Your Lying Eyes

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13 September 2011

The Bullying Pulpit

How do you bring about radical social change in a democracy? At the ballot box? Hah! Never happen - after all, the very people whose lives you want to throw into disarray are the very votes you'd need. Take your case to the courts until you get to the Supremes where you win a huge landmark decision overthrowing the old order? That's so 70's - what with the current makeup of the SCOTUS.

No, the best way is to set up a mega-righteous advocacy group that looks for vulnerable bastions of the very thing you're trying to overthrow - and sue the poor suckers for some vague civil-rights violations. We don't need no steenking SCOTUS - we'll just sue the bastards in federal court for hefty damages, dare the cash-strapped entity (and what public entity isn't cash strapped right now?) to fight back, and then ultimately settle. What's the settlement - multi-millions of dollars for the victims? Not a chance. It's a consent decree where you - the neanderthals - agree to throw out all your democratically sanctioned, old-world policies and agree to set up a formidable bureaucratic juggernaut mandated to overthrow all those crusty, traditional ways you so pathetically cherish.

The Times had an article today which highlighted a school district which - as it mentioned several times - is in Michelle Bachmann's congressional district that does not sufficiently genuflect to homosexual identity. To be precise, the article discusses a lawsuit alleging that "school officials have failed to stop relentless antigay bullying and that a district policy requiring teachers to remain “neutral” on issues of sexual orientation has fostered oppressive silence and a corrosive stigma." The charge is that homosexual students are being bullied and the school is not properly addressing this. How many students are part of this lawsuit? Six. How many students are in the Anoka school district being sued? 40,000. So these 6 students must be getting bullied really hard to justify hiring a lawyer to sue the district, right? As I'm sure you've guessed, no.
The lawsuit was brought in July on behalf of six current and former students by the Southern Poverty Law Center and by the National Center for Lesbian Rights. It charges that district staff members, when they witnessed or heard reports of antigay harassment, tended to “ignore, minimize, dismiss, or in some instances, to blame the victim for the other students’ abusive behavior.”
So what's the problem?
Through it all, conservative Christian groups have demanded that the schools avoid any descriptions of homosexuality or same-sex marriage as normal, warning against any surrender to what they say is the “homosexual agenda” of recruiting youngsters to an “unhealthy and abnormal lifestyle.”
How bad are things?
One of the plaintiffs, Kyle Rooker, 14, has not declared his sexual orientation but was perceived by classmates as gay, he said, in part because he likes to wear glittery scarves and belt out Lady Gaga songs.
Has it really gotten to this - where a kid can't be mocked for wearing glittery scarves and belting out Lady Gaga songs? Can there be no more obvious sign of America's doom - that a 14 year old boy who wears glittery scarves and belts out Lady Gaga songs gets to sue in federal court for being mocked?

But of course it has nothing to do with any student's ordeal - Bachmann's conservative district is being targeted, their Christian viewpoint is anathema, and six(6!) students out of 40,000 were enlisted to front the suit. The article notes that Ms. Bachmann "did not respond to requests to comment for this article" - and why should she? Even a President Bachmann wouldn't be able to mount a defense. (If I were President, I would put the full force of the Justice Department against the SPLC at every occasion (in this case in defense of the first amendment), potentially bankrupting them. Ah, dreams.)

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Anonymous Handle said...

The best policy is always to "follow the money" and while they have their occasional major donors, the answer to where organizations like the SPLC and ACLU get most of their lawfare motivation is here.

This is why it's essential to sue government entities, and never actual people or agents in their individual capacity, for "violations of civil rights". It's not just about deep pockets - plenty of large firms have those, but, of course, it's their own money and they'll fight back hard, especially as regards the matters of exorbitant attorney's fees in matters where that amount vastly exceeds any reasonable compensation for individual harm.

But with something like a school district, it's just the taxpayers who are on the hook. Nice work if you can get it. It also helps when the bureaucrats aren't really all that interested in vigorous advocacy and occasionally like to throw the case because they secretly disagree with the current policy, but would prefer to explain to the citizens that they were "forced" to make the change. Half the time they just want the negative attention to go away as quickly as possible, the other half they're happy to see the SPLC get paid. Teamwork is the key.

September 16, 2011 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Piper said...

Fewer than six students (the article says "current and former students," meaning most of the alleged plaintiffs aren't students at all).

September 23, 2011 1:12 PM  

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