There are dozens of variations on the idea of “what goes around comes around” but comedian Jon Lovitz has taken the idea into fabulous new territory.
The backstory is this: Lovitz has a friend with an adolescent daughter. Three of the daughter’s 14-year-old school mates were driven to her house one night last week by one girl’s mother. The girls used dog shit and syrup to paint swastikas and the word “Jew” on the friend’s front porch. The incident would have been bad enough under any circumstances, but this particular victim has a grandfather who was a Holocaust survivor.
Lovitz was furious. He got on Twitter, posted a picture of the mess and wrote “Swastikas in sh** left on my friend’s front porch were done by three 14-year-old girls, driven to the house by one of the girl’s mother.” He posted pictures of the girls, writing “The 3 girls who are bullying my friend’s daughter. They want to be known. Let them be famous as Jew Hater. Pls RT.”
And re-tweat they did. All 26,000 of Lovitz’s Twitter followers re-tweeted this hate.
On Monday, Lovitz posted that the three girls had been “charged with a hate incident.” It didn’t make the threshold for a crime because syrup isn’t permanent. And then, “UPDATE!!!! The three girls who vandalized my friends home with swastikas and dog crap, have been expelled from their school permanently.” The mother who drove the girls may also be charged in this “incident.”
It is brilliant, simply brilliant. When we are trying so hard to find ways to deal with bullying, Lovitz has shown the way – tweat it, show the world what is happening, show the schools and community who is doing this and to whom.
Very few students will step in to stop a bullying incident (my eldest is one of those few), but kids carry phones and those phones take pictures. Take a picture, take a video. First of all, it acts as proof should the bullied student go to the school authorities who often hide behind the “he said/she said” defense. Second, it can be tweated. Kids use social media, Facebook and Twitter, to bully, so why not turn it around and use it to out them as bullies? If someone receives a bullying tweat, re-tweat it with an addition, “See what a jerk Bill is?” – okay, get more creative. I’m too long out of the language of teenagers to offer ideas.
Lovitz used outrage, but a much stronger method is ridicule. Bullies draw their power from intimidating weaker people, not from achieving anything on their own. They draw their power from those too weak to stand up to them and who, out of fear of being a victim, cheer the bullying. A single thread is weak, but a hundred threads wrapped around each other is a rope. Lovitz did the right thing, he exposed the bullies and their crime and drew down the wrath of the community on them. Others can do the same.