Today, I learned a new word from a CNN article, “The new slang teens use to insult boys who are ‘too nice’ to girls,” by Terry Ward: simp. Shannon tells Ward that her eighth grade son has been labeled as a simp by bullies. Simp, according to Shannon, means the bullies perceive her son’s behavior as overly nice.
Naturally, that shit must stop. Therefore, the bullies torment Shannon’s son. Wow.
Memories of My Own Simpiness
That brings back memories. I was targeted by bullies when I attended middle school, and I spent those two years — as well as several decades afterwards — wondering what I’d done to incur the bullies’ wrath. I had some theories about the nature of my sins. As a red-blooded American preteen, I craved a sense of belonging. I needed acceptance. I wanted friendship, and I probably wouldn’t have turned down popularity if it had been offered to me.
Perhaps I tried too hard. Maybe my body language was awkward and my smile conveyed nervousness rather than warmth. Could be I stared too admiringly at the cute boy on whom I had a crush. Possibly, I offered unsolicited help to people, too.
Instead of perpetrating the cruelty, mockery, and aggression that dominated the school’s culture at the time, I chose kindness. In short, I was a simp, too, assuming the word can be used to describe girls as well as boys.
My middle school years ended in 1977. If my experience in receiving negative feedback for practicing kindness was an aberration — a hiccup in normality — then the world should have righted itself by now. We should be back on track. As world citizens, we should be pursuing civility and demonstrating respect, if not necessarily affection, for everyone. Except that’s not happening.
Rush Limbaugh, King of the Bullies
Instead, millions of people are mourning the loss of radio host Rush Limbaugh who, during his lifetime, turned nastiness into an art form. Cruelty amused him and made him rich, famous, and powerful. Mockery entertained his fans, and turned them into devout followers and imitators.
Limbaugh possibly helped elevate a similarly unkind individual to the presidency of the United States. It’s been said that Limbaugh created Donald Trump. Trump apparently repaid the debt by giving Limbaugh a medal for bullying.
Unfortunately, Limbaugh served as a recruitment poster for bullies and an incubator for bullying. He tolerated no simpiness in his universe. In fact, he demanded that anyone suspected of simpiness be made to suffer until they capitulated, recanted, or joined his tribe of misogynists, racists, bigots, homophobes, and xenophobes. He shunned people like Shannon’s son and me.
That was entertainment, folks. Millions of people tuned into it. Rush Limbaugh became a millionaire on the strength of being a bully.
His schtick worked. Rush Limbaugh is dead, but the bullying he modeled, and the bullies he empowered, live on.