In multiple-party harassment, the offending actions of any one individual can became more and more subtle and difficult to name as specific incidents. Every one specific action is part of a coordinated whole.
The African-American high school student who goes to a racist all-white school might experience it this way: four students position themselves at points in the student's classroom route, each one uttering a syllable. One says, FUH, second says KING, next one says NI, next one says GRRR. Put together, these syllables say something very hurtful and destructive to that student.
In multiple-party harassment, the four may switch syllables, or they may have 40 white students taking turns each day saying these syllables over a two-week period. There is little that a principal or other investigator can do to discipline these students unless he is able to break the conspiracy, which may not happen. What is more likely is that it is the targeted student who will experience being disciplined - it is the targeted student who will lose control at some point, and unfortunately, that is the point that disciplinary action can be taken.
Let's say after three months of FU-KING-NI-GRRR he can't take it any longer and shoves the second guy. The principal asks him, "What is it that he said that upset you so?" The student tells him. The principal says, "Wait - You're telling me you shoved him because he called you King???" The student tells him "No, no, there is more to it than that." The principal tells the student he has anger issues, is imagining things, and the student, who has endured three months of multiple-party racial slurs with no recourse, is then given detention or other disciplinary action on top of it for not being able to handle his anger.
So the injustice here is that a victim of racial hatred then becomes a victim of the inability to understand why this multi-party harassment was able to make him lose control.
Here is another example. Imagine a female college student who has been raped by a really popular male student. The male student wore a purple shirt on the night of their "date." When the victim files charges, a lot of students express their support for the popular male by wearing purple shirts. They position themselves wherever she goes, by wearing the purple shirt. As a victim of a psychological trauma, the symbolism is not lost on her, and each time a purple-shirted student blocks her way or sits in front of her or follow her into the restroom she is reminded of her humiliation and violation. If it continues, she will either drop out or psychologically collapse. This is the power that the symbol has over her.
- Eleanor White