Once upon a time there was a boy called Mardy,* who was an average student but was not popular at school, mainly because of the way his father, a single parent whose wife left him, had raised him.
Mardy was brought up to believe that he was naturally superior to everyone else and that it was fine for him to “defend” himself by getting his retaliation in first. His father’s rationale was that it worked well for him when he had been at school and made people fearful of offending him, but Mardy would do this unthinkingly, far too often and inappropriately. Far from making other pupils afraid to offend him, his failure to apply it more carefully meant that his aggressive behaviour made them increasingly annoyed and they made no secret of it.
A while ago Mardy was hauled before the Principal because of a gratuitously offensive essay he had written about the inferior status of girls which he circulated at school, no doubt to try to curry favour with the top dogs there. He told the principal that his father had read the essay and agreed with it and could not understand what all the fuss was about. Mardy’s father accompanied him to the principal’s office, where he was advised to write an appropriate apology for the offence he had caused, which would be similarly circulated.
He flatly refused, arguing that the article was true and many of his mates believed it. His father, of course, sided with Mardy against the principal – who, unfortunately, was far too weak to stand up for himself – and accused the principal of bullying his son.
The result was that Mardy was not punished for what he wrote, nor was he forced to apologise. No-one forgot it, not least because he did not allow them to do so, and he subsequently become even more arrogant and big-headed and hostile towards girls.
Every time the essay was referred to at school he’d go running home to his dad, complaining that he was being bullied. Dad made countless visits to the school and even threatened the Principal, which resulted in the entire school community being warned to leave Mardy alone. Far from helping matters it made them much worse.
The pupils were furious that the Principal was so spineless as to grant Mardy special protected status. Mardy and his father took away the entirely the wrong message, so Mardy’s behaviour towards the girls in his class, and towards female teachers, became even more obnoxious, and matters escalated culminating in a week where he was shunned totally even by the same top dogs who were initially impressed.
His Facebook page became the focus of calls for him to leave the school and there was a demonstration outside the Principal’s office to have him permanently excluded.
But nothing changed. The Principal remained weak, and the more people disagreed with Mardy the more obnoxious and verbally abusive he became and the more open he was about his hatred of girls and women.
Finally, a group of parents involved the school governors, who ordered Mardy to attend a special meeting in order to explain himself and provide reasons why he should not be permanently excluded from the school.
I wish that I could say that Mardy learned his lesson from this confrontation and that everyone then lived happily ever after, but Mardy attended the meeting and, far from being rude, was embarrassingly self-pitying. He said that it was plain that “everyone was against him” but that his essay had been fair comment and “everyone knew” that it was true so why should he apologise for telling the truth?
No matter how reasonable and keen to understand him were the school governors, the more belligerently self-pitying Mardy became – and was devastated and infuriated by turns when they found his behaviour so unfitting that he was excluded permanently from their school.
What conclusion can be drawn from this story?
We know that life sometimes imitates what passes for art.
For a true account, which mirrors this fairy tale, see here
For an insight into the damage done by an overprotective father figure see here.
Also, see CiF Watch’s post on the overprotective father, here.
*(“Mard” is a northern English term for wimpish)