Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Legislating kindness? It's insane ~ By Phil Elmore

I should recuse myself from commenting on Phil's column... There was a span during my life when I was mercilessly tormented, both physically and emotionally, on a daily basis. I had no recourse at that age except to either take violent retribution against the tormentors, or just deal with it. I normally took the latter option. But the option of ending my life, or any one else's, never existed. Wait, maybe it did, because the thoughts crossed my mind, so I guess that makes it an option... Just not a valid option.

And that I didn't ever do anything with life changing or ending consequences, for anyone, we can pretty much give the credit to my Christian and family-oriented upbringing. I cared too much for the people that were raising me to do anything that would bring shame to them.

So, doesn't that mean that we would be giving blame more weight than shame if it comes down to legislating against "bullycide"?

Legislating kindness? It's insane
By Phil Elmore

September 28, 2011 ~ 3:04 pm Eastern

© 2011

Who is responsible for suicide? When a human being self-harms, who is to blame? Can anyone but the dead shoulder ownership of their passing? Or shall we elect instead to force, under pain of imprisonment and lifelong penalty, a climate of emotional extortion? When every citizen of our nation lives in fear of his neighbor's upset, who do we then punish for the fear and loathing we enshrine as law?

These are not rhetorical questions. This is not a theoretical debate. A New York state senator, Jeffrey Klein, wants to make it a felony to bully someone. He has introduced legislation to expand the definition of manslaughter in New York to include "bullycide." Should that law pass, if you "bully" or "cyberbully" someone in New York state and they then commit suicide, you would be guilty of manslaughter.

As CBS reported, the proposed change to New York law "comes after the death of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer … a week ago Sunday. Police said Rodemeyer was driven to commit suicide after high school bullies teased him about his sexuality."

Rodemeyer's suicide is the latest in a highly publicized string of deaths involving young people who were teased or bullied. Last year, Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University, killed himself after a sexual encounter he had in his dorm was broadcast to other students without his knowledge. He was not alone; a 15-year-old girl in Massachusetts killed herself in January 2010 after being harassed by text message and on the social networking site Facebook. The year before that, a Missouri mom who "cyberbullied" her daughter's 13-year-old rival (by impersonating a boy to trick and then humiliate the girl) was convicted of several misdemeanor criminal charges relating to misuse of computers. That 13-year-old girl, Megan Meier, committed suicide in 2006. Children as young as 9 years old have killed themselves, presumably because the pressure of their social environment was too much for them.

"Bullycide," already a trending term on Twitter, is the term coined for a suicide inspired by social harassment. There are now books and even entire organizations devoted to combating it. Whether in person or, as is proving increasingly prevalent, through technology (from wireless phones to social media specifically and the Web in general), such bullying "in schools and workplaces" leads to suicides "around the world." As the site Overcome Bullying asserts:
The bullying/suicide connection has been demonstrated time and again. The consequences of bullying can be lethal. Bullying is directly implicated in child and teenage suicide. Addressing the issue of bullying at school or even after school hours through stalking or cyberbullying (Web bullying) is an essential component of teen suicide prevention.
The desire to prevent suicide, especially among young people, is understandable. The efforts of organizations devoted to this purpose are largely laudable. Suicide is a tragedy, the application of a permanent solution to what are, in most cases, only temporary problems. It is a bell you cannot unring; it is the most drastic and most selfish of all ill-conceived acts. To take your life is to damn yourself, if not spiritually, then in the eyes of your family and your friends, who will forever suffer your absence while bearing the psychological poverty of your choice.


Don't be afraid!
are the MOB
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