a victim fights back and becomes a hero. it's not hard to understand why. i think many of understand what it's like to be picked on, to feel helpless and harassed. or we've been in situations where we've not had the power to stand up to peole who have treated us unfairly, who have put us in a position of fear.
maybe it's that more primal instinct of fight or flight, and when flight isn't a possibility, we love the ones who fight back. is it our collective hatred of wimps, of any sign of weakness? so that when we come across someone who does fight back, we express our contempt of weakness by applauding the fighter.
the latter seems to me to be a stronger possibility, especially given the adjectives used to describe physical weakness or emotional cowardice. most of which seem to be aligned to feminine characteristics, funnily enough, while courage is described as having balls or being a man. [as an aside, i'll just express here how much i hate it when the new nz masterchef judge who keeps using the word "ballsy", even to women. seriously, is it that hard to accept the fact that you can have courage without having balls?]
the reason these questions come to mind is because the applauding of this young hero who has been able to physically fight back puts that much more pressure on those people who aren't able to fight back, for whatever reason. by making him a hero, we say that those who don't fight back are the opposite.
it's an insidious way of making the victim responsible for preventing bullying, and another example of a society that is unable to put responsbility squarely where it belongs: primarily, those who bully. but also those who applaud the bullying though not taking part themselves, those who watch silently but do nothing (unless, of course, they fear for their own safety), those who run institutions where bullying takes place and who cultivate an environment that encourages a lack of empathy, or at the very least haven't set up adequate structures to protect people from bullying. if our young hero was being bullied for three years, as is stated in the article, then surely the school is doing something wrong.
on top of all that, responsibility lies with a society that prizes the fighter and has contempt for the weak.
*thanx to the person who started an excellent facebook discussion which influenced my thinking on this: you know who you are