Age and size don't matter to a victim of bullying
Bullies come in all shapes and sizes and so do their victims.
There is no setting or situation in which physical or emotional abuse should be tolerated. I think I might be an island with that opinion. When a nine-year-old gets picked on by a bully, everyone can see that it should be stopped.
But when a mountain of a man is harassed, people tell him to "handle it like a man" and stand up to the bully.
I love the Andy Griffith Show, but Opie taking a "knuckle sandwich" from his bully Sheldon before "sailing into him like a windmill in a tornado" is a long way from how the situation would have been resolved if Johnathan Martin would have taken a shot at his Miami Dolphin teammate Ritchie Incognito.
Incognito is a thug who has been run off from every football program with which he has been associated. When he told called Martin the worst of racial names and threatened to slap his mother and defecate in his mouth, the possibility was real. If he threw a punch at his harasser, Martin knew he would likely end up injured in a bad way.
Instead of doing that, he tried to get help.
But his pleas fell on deaf ears and now he is being treated for emotional problems and Incognito has been suspended from the team.
Cleveland Browns Rookie Offensive lineman Garrett Gilkey knows how Martin feels. He was younger when his bullies punched him and shoved into lockers and urinated in his baseball glove. But Gilkey says age and size don't matter to a victim of bullying.
"It doesn't matter. Bullying is the same if you're a 24-year-old lineman as if you were a nine-year old girl," Gilkey said. "There's just a level of empathy that didn't exist in that context. I can't help but feel for Martin knowing that it's a very real battle. It doesn't matter how old you are or how big you are. No one should have to go through that."
Instead of trying to come together as a team, Miami coaches and officials wanted Incognito to toughen Martin up. They let the rat out of his cage and violent and offensive texts, voicemails and harassment were the result.
This won't go well for the Dolphins or the coaches and administrators who abdicated their leadership roles and let a thug take care of business for them.
But not all bullying has to do with physical threats.
Grown men and women with advanced college degrees still revert back to fat jokes when given a chance.
This week's time magazine cover is proof of that.
After Chris Christie broke ground as a twice-elected Republican governor in New Jersey, he was attacked by members of his own party who fear his strength as a 2016 Presidential candidate.
Time magazine attacked Christie, too. But they just called him fat.
With a shadowy photo of the Governor on the cover, Time went with a cover headline of "The elephant in the room."
Of course they were playing on the Republican mascot. Of course, they were trying to play on the phrase. But mostly, they delivered a childish cheap shot.
If you think it was inadvertent, you are kidding yourself.
Time executive editor Michael Duffy tried to defend the magazine's puerile pun.
"Well, he's obviously a big guy," Duffy said as thought that justified their hideous headline. "He's obviously a big Republican. But he's also done a really huge thing here this week."
Yes. It takes a room full of Time editors and reporters to come up with a fat joke.
That's just sad.
Kids are bullied. Grown men who hit each other for a living are bullied. Even the Governor of New Jersey can be emotionally attacked if he doesn't meet the fitness standards of a group of alleged journalists.
Do you know why bullies do it? Because they can. Very few NFL players and coaches are taking sides with Martin. Most are defending Incognito despite his use of horrible tactics and language. Rather than having a problem with the news magazine, people grin and repeat the joke.
As long as we permit harassers and bullies to get away with it, we are all one step closer to becoming the next victim.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org