The Calling of Names

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

What if they had a special week and nobody noticed?

Last week was No Name-Calling Week.  From all appearances, at least on the level of the blogs, there wasn’t much notice.  Name-calling is de rigeur.

Which raises a good question.  If adults demand their right to call people names as part of what they think is intelligent debate, why would we expect the children to behave any differently.

It would probably be prudent of me not to mention that fact.  I’ve never been accused of being prudent.

I think about the children.  Big surprise.  I’m a teacher.

Originally posted in Teacher’s Lounge at Daily Kos

I oppose bullying.  I’ve been a victim of it and it has been and will be my foe my entire life.  It is an incredibly easy stance to take.  It is apparently just as difficult a philosophy to put into action.

Verbal bullying is still bullying.  This is where I enter a huge disagreement with a whole lot of people.  I believe in thought control if it means improvement of relations among our species.  In the long run, the benefit of the human species is served by reinforcing the fact that some thoughts are detrimental to human survival since they keep us at each others’ throats rather than cooperating for the benefit of us all.

Have I mentioned I’m a socialist?

I’ve worked with the organization that sponsors No Name-Calling Week on occasion, though I am not a member.  I teach college and GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is aimed at the younger set.  They do have an agenda.  The entire human race should have an agenda.

GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for ALL students.

That’s certainly an agenda I can get behind.

“Safe” does not mean physically safe.  Learning requires a degree of self-confidence.  Children who are daily subjected to verbal abuse have that confidence eroded.  The door of opportunity, to be the best human beings they can mature into being, is being slammed in their faces.  It doesn’t matter if the verbs and nouns hurled are about race or gender, ethnicity or religion, sexuality or gender identity, or disability or appearance, children are damaged by the barrage of insults they receive.

Telling them they need to develop a tougher skin doesn’t help.  That’s just pouring acid in the open wound.  Failing to teach our children that the verbal bullying is wrong and framing it as a First Amendment issue in order to excuse it allows those wounds to fester.

As an empathetic human being I can’t allow that festering.  As a former sissy who suffered from it, I rejected it…but it took much of my life.  As a PFLAG parent, I will fight you tooth and nail about this.  

Hell hath no fury like a PFLAG mom defending her child.

Don’t start telling me about slippery slopes.  I rejected the Slippery Slope Theory when it was called the Domino Theory back in the day.  I don’t care who invokes it.  

Changing society for the better is a Good Thing.  It was a good that GLSEN sponsored No Name-Calling Week.  It would be good if more people joined and/or supported organizations like GLSEN, organizations which, I hope you notice work to protect ALL the students.  That’s the thing about so-called gay rights groups.  We work for all of us.

I just wish it were  No Name-Calling Year or No Name-Calling Lifetime.


Skip to comment form

    • Robyn on January 26, 2008 at 22:07

    I had this unforeseen run in with the Rec List at Daily Kos.

    • plf515 on January 26, 2008 at 22:25

    nice to see you here.  As I noted there and now here, I may be moving to this site.  We’ll see.

    • Caneel on January 26, 2008 at 22:36

    No Name-Calling Month(s) and extend it month to month … forever.

    Robyn, this diary is powerful. It called up emotional abuse from long, long ago … the reminder of how much it hurts.

    Telling them they need to develop a tougher skin doesn’t help.  That’s just pouring acid in the open wound.  Failing to teach our children that the verbal bullying is wrong and framing it as a First Amendment issue in order to excuse it allows those wounds to fester.

    I thought about it, like rolling a coin in my hand, and was prompted to write it down, hoping to distill the impact of Robyn’s essay.



       It blisters, it bleeds,

       it scratches, it scars.

       It’s a body’s largest

       organ, expandable,

       much to our caloric


       It comes in colors,

       breathes and sweats,

       It’s known to heal, but

       despite standing

       orders, it will not

       toughen up.

    Right on, Robyn!

  1. odd vibes in a U.S./Eurocentric world.

    But isn’t thought control what Buddhism is about, really?  Taking a middle path…controlling impulses and desires…controlling our own thoughts; not seeking to impose control upon others.

  2. It’s the substitution of thought itself for something–name-calling–that isn’t a thought.  I’m old enough to remember when this substitution process was called “common politeness” and even widely practiced.  Like almost everything else that was ever good, this wide practice was sharply curtailed by the Reaganauts and their “First Amendment” insistence that name-calling, lying, and incitement to violence constituted “protected speech.”

    • plf515 on January 26, 2008 at 23:57

    I think we should be trying to teach people to control their own.

    A.S. Neill (creator of Summerhill) had a great phrase: Freedom, not License.  I think if people understood the difference between freedom and license, the world would be a much happier place

  3. I didn’t notice that . . .  

  4. next week to be No Daily Kos Week.

    It would give cybermedics a chance to clean up at least some of the blood.

    It would give Mr. Zuniga a chance to read his own FAQ’s so he won’t recommend voting for a Republican again.

    It would give weary Kos Kops a chance to compare notes and figure out why they didn’t bury the aforementioned Mr. Zuniga under an avalanche of donuts for that glaring violation of Daily Kos policy.

    It would provide a much needed respite for unwary biblical researchers who Google “Armageddon”, only to find themselves on Daily Kos, where legions of Obama, Hillary, and Edwards supporters cast each other into the Lake of Fire every 5 minutes.      

    It would give 125,000 Kossacks time to listen to the Statue of Docudharma:

    “Give me your dazed survivors, your walking wounded,

    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


  5. if we can create a world in which there is such disrespect for others and name calling does contribute to violence, then we can create a world where there is respect for others by not calling each other names. I really think that people underestimate the power of words and the effect their words can have on people. If we all really knew and thought about it, we’d all probally say a lot less. Name callers always have an agenda: control. And getting them to give up that illusion of control is quite a task that I don’t have any answers for, but stopping the behavior is necessary. Then comes the accusations of being “controlling” by asking them to stop and not accepting them as they are. Practicing addicts think that too, “I’m gonna do whatever I want when I want and feel rejected if you don’t ‘accept me.'” Bullshit.

    How many children get into fights over name calling and how disruptive is it to the classroom? Many and very much so. How much office politics are over the same things when they grow up? SSDA (same shit, different age). Underneath name calling is of course mental laziness, among other things, concerning the ability to articulate the real issue at hand, which brings us back to control. There’s only one truth and everyone is capable of reconizing it. It’s just when name callers are wrong or see something they don’t want to acknowledge the thing that’s worked all their life to get someone to back down is to be abusive, and because of the fear of conflict the one being called a name backed down. The bullying worked from the bully’s perspective, so they must be stood up to with grace and dignity. Precisely how is one’s personal decision, but a willingness to be upsetting to them must be present in my experience. Just some mindless response like “Whatever.” My mother – in – law uses that one quite well. Then may come the escalation, so “Whatever.” Using the same thing repeatedly works (not that the feelings don’t maybe get hurt), because the one thing name callers are is predictible and without a sound premises. I had a very severe speech impediment growing up and still stammer at times as an adult, so I’ve had a little bit of experience with this sort of thing.

    So I applaude your efforts Robyn and peace. Here’s to treating one another with respect and dignity.

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