BULLYING: REAL EPIDEMIC - FALSE ANTECEDENT

October 4th, 2018 | by Dylan James Harper

Anti-bullying as a cause is now a cottage industry. There are countless books, videos, and classes created to help teach those that work with kids how to stop bullying, all sold to school districts and childcare based non-profits. Most of these focus on broad, but nevertheless positive, concepts, like improved lines of communication, the importance of not putting the victims on trial, and the necessity of comprehensive consequences; few focus on the rigid social systems that craft the context in which most bullying takes place.

 

Rarely, if ever, are terms like racism, sexism, or homophobia, mentioned in these courses, and when they are, it’s almost never a strong focus. Yet much of bullying exists in these terms. While schools have improved their knowledge and rhetoric when it comes to marginalized communities, and the systems of marginalization they face replicating themselves within school walls, these concepts are usually viewed as separate and distinct from bullying.

 

Often issues around marginalization come in the form inclusivity initiatives at the level of the school site, such as clubs or campaigns that deal with vague platitudes about kindness and acceptance. This is in stark contrast to the seriousness with which districts treat bullying. Marginalization might result in calls for cultural change, bullying changes the all ruling district educational code.

 

The relevance of this is self-evident, but it’s important also to understand the distinction within the context of school shootings. In the immediate aftermath of the Columbine shooting, many within the community, the police force, and the media falsely stated that bullying was the primary motivation for the attack. Dave Cullen’s Columbine, which serves as a long over due detailed correction to many of the myths around the shooting, goes to great lengths to disprove the myth of the vengeful goth kid taking vengeance upon the bullying jocks.

 

Several recent school shootings have been closely followed by anti-bullying campaigns. Some of these can be dismissed as disingenuous attempts to deter discourse around the use and access to firearms, but some of it was undoubtedly sincere. Despite the fact that female students and students of color are bullied at a disproportionately high rate, most school shooters are white male. Bullying is viewed as the antecedent, but the numbers just don’t hold up.

 

The two primary takeaways from this should be that, first, that there is no basis for understanding bullying as the singular or even primary cause of school shootings. Second, that understandings of the concept of bullying are dubious at best, given how culturally its rarely thought of as related to the primary way in which it exists within schools: as a manifestation of the replication of systems of marginalization. Bullying is a real epidemic, but until it’s rethought and recontextualized, its use as an antecedent is doing far more harm than good.

The simplest way to do it would be to add four justices, but really any sort of progressive majority voting bloc should add six, just to increase the logistical challenge of reactionaries packing the court themselves in the future.

 

More importantly, should the possibility ever arise, once the court is packed, impose strict term limits on justices, grandfathering in the packed court, and lock in the progressive number to prevent the court from ever being packed again. This would take a constitutional majority, but if possible would be well worth it to lock down the judicial branch.

 

The next two to six years (at a minimum) are likely to see almost all progress that’s come through the courts erased. Even issues that feel long resolved, like same-sex marriage, where it seems like the majority opinion in the country has moved beyond the issue, will likely be back on the table. There’s nothing that can be done in the immediate, at least that could occur inside the legal confines of government and outside a baseball field. The only possible way forward is to pack the court.

Dylan James Harper is the Political Editor for CSUITEMUSIC.com
Read more from Dylan at http://www.dylanjamesharper.com

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