No More Bullying! Except for a Good Cause

March 18th, 2011

By Dan Miller

Nelson Muntz BullyBully kids? Bad. Union bullies? Role models for kids.

There was an excellent article a few days ago on some of the reasons why the government is too big, expensive and pervasive. There are additional reasons, including the very nature of the bureaucratic process and the propensity of many to demand that the government do something no matter how trivial their cause may be. Since few politicians feel that they can get elected or reelected by failing to construct or at least to stumble onto bandwagons, that’s what they do. Fortunately for them, President Obama is spearheading a new warm and fuzzy domestic initiative. They can clamber onto his rainbow colored bandwagon and ride along; they may not even have to get off and push.

Tearing himself away from the difficult responsibilities of dithering about a plethora of domestic and international problems, and while being decisive on some really important stuff such as videotaping his NCAA picks for subsequent broadcast, President Obama found time in his busy schedule on March 10 to use his “bully pulpit” (interesting phrase that, in context) to decry the bullying of children. As to this critical national issue, President Obama’s White House has taken “full leadership.” Bully for them all. President Obama knows personally all about bullying; he has bravely acknowledged that as a child people bullied him on account of his big ears and funny name (he was called “Barry” until he decided, when in college, to revert to Barack); it must have been a horrible cross to bear.

Approximately one hundred and fifty anti-bullying advocates — lobbyists for gays and lesbians, legislators, White House officials, at least one cabinet secretary and the first lady — assembled at the While House:

… to cheer for increased government monitoring and intervention in Facebook conversations, in playgrounds and in schoolrooms around the country.

No officials at the televised East Room roll-out of the White House’s anti-bullying initiative suggested any limits to government intervention against juvenile physical violence, social exclusion or unwanted speech. None mentioned the usefulness to children of unsupervised play. None suggested there were any risks created by a government program to enforce children’s approval of other children who are unpopular, overweight, or who declare themselves to be gay, lesbians or transgender.

“It breaks our hearts to think that any child feels afraid every day in the classroom, on the playground, or even online,” first lady Michelle Obama said.

“We’re going to prevent bullying and create an environment where every single one of our children can thrive,” the president said, as he announced a series of government actions intended to fund, guide and pressure state and local officials to adopt regulations and programs that would shield children from insults or social-exclusion as well as from physical harm. (emphasis added)

Nothing was said at the White House love-in about the 145,100 public school teachers attacked, or the other 276,700 threatened, by students at their schools as reported in the Department of Education’s Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2010. Be that as it may, having already taken over the regulation of school bake sales and lunches, why not stumble into this arena as well? Kids might bully each other for their yummy treats.

Some bullying is, apparently, more importantly destructive than other:

Joel Burns, councilman in a Fort Worth, Texas, applauded the president’s focus on kids who say they are gay or lesbian. “The president did not shy away from LGBT as a topic,” he said. Also, the president endorsed “enumeration,” which is especially important, he said. Enumeration is the specific inclusion of gay, lesbian and transgender categories as deserving of regulatory protection.

Legislation against bullying at the college level has been reintroduced to “require colleges and universities that get federal money to adopt policies that prohibit harassment based on a student’s sexual orientation, race, gender, and other factors.” Although that and similar legislation seems unlikely to get very far, progress has been rapid on other fronts in the fight and there is already a White House anti-bullying website describing all sorts of initiatives. There will be more:

Federal officials can push the initiative forward with many other tools, including agency employees, federal grants to advocacy groups, agency regulations, cooperation from companies such as Facebook, and the White House’s bully pulpit. In the next few weeks, Facebook is set to announce new steps that could allow kids to highlight online conversations and insults for subsequent inspection by adults, school officials and regulators.

School yard, Facebook, and other youthful bullying is bad — the kids should, according to the White House experts, instead seek the intervention of “responsible adults” such as teachers and school administrators. However, bullying by “responsible adults” themselves, including union and Democratic Party thugs activists, and by the teachers and administrators in whom children are to confide about having been bullied, is neither to be condemned nor scrutinized. Maybe they only bully to promote approved causes. Lying about being sick while taking students to their protests in Madison? Depriving them and others of the dubious benefit of their educational skills? No problem.

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2 Responses to “No More Bullying! Except for a Good Cause”

  1. Tom Carter |

    The social arrangements among children can, indeed, be brutal, and bullying is a big part of it. It can never be completely eliminated, children being people, and people being what they are. In any case, though, I don’t think the federal government has any place in stopping bullying. That’s the business of schools, local school boards, and (gasp!) parents. Even trying to address it from the state level would be inappropriate.

    A personal story: I played football in high school. I was too small, but I was slow. It wasn’t hard to make the team — all 17 or so of us who tried out each year made it. I endured the physical abuse and injuries for a variety of reasons — I thought it would help me get girls (it did), it would make me “one of the guys” (it did), and I thought my father (who had been the star quarterback at the same school) would like the fact that I tried (unsuccessfully) to emulate him. Come to find out later it was no big deal to him because he didn’t want me to feel pressured. (He could have told me that earlier and maybe saved me from all that limping around during football season.)

    One of my teammates was over six feet tall and almost twice my weight (no exaggeration). He was slow and stupid, but his presence in the line had a psychological effect on other teams. He was also a mean bully. It was one thing to stomp on other players’ hands and various parts of their anatomy during games, if you could get away with it. Those cleats make an impression. But this guy did it during practice, too. I was one of his favorite bullying targets. I tried to defend myself; for example, I threw a Coke bottle at him in the dressing room one day, hitting him square in the cojones. Another time, I chased him around the field with a baseball bat, fully intending to do him serious bodily harm. None of that endeared me to him.

    Then one night he and a few of his friends caught up with me and a few of mine, and a fight between me and him ensued. Needless to say, I got my butt kicked, big time. When I got home, my father interrogated me as to how I had gotten so beat up, and I told him. He paid a visit to the bully’s father and told him, as I heard the story from others, that if his kid ever layed another hand on me, he was going to beat the crap out of him (the father). Let’s just say it was a credible threat. The fat kid never bothered me again, even to say a harsh word. That’s what parents are for; too bad there are so few of the good ones around these days.

  2. Opinion Forum » Interview about School Bullying |

    […] Here is an audio recording of a March 22nd interview on the Thom Hartmann “progressive” radio program about school bullying.  My related article is excerpted here. […]

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