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The Larry Elder Show

by Izzy Kalman (March 2005) As you may know from my previous mailings, I was brought to Los Angeles several weeks ago to appear as an expert on bullying for the Larry Elder TV Show. Despite the expense they went through to fly me to California and put me up at a fancy hotel, they kept me in the front row of the audience and left me about five minutes at the end of the show to present my ideas. Larry Elder did not talk to me at all before the show, and he obviously did not read my new book, Bullies to Buddies: How to turn your enemies into friends, though the producers were provided with it. There is nothing particularly strange about this, but the unfortunate thing is that if Larry Elder had had any advance awareness of my views, he would probably have loved them, and he would have handled the show very differently. A few months ago, after being originally contacted about appearing on the show, I bought a copy of Larry Elder’s book, The Ten Things You Can’t Say in America. It blew me away! His political views are identical to my psychological views. He is a great believer in individual responsibility, and that people themselves, rather than the government, can best be relied on to handle their own lives. His first chapter, in fact, deals with the victim mentality, and that this mentality is what is holding Blacks back in the US (Larry Elder is Black). And it is my view that the victim mentality, rather than bullying, is what we need to be combatting. But what did Larry Elder do on his show? Did his approach to relationships reflect his political philosophy? Not at all. He simply did the same bully-bashing you will find on all the other TV shows. He interviewed two sets of kids who were bothering each other, accompanied by their mothers. He tried desperately to identify who the “real bully” is in each pair. This proved futile as each child/mother pair accused the other of being the real bully. Throughout the show, Larry said how terrible it is to insult each other, and tried to get them to apologize, as though that is going to put and end of their conflicts. He concluded the show by proclaiming that if kids are being bullied, they should go for help to their parents, the school authorities and, if necessary, involve the legal authorities. On huge screens the show promoted the hysteria about bullying by announcing things like “77% of students are victims of verbal, physical, or psychological bullying.” Larry Elder can’t, of course, be an expert in every topic on which he does a show. His shows are created by young producers who find the guests and prepare questions for Larry to ask. Larry comes in and follows the instructions prepared for him. I just think it’s a shame that a courageous and original thinker like Larry Elder missed an opportunity to present a new view about bullying that is actually consistent with his own philosophy of life instead of parroting what everyone else is doing.

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