Today’s strip continues Nate and Linda’s inane conversation about Tank Wedgeman. It’s illuminating that these two administrators (one of Linda’s myriad responsibilities makes her an administrator, right? She’s got a hand in literally everything in this school) can’t imagine stopping the bullying, instead simply waiting it out until the kid graduates. Who cares about all the kids he victimizes in the meantime.
These strips remind me of something I mentioned way back in the Gay Prom storyline. (can we believe it’s been nearly six years?) In that strip Nate spoke of “the intolerant” rather than “intolerance”. The issue I had was that Batiuk seemed to be framing homophobia in the context of people rather than ideas. Good people would think the way Batiuk did, and bad people would think differently. It wasn’t a matter of examining different perspectives and/or how a person might end up with problematic attitudes or behaviors. It was just an issue of The Bad People, or “the intolerant” in that strip. There isn’t any point in trying to deal with Tank’s bullying. It’s just who he is, and it won’t stop until he’s gone. They don’t engage bullying any more than Nate engaged Roberta’s issue (that we can only suppose is homophobia because Batiuk never allowed her to voice her specific objections).
It’s pretty disgusting ordinarily, but it’s especially so coming from two characters who are supposed to be educators. Hell, I think of all of Batiuk’s characters, he thinks Linda and Nate are the two most admirable teachers at the school. Unlike Les, they seem to approach their jobs in education with some form of enthusiasm, so it’s remarkable that they don’t seem to recognize teachable moments. If I’m reading Batiuk’s timeline correctly, these two have at least thirty years’ experience each, and yet bullying appears to be something they have no response to, nor think they need to deal with.