Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bullied to death

We’ve played a couple of games of “pin the legislation on the Constitution” here over the last several days. By now, you should be able to do it on your own. What do you think about this one:

Sen. Al Franken introduced legislation on Thursday that would protect LGBT students from bullying in America’s public schools. The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) is in response to a series of incidents where students have been bullied to death — either murdered at the hands of their attackers or having committed suicide as a result of bullying.

“It’s time that we extend the protections of our nation’s civil right laws to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students across the country,” Franken said in a statement. “No student should be subjected to the ridicule and physical violence that LGBT students so often experience in school. It’s time we demanded equal treatment for all of our children under the law.”

Tom Pritchard, the Holy Bully, would doubtless be opposed to Franken’s bill, on the grounds it denies freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion to students who want to remind their gay classmates at every opportunity that they are going to hell.

So that’s probably not it.

But you would think that stuff like this would even give Tom pause:

Last month, Jaheem Herrera of DeKalb County was bullied so incessantly that at one point he physically collapsed in the classroom. He hung himself in his bedroom on April 16.

A year earlier, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover of Massachusetts also hung himself after being taunted by classmates who said he was gay.

And in 2008, Lawrence King was murdered by one of his tormentors.

Let’s hope it does.

Give up? It’s the Fourteenth Amendment, one of the “Reconstruction Amendments.”

Section 1 provides:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. [emphasis mine]

Section 5 gives life to Section 1:

The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Since public schools are, well, public institutions, there is plenty of state action here.

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