State Stifling Free Speech

Are the laws and guidelines set out by government, in an attempt to eradicate bullying, harming or protecting our rights?

Using politically-correct psychobabble about “power relationships,” some psychologists have sought to redefine bullying to include wielding “popularity,” not just violence, writes Hans Bader at openmarket.org.

A recent survey by a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia, Dewey Cornell, defined bullying as “the use of one’s strength or popularity to injure, threaten or embarrass another person on purpose,” and defined it to include “verbal” or “social” behavior, not just “physical” assaults and intimidation.

So if you are “embarrassed” by a “popular” person you can accuse them of bullying. Still worse is the nobully.com web site, which defines even “eye rolling” as a form of bullying, so if you roll your eyes at a jerk, they can accuse you of “bullying.”  As someone who experienced real, violent bullying as a child, I think these overbroad definitions of bullying trivialize actual bullying.

This mindset is typical of the current Administration, which issued a letter to school officials in October 2010 that falsely implied that bullying is already banned by federal law (contrary to federal court rulings), and defined bullying in ways that would violate free speech and disregard basic principles of federalism.

The courts have accorded fairly little protection to students’ freedom of association in school, but these mandates are so unreasonably intrusive that school officials attempting to define speech as “bullying” merely because it “embarrasses” a less popular student violates students’ recognized First Amendment rights, especially in the college setting.

Trial lawyers also are beginning to use the label of “bullying” against journalists, legal commentators, and bloggers.  When a wealthy trial lawyer brought a defamation lawsuit against a law blogger (after his prior lawsuit against the blogger had already been thrown out by a judge), he claimed that the blog, and the web site of a California-based magazine, were “internet bullying” sites.

Broad definitions of “cyber-bullying” have become an excuse for silencing online critics.

In court cases, psychologists hired as expert witnesses have increasingly made dubious psychological diagnoses at the behest of trial lawyers, including the highly-publicized example of Stuart Greenberg, who rose to the pinnacle of the psychological profession before his egregious misconduct (and destruction of countless lives) was exposed.

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Friday

August 12th, 2011

Staff Reporter EducationNews.org

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