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02 October, 2012


I'm going to say something controversial. Jennifer Livingston, the newscaster who addressed the subject of a viewer's email on air, was not bullied by said email. Hear me out.

It was an inappropriate email and none of the guy's business, but his words were not inflammatory, they were rude. He expressed a critique of her appearance and concern that a person in a media position might influence others by their looks. It's a bad position to hold and her weight is none of his business, but he wasn't attacking her in order to incite fear in her or intimidate her.

If this is bullying, then so it is when we say young kids need to pull up their pants, or that musicians need to change their persona to be better influences on youth. These are all critiques that are none of our damn business, but that we freely express without a second thought.

The man is an asshole, but I'm afraid that "bullying" is the wrong word here.

As someone who deplores bullying of all kinds and was bullied from first grade through high-school, I am grateful that anti-bullying measures and messages are finally making it to the mainstream, but I don't think redefining it to include rude people is going to help.


  1. That was my thought when I saw her video. The guy who wrote that article was a major asshole. I was bullied as a kid - tripped, laughed at, chairs pulled out from under, and on one horrible occasion on a school bus, two boys behind me unzipped my dress from the back and unsnapped my bra. All of the other kids, including the girls, just sat there and watched. I was in 7th or 8th grade at the time.

    1. I had a really long reply to you, but I'm going to go ahead and make it into another post. It got too long. :) Thanks for commenting.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. I agree that the letter was not bullying. If it was, the message would have included inflammatory or even crude language, and would have been made public by the writer. He politely asked for being a better role model. It's not a letter I would have written, but I disagree that he's an asshole. If that's all it takes, everyone's an asshole in one way or another, and the word loses its meaning. Obesity is a huge problem in the US, and is getting worse. Al Roker took risky means to reduce his weight. Surely this person could demonstrate a slower, but effective approach.

    I didn't like her response either, where she calls his letter simultaneously "nothing" and also "hurtful" and "bullying" (or words to that effect). Clearly if it was nothing, nobody would know about it. And it diminishes actual bullying. Adults and kids are treated horribly by bullies, all of it worse than this letter. They must watch this event with disbelief and jealousy.