Neat Headline

[Content Note: Bullying; othering; racism.]

There is a story out of professional football today about one member of the Miami Dolphins, Richie Incognito, a white man, having bullied, harassed, threatened, and racially slurred a fellow teammate, Jonathan Martin, a black man. Incognito sounds like a real fucking asshole, and, among the many other takeaways from this story, there is a moral about the carelessness with which are accepted appealing but unreliable narratives about the racial harmony found in professional locker rooms.


NBC News is featuring an article on Martin's story with this headline: "Big man bullied: Jonathan Martin reminds us that victims aren't always the little guys."

The article itself is quite good, but that headline—yiiiiiiikes. "Reminds us." Who is "us" in that construction? It sure isn't the "big men" who are bullied, who need no reminder that victims come in all sizes.

Thus is the article undermined by its own headline, which others the very victims the article seeks to recognize and include.

It's such an easy mistake to avoid. "Jonathan Martin's case underscores victims come in all sizes." Done. No implication that Martin himself isn't one of "us."

And it's gender-neutral, to boot.

This isn't a "little thing." Othering is the thing about bullying. And any responsible media reporting on bullying should make a modicum of effort to avoid it.

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