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Hang your head in shame, Michigan

Ok seriously, what the fuck is wrong with people? Wednesday the state of Michigan passed “Matt’s Safe School Law“, an anti-bullying measure. (More here)

You’d think an “anti-bullying” law named after a boy who killed himself after constant bullying would require school districts to report bullying incidents, include provisions for enforcement and teacher training, and hold administrators accountable if they fail to act. This law does none of those things. What it does do is say that bullying is justifiable if done out of “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction”. This is an anti-bullying law that protects bullies.

When I try to imagine this from the perspective of Matt Epling’s family I’m not sure if I want to vomit or hit someone.

Over the last year there’s been a lot of attention paid to teen suicides linked to bullying. Most of those were kids who were gay, or at least assumed to be gay by their tormentors. Every time I’ve seen this discussed, there’s been a lot of talk about two subjects: First, how many of the kids were actually gay. Second, whether Christians should hate & persecute gays, or hate them but show compassion, or just treat them like any other person. You know what? It doesn’t matter.

If you’re bullying someone to the point where they feel so trapped and powerless that they resort to suicide, you‘re the villain. What Jesus thinks of your victim changes nothing about the nature of your crime, you are still deliberately tormenting another. Bullying is defined by the act, not the victim. Torturing a terrorist is still torture, lynching Hitler is still murder. The act is what matters here, everything else is just victim-blaming and making excuses.

On the subject of excuses, if you’re a school administrator who’d making excuses for this shit you need to recognize that those victims are children entrusted to your care. Their safety should be your first priority and if bullying is happening on your watch you are failing. Saying “boys will be boys” or similar trite bullshit just compounds your failure by trivializing the suffering of children under your care and a willful attempt to deflect your negligence.

Bullying is wrong regardless of who’s doing it to whom. You should be ashamed of yourself, Michigan.

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