The Bully Pulpit

Many years ago, when Chicago’s Second City was the source of then-scandalous satire, I attended a performance. This was during the Cold War (I’m old), and I still recall one skit titled “Kill a Commie for Christ”–a take-off on a widespread attitude of the times.

The more things change….Well, you know the rest of that saying.

In the Great State of Michigan, the state legislature has passed what one State Senator has condemned as the “License to Bully” bill.

The fact that school kids get bullied every day in our nation’s schools and elsewhere–and that gay youngsters are by far the most frequent target–is well-known. Over the past decade, the courts have ruled that the all-too-common “boys will be boys” dismissal of such behavior by school administrators will subject their schools to liability, and many state legislators have introduced bills to clarify the schools’ obligations to provide a safe environment for all students.

In the Michigan State Senate, the GOP amended a bill that would both have prohibited bullying and provided school districts with tools to combat it. They stripped out reporting and similar requirements, and provided an exception for bullying “based upon moral convictions.”

One appalled Senator described the language as providing a “roadmap” for bullying.

This too-clever-by-half strategy was clearly aimed at allowing the continued torment of gay children, but it’s hard not to wonder how these “moral” legislators would feel about children who suddenly demonstrated a “moral conviction” that their Christian schoolmates were evil. (As one of two Jewish students in my elementary school, I know what it’s like to be surrounded by Christian children whose parents had instilled in them a “moral conviction” that I had personally killed Christ.)

It’s obviously very difficult for mean-spirited people who are in the majority to comprehend that the tables might turn when they are no longer dominant. ┬áIt is evidently impossible for such people to demonstrate empathy or compassion for anyone who doesn’t belong to their own cramped moral universe.

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