The slap heard ‘round the world


I didn’t watch the Oscars. When I woke up the day after the Oscars and saw all the posts about Will Smith and Chris Rock, I was curious so I watched a few videos and read a few posts and way too many comments.

Bullying is often a polarizing topic so I thought hard before deciding to go ahead with this OPINION piece. Read that again: This is an opinion piece. These are my thoughts on the Will Smith/Chris Rock situation and bullying in general.

Why do I think bullying is a polarizing issue? Simple. Those who participate in bullying acts don’t want to believe it’s wrong, or don’t believe their behavior is bullying. These people often accuse others of bullying without seeing that they themselves are guilty of the same behavior. Some will even say this column is about them, and therefore, I am bullying them. To those people, I say, if the shoe fits.

Do I think one act of violent behavior constitutes bullying? No, not always. It is possible Will Smith was having a bad day and let his anger get the better of him. He was wrong. Especially if the videos I watched weren’t tampered with or edited, because he was laughing at the joke until he saw his wife’s face. I do not believe any words should be met with that type of reaction and Smith is just lucky that Chris Rock didn’t want to press charges against him. Rock probably realized his joke crossed a line. But the fact is, standup comedians often cross those lines that ordinary people usually wouldn’t. I’m a huge standup comedy fan, and yes, I sometimes cringe or maybe even get offended at some of the things they joke about, but I can choose not to watch that comic again. At no time was my reaction to charge the stage and slap the comic.

Let’s move on from the slap and talk about the hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of people who say Will Smith’s actions were warranted that night. We have such a problem with our children bullying or getting bullied in schools, in workplaces, online, and even in churches across the world, and we wonder why that is. The answer is in the slap heard ‘round the world, or rather, all of the people condoning that behavior.

Some of you might be asking what makes me such an expert on bullying and I do not claim to be an expert on anything. All I can do is speak from my own experiences. I’ve been bullied since I was in elementary school and it’s usually over things that I had or have no control over.

Now we get to the part that I agonized over whether to share or not. The last thing I want to do is give people more ideas on how they can hurt me. Here is why I can say Will Smith was wrong because no matter what Chris Rock said, physical assault was not the answer.

One of the things I continue to get bullied for – yes, even as an adult because adult bullies are just as bad as child bullies – is how I look. My height, my build, my low voice, just to name a few, are things that some people just can’t seem to get over.

A grown man tried to provoke my husband into a fight by calling me a man because of my height and the way my voice sounds when I speak. Would I have loved to have seen my husband knock that man to the ground in that moment? Absolutely. Would it have solved anything? Absolutely not. I do not want my husband in trouble because he tried to defend me against someone’s words.

I’m no longer embarrassed of my voice, the way that I look, or my height, but I spent way too many years hating myself because of what others said about me. It’s not embarrassing for me – it’s embarrassing for the people who think it’s okay to say and do the things they do to other people. It took a long time for me to learn that.

While I wish I hadn’t been bullied quite so much in my life, I do credit the bullying for teaching me valuable life lessons – like how to react (or not react) when things hurt me. I’d be in jail weekly if I hauled off and slapped someone every time they made a joke or comment I didn’t like. It also taught me to have empathy and to be kind to others because I know how it feels when people are unkind to me and I never want to make others feel that way.

If we learned anything from this Will Smith and Chris Rock incident – I hope it’s to think more before we speak or act.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here