It turns out that Richie Incognito was only the ring leader of a clique made up of two other members of the offensive line, John Jerry and Michael Pouncey, described in the article as Incognito's "henchmen".
So now this case starts taking on the form of the more garden variety middle-school monster. Only all grown up. And on steroids. And exponentially ugly.
According to the Times article, "If Incognito was the 'disease' plaguing the Miami organization, an unnamed player told investigators, Jerry and Pouncey had been badly infected."
And the symptom of their infection was meanness, wrapped in nasty jokes and cruel horseplay and played off as locker room camaraderie, fun, team humor. The kind of meanness that leaves the victim no defense and the aggressor innocent with the defense of , "Hey, I'm joking!"
But, of course, the point of this joking wasn't to make Martin laugh. The point of a nasty joke is never to make its victim laugh. The point of a nasty joke is always to bring another down, which gives the perpetrator a moment of satisfaction, a temporary release for whatever it is that grips his or her troubled soul.
And a bullying personality is always on the lookout for a soft target.
Which is why pretending to laugh off insults is never effective for stopping a bully. After all, nobody enjoys being insulted in any guise and the bully sees the victim's false laughter as capitulation as well as permission for others to laugh and a boost to the bully's reputation as a funny jokester.
Trying to ignore mean jokes is no more effective than trying to laugh them off. A bully knows when he or she has hit their target, and a bully will keep trying until he or she hits the bulls eye of forcing an angry or emotional reaction from his or her victim. After which the bully may feign innocence, no intention to hurt, and may even ask forgiveness. There are many variations on the theme of bullying.
But in this case there's at least been some justice: Richie Incognito has been fired from the Miami Dolphins and his football career is in the dumpster, as probably will be the careers of his lackeys John Jerry and Michael Pouncey by the time the investigation is completed.
And some good may come of it: This incidence of bullying is being investigated, laid out, analyzed, dissected and presented in all its vicious detail on such a big platform that social scientists could use it as a research tool, study it as scientists study any other disease in hopes of finding a cure, or at least a treatment for those afflicted by the disease.
But can there ever be a cure for bullying? Doesn't really seem likely, though I like to hope that we, as the human race, are still evolving.
But in the meantime, here's to all the soft hearts and gentle spirits out there, those to whom hard, hurtful words are a foreign language and reciprocal meanness a garment too small. I celebrate all the nice people in the world and I'm thankful for you. And though you may yourselves sometimes have to suffer the meanness of others, never let the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" change who you are. You are a gift to the planet.