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.

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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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  • DaveH63

    If your a legislator and you don’t engage in a little bullying how do you get things done. Bully Pulpit is just a golf course.

  • mikemc1970

    Leftist love this. Pretty soon owning a gun will become offensive as well anything else the fascist left wants to ban. Not just speech.

  • ec99

    If you think this is bad, what about the DoEd’s new policies on harassment whereby the SCOTUS definition of the term is abandoned and it becomes whatever a person feels? This will cause all open debate in classrooms to come to a halt as no teacher will bring up a topic for fear it will be called harassment by a student.

  • Leah Hollis

    Interesting- but just as someone can use free speech laws to endanger people in a theatre by screaming FIRE– should free speech be logical excuse for endangering someone’s health or sanity at work?

    Leah Hollis, Patricia Berkly LLC

  • Waski_the_Squirrel

    Many don’t understand what bullying is or else they define it so loosely that anything can be classified as bullying. Too many people apply the word “bullying” any time someone is mean, when there is a fight, when someone is pushy, or even when someone is deliberately cruel. These are wrong, but they are not bullying. Bullying has to be ongoing and systematic and involve a power difference. I don’t think I could bully a politician because the only power I have over that politician is the ballot box.

    There are already laws in place to cover cases of harassment. Some politicians have had people threaten their families over votes, and there are laws about this too. Politicians deserve protection from these things, the same as all of us do. These situations go far beyond bullying.

    It may seem cruel, but an adult should be expected to be better able to fend for himself and shrug off the verbal slings and arrows that come their way.

  • Guest

    Absolutely unconstitutional. See NYT v. Sullivan, Huster v. Falwell, Garrison v. Louisiana, Gertz v. Welch, even Snyder v. Phelps would likely apply here.

  • Patrick Dotson

    Perhaps we need a secret tribunal. Call 1 800 Bully and it gets investigated and if determined to be true, the bully gets ambushed with bullets to the head.

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