Kowalski and SBWG close their blogs due to cyberbullying.

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Blogging Against Disablism Day: An Obituary

A community that tolerates and enables bullies, stalkers, and miscellaneous similar people, is no community at all. Do that and eventually many of the people who are or fear being targeted, will just fade away and hide. And only those of us stubborn enough to remain despite the harassment, defamation, and death threats will be left. Taking part in a community shouldn’t require the level of stubbornness I have learned, or disregard of one’s own safety. I go online every day knowing that my address has been posted on the web along with solicitations of murderers, rape jokes, and just about every possible level of nastiness and invasion of privacy — and my friends, family, and coworkers have been subjected to the same things. I’ve even seen other people first victimized by the same bullies and then told “The bullying will stop as soon as you denounce Amanda/join in the bullying.” I have learned to live with that. But people shouldn’t have to live with that.

There is no excuse for actively enabling bullies. These things are not some kind of “it takes two” situations (flashbacks to being beaten up in elementary school and being told “it takes two”). You don’t see me, Kowalski, SBWG, or most other targets running around harassing, threatening, or stalking anyone (although you can bet that bullies try to make themselves look as if that is happening to them to justify what they do to us). Sure I’ve seen bullies and their enablers bullying each other from time to time, I’ve seen two stalkers stalk each other. But it’s not normally what’s happening. These aren’t personality conflicts. This isn’t about someone just “not liking” someone else. And it’s not like being autistic or otherwise disabled means someone’s innocent — back in my IRC days we had at least two autistic stalkers and at least two autistic child molesters banned from our channel as well as miscellaneous other autistic bullies. (I’ve also heard “But she hasn’t killed you yet so the death threats are harmless.”. Seriously?!??)

This has to stop being acceptable. People have to stop being complacent. Any community that tolerates and enables bullies is practicing de facto exclusion of everyone who is in so much fear of being a target that they leave. That’s why my blog doesn’t allow such crap to go on here. If bullies want a forum they can have it somewhere other than here. (And when autistics.org begins to allow other blogs again that will continue to be our policy.) You shouldn’t have to have the kind of emotional shielding I have learned in order to participate in online discussions. (And yes this is an accessibility issue.) People need to take a stand on this stuff and quit sweeping it under the rug. Otherwise the bullies win every time someone fails to write because they’re afraid. (Although what the bullies are winning always confuses me. I mean they don’t actually gain anything legitimate or useful from what they do. They just get to be incredibly nasty to people. Which is a pointless goal.)

Also, bullying does more than silence people. It also kills. People commit suicide because of bullies all the time. (So all of you well-meaning people who enable bullies? Look at what you’re enabling because it ain’t harmless. And it wouldn’t be harmless even if it “just” caused pain, fear, and suffering either.)

I’ll end by linking to meloukhia’s post: Internet: It’s time to talk. And a warning: neither bullying nor apologist/enabling bullying will be tolerated in comments. So don’t even bother trying.

Edited to add:

Riel of Amorpha came up with a list of good and bad ways to deal with this kind of bullying and put it in comments. I am adding it to the end of this post because it’s important enough I don’t want people to miss it:

Finally came up with some thoughts (after we said in reply to Kowalski’s post we were still thinking about it) about things that we think are helpful and not helpful when a community is trying to deal with online bullies. Much of it gained through bad experience when we tried to deal with them in the wrong way or other people around us did or tried to encourage us to deal with them in the wrong kinds of ways.

What is useful:

  • Supporting the victim of the bullying and affirming that they have the right to be free from bullying.
  • Taking their fear seriously (as opposed to blowing it off with “oh, you shouldn’t care what those people think,” etc).
  • Block known bullies, and people who have agreed to defame others in order to escape bullying themselves, from commenting in any space you can control. Even when their comments are not actually harassing or targeting anyone. Because just seeing their presence can have a chilling effect on others– “okay, maybe they didn’t attack me that time, but what about next time?”
  • Keep others in a community informed about the activities of known stalkers, bullies, etc, if you see them going after new victims, starting new harassment campaigns, etc. Also if you know they’ve been creating new aliases, sockpuppets, posing as others, etc.
  • Find some way to warn newcomers to a community about stalkers and bullies. Especially if you see them gravitating towards bullies because they (new people) haven’t seen their bad side yet, or are confused about who to trust, or are falling for the pseudo-authoritative veneer a lot of bullies have, or think they should “give them a chance,” etc.
  • If harassing/bullying/intimidating comments do get through in any community you have power in (in large communities, for instance, sometimes this can be hard to prevent), make clear, for both the victim(s) and for bystanders, that you will not tolerate this kind of treatment of others.

What is NOT useful:

  • Telling the victim of the bullying to “not care about what other people think.” To a certain extent it’s true that you need to not care what other people think, if you want to express opinions that are currently not accepted by most of society. But when harassment goes past a certain point, and especially when it gets to the point of threats of physical or legal harm, it can’t be reasonably ignored.
  • Telling the victim of the bullying to ignore it because the bully is too “unimportant” to be taken seriously. “Unimportant” people can still become extremely persistent harassers and stalkers. And it doesn’t matter how “unimportant” someone is if they’re genuinely able to convince others of their lies, or incite them to attack or threaten people.
  • Trying to argue/letting other people try to argue with them in comments. This both has a chilling effect on others and floods out any attempts at actually productive discussions. (Several people have already talked about why doing this in the name of “free speech” is a bad idea so I won’t go into it.)
  • Trying to drive them off by being “just as mean as them” or trying to incite “war” between your supporters and theirs. Just… no, this always goes horribly wrong.
  • Trying to find a “middle ground” between yourself and a bully, or between your ideas and theirs. A bully will never accept a middle ground. They will only accept terrorizing and manipulating you into shutting up or repeating their ideas as if you agree with them.

We’ve also seen the thing that AnneC mentioned about bullies (some of whom appeared to be totally the opposite of bullies at first meeting) acting like they are “in the know” about everyone and everything and like they can inform you about all of it, and putting scandalized interpretations on everyone and everything and getting people emotionally riled up for their own purposes.

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31 responses »

  1. And it’s not like being autistic or otherwise disabled means someone’s innocent — back in my IRC days we had at least two autistic stalkers and at least two autistic child molesters banned from our channel as well as miscellaneous other autistic bullies.

    An important point. Indeed, the bully that led Kowalski to stop blogging is autistic– I recognize exactly who she’s referring to from his writing style alone, although I won’t name names because I don’t want to bring even more trouble on myself. Quite a few of that person’s blog posts have made me feel uncomfortable for various reasons, but I was always afraid to speak up because he just seemed like the type who’d launch into attacks if I did (especially based on some of the mailing list conversations I’d seen him involved in). For once, I’m glad to know it wasn’t just me thinking that.

  2. Another thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of bullies seem to have a tendency to go “Rita Skeeter” on people (in the sense that they will refer to possibly-actual events but with all sorts of interpretive, scandalized “layers” stuck on top of those events, and express a false but superficially convincing certainty that they are “in the know”).

    And for some reason, the resultant amateur tabloid journalism seems to attract “concern trolls” like moths to a porch-lamp. And then they all end up sort of swarming around a person.

    It reminds me of…that bit from “A Wind In The Door” where the echthroi-ed farandolae (apologies to anyone who hasn’t read as much L’Engle) are circling the fara and trying to destroy them. And not realizing that in doing so they are effectively hurting a lot more than just the person they’re targeting — or that if they keep it up, they’re going to end up hurting *themselves* in the long run as well.

    (More to say but will have to be tomorrow, tonight I seem to be only able to come up with analogies to fantasy novels, but I think they’re pretty apt..)

  3. Heh, as for fantasy novels my first reaction to such people is to feel like saying “Fairest and fallen, greeting and defiance, now and always.” Because whether they know or intend it or not they act just like agents of the Lone Power do in those books — they see someone trying to do the right thing and immediately get busy trying to prevent it by any means necessary. And if they think they can stop me from doing exactly what I am built for (including defying the “go away and kill yourself” message that underlies their BS), they’re sorely mistaken.

  4. Everything you write about has been helpful for me, I appreciate you and your insights. I see your care for people and what is right.
    I think the things you write about actually give strength to those who are vulnerable to bullying. I cannot find the words to express fully how I feel, but I am moved to comment on my appreciation for what you share with the world.

  5. As a (relatively) new reader in the disability blog universe, I have learned so much from K’s writing (as well as from yours). K., and company, thank you for all your labors, your have and will continue to shape many lives and many discussions.

  6. This is terrible that they’ve had to shut down–so did the parents of the child with Down’s syndrome in England who protested the comedian’s disablist jokes. I hope you guys are okay!

  7. @Bretta, do you mean me? If you do, I’m very honoured, thank you.

    @fridawrites, yes we’re okay. I feel weirdly liberated actually, despite my grief over giving up a huge labour of love.

    @Amanda, this is an *amazing* post, and not because it mentions me, but the points about bullying are so important.

    Especially the point that bullying shouldn’t be judged by how the victims deal with it, just because someone can survive through a lot of misery does not make the situation less serious.

    It reminds me of the constant troubles Kat has, when people who go through unimaginable amounts of crap and still go on, there’s a tendency to think “oh they are so strong, they can deal with it, therefore we don’t have to worry”, or “it can’t be that bad then”. And this is a dangerous attitude that can kill people.

  8. I’ve been told (I don’t read the blogs of such people) that one of the people who has been involved with all this is now trying to find out the name of my doctor, and claiming that this isn’t harrassment because she wants to “help” me.

    I’m describing this because this is the kind of lengths such people will go to. Every disabled person anywhere ought to be alarmed by the sort of person who will go after that level of private information about another person on the Internet. And the claim that this level of cyberstalking (and yes going after someone’s doctor is cyberstalking) is merely “help” is beyond ridiculous, and incredibly patronizing.

    I happen to know something about help. People who genuinely want to help a stranger do not force their way into that stranger’s private life. They do not try to find out that stranger’s doctor. They do not claim to know things about that stranger that no stranger can know about another. People who genuinely help are startlingly noninvasive. They never have that quality of pushing themselves into your personal space, whether that be physically, emotionally, whatever. Help does not look like this and it is an insult to claim it does.

    To do such a thing to a disabled person is worse than doing it to any random person because disabled people are generally in a more vulnerable position, and stand more to lose if someone tries to mess with our medical care. In the course of this harrassment I have repeatedly heard people say they wanted to get between me and my benefits, services, and medical care. If called on it, such people retreat behind a smarmy veil of “But I just want to hellllllllp.” But that’s just the standard lies bullies tell. To threaten to get between a severely disabled person and their services, benefits, and medical care is actually little more than a thinly veiled death threat. And I am certain that this is an attempt to pile the intimidation on since I have been very open about the bullying lately.

    Thing is, it won’t work. My caseworkers, doctors, etc. Have already been aware I’m being stalked, harrassed, threatened, etc. for a really long time. They know the accusations against me and they have access to all the documentation proving those accusations false. They have implemented security measures. They take this crap incredibly seriously. And I refuse to be intimidated. The things I work for in the world are way more important to run away from just because of a few bullies.

    At the same time, people need to understand the seriousness of what is happening. This is not just some Internet flamewar, this is people trying seriously unethical tactics to silence people they don’t like. This is bullying, defamation, stalking, harrassment, threats, intimidation, and/or hate speech, depending on the exact instance. And nobody with a scrap of ethics should tolerate or enable this nastiness. It’s gone too far, it went too far a long time ago. And people other than those of us directly targeted ought to be standing up to this crap.

  9. Oh man…….

    All I can say is…….

    WHAT THE FUCK??????

    and RIP “Here Be Dragons.”

    She wants to find your doctor……I’ve never heard of such madness before.

    I cannot help but wonder….if all of this drama (which I know nothing about) has anything WHATSOEVER to do with someone recently losing custody of a child….or is this just coincidentally occurring right on the heels of said loss of custody…..

    Either way, this is EXACTLY what our detractors want. They want us to flame/stalk/defame/whatever others who supposedly “bat for the same team”

    They want us to implode dramatically. I don’t have to know shit about this drama to realise it has serious consequences for people.

  10. Finally came up with some thoughts (after we said in reply to Kowalski’s post we were still thinking about it) about things that we think are helpful and not helpful when a community is trying to deal with online bullies. Much of it gained through bad experience when we tried to deal with them in the wrong way or other people around us did or tried to encourage us to deal with them in the wrong kinds of ways.

    What is useful:

    Supporting the victim of the bullying and affirming that they have the right to be free from bullying.
    Taking their fear seriously (as opposed to blowing it off with “oh, you shouldn’t care what those people think,” etc).
    Block known bullies, and people who have agreed to defame others in order to escape bullying themselves, from commenting in any space you can control. Even when their comments are not actually harassing or targeting anyone. Because just seeing their presence can have a chilling effect on others– “okay, maybe they didn’t attack me that time, but what about next time?”
    Keep others in a community informed about the activities of known stalkers, bullies, etc, if you see them going after new victims, starting new harassment campaigns, etc. Also if you know they’ve been creating new aliases, sockpuppets, posing as others, etc.
    Find some way to warn newcomers to a community about stalkers and bullies. Especially if you see them gravitating towards bullies because they (new people) haven’t seen their bad side yet, or are confused about who to trust, or are falling for the pseudo-authoritative veneer a lot of bullies have, or think they should “give them a chance,” etc.
    If harassing/bullying/intimidating comments do get through in any community you have power in (in large communities, for instance, sometimes this can be hard to prevent), make clear, for both the victim(s) and for bystanders, that you will not tolerate this kind of treatment of others.

    What is NOT useful:

    Telling the victim of the bullying to “not care about what other people think.” To a certain extent it’s true that you need to not care what other people think, if you want to express opinions that are currently not accepted by most of society. But when harassment goes past a certain point, and especially when it gets to the point of threats of physical or legal harm, it can’t be reasonably ignored.
    Telling the victim of the bullying to ignore it because the bully is too “unimportant” to be taken seriously. “Unimportant” people can still become extremely persistent harassers and stalkers. And it doesn’t matter how “unimportant” someone is if they’re genuinely able to convince others of their lies, or incite them to attack or threaten people.
    Trying to argue/letting other people try to argue with them in comments. This both has a chilling effect on others and floods out any attempts at actually productive discussions. (Several people have already talked about why doing this in the name of “free speech” is a bad idea so I won’t go into it.)
    Trying to drive them off by being “just as mean as them” or trying to incite “war” between your supporters and theirs. Just… no, this always goes horribly wrong.
    Trying to find a “middle ground” between yourself and a bully, or between your ideas and theirs. A bully will never accept a middle ground. They will only accept terrorizing and manipulating you into shutting up or repeating their ideas as if you agree with them.

    We’ve also seen the thing that AnneC mentioned about bullies (some of whom appeared to be totally the opposite of bullies at first meeting) acting like they are “in the know” about everyone and everything and like they can inform you about all of it, and putting scandalized interpretations on everyone and everything and getting people emotionally riled up for their own purposes. But hard to talk about it in public because much of it involves our or friends’ private lives.

  11. Amanda–

    thanks for writing this. Thanks for standing up for people and thanks for the information.

    Kowalski–

    this bites. I wish I had a better way to put it. Sorry I haven’t been following the details. I tend to read your blogging (in various incarnations) infrequently, so I missed these discussions.

    SBWG–

    again, this bites.

    You two have good things to say and no one deserves bullying.

  12. Having just noticed all of this…

    This has to stop. Seriously. I don’t pretend to know the details of what’s been going on (in fact, this post has been my best source of information to date), but bullying is Not Acceptable. Amanda, I fully and completely agree with this post. Kowalski, you have my sympathies.

  13. I sorry that Kowalski have to stop blogging. I did go to her website for the frist time today and it is sad that it is endded this way. I whish her the best and be safe.

  14. This sucks! I really liked SBWGs blog and visited it regularly. I hope she can retrieve it someday, then perhaps use comment moderation or keep it to invited readers. I have not even had a chance to look at Kowalski’s blog, but hopefully it will also be recovered someday.

    I sometimes get some petty comments from Oliver, but I do not find him that threatening. He is just a pathetic brat who has clearly been failed by his school, yet likes to blame his misery on his Aspergers. I have a suspicion that he anonymously follows my blog, because whenever I post something, he will comment the next day.

    I am glad that this John Best guy had his blog taken over by his ex-wife. Although she is not exactly a neurodiversity fan either, at least she is not slanderous about it. Yet still, like many other parents, clearly she does not understand it very well, thinks we just want to “leave them alone so they can keep their essence/personality/aura.” It is not that simple, people! I do not really give a 9 anymore, though.

  15. Thanks, people!
    Awesome update, thanks Riel^Amorpha, this is really great!

    I also want to add that I’m not deleting Here Be Dragons. It’s been so much work and it would be unfair to my co-bloggers who contributed awesome writings.

    Sadderbutwisergirl downloaded the content of her blog before deleting it. She plans to blog again maybe on WordPress where she has more control over comment moderation.
    (For details see our comment thread.)

  16. That is good to hear, Kowaiski. Yeah, it would be an enormous bummer if any of you guys deleted your well-written ideas. I also hope my friend Melody (from Austim All the Time) also gets back on it.

  17. Thanks for this post, Amanda. It’s very much needed and useful.

    In the past I have approved comments on my blog from people who have been bullies elsewhere (or even on my blog) because that particular comment was not insulting and didn’t violate my comments policy. I’ve felt obligated to do this out of “fairness,” but recent events and the way you and others have explained this make me realize that it isn’t fair to give a forum to bullies, even if they refrain from making inflammatory remarks in a particular comment. I will not be doing this anymore.

  18. Yeah I used to think I shouldn’t fail to approve any comment at all unless it was absolutely beyond horrible. Until someone explained the problems with that, I even thought I had to let people troll me sometimes, and that I had to warn people before deleting their comments.

    By the way there were a couple comments on this thread I haven’t approved. Those were both not because there was anything wrong with them but because either the comment or the inevitable answer to the comment is not something I want bullies reading and getting ideas about. I rarely do that but in this instance I did. And I hadn’t been organized enough to email and explain.

  19. Gah I keep wanting to respond in more depth to this post but keep getting bogged down in possibilities whenever I try. But at some point I would like to compile a list of “bullying vs. awkwardness”, or something like that.

    Because I have noticed that bullies who are also autistic seem to be sort of trying to redefine autistic awkwardness (common to many of us) in terms that require you to be a complete jerkass. As if they somehow “can’t help” making bigoted misogynistic/homophobic/etc. comments, and that anyone who calls them out on this crap is “penalizing them for being autistic”, and particularly for being a *male* autistic. When as far as I know, holding particular negative beliefs about a particular demographic is not a general feature of autism, nor does NOT being a bigoted jerk mean someone is “less autistic” than someone else.

    And meanwhile, these folks get away with saying a whole lot of crap, while the rest of us continue to get penalized for things like the inability to be concise, difficulty with informal language, unusual vocabularies, focus on consequences rather than intent/feelings, and numerous other things that absolutely sure-as-heck DO mean we often have communication breakdowns with others.

    And I am getting so tired of this sort of thing, and of bullies being able to capitalize on the misinformed stereotype that “autism, when it’s not the feces-smearing kind, means a jerky male who doesn’t know how to talk to girls and is frequently very angry”.

    ….and I am not entirely sure where I was going with that, hopefully more later…

  20. OH. And I just realized another thing. That in order to get in the “good graces” of the currently prominent set of bullies, you can either join in the mysogyny OR you can join in defaming Amanda (the latter option being an “in” for disgruntled female autistics in particular. Guys get to do both, though not all care to.).

    And there is so much WTF here I can scarcely begin to process it, but I have to say that from the outside of whatever crap-circle those folks are trying to perpetuate, it looks utterly absurd. I mean, for one thing (and I don’t mean this to be insulting) you happen to be terrible at “deliberate image-management”. If you were really as conniving as the defamers claim, you’d think you’d have managed to consistently fit one stereotype or another, or to at least maintain the appearance of a constant set of abilities/disabilities. Moreover, they can’t seem to make up their minds as to whether you’re some sort of incredibly successful schemer or some sad, pitiful, deluded soul who doesn’t have a clue who she is and clearly needs to be told (by a cadre of concern trolls, naturally).

    And the people who come along and decide to take their crap seriously seem somehow to not even notice how nonsensical it all is. Which I am sure has something do with…the real, everyday nature of plain old evil, which I bet goes unnoticed by many simply because it fails to resemble, say, Hitler. The way I conceptualize evil is that it’s a very mundane phenomenon (i.e., not anything “supernatural”) that has a whole lot to do with what could be termed “destructive distortion of reality”.

    As in, I see it as evil to perpetuate the idea that someone is (depending on the day of the week) a scam artist or a poor pathetic insight-void creature when in reality they’ve just led a somewhat complex life, and been subject to a certain degree of bad luck that could have happened to any similar person in similar circumstances (and I do not just mean you here, I have also seen this happen to several others over the past few years). I see it as evil to insist that it would actually have any sort of detrimental effect on reality if gay couples could legally marry throughout the USA (to give another example, just so nobody sees this as just being about autism-related stuff, or [particular person]-related stuff).

    In other words, to me evil often looks like a type of refusal to see things as they are in conjunction with a drive to make the fake-thing someone has built up in their minds suffer, or go away, or just plain stop inconveniently existing. Even though none of those outcomes would actually solve anything.

  21. Well since the discourse has devolved back around Amanda, I have just blogged about that issue.

    As I say there are no icons, and no plaster saints, least of all me.

    Nobody is right all of the time.

    Whatever I write, somebody is not going to like it, wherever I write somebody will not like the company I keep.

    One person I respect may have opinions I don’t like. Another person I respect might also be wrong too. I will not be “bullied” into keeping only the company others tell me to. (that goes for all sides)

    You can criticise me for failing to to say what you would like me to. Indeed perhaps you ought to, because how else will I (or anyone else) reconsider what we do if you either remain silent or put me out of mind forever.

    Beyond this episode it has to be asked, (and indeed I was brought up for this before this recent controversy broke out) do we gain anything by insulting the likes of Bob Wright, Jenny McCarthy, J B Handley, because look at it, it’s one rule for the “in group” and another for the “out group” whichever way you look at it.

    I made a huge error because I lost my temper, and then compounded it in my blog. It’s nothing whatever to do with Kowalski, or SBWG at all.

  22. What this comes down to is a complete loss of civility.

    My father, who was autistic, always used to say, “Have consideration for the next person.” That was his mantra and his whole ethical system. He was always reminding us to think about the impact of what we say and do on other people. In other words, he taught us how to develop and refine empathy. It wasn’t that we couldn’t disagree with people; I come from a culture that thrives on disagreement–the more, the better. But we had to keep in mind how another person might feel about how we get the point across. We had to learn to be civil in the midst of an argument.

    My autistic father grew up in the ’30s and ’40s, and raised his family in the ’60s and ’70s, before there was a diagnosis that would describe him, before IEPs and inclusion classrooms and OTs and sensory integration work, and all the rest of the things that would have made his way a little easier. He had a painful, traumatic, overwhelming life, and he was far from a perfect father, but he never went out of his way to publicly embarrass people or use his difficulties as a justification for doing so. In fact, despite his flaws, he tried to be a mensch. He didn’t always succeed, by a long shot, but he never gave up the fight either.

    Of course, civility is really out of style now. Even in the autistic community, you mention the word and people treat you like you’ve just materialized out of a Jane Austen novel–as if what you’re saying is completely beside the point.

    Kowalski and SBWG–I’m sorry for your hurt, and I hope you get your bearings and continue the struggle in whatever way makes sense for you.

  23. I meant to comment on this earlier–an annoying example of PTSD getting in the way. It’s particularly frustrating when it does involve something this important, and the silencing continues.

    For that matter, I wouldn’t be surprised if that were a factor in the appalling apparent tolerance of this kind of behavior, among autistics in particular–even though my first reaction is “WTF?! We should know better if anyone does!”. I know I haven’t been *able* to say as much as I should, and feel more than a little ashamed of myself for what almost qualifies as unwilling collusion.

    I’m uncomfortably reminded of some thought-provoking comments on honorable behavior I ran across recently: “No one is obliged to harm the weak. It does not take courage to harm the weak. Yet, many times over the weak are harmed by cowardly folks and cowards too afraid to stand up to bullies…leading to collusion. It is a tough road to be an honorable person.”

    If nothing else, that’s a compelling reason for me to work on combing my own snakes out. That’s not further victim blaming, AFAICT, just acknowledging that those snakes really do affect a person’s abilities and behavior. And sometimes it ain’t pretty, and allows the same nasty power dynamics which created those snakes to continue playing out. And producing even more of them, for yourself and for other people.

    it wouldn’t be harmless even if it “just” caused pain, fear, and suffering either

    Well said.

    Excellent ideas on what is and is not helpful, Riel^Amorpha.

  24. There is a viewpoint that I have seen which I think is extremely problematic. I have found many people see bullies as the people who need support the most (or they see the bully as having an “equal right” to participate in the community). When the bullies’ posts are moderated or they get banned, the bullies are seen as the victims, and the true victims get seen as the bullies. This results in hostility towards the true victims and intimidates moderators from dealing with the bullies.

  25. Yes, and there are bullies who outright encourage people to view them this way, and try to manipulate people into doing so. And there are otherwise decent people who get fooled by it so much that they end up enabling bullies. Another weird one I have seen is the idea that bullies should be “given a chance” in every new community/forum/blog/etc., and that if they do no overt bullying in that one place then there is no reason to moderate or ban them, and to do so would be somehow unfair/bullying/not free speech/etc. So then if they’re banned anywhere they either haven’t overtly bullied anyone or haven’t done it under their usual name, they will claim to be persecuted.

    In my case I actually get blamed every time certain bullies get banned from somewhere. Even when I have had nothing to do with it, and even when it’s their own actions rather than my request that have caused the end result. (For instance situations where people who’ve obviously stalked and threatened violence against me, have also threatened to show up places where I’m speaking. In which case I become the bully supposedly, even though I have never done the same to them, and even if rather than taking my word for it people have investigated the situation on their own, and even in cases where I was not the one (or the only one) to bring it up as a problem. I also get blamed for every action the moderator or whatever takes against them, even if I have no part in deciding that.)

    In fact they seem to almost exclusively focus on me (regardless of how involved I am and regardless of how many other people are involved), the same way that when they bully me for having a particular (for instance) autistic trait, they often do not bully others with the same trait even when it’s explicitly pointed out to them. Because my actions and my traits are not the reasons they bully me. They are merely excuses to bully me. If they were the reasons then they would be publicly targeting far more people than they target. They also don’t want it to seem as if the traits or actions they claim are the causes, are as common in others as they are, or that would destroy their argument that I’m somehow unique in traits and actions in a way that makes their actions towards me justified.

    And I am certain that simply my pointing out their real motivations like this will be twisted around until it is considered bullying as well.

  26. Regarding bullies gettings second/third/infinite numbers of chances in new situations…Before I ever thought of myself as having been bullied in my original family, I just used the term abused, since that described my experience. And yes, I gave the abusers lots of second/third/fourth/etc. chances before I decided that enough was enough. What decided me? Having a kid. Here was a new situation. Would the abusers be good to her? Had they changed? Maybe they had learned from their mistakes. Should I give them a second chance? After all, shouldn’t we all try for a fresh start?

    Hell, no. My kid was not a litmus test of whether someone else had reformed themselves. And none of us should be litmus tests for whether people who have been nasty have learned the monumental errors of their ways.

    I’m not saying that bullies/abusers shouldn’t be given a chance to change, but that takes lots and lots and lots of healing work and amends and mending of relationships and admissions of wrongdoing and other difficult steps that most people who do this shit simply aren’t interested in. My abusers sure weren’t.

    Wow, did I make the right decision there.

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