Elie Mystal wants you to know that he frequently got the snot beat him out of him as a kid. Which gives him the authority in a Nixon-goes-to-China kind of way to declare that the country is seriously overreacting to bullies. "You see, American children apparently have become so fragile, and Americans parents so litigious, that schoolyard bullying is as likely to be settled in a court of law as it is behind a dumpster out back where boys used to handle their disagreements," he writes at the Above the Law blog.
Bullying is awful, but it's also "unavoidable when more than one male competes for whatever status/prestige/sex is on offer." It's always been this way and always will. The cases of Tyler Clementi and others are tragic, but "how far are we willing to take this thing?" he asks." I don’t like slippery slope arguments, but people get bullied in one form or another every day. We can’t charge all of them, so why should we charge just the ones who happen to have a victim who takes the extraordinary step of ending his or her own life?" Parents must teach their kids how to handle it, not how to run to a lawyer.
some of you know my upbringing, some don't. A refresher: I grew up in the mostly-Italian Overbrook neighborhood of Philadelphia. As I child I, too, was bullied on a near-daily basis. It wasn't because I was scrawny, or weird, or effeminate. It was a carryover from "the old country:" my parents were on the outs with the dominant families on the block and kids being kids, it was monkey see, monkey do. The children of the alpha families dominated the actions of most of the kids on the block, so I didn't just get beat up at school, I got it on the walk home, while playing with my other "outsider" friends, etc....
Then I went to high school. Even those who slept through Sociology 101 know this is the time when adolescents start to develop their adult pathways: the jocks hang together, the science geeks congregate, the alpha males and females start to establish themselves and the dumb-ass McDonalds burger flippers become bullies. Most of the same alpha kids followed me into high school and, in search for their place in the hierarchy, through me to the lions day after day. After 8 years of the Sisters of St Joseph penguins doing nothing more to stop the bullying than wagging their crooked fingers at my tormentors, I decided "enough was enough."
I did something that lawyers have all but outlawed in the school environment: I FOUGHT BACK! You'd be surprised what happens to you when these alpha male wannabees get sent to the nurses office with a broken nose or missing a tooth or two. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, all this angst bought you was a trip or two the counselor's office, where you got poked and prodded by a Christian Brother (not THAT way!) to see what made you tick.
Now, after successive generations of the "It Takes a Village" BS and all the touchy-feely that goes with it, actions like that would have landed me in juvie jail, only to exit loaded on Xanax and Adderall. My parents would be sued by the alpha families for the damages done to their harmless darlings. And suicide?? C'mon, I grew up Catholic! Suicide is a sin! And to me it was a waste of my future potential!
Instead, for the unforeseen arthritic pain in my hands from a few boxer's fractures, I live life as a productive member of society (I'm an ex-firefighter and currently active paramedic with 30+ years under my belt). I haven't degenerated into some "Unabomber" wannabee. I haven't withdrawn from society, blaming the bullies of my youth for my anti-social behavior.
So, I say this: quit mollycoddling both the bullies and the bullied. Parents of bullies need to take matters into their own hands and stop their children from hurting others, but the parents of the bullied need to quit hiding their children behind their skirts until the lawyers step in. This country is f**ked up enough as it is without having to stop and rewrite our children's lives every 5 minutes because some liberal says so!