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Whinerism Scores a Touchdown

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What is called "bullying" is much in the news these days.  This seems to be part of the "sensitivity movement," in which any action, or even just speech, that "offends" someone, or makes for an impossible-to-define (and thus never very precisely defined) "unwelcoming environment," is subject to sanctions.

There have been cases in which bullying in school, or on the Internet by, say, a teenager's classmates, has even resulted in criminal charges.  There is one case going on now in which the bullying is alleged to have caused a 13 year-old girl's suicide.

I'm no fan of rancid and cruel behavior, not by teenagers and not by anyone.  I have put up more than my share of posts about the decline of standards of behavior and the ominous things it augers for the country.  

But teaching our kids how to think of themselves as victims instead of how to be resilient and handle the rough spots in their lives is, in my view, just as much a prescription for cultural decay as bullying.  Kids, and adults for that matter, need to learn to cope, fend for themselves and overcome, not how to whine.  What happens when this lesson goes unlearned is illustrated in a story that broke over the weekend.
It seems that a 6'5", 312 pound, 24 year-old man has complained to his employer that he was a "victim" of "bullying."

The man is Jonathan Martin.  He is a Stanford graduate and a member of the NFL's Miami Dolphins.  This is the story (emphasis added):


Dolphins guard Richie Incognito was adamant on Twitter this weekend that he was a victim of false speculation that he bullied Jonathan Martin, and wanted his name cleared.

The Miami Dolphins are going to wait to see what the NFL says about Incognito's innocence.

The Dolphins have suspended Incognito while the NFL investigates the situation, NFL.com's Jeff Darlington reported after speaking to Incognito. The team announced the suspension shortly after that.

The story has continued to escalate since it was reported that Martin went AWOL from the team this week after becoming upset over an incident in which some teammates moved when he tried to sit with them at lunch.

Martin, a starting tackle for the Dolphins, didn't play on Thursday. There have been conflicting reports since then.

Fox Sports said that Martin left the team after a pattern of bullying against him. The Sun-Sentinel said Martin left because of emotional issues, not bullying. But ESPN had a detailed report that Incognito had intimidated Martin. ESPN said, among other things, Incognito pressured Martin into contributing $15,000 toward a trip by the linemen to Las Vegas, a trip Martin didn't go on. The report said Martin feared retribution from Incognito and that's why he didn't immediately file a formal complaint. Mike Garafolo reported for Fox Sports that Incognito left messages for Martin that were "threatening and racially charged." Martin's representatives did eventually inform the team of "player misconduct" on Sunday. 


Ladies and gentlemen, when we have come to the stage that a professional football player, 6'5" and over 300 pounds, feels that he's a "victim" of Really Mean Nastiness, to the point that he gets "his representatives" (you have to love that one) to file a "bullying" complaint, then whinerism has gone where no whiner has gone before.


P.S.  Suggestion to Mr. Martin:  Next time you're in the locker room with Mr. Incognito, stick him up against the wall and tell him that if he wants to mess with you, he can start here and now and may the best man win.  No matter who comes out on top in the ensuing fight, your problems will be well on the way to being over.  When a jerk sees that you're willing and ready to take him on, he tends to become less of a jerk.

7 Comments

I agree that "bullying" for the most part is overrated both as a crime and its tort cousin intentional infliction of emotional distress. "Bullying" might lead to real crimes like assault, but just being mean to someone is just reflective that some people aren't very nice.

Regarding, the Dolphins situation it is important to remember that in the NFL (and why I love it) winning is the only thing that matters and players that help teams win are in the league unless they are injured or incarcerated. So while Incognito's season is probably done, he'll be playing somewhere next season.

Martin on the other hand is a person that couldn't take the heat and the bottom line is players who can't be counted on to play will find themselves quickly out of a job. I would be very surprised to see him ever play in the NFL again. Go Seahawks!!!!

I disagree with this post for most of the reasons discussed in this Slate article:

http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2013/11/richie_incognito_suspended_how_the_nfl_abets_locker_room_bullies.html

Just because someone weighs 300 pounds and plays football for a living doesn't mean that he has to resort to violence to stop a more senior teammate (and a designated leader on the team) from engaging in behavior that is clearly harassment and encouraging others on the team to do the same.

(And BTW, I love NFL football and have been watching and following it avidly since I was about 6 years old, so it's not that I just think all football players are a bunch of violent meatheads.)

The problem with bullying is that it pits a person of greater strength against a weaker opponent, allowing for unfairness and exploitation. But here we have two players of equal strength, so the central problem never arises.

People should take responsibility for solving the hardships that life puts in their way. A person is particularly well positioned to do this when he is an enormous and extremely strong young man, as Martin is.

I wonder if you would have less trouble with my post if I had said that Martin should get "right in Incognito's face," instead of that Martin should have "stuck him up against the wall."

It seems from the Slate article that Incognito is a long time trouble maker, always walking close to the line. Why hasn't this been dealt with up to now?

My guess is that because no one ever did what I'm suggesting Martin do. Incognito gets away with it because he's so big. But Martin is at least equally big, so he, more than almost anyone else, can teach the needed lesson. My experience with bullies is that they do a lot better mouthing off than when they are told, by someone who means it and can enforce it, that they can put their money where their mouth is or zip it.

Lastly, I strongly suspect men, especially men who have been on sports teams, will certainly view this episode differently from how women view it.

We already have a culture in which people are increasingly quick to brand themselves as helpless victims. (Defendants do this all the time as a way to put the blame for their behavior on someone else). Martin was a victim of sorts, yes, but he is assuredly not helpless, and the culture of big-time pro sports isn't and shouldn't be the culture of middle school.

We don't need to further engorge an already voracious culture of victimhood. We need to tell those who are able, like Martin, to stand up for themselves and confront their tormentors, eyeball-to-eyeball. When you have the strength to back it up, as Martin does, that's what actually works to stop bullying.

This post and the ensuing comments have me rather confused regarding Mr. Otis' definition of a victim. The following is stated on About C&C Blog:

"We approach criminal law issues from the perspective of victims of crime and the law-abiding public."

"Why "Crime and Consequences"? The name reflects the underlying philosophy about crime. People have free will. People make choices. Those choices have consequences. When people choose to commit crimes, there are consequences for the victims, for the perpetrators, and for society."

But, in this post you state:

"We already have a culture in which people are increasingly quick to brand themselves as helpless victims."

"We don't need to further engorge an already voracious culture of victimhood."

"Kids, and adults for that matter, need to learn to cope, fend for themselves and overcome, not how to whine."

In this situation, it appears that Jonathan Martin is the victim of the conduct of Richie Incognito. I suppose you could try and justify why Martin isn't a victim (in this case because he is the same size as his abuser), just like I suppose I could claim a female isn't a victim of rape (she was dressed provocatively and was flirting). Justifying why a victim isn't actually a victim makes you sound just like the "criminal defendants" that you pride yourself in morally chastising. I can just see you now dropping a rape case in which the female victim is an athlete and physically bigger than the male perpetrator. You could tell her to stop being a product of the 'sensitivity movement' and thinking of herself as a helpless victim, and that she should learn how to handle the rough spots in life.

I don't know what is more confusing, that you write a blog post calling out a culture of victimhood on a blog that writes from the perspective of the victim, or that you advocate a response of violence. If Mr. Martin engaged in the conduct you recommended he would likely be in violation of Florida Statute 784.03 Battery; felony battery. (1)(a) The offense of battery occurs when a person: 1. Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or 2. intentionally causes bodily harm to another person. Now he'd be a criminal defendant, and your blog makes it very clear how you feel about them. So Mr. Martin responds by lodging a complaint and you call him out for not responding with violence. If he responds with violence and faces criminal charges you then write about how people have choices and when they chose to commit crimes they face consequences.

Thankfully, it appears Mr. Martin did not take your advice and engage in criminal conduct. I have to pause here to point out the humor in a former federal prosecutor advocating a person commit a violent and criminal act, especially since you'd condemn the same person for then pleading not guilty and claiming some excuse on how he was actually the victim. I would think the criminal law would entail that Mr. Martin respond by informing a superior within in his place of employment. You seem to want the victim in this case to suck it up, stop whining about a being a victim, and physically threaten the offender, maybe roughing him up in the process as well. Now, the original offender is the victim of battery and the number of victims has just been doubled. This could have been prevented had the person being bullied removed themselves from the situation and informed a supervisor.

You must have made a great prosecutor in your day, being that you're so consistent in the positions that you take regarding victims.

This post and the ensuing comments have me rather confused regarding Mr. Otis' definition of a victim. The following is stated on About C&C Blog:

"We approach criminal law issues from the perspective of victims of crime and the law-abiding public."

"Why "Crime and Consequences"? The name reflects the underlying philosophy about crime. People have free will. People make choices. Those choices have consequences. When people choose to commit crimes, there are consequences for the victims, for the perpetrators, and for society."

But, in this post you state:

"We already have a culture in which people are increasingly quick to brand themselves as helpless victims."

"We don't need to further engorge an already voracious culture of victimhood."

"Kids, and adults for that matter, need to learn to cope, fend for themselves and overcome, not how to whine."

In this situation, it appears that Jonathan Martin is the victim of the conduct of Richie Incognito. I suppose you could try and justify why Martin isn't a victim (in this case because he is the same size as his abuser), just like I suppose I could claim a female isn't a victim of rape (she was dressed provocatively and was flirting). Justifying why a victim isn't actually a victim makes you sound just like the "criminal defendants" that you pride yourself in morally chastising. I can just see you now dropping a rape case in which the female victim is an athlete and physically bigger than the male perpetrator. You could tell her to stop being a product of the 'sensitivity movement' and thinking of herself as a helpless victim, and that she should learn how to handle the rough spots in life.

I don't know what is more confusing, that you write a blog post calling out a culture of victimhood on a blog that writes from the perspective of the victim, or that you advocate a response of violence. If Mr. Martin engaged in the conduct you recommended he would likely be in violation of Florida Statute 784.03 Battery; felony battery. (1)(a) The offense of battery occurs when a person: 1. Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or 2. intentionally causes bodily harm to another person. Now he'd be a criminal defendant, and your blog makes it very clear how you feel about them. So Mr. Martin responds by lodging a complaint and you call him out for not responding with violence. If he responds with violence and faces criminal charges you then write about how people have choices and when they chose to commit crimes they face consequences.

Thankfully, it appears Mr. Martin did not take your advice and engage in criminal conduct. I have to pause here to point out the humor in a former federal prosecutor advocating a person commit a violent and criminal act, especially since you'd condemn the same person for then pleading not guilty and claiming some excuse on how he was actually the victim. I would think the criminal law would entail that Mr. Martin respond by informing a superior within in his place of employment. You seem to want the victim in this case to suck it up, stop whining about a being a victim, and physically threaten the offender, maybe roughing him up in the process as well. Now, the original offender is the victim of battery and the number of victims has just been doubled. This could have been prevented had the person being bullied removed themselves from the situation and informed a supervisor.

You must have made a great prosecutor in your day, being that you're so consistent in the positions that you take regarding victims.

Actually, the blog is designed for people who can tell the difference between (1) an actual crime (as in, e.g., rape) victim and (2) a person who wants to assume the mantle of victimhood in an episode of mean behavior that is not even alleged to have been a crime.

It's also designed for people who can tell the difference between the culture in a pro sports locker room and the culture in the girls room at middle school.

Still, you know, whatever. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

P.S. You only have to put up your comment once.

P.P.S. If you want to respond to this, you are welcome to, even with more high-handed snark, but I am not going to approve publishing any further comment unless you give your identity rather than conceal it.

I think "bullying" is a non crime. Beating someone up is a crime. Stealing is a crime. Being mean is not. I guess my lifetime of playing sports, being in a fraternity and serving in the Army has given me a belief a little hazing is not a bad thing. I am probably in the minority in that view.

Everyone needs a reality check here - (1) NFL offensive lineman are not hired for their pleasant disposition. Sensitivity does not help protect quarterbacks (2) Martin clearly is not cut out for his line of work. If he can't stand up to Incognito, is he the kind of guy who will protect his other teammates? (3) Incognito is a racist, borderline criminal, and dirty player. So what? His job requires nastiness and as long as he can play he'll be employed. Look at Michael Vick - no one seems to care about the dogs anymore, just whether he can play.

Finally, if Martin sues the Dolphins, he will probably end up in arbitration due to the CBA and most certainly never play another down in the NFL. He'd be fool to do so.

PS - Lastly, the real losers in this will be the Dolphins coaching staff which will almost undoubtebly be fired as they clearly can't win games nor control their players.

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