For the past couple of years it’s been all the rage for politicians to push anti-bullying laws. Thanks to bullying being a bona fide “crisis” in the media, and thanks to a raft of celebrities championing the cause, grandstanding politicians have been quick to jump on the fad.
But a side effect of the anti-bullying movement, be it intended or not, is a move toward limiting speech. New M is the latest state where, under the guise of banning bullying, policy makers want to establish laws that would outlaw what should be protected political speech.
The proposed law would make a criminal out of anyone who causes “substantial emotional distress” to a student but also journalists, politicians, academics and celebrities.
How, exactly, does one go about criticizing a politician’s proposals, or a celebrity’s antics or a journalist’s work product without running afoul of a law like this?
Nobody wants to see anyone else get bullied, but we already have plenty of laws against harassment and assault. Knee-jerk, fad legislation aimed at catering to the whims of the apathetic mob (whipped up by whatever YouTube video or internet meme they just saw) rarely results in sound policy.