I just saw the amazing documentary, Bully, and I highly recommend seeing it. You need to see both the searingly close look at how bullying goes down, and the current living conditions in Small Town Amurrica.
The film examines the details surrounding 5 recent incidents, two of which ended up with the bullied children committing suicide. We’re talking about 10 and 12 year old boys killing themselves. And I believe that it is those small town Christian Values that every single adult in that film talks about having; that are directly responsible for the B.S. that goes on amongst the kids in those towns. I was shocked and sickened by the sheer amount of very grown-up HATE contained in those kids. We’re talking entire classes–not individuals–of pre-teens who are intolerant, hateful little psychopaths, or maybe it’s nasty, self-righteous goons, and I’m not exaggerating one bit.
All that hate has to come from somewhere, especially hate that is so universal amongst every member of a school class. All five of the towns are small towns (between 5,000 and 15,000) in the blessed heart of what I like to call the flyover states: Georgia, Iowa, Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma . These are also flagrantly Red States firmly in the Bible Belt: God’s Country.
Perhaps more tellingly, all of the adults, almost to a person, who are interviewed in the movie: parents of the bullied and the bullies, parents of “the rest” of the kids, law enforcement, and my favorite, public school principals and administrators, all make a big fat deal of primly smiling and telling the camera about their “Christian Values”. One can almost hear the organs in the background. There’s also a lot of praying to Jesus about what to do next, and reciting that old putrid platitude about how “God wouldn’t give us more than we could handle” when discussing the horrifying things their monsters of kids did on a daily basis.
Pastors, reverends and church people are called in to counsel the kids. Apparently psychiatry and therapy falls under the rubric of “the devil”. (I’m being snide there, but most of the families involved–on both sides of the bullying–turn to Christian counseling, not that of medical or therapeutic experts.) Even the public schools manage to get Jesus involved; I was really shocked at how much religion permeates the public schools in God’s Country. It makes one wonder why they continue to loudly whine about “Christianity under attack” by the “secular hordes” (and Obama) as they get their infiltrated school boards to push more and more religion into the curriculums.
“Christian Values” in modern day Red State Bible Belt America means ultra-conservative Fundie and Southern Baptist doctrinaire that practically requires its adherents to march in lockstep; it’s how that kind of religion works. There’s a lot of absolute confidence in Who’s Right and Who’s Wrong–Jews still are going to Hell even if they do have that neat-o state of Israel, and anyone from any other religion or flavor of Christianity is wrong wrong WRONG; they need not apply. (This also includes Obama) Is it any surprise then, that in a small town, in a Red State full of small towns that have populations with huge majorities of Evangelical Christians, you’d get massive pressure for everyone to “fit in” to a highly defined way of living? Rebels, free-thinkers, wierdos and freaks should leave town at the earliest convenience. Like at age 8 or so. Otherwise, they will be fair game for the Christian spawn to torture mercilessly. Their parents and a huge majority of the adults behave this way to non-Christian “outsiders”; why shouldn’t they? I will go so far even as to state that the “Christian Values” held by conservative Evangelicals are distilled from a bullying religion: you’re either with us or you’re toast.
Religion may not at first appear to be the topmost reason for the bullying that goes on, but it underlies the entirety of the way these people think, like the storied snake in the piously innocent grass. Children raised in a tolerant and multi-cultural environment will not behave in the manner of the creeps in Bully. I found myself wanting to shout at all of the kids involved: “Move to California! Move to New York! Get out of the sticks; they’ve created a totally toxic culture that isn’t changing anytime soon!” Surprisingly, the film pretty much completely ignores conservative Christianity as a cause for all the us-against-them values held by the kids. Other than blandly interview some of the church folk involved in counseling the kids and parents, there is an endless state of guileless wonder at just what is it that makes their kids go bad. (Sit down a moment; I’ll tell you a story.) Either the filmmakers are incredibly naive as to not examine conservative Christianity as a possible cause, or they have been successfully cowed by the mouthpieces of the religious right who have hit upon the “poor me” victim formula to silence their opponents. It pisses me off that these smart documentarians seem to be afraid to question Almighty Evangelical Christianity, especially since a big message of the movie is directed at kids to stand up and protest when they see bad stuff going down. Well, I see some Bad Stuff. Come on people, SAY SOMETHING!!!
More than anything else, those hordes of nasty children demanding that everyone conform or die reminded me of witch hunters.