Open Thread: Is the Media Driving the Bullying Narrative?

As of late, the topic of bullying in schools against certain types of people seems to be making headlines with increasing frequency, but the story is not new. According to Thomas Sowell, "[b]ack in the 1920s, the intelligentsia on both sides of the Atlantic were loudly protesting the execution of political radicals Sacco and Vanzetti, after what they claimed was an unfair trial. Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote to his young leftist friend Harold Laski, pointing out that there were 'a thousand-fold worse cases' involving black defendants, 'but the world does not worry over them.'"

Today's media crusade against bullying likewise only cares about which groups are "in vogue" at the moment, currently focusing on "bullying directed against youngsters who are homosexual." Do you think bullying in schools has become a media driven story? Or do you think the level of bullying requires political action to prevent? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

As Sowell explained:

...For years, there have been local newspaper stories about black kids in schools in New York and Philadelphia beating up Asian classmates, some beaten so badly as to require medical treatment.

But the national media hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil. Asian-Americans are not in vogue today, just as blacks were not in vogue in the 1920s.

Meanwhile, the media are focused on bullying directed against youngsters who are homosexual. Gays are in vogue. [...]

Where youngsters are victims of violence, whether for being gay or whatever, that is where the authorities need to step in. No decent person wants to see kids hounded, whether by words or deeds, and whether the kids are gay, Asian, or whatever.

But there is still a difference between words and deeds — and it is a difference we do not need to let ourselves be stampeded into ignoring. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees freedom of speech — and, like any other freedom, it can be abused.

The problem with censoring certain types of bullying speech is that the censorship often becomes selectively applied.

Women can say anything they want to men, or blacks to whites, with impunity. But strong words in the other direction can bring down on students the wrath of the campus thought police — as well as punishments that can extend to suspension or expulsion.

Do you think legislating against verbal bullying will solve anything? Or is it just creating additional special privileges?

NB Staff
NB Staff