“You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but who wants to catch flies?” ~My journal, about 1978
In high school and college, I knew a spastic, chaotic, somewhat annoying character named “Gray.” Gray had very little perspective on his self-image, and routinely pissed people off. One example was when he parked sideways in two parking spaces at our dorm. Someone retaliated by opening a burrito and squishing it onto his windshield.
In spite of Gray’s douchiness, he had an odd innocence about him, possibly because he just wasn’t all that bright. As a result, we let him hang around.
In my sophomore year of college, David Dundore was my Adams Center dorm “resident advisor,” or RA. Brenda Koos was the Adams Center Coordinator, and was in charge of the entire four-building dormitory.
One day Dundore came into the dorm room I shared with “Skip,” with his chest all puffed up, and said something like, “I know you know who’s been setting fire to the posters on the bulletin board, and I want you to tell me who did it.”
Of course we knew who it was. It was Gray. But Dundore’s machismo and bullying stopped us right in our tracks. No way were we going to tell him anything.
The next day Koos summoned us to her office, and Skip had the moxie to bring a tape recorder. We were both very careful not to say anything incriminating, and Koos and Dundore told us that as college students we didn’t have any constitutional rights to silence.
Why do people think this is the way to behave? Bullying doesn’t work, at least not against anyone with any self-respect. I don’t know. (For a while in the 1990s I had a boss who was a bully, and he got maybe 40% effort from me.) Maybe douchebags like Dundore and Koos dealt with a lot of weak-minded, timid fools. But they didn’t get any information from us, and they made a permanent enemy out of me. I suspect that to this day, they remain bullies, and that the results of their bullying are similar to the ones they got that week with us in 1983.