We are a society that has come to consider mockery an acceptable form of public discourse. Whether it’s on a late-night comedy show, in a popular movie, or a political campaign speech, this form of public degradation is seen as “normal. We don’t care if a speaker’s words are vicious or denigrating, or even true — as long as they’re uttered with a smile and a joke line… But as mockery has grown increasingly acceptable in the public discourse, children and teenagers have also come to accept it as normal, and the consequences have sometimes been tragic, like suicides by teens who were cruelly mocked. (Mocking is a form of bullying, a way of asserting superiority by denigrating or humiliating another.)
Mockery is used by both Republicans and Democrats, in blogs on both sides. It is time to reject it. Read the rest of this inspired opinion column by Pamela Gerloff, co-author of Dignity for All: How to Create a World without Rankism (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2008).