Fluttershy and Gilda S01E05

A brony once bragged to me that he had proudly taken a punch in the face and, in the name of tolerance, declined to defend himself. If turning the other cheek in that particular way gives you genuine peace, then you are a better man than I, and far be it from me to try to take that peace away from you. However, it bears mentioning that being loving and tolerant does not require you to become a punching bag.

Friday was Spirit Day – a day of awareness of the bullying of LGBTQ youth. Now we’ve all had to deal with bullies at one point or another, and LGBTQ kids tend to have it worse than most, but regardless of whether you are gay or straight, or if your orientation/lifestyle is all over the Kinsey scale, bullying is everyone’s problem.

Bullies have always existed, and they always will, but that’s not the real issue. The trouble is us – how we choose to deal with bullying when we see it happening.

There is no such thing as “doing nothing,” because if you see somebody getting picked on (gay or straight), and you walk away, you are making a choice. You are making a choice to turn your back on your fellow man. There’s no such thing as “saying nothing,” because if you hold your tongue in the face of injustice, then you’re really saying “I’m okay with this,” and you’re saying it loudly. Sometimes, love and tolerance don’t go together, because you just can’t love your fellow man and tolerate his tormenter at the same time.

The good news is that there are far more decent people in the world than there are sadists. If we all, as a race, intervened whenever we saw bullying going on, then bullies would not be able to get away with doing what they do. Unfortunately, people, by and large, tend to walk away. Whether you are the one taking the punch, or if you just happen to see it on the streets or in your school hallways, love and tolerance does not mean shying away from conflict. It does not mean turning your back on those in need. It does not mean denying yourself the basic human dignity of defending yourself.

If you see somebody getting picked on, intervene with a word. Call them out on their evil deed. Make the job of the bully harder. If you see somebody getting assaulted, for Celestia’s sake, defend them. It may be the scariest thing you ever have to do. You could be risking serious physical injury. You could get in trouble. But at the end of the day, you’d want that person to do the same for you. Everybody is faced with this choice at some point or another. Do the right thing, or do the easy thing – walk away.

No one can tell you how to handle yourself in these tricky situations, but the next time that you are confronted with this difficult dilemma, do yourself a favor and stop for a moment. Look around you. If you don’t do the right thing, if you don’t pitch in, if you don’t put yourself on the line, NOBODY ELSE WILL. In an interview following BroNYCon, John DeLancie said that love and tolerance is a beautiful thing, but that you should never be expected to tolerate the intolerable. Sometimes love and tolerance means loving yourself enough to deem your own personal dignity worthy of defending. Sometimes it means tolerating a stranger’s differences enough to defend him/her should they be in trouble.

So to victims of bullying and abuse, rest a little easier knowing that there are millions of people who know how it feels. Take comfort in the fact that it not only gets better, but that you can make it better, because if there’s one thing that bullies hate, it’s victims who fight back. Self defense is a basic human right. Respect yourself. To witnesses of bullying and abuse, do something, do something, do something.

There are those who say that this is not the pony way. They clearly have never seen Dragonshy. Fluttershy can do it. So can you. If you can, intervene with your wits. A well timed and a well-spoken word can disarm a situation more often than you think. If there is absolutely no other way, intervene with your body. A black eye is a small price to pay for a golden heart.

-Sprocket

Help! My Heart is Full of Pony! is a new column featuring reflections on love, tolerance, friendship, and other pony feelz.

  • Spazz

    nullHIT THE DECK.null

  • Anonymous

    What does this have to do with ponys?

    • Nothing directly but I do find it quite entertaining to watch everyone get their virtual panties in a twist, it was either this or yet another Seth MacFarlane show.

      • Pineapple

        Gosh, it’s almost like bronies claim to be super tolerant and then act like dicks anyway.

        • Bingo, its definitely not the majority of the fandom but i have seen multiple incidents where basically the so called “Love and Tolerate” motto is used to either defend someone who shouldn’t be defended due to something they’ve done, or as you just said, basically act like a dick and when someone calls you out on it, love & tolerate…yo.

        • Sprocket

          It’s sad that some people do this. Truly sad.

          Love and Tolerance still means something to a lot of people. Good people. People who don’t “act like dicks,” as you say.

          It’s even more sad that some folks, even within our own community have come to associate the phrase “love and tolerance” with that dickish behavior, even though the abusers of that term are without a doubt in the minority. How cynical.

  • So How About

    Those Ponies?

  • Anonymous

    Hahaha. How can you honestly think this fandom is about Tolerance with all the discrimination Bronies are responsible for, such as the transphobia leveled against Purple Tinker and Yamino?

    • Anonymous

      >implying bronies = /mlp/

      and then there’s this faggot

      • Jody Morgan

        Are you honestly claiming that only the 4chan bronies display hatred and intolerance to those they disagree with? Ever see Equestria Daily or Ponibooru/Derpibooru react to a controversy? Face it, there’s a lot of great bronies, but there’s also a lot (a majority, I suspect) that are perfectly OK insulting and trolling others.

  • Beth

    Very good article, and thank you for writing it. c: I think we need a motto change, though. More than “Love and Tolerance”, what we really need to do is “be nice” :P It’s the path I follow. Everything good can be traced back to being nice. Picking up rubbish, for example, is being nice to the environment, to the people who would otherwise have to pick it up, and to yourself, because you feel better on the inside for having done something good. Applied to a situation where someone is getting picked on? Intervene, of course. Ignoring things that aren’t nice is just as bad as actively doing them yourself. Stand up for what’s right, but do it nicely. Be nice.

  • Excellent and timely sentiment. Very good article. Remember, “love and tolerance” is a fine thing, but it’s foolish to approach it, or really anything, as an absolute. Life takes a little common sense and good judgement.

    There are those who will be displeased at the idea of refusing to allow abusive behavior, those who thrive on conflict and negativity, but they do not speak for the fandom. They are not the majority. If it feels that way, that is all the more reason to demonstrate our kindness and support all the more strongly, loudly, and often.

  • Lee

    I am glad this was published. It hopefully pushes a lot of fans to look within themselves and examine their homo/trans phobia. I was at a convention and noticed that a lot of fans are really proud that despite what many on the outside might think, that the brony community is largely heterosexual men. So proud that sometimes they get pretty angry at those that are on the LGBT spectrum.

  • When I was a child I learned a very valuable lesson from my dad. He and my uncle went to confront a young man living nearby who was speeding up and down the street during Christmas holidays and endangering many children. The kid punched my dad and my uncle was winding up to return the favour. My father stopped him and had him call the police instead.

    Because my father and uncle did not return the violence, the case was completely clear in court and the young man did jail time and had his licence taken from him. In the end this was a much more effective means of ending his dangerous behaviour.

    Yes, take action in the face of injustice. But be careful how you risk your life. Often it is more effective to get help. Yes, the police are not always as helpful as they should be. But it’s legitimate to get friends to back you up.

  • How appropriate, considering we’re going to (Spoiler alert) get an episode about bullying this season. Someone on TV Tropes speculated that the bullying episode would also simultaneously be the Scootaloo episode Madeleine Peters teased in her Everfree Radio interview: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WMG/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicRevealedEpisodes

    • Jody Morgan

      Thanks for the spoiler alert!

  • Shandy

    Hey, does anyone know any websites where I can go to read about that TV show ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’? When I look it up all I find is social justice blogs. :S

  • Supertide

    I see what you did there Shandy, I applaud you.

  • Applepie

    I am hyped about that bully episode.

  • Applepie

    Sounds great.

  • Articulous

    We EqD now

    • Nope, otherwise I’d be making me some brony bucks. Plus its an article with more than ten words.

  • Aristobleus

    I commented on the Facebook copy of this. Well Done!