As a believer in the First Amendment, I’m very suspicious of the anti-bullying movement, and I have criticized it repeatedly. There are already plenty of laws covering physical violence, but I think the old expression “sticks and stones” still holds true. Plus, it is good life advice. What worries me about anti-bullying campaigns is that they are not limited to combating physical bullying. They target “offensive” speech, using slogans like “WORDS HURT.”

Sure, words hurt. In an emotional sense, I am “hurt” by things people say which hurt my feelings. I have learned to put up with hurtful remarks when possible, and avoid them when not possible. But no matter how much I might get upset over insulting or hateful remarks, I would defend with a passion the right to say them. I worry that the anti-bully people do not believe in free speech.

I also worry that because of their leftist bent, many of them think this guy (pictured typically as here with his “victim”) is a bully:

But not this guy!

And not film director Spike Lee, who recently incited a mob to terrify an elderly couple — who had nothing to do with the event which set him off.

So what is bullying? Here’s Wikipedia:

Bullying is an act of repeated aggressive behavior in order to intentionally hurt another person, physically or mentally. Bullying is characterized by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person.

[…]

Bullying behavior may include name calling, verbal or written abuse, exclusion from activities, exclusion from social situations, physical abuse, or coercion.

How about repeatedly wishing death on someone who has just had a heart transplant? Isn’t that bullying at least as much as telling a gay man that his behavior is an abomination according to Leviticus?

I think so. But I suspect the anti-bullying activists don’t think so.

I would love to not have to take them seriously. I would love to ignore them and hope they go away. But that doesn’t work with bullies.

At the rate things are going, standing up to the bullies will be called bullying.