Proposed bullying ordinance looks like swing and miss

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Pat Grime copy.jpg

According to the news agency Reuters, city leaders in Carson, near my old South Bay stomping grounds, have proposed making the act of picking on someone a crime.  The anti-bullying ordinance will come up for a final vote later this month.

Carson's mayor, Jim Dear, says he supports the measure, though it will likely be challenged in court.  One can only hope the measure will be weighed in the court of Judge Judy, where justice is rendered with starkly definition.

According to the news agency Reuters, city leaders in Carson, near my old South Bay stomping grounds, have proposed making the act of picking on someone a crime.  The anti-bullying ordinance will come up for a final vote later this month.

Carson's mayor, Jim Dear, says he supports the measure, though it will likely be challenged in court.  One can only hope the measure will be weighed in the court of Judge Judy, where justice is rendered with starkly definition.

We can all agree that bullying is a bad thing. Life is just too short to have to put up with mean-spirited people being mean, and I am sure there are plenty of instances where a law like this could spare victims from undeserved suffering.

Then again, this law could cause a lot of people to be charged with a minor crime. After all, one person's teasing is another person's unkind harassment. 

How many people with chips on their shoulder are going to assume hostile intent from an innocent comment and demand the police take action? What is to stop a vain Carsonite from making a citizen's arrest when told they were looking a little tired that day? Who will determine the high school coach was merely urging his team to improve via passionate and profane words, not systematically picking on the teens?

Some days, a law like this would surely come in handy for yours truly.  Nothing would take the pressure off of a stress-filled week like the opportunity to have someone charged for looking at me the wrong way.  When the security guard at the mall says I can't sit on the edge of the fountain, his receiving a citation would soothe my indignation. 

And wouldn't you love to be able to tell your unreasonable boss that repeated harangues about your tardiness could be reason to call the police?

Sadly, the law would not apply to someone my age.  The measure specifically refers to “conduct which involves harassment of a person from kindergarten through age 25.” As such, I can take easy offense, but no legal action against anyone from whom I perceived a slight. It would seem that whenever I am in Carson, or anywhere else for that matter, there's no sense in asking the sheriff to help me out in the face of apparent disrespect. 

Still, would-be bullies had better watch out. The names of those caught not complimenting my new haircut will be recorded and given to the Society for the Prevention of Hurt Feelings.  Those who get their kicks from adding the phrase, “for a man your age,” to the seemingly innocent compliment, “you're looking good today,” will be subjected to my quiet wrath for a period of hours or days.

What is more, all these people will be officially classified in my files as “not very nice.”  It may not send them to court, but they will have to live with who they are.

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com

Proposed bullying ordinance looks like swing and miss