The bully will begin by observing its environment much as a predator does when its watching a herd of antelope. The bully is looking for physical weakness, social insecurity, or preexisting low status. Sometimes the bully will begin by committing an act that is indistiguishable from any other street crime. It will physically assault its victim, often in full view of others in order to establish a reputation for violence. This appears to have been Mitt Romney's preferred strategy. More often the bully will behave in an overtly imposing manner or commit an act best described as obstruction.
Imposing behavior can take numerous forms but here are a few examples:
The bully will sit down next to its victim during lunch and begin eating the victim's food as if he were invited to do so. It may engage in conversation with others at the table and become angry with anyone who doesn't laugh or otherwise appear impressed with its domineering behavior. The bully may reach over to its victim's desk during class and borrow something. Pushing the victim aside and taking something from the victim's locker is pretty common as well. Shoving the victim aside when the victim is using a piece of equipment that everyone is expected to wait in line for and simply taking over is a favored tactic of schoolyard sociopaths. The basic purpose of this behavior is to demonstrate to everyone that the bully has both the ability to impose itself upon whomever it wants to and has the ability to escape any significant punishment.
Obstruction is similar to Imposition but involves preventing the victim from doing what he needs to do rather than taking something from him. Bullies commonly stand in the way when the victim needs to get into his locker, use the bathroom, enter class, enter the bus, etc. The bully simply gets in the way and forces the victim to either ask repeatedly for common courtesy or to attempt to shove his way past the bully. Assholes raise their children to believe that this justifies committing assault and battery under the rationalization that the bully is only defending itself.
Take care not to confuse bullies with harmless pests. A bully is establishing the right to impose harm upon others by placing himself at the top of the social hierarchy, or at least placing himself above his victims in an environment where allegedly mature, caring adults truly believe that some adolescents are more equal than others. A harmless pest is usually an individual from a socially dysfunctional family environment who makes inappropriate remarks or tells the wrong joke at the wrong time. He or she is easily fooled into behaving, at least verbally as a bully behaves, thus creating the false appearance that he is being a bully instead of being led into trouble by the real bullies who are egging him on. As offensive as this often is to bystanders, it's relatively easy to tell the difference. Unlike bullies, harmless pests are not physically imposing. They do not engage in the Predator Stare while insulting others. And unlike a bully, when told loudly and in front of others to shut up and that no one thinks they're funny, they will become embarrassed, not violent. Bullies are establishing or reinforcing their social status. Telling one of them to shut up will almost always precipitate a violent reaction, a violent reaction that will be defended and justified by just about everyone.
With both strategies, Obstruction and Imposition, the bully wants the victim to defend itself either physically or verbally or both. In the bully's mind and in the minds of all bully enablers this justifies any action the bully chooses to take.
On rare occasions, the victim turns out to be far more violent than the bully expects. The victim surprises the bully by doing some real and morally justifiable damage. This is where bystanders and adults in authority really get to demonstrate their cowardice and duplicity. The victim will be punished to the fullest extent of the law and the bully will be encouraged to take revenge. From the viewpoint of a potential domestic terrorist or serial killer, the entire community becomes a hateworthy and deserving target.
Domestic terrorists like Timothy McVeigh and the Columbine killers obviously witnessed and experienced this process. The only variable here is how much terrorism it will take for Americans to stop coddling violent sociopaths like David Salmon and start confining them to prison cells until they're too old to harm anyone.
Tomorrow's domestic terrorists are watching. Will David Salmon get off in the tradition of South Hadley? Will American voters put a violent sociopath in the White House?
Stay tuned folks.