I was recently reading "Please Stop Laughing at Me" by Jodee Blanco. While it was not the best written book in the world, I did find it very moving reading. I related strongly to her tales of being so despised at her school that not even the outcasts would deal with her.
But this post isn't about the book. It's about what I saw when I looked the book up on Amazon. You see, I love discussing books and getting other people's opinions on books. So it's common for me to run over to Amazon or some other site that reviews them and read other people's thoughts about something I just read.
This time the comments were deeply disturbing. People either loved or hated the book, I've never seen so many one and five star ratings in my life. Virtually nothing in the middle. The really disturbing part, though, was the tone of the one star ratings. "I actually found myself rooting for the bullies by the end of the book." "Why does she hang with the mentals?" "...I decided I would probably have bullied Jodee myself."
What is it that makes people decide that other human beings are worth denigrating, bullying, putting down, or any of the other multitude of ways we have of causing others pain, simply because they're different? I was so-so on the book. I don't think Jodee is someone I would particularly like, but rooting for the bullies? If all it takes is for someone we don't care for to publish a book about how horrible their school years were to make people say publicly that they deserve what they got, what on earth makes us expect better behavior from our children? The worst thing about school bullying is how pernicious it is. Simply put, many kids feel they have the right, or even the need, to put down anyone they don't like. They don't even see it as bullying, just interaction as usual. Frankly I doubt that many, if any, of the kids who bullied me paid enough attention to even remember all this time later. And that's what needs to change.