Anyone remember the anti-bullying crusade? Bullying is evil and must be condemned whenever and wherever it occurs, right? Not so fast.

A mother and her 9-year-old son say school officials won’t let him bring a My Little Pony bag to school. The boy and his mother say he’s getting shoved around because bullies think his pick of a favorite toy is for girls. It’s a decades-old kids show where pony characters emphasize the bonds of friendship. It’s become anything but friendship for 9-year-old Grayson Bruce.  Grayson Bruce, My Little Pony fan, “they’re taking it a little too far, with punching me, pushing me down, calling me horrible names, stuff that really shouldn’t happen.” Grayson picked a Rainbow Dash bag out this year, which he says has intensified the attacks against him. Grayson, “most of the characters in the show are girls, and most of the people put it toward girls, most of the toys are girlie, and surprisingly I found stuff like this.”

I read about this in an article by Eugene Volokh, who warned,

But such reaction by schools itself teaches students something — it teaches bullies that, if they threaten enough disruption, the school will react against their victims. At this point, it’s just 9-year-olds, and 9-year-olds do some dumb things. (The “thugs” in my headline is a bit facetious, though not much.) But they can be taught before they grow up into 15-year-olds, or 20-year-olds. In particular, if the school used this as an opportunity to teach kids that they can’t beat kids up for being fans of material that is seen as “too girly,” the high school students that these kids will grow into might be more tolerant of speech and behavior they disapprove of. And if the school teaches kids that, if they push others around, the school will make those others conform, then the high school students of the future will learn that lesson, too.

Imagine. Schools that claim to have “zero tolerance” for bullying are actually enabling bullies. I don’t care whether the boy was carrying a “My Little Pony” lunchbox or wearing a dress; if schools have reached a point where they are on the one hand screaming about the horrors of bullying (and asking for money to combat the epidemic), while simultaneously telling kids not to, um, provoke* bullies, then something is very, unbelievably, wrong. Or is “provoke” the wrong word? Should I have said “trigger“? Can that possibly be the correct word to help cement into place the enablement of bullies? Are linguists now in charge? What is going on? This is the United States of America, right?

AFTERTHOUGHT: Shouldn’t schools require girls to be sufficiently “covered” in order to not provoke rapists?