Your editorial on town bullying was quite insightful [February 2012]. It’s obvious that bullying goes way beyond interactions between kids.
Interesting that our coastal towns are, for the most part, smaller communities whose residents have a wide range of professional success and accomplishments in life that are considerably above the norm. You would expect that common interests and goals could easily be established through thoughtful, respectful discussions, but as you point out, this is often not the case.
My recent personal experience in Manalapan confirms your point that, while not all, there are elected and appointed officials, and some of their followers, who assume an air of self-importance and immunity from community rules. “We/they” lines are drawn and, when challenged, the power structure isolates, ridicules and even maligns those who question.
It’s bullying at an adult level intended to diminish and cut off discussion and to assure contrary views are not considered. The negative tone and sniping that results is very detrimental to a community, and civility simply goes by the wayside.
The tone of civility in Manalapan has been compromised and changed, in my view, with the elections of 2010 and 2011. Harsh, nasty campaign tactics polarized the community — and the results of our most recent commission appointments this past week reflect the outcome. Two incumbent commissioners were appointed uncontested along with a new commissioner who stood unopposed, in part because alternative candidates refused to step forward and deal with the negative undercurrents that prevail. Bullying at its best.
Thanks for raising awareness on this subject. It’s not just kids who are affected. Bullying’s impact on communities is poisonous, and responsible adults need to do everything possible to act as adults and to use discussion and common sense in setting agendas and resolving conflict.
— E. Peter McLean