Thursday, November 10, 2011

Michigan's bully protection law: the religious right plays victim

Why is Michigan protecting religious tormenters? You may have heard by now that Michigan passed an "anti-bullying law" that exempts anyone who bullies based on religious belief. That is, if a "Christian" kid harasses a gay kid, and says that his religions says gays are an abomination, it's protected speech.

Because, you know, the real question is Who Would Jesus Bully?

Amy Sullivan writes,
This year, Republicans only agreed to consider an anti-bullying measure that did not require school districts to report bullying incidents, did not include any provisions for enforcement or teacher training, and did not hold administrators accountable if they fail to act. …. But it was the addition of special protections for religiously-motivated bullying that led all 11 Democratic senators to vote against the legislation they had long championed.…

To understand what happened in Michigan, it’s important to know that social conservatives consider themselves the real victims. ....In other words, social conservatives believe that efforts to protect gays from assault, discrimination or bullying impinge on their religious freedom to express and act on their belief that homosexuality is an abomination. That’s stating it harshly, but it is the underlying belief.

This belief, however, relies on a warped understanding of religious liberty. Freedom of religious expression doesn’t give someone the right to kick the crap out of a gay kid or to verbally torment her. It doesn’t give someone the right to fire a gay employee instead of dealing with the potential discomfort of working with him.

It’s also a highly selective conception of religious liberty. The same religious conservatives who applaud the religious exemption in Michigan’s anti-bullying bill would be appalled if it protected a Muslim student in Dearborn who defended bullying a Christian classmate by saying he considered her an infidel.

Remember, the current battle over LGBT equality is with the religious right who bleat that they are the victims, that the big mean gays will storm their churches and destroy their religion, and therefore, they need unique protections from The Gay. This victim card is being widely played and needs to be recognized for what it is: the last resort of the true bullies, whose only goal is to hurt and inflict pain.

After all, you don't get to kill your parents and then claim mercy because you're an orphan.

1 comment:

Paul (A.) said...

Through Bill in Portland, Maine, we learn that the bill will be amended partly as a consequence of this speech. Kudos to Gretchen Whitmer!