by Izzy Kalman (October 2003)
Some of the most hateful and nasty people you will encounter are crusaders against hatred and nastiness. I occasionally get angry letters from people who read my website and disagree with me. Though there are countless bully-bashing websites that support their point of view and should make them happy, they are incensed by one lone voice exercising freedom of speech and presenting a contrary view. A few days ago I received another such an email, but this one is distinctive because of the obviously high intelligence and articulateness of the writer, Andrew Collins.
No one, including me, is perfect and right all the time. Nevertheless, I have done the best of my ability to create and support (at my own expense) a website that gives free advice that has helped many people successfully (and some not-so-successfully) deal with teasing and bullying. Mr. Collins would love to punish those who insult others, yet doesn’t seem to realize that the insulting and demeaning way he characterizes both myself and the teasers he detests is a perfect example of the kind of behavior he is condemning. Or does he think “emotional vampire” is a compliment?
The most disturbing part of his letter is his answer to my rhetorical question from the website chapter, “Getting Revenge”:
“Can you really expect them [bullies] to receive a horrible, horrible punishment when you were practically begging them to torment you?” (The “horrible punishment” refers to “bombing, shooting, or slowly roasting [bullies] over a bonfire.”)
Mr. Collins responds to this question:
“Simply: yes! I believe that psychological cruelty, the kernel of evil thoughts, and the origin of all immoral deeds, ought to be punished when it connects to actual immoral actions that affect other people.”
Yes, he actually believes that it is moral to respond to teasers by subjecting them to a slow and painful death! Shades of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebald!
But I’ll let you read the letter for yourselves in its entirety. By the way, if anyone can tell me where “the fundamental right to be left alone” is granted, please let me know.
Andrew Collins’ Letter “Your advice for individuals dealing with teasting is simplistic, demeaning and an impediment to human moral progress.
“Teasing is definitely a psychological game.
“I sincerely doubt that your advice works when the teaser has even moderately similar characteristics to the so-called “Cluster B” personality disorders, especially someone who is a combination histrionic/antisocial.
“And, in the case of progressively more extreme, nasty and disgusting teasing (much further beyond the “it gets worse before it gets better”-type), your advice is merely spitting in the wind, it is decidely surreal in it’s optimism that teasers’ behavior can be influenced by some form of passive resistance.
“These emotional vampires, especially as adults, simply don’t get tired, bored or feel bad at looking stupid. Their sick motivations are far more powerful than mere interpersonal morality. They have no sense of self-respect or conscience. Younger teasers can sometimes stop their teasing, but adult teasers are far more practiced in the art of deceiving others–and themselves–as to their baser, deeply entrenched desires and sick motivations for teasing.
“Specifically, I feel very strongly that one of your ‘four points to understand’ is entirely the worst and most hateful advice. ‘Accept that your teasers are not completely to blame for what they have done to you.’ This advice gives moral wiggle room to teasers where there is absolutely none.
“Blaming actual, real-life human victims of abuse for the abuse done to them is demeaning.
‘Can you really expect them to receive a horrible, horrible punishment when you were practically begging them to torment you?’
“Simply: yes! I believe that psychological cruelty, the kernel of evil thoughts, and the origin of all immoral deeds, ought to be punished when it connects to actual immoral actions that affect other people. It is wrong.
“In most, if not all, cases of teasing and bullying there is no ‘begging for torment.’
“I am not being self-righteous, nor am I being overly severe. I am stating clearly that my personal moral beliefs–the ones that I hope are incorporated into future human cultural values, conflict squarely with yours.
“I am not expressing anything that is new, founded solely in my own experiences of being teased, or extreme: The concept of mens rea (evil mind) has been informing legal process for centuries!
“Teasing, bullying, hectoring, berating and all forms of verbal abuse are wrong. It is the *teaser* who bears the sole responsibility and the sole guilt for their words and actions.
“In *exactly* the same way that rapists are to be held responsible for their actions.
“It is truly sad that you have spent so much time and effort on your website–for it to be such a worthless description of current morality and an active participant in undermining human moral progress.
“Please drop your pseudo-religio-psycho-babble and get back to the freedoms of being alive, of basic human rights.
“It is a fundamental right to be left alone.
“Bullies and teasers violate that right.
“The mechanisms by which these violations occur are interesting–from a clinical perspective. However, you have conflated ‘understanding the mechanism’ (science) with ‘assignment of blame’ (morality) in such a way as to reduce the responsibility of the primary actor, the teaser, and increase that of the person being teased or bullied.
“This is a double-whammy to the person being teased–they get teased, and they are to blame for it! And a boon to the teaser: his/her sick behavior isn’t fully sick/wrong after all!
“The end result at the societal-level, across time, is that teasing increases and the injustice of it not being condemnded leads people to caring less and less about people, their feelings and their capacity for leading moral lives.
“Underlying all the above I want to make it clear that I believe you have done nothing but maintain the ‘status quo’ of the ‘law of jungle,’ with the barest tissue of psycho-babble.
“You may forward, post or quote from this comment, provided that it is quoted in its entirety and appropriate credit is given to Andrew Collins.”