To the editor:
“Give new bullying law chance to work,” says the ECM Editorial of April 25. That is the equivalent of saying, “we have to pass the law to find out what is in it,” and we know how well that worked out. It only works if the title of the bill tells you what it actually does, or if you believe that good intentions alone make good law. Actually reading the law makes clear that what its sponsors claim is simply wrong.
The first thing that strikes you in reading this bill is the long list of “victim classes,” followed by the statement that “schools may add to the list of protected classes.” Yet backers of this law claim that it applies to all students equally. It is simply not possible when the law contains a long, specific list of students to whom it applies.
This logical failing leads directly to a second fault in the law. That is, schools and parents have always disciplined bullying behavior. What this law does, with the list of protected classes, is to introduce elements of a “thought crime” into the definition. We no longer care so much what was done, but why it was done, based on to whom it was done. Again, we are not protecting all students, because we should not care about “why.”
Finally, proponents claim the law protects free speech, and it even specifically states such. Yet by defining bullying as “conduct,” all forms of speech are clearly included. Thus a simple round of name-calling is declared bullying, but only if the victim is protected and, presumably, the bully is not a member of the same class. It is political correctness run amok.
Parents and schools have long taught children not to bully, and how to cope with bullies. District 196 already has a policy, posted on the walls as five simple rules, and it is working. So why do we need the “almighty state” bullying schools into something certain to be less effective?