Seeking Justice: Emily Bazelon on Bullying, SCOTUS, and More

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The October term for the U.S. Supreme Court brings a varied caseload concerning religious freedom in prison and First Amendment rights on the Internet. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty)

Emily Bazelon is a senior editor and court watcher at Slate, a Politics Gabfest regular, and the author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. She discusses the re-issue of her book in paperback, recent cases of bullying including the Miami Dolphins locker room scandal, and a little about the current Supreme Court cases on the docket.


Emily Bazelon

Comments [24]

Barbara from Long Island

Who do you turn to when the people paid to help you bully you instead? I was chosen by my now deceased mother to be the executrix of her estate. I called my only sister to come (from out-of-state) to help since she had handled her mother-in-law's estate. She came … to help herself by filling her SUV with numerous valuables & left for home - & then hired a vicious attorney. After she left, $1,000 cash was missing from the house - part of the money was given to a neighbor to have a memorial "party" which I knew nothing about & was not invited.
The estate attorney took $6,600 and broke his contract. The Surrogate Court said he was overpaid, but he refused to return any money. I tried to hire another attorney. He SCREAMED at me, talked over my conversation and left me physically shaking. While I was searching for a third attorney, my sister's attorney harassed me by coming to my house and scared me to no end. He filed a complaint with the Surrogate Court Judge who never heard my side of the story since I had no attorney. My executrix pay was completely taken away after 2 1/2 years of work including selling the house myself & holding twenty-two tags sales. I mangled the inside of my lip while sleeping from the nightmares. She had previously taken our mother to court to try to take away her home. The Judge threw my sister out. My sister bought my mother's 2nd home & then sold it for double.

Feb. 21 2014 12:46 AM
Carol from Brooklyn

Does her work cover workplace bullying?

I had a hair-raising bullying situation last year where my co-worker and immediate manager engaged in systematic bullying. Similar to schoolyard bullying, it was traumatizing (which I also dealt with as a child). But in many ways it much worse because their methods were subtle enough to be acceptable within corporate culture (i.e. undermining and embarrassing me, lying to and about me, etc.), but damaging enough to make life hell for me. All of which made it difficult to work productively -- which strengthened their case against me.

I finally went to HR to get it sorted out -- and the situation got WORSE!! They retaliated by giving me a bad mid-review, thus building a case to have me fired. I was completely powerless ... until I went to federal agencies and confirmed that my rights had been violated because they had reprimanded me for posting about my plight on Facebook, as well as for talking to co-workers about it. Their reprimand is expressly forbidden by the NLRB's, as it constituted "concerted activity" and was therefor protected speech.

So, yes, Facebook saved my job.

I got a lawyer and went to the head of the firm and told him I was prepared to take legal action. Suddenly, they realized that my work situation was improper, transferred me to another department, got rid of the HR manager, and the former manager and co-worker are apparently forbidden to even talk to me.

So the ending is more or less happy for me (though I still have nightmares about it). But it's still very worrying that these individuals were able to take it as far as they did, with no repercussion whatsoever. And I had been (I thought) a valued and trusted programmer here for 13 years.

Feb. 20 2014 04:50 PM

…and, when the Christian Science KOOKS decide that anyone in their employ should not have access to bypass surgery when their hearts blow up!?!?


Feb. 20 2014 12:43 PM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Of course I'm a racist and misogynist, so what do I know?

Feb. 20 2014 12:19 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

"just because you start a store doesn't mean you lose your religious rights."

Ed, actually you do, when it's in the public domain. I can't start a business as a protestant and refuse to hire or serve Catholics, because "it's against my religion."

Feb. 20 2014 12:03 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

This whole concept of businesses or corporations as "people" is preposterous. They are legal entities for purposes of doing business and taxation, but they are not individual human beings and any ruling of the Supreme Court or any other U.S. court to the contrary is horse hockey.

Hobby Lobby is a business which is comprised of human beings and the human beings that make Hobby Lobby function should not be prohibited from engaging in any lawful activity, including the use of women's healthcare services, which were affirmed by Roe v Wade and the Affordable Health Care. For those conservatives who claim that Hobby Lobby is correct, they seem to forget that they are in direct opposition to one of the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and whether or not they approve of that Amendment, it is the law of the land. If they attempt to prevent others from accessing their rights under that Constitutional Amendment, they are committing a federal crime.

Feb. 20 2014 11:51 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Ed from Larchmont: Hobby Lobby will not prevail in any way. If the Supreme Court finds in their favor - which is highly unlikely - the buying public will boycott them and they will go out of business. In addition, they will not get any female employees who may want to use the full range of health benefits that the Supreme Court has affirmed in Roe v Wade as well as the Affordable Care Act, and relatively few men work in hobby stores, so they won't have any employees.

However, the Supreme Court can't find in their favor precisely because of Roe v Wade and the Affordable Care Act.

You keep forgetting that not everyone on the planet is Catholic or Christian or shares your beliefs, and We, The People, should be permitted to exercise our own beliefs within the confines of the Constitution.

Feb. 20 2014 11:45 AM

@Ed from Larchmont

"Hobby Lobby will win, the religious rights of the people who started the store..."

WRONG! Your religion can't decide what is medically necessary for OTHER PEOPLE. Because you pay into a pool that covers reproductive services, it does not mean that you 1) support their use or 2) must use them.

My taxes buy A LOT of bullets, bombs and other methods to kill people. I have never killed anyone. Hobby Lobby, Sisters of Charity, and others should lose.

Feb. 20 2014 11:44 AM

The separation of Church and state also protects the us from the infiltration of NUTS like Ed from Larchmont.

Feb. 20 2014 11:43 AM

Of course the people in Virginia voted against Ed from Larchmont.

Feb. 20 2014 11:42 AM
John A

We all know that Citizens United was a logical hack and has to go. How long it will take is another problem. Sixty years perhaps? Can congress patch around it? Terrible stuff.

Feb. 20 2014 11:41 AM

Screw Hobby Lobby!!

If you don't want to use contraceptives, DON'T USE THEM.

DON'T try to SHOVE your religious BS down your poor employees throats!!

Feb. 20 2014 11:41 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Hobby Lobby isn't preventing people from getting contraceptives, they just don't want to pay for it. Justice Ginsburg made some statements which make one think that religious rights will win here.

Feb. 20 2014 11:39 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The separation of Church and state also protects the church from the infiltration of the state.

Feb. 20 2014 11:37 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Hobby Lobby will win, the religious rights of the people who started the store - just because you start a store doesn't mean you lose your religious rights. This will go on for the many other suits in this area.

Feb. 20 2014 11:35 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Of course the people in Virginia voted against same sex marriage.

Feb. 20 2014 11:33 AM

What role do people we elect like Michael grimm or the Nj governor/thug have on our bullying culture

What role does the Iraq war have

Feb. 20 2014 11:29 AM
Juli from Skillman, NJ

No. Bullying does not make somebody stronger. It makes people angrier and more hurt. It is damaging. It is abuse - plain and simple.

Feb. 20 2014 11:12 AM
John A

If you have to teach power, be sure to teach politeness more.

Feb. 20 2014 11:11 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Teach weaker kids how to fight back, or let them have the right to carry a stick to hit the bully back with. It should be part of the school curriculum giving weaker kids boxing classes or other self-defense courses.

Feb. 20 2014 11:11 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

My mother had told me that the way to deal with bullies is to ignore them. She never knew when I was bullied in school, although I was.

During junior and senior high, I had several experiences of being physically bullied and I did exactly what my mother said. I was provoked, poked, prodded, hair pulled, etc., but I just went on about my business and eventually the bullies got tired of being ignored and stopped.

I guess that means that part of the bullying culture is positive reinforcement when their target reacts; not reacting puts a screeching halt to that.

Feb. 20 2014 11:09 AM
Amy from Manhattan

How can authorities, from school administrations to sports team management, be held accountable for stopping bullying? Too often they refuse to acknowledge that it's a problem. And would it have been an option for Mr. Martin to go public about the bullying he went through without leaving the team?

Feb. 20 2014 11:06 AM
John A

I'm dissatisfied with the 'has to be a power imbalance' definition of bullying. If a fight goes on forever, it's a balance, therefore nit bullying? if one party drops out, well, then it's a de-facto power imbalance. Sounds like the definition of infinite fighting. Unsatisfactory.

Feb. 20 2014 11:05 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Please discuss Obama's ongoing bullying of Israel.
Ms. Bazelon - does that make Obama a generic testosterone-fueled schoolyard bully ... or just a closet anti-semite?

Feb. 20 2014 10:54 AM

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