Of Bullies and Bitter Weeds

“Stop it.”

He had shouted it. That was not the surprising thing about it. What was unexpected was that it had come out so fluently. Danny stuttered, and he was a smallish guy. He wore glasses and all the wrong clothes. Bully bait if ever there was one. Not because he was gay. He wasn’t. He was just different.

That was enough for some guys to pick on him. To shove him around a bit. To push him to the ground.

We were about to leave the school grounds, my friends and I, and we stopped in our tracks. We were at a distance from the pair, but even so I could see the expression on Danny’s face. Hurt and tiredness mainly. Anger and humiliation too. He was on the verge of tears. There was something else there as well. Resilience. Determination. An expression of enough-is-enough.

His whole body language spoke of resistance. It was clear that he wasn’t going to take it anymore. You could almost hear him say, “Come at me. I dare you. Maybe you will beat me up, but I will at least have tried to fight you. Maybe I will get in some good punches of my own. I don’t care. I hurt already more than you can ever make me. I won’t take it anymore.”

You could see his bully waver. That was the first time I realized that bullies are cowards who carefully choose their victims. Except, this victim refused to be one any longer.

The coward didn’t take the risk. With a gesture of disgust and a last insulting remark he turned around and left, while Danny remained standing there, silently watching him go.

It was over before it had begun. To this day I wonder whether I would have intervened if they had come to blows. I’d like to think so, but I will never really know.

Meanwhile, I have taken my decision what I will do, should I ever be in that position again.

Bullies and rapists have a lot in common. They operate from the same mindset. A sense of entitlement and the conviction that might is right.

“You have to be who I want you to be, and behave how I want you to behave,” they say, and, “What you have and what you are is mine, to do with as I please.”

Bullies should be treated with the same revulsion and horror we treat rapists with. Bullies rape a person’s psychological integrity, much as a rapist violates another person physically.

Bullies should be treated with the same revulsion and horror we treat rapists with. Bullies rape a person’s psychological integrity, much as a rapist violates another person physically.

Bullies cannot be tolerated in a decent, civilized society. What’s more, tolerating bullying cannot be tolerated. If you bully gay kids, just because you can and being gay seems wrong to you, you are nothing but a rapist waiting to happen. If you witness someone being bullied and don’t intervene, you are tolerating despicable, immoral behavior. Actually, by letting the creep get away with it, you are aiding and abetting these dehumanizing acts. It makes you no better than the bully.

Bullies and rapists must be resisted at all costs. They are contemptible cowards who prey on those whom they perceive as weaker. They are little Hitlers — forgive me for ceding to Godwin’s law, but they are. They terrorize whom they think of as inferior, as ‘Untermenschen.’
It’s probably why I admire Winston Churchill so much.

Hitler was a bully and a rapist. He bullied Austria and Czechoslovakia into submission, and he raped Poland. When the allies finally resolved to resist him and declared war, he overran the Netherlands in five days. Belgium resisted and fell after eighteen days. France surrendered after eleven days. The British Expeditionary Forces were evacuated from the continent.

For the British this was not quite a defeat, but certainly not a victory. “Wars are not won by evacuations,” Churchill warned. It would have been easy, natural almost, to give in to the bully. He had demonstrated his force. He had shown he could rape whoever he wanted. And many people in the United Kingdom, even in its government, were seriously considering giving in and giving up.

But not Churchill. He could have negotiated a peace, or at least a cease-fire. But he knew you can’t let bullies and rapists have their way. So, he roused his nation to resist. From his own inner strength and moral convictions he appealed to theirs. And they followed him.

“We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.”

Can you imagine? He was sixty-six when he spoke these words, and a long, hard struggle lay ahead of him.

It is worth the thirty-one seconds of your time to hear him say this in his own calm, rumbling and droning voice.

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Anaxantis, the main character of my The Invisible Chains-trilogy, relies more on his wits than on his physical strength, of which he doesn’t have all that much. He is gay, with a tormented love life, to say the very least. He is far too young to lead an army, yet he does so because nobody else will or can. All the while he is fighting his own inner demons as well. He is terrified of falling into enemy hands alive, and the numerical strength of his army is inferior to that of the barbarians set upon raping the lands entrusted to his care.

The barbarian chief tries to make him give up, pointing out all Anaxantis’s weaknesses and contrasting them with his own might. He gives him an easy way out. And yet, notwithstanding all that would argue against fighting, my little prince defies him.

“I guarantee that if you fail to kill me today, you will meet me again. You will meet me at the Ximerionian border. You will meet me at every city, town, village, and hamlet. You will meet me on every Amirathan crossroad, on every hill. I will fight you with every sword at my command, with every arrow, with every dagger. I will fight you with pitchforks. I will fight you with the very rocks of the land you try to conquer. I will never, never, never give up.”

Napoleon Bonaparte, at one time, had plans to invade England. “There are bitter weeds growing there,” he was told.

I admit freely, and gratefully, that I borrowed heavily from Sir Winston Churchill. Is it any wonder I admire the man? By all reckoning he was far too old to be a war leader. He didn’t care. He did what needed to be done. Anaxantis is far too young to be a war leader. He knows this himself. But you just can’t let bullies have their way. So, ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ be damned.

Hitler wasn’t the first bully who had tried to browbeat the British. Napoleon Bonaparte, at one time, had plans to invade England. “There are bitter weeds growing there,” he was told.

The bitter weeds of people who will resist. Calm but firm. Who won’t submit to being bullied. Who won’t tolerate others being bullied. For whatever reason. People who will stand up, each and every time someone knocks them down. People who will stand up for what is right. People who will stand up for each other. People who will keep standing up.

People who will never surrender, in the words of Winston Churchill. People who will never, never, never give up, in the words of Anaxantis.

Why?

To live our lives with our heads held high. To smile. To be happy and fulfilled. To love and be loved.

Those are bitter weeds for bullies.

Not one of the whole sorry lot is immune to them.

While one of the main themes of The Invisible Chains is resistance against oppressors of all kinds, I feel it is not more than fair to warn you that there are a lot of other things going on. The graphic description of armed conflict may not be to everybody’s taste. Characters you might have grown to love will die and their death will not always be an easy one. There is of course gay romance, and there are explicit love scenes. In fact, when I first thought of the story, my initial reaction was: “You expect people to learn strange names, words and concepts in weird languages, casually digest half-brothercest annex rape annex domination, your main hero has a few flaws, to put it mildly, and you liberally sprinkle political intrigue over the mixture. This story should come with its own supply of Pepto-Bismol.”

You can buy the book on this site in mobi or epub format, or on Kobo and ARe, and on Amazon in Kindle-format.
You can buy Pepto-Bismol at your local pharmacy.
Try before you buy? You can read the first twelve chapters for free here, or download them in epub-format or mobi-format for your e-reader, also for free.

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4 Responses to Of Bullies and Bitter Weeds

  1. I Crave Yaoi in my Sleep 2011-07-04 at 21:38 #

    I think when I first read that warning my exact thoughts were “challenge accepted.” Probably the worst character flaw in a novel, the one I cannot abide, is cowardice. Characters can be arrogant or bloodthirsty, selfish or cruel, but if they’re a coward – ah, then their death comes only too swiftly.

    So I liked this, although I think it over-uses rape. I don’t think that experience is comparable on any level. Using the term in a metaphor: ‘hitler raped poland’ has always seemed kind of baffling and bizzare to me. If people said ‘violated’ or ‘traumatised’ or ‘humiliated’ then I’d understand it. But I think I just don’t approve of using the word ‘rape’ to give impact to a statement. *shrugs* just a personal hang-up is all. Anyways, greatly looking forward to the next update :)

  2. Sal Davis 2011-07-06 at 22:55 #

    Here following your Twitter link.

    A lot of truth in what you say about the bullying. Zero toleration is the only policy. I believe Churchill may have been bullied at prep school over a speech impediment, which probably coloured his reaction to Hitler’s ambitions.

    Your disclaimer about The Invisible Chains is a bit of a challenge. I’ve bought a copy of book one. Do your worst :D

  3. K Mendiola 2011-07-10 at 22:35 #

    I agree with you about bullying and rape. It is forcing yourself and your wishes on another, all about domination in the cruelest way possible. Your books are wonderful. Thank you for writing them.

  4. Diane A 2012-06-03 at 05:47 #

    That’s a fantasic piece on bullying. I was bullied as a kid, and to this day, I really don’t know why, but I know how it felt and rape is a perfect word for them and how they make you feel about yourself!
    I think the subject is dealt with very well in your books and how it continues to affect Anaxantis, because it does.
    Perhaps you could post this to Twitter as well?

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