The contagion of bureaucratically enforced niceness continues unabated: if you're fond of the encroaching campus sexual harassment codes we've been covering in this space, you're bound to love this proposed anti-bullying ordinance in Washington DC, dissected here today at The Atlantic by attorney and civil lbertarian Wendy Kaminer. As she notes, there may well be a threshold at which verbal abuse constitutes legitimately punishable harassment, but the bill currently under consideration by the DC Council goes way, WAY, beyond those limits: "Virtually no speech or behavior that a student might consider insulting and that a petty bureaucrat might find offensive and disruptive is beyond the reach of this ban." Thus, all public schools, parks, libraries, facilities, agencies and the public university within the federal district will be within reach of the anti-bullying dragnet to be cast if the ordinance is enacted. Not only that, the law would also establish a network of anonymous snitches and informers who would be obliged to report any suspected "bullying" activity to "the appropriate authorities." Although Kaminer concludes that the bill in its present form is surely unconstitutional, I can't shake the uncomfortable feeling that many higher education bureaucrats - especially the folks who work in the "campus climate" office - are glowing warmly with admiration.
- November 07, 2011