Bullies depend on victims’ silence, inaction by public

Published 1:00 pm Friday, November 8, 2013

Jonathan Martin is 6-foot-5 inches tall and weighs 315 pounds. He is not only huge, but athletic. That combination of size and agility led him to a career as a professional athlete: He is an offensive tackle for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. At 24 years of age, he is in the prime of his physical development.  

But Martin, an otherwise anonymous laborer in an industry of giants, is unique for another reason, one that has brought him national notoriety.

Martin is apparently the victim of bullying.

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On Oct. 28, the second-year player walked out of the Dolphins’ facility and has not returned. It was reported that his departure came during lunch, when he sat down among a group of teammates, all of whom picked up their trays and moved to another table. It proved to be the final straw, apparently. Since then, the NFL and the Dolphins, facing public scrutiny over the issue, have been looking into the matter. One player, Richie Incognito, was suspended from the team when texts and voices mails from Incognito to Martin that featured explicit language, including racial slurs, came to light.  

There is nothing unique about what has happened to Jonathan Martin.

But what may add a new dimension to the discussion is the environment in which bullying can occur. Victims of bullies are typically assumed to be weak, powerless people who exist on the fringes of society. Martin’s case defies that assumption. …

Interestingly enough, recently the Columbus City Council had an opportunity to confront a bullying situation of its own. Columbus school board member Aubra Turner has said that she, too, is a victim of bullying, thanks to her position on some issues that run contrary to the views of some in the black community.  

City Judge Nicole Clinkscales, who like Turner is black, has accused Turner of “tom” foolery — a thinly-veiled euphemism for being an “Uncle Tom” — after Turner has said she has been threatened because of her views.

It will indeed be interesting to see how the council responds to this incident, if it responds at all.

Will the council be silent? Bullies always count on it.

The better question: Will the good people of Columbus tolerate that silence?  

Consider the implications.  


The Dispatch