Chimps in the news – a little self criticism

Can Harry intimidate people into being nice?

That is the question I’m faced with as I contemplate the Bullying and BFFing post. Intimidation. That’s a bully’s domain and part of my schtick. It has been since I began writing about the School Board back in 1999. Back then I was far more defensive than aggressive. One of the Board members I served with told her allies critical things about me and they passed on her evaluation of me in letters-to-the-editor.

I responded by writing in my old website in a section of it I called “School Board Diary.” That portion of www.snowbizz.com is gone now obliterated by some calamity when I pushed the wrong button. Then I got a four year gig writing in the Reader Weekly, now the Duluth Reader. I continued writing for the Reader off and on for some years afterwards. Elected official are targets for lots of criticism and I’ve got lots of vulnerabilities that make good targets. I failed as a teacher. I was a long time Republican and would like to be again if the Party stops being all Fox newsy. I was pro choice, which today’s Republicans call “pro abortion.” I was and am free with my criticism of the School Board. I often did not vote the way the Teacher’s Union wanted particularly when I supported the Edison School experiment. I was one of Mark Twain’s idiot school board members. As an idiot I let our school buildings fall into disrepair. Later I opposed the Red Plan and thus tried to deprive our students of the schools they deserved.

Perhaps you can divine by the way I phrase these criticisms that I don’t take them all that seriously. I do, however, take criticism seriously. I can more than hold my own in most arguments and the fact that very few people criticize me publicly any more suggests two possibilities. Maybe my old Red Plan adversaries are too embarrassed to criticize me since I was right and they were wrong. Or Maybe, potential critics are afraid I will respond so viciously (which I would justify by calling it honesty) that they would in effect being getting into a peeing contest with a skunk. The latter possibility is the one that prompts this post and that question I asked at its beginning. “Can Harry intimidate people into being nice?”

I think intimidation can work. Perhaps the more important question is whether it should work. The advocates for the Civility Project believe that being civil is the best way to resolve problems and avoid the hideous example of our current Congress. I have often analyzed this contention and done so with considerable skepticism. But perhaps my tough criticism has become its own form of bullying.

The previous post makes an important point. Favoritism can be taken to unhealthy levels that foster resentment. OKaaaay Harry! Point well taken but aren’t you heading way over the top by pointing out those terrible stories about Chimpanzees in the News? Well, gosh, stammer, stammer, uhhh I guess I did it for the same reasons Republicans today are campaigning for Congress on Ebola. Maybe you heard of it. Its a disease which has killed exactly one American on American soil in a year in which thirty thousand Americans will die from the flu.

But really Harry – Rampaging Chimps? That’s not exactly the same as someone getting a parking pass they may not be entitled to. Besides, the folks who got the pass weren’t my biggest concern. Its the BFFing by other administrators that I wanted to shine a light on turning team players into Good ole boys.

I have felt for a long time that there is an unhealthy favoritism riddling the Duluth Schools which I believe is corrosive. I’m just not sure that my corrosive criticism will make things better. I’ll try to stick to simple criticism from now on.