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Trent Gilliss's picture

John, you are not alone. The definition of bullying is one of those slippery terms that allows for some interpretation, depending upon who you are, what you've experienced, where you come from, and so on. The outpouring of support in her community is what struck me as germane to our civil discussion.

On our Facebook page, Stephen Parker asked a similar question:

She is quite composed and, yes, civil, but how is the viewer's email - even if hurtful to her - an example of bullying?

Here's the line of response to his question — and possibly yours:

Libby Nickel: "You're fat, therefore you are a bad example for 'the children' and should change your ways." -> Not bullying?

Renee Sharpless Bartovics: "So glad this is going viral- She is a newscaster in the big town not far from me- Keep on telling it like it is!"

Anna Johnson: "it's weight bias, the person implied she was unfit to be a role model because she was fat. It became bullying when the person sent the email."

Shelley Moore: "Commenting negatively on another person's weight is unacceptable, whether it's done the chickens*** way (by email) or to their face. It's uncivil, mean-spirited and is always meant to put the person down and make them feel badly. The most obnoxious thing about this man's nastiness is how he delivers it wrapped up in sanctimony and phony caring 'for the health of humanity.' There's something truly vile about someone pretending to do good when they're really intending to do damage."

John Peterson: "The coward who sent this hurtful email has propelled this articulate, confident, and heretofore local personality onto the national stage, where her message will inspire millions. Thank you Krista!"

Rob Jones: Bullying in the sense of using 'superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants' I'm not so sure so sure. Where's the superior strength or influence? Telling someone something they already know about themselves may be not productive or helpful but the "hurtful" concept is somewhat subjective...does it hurt because it's true? Is there a way to tell someone something unpleasant without being hurtful? Does perceiving something "hurtful" make it so? While I don't agree with the emailer's ideas about the newscaster and her weight, I didn't find his language offensive. He expressed his opinion in a relatively private forum in reasonably well toned language...there was no power imbalance, no use of fear for manipulation, no public humiliation. I'm no fan of bullying, nor am I fan of overuse of the concept either. Hurt feelings alone are not evidence of bullying."

Paivi Kristiina Salo Karna: What the e-mailer did was unacceptable because he does not have a relationship with the anchor that would give him the right to approach such a personal subject. What does he know of her struggles with weight? Does he have any idea how difficult it is for some to keep their weight at a reasonable level? Based on his e-mail I doubt it. Only those who are close to us, our family, our closest friends, our doctors, those with whom we have a relationship of love and/or trust have the right to approach us on such a personal level, and if the goal is to encourage then it needs to be done with care and understanding. He definitely crossed the line."

Lori J Statler: "Maybe it wasn't bullying, but it sure was a dick move."

Victoria Williams: "This is so awesome. However, the jackass who wrote the message responded with the same type of criticism. I guess some people just don't get it."

Renee French Eells: "Listen to this wisdom - amazing wisdom, beautiful lady!"

Mauricio Barriga: "Rob Jones, the writer intent was not to share an opinion, but to hurt and humiliate. Bullying is never acceptable, even if the tone is reasonable."