Friday, 11 March 2016
No no, it's not bullying; no no, X is not a victim, X is not being unfairly treated. You're looking at it the wrong way, you're over-reacting.
Your boss is piling on the pressure, loading you with extra work? He's simply trying to get the job done, trying to improve productivity. The other boys are picking on you in the playground? Well, you're such an easy target, you won't make any effort to fit in.
And of course, the old chestnut - women get harassed and attacked by men not because men are uncivilised louts but because women ask for it. They dress provocatively, they're on their own, they're in a dodgy neighbourhood etc.
People are afraid of the bullies, reluctant to challenge them. Or they want to curry favour with them, because they're in a position of power. Or they really believe that toughness and arrogance get better results than kindness and sympathy.
But the more the bullying is justified, the worse it gets. The bullies get cocky, assuming they'll always get away with it. You only have to look at the British government, which gets more ruthless by the day.
All sorts of everyday phrases condone bullying. Constant talk of "tough decisions", "the age of austerity", "deterring scroungers and skivers", "the workshy". All excusing casual cruelty and victimisation.
"Do as you would be done by" has become a quaint old notion seldom heard outside the pulpit.