The art of amateur radio is a globe spanning activity, held together by radio waves and the promise of a community with a shared uncommon interest. The strength of a community depends entirely on the members of that community. Without the efforts of each individual amateur, our worldwide license to experiment is doomed.
You might ask yourself what part you must play in this?
Consider what would happen if a group of amateurs decided to transmit on an unlicensed frequency, or purposefully interfered with other legal users. It's obvious that the regulatory response to such illegal activities would be swift and left unchecked, it would spark the end of our hobby.
What prevents that from happening is our common purpose, our common interests, our willingness to address such behavior, or said in another way, our community standards. It's the thing that keeps us talking, sharing, learning, experimenting, and having fun along the way.
I've been told many times that I shouldn't expect all amateurs to be friends but consider for a moment the sheer diversity of our community. For starters we're scattered around the planet. We have different cultural and political sensibilities; we have different religions and expectations. We don't even speak the same language, even if you forget that the Japanese station you just had a QSO with was using phonetics not even close to their native language.
Those differences are mostly attributes of geography, but they don't end there. We have differences in our households and family structures, our work life and finances, our play time, and our interests. We also differ in age, skin color, gender and even our sexuality, orientation, and gender identity.
Even among all those differences, we are still radio amateurs together with our personal preferences for Icom, Yaesu, Kenwood or some other brand, our desire to use QRP or kilowatts, our need to use a Morse key, our voice, or a computer. We choose to use a repeater, or not, choose HF or not, like to chat, or not, build antennas, or not.
So, it's with all those differences in mind that I'm distressed to report that, yet another amateur has been bullied out of our community. An amateur who joyfully participated in this community, who made videos, wrote software, learnt, and shared. Like others I know, she was bullied in our community because she was different and it's not the first time, I've witnessed this behavior and it's not the first time I've called out this unacceptable conduct by so-called members of our community. Different, how you ask? Does it really matter, or are you asking to determine if there was a valid reason for making her feel uncomfortable?
To be clear, our community is a welcoming environment, filled with hope and joy, but there is a small rotten element in our midst that we need to rip out root and branch, much like we would if it was deliberate HF interference.
You might think that given that this abuse exists on reddit, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, QRZ, email, telephone, letterbox, in clubs and on-air, that it's a majority experience. That's not the case. The same individuals harass fellow amateurs across multiple platforms as entertainment causing untold harm to their victims.
The Standard You Walk Past Is The Standard You Accept. It's not just up to victims of bullying and harassment in a community to speak out. As members of our community, we amateurs have a responsibility to speak out also. Anyone who doesn't is part of the problem. Our community is so diverse as to never be one single thing. A bully is a bully, no matter which words are used to sugar coat it.
I'd like to invite you to consider any bullying you accepted in silence, either personally, as a witness, directly, or indirectly. This community is strong, it's resilient, it's resourceful, it's you and I and it's our duty to stand tall and speak out, loud and proud, about any victimization.
Even if you've never considered that this is happening in your community, look around and notice people leaving the hobby unexpectedly and examine why that might be the case.
You might ask what it is that you can do to help. For starters, calling it out at every occurrence is part of communicating to the victim that they're not alone. It tells the community that they are part of the solution. It tells the bully that what they're doing is unacceptable.
I host a weekly net where we talk about amateur radio and discuss issues like this as and when they occur. We've done so in the past and will continue to offer a safe space for members of this community.
I have and continue to offer my email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, for anyone who is struggling with this to discuss any bullying that they are dealing with.
I have experienced some of what this amateur has gone through at the hands of this community, and I will not stand for it any longer and neither should you. Keeping quiet and changing frequency is not the solution as time after time experience has proven.
Calling out a bully and any bullying behavior is calling out a vicious minuscule minority with a peanut brain who needs to be read the riot act. They are not welcome in this community. They are few and far between and we really don't need or want them in our midst.
In my opinion, the community must take ownership of this problem and address it directly, rather than sit on the fence and leave a victim wondering why they're on their own. If you are a victim of bullying in this community, I stand with you and if you are a bully, I'll do everything I can to call you out.
I'm Onno, VK6FLAB