Crying Wolf

Recently, a visitor to this blog site accused me of being a bully because I had included a graphic in an article. Including the graphic in the article fell well within the Fair Dealing clause of Canadian copyright law. That being said, the visitor posting the comment felt he or she was well within his or her rights to allege that including the graphic was online bullying of Jenny Potter.

Bullying is defined as the use of force or coercion to abuse or intimidate others, and is characterized by behavior that intends to gain power over another person or group of persons. The law has identified four basic types of abuse:

1. emotional (sometimes called relational);
2. verbal;
3. physical; and
4. cyber.

According to Emily Bazelon — a senior editor at Slate, a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine, and the Truman Capote Fellow for Creative Writing and Law at Yale Law School.– she wrote in an OpEd piece for the New York Times that states:

“[quote] The definition of bullying adopted by psychologists is physical or verbal abuse, repeated over time, and involving a power imbalance. In other words, it’s about one person with more social status lording it over another person, over and over again, to make him miserable [end quote].”

Many states, including Indiana, have codes that clearly define what constitutes bullying at the school level.  The Indiana Code IC 20-33-8-0.2 states that bullying is:

“[quote] … overt, unwanted, repeated acts or gestures, including verbal or written communications or images transmitted in any manner (including digitally or electronically), physical acts committed, aggression, or any other behaviors, that are committed by a student or group of students against another student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, intimidate, or harm the targeted student and create for the targeted student an objectively hostile school environment [end quote].”

Using a graphic in a blog article within the context of Fair Dealing as identified in Canadian copyright law has absolutely nothing to do with bullying. But posting a comment to a blog, using someone else’s email address, and accusing the writer of a blog article of bullying for using a graphic within the context of Fair Dealing as identified in Canadian copyright law certainly says a lot about the person falsely alleging online bullying.

It’s getting to a point with some people that they yell “bully” or “online bully” as often as the boy who cried wolf in the well-known Aesop fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

Of course, there’s also the matter of impersonation which is defined by the dictionary as a deliberate attempt to deceive someone by pretending to be another person.  In posting a comment to a blog (even this one) using someone else’s email address and purporting to be someone he or she is not, is definitely an issue worthy of discussion.  But that’s a blog article for another day.

Elyse Bruce


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