The Price We Pay For Using Bullying And Verbal Abuse As Our Primary Way Of Communicating
- © Michele Toomey, PhD • January 2011

There is no escape from the hostile, vitriolic messages that are being transmitted over the television and radio posing as political debate. Hatred and name calling are the norm. Lies that give the impression that an opponent is evil and corrupt and should be feared are accepted as how the contest is conducted. The need to win at any cost justifies violent verbal abuse. Threats and verbal bullying fill our homes whenever we watch a news broadcast. HATE is camouflaged amidst expressions of fear. Facts are difficult to find or even recognize. The climate is toxic. The potential for violence is imminent. And we sit silently barely voicing any outrage, just passively accepting this heightened anger and hostility that evokes hate as if it is all right.

Where is the outrage at the destructive tone our nation is using to communicate its political stance on issues? The climate is right for teen suicides when bullying as a norm is so pervasive and has personally become intolerable. How can there be hope for fair and respectful treatment of differences when our national debate is vitriolic and full of hate?

The price of tolerance for this dangerous and destructive communication style is the acceptance of incitement to violence against anyone who dares disagree with us. The first amendment was not intended to protect incitement to violence. If it is a crime to yell "Fire" in a crowded hall and incite a stampede that could kill, why is it not a crime to incite violence against those we oppose.

This climate of hatred and violence has bred assassinations, violence and bullying. A congress woman was shot and others killed and wounded at a street corner gathering. Schools have to hire security guards and bullied students commit suicide. Abusive husbands and wives kidnap and kill their partners and children. Yet, there is no groundswell of outrage. Instead, passivity and indifference allow this violent trend to accelerate without interference. We need to claim this acceptance of hatred turned violent, demand accountability of ourselves and the nation, and demand that it stop!

If you have children in school, make sure there is zero tolerance for bullying and violence. Among your family members and friends, do not participate in or allow verbal abuse. Do not listen to radio stations or watch tv channels that promote verbal abuse or hateful speech. If each of us had zero tolerance for bullying of any kind, we would together create a climate that counters the dominant national tone of hostility on steroids.

Stand up and be counted as ambassadors of peace and accountability. We owe it to ourselves and our children.

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