has received a deluge of online attacks for her marriage to Fox News reporter Adam Housley, with one person going so far as to call her “white man’s whore.” Housley, who has been very outspoken about the attacks, joined Bill O’Reilly Wednesday night to condemn the cowardice of anonymous online commenters, saying it’s harder than ever to ignore what the “bullies” are saying.
O’Reilly asked Housley why anyone reads hateful online comments in the first place. Housley said, “Even if you don’t look for it, it’s there and it shows up.” He said it is now easier than ever for random people to connect to famous people, and all people can do is just “call it out” strongly and publicly.
O’Reilly lamented how because the United States is a place that values freedom of speech, regrettably “defamatory obscenities are allowed.” Housley found it remarkable how mixed-race couples are still a sore and controversial subject, telling people to “get over it” if they still have a problem with this growing social trend.
CNN host Carol Costello could only stand so much anti-gay rhetoric this morning. After allowing American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer to claim that Adolf Hitler‘s Nazi Stormtroopers were largely comprised of gay men and that there are documented health risks to homosexuality, Costello threw the outspoken anti-gay advocate off her program, ending the interview abruptly.
For the first half of the discussion, Fischer criticized the Southern Poverty Law Center’s new “Mix It Up at Lunch Day” initiative that seeks to promote tolerance in school lunchrooms and reduce bullying. Naturally, the AFA is protesting the initative, claiming that it seeks to force students “to accept homosexuality as a normal, healthy alternative to heterosexuality.”
He went on to call the program deceptively “toxic” to the “moral health” of students, much like “poisoned Halloween candy” injected with cyanide. “The label looks fine, it looks innocuous, but once you internalize it you realize how toxic it is.”
After some back and forth over whether his views constitute “hate speech,” Costello read aloud a passage from a previous radio interview Fischer had conducted, in which he said:
“Hitler recruited homosexuals around him to make up his Stormtroopers. They were his enforcers. He discovered he could not get straight soldiers to carry out his orders but homosexual soldiers had no limit to the savagery and brutality Hitler sent them after.”
“That spells agenda to me,” remarked Costello, adding that by most people’s standards this would constitute “hate speech.”
Fischer encouraged Costello to read a particular German history book that supposedly corroborates his claims, but Costello dismissed him, adding that “I think most historians would take issue with that.”
The anti-gay activist then attempted to call the Southern Poverty Law Center the real “bullying group,” claiming that “they’re the ones that want to silence any view that would criticize the normalization of homosexual behavior.”
But as soon as Fischer began to spout off supposed health risks to homosexuality, Costello abruptly cut him off and ended the interview.
“That’s just not true,” she said. “I’m going to end this interview now, sir, because that’s not true.”
She signed off: “Thanks for sharing your views, I guess?”
The upcoming documentary Bully, which is fighting for a more teen-friendly MPAA rating, tells the stories of bullied teenagers from Iowa, among other places. As if to illustrate the uphill battle kids face against not just the bullies, but indifferent or ineffectual schools, a school in Dunkerton, Iowa recently hired Junkyard Prophet, a Christian rock band whose ministry, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to host an anti-bullying assembly, with disturbing results.
The group is fronted by Bradlee Dean, the anti-gay lunatic who sued Rachel Maddow for $50 million because she made fun of his name (I’m not kidding), and called him out for praising radical Muslims who called for the executions of American gays. Dean disputes the characterization, but his full remarks are linked here, along with his later attempt to backtrack.
On Wednesday morning’s Starting Point, anchor Soledad O’Brien played a clip from the assembly, which she aptly described as “Welcome to crazy town,” in which the group introduces the topic of human-on-goat sex as it relates to the immorality of homosexuality.
It got crazier, if not necessarily “worse,” from there, as the group “divided the students up into girls and boys, told the girls that, quote, they’ll have mud on their wedding dresses if they’re not virgins before marriage,” and displayed photographs of aborted fetuses.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, local paper The Lacrosse Tribune reported that “Those who walked out or attempted to confront the speakers were shouted down or ridiculed as disrespectful, according to students.”
Nearly as infuriating as all of this bullying at an anti-bullying assembly was this kicker, from Soledad O’Brien: “The superintendent said he was very surprised. He said the other schools did not mention this.”
The other schools?
That’s right, apparently this group travels the countryside delivering anti-gay lectures to schools whose administrators either don’t have Google. or don’t care. In the case of the Dunkerton school superintendent, it sounds like the latter:
Overall, Superintendent Jim Stanton said, the group offered “a very strong anti-violence, anti-drug, anti-alcohol” message.
…”The kids were rocking out,” Stanton said.
He noted Junkyard Prophet performed at the school years ago prior to his tenure. According to Stanton, staff members at the school at that time and officials from other districts had positive impressions of the group.
However, Stanton said, the group apparently changed and misrepresented its total message going into Thursday’s appearance.
Another local paper, the WFC Courier, reports that the teacher who recommended the group will resign next week, but the Superintendent insists the timing is coincidental. ““This has been something that has been coming for a long time,” Stanton told the Courier. “He simply wants to be a superintendent.”
Lest you think that Bradlee Dean is some kind of fringe outsider, he was a longtime political booster of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who helped him raise money for his ministry and was a guest on his TV show. They’re no longer allies, but not because Bachmann woke up and decided she didn’t want to be aligned with a hate group. It was Dean who dumped Bachmann in October with a crisp “Lady, you stink” on his radio show.
This morning, MTV announced an upcoming documentary on the life of Lady Gaga and, in particular, how Stefani Germanotta, the girl from New York, became the “fame monster” we see today (who, by the way, just took on the #1 spot on Forbes’ annual “Celebrity 100″ list). A few clips from from the documentary, to be called Lady Gaga: Inside the Outside, have been released and one is particularly striking. In it, Gaga tells a story of an instance of bullying from her youth and relates how it helped make her who she is now.
The story involves Gaga/Germanotta’s bullying at the hands of some boys from her school:
“I remember once some of the girls from my class, they were hanging out with some boys that I knew also and the, I went to meet some friends for some pizza that were at the same pizzeria and the boys picked me up and threw me in the trashcan, on the street. On the corner of my block while all the other girls from the school were leaving and could see me in the trash and everybody was laughing and I was even laughing. I always have that nervous… giggle and I just remember like holding back the tears and the lip quivering and don’t let them see you and I remember even one of the girls looking at me like ‘Are you about to cry? You’re pathetic.’ That’s what I, that’s what I felt like, you’re pathetic. ‘Are you about to cry?’ And I just, I remember I didn’t tell anybody, that’s what I remember. I remember I didn’t tell anybody. I remember I didn’t want to tell my parents because it was too embarrassing.”
While those of us outside of Gaga’s demographic may see the whole thing as a little silly, it’s important to remember that Gaga, like many popular musicians before her and probably more than anyone else currently, caters to those who have been ostracized. Her recent hit “Born This Way,” for all the crazy sci-fi trappings and unicorns in the video, is very clearly a message of defiance for those that have been put upon, particularly her sizable gay fanbase. So, while we may just see a millionaire with crazy make up talking about being thrown in a trash can, there’s no doubt that many of Gaga’s fans, her “little monsters,” will find the tale incredibly inspiring.
Presumably, moments like that is what the documentary, set to air May 26th, will be going for.
The problem of stigmatizing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people is a deadly serious issue that I’ve written about repeatedly. While liberals are generally considered to be more LGBT-friendly than conservatives, at least policy-wise, liberals aren’t automatically above an lgbt-phobic insult. Even with that knowledge, I was shocked by the shot that Lawrence O’Donnell took at Glenn Beck and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), during the intro to Tuesday night’s The Last Word, mocking the pair as gay.
In the closing seconds of the opening montage for the show, O’Donnell says, “The Republican budget plan softens Glenn Beck’s feelings about gay marriage,” before playing a clip of Beck telling Ryan, “I love you,” and Ryan returning the sentiment. To make matters worse, O’Donnell never even used the audio during his show, and included it in the opening for the sole purpose of this gag.
Here’s the clip, from MSNBC:
To some, O’Donnell’s crack may seem like nothing more than a juvenile schoolyard insult, which is likely how he intended it, but what he’s doing there is using the implication that Ryan and Beck are gay as an insult. Such stigmatizing behavior contributes to a hostile atmosphere that has resulted in a rash of high-profile suicides, among other things.
It’s bad enough when anyone engages in this behavior, but when it’s a liberal, their status as supposed allies to this community makes the offense that much worse, and the betrayal that much more acute. O’Donnell should apologize.