By now, you all have probably seen the video of Casey Heynes, the bullied Australian boy who put the smackdown on his tormentor. If not, here it is:
I still get a thrill watching Casey defend himself and body-slam the twerp. Justice is so sweet!
Both boys have since been on news shows, talking about the incident and giving “their sides” of what happened. The “bully” is 13-year-old Richard Gale, and he suggests (though not with any great enthusiasm) that Casey had previously shoved him in the hallway and said “get to class” or something like that. Casey Heynes denies this, saying that he’d been bullied for years and that he’d finally had enough and just wanted it to stop.
And here’s the real point of my post. I believe Casey and I think Richard is lying. I believe this in part because, as I said above, his protestations that Casey had first bullied him don’t seem credible, both because of his marked lack of enthusiasm when he asserted this in his interview, and because of what we see in the video. He’s there, surrounded by his friends (one of whom is taping the incident on his cell phone), repeatedly coming after Casey, who is obviously trying to avoid the conflict. But it’s also because when I look at the two boys, I see “dumb aggressor” on his face, and I don’t see it on Casey’s. Richard is 13 years old, wiry, with a piercing over his left eye and “the look”. 16-year old Casey’s face says “placid, sensitive, minding my own business”.
We’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover. And it may well be that my impressions are colored by the fact that I already saw the video. But their overall appearances are certainly contributing factors to my determination of who the real bully is here. It’s not just their facial structures; it’s the look in their eyes, the way they carry themselves, the way they dress, and yes, whether they have facial piercings. I’m not willing to abdicate my own discriminating judgment or intuition in favor of a flawed theory of social equality, nor do I feel bound by the Rules of Evidence that require more than “he jes’ looks guilty” when we’re in a non-court setting. There are certain types of people, and their natures sometimes shine through their faces. To assert otherwise is, I think, to deliberately ignore reality.