© 2012 John Casimir O'Keefe

Processing The Idea of Bullying

If there is one thing I am known for it is processing my thoughts in public. It may seem crazy for some, but for me it allows me to think through some ideas and express them in an open and honest way. It also gives me the opportunity to hear other voices in dialog so I can develop a voice that is clear on any subject (I hope). In this one, I have to say I am torn – I can only be honest with myself and voice an honest opinion. I am torn because I can see both sides to the coin.

Let me start by saying freedom is hard, very hard. It is probably one of the hardest things we have to deal with. Sometimes I read, or hear, what someone says that goes against everything I believe and live and I desire to shut them up. Yet, freedom invites them to say it, even if I disagree. But that idea of freedom invites me to address the statements and speak my mind, even if they do not agree. Given that, I would say it is hard to hear people insult another, yes it is – yet freedom invites such action. When such statements are made, I believe I have the right to speak up and voice my opinion just as they have the right to that opinion – no matter how close minded I believe the statement to be. I have come to the conclusion that if we limit the freedom of some, we should limit the freedom of all and I am pretty sure that is not something we desire to do. We find it easy to limit the freedom of others, especially when we disagree with them. But what happens when others disagree with us? Should our freedom be limited? Should our speech be limited?

Why am I expressing these ideas? Because recently the state of Tennessee past an “Anti-Bullying Law” and some people are striving to amend that law to allow students to speak out against homosexuality, without punishment, if that’s what their religious beliefs are. Now, I am just as much against bullying as any other person and the fact that teens and pre-teens are taking their lives because of being bullied is wrong.

On one level I am drawn to the idea that no one should be bullied for any reason and that even means for their sexuality. To bully another is to stand against what God calls us to be as followers. To bully another seems to me to go against what God says about loving others. When we live in grace we seek not to bully another, we seek to love them for who God created in them. It saddens me greatly that people take their own life because of those who bully – those who cause so much pain and hurt that others find taking their own life is the only answer to the pain and hurt. But I think our call is not to take away free speech, but rather to be a voice of support, love, grace and encouragement to those in pain – we should shout louder, we should stand stronger, we should embrace harder than those who are bullying others. We should be the incarnation of Christ to those being bullied. We should be a voice of reason and love in a world of hate. We should not limit the speech of others via law, but should be a louder voice that drowns out the hate and covers it with grace.

On one level I desire the bullying to stop, and on another level I am against any laws that take away free speech, even if that speech is hateful and wrong hearted.

I realize that this may not be the “correct” view, but as I stated before, I and torn.


  1. Posted 2012/01/08 at 5:25 pm | #

    I can sympathize with the struggle. I remember years ago when the child safety belt law was passed. I wanted all children to safely buckled up, but I wasn’t sure I wanted the government to have to make another law. Needless to say, if I openly opposed it, I’m sure it would have been an unpopular stance.

    I’m just beginning work on creating web pages of resources for our regional educators, as our state has just made it mandatory for schools to teach students about Internet safety and provide anti-bullying strategies and information. Again, I think it’s about time we finally created more awareness about the problem, and actively encourage everyone to treat each other with decency. Did the government need to step in with legislation because we just weren’t doing a good enough job as a society, or are we going to be in danger of becoming morally apathetic unless we’re forced to obey a law? I wish I had more answers than questions. I will say, though, that I think my new assignment is an important one, and I believe it might not be on the table at all if not for legislature, sad to say.

  2. https://www.
    Posted 2013/06/09 at 2:20 am | #

    Very descriptive blog, I loved that bit. Will there be a part 2?

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