Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Bullying ... Adult Style.

bully free

 As a celebrity you might expect her to be a target for trolls and bullies.  She accepts that.  But when a follower took offense at the comment "go kill yourself," and spoke out sharing the suicide of her own husband, everything took on a completely different tone.

 The statement made in response by the "bully" now identified as Tanya Heti, a mentor at Monash University, would be found offensive by most people.

 That the university defended her as her right to free speech is deplorable.

This woman is a mentor. 

 Bullying is constantly in the media.  I don't know how else you interpret "go kill yourself" to be anything other than bullying.  And the statement "no wonder your husband committed suicide" is also. 

This is exactly what I have been referring to in my other articles on bullying such as The Power Behind the Actions of BullyingTelevision, Bullies, and You (to name a couple).  Adults bully one another all the time in the things they say and do.  Discussion about any issue seem to deteriorate quickly into, not an exchange of ideas and opinions, but personal attacks that have little to do with the subject being discussed.  We as adults do this all the time but we excuse it under our "free speech" disclaimer.

Call it whatever you want.  It is the example we set for our kids and they are emulating us and we need to stop pointing at them and shaking our heads and start owning up to our own disgusting behaviour.

There are only 3 ways to teach.  The first is by example ...
the second ... is by example ...
and the third ... is by example.

Our children reflect the world they are raised in and as we all know by now .... "WE are the world..."


  1. First things first, on the internet and in the media is biased, and if you don't take such comments in jest, then you are setting yourself up for a fall.

    With a population of over 4 million people, New Zealand isn't exactly a "small" country. So when a "celebrity" formerly of New Zealand says ""New Zealand is small, nasty and vindictive. It's a tiny, little village ... a tiny country at the end of the earth", could you honestly expect no one to react to it?

    (read http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=10824673)

    Why should one persons biased and uneducated opinion ring true, just because she is "famous"? Anyone who personally knows Tanya would interpret it as a joke, something which I can personally vouch for. The fact that she runs a mentoring program should be reason enough to identify this as a joke.

    So let’s review as to how Charlotte Dawson reacted to the matter of “e-bullying”;
    - She re-tweeted Tanya’s tweet, causing her followers to in turn react and send out abusive messages. This was played off as "shaming the trolls", however one would have to be naive to see that this was the only reason for re-tweeting.
    - She made a phone call to Tanya to “challenge” her comments. What news articles don’t report however, is that the phone call was recorded, and Charlotte was swearing her head off.
    - Dissatisfied at the phone call, Charlotte then called Monash University in an attempt to get her sacked.
    - When the university refused to respond, she made the matter public, causing completely biased articles to be written by both journalists and bloggers, all the while making herself look as though she is the victim.

    This is coming from the “celebrity” who is just as much an advocate of e-bullying as anyone else (read http://www.realityravings.com/2012/08/28/charlottedawsontwitteratt/).

    Was Tanya’s comment justified? No, and she has apologised for it. But the lengths to which Charlotte has gone to try and make her life hell, is that justified? No.

    So thank you for taking the higher ground by exacerbating the situation and dragging her name through the mud.

  2. Thank you for you comments and input. I don't know any of the people involved in this. I appreciate that you are clearly upset at what appears to be unfair treatment and a negative characterization of someone you consider a friend. Unfortunately, when we put things out there onto social media, we lose our ability to then claim we want privacy.

    With social media, you have to consider not only what you say but how it comes across. Tanya may have been offended at what was said, and justifiably so ... telling someone to kill themselves is not a joke ... on any level.

    To carry that further and say what she did to a woman whose husband committed suicide was where it really crossed the line. I think that was more the point where Charlotte became enraged. I think she was clear in saying, as a public figure, and an outspoken and sometimes outrageous one, she fully expects to be a target herself.

    I was not really addressing the specifics of this event or the outcome as much as I was using it as an example of the way that we as adults have come to speak and deal with one another - whether we are kidding or not - and that THAT example conveys to our kids that this is how we deal with one another. Our kids bully because that is the language and the posturing they see of their parents and other adults.

  3. Are you serious? "Anyone who personally knows Tanya would interpret it as a joke, something which I can personally vouch for. The fact that she runs a mentoring program should be reason enough to identify this as a joke."

    What a feeble attempt to defend her, Anonymous #1. She is a disgrace to Monash University and is the last person who should be in a mentoring role.

    I too have lost someone close to suicide and it is not a subject to joke about.

    By the way, Tanya has dragged her own name through the mud. Making Tanya out to be the victim is offensive.

  4. I don't think ANYONE would interpret those comments as a joke. AND when you state something on social media, to then become angry that someone shared that is absurd. Most people are very aware that anything they put out there is out there. You can't blame the person for sharing it, or talking about it. If you don't want it shared. Don't say it.

    Suicide is never a joke. It was bad enough to suggest Charlotte kill herself but to say something to someone who has lost someone to suicide and suggest it was their fault was reprehensible.

    The fact this is seen as no big deal and a joke completely supports what I have said here and in the past that ADULTS model bullying behaviour.

  5. Maybe anonymous number 1 actually is Tanya Heti? Absolutely horrific to tell someone to go hang themselves. What Charlotte Dawson may or may not have said about New Zealand in the past has nothing to do with what was said on Twitter. Clearly Monash did take action because the story broke today and Ms Heti was already suspended. And I have not seen any evidence of an apology - maybe that was because someone took their twitter account down? Maybe because they were finally ashamed as well they should be? How about a public apology to the lady to whom the comments were addressed, the lady who lost her husband to suicide. How about Ms Heti put a public apology on youtube. May be then I'll believe she is sincerely sorry for what she has done.

  6. What she said was extremely offensive. She knows that, and has profusely apologised for it. The victim herself said she was not angry, but saddened by it all. But does one comment seriously condemn her for the rest of her life? That her children should suffer because of one comment?

    It was completely out of place and wrong. No one is arguing that. But it was a mistake. You can't honestly tell me you've never done something you regret. This is something that she's going to regret for the rest of her life.

    But how dare you to say that she is a disgrace to Monash University. She is one of the most caring and kind people I know, who would do anything for anyone. She's helped numerous students through her various mentoring programs that she has administered.

    She personally saved my life, and that of my friends. She gave us opportunities we couldn't have gotten on our own, giving us the chance to get out of south auckland and make a name for ourselves. To go to university, so that we could come out the other end and help those who were in our situation.

    THAT is the woman that she is. So what right do you have to slander her name, when you don't know her, or even know the full story? She made a terrible comment, yes, but don't do more damage than what has already been done.

  7. thank you to everyone for your comments. I find them extremely valuable to this whole debate. I think there are a couple of things that have to be looked at here.

    Firstly lets give the one point that the first comment was said in jest - to Charlotte. But then, once Tanya knew that people took it as offensive, she did not apologize, or stop, she made an even more damaging comment. THAT takes it from an "accident" to a way of behaving.

    I have sympathy that the fall out from this for Tanya and her family has been difficult and no it should not undo any good that she has done in her life. But neither should all the good she has done in her life give her a free hall pass. I also have compassion for the people who are bullied, adults and children, whose lives, and that of their loved ones, are forever impacted because of low self esteem, missed opportunities and even death. Death IS a lifetime consequence.

    I am sure all bullies plead that they just called the person a few names, it was a joke, no big deal. I am sure they are all uncomfortable when the tables get turned on them.

    But as a mentor Tanya will be well schooled in working through a difficult situation, learning from it, using it as a powerful teaching moment with her children and moving forward.

    She used social media to further hate, she seems less reluctant to use it to mend fences.

  8. Mike Steinberg29 August 2012 20:55

    Tanya Heti sounds like a Hone Harawira type with a sense of racial grievance and envy of europeans - she apparently called Dawson a "well to do white girl". Nasty piece of work - Monash should axe her.

  9. I do not know anything about Tanya and I do not want to be part of turning this around into a bullying campaign against her. I think this whole incident is beyond ugly in that even more adults have joined in. PEOPLE HOW CAN WE EXCPECT CHILDREN TO ACT ANY DIFFERENT WHEN THIS IS THE EXAMPLE WE ARE SETTING FOR THEM? MY GOD ... this is reprehensible. Are we that removed from compassion that somewhere in our minds we consider it ok to shout at someone else that they should kill themselves???

    Tanya will have to face whatever outcome the university decides and hopefully the results of her own soul searching which should allow her to grow and use the lessons to move forward and use this in her life in a meaningful way. I believe that is possible if it is within her heart to do so and we allow her to do that by not making this a witch hunt.

    As to the others who are now harrassing Charlotte ... that she had the courage to stand up and say this is not acceptable should be applauded. SHE DID NOT tell anyone to kill themselves and again, if Tanya did not want the world to know what she said, she should never have put it out there on social media.

  10. Just one more thing Anonymous number 1 - its not slander when its true. No one is saying that she didn't write those comments. Should she be punished forever? No. Should she man up and take responsibility for her actions - absolutely. Public apology - then let bygones be bygones.

    And Mike - I absolutely agree with your comment. Racist as well as bullying. I am stunned to think someone like that runs a mentoring program. I hate to think what they are encouraging in their mentees.