The Bully Pulpit

by Rick Bretz

President Theodore Roosevelt during his presidency  coined the term “Bully Pulpit” to mean a “terrific or advantageous” platform to promote ideas.   The position of President of the United States might be the best place in the world to promote ideas.  Back then, in his day, the word “Bully” meant a good thing, as in “”Bully for You” or “Good For You.”  But somewhere, as in the case of many words, the meaning of the word was hijacked to the more popular definition of the word today, “A person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.”  The verb form meaning to force or harass someone using superior strength to do force him or her to do what one wants.

President of the United States Theodore Roosev...
President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front. Deutsch: Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), Präsident der Vereinigten Staaten von 1901 bis 1909, Friedensnobelpreisträger des Jahres 1906. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The word bully meant something good in the early 1900s but turned into a word that defines the evil angels of our nature. Interesting to note that the synonyms listed for this word include, Tyrant, Tormentor, Oppressor, Persecutor, Intimidator and Thug.  Today there is a new moniker that defines the Bully.   The technology savvy persecutor, tormentor and thug–The Cyber bully. This bully uses all of the tools available to the persecutor and this tool has the added benefit of making the tormentor anonymous if he or she so desires.   Beside being a jerk, the online tormentor violates a key policy outlined in most organizations’ information technology code of ethics documents. That is: “Do no harm.”

There are many varieties of bully.  Some are less harmful than others but the different speciesalways leave some form of destruction in their wake.  Here are my top eight types of bullies that wreak all kinds of havoc as we all try to live, thrive and survive day-to-day.

1. The Government Bully– Someone who has gained a position of power by military take over, Coup de Tat,  violence against the voting populace, political maneuvering or government appointed position.  This type of bully proves the most dangerous because they can use their position to gain wealth, kill people, keep power and bully other countries into entering into unwise diplomatic agreements as well as any number of wrongs against the people.  They include the likes of Saddam Hussein. Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Chairman Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Genghis Khan and many more.

2. The Office Bully-This person creates the toxic atmosphere at work.  The person everyone knows , whom management lets run rough shod over other co-workers either by using something they know, someone in management they know, or just using an acidic personality to create havoc in the work place or torment the one individual in the office who takes the abuse.  This where other co-workers should step in and take a stand even if the bully sits at a higher level in the organization.

3. The Teleconference and Meeting Bully-That certain someone who raises his or her voice, try to talk over people, cuts off another person talking,  ridicules someone else’s ideas.  You know that someone in the office.  A person  who wants to take over the entire meeting to look fantastic in front of “The Boss.” I dislike these people and managers should call them out and make them stop.

4. The Driving Bully– You know.  We’ve all seen  them on the highway, in the city or even on some rural road. They pass on double lines, bogart their way into a parking spot, merge their vehicle in the wrong place, change lanes from the far left to the exit ramp in less than 20 yards just to prove they can.  I got news for you people: you’re not impressing anyone.  Some advice I know will be ignored but here goes anyway, “Drive like you are supposed to-like the rest of us-obey the traffic laws. Just maybe you won’t be the next person to cause a wreck.”

5. The Internet Bully-These people are the trolls you see at the bottom of a story you have read in the comment list but they are also the same people who use the social media to harass and torment another person. Cyber bullies are the worst because they are going after a person for the whole world to see.  These people are the cause of some teen ager or young person committing suicide because the cyber bully won’t back off on the social media comments and criticism.  Someone who bullies a person through social media has no self esteem and no compassion for other human beings.

6. Corporate Bully-The corporate bully intimidates start-ups, harasses inventors, steals inventions, steals software or worse yet, calls in some government friends for favor so a certain agency can do an audit or create an avalanche of paperwork and lawyers so that a company or individual can go away.  You know who they are: some have been around for a long time.  President Teddy Roosevelt called them monopolies and decided he had enough of them.  He did what good bully fighters do, he made them stop.

7. Gang Bully-Any person using his position as part of a group, gang or union to intimidate, harass, persecute or just plain beat up.  These people get their so-called “courage” because they know their buddies will be standing behind them in case the scene gets a little tough for them to handle. I see no courage in that.  The person who takes on the group alone, now that’s courage.
8. Law Enforcement Bully-A majority of law enforcement officials are superb human being and logical in their approach to handing out citations and tickets. But now and then you get someone who you can just tell hasn’t been in a position of power or leadership and they carry an attitude of, “OK, now I’m in power position and people are going to pay.”  They are few,  but when you come across one, you never forget them.

Ok, now I’m off the bully pulpit about bullies, for now.

 

Notable Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bully_pulpit

http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/Files/Bullying.pdf

http://www.internetsafety101.org/cyberbullyingstatistics.htm

 

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