Legislator Wants Anti-Bullying Law To Include Politicians

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.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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