Thursday, November 01, 2012
"Bullying": The new codeword in attacks on speech
Bullying has been defined by opportunistic politicians to include a broad range of speech, including core political speech. The latest example is anti-abortion advocacy:
Ontario’s Education Minister has apparently declared that Catholic schools can no longer teach that abortion is wrong.
Laurel Broten, who serves under Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty, said Wednesday that Catholic schools are barred from teaching this core moral belief because Bill 13, the government’s controversial “anti-bullying” law, prohibits “misogyny.”
“Taking away a woman’s right to choose could arguably be considered one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take,” she told the Canadian Press. “I don’t think there is a conflict between choosing Catholic education for your children and supporting a woman’s right to choose.”
After people raised objections to this assault on free speech, the Education Minister doubled down on her support for censorship:
“We do not allow and we’re very clear with the passage of Bill 13 that Catholic teachings cannot be taught in our schools that violates human rights and which brings a lack of acceptance to participation in schools,” she said. …"
Earlier, a U.S. school district superintendent labeled a column in a school newspaper that criticized homosexuality as “bullying,” which is an offense punishable by penalties up to expulsion in that school district.
The Shawano High School newspaper had run dueling student opinion pieces on whether same-sex couples should be able to adopt children; the student article that was labeled as “bullying” answered the question “no.”
It is strange to claim that a viewpoint in a student newspaper is “bullying.” If a school doesn’t want that kind of debate in its own newspaper, it shouldn’t ask for it; it has no right to open the subject for debate, and then punish a hapless person for participating in it.
Opposition to homosexuality is protected by the First Amendment. A conservative Christian who thought that homosexuality was immoral successfully challenged a school “harassment” code that punished students with such viewpoints in Saxe v. State College Area School District (2001), a case in which a federal appeals court ruled that there is no “harassment” exception to the First Amendment for speech which offends members of minority groups."
The Obama administration claims bullying is an “epidemic” and a “pandemic.” But in reality, bullying and violence have steadily gone down in the nation’s schools, as even studies funded by the Justice Department have shown. The administration’s anti-bullying website defines exercises of free speech and association such as “spreading rumors” or “excluding someone from a group” as being “bullying,” and it says that “examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.”