Anti-bullying campaigns are infringing on students’ rights to free association, argues attorney Hans Bader.
For example, some schools are trying to regulate birthday invitations: All classmates — or all classmates of the same sex — must be invited so unpopular kids don’t feel left out. (My mother told me I couldn’t invite almost all the girls in my kindergarten class. It was all or half.)
Using politically-correct psychobabble about “power relationships,” some psychologists have sought to redefine bullying to include wielding “popularity,” not just violence. For example, a recent survey by a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia, Dewey Cornell, defined bullying as “the use of one’s strength or popularity to injure, threaten or embarrass another person on purpose,” and defined it to include “verbal” or “social” behavior, not just “physical” assaults and intimidation.
Nobully.com defines “eye rolling” as a form of bullying, Bader writes. “Relational bullying” includes disrupting “another student’s peer relationships through leaving them out, gossiping, whispering and spreading rumors.” It’s hard to imagine a school on Planet Earth in which everybody is friends with everybody else and nobody gossips, whispers or spreads rumors.
A victim of violent bullying as a child — and one rarely invited to birthday parties — Bader thinks “these overbroad definitions of bullying trivialize actual bullying.”