Reacting to Insults


Dr Evil ThinkingAccording to Wikipedia, the television show titled “What Would You Do?” is a syndicated series in which actors create scenes of “conflict or illegal activity in public settings while hidden cameras videotape the scene.” The focus of each episode is to determine if and how bystanders intervene. Episodes often include variations of scenarios to “determine how an actor’s gender, race, or clothing influences bystander reactions.” During each episode, ABC News correspondent John Quiñones interviews bystanders about their reactions.  

What would you do if you witnessed someone being insulted for their illness, disability, injury, or adversity? How do you think others would react if they saw someone being insulted for their illness, disability, injury, or adversity? The show “What Would You Do?” created scenarios to test reactions of bystanders. Although the following video does not include enough evidence to suggest the reactions are typical across the United States, North America, or the entire world, the video proved to me that silence can be more offensive than insults.

Call to Action

If you have advice for anyone who has been, or is being, insulted because of their illness, disability, injury, or adversity, please leave a comment below this post.


Thanks to Deb Webb who used the video in her post on Brain Buddies; ABC News for agreeing to produce the show “What Would You Do?” that created the scenario used in this post; YouTube for hosting the video; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture, video, and text I used in this post.


  1. I am quadriplegic and have a speech disability also. I am always accompanied by either my parents, an employee or my physical trainer (he is a bodybuilder and my friend). My speech difficulty makes it so most people don’t want to talk to me. I guess, I have been “lucky”.

    Although (1) time while I was at the gym, in another room, my BIG MUSCLE having trainer went into the supply room. While in that room there was a group of guys in there making “fun” of me.

    I wasn’t in there so I don’t know what happened. I just know my trainer told me, “Not only will those will those guys never make fun of you again, they have decided to change gyms”. I don’t know what he did but I am glad he is MY FRIEND!!

    1. Hagen, Although I do not approve of violence, even as a last resort, I am happy to hear your trainer communicated a valuable message to the people making fun of you. There is absolutely no reason to verbally or physically bully somebody, or make fun of them, if they have different abilities or different beliefs. The fact some people feel entitled to make fun of others is, as I see it, a huge flaw with educational and governmental policy. There should be no tolerance. One strike, and your out.

  2. It is currently a requirement to take a class on special education to attain a teaching credential, but as with most professions, hands on experience is MUCH more valuable to someone learning. There is a SUPERB high school near where I teach that requires volunteer hours to graduate (no specific area of volunteering), but just last year they lowered the number of hours necessary for fulfillment….kind of disappointing. I thought it was a WONDERFUL idea..still is. Wish more schools would require volunteer hours!

    1. My understanding, which is definitely not based on calls to educators or the Department of Education, is that all (or most) high school students are now required to volunteer somewhere for some period of time as a condition of graduation. I talk with high school volunteers at one of the places where I volunteer. I hear three main complaints from them: 1) they feel forced to volunteer, 2) they are bored, and 3) transportation is difficult. The first point addresses a valuable lesson; we don’t always get what we want. Sometimes we do things because we have to do them. The second point also addresses a valuable lesson; if you don’t like a situation, either change the situation or change your attitude about the situation. This third complaint also addresses a valuable lesson; transportation solutions require creativity, networking, communication, planning, resource allocation, and scheduling.

      In my opinion, a reduction in mandatory volunteer hours is just as damaging to education and the future of our society as a reduction in music and the arts.

      I have one last thought (for now) about education. This thought is based on your comment about more schools requiring volunteer hours. Is it possible that required volunteering begins at a young age even if volunteering is simply helping a teacher for 5 minutes once per week?

  3. I taught that level of special education for 2 years, round the calendar, early on in my career. I STILL think all teachers should be required, before getting a teaching credential, to teach that level of child. It is an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. It may be the BEST experience I ever had in my career and it taught me, by far, the most about myself and others. I LOVE kids with downs syndrome and the like level. They are some of the most giving, honest and caring people on the planet.

    1. Wendy, you present an excellent idea for a required teaching experience. One of my many thoughts about education is that high school students, as a condition for graduation, must complete a certain number of volunteer hours in a special education classroom. Although volunteer hours are now required as a condition of graduation at many high schools, I don’t think the current requirements are sufficient to teach high school students about compassion.

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