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October 2013

I Was Bullied.

By Brian Dann


BullyI was bullied.  When I was a kid, for most of my childhood I was bullied.  Kids find something to pick on and if they see they are getting a reaction, that’s all they need.  With me they got a reaction.  My childhood was a textbook case of knowing who your true friends were because my true friends stood by me and those who were not either joined in or did nothing.  Most of the time, emotionally I managed to deal with the bullying.  Along with my friends, I had a supportive loving family and a real creative talent for art and music that gave a focus to my life and brought me real joy.  But there were times when the bullying was still just too much.  When I finished Junior High School, the school held an eighth grade graduation ceremony.  All of our loved ones were there, we had caps and gowns, we all walked in to Pomp and Circumstance, and I was so happy, not happy I was graduating, happy it was over, so I thought.  You see someone, and I don’t know who, spread some rumor earlier in the year that had something to do with me and masturbation and possibly involving being gay.  All I know is that there was a group of kids who as I would walk down the halls would make a “swish” noise with their mouth, over and over again, referring, I guess to masturbation. Often they would do it on the bus on the way home and sometimes they would just call me gay or a fag, which I found odd and frustrating because I wasn’t gay.  The kids were relentless, cruel as kids can be, and unfortunately they knew it bothered me and that only gave them more of a reason to keep it up.  I was an easy target.  I was little, skinny, I had huge crazy curly hair, I was terrible at sports, and I let them get away with it.  I had no idea how to deal with it, how to handle it, how to get them to stop, or at the very least, how to let it just not bother me.  So when the principal called my name at that eighth grade graduation I stood up to get my diploma, looked at my parents with a smile on my face, then realized that every kid on that stage, quietly was saying, “swish, swish, swish…” over and over and over again until I sat back down and the next name was called.

I didn’t go to ninth grade with those kids.  I just needed a break from them.  I needed to go somewhere where no one knew me and I could start fresh, where I could let the last few years of school and all the bullying and teasing wash away, where I could have some time to be in a more positive place, to deal with this.   So I spent my first year of high school at a small private school on the North Shore. In that time, without the constant teasing and bullying I was able to learn about myself, I found my confidence, my own self-worth.  I still wasn’t any good at sports but because it was required, I was on the soccer team and even though we only won four games out of ten, we had the best record in four years, and I had a blast.  With some help and guidance I was able to realize that a bully can’t define who I am, that I define who I am, and I realized that one person’s opinion doesn’t matter unless you let it matter.  I was lucky.  I had parents who I could go to, and a father who was like having your very own motivational speaker.  And when I was ready to go back to those kids, to the high school where I knew they would be, I did.  A week after 10th grade started I told my parents that I don’t want to be at this little private North Shore school anymore and I went back to the public high school knowing that no matter what was thrown at me, my reaction to it would be different.  The teasing, the bullying didn’t stop, but this time it was different, because I was different.  I was a geeky artist and sat with four football jocks in English class who tried to find every way they could to get under my skin, but they couldn’t.  There was one kid who for some reason that I still can’t explain would follow me out of school every day and just scream names at me. He was crazy. Some kids laughed at him, no one from the school ever did anything, and I just kept walking and never let him get to me.  Then finally, one night, about a week before I was to graduate from High school, I was walking down the street, just around the corner from my house with my friend Doug, when a huge Cadillac convertible pulled up with the entire football team piled in the car.  They were following us and yelling all kinds of things at us, but at that moment I realized I had had it.  This was over, high school was done and I was going away to college and no matter what was about to happen, I had survived and life was about to get a whole lot better.  This one act may get me killed but it will be with a smile on my face. I stopped walking, looked at that car, raised my arm high in the air and gave the entire football team the finger.  It seemed like it was happening in slow motion and as I yelled the words “FUCK YOU!” I was thinking to myself, “What the FUCK are you doing?!”  The Cadillac stopped, the entire football team piled out and me and Doug ran for our lives, and even though I knew there was no way I was going to out run these huge assholes, and I was about to get the shit beaten out of me, it was the greatest feeling in the world.  I ran as fast as I could but eventually ran into an area I could not get out of so I fell on the ground covered my head and waited for it to end.  When it did, I was bruised, but I stood up to them.  I said Fuck You to the entire football team and made it out alive, but I knew that it was not really the football team I was saying fuck you to, it was all of the people who at one time or another thought they could get to me, it was to the school system who had no clue on how to deal with bullying, and it was to the person that I was before, before I realized that if you are confident it does not matter what others think, if you are true to yourself nothing can keep you down, and that a bully only wins if you let them.

The thing is, no matter what I had to deal with as a kid, I never had to deal with Cyber-Bullying.  Technology has brought bullying to a completely new level and the things that make Facebook and Twitter, Tumbler and texting so great are also the things that for our kids can make bullying deadly.  According to


  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
  • Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University.
  • A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying.
  • 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above.
  • According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying.


We are our children’s advocates and they must know that they can always come to us if they have been bullied, and we must never turn a blind eye if our kid is accused of being the bully, thinking that my child could never do that or writing it off as he or she was just playing around.  They must know that we will not tolerate bulling in any form, and that just because someone is different, bullying is never alright.  We live in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic world.  We live in a world where being openly lesbian, gay, bi, or transgender is becoming more and more accepted.  And whether a kid is straight, gay, black, white, Indian, Asian, Hispanic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, fat, thin, short, tall, athletic or artistic or whatever, differences are something to celebrate, to learn about, to experience.

Talk to your school.  Find out what there policy is on bullying.  Ask if they talk to their students about bullying.  Ask if the students are aware that they can anonymously report bullying so that they have no fear of retaliation.  If your kids have a computer, a smart phone, monitor their activity and tell them you are doing so.  Get there passwords and let them know that they can only have their devices if they share there login info with you.  This is not about snooping on them, it is about protecting them.  Never let your children have a computer in their bedroom, but always in a public place where they can’t lock the door, and you can see if they are being harassed online or not.  If they don’t like this, well that’s ok. It’s not about being popular it’s about protecting them, and one day when they have kids of their own they will understand why you did what you did.

And one last thing.  If you have not seen the movie Bully, watch it, then watch it with your kids, then tell everyone you know to watch it.  Then go to and purchase The Bully Project Educators toolkit that includes a copy of the movie Bully and give it to your child’s principal so that they can watch it and share it with every teacher and student in their school.  I just did.

The day I wrote this was October 17th which is Spirit Day, the official day to take a stand against bullying.  But we shouldn’t need a special day to take a stand.  Our kids are too important to only do something on one day.  I was bullied.  Chances are you were too, or you were a bully, or you knew someone who was bullied. Bullying is not just kids being kids.  It is not just a phase.  It can be life or death.  It is serious.  It is your child.


Bully Trailer #1

For more information about bullying check out:

Stop Bullying Speak Up/Cartoon Network



How To Fix The Debt Ceiling

By Brian Dann


STOP the presses, call the President, alert John Boehner, tell Ted Cruz to shut the f**k up already, because I just figured out how to solve the Debt Ceiling crisis!  It’s so simple and I cannot believe that nobody has ever thought of this before!   Here we go. Are you ready?  You may want to sit down for this.  The way to solve the debt ceiling crisis is… get rid of the debt ceiling!  There, problem solved, no debt ceiling, no crises.   Ok Congress, make it happen.   I will now take my Nobel Prize for economics.   Oh I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “Is Brian really as attractive in person as he is in his blog photo?” Oh, go on, you make me blush, and the answer is, no.  That was taken twenty something years ago by a professional photographer.  Now I’m distinguished looking and wise beyond my years.  But you’re also thinking “That’s just crazy talk!  How can a country function without a debt ceiling?  Our spending would be at record highs and be greater than revenue!  How absurd!  We would have to borrow money from the rest of the free world, maybe even from China!” That’s right Einstein, kinda like were doing NOW!  You’re also thinking, “Isn’t the Debt Ceiling supposed to stop us from spending too much?”  Well if that was the case then why did we have to increase the debt ceiling 78 times since 1960, 48 times under a Republican president and 28 times under a Democrat?  I know, the notion of running a government without a debt ceiling is just plain insanity, isn’t it?  What country in their right mind would possibly dream of doing that!?  Weeeeeell, actually… all of them, except for two, the USA and Denmark, and just like us Denmark had to raise their debt ceiling as well. But unlike us Denmark has raised their debt ceiling… ready for this?… once, not once a month, not once a year, just once… ever.  Oh and indecently, Denmark has very high quality health care that is free for all citizens and visitors, and is paid for by a tax that doesn’t even come close to what the average American or American business pays yearly for health coverage, plus co-pays, plus deductibles, plus uncovered procedures, plus…you know I’ll just stop there.  I could go on but I think you get the point.  So if no other countries besides the USA and Denmark have a debt ceiling, and the debt ceiling concept has done absolutely nothing to curb our spending in regards to generated revenue, and if the only thing the debt ceiling has accomplished is to turn our congress into bickering school children who won’t share their toys, while jumping up and down whining and crying because Barry Obama wont give up his Supreme Court Certified Supersonic Turbo ACA ObamaCare Hot Wheels Transformer action figure for a lump of coal!…what then is the purpose of having a debt ceiling?
The debt ceiling was first created in 1917 by congress but it only covered debt related to war and a few other expenses.  It was expanded in 1939 to cover all government expenses.  And for a long time it worked.  Congress raised it as needed and did not use it as a bargaining chip to change laws they did not like.  It also worked because congress used to create and approve these crazy things called budgets.  Today the Republican controlled house won’t even allow a budget meeting to happen so we have not had a budget for years.  If they had a budget meeting they would actually have to negotiate with Democrats and g-d forbid that should happen!  You see, as any responsible American knows, a budget sets guidelines for how much you will spend for the year and on what you will spend it on.  If you try to live without a budget you have no guidelines for spending and you inevitably end up spending much more than you intend to.  So lately congress, instead of passing budgets to control spending, just keeps spending and spending and spending, since there are no guide lines telling them when to stop, and here’s the kicker. It’s all on credit!  Congress basically has a Visa from the Bank of China with a trillion dollar limit. Eventually they have to go payback what they spent but since they have spent more than the debt ceiling allows them to pay back, they have to raise the debt ceiling or default.  Here is where two problems arise.  First unlike Denmark, congress never raises the debt ceiling high enough to account for all the money they will have to pay back and to avoid having to raise it again for a very long time.  Secondly, The controlling party, in this case the Republicans in Congress, who have now decided that since they are still having a hissy fit that Barack Obama was elected President, and by the way I would never suggest that it has anything to do with him being black, they will now oppose everything this President will ever stand for, and instead of raising the debt ceiling like congress used to, they risk the good faith and credit of the United States by threatening to not raise the debt ceiling unless the President pays whatever ridiculous ransom they dream up, which in the present case includes repealing the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare as it has come to be known.  Actually there is a third problem.  Lately congress will only pass the debt ceiling for at the most a few months which means congress will continually waste all their time arguing about raising the debt ceiling for a few months and will get nothing else accomplished like immigration reform, increased funding for education, fixing our infrastructure, feeding the homeless, or pretty much ANYTHING that really matters! 
So if the Dept Ceiling causes so many problems, and is doing nothing to control spending, and is taking time away from pretty much anything that really matters… let’s just get rid of it.  Control spending by passing a budget and sticking to it.  Or create a constitutional amendment similar to what Germany has that says debt can only exceed the GDP by .35%.  Actually my idea of getting rid of the debt ceiling altogether is not something I can take full credit for.  In fact I can’t take any credit for it.  People far more intelligent than me thought of it first, people like Warren Buffet(Chairman and CEO Of Berkshire Hathaway), Tim Geithner (former Treasury Secretary), Ben Bernanke (Chairman of the Federal Reserve), Larry Summers (former Treasury Secretary), Bruce Bartlett (Former Senior Policy Analyst and Treasury Official), Ezra Klein (Washington Post), Alan Greenspan (Former Federal Reserve Chairman), Robert Rubin (Former Treasury Secretary), Paul O'Neill (Former Treasury Secretary), and the list goes on*.  But if we did this, if we did this completely logical thing, it would remove the one thing that the Republicans have… their bargaining chip.  They would lose their ability to put their utter distain for President Obama above the financial and physical welfare of not just the people of this country, but the world.  We don’t need a debt ceiling.  We need to put people first, not politics, we need compromise, not shut downs, and the Republicans in Congress need to finally accept that a black man, with the middle name Hussein, STOP the presses…Won…Twice.


 *11 Smart People Who Want To Abolish The Debt Ceiling