Kennedy, Don’t Mess This Up
Emily Bazelon answers Reddit’s questions about bullying and the term’s big Supreme Court cases.
prophetben: I'm a huge fan of the podcast and your Supreme Court reporting. While, I'm not a parent, the subject of bullying interests me. I saw the documentary Bully that came out in 2011 and it kind of blew me away that kids are so horrible to each other these days. My question is, what's your pitch to me to buy your book? From what I've heard, your book has a "how-to" approach to dealing with bullying which seems like it would appeal mostly to parents and educators. Did you write the book just for them or also for childless non-educators who are generally interested in sociological trends?
Emily Bazelon: Oh so glad you asked. I did write the book for parents, educators, and teenagers—my dearest hope is that kids will read it, at home with parents or at school. For you: there's lots of psychology and sociology in it, and here's a big thought: violence is down in our society, and so we have the wherewithal to concentrate more on psychological harm. Bullying is a significant form of it, so let's see what makes sense in this arena. And also a story-telling pitch: the book is mostly a narrative, and it will make you think about your own growing up. Not in a bad way, but evocatively. Or so I hope.
Is that at all convincing?
jmoyer: Do you believe there's any reform needed for the Supreme Court, such as term limits or more justices? Do you think any such reforms are even possible?
Emily Bazelon: I'm a big fan of term limits. I like the 18-year limit, which would pretty quickly give each president two picks. It seems about right. And it would mean that we wouldn't have a small number of people making such huge decisions for the country for decade upon decade. When the framers came up with life-tenure, life spans were a lot shorter.
tompen: In your experience (I think I've seen you on twice), how much of the Colbert interviews are edited to make him look good? Is he really as spontaneously brilliant and funny as he appears? Or is it the magic of good editing to make good television?
Emily Bazelon: Each time I've been on, the segment has been edited to make it work best for TV. It's more about helping the guest look better than helping Colbert. And yes he really is incredibly quick and smart. What strikes me most when I'm in the studio is the energy level it takes to do that show night after night. It's electric.
fricks_and_stones: How big of a problem is sexism in the modern journalism world? I’m male, and whenever I listen to the Political Gabfest, I find myself thinking through the same series of three thoughts: a) This Emily Bazelon woman is amazing; she’s extremely smart, articulate, and successful, and at the same time she exudes a very youthful, attractive, and approachable persona, which leads me think b) Wow, I’m kind of sexist, which leads me to c) Maybe that’s a requirement for female in the media, a double-standard requiring them to be both intelligent and attractive.
Emily Bazelon: Forget that this is about me, because that's embarrassing—why is this sexist? I can see that it could be sexual, but if a woman had the same feeling about David or John, would we think twice about it?
UVdogastrophe: What is your favorite and least favorite thing about living in New Haven?
Emily Bazelon: I love my neighborhood and the Italian grocer on my corner. I don't like how I can't ever flip off bad drivers—too small a town, might know them!
Jolimont: I really enjoy your work. Thank you. How do you put up with Plotz?
Emily Bazelon: I love that in Plotz's AMA, someone asked him why he gives me a hard time on the Gabfest, and he asked if it was me writing in. (No.) Now in my AMA, I'm getting all the sympathy. You know, I love David (and John, too, of course). I mean really. I've been known to bring tissues into his office because he's someone I can safely cry to. He's also one of the smartest people I know, so he always makes my work sharper. And of course the show would be no fun if he didn't take shots!
Cannae216: Which is your favorite Yale a cappella group?
Emily Bazelon: The Slavic Women's Chorus! I just hope it still exists.
Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor and writes about law, family, and kids. Her forthcoming book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Empathy and Character. Find her at email@example.com or on Facebook or Twitter.