Bullying: Learning through comedy

Today (Wednesday) is both Pink Shirt and Anti-Bullying Day and people wear pink in remembrance of a September 2007 bullying incident in Nova Scotia.

As the story goes, a Grade 9 student wore a pink polo shirt on the first day of school and was not only bullied but threatened as well.

Two Grade 12 boys heard about the incident and organized a campaign where a number of students wore pink the next day in response – the bullies apparently never picked on anyone again.

In the lead up to Feb. 23, there has probably been many reports on bullying statistics and also talk about how bullies are actually insecure people themselves and as those Grade 12 students in Nova Scotia showed, bullies can fade when confronted by a large number of people.

Bullying is a serious matter but I can’t help but think of two comical moments that illustrate what can happen because of bullying.

The first happens in an episode of The Simpsons entitled Bart the General, where Bart Simpson rallies children of Springfield – with the aid of Grandpa Simpson and military store owner Herman – to battle town bully Nelson Muntz.

The group hatches a scheme that sees Nelson bombarded by water balloons and eventually, a peace treaty is signed.

A classic episode that is funny and also mirrors the incident in Nova Scotia, in that bullies sometimes cower when confronted by large numbers.

In the Yuletide comedy favourite, A Christmas Story, bully Scut Farkus torments protagonist Ralphie Parker frequently when he and his friends walk to school.

Ralphie becomes enraged after one bullying incident and snaps, tackling Farkus and punching him repeatedly in the face. With the tide turned, Farkus ends up with a bloody nose and proceeds to bawl like a newborn.

A funny scene in the movie but not a funny situation as victims of bullying can build up a lot of resentment and anger that can manifest itself at unexpected times.

It also shows that bullies are not always as big and mean as they portray themselves.

There are reports that bullying may have been a contributing factor to the April 20, 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Columbine, Colo., where 12 students were shot and killed by two other students and unfortunately, that is no laughing matter and neither is bullying.