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  • The Birth of a Bully - The Death of a Hero:

    The Birth of a Bully - The Death of a Hero:

    Etymology of the Word “Bully”:

    I keep six honest serving-men; (They taught me all I knew),

    Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who. – Rudyard Kipling.

    After my son was murdered by an incomprehensible, cowardly act of random violence committed by another young man, the questions “what, when, how, where and who” were answered very quickly. “Why” was not and may never be fully understandable. So I have made an ad hoc attempt to arrive at a reasoned assertion that only a bully could and did commit such an act of violence by using his fist to kill a man who was never before known to him; he killed a stranger.

    There is enough information available to us to write many books about bullies and their behavior. However, I have tried to simplify the very complex issue of bullying and arrive at my one-sided fallacy as to why my son was hit from behind as he was walking away from a disagreement. After several months of assimilating information about this type of behavior, I concluded that this man is a bully; this is probably not the first nor the last time he bullied; he comparatively fits a lot of the known factors about bullies. And yes, he will have a criminal record by the time he reaches the age of 30.

    The etymology of “bully”; over a period of 475 years, the word bully has undergone a surprising evolution in its use and meaning – from honey or lover to tyrant. It began with a positive thought as a term of fondness used originally when referring to both genders, then evolved only to refer to the male gender and its first known use was in 1538.1

    Shakespeare used the word bully in many of his plays; he used it circa 1599 in his play - Henry V - Act IV - Scene I when Pistol spoke lovingly of his King; Pistol said to King Henry: “The king's a bawcock and a heart of gold, A lad of life, an imp of fame, Of parents good, of fist most valiant: I kiss his dirty shoe, and from my heart-string I love the lovely bully. What is thy name?” 10

    As recently as 1904 the word was still being used in its positive sense of the word as meaning superb or excellent when Theodore Roosevelt, in reference to the White House, coined the phrase his “bully pulpit”.

    The phrase “bully for you” means good for you and is still in use today. Confusing? Yes.

    I know in my school years (1953-1965) and my children’s school years (1975-1990) although bullying behaviour existed, no one was talking about it or facing it as a group, community or society. Bullying issues constantly arose in the school system and the playground; in most cases, no one intervened. Issues were settled between children with the word and the fist. When adults did intervene, they dealt with them on a one to one basis, quite often parent to parent.

    It has been in the last fifteen or so years, since the media and society in general has been focusing on the behaviour of bullies, that the word has taken on its more sinister meaning.

    The noun “bully”, according to one theory, possibly arose from the Middle Dutch Word “boele” meaning lover; a relative of Middle Low German “bōle” or Middle High German “buole” – lover. The word originally referred to (Archaic) a fine person or a sweetheart. The meaning of the noun “bully” then deteriorated over a period of 200 years or so through “sweetheart to blusterer to harasser of the weak” which was mostly applied to the male gender. This may have been used as a connecting sense between "lover" and "ruffian" as in "protector of a prostitute", which was one sense of "bully". In the twenty first century, Bully may be a befitting definition of a pimp.

    It is now simply defined as a person who is consciously and habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller, weaker or different people; a person who intentionally humiliates another person; a hired ruffian; a thug; pimp. A bully today can be thought of as either male or female.

    The verb “to bully” was first attested in 1710. Simply defined it means “to treat in an overbearing, intimidating or abusive manner or to make one's way aggressively. Bullying is intentional, habitual, aggressive and repetitive behavior, involving an imbalance of power.

    Bullying often takes place in front of a group of uninvolved bystanders. Sometimes in the school yard situation the bystander is even the teacher. The un-involved bystander plays just as an important role in the act of bullying as does the bully.2

    To paraphrase Albert Einstein: “The world is not a dangerous place because of those who perpetrate evil, but because of those who stand by and do nothing”.

    The bully seems to have the ability to create the illusion that the group of bystanders actually support him/her – not the victim. The bully also seems to need the perceived approval of the on-lookers or bystanders to justify his/her behavior. The bystander validates the bully’s behavior.

    According to one study,3, bullying behaviour seems to begin in earnest when students enter the 6th grade (the transition from elementary school to middle school), at first being immature behaviour, then goes through a metamorphosis as the bully ages and grows up. Once adolescents realize that they can rise higher in the social hierarchy of the school by putting people down, the behaviour seems to become contagious.

    It is estimated that 1 out of 4 elementary school bullies will have criminal records by the time they are 30 years old.4

    A new study presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children with mental health disorders are three times more likely to be the bully, which points to a child’s home life. A child’s home-life is the most influential determining factor in the success of the child as an adult.5 The problem persists in the school setting because the bully and his/her parents don’t see themselves in that context.

    Once out of school bullying still continues in college, the workplace, adult social settings…..

    When does freedom of speech cross the line into bullying? A recent example is that of a Fort Worth high school student, Dakota Ary. In his German class, he said he believed homosexuality is wrong, and was suspended for it. His teacher called the comment an instance of possible bullying. Ary's suspension was later reduced. Words are a powerful tool and this student was merely expressing his opinion, not bullying anyone. Bully/bullying are terms that are often misused today presenting some challenges in defining a bully or bullying behaviour.

    Bullying takes on many forms and guises. Following are a few examples of bully/bullying from sublime to extreme examples out of potentially thousands:

    1. I was thinking of people on facebook who post such terms as "….repost this message and only some of you will and I know who will repost…" OR “…I will be watching and I know who you are……..” etc;

    2. Any figure of authority or power who uses intimidation as a primary means of motivating others; an example of this may be a teacher or a coach; a neighborhood "protection racket don"; a national dictator; a childhood ring-leader; a ruthless business CEO;*

    3. Social exclusion – for examples some religions and cults; some religious leaders;

    4. Bullycide – a relatively new term. It is a portmanteau word (2001). Quite often referring to suicides of bullied victims;

    5. Happy slapping;6

    6. School yard bullying;

    7. Parental Bullying can be a socially acceptable form of parenting;

    8. A marital partner;

    9. Gossip;

    10. A terrorist or a terrorist organization;**

    11. Punches to the head;***

    12. Sexual orientation as in homophobia; 8

    *Wikipedia - According to psychologist Pauline Rennie-Peyton, we each face the possibility of being bullied in any phase of our lives.

    **Modern Terrorism is an example of extreme bullying and is the systematic use of violence and coercion by an individual or by a group that is intended or meant to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of people or a particular person for political, religious or monetary purposes; those who perpetrate that type of act is a “terrorist”. These two terms are often used on a grander scale at the global level. Before the advent of modern terrorism, terror was practiced by governments and law enforcement officials quite often within the legal framework of the state. Today, this practice is not as common. Since WW II, individuals are using this method to bully others for their cause.

    There is no international definition of terrorism. Numerous scholars can’t agree on a working definition for the word. So far to date, such acts (by definition) are not considered illegal in some countries.

    *** Another example of extreme bullying. A punch to the head changes the life of the victim and their families forever – approximately 1 punch in 1200 end in death; the rest can end with crippling injuries and/or hospital convalescence and the cost of millions of dollars to the general public.7


    In the end, the “why” will probably never be fully understood nor accepted by any of Brian’s loved ones, including myself. The stage was set leading up to the death of Brian Ludwig; the bystanders were in place; the bully was waiting expectantly in the wings; Brian’s back was to the man and he pounced.

    The force of his punch produced a similar effect as whip-lash when someone is rear-ended during a car accident. It is the angle of a punch, even at low velocity, that produces the whip-lash effect. The low velocity punch will cause minor head injury. 9

    There are many different types of punches. The type of punch delivered to the back of Brian’s head was probably the “upper cut or straight” punch. Thrown to the back of the head, the head first goes forward, and then throws the victim backwards.

    The bio-mechanics of the fist-punch depends on the size of the man throwing the punch. The average fist velocity is 11.5 m/s. The severity of the punch is determined by the mass of the punch plus velocity plus kinetics.

    The fist velocity combined with the mass of the punch thrown to the back of Brian’s head was so great it threw a 6 foot 3 inch tall, 260 pound man backwards quickly. Even if Brian was not knocked out by the punch and remained conscious, his self-preservation instinct never kicked in. Not enough time.

    I have read statements made by individuals who have witnessed a person fall and hit their head on the pavement. In all cases the observers have said they will never forget the sound of a human head hitting the pavement……

    This is the real face of an act of random violence and I want you the reader to look it directly in the eye and think about the devastating effect of head trauma. Turn your gaze away and another one-punch homicide will happen.

    AUTHOR: Angela Ludwig - April 2013.


    1 http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=bully\

    2 http://www.athealth.com/Consumer/issues/BulliesVictimsBystanders3.html

    3 http://today.ucla.edu/portal/ut/bullying-jaana-juvonen-233108.aspx

    4 http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/problems/bullies.html#

    5 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/22/bullying-mental-health-problems_n_2001583.html

    6 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/manchester/4563419.stm

    7 http://www.onepunchhomicide.com/

    8 http://www.seanslastwish.org/#!vstc0=who-was-sean

    9 http://bjsportmed.com/content/39/10/710.full


    10 http://www.opensourceshakespeare.org/views/plays/play_view.php?WorkID=henry5&Scope=entire&pleasewait=1&msg=pl#a4,s1


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