On Giving No Ground to Bullies

Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. …We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. 

~Karl Popper The Open Society and Its Enemies, 1945

Short words today, friend – I’m getting this out late because I’ve spent too much time over the last 24 hours reading up on what’s happening in Ukraine. Perhaps the same has happened to you.

But I wanted to share a story that I’ve found intriguing. I think you’ll like it, if you’ve not heard it already.

It starts with a man who sits down at a crappy crustpunk bar. You know the sort of joint – where the bartender is supposed to hate you (it’s part of the ambiance) and everyone ignores everyone.

The bartender was fulfilling his end of that bargain by ignoring all the patrons … until another guy walked in and also sat down at the same crappy bar.

And then, on the spot – before this new guy could even get settled – the bartender ordered him out.

The guy protested, saying – hey man, I’m a paying customer! The bartender would have none of it. Instead, he motioned like he was grabbing a bat from under the bar.

So the guy left.

Perplexed (maybe a little uneasy?) the first man in our story wanted to know what the heck just happened.

Why’d you throw that guy out? he asked.

The bartender explained.

You didn’t see his vest, but it was all iron crosses and [bleep]. You get to recognize them.

He continued:

You have to nip it in the bud immediately. These guys come in and it’s always a nice, polite one. And you serve them because you don’t want to cause a scene.

And then they become a regular and after a while they bring a friend. And that dude is cool, too. And then THEY bring friends and the friends bring friends and they stop being cool and then you realize – oh [bleep] this is a Nazi bar now.

And it’s too late because they’re entrenched and if you try to kick them out they cause a PROBLEM. So you have to shut them down.

And then the bartender went back to ignoring everyone.

(You can read the tweet thread describing this encounter here: @IamRageSparkle)

Whether that story is true or not, it illustrates a few important points – some about bullies, and others about how we react to them (especially one that I hope to expand on next week).

Because, more often than not, bullies rely upon people to allow them to take the first inch. Because it’s not *that* big of a deal, is it? Let’s not make a scene.

And then the next foot. Well, that’s not too terrible. If that’s the price to pay for peace…

And then the yard that comes thereafter. Well now, wait. This is getting out of hand…

But by then you’re on your back foot already.

If a bully is willing to push constantly (like, say, Trump, or Putin, or a Nazi at a punk bar) the chances are good that after giving up that first foot or so, it will be harder to gain back the lost ground.

That’s why you don’t back down to bullies.


You don’t give them an inch of soil.

You don’t even give them a seat at the bar.

And as the situation in Ukraine unfolds, it’s worth remembering that – whether at a corner bar or on the world stage – bullies need to feel a strong, confident, and immediate response … or their first step won’t be their last.

Let’s keep the people of Ukraine in our hearts this week. They need it.

And let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of February 22, 2022

So, we need to help some folks out…

This *excellent* program just launched that will send a banned book to households each month – at no cost to students or families. After it went national, it was promoted by our friend Jessica Craven at Chop Wood Carry Water – and … well … Jessica has some reach… A tiktok she made lead to 2k book requests… on the first day. (Oh dear.)

That popularity has meant that they have had to shut down requests to join the program and pivot to fundraise to meet the current demand.

First, you should check it out here, because it’s such a great idea. And if you can spare $10 to defray the cost of a book, it would really help them out. But any size donation would be great.

Read more here: https://www.inpurposeea.com/banned-book-program

While you’re at it, subscribe to Jessica’s daily newsletter, which includes an action (or two) each day: https://chopwoodcarrywaterdailyactions.substack.com

Take the “Let’s Go, Joe” Survey: What are Your Priorities?

Less than 5 minute survey, folks! Indivisible has put out a very quick survey looking to gauge what issues people want Biden to tackle *with administrative/executive action*. Go here to take the survey: https://act.indivisible.org/survey/what-issues-should-president-biden-prioritize/

The only problem I had was that I wanted to address EVERY issue. I bet you’ll feel the same way when you take it.

The results will be used by Indivisible to help them target their efforts in the coming weeks. Good info for them – so let’s help them craft actions and focus attention.

Postcards to Voters: Florida!

I love craftivism! Postcards to Voters is on its way to writing Democrats in all 67 counties who are either not yet enrolled in VBM or whose enrollment expired. And Bay County is the latest one in this ongoing effort.

Why are we writing to Florida Democrats encouraging them to enroll in Vote By Mail (VBM)?

1. Studies prove that voters who receive a ballot in the mail participate at a much higher rate than voters who must do so in person.

2. Helping more Florida Dems vote can turn the state blue and end the GOP stranglehold on the Sunshine State.

3. Registered voters in Florida can enroll in VBM with one phone call. That’s all. Could hardly be easier.

4. Once enrolled in VBM, they’ll receive a ballot for every type of election, no matter how small, automatically for up to two years.

5. Strengthening the voting habits of Democrats in elections both big and small can mean years of improved outcomes across the state.

6. Local parties’ efforts to do traditional door-to-door VBM enrollment is enhanced by our waves of postcards.

7. Handwritten postcards from volunteers are effective at getting voters’ attention. The easy call to action to pick up the phone and enroll in VBM paid off in 2020.

8. Getting them to enroll now, instead of waiting until the last minute, eases the administrative burden on the counties and helps them plan ahead for ballot printing needs.

9. Florida Republicans have long enjoyed an advantage in the VBM category until last year. This is no time to let up on the effort to get Democrats enjoying the convenience (and safety) of VBM.

10. It’s fun to do meaningful activism from the comfort of your home and on your own schedule. (Like voting by mail will be for these Democrats!)

With so many important contests on Floridians’ ballots this November, let’s make sure every Democratic voter has an advantage. Let’s help them enroll in VBM so that they can develop stronger habits of voting.

From the mailbox to the ballot box, your fun, friendly, fully-handwritten #PostcardsToVoters work.

Already an approved writer? Here are three easy ways to request your addresses:

1. Text HELLO to (484) 275-2229 or

2. Message HELLO to Abby the Address Bot on our Slack channel here: https://bit.ly/SlackAbby or

3. Send an email to: Request@AbbyAddresses.org

Not yet approved and ready to join?

1. Text JOIN to (484) 275-2229 or

2. Send an email to: Join@TonyTheDemocrat.org

Register Voters in North Carolina! (Phone Bank)

Join Field Team 6, which is doing SO MUCH good work you guys! They’re having phone banks in Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina helping with voter registration – which as you know is something I feel passionately about.

This Sunday from 1-3pm (eastern), join them to call eligible voters (likely Dems) in North Carolina!

You’ll be reaching out to get people registered as Democrats, or signed up to vote from home (vote by mail) if they’re already registered.

Making sure people are registered to vote, and that they can vote safely from home, is a super-effective way to make a difference. 

All training provided. Check it out HERE.

For Fun: Check Out Feel Feel Good Action:

I love this idea: influencers using their own networks and reach to promote pro-democracy messages. And do you know what it should remind us all? That we are micro-influencers in our own networks! So check out what they’re doing, spread the message, and if you have a following of your own – give them a buzz.



P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every email! We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

Have a thought? A small deed to suggest? Share it here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s