« Standing Ovation for "Standing Still Standing" | Main

September 10, 2009


Bullying is wrong. I believe that. But is the object to hear the voice of all participants in the political debate or just clear the path so that all will hear the voice that you approve. Where is the outrage when attempts are made to silence those who disagree with your guy? Even in an article espousing the rights of the minority party, you couldn't resist tossing in a couple of jabs at your political opponents. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech for all, not just your guy. I'd love to see this adamant of a defense if the roles were reversed.

I believe adults and children alike can and should have strong political views, and we must have some tolerance for people being outspoken or even rude regarding other points of view. But in school people should be required to respect elected officials while still being able to disagree with them. I strongly disagree with Pres. Obama's fiscal decisions, but I respect his office. I deplored Pres. Bush's foreign policy, but I respected his office (and taught my kids to do the same). As a school teacher, I require my students to write arguments on both sides of the same question so that they build rational tolerance for alternative viewpoints. Political bullying isn't about rational debate; it's about short-circuiting the process. I'm grateful that you expressed an alternative point of view. If I were a political bully I wouldn't tolerate it or I would mock or intimidate you for disagreeing. Instead, I welcome your point of view or additional arguments.

I moved from Provo to Berkeley a few years ago. I can tell you the political climate in Berkeley is just as stifling as it was in Provo (just substitute Obama for Bush, and you'll get the picture).

My point: don't be angry at conservative Utah County. This problem is not a conservative versus liberal problem. It is a human nature problem. All of us, when surrounded by too many people who agree with us, have the potential to become paternalistic, smug, and yes, even bullies. Open-mindedness is not a natural human trait, and all of us, even liberals in Berkeley, struggle with it.

Thanks, Gideon. As a couple of the comments have suggested, liberals and Democrats can be intolerant too, when given the chance. But the fact is that in Utah, especially Utah Valley, one party and one political persuasion heavily dominate. That means that here and now, they are the ones doing the bullying. They are the ones who can, and because many of them feel so certain they are right and see themselves so close to having complete domination, it is easy for many of the dominant persuasion to demonize, demean, and intimidate those with different views.

It’s not unlike racism. Of course, people of various races are capable of all that is good or bad in human nature. But typically it is racial minorities that face persecution, because the majority has the power to persecute and, measuring everyone against itself, easily transforms racial difference into inferiority.

With race too, Utah Valley has far to go. I had no idea it had SO far to go until I became friends with lots of the valley’s blacks and hispanics and learned some of what they, including their school children, face. Some of the incidents--I’m referring to incidents right here in Utah Valley--were so bad that when they were reported to President Hinckley, he wept. In response, he gave a stirring address in the priesthood session of General Conference, April 2006, in which he denounced racism and intolerance and mean-spiritedness in general, asking, “Why do any of us have to be so mean and unkind to others? Why can't all of us reach out in friendship to everyone about us? Why is there so much bitterness and animosity? It is not a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” No one indulging in such behavior, he said, “can consider himself a true disciple of Christ, nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the Church of Christ.” He called for efforts to “accommodate diversity” and called for any who were guilty of “racial hatred,” including “racial slurs and denigrating remarks,” to “ask for forgiveness and be no more involved in such.”

I wonder if we need such an address again, this time focusing specifically on political ridicule and bullying, especially directed against children. LDS Church leaders have long tried to persuade members that it’s OK to be a Democrat, that “various political parties,” including “all major” ones, have “principles compatible with the gospel.” Church leaders have deliberately, though quietly, encouraged political diversity in Utah. Just as previous Church presidents have met with presidents of the country, President Monson recently met with President Obama. President Uchtdorf and Elder Ballad attended the inauguration, and both felt encouraged by the spirit of unity they felt there. Pres. Uchtdorf said it was great “to see a unity there that I hope will last on and continue throughout the years of this administration.” He also said, “We pray for President Barack Obama’s success in these challenging times and join in his expressions of hope and optimism.” According to Elder Ballard, “We need to exercise our prayers and help him accomplish the great objectives that he has set.” All of this is vastly different in tone and spirit from much of what is heard in Utah Valley, where the great majority claim to be Latter-day Saints.

Simply being a citizen of the United States should impel you to listen to your president with respect, whether or not you agree with him. I don’t understand why so many in Utah Valley fail to meet even this minimal standard.

Public schools are by nature political. Notice that the issue of the president's speech did not make a big splash in private school circles, or home schools - only in schools funded primarily by tax dollars, run by unionized workforces, where attendance is not voluntary.

Gideon, you got it right and thank you for going to the school board meeting. Don also has some valid points -- we DO want various views represented in our democracy. But this was about the President of the United States speaking to kids about doing well in school. He is the epitome of that emphasis -- a mixed-raced person raised by a single mother and then his grandparents, who became President. This was not intended as a political speech, and it was NOT a political speech. The rhetoric and inflammatory arguments against it ARE political bullying. That is has happened before or that Democrats also do it doesn't excuse it being done here and now. We can do better than this. I applaud Nebo's decision to let the kids hear the President.

Our school also declined to show the speech. I thought it was a very poor judgement on the part of the teachers and the school. That act was far more partisan and political than the speech ever was. If Bush had given a similar speech, I would have also encouraged the school to view it.

In the end, we gathered as a family, watched it on YouTube, and talked about it and the fuss afterward. Which probably made for a more meaningful experience anyway.

Its ridiculous what the school district did, when they were so one-sided, just because of his party. President Obama taught good things in his lecture and for the educational district (the district the lecture is being targeted at) ignores it, the whole purpose is defeated!

I think that the comments that address bullying on both ends of the partisan divide are spot on. What seems to be really lacking in our society is an understanding of subtlety-- neither side seems to be willing admit that most all political issues are very complex and that there are very valid feelings and reasonings on both sides.

I have both died-in-the-wool conservative and died-in-the-wool liberal family and friends, and find that they are generally all unwilling to consider arguments from the other side as remotely valid (although the conservatives tend to be a little less willing). They also are unwilling to consider compromise of any kind a valid option, and sometimes seem unwilling to even hear (let alone listen) to another point of view.

It is frustrating to see such intelligent people reduce such complex issues to such simplistic principles and not be willing to budge. I think it's this closed-minded tendency that comes across as bullying, especially since most people (at least that I know) that act in such a way have not really done enough reading, research and real hard-core contemplating about the issues to have such set opinions. I really feel that if you're going to take such a strong position on an issue, you better have done the research and sorting through the different views (on both sides).

The comments to this entry are closed.

Join the Evolution!

  • Come visit

Powered by Rollyo

Search this Site

  • Google


Become a Fan