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AvatarComments by Mike Dwyer*

On “This One Really Hurts

I recollect when #metoo first broke there were several Italian and French celebrities that pushed back on it as an overreach.

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Yeah, whenever I hear that two management employees (or very occasionally a management and non-management employee) are dating I always think about who made the first move and what a risk they were taking. So yeah, totally get what you are saying.

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This is why I mentioned sexual harassment vs. online harassment. It seems like we are much less willing to accept the first because at this point I think it's safe to say most people know better. The latter is still decades behind in terms of people being self-aware of their behavior, and more importantly, the willingness of people to hold other people accountable for their behavior.

On “Pushed Over the Edge

"This horrible situation, though, gives me pause about my own actions. I’ve never cyber-bullied anyone, but I have been much more confrontational and aggressive on line with some people than I would ever be in person. That aggression doesn’t amount to bullying, but it takes me closer to whatever threshold there is. The same is probably true of my fellow commenters here, if they’re hones."

Agreed.

On “This One Really Hurts

"If we’re ever going to end sexual assaults and harassment of women, we all have to agree that we’re not going to give these guys a pass."

It's kind of interesting to contrast this with yesterday's post from Em. In the comment section there several commenters were opposed to any kind of legal penalties for certain types of public bullying. They said that because so many people engaged in digital bullying it would be impossible to police and would fill our prisons.

Obviously we aren't going to ever give sexual assault a pass, but when it comes to sexual harassment, maybe that deserves a closer look. Not being a lawyer, I had to look up the definition of sexual harassment. From Wikipedia:

"In most modern legal contexts, sexual harassment is illegal. Laws surrounding sexual harassment generally do not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or minor isolated incidents—that is due to the fact that they do not impose a "general civility code".[4] In the workplace, harassment may be considered illegal when it is frequent or severe thereby creating a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim's demotion, firing or quitting). The legal and social understanding of sexual harassment, however, varies by culture."

This all makes sense to me. While I am certainly no angel, I feel confident saying I have never harassed anyone at work, sexual or otherwise. Can I say the same thing about my online habits? Probably not. After participating in chatboards, blogs, etc for two decades, there have been many times I have carefully crafted some stinging rebuttal designed to prove my intellectual superiority, take my opponent down a few notches, and add another stripe to my Internet Black Belt. Maybe my opponent laughed off my comment. Maybe they didn't. Judging from some of the angry responses I have received over the years, I certainly triggered something in people from time to time. I know that I have also felt so angry and/or attacked at times that I had to walk away for months to regain my composure. How many times have I done the same thing to someone else thinking this was just how the game was played? Increasingly I realize I need to do much better.

So my question is, if some people feel compelled to give a legal pass to a campaign of intense harassment that ultimately resulted in a women's death, why do we have such a zero tolerance attitude towards sexual harassment? My position is that they are equally bad, but others see a gradient. Curious to explore that dichotomy.

On “Pushed Over the Edge

I don't agree they are the exception. They are really part of the same conversation.

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I understand that the owners wouldn't want to pay for this, but why give them an option if it's in the interest of public safety?

Sure, bullying has existed since the first cave men gave someone hell for their crappy hunting skills. But when I was a kid in the 80s most bullying took place at school and you went home and at least it turned off for a while. Nowadays it follows kids everywhere. It's 24/7. And they are also much more adept at using social media to subtlety attack one another.

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Old law or new law, I took your point to mean that laws are not always the best way to address every human misdeed, especially when thousands engage in the same behavior and it doesn't end in a death. Is that correct?

I do think social media greatly amplifies the ability of bullies to harm people. It seems like we could eliminate certain features. Un-moderated comment sections seems like a good place to start.

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This sounds a bit like a persecution complex for city-dwellers. I mean, sure, there are terrible people everywhere. The fetishization of small towns is not because they are places of virtue, it's a recognition that humans do better in smaller groups. I find that it's easy enough to find smaller communities within a city (neighborhoods, congregations, sports fans, etc) but some people also like the idea that their town IS the smaller community. I don't think one is better than the other and at the end of the day I think Sam's observation was entirely irrelevant to what happened to the woman in the OP.

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So you're saying that just because a few incidents end in terrible tragedy, we shouldn't create elaborate laws to address the problem due to the logistics of implementing said law...?

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Was this story actually a symptom of small towns? I live in a pretty good-sized city and the same kinds of things happen here. Seems like the size of the town is irrelevant.

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In my line of work we have a saying, "None of us are as dumb as all of us." I think that could easily be adapted to, "None of us are as terrible as all of us."

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My wife and I have both witnessed people being threatened with doxing and worse in the comment sections of Facebook over local political and non-political issues lately, with alarming frequency. Page owners are usually good about deleting problem comments, but the damage is done. The newest place where we have seen the type of bullying described in the OP is on the Nextdoor app. The comments on a proposed Section 8 development in an affluent area of town created multiple threats and reports of abuse to Nextdoor.

All of this is to say that the problem continues to be one of the old ways of social interaction breaking down. Digital communication is a lousy way of talking to someone in general. My brother and I have had dozens of ugly exchanges via email in the last 10 years but not one argument face-to-face.

I don't see how this gets better until we start figuring out how to reconnect people in the real world. I think the woman's death is so much more tragic than a lone gunman because it was a group effort. I also hope our courts can figure out a way to deal with the people that behave this way, because IMO the people that harassed her are just as guilty as if they had pushed her off that bridge.

On “Choose Your Own Political Narrative: Iowa State Fair Edition

Can't wait to hear Saul complain about Mrs.Miller. "How dare she make demands of Democrats!"

I watched David Letterman'song interview with Barack Obama on Netflix last night. I disagreed with that man, passionately at times, but he never embarrassed me. Never thought I would be wistful for the good ol' days of the Obama years... I feel certain Trump is going to bleed off a lot of voters, but I'm far less certain Democrats will produce a nominee that can pick them up.

On “Bless the Food, And the Hands That Provided It

Fillyjonk,

My condolences for your loss. You comment here is beautiful. Thank you for it.

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When I meet someone from a different country, I always ask them one question: If you went back home today, what is the first thing you would eat? You will see their eyes light up, barriers come down and you will get these beautiful, unguarded responses that often touch on family, memories and identity. Rarely is there even a moment of hesitation because it's probably a thought they have frequently.

The last time I asked it, the Jordanian women that cuts my hair immediately smiled and said, "Bread". Then, unprompted, she told me about leaving her abusive husband and bringing her daughter here. She said her life really started when she came to the U.S. and it was a good decision. She was happy, her daughter was happy and she said they feel like Americans now....but she still missed her mother's pitas.

Food is a powerful thing. Great post Andrew.

On “Jane Wick

While I think muscular women are just as hot as non-muscular (Demi Moore in GI Jane, Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, Jennifer Garner in Alias - all hot) I also don't think it's necessary. But you're right that society at large might feel differently about that.

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Chip, I'm not going to get drawn into your obsession with white supremacy on another thread. If you want to, in general, talk about male violence vs. female violence I'm up for that.

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Define 'violence' and then go watch Mean Girls.

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I suspect Fallon Fox will be part of a very interesting conversation next year.

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I think in general TV is way ahead of movies on making women badass. Agree on The 100 (awesome, awesome show). Also, Walking Dead, Z Nation, Alias (someone already mentioned this) all the way back to Xena, Warrior Princess.

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One of the things I really enjoy about some of the higher-level women's MMA matches is that their flexibility makes the jiu-jitsu sequences really interesting. Felice Herrig specifically comes to mind. She has had some ground sequences that were a thing of beauty.

Agreed on jiu-jitsu being the great equalizer in a fight with rules or when a trained female practitioner is attacked by an untrained male.

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Two movies come to mind (okay, technically it's three):

- Kill Bill 1 & 2
- Atomic Blonde

In the Kill Bill movies she avoided the strength queetion by being a badass with a sword. But I never thought of it as a woman fighting well. I just thought of it as a great action movie. Basically, the made me forget her gender was even a factor.

Atomic Blonde's fight scenes are seriously some of the best I have ever seen and I am an action movie junkie (thank you 1980s). These are different because they are filmed in a way that shows she is the superior fighter but sometimes a guy will get a hold of her and his strength advantage will allow him to temporarily get the upper hand. She eventually gets the advantage back with more technique or pure rage. The fight scrnes tell this unspoken story that were it not for temporary biological advantage of her male opponents, she would never even have a tough fight. It essentially makes you hate Bad Guy #2 even more because you feel like he is cheating. Brilliant.

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The Los Angeles Times had a really interesting piece the other day which covered much of this (bold emphasis mine):

First, the vast majority of mass shooters in our study experienced early childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age. The nature of their exposure included parental suicide, physical or sexual abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and/or severe bullying. The trauma was often a precursor to mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, thought disorders or suicidality.

Second, practically every mass shooter we studied had reached an identifiable crisis point in the weeks or months leading up to the shooting. They often had become angry and despondent because of a specific grievance. For workplace shooters, a change in job status was frequently the trigger. For shooters in other contexts, relationship rejection or loss often played a role. Such crises were, in many cases, communicated to others through a marked change in behavior, an expression of suicidal thoughts or plans, or specific threats of violence.

Third, most of the shooters had studied the actions of other shooters and sought validation for their motives. People in crisis have always existed. But in the age of 24-hour rolling news and social media, there are scripts to follow that promise notoriety in death. Societal fear and fascination with mass shootings partly drives the motivation to commit them. Hence, as we have seen in the last week, mass shootings tend to come in clusters. They are socially contagious. Perpetrators study other perpetrators and model their acts after previous shootings. Many are radicalized online in their search for validation from others that their will to murder is justified.

Fourth, the shooters all had the means to carry out their plans. Once someone decides life is no longer worth living and that murdering others would be a proper revenge, only means and opportunity stand in the way of another mass shooting. Is an appropriate shooting site accessible? Can the would-be shooter obtain firearms? In 80% of school shootings, perpetrators got their weapons from family members, according to our data. Workplace shooters tended to use handguns they legally owned. Other public shooters were more likely to acquire them illegally

I think the story here is that a mass shooter is almost always years (decades) in the making. It's a perfect storm of childhood trauma, a triggering event and a final push from society's fascination with mass shootings. Is alt-right radicalization and/or misogyny sometimes a factor? Sure, insomuch is that a man might be sexist and lose a promotion to a woman or a teen might get a final nudge from a certain website...but. You and Phillip are so intent on blaming mass shootings on those final two things. It's like blaming the Challenger explosion on going 'throttle up'. That was just the final thing that happened in a long chain of events. Again, I think it says more about you wanting to add more confirmation onto your theories as to what is wrong with America broadly and this is a convenient example.

*Comment archive for non-registered commenters assembled by email address as provided.