Larry Winget is a dangerous man.
The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller author would likely have his book banned and placed on the "no call" list for university commencement speakers.
Why? Because the professional motivational speaker believes the canonization of victimhood is making America weak.
Winget authored, "Grow a Pair: How to Stop Being a Victim and Take Back Your Life, Your Business and Your Sanity." The title alone would get his book banned at the supposed cradle of the free speech movement, the University of California at Berkeley. If there is one thing universities worship today it's victims. Once open-minded institutions of higher learning are now on the vanguard of political correctness squelching any idea or discussion that may offend the views or sensibilities of the "protected" groups du jour.
Winget argues that we walk down the street and watch people toss trash on the ground and never say anything about it. We allow people in movies to text and talk on cell phones ruining the experience for us and others by remaining silent and fuming.
Winget doesn't argue that we should get in people's faces. Instead he advocates people firmly and calmly standing up for themselves and not allowing themselves to embrace victimhood.
Porterville Mayor Cameron Hamilton said he was mentally referencing Winget's book when he uttered the words "all most people have to do is grow a pair and stick up for their damn selves" in speaking out against a plan to establish a "no bullying zone" around Burton Middle School in the Southern San Joaquin Valley community.
Gay individuals immediately took offense even though Hamilton's words weren't directly aimed at them nor was the "no bullying zone" their idea.
Of course it didn't help from their "victim" perspective that in 2013 the mayor sided with the council majority that voted down declaring June "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month" in Porterville, favoring instead "Community Charity and Goodwill to All Month."
Burton Middle School students believe bullying is bad. So does Hamilton who, by the way, is on the record supporting gay rights as well as being against bullying. The students wanted the Porterville City Council to create a "bullying free zone" around schools and provide directional signs to buildings that would serve as designated safe havens for kids to flee to in a bid to escape bullying.
Hamilton immediately after making his "grow a pair" comments following a presentation of the bullying free zone proposal by a 10-year-old female student from Burton Middle School said that perhaps if other 10-year-olds who want to stop bullying stood up for their peers being bullied it would be more effective than placing signs and setting up bullying free zones.
Hamilton's critics who are gay immediately went on the offensive claiming that since gay youth were bullied he obviously was talking about them.
Whoa. Bullying is bullying.
Gays haven't cornered the market at being the victims of bullying nor have fat people, kids with glasses, folks who talk with a lisp, kids that talk too fast, uncoordinated teens, or countless other "groups" that are the victim of taunts.
If we are bullied or don't like bullying then we have an obligation to stand up for other people when they are being bullied. It is as simple as that.
By creating non-bullying zones and such, we give the appearance of something being done when in reality we are avoiding doing the heavy lifting ourselves.
Hamilton, for his part, is also worried that bulling free zones would create the false impression of safety. As an elected official worried about the community's resources, he feared it would open the city for litigation if some youth sought shelter in a supposedly bully free building and was attacked or injured in some manner while seeking shelter.
While that may be a tad too bottom line-driven for most people, the point still remains. The real solution is for all of us to do our part.
We talk a good game. But if we think bullying is going away because a city posts signs and a building is designated as a bullying free zone we are simply making ourselves feel good by thinking we are doing our part when in fact we are passing the buck.
There is little doubt gay people are bullied. That should not happen, period. But to effectively combat bullying we can't simply pick and choose who should be defended.
We need to stand up to bullies regardless of who they direct their misplaced vile at whether it is verbally or physically.
Porterville - and the rest of America - would be well served if we all strived to stop being victims. We need to take our lives back.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.