The Bully

Stories about bullies seem to reappear on a cyclical basis. Local TV news generally pictures a trembling child, partnered with a dialog of half-witted solutions such as, “We just need to improve our communication with the misunderstood bully”. Some even suggest that fault lies with an unjust society and the victim. This was not always the case. There was a time when the story would have shown a trembling bully running for his life.

In elementary school, I was confronted by the bully. I put him in a headlock and ended his reign of terror. In Jr. high school an over-matched schoolmate was accosted by the bully. I stepped in and put the bully in a headlock again. That was how my friends and I solved the bullying issue for those who couldn’t. By the time ‘We’ had entered high school a generally bully-free atmosphere had been established. ‘We’ the enforcers included about five hundred athletes and our coaches.

The bully also roams the world of commerce. In another life I owned a stereo shop. That’s what we called an audio shop in 1976. FM broadcasts, spinning LPs, plus high fidelity cassette and open reel recordings filled our shop with music. That was the scene when the bully, an agent from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), approached our front counter. The bully flashed his ID and demanded payment. Did you ask, “Payment for what?”. He maintained that our use of music in our shop was unethically profiting from the work of their ‘poor’ artists.

Although my first impulse was to drag his bully butt into our warehouse and put him in a headlock, I didn’t. Instead, I calmly asked the agent to follow me to our main sound room. He did. I then pointed to shelves that held more than 3000 albums purchased with our dollars. I also steered him to a smaller constantly changing collection of about fifty albums that we featured in our daily demonstrations. Many of these LPs were from relatively unknown artists. And many of our customers drove to their favorite record shop to buy these LPs after hearing our demonstrations.

Given this, I maintained that we didn’t owe ASCAP or their ‘poor’ artist a dime. On the contrary, if anyone was due compensation it was our shop. The artist he professed to represent profited from our demonstrations. I put my hand out and said, “Pay me or get out of our store!”. My brother/partner and staff then joined me as we chased the bully out our front door. We never again saw a bully from ASCAP.

Recent headlines have put the spotlight on another bully, the IRS. The mere mention of those three letters can put a chill in an American conversation. That chill is a response to an intimidating army of more than 100,000 employees with 74,000 pages of tax code that can be used to seize your home, car or truck, bank account, and business. And now the even colder headlines revealed that the IRS had crossed a dangerous line. The IRS was used as an intimidating tyrannical tool of a political party. It probably affected an election.

Part of the story was displayed on TV. Brave, not trembling, Americans sat before a Senate hearing and told their story. They described how the IRS used its power to intimidate their groups. The IRS had targeted these folks because they held political views contrary to the President of the United States. It has also been revealed that the IRS had targeted hundreds of other groups and thousands of individuals. Ironically the hearing even produced a lame attempt by Senator Jim McDermott of the state of Washington to blame the victims. At least the Senator didn’t suggest that they just needed to improve their communication with the bully.

This is serious stuff. This bully knows your name. This bully has your number: address, phone, email, and social security. This bully knows how much you earn, and how you spent it. This bully knows which charitable organizations you give to. And now this bully is adding another 100,000 agents with an additional 16,500 pages of regulations to implement the Affordable Care Act. Yes indeed, the bully will soon have your medical records.

Given the sorry totalitarian track record of the IRS, I think it is now reasonable to ask, “Will your political opinions affect your access to medical care?” A year ago that statement would have sounded extreme, ludicrous, and paranoid. Yet in light of the recent avalanche of revelations exposing our government’s abuse of power, political cover-ups, and other scandals, it now sounds very credible.

Let’s put some perspective on the situation. This type of bullying news is not really new. The tyrannical bully has plagued mankind since man crawled from the cave. History books offer scores of examples. In their day, our Founding Fathers put the bully in a revolutionary headlock. They then followed with a miraculous document to protect us from the bully. It’s the law of our land.

So, here’s the choice. We can fill the TV screen with pictures of trembling citizens partnered with lame ‘Senator-McDermott-type’ obscene diatribes. Or ‘We’ can put the bully in a constitutional headlock and chase their bully IRS butts out of town. I suggest the latter. Then let’s follow up by taking aim at the remaining horde of government bullies. Let’s ask them to follow us to our back rooms and kick their bully butts.

Visit my website Ed’s AV Handbook.


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