by Izzy Kalman (November 2004)
I often say that the best psychologists are comedians. You are more likely to find truth about human beings from comedians or comedy writers than from experts in human behavior. Comedians see us for the fools we really are, with all our faults and weaknesses.
One my favorite TV shows is South Park, created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, though I don’t get to see it nearly as often as I would like. The show has a bad reputation among adults because of the off-color language, but it is absolutely brilliant (and hilarious). The show takes on social issues and shows us our hypocrisy, while often giving us the sane solution at the end.
One episode a couple of years ago dealt with sexual harassment. After a presentation about sexual abuse by an adult dressed in a panda suit, the kids started suing the school whenever another child said a sexually offensive word to them. Before long, the school was on the verge of financial ruin.
Several months ago, the Catholic archdiocese of Portland, Oregon filed for bankruptcy because of the flood of suits over sexual abuse by priests.
The schools of our country are also getting on the path towards bankruptcy thanks to the help of the anti-bullying laws being promoted so eagerly by the enlightened mental health professionals of the modern world. A few months ago, a school in Anchorage, Alaska, was ordered to pay 4.5 million dollars to a family whose bullied child failed in his suicide attempt but suffered irreversible brain damage. In 2002, a high school student in Nevada was awarded $451,000 because he was harassed for being gay. Now another Nevada student is suing the school system because she has been harassed for being Muslim. It’s only a matter of time before we see lawyers advertising that they can make you rich if your child is being bullied in school.
It’s not that I don’t have sympathy for these victims. Of course I do. That is why I have devoted myself to teaching people how to stop being victimized. But the schools do not cause these problems, and the schools can, at best, only partially reduce their occurrence. It is absurd to hold the schools financially responsible, especially when the very same mental health professionals who advocate for school anti-bullying laws don’t even know how to get their own children at home to stop bullying each other. And the truth is that many of these tragic victims were in schools that actually have anti-bullying programs that were trying to help them, but they didn’t succeed.
So if you hate schools and would like to see them go bankrupt, just continue lobbying for anti-bullying laws.
And please excuse me for making a comparison between bullying in school and sexual abuse by priests. Priests are adults who are trained, ordained, and hired by the church. These priests know that sexual abuse is a sin and a crime. The priests ARE the church, and the church is rightfully being held responsible. Schools do not decide which kids can attend, and the bullying is behavior that comes naturally to kids (and adults) and takes place in virtually all social structures. Holding schools responsible for failing to completely stop bullying between kids is absurd.