Professional Bullies

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No this column is not about your boss or supervisor! But maybe it is? Itbully is about bullies though. A good definition of a bully according to my computer dictionary is “an aggressive person who intimidates or mistreats weaker people.” I have been bullied, although not recently. It happens in schools, workplaces, in sports activities and yes in the home. Here, I am talking about professional bullies, who are people who get paid money to do a job, but in the process they misuse their power to hurt others. Common professional bullies that come to mind are law enforcement, attorneys, teachers and bosses. They all have power and they can treat others badly and get away with it.

Jonathan Martin If you are a sports fan, the Miami Dolphins are dodging bullets from the media and members of the player community as they try to handle a situation where one of the players was mishandled. Jonathan Martin, an offensive lineman, was emotionally and racially abused by his “buddy” Richie Incognito, a team leader and a very “offensive” lineman. At this point, Martin has quit the team and is being quiet. Incognito is getting support from other players and other cavemen of football culture. There is clear evidence of Incognito using racial slurs, vulgar talk, disrespect of Martin’s mother, and other stuff that is not rated PG. This was all done by Incognito in his role as a “leader.”

I am not going to get into this situation too much. In sports, families and friendships, there is trash talk and “boys will be boys.” I have male siblings who haven’t talked for years because of the torrid effects of the tongue. They aren’t professionals. One of my brothers is just a knucklehead, but brothers can abuse brothers. I have witnessed it and part of Incognito’s defense by some of his enabling co-workers is “He treated him like a little brother!” Well, I smell Dolphin doo on this one. When you are a leader, you have a calling to use your power in a professional manner. Incognito was booted from college and pro teams, so sometimes a leopard doesn’t change his spots. It is obvious from other teams’ decisions; Incognito’s character was not disguised. Several programs let him go.

Here is my little story about my successful efforts in a junior high school setting as it relates to “anti-bullying” education and football. I worked in a junior high for 24 years and we had gangs, bullying and knuckleheads. So what ya gonna do? A female school psychologist and I developed an anti-bullying program and we it called “leadership.” Prior to this, I heard on the Christian radio, that the football team as it relates to bullying, often dictates school culture. If they are kind, the culture is cool. If they are mean, then you have mayhem! Football players are the biggest, strongest, most athletic, best looking and often are very intelligent and popular. They have POWER! But the question is: How will they use it?

Girls are also bullies, so our “safety and leadership seminars” were lunchtime meetings where we invited both the boy’s football and girl’s volleyball teams. We fed them pizza as well as peace propaganda. We encouraged them to be academic leaders and people who made school a fun and safe place to be. We talked about the fact that they had both potential to go to college and power to make their lives positive. Part of empowerment, is teaching them how to use the power in a way that builds up, not breaks or abuses the spirit of others.

If you are being bullied, start fighting back! Not necessarily with your fists, although that is appropriate for certain situations. Tell others with power about your situation, and if they don’t help, find more people with more power. The best defense is a good offense, which means you have to attack, to stop the attacks.

Mr. Martin did something courageous by walking away from his profession. He is a professional peacemaker, and that is what we need more of.