On Thursday's front page the Grand Rapids Press broke the story that gasoline prices are cheaper in Indiana and Kentucky than here in River City! Not only that, intrepid Press reporter, Ben Beversluis, told us where the cheapest gas was in Atlanta the day before. OK. Good stuff. Another reason to renew that subscription.
Despite the banality of the front page, the Press did get it right on the editorial page. No, I'm not pulling your leg. In the lead editorial, the paper opposed the "anti-bullying" bill that the Michigan House of Representatives passed last week. The proposed law defines bullying and mandates that schools adopt particular policies and procedures against it. The Press called upon the Michigan State Senate to vote it down -- and that is exactly what the Senate should do.
The law would be a bad one for a number of reasons. First is that schools already have policies against bullying. If a school principal isn't enforcing that policy, that is a problem for the local school district not the state legislature to addess. Second is that bullying is one of those things that you know it when you see it. It's not tidily reduced to a litany of crimes against political correctness, as the Democratic authors of the bill have officially defined bullying. It would elevate childish insults -- e.g., "You're so gay!" -- to high crimes while allowing the pettifoggers (i.e., parents and their lawyers who refuse to hold their little darlings responsible for any wrongdoing) to excuse cruelties that slip through the P.C. dragnet. Third is that, by its very nature, this law would circumscribe the discretion of local officials to deal with a local problem.
As we have commented recently, discipline is a primary duty of school officials. Without it, there can be no effective education of students. While bullies are a reality most kids must learn to deal with, they cannot be permitted to be a serious disruption to a child's education and well-being. When a bully's parents will not keep him or her in check, then school officials must have the flexibility to do so as the situation dictates up to expulsion if necessary. An "anti-bullying" law mandated from on high in Lansing would eliminate that flexibility by ossifying what is a social process of discipline into a legal one, with all the obfuscating clutter of procedures, rights, and appeals that would ensure less rather than more is done to control schoolyard punks.