Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Michigan: What Are You Thinking?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," resuming in a less structured way our push-back against the ultra-fringe Dominionists who would like to insert God into our government. Thomas Jefferson would order these people deported back to the countries from which their ancestors fled (escaping religious persecution).

I lived in Michigan for four years, and while I was there I was treated extremely kindly on more than one occasion by Christian people. I found, as a white Detroiter, that I was occasionally in a situation where I got bullied for being white. One of those times was when I went to hear Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak at the Ford Arena. While waiting outside, I was told to leave by a group of men who thought I shouldn't be there. A lovely bunch of church ladies, dressed in their best hats, took me in and invited me to sit with them. I have never forgotten that. They even took the trouble to scold the guys who were trying to keep the white woman from hearing Desmond Tutu! And trust me, I still remember Tutu's speech. What an awesome man!

Now, I was going to begin and end with this happy story. But the peerless Jason Pitzl-Waters (see link in my blog, The Wild Hunt) has alerted us to "anti-bullying" legislation in Michigan that would exempt bullying of a religious or moral nature.

For the love of fruit flies! Those guys at Ford Arena would have had the right to bully me right out of seeing Desmond Tutu! They proudly told me that they had marched in Selma, and this was their moment. That certainly is moral grounds for me not to be there.

This is more serious than my own little story, though.

How easy would it be for a dedicated bully to find moral or religious grounds to whomp a kid?

Well, I dunno ... Let's ask Hitler.

I would submit that a good bit of bullying occurs over religious issues, or at least it already gives bullies a pulpit for their actions. Michigan, your law has a big hole in it that you had better patch. Pagan, Arabic, and Jewish Michiganders had better get on this one, or it will be their kids who get jumped, harassed, intimidated, and hazed.

New Jersey has one of the strictest anti-bullying laws around, and as a teacher it makes my job way harder. I have to be alert to every kind of bullying, not exempting trash talk to the kid who comes to school wearing a pentagram. Come on, Michigan. Get real. Go get your trowel and a good batch of cement, and plug that hole.

Here's a fun thing we did in Michigan that I have also never forgotten. When someone wanted to show you how to get to Saginaw from Detroit, he or she would hold up the palm of his or her hand and point from the wrist bone (Detroit) to the lower thumb (Saginaw). If you wanted to go to Traverse City, that's on the pinky.

Okay, got to run. Teacher meeting on bullying!


Anonymous said...

This is crazy ridiculous. But somewhere (not this particular situation) there has to be a line drawn. My 10yo son got written up for bullying because he told his crush that she smells like dead squirrel. Srsly, people? And his teacher told me "the definition of bullying is changing" from when I grew up and bullying meant being afraid to walk home alone from school because "they" were waiting in ambush to beat you up or steal your lunch money. So it's sketchy, and where does one draw the line...I think this situation at my son's school is NUTS, but the one you are describing is flatly dangerous.

bibi said...

Dont know if you saw my FB post about one of our WV Delegates who is opposing the WV Dept of Ed's bullying policy because it protects those students who practice the "sin' of homosexuality. He likens homosexuality to "chosen" sins such as lying and cheating. On the heels of Delegate Jonathan Miller's asinine declarations, another boy committed suicide in WV yesterday due to the unrelenting bullying he encountered as a young gay student. RIP Eston Nelson, and a big twist of the balls to Jonathan Miller.

Pitch313 said...

Just because somebody has got into a governing body that can propose laws and regulations does not mean that he or she actually has any informed idea of what laws and regulations are or what they are supposed to do.

In a democracy.

It's a pretty sure thing that "religious" bullying by adherents of religions other than the fashionable Abrahamic ones will not get any sort of free pass.

As an alum of Michigan State, one of the many things that I continue to find charming about the state (along with the handy hand map!) is Yoops! The UP (the space a bit above your fingertips shaped kinda like a duck's bill) is like another world. Yoop! Yoop! Yoop!