[Spencer Daily Reporter nameplate] Mostly Cloudy and Windy ~ 44°F  
High: 47°F ~ Low: 39°F
Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

The body slam heard 'round the world

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Hero" and "punisher" are words being associated with 16-year-old Casey Heynes after a video of him body slamming an alleged bully began circulating online.

The 40-second glimpse shows 12-year-old Ritchard Gale grabbing Heynes' shirt and punching him in the face and stomach until Heynes' retaliates and throws the much smaller Gale to the ground.

It looks like a reversed version of David versus Goliath with an "innocent" giant taking down an instigator who is deserving of the end result.

Interviews with both youths and their parents show that there may be more than meets the eye.

It should come as no surprise that both boys had been bullied in the past.

Heynes said he had been bullied almost daily throughout his years in school, with the worst of tormenting occurring in high school. He detailed specific instances, such as being duct taped to a pole, and said that such occurrences depressed him to the point of contemplating suicide.

Gale shared he had been bullied throughout primary school, and hinted that those experiences motivated him to be more of an aggressor at the next level of academia.

He also alleges that Heynes had taunted him before the recording began and the classmate who recorded the event collaborates that story.

The majority of people weighing in on the video discredits that tale, praise Heynes' efforts and vilify Gale.

Peter Gale's lip quivered and eyes moistened as he called for the public hatred against his son, and also any negative rhetoric toward Heynes, to stop.

It's interesting to see both sides of the story. Here are some observations.

Bullying and violence perpetuates more bullying and violence. In this example, Heynes' actions did not stop bullying; they simply shifted the bullying from him to Gale.

Anger is a dangerous thing. Both Heynes and Gale admit they were acting out of anger that had built up over years. Most of the anger probably came from other places, but they let it fester until they both exploded.

Social media and technology have added new layers to the topic of bullying. Not only is social media utilized for cyber-bullying, but it has also created a vast network for broadcasting fights and other exploits of bullies. It won't be surprising if more fight videos are added in the future.

The school in this example made the right decision. By suspending both boys, administration sent a loud and clear message that violence, regardless of the reason, is not acceptable.

Zero tolerance is the approach that everyone should take when addressing this issue.

Bullying in any form for any reason is not OK and neither is excessive retaliation.

As Peter Gale said, "This all needs to stop."

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on spencerdailyreporter.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

If this had not been taped, nothing would ever had been done about it. I've watched teachers turn their heads to this kind of thing so they don't have to deal with it. It sad but it's part of life. The more you bring it to the world's eyes, the worse it's going to get.....just like this tape, looking for some kind of fame.

-- Posted by Beanieboy100 on Thu, Mar 24, 2011, at 7:35 AM

Boys will be boys? Criticism or excuse?

-- Posted by helped_myself on Thu, Mar 24, 2011, at 10:27 AM

This incident begs an answer to the big question - Where were the school administrators and parents before this escalated to this point? Certainly all of the "adults" had to have some knowledge of the behaviour displayed by these 2 boys before it got to this level. I, for one, do not believe this was a random one time event for either kid. It isn't right that one or more people feel it is right or ok to bully another. Who is teaching kids morals and the value of life and the difference between right and wrong? Additionally, the person or people taping such behaviour are in fact just as guilty of bullying as the individuals doing the deed, simply by their acquiesence of the actions and posting them online or sharing via whatever medium they use. It is very sad and disturbing that violence such as this is accepted as the "norm" in society. Have we gone backwards that far for this to be ok??

-- Posted by mscitizen on Thu, Mar 24, 2011, at 12:09 PM

I don't think that anyone thinks this is ok. There is no easy solution. We are raising an entire generation of children who are unable to form personal healthy relationships with their parents or their peers. They have been left behind by parents intent on careers and self promotion. Family units used to be made up of two parents, siblings and extensive extended families that took care of each other. This is no longer the case and I think that has a lot to do with what's going on here. Before any of you women's libbers or the like attack me, think about it. Think about a time in our history when people had common courtesy and respect for each other and fellow humans. My guess is that it was when the majority of homes consisted of mom and dad and one income and one TV with three channels.

-- Posted by Leah Cauthron on Thu, Mar 24, 2011, at 3:55 PM

Are you serious, Leah? Casey Heynes has nearly 200,000 friends on facebook and hundreds of thousands of more supporters on youtube. Just read the comments on the videos. Those people undoubtedly think this is not only OK, but a great way to handle situations like this. You and I, and probably most if not all people reading our blogs, ultimately know better. But this IS OK in a lot of people's minds, even Christian friends of mine, who I don't think should ever advocate violence.

In all honesty, when I first saw the clip, I thought Heynes was at least somewhat justified in his action. After thinking more about it and discussing it with friends, I realized that both boys were clearly in the wrong. That's why I wrote this piece from this perspective. But, if my human instinct at first cheered for the "little guy" (actually the big guy in this instance), how many others did not hold their "vengeance complex" in check and are still cheering?

It was interesting to see the interviews with the parents. They were too busy patting Heynes on the back to delve into his parents' involvement too much. But, his dad was mostly oblivious to his son's struggles, though Casey's sister knew exactly what was going on and helped her brother get by when the going got tough. So there were some issues there, even in a two parent, two child system.

Gale is from a broken home and his dad even teared up when talking about the situation. It's obvious that he is trying, but just like Heynes' parents, he doesn't know everything that's going on with his son, either. He did note that the amount of violence his son showed was out of character, though he clarified, "He's no angel..."

There was definitely bullying back when the baby boomers were around and two-parent households were the vast majority. In fact, I think it may have been worse to an extent because diversity was not as common or as accepted. Overall, I think we've gotten better at handling diversity, yes even in northwest Iowa where we don't have as much as say Phoenix, Ariz. But, I think it's a mistake to say this stuff didn't happen when most families were like the ones you described.

I do think, however, there was less Recurring bullying. I remember Police Chief Mark Lawson talking about how things were dealt with in the Sioux City high school he attended. Basically, if there was a problem, there would be one fight and the issue would be done (instead of constant bullying using different channels). That worked for girls and boys for the most part. Since I wasn't close to being around yet, I have can only go off of anecdotal things like that.

Anyway, I feel like I'm rambling now, so I'll stop at that and wait for a response or two.

-- Posted by Gabe Licht on Sat, Mar 26, 2011, at 12:38 PM

We should not hit anyone, but people still do and if we just let them, they will continue to hit others. I'am not going to let anyone hit me more than once, if you stop them, they will think twice next time. If the Taliban came here, would we let them just shoot us?

-- Posted by be honest on Sat, Mar 26, 2011, at 8:53 PM

Wow Leah! Thanks for the flash back! I was just thinking back to when I was a kid. Mom and Dad, one income, one TV and 3 channels!(ABC,NBC and PBS...no CBS for me where I lived)But you forgot to include one thing that I also remember. Bully's were everywhere then too! And it was ignored then not made into a media frenzy like it is now. I think if you look back through time bully's have always been around and will always be around. It is the same as with all stories where people state "What is the world coming to?" 9 times out of 10 the world really hasnt changed that much just peoples perspectives on the situation has.

-- Posted by deweyh on Sun, Mar 27, 2011, at 7:32 AM

I have to say that I agree that bullying has been around forever but with the ever present influence of violent video games, reality tv shows etc. our society just keeps getting more and more desensitized to how these bullying incidents have become more violent. I also agree with the idea of taking care of it on the playground. The problem with that is that bullying policies have been put in place that punish the bully, the victim, and anyone who may intervene on behalf of the victim. My son was in class and witnessed an incident. When he insisted to the instigator to rectify the situation or suffer the consequences, he was restrained by a hand to the shoulder from the teacher who not only witnessed the entire exchange but also said nothing to the perpetrator. So you tell me, what is the solution? I would like to hear from current students in today's schools who have had direct contact with regard to the bullying policies.

-- Posted by Leah Cauthron on Fri, Apr 1, 2011, at 10:31 AM


I have to disagree with your opinion regarding the whole 2 parent, 1 income, bla bla way of thinking.

It comes down to the parent(s) and their responsibility as a parent. Children need to be taught what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Not to mention, respect for themselves and others.

I will give you one example:

My son was involved in a situation a few years ago, he was witnessing a boy bullying 3 others on the school bus ride. He nicely asked the boy to stop, when that didn't work he told him if he didn't stop he would suffer the outcome. After the third and final warning, my son reacted by physically stopping the boy from continuing his actions.

The outcome:

The "boy" was from a two parent family, his parents both stuffed their head in the sand and insisted their "angel" did no wrong, that my son attacked their son for no reason, totally unprovoked.

my son was not punished by the school, after he, the "boy" and the other witnesses were interviewed by the school officials, they decided his actions were justified.

I however, felt that yes, I was proud of him for sticking up for the kids that were being bullied, I punished him and made it very clear to him that it was not acceptable to solve the problem with violence.

Oh yea, and did I mention, I am a single parent.

-- Posted by 2_Blue_Star_Mom on Mon, Apr 4, 2011, at 8:39 PM

I get your point too... and to clarify, I said parent(s) intent on careers or personal interests instead of their children...not single parents. I know lots of great single parents and totally clueless married ones.

-- Posted by Leah Cauthron on Tue, Apr 5, 2011, at 1:21 PM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration:

Gabe Licht
Junior Moments