There’s Never a Justification for Bullying

I posted a reference on G+ to an article about a Michigan anti-bullying law (named after a boy who committed suicide) where republicans effectively provide a loophole if the abuse happens on the basis of “genuine moral or religious conviction”. The text is:

“This section does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil and parent or guardian.”

One comment approached the issue by questioning the definition of bullying and tying their position to their religious beliefs, and that’s prompted me to post this blog entry. I reckon the definition of bullying is fairly clear and simple. I phrase it something like this:

Bullying is ongoing psychological, verbal and physical abuse against a person and their environment and property.

I didn’t look that up anywhere, it’s just loosely based on my own experience. I think this sums it up concisely, but feel free to comment with improvements!

Even if you don’t agree with people being gay, or atheist, or you reckon reds look funny, or whatever, I’d urge anyone to think long and hard before being in favour of laws like the Michigan one – you’re as different as the next person, and one day you’ll become the victim yourself.

Unlikely? Let’s look forward a bit: considering the current Christian fundamentalist extremism in the US, I consider it quite likely that at some point there’ll be a backlash and Christians will find themselves persecuted – let’s please have laws in place that protect them then as well as other people now. So even on a purely selfish level, you don’t want to gamble on this.

Someone’s right to expression and beliefs have nothing to do with it. We simply don’t want people (kids or adults!) persecuted in their school, work, sport, home or social environment whether they’re black, gay, use a wheelchair, wear glasses, have red hair, are socially awkward, believe in a god or faeries, or in fact happen to not believe in something someone else does believe in.

What’s the point of being different if we can’t live together?