Friday, November 04, 2011

Michigan Senate passes bill protecting sincere bullies

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He’s just acting on his sincere belief in trouncing smaller kids!

And the Republican race to the very bottom continues unabated. Not content with continually cramming through legislation to strip LGBT, poor and otherwise non-affluent-majority folks of their civil rights, the GOP-run Michigan Senate has now passed a purported anti-bullying bill that would actually end up granting immunity to aggressors who hold a moral conviction that kids who are different deserve to be persecuted for it:

The GOP pushed through an amended bill, SB 137, which does nothing advocates have pushed for — including reporting requirements and enumeration, or listing, of protected classes. In addition, the legislation provides an exception which allows bullying based on “moral convictions.”

The full language of the insert 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.”

In a floor speech Minority Leader in the Senate Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) slammed the Republicans over the amended language.

“Here today you claim to be protecting kids and you’re actually putting them in more danger,” Whitmer said. “But bullying is not OK. We should be protecting public policy that protects kids — all kids, from bullies — all bullies. But instead you have set us back further by creating a blueprint for bullying.”

Doing nothing at all to help actual victims and instead coming up with new ways to shield the actual wrongdoers from accountability, and wrapping it all in the slimy cloak of religious freedom … yep, sounds like standard Republican m.o. to me, wouldn’t you say?

I feel there isn’t much more I could say about this without devolving into sheer bile (not that these craven, ideological sons-of-bitches don’t deserve every morsel of it), so I’ll turn over to Sen. Gretchen Whitmer for her aforementioned speech, which pretty much expresses all I’d have to say, anyway:

My transcript: (click the [+/-] to expand/collapse →) []

SEN. WHITMER: You know, we’ve had – I’ve personally had some pretty hard days here in the Senate this term. Whether it was what happened to the School Aid Fund, or raising pension taxes, or the continued assault on the middle class, I think this is my lowest point, personally.

Because here, today, you claim to protecting kids, and you’re actually putting them in more danger. There are at least ten Michigan children in the past decade whose deaths are directly attributable to bullying. I have their names and their ages, here, but I can’t read them. I think they’ve been too victimized as it is. But had this bill that you’re gonna pass today been law in effect while they were alive, how many of their deaths would’ve been prevented? Zero!

You may be able to pat yourselves on the backs today and say that you did something, but in actuality, you’re explicitly outlining how to get away with bullying. Your exceptions have swallowed the rule.

As passed today, bullying kids is okay if a student, parent, teacher or school employee can come up with a moral or religious reason for doing it. But bullying is not okay. We should be passing public policy that protects kids – all kids – from bullies – all bullies. But instead, you’ve set us back farther, creating a blueprint for bullying.

So, this might solve a political problem that the Republicans have, but be clear: You are papering over the problem that is a reality faced by hundreds of kids in Michigan schools every day. In fact, not only does this not protect kids who are bullied, it further endangers by legitimizing excuses for tormenting a student.

And the saddest and sickest irony of this whole thing is that it’s called “Matt’s Safe School” Law, and after the way that you’ve gutted it, it wouldn’t have done a damn thing to save Matt! This is worse than doing nothing. It’s a Republican license to bully.

(via Rob F)

Edit (11/04/11 7:41 PM) – Fixed a typo in the transcript.