The Course of Reason

After All, What Would Jesus Do?

November 7, 2011

I’m not normally a big TV-watcher, but every once and a while, a small-screen gem pops up on my Netflix instant queue (X-Files, Home Movies, etc.) and I have to watch every episode. The Wonder Years is the most recent gem that I have found. I’ve watched entirely too many episodes in too short of an amount of time, but the retro lives of the Arnold household have given me a lot to think about, like why is Craig Hobson such a jerk? What was life like before the internet? What’s a map? Why are they sitting at the kitchen table to talk on the phone? And most importantly, why does being a kid suck so much?

To answer that last question, one of the major factors regarding childhood embarrassment and despair was bullies. Bullies, bullying, and kids acting like little jerks are mostly why being a kid sucks. Sure, you’re self-conscious, you care too much about what other people think, your parents make you do things and yet give you very few privileges, and big brothers like Wayne attempt to make your life hell every day. Still, ask the adults you know if they’ve ever been bullied, and see how many people’s faces change when they recall how horrible someone was to them.

I know I haven’t been a kid for quite a while, but I would like to think bullying is less of a problem now. I know it is still a problem, and the ultra-connectedness that we now experience due to the internet (and “cyber-bullying”) means that torment can come in new forms, but at least the adults are doing things like making policies and passing legislation to help kids be shielded from the worst bullying in the hopes that we can prevent kids from taking their own lives and living with agony.

Oh, wait, just kidding. That’s true in most places, but in Michigan (birthplace of the one-and-only Dren) apparently bullying is unacceptable, except when it is to emotionally or maybe physically torture someone who is different from you because of “moral” or religious reasons. So now when little junior jerkface is picking on someone because the other person is smaller, or bigger, or different in any way, the offender can just say that they were doing it because that person is gay and they think gay is immoral. Or, that person is Jewish and the bully is not. Would kids who feel that they are not religious be correct to make fun of kids from Christian families? Push ‘em down, tell them Veggie Tales are stupid? Tell them Bible Man looks like a mix between Grimace and a Mexican wrestler? If this bill passed, it sure sounds like that would be acceptable.

Give you a swirly because you have freckles = not okay.
Give you a swirly because you are openly gay = totally cool.

The wording of the “just kidding” paragraph is explained on several news sites, including ABC News:

But in a change before Wednesday’s vote, Republican lawmakers added a clause ensuring that the bill “does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held belief or moral conviction” of a student or school worker. 

I know that I don’t even need to say why this is wrong. It should be clear to everyone who has any reasoning ability at all that it is wrong to tell kids it is alright to make fun of someone because of deeply held beliefs. It is so wrong that it is an embarrassment to the entire state, and to me, and I hope that the legislatures come to realize how awful and hateful these exceptions are, and that the bill doesn’t actually become a law. I don’t even know what to add. Whenever I think about it, I just shake my head in shame and anger. Anger at the way adults use children to fight their battles, and shame at being a part of the same society that has created this mess. 



About the Author: Dren Asselmeier

Dren Asselmeier's photo

Dren Asselmeier does student outreach as a campus organizer at the Center for Inquiry. She got her start as an organizer while interning at Center for Inquiry–Michigan in 2008. She stayed until 2010 as a volunteer campus coordinator, and was CFI–Michigan Freethinker of the Year in 2009, as well as president of Center for Inquiry–Grand Valley State University. Dren has a B.A. in English from Grand Valley State University. She is the president of Buffalo Area Non-Profit Professionals, an event volunteer at Buffalo Subversive Theatre, and a contributor to the Buffalo Storyteller Hour. 




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