As a Humanist I get asked a lot about whether I am speciesist. The answer is no I am not. But what has this got to do with bullying?
Speciesism is defined as: discrimination in favor of one species, usually the human species, over another, especially in the exploitation or mistreatment of animals by humans.
Speciesism is a way to justify the exploitation and mistreatment of animals other than human by humans. This mind set is similar to what bullies have.
By denigrating an individual so that they are seen as less than human, it makes is easier for a bully to exploit and mistreat that individual.
The problem is the attitude that someone has the “right” to discriminate, exploit or mistreat anyone. This is the mindset behind racism, sexism, ageism, and a host of other isms, including speciesism.
When I give trainings on this I always try to make it clear, the way the behavior manifests is just the symptom of the problem. Like sexual harassment. It’s a symptom. The disease (if we can call it that) is entitlement. People who feel entitled to exploit other people will find ways to do that. If they are dealing with a minority – they will use that against them. If they are dealing with a woman, they will use that against them. If they are dealing with a white male who defy’s gender norms, they will use that.
Their goal is rarely against a particular group of people (though they might justify their behavior that way). The goal is social exclusion and power. Until and unless we deal with that, as the goal, we will fail to get it to stop.
Getting bullying to stop can’t just be about the specific behavior. It also has to be tied to an understanding that discrimination and exploitation of ANY group is not ok and causes harm.