Sunday, 7 August 2011

Dear Readers,
In law when offenders say have been found guilty of domestic violence, the defence will appeal to the judge for a lenient sentence based on two key mitigating factors.
The first being that the defendant is a person of positive good character, and that his " bad behaviour " was completely out of character. The second factor ( which often links into the first ) is that the defendant was provoked to such an extent, a reasonable person would have responded and reacted in the same way.
Provocation is often used to incite others to lose control. In the context of a bridge club it appears in the guise of a repeated verbal assaults, a particular nasty form of psychological bullying. Players who set out to provoke others are in my view cowardly, nasty, sadistic and mean. Since many are extremely practiced in this dark art using clever, devious and subtle ways of inciting others to " go overboard ", their malicious intent is cannot be denied.
Rattling, goading, needling, baiting and unnerving players is often a tactic to unsettle vulnerable opponents. This can be very effective is establishing that all important competitive edge. For instance if an unscrupulous player sees his next opponent as one who loathes and objects to psyches, then this is the perfect opportunity to stick one in on the first board they play. Whatever the outcome the rattled opponent will not stay calm and collected for the remaining boards. Moreover, there is every likelihood when he/she gets angry, a complaint will go in about his/her behaviour, compounding their distress and inability to think straight.
When committees hear complaints about explosive outbursts, those charged with disciplinary breaches will often claim they were provoked. Yet I ask myself, how many of their claims are fully investigated and taken into account as mitigating factors ? Are those responsible for the provocation ever brought before the committee to face disciplinary charges ? I think not !
Players who indulge in clever, devious and subtle provocation are all to often allowed to get away with it. They rarely get into trouble, and if questioned deny all responsibility. Proving malicious intent is difficult. As a result the full force of zero tolerance sanctions are directed at those who responded badly to provocation, .......but never at the perpetrators. Such injustice.
Kahlil Gibran , a great poet, philosopher and prophet , made some very profound and revealing observations about human behaviour, which all of us should to take on board :
- " The guilty is oftentimes the victim of the injured "
- " And still more often the condemned (man) is the burden bearer for the guiltless and unblamed "
Indeed, what he is alluding to is the notion that the wrongdoer is in reality the victim of crimes committed by those who claim that an injustice has been done against them. If for instance a bridge player violently reacts to yet further cheating or slow play tactics by opponents , is he not the victim of two far greater crimes ? Has he not become the burden bearer for those who, in the minds of misguided onlookers, appear guiltless and unblamed ?
Therefore, it is my contention that many who fall foul of zero tolerance policies are victims of crimes committed against them. Victims of provocation. Victims of psychological bullying. And although two wrongs don't make a right, some tolerance and understanding needs to be applied when acknowledging the mitigating circumstances surrounding their alleged misconduct. However, what is far more important is that zero tolerance policies should target those who are the root cause of unpleasant incidents at the table.....players who, by inciting others to sin, commit a far greater one.
Yours fighting for justice, Rebecca

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