Casey Heynes is NOT a Hero

Casey Heynes is not a hero…

He doesn’t think so either. He wishes the whole thing never happened. “Asked if he was a superhero, he laughed and said: ‘No I wish I was.'” (Rosie Squires, TheTelegraph.com.au- read full article here.)

First, let’s take a breath and get some perspective on this specific incident.

This event is the latest example of the all too typical schoolyard bullying incident that involves a smaller kid, in this case Ritchard Gale, trying to impress some of his friends by picking on a bigger, more docile student- Casey Heynes. A group of Ritchard’s friends egged him on- again all too typical. These guys had been picking on Casey relentlessly for quite some time.

As the video shows, Casey had enough, power-slammed Ritchard to the ground…and walked away.

YouTube has removed the video from its platform- you can watch the video at TheTelegraph.com.au here…

Now Casey is the poster child for every kid that ever wanted to fight back against the bully, and Ritchard is a villain of epic proportions; he’s arguably becoming the object of more hatred on social network streams than actual criminals.

If we were not obsessed with viral social media this would have been a typical schoolyard fight- end of story. Instead we’ve got a global social media phenomenon that not only blows this specific incident well out of proportion, but actually threatens the safety and well-being of both boys.

Did the bully, Ritchard Gale, get what he deserved? Arguably yes- even his mother, Tina agrees. Despite erroneous postings that she was demanding that Casey apologize to her son, her perspective is that Ritchard got his just deserts and although misquoted, what Tina Gale actually said was that her son owed Casey an apology. Now that the pitchforks and torches are out, she is justifiably worried about her son’s safety.

Casey’s father is also worried about his son’s safety, particularly in light of his sudden celebrity. According to TheTelegraph.com.au, Casey’s father says, “There’ll be reprisals from other kids in the school and he still has to go to school somewhere,” he said. “He’s not a violent kid, it’s the first time he’s lashed out and I don’t want him to be victimised over that. He adds, “He’s always been taught never to hit. Apparently other people’s parents don’t teach their kids that.”

I want to be clear- I can’t find any reason to find fault with what this young man did. He was bullied for several years, often picked on for his size. He was apparently not socially adept and it seems that his school has a history of bullying and violent outbreaks- so much for the efficacy of their “zero tolerance” policy. Again from The Telegram:

“Students said violence was a daily occurrence with fights often filmed and posted online.

“’The fights I have seen here, it’s horrible. It really makes me feel unsafe,’ one said. A classmate added: ‘People pick on him (Casey) every single day, they hit him around and stuff, and he just got sick of it and let out the anger.’” (Read the full story here.)

You may say that violence simply causes more violence. That is certainly the contention of many child development experts and school administrators. My contention is that while a last resort, a physical response to an attack of this kind is warranted and in this case was justified.

I also credit Casey with remarkable restraint. That opinion may rankle some of the pacifists out there, but after he dispatched the threat, Casey did exactly the right thing- he walked away. Had he been acting out of pure rage as so many have opined, he likely would have continued to beat his assailant to a pulp once he had the advantage. Watch the video; even as some of Ritchard’s friends were obviously confronting Casey- perhaps to retaliate; Casey simply turns and leaves.

Violence is not the solution to the bullying issue- but it is sometimes the appropriate response in a specific incident. In this case, what would have been the alternative?

Some say Casey should have reported Ritchard and his friends to a teacher. Well- Casey had been there and done that. The school obviously wouldn’t- or couldn’t resolve the situation. At any rate, when, exactly would he have had the opportunity to make his report? Ritchard had at least two accomplices, not counting the kid shooting the video- and it’s not likely that kid’s intentions were admirable. The only time one of the little heroes stepped in was when one of Ritchard’s friends stepped in front of Casey after the throw and at that point, in my expert tactical opinion, it looked as if said friend was more than willing to continue the attack on Casey- not make the peace.

Casey may have had the opportunity to report the incident after the fight, but in the moment his job was to keep himself safe, not worry about disobeying politically correct school policy.

Others say that Casey had other, less violent physical alternatives and say his response was out of proportion to the threat he faced. While rare, a single punch can cause severe injury and even death. By my count, Casey took 5 punches before he struck back. His response was one instinctive move. Reports indicate this is likely the first time Casey had ever been in a fight. His response was intuitive and appropriate.

Could Ritchard also have been severely injured?

Of course- but the fact is that he wasn’t. He got off cheap. Even if he had been injured, who was the perpetrator of the violence here?

Casey was not violent. He was invited to this party against his will. It was the other kids that violated him- all of them. Ritchard was the most obvious perpetrator, but his friends are equally culpable. Instead of stepping in, they encouraged the attack and likely put him up to it in the first place.

The two girls that witnessed the start of the altercation were also responsible as “passive by-standers,” a growing problem in violent situations at school, work and in society at large. They walked away- they should have been running to get help. It’s obvious from their demeanor that they just didn’t want to get involved.

The one real hero in the whole scenario is the girl that steps up at the end of the video. She sees the fight from a distance; instead of walking away she walks into the fray and in the end gets between Casey and the one of the other bullies to prevent any further damage.

So- is Casey a hero? Well, it depends on what happens next. Early reports indicate that Casey is a nice young man who regrets that he hurt someone. He reportedly has said that the real revenge against the bully is to do well in school and someday become his boss! That’s impressive.

Given the situation, Casey did the right thing. I can find absolutely no fault with what he did and I’m thankful that the outcome wasn’t worse physically for either boy. Now my concern is that we don’t allow hysteria to destroy what can be a powerful opportunity to address this issue and create meaningful change.

Bullying is not prevented by punishing the target who strikes back. Zero-tolerance is ineffective when its application simply means both parties are always equally responsible for the altercation.

As intensely invested as I am in this cause- I do not believe we can end bullying. There are new bullies created every minute.

We cannot stop bullying, but we can stop the bully- one at a time. Maybe that’s the real value of what Casey did. Now let’s put down the pitchforks and work to re-indoctrinate our society with the values of respect, etiquette and decency that can prevent more of these incidents. Let’s stop being passive bystanders. Let’s restore the confidence and courage to stand up for one another.

The pitchfork and torch brigade is not going to help us stop bullying. In the end here we’ve got two kids caught up in one hell of a mess. I hope both kids can move beyond this and become symbols of reconciliation and forgiveness- that would be a true demonstration of strength.

In the end, both Casey and Ritchard can become heroes.

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About jimbouchard

Martial arts transformed Jim’s self-perception from former drug abuser and failure to successful entrepreneur and Black Belt. As a speaker and author of Amazon bestseller Think Like a Black Belt, Jim tours nationally presenting his philosophy of Black Belt Mindset for corporate and conference audiences. He's a regular guest on TV and radio programs including FOX News, BBC Worldview and FOX Across America. View all posts by jimbouchard

23 responses to “Casey Heynes is NOT a Hero

  • mike ashworth

    I feel that “hero” is the wrong word too.

    Make sure you keep an eye out over the weekend as Casey is going to be interviewed on Australian Television about the incident.

    A friend of mine is a leading self defence and personal safety expert and he has written a cpl of very well received articles and analysis of the Casey Heynes bullying incident. Have a read when you get a moment.

    http://al-peasland.blogspot.com/2011/03/casey-heynes-bullied-fights-back.html

    and a follow up article

    http://al-peasland.blogspot.com/2011/03/casey-heynes-bullied-fights-back-part2.html

  • Casey Heynes is not a hero… « The Black Belt Mindset Blog

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  • procureinsights

    To my esteemed and fellow 49th Parallel Forum Combatant, Casey Henyes is a hero in that he likely stood up for himself for the first time when confronted by schoolyard delinquents who had the audacity to film what they likely thought would be a video of dubious and cruel posterity that would have forced Casey to relive the humiliation in perpetuity.

    The tables are now turned smart guys and this will hopefully serve as a lesson to the other miscreants and their parents, who in this case it would appear that they had neither the time nor the inclination to teach their kids how to properly behave in the outside world.

    I can only hope that Casey’s school doesn’t take the easy route in terms of punishing Casey for something he should have done a long time ago.

    • jimbouchard

      Jon- that’s the major problem with “zero tolerance” rules. In this case, I don’t believe Casey should be punished at all. As you’ll see in the post- Casey did not continue his attack. He dispatched the threat and moved along. ALL the other children involved SHOULD be punished- including the two girls that just walked away and ESPECIALLY the kid running the camera who was instigating the attack.

      On the other hand- we’ve got to take care not to vilify Ritchard to the degree that has already been done in the media, particularly on the web. Provided he’s learned his lesson- he should be punished appropriately and left alone. The greatest lesson would be to provide a mediation whereby all these kids might find, as we say in our martial arts center creed, the way to “keep friendship with one another.”

      It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  • SPECIAL: Casey Heynes is NOT a Hero! « Think Like A Black Belt: The Blog!

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  • Anne

    It is sad that kids at school have to learn things the hard way.

  • Fred

    “If we were not obsessed with viral social media this would have been a typical schoolyard fight- end of story”

    And who posted the video on the internet in the first place? The friends of the little bully, doesn’t that show a lack of intelligence right there? You lost and you still posted it!

    • procureinsights

      Blame it on what I would call the America’s Funniest Videos effect Fred . . . everyone wants their 15 minutes!

    • jimbouchard

      A recent article in American Scientific Mind has the answer- we’re wired for gossip! In fact, it’s a survival mechanism. Our brains are instinctively attracted to news about others, trivial or serious. They think it helps us adapt to subtle changes signals from others that can keep us safe, compete for mates etc. Maybe this new viral media culture is simply an extension of that instinct?.
      ..http://bit.ly/faLCmz

  • whatsaysyou

    Their school should be blamed too for turning a blind eye and not doing anything when Casey got bullied so many times. It is time for it to open its eyes and put a foot down on bullying. As for Casey, I hope it will get better for him as well as letting everyone in Australia and the world to know that bullying is a serious problem that he and other kids do not have to go through. As for Richard Gale, he learns this the hard way, so shame on him for being a bully to Casey and I hope he turns over a new leaf for his own sake.

  • Nena

    I hope Casey becomes a super little hero, makes a lot of money so that his parents can provide him with better schools and any additional needs he may required. As for the other kid…. It is sad because the world will bully him and his family for being such a little S…T.

  • Saulo Augusto Duarte

    Richard Gale bullied Casey Heynes in first place. And he does dare himself to say that Casey was the bully. Liar!! Scoundrel!! If Casey was a bully, he wouldn’t let Richard hit him in the face many times to the point of reacting only at the last moment.

    • piblogger

      Saulo . . . truer words have never been spoken. Sadly, this is far too often the case with bullies and their parents – it is always someone else’s fault for their family dysfunction. Thank you for sharing!

  • Casey rocks

    People who claim that Casey isn’t a hero are blind goody-two-shoes. He defeated Richard for all the bullying that he gave him. If he didn’t, then Richard would have walked all over him.

    Also, Richard can never be a hero because of how he treated Casey. I’m glad that he got what he deserved as I can relate to Casey for all the bullying that I unjustly received.

  • zacharyburz@mac.com

    Casey Heynes is not a hero. What he did was no better than the average bully. I’ll admit, Richard started the fight by punching Casey. However, that does not give Casey any reason to stoop to Richard’s level. He was not defending himself. How is taking someone in an arm lock, then slamming them onto the ground, defending themselves? It is not. Casey would have been defending himself if he was just blocking Richard’s punches or evading them. Nothing justifies violence, absolutely nothing.

    • 49forum1

      Have you ever been bullied yourself? He reacted instinctively because he was a kid and he hadn’t been in a actual fight before. You just want to play the pretentious douche wanting to argue that of calling the child a savage. Get off your high horse and gather some empathy before you try arguing this bullshit.

      • Casey rocks

        You tell him, my fellow Casey fan! Who the hell does Zachary (or rather “Zack” as I prefer to call him) think that he is in tryin’ to make Casey out to be the bad guy? Whether he likes it or not, sometimes violence is necessary.

        Besides, violent acts will always exist in this world. And claiming that violence never works is a narrow-minded way of thinking. If people never defend themselves, they could end up as victims for the rest of their lives.

  • charles

    Neither of them are heroes, but I think Casey did what he had to do in the situation. I’m sure he will continue to grow and learn from this.

    Nobody can help Richard, who will either end up pumping gas for a living or in prison someday. He clearly looks for trouble and gets it. Just a waste of air.

    • Casey rocks

      Casey is to a hero! You just don’t want to admit. I’m glad that he gave Richard what he deserved. All who side with Rick against Casey should have the crap beaten out of them.

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