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We Are Still "One Out of Three" Bullies Left on the Political Playground

Posted by Elizabeth Ullrich on

Elizabeth Ullrich

Elizabeth Ullrich

Last Thursday, a Democrat legislator locked himself in the Capitol building out of protest over a bill not passing. Not a person seemed to lose sleep over the issue. Not one newspaper in the state covered the story that night. Or the next day.

All the while, Republicans laugh. They laugh at the seeming ridiculousness of a man so distraught over an issue long ignored by most legislators, media pundits, and voters that he felt compelled to "make a scene." All the while, Republicans laugh.

They laughed at the issue. They laughed at this legislator. They laugh at the people this issue affects. If I didn't know better, I would assume the Republicans in the Michigan Senate were acting like big bullies on the proverbial playground of politics… pushing, demeaning, bullying… those who they dislike, simply because they can.

What is the issue? Bullying.

The fact that Michigan does NOT have a statewide anti-bullying law and is only one of three states (the other two are Montana and South Dakota) should be embarrassing. But instead, it makes Republicans literally laugh. This is what they did last Thursday night on the Senate floor when they caucused against passing the anti-bullying bill.

A bill that the Michigan House passed more than two years ago, and has been waiting in the Senate for an official vote. A bill that has popular support among most Michiganders, whether they are conservative or liberal.

But the Republicans still say no. They laugh while they say it. Why laugh? Because the bill included sexual orientation as a protected class. The bill requires all schools to take bullying based on sexual orientation seriously. Well, are you laughing yet? According to our Republican senators, that is supposed to be funny.

Gary Glenn, a local Midland resident who is also running for U.S. Senate next year, said he opposes the bill (and encourages all Republicans to do the same) because the bill "allows homosexual activists to use 'anti-bullying' legislation in Lansing as a Trojan Horse by which to bring the same material into Michigan public school classrooms, including elementary and middle schools."

Okay, so if I understand Mr. Glenn correctly, telling schools not to look the other way about bullying will encourage kids to be gay. So bullying is better than the alternative, which is not bullying? We need to draw the line somewhere, right? Who knows what will come next if kids discover that they can't beat up the local "gay kid" and get away with it? They could possibly stop hating him as a result.

And stopping the hate seems to be wrong, according the Republicans in the Senate. Encouraging hate is better than trying to erase it. It seems the schools are the place where our legislators want to play the culture wars of the day.

Our kids need to learn early about the moral order and who is superior in this society, right? Our children need to learn the hard way that there are still some people who are worth hating. Worth spiting. Worth bullying.

The inability of our Senate to stand up for decency when it concerns our kids' safety is more than embarrassing. It reflects a political endorsement to hate. It reflects the justification that many children use when excusing their bad behavior: "well, you didn't tell me I couldn't do it."

Our kids deserve better. They deserve safety. They deserve comfort in their learning environments so they can become the best people this state has to offer the rest of the country.

Our state deserves better. We deserve to take this state into the 21st century when it comes to basic educational policy that reflects a decent respect for all people.

It is 2011. Let's demand our politicians, Democrat and Republican alike, catch Michigan up with the 21st century and start protecting all our children from harassment in schools.

Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Andy Rapp, Q-TV, Delta College, or PBS.

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Currently Speaking host Andy Rapp

Veteran journalist Andy Rapp has been hosting Currently Speaking since 1999.

Each week, he's joined live in the studio by journalists, academics, and experts. Along with viewers at home, they tackle the local, national, and global issues that matter most.