Bullying the Constitution

Glenn Ricketts

What is a bully? Well, I once got suspended for dealing with one rather directly when I was in 8th grade. The guy wouldn't leave me alone, and was pretty good at evading hall proctors and faculty supervisors. But enough was enough. When he dared me to fight him, I did and took him right out. We both got the boot for three days and, as boys often do, became pretty good friends following our dust-up in the school yard. Notice that I didn't mention any federal or judicial intervention, or any mandatory sessions on the nuances and infinite manifestations of bullying. Seriously? Ah, but that was the alternate universe of 1963. If I couldn't remember those days, I think I'd have a hard time believing that they ever were.

As Competitive Enterprise Institute attorney Hans Bader demonstrates in this piece, "bullying" is now the subject of increasingly intrusive bureaucratic and judicial oversight, and extends to all kinds of behavior - or non-behavior, please note - that can land you in far more trouble than a three-day suspension from school. What is bullying these days? As Bader illustrates, it's vastly more than the guy who kept getting in my face and making himself obnoxious. Believe it or not, you may well be a "bully" if you don't invite the whole class to your birthday party. Or, if you're popular and someone else resents it, that's apparently also "bullying" under the new dispensation. Freedom of speech and association? Well maybe, but first we've got to eradicate "bullying." Now step aside.

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