by Izzy Kalman (February 2008)I have written in previous newsletters how our country’s anti-bullying policies are creating a Soviet Union-style Big Brother state in which our minutest interactions become the domain of the government, and in which the government conveniently maintains control by turning its citizens into informers against each other. “Telling is not tattling” is the innocent-sounding slogan that is used by schools to indoctrinate our youngest citizens into reporting on their fellows to the school authorities. Of course, this is not done with bad intentions, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Schools want to protect “virtuous victims” from “evil bullies”; the fact that their intervention is likely to make the bullying intensify and lead to a whole host of other problems seems to be of no concern to anyone. Even those of us most distrustful of government seem to think government control is a good thing when it comes to “bullying.” (Do an internet search. I challenge you to find even one article anywhere–other than my own–that questions the wisdom of anti-bullying laws and programs. If you find one, I’d love to see it).
I know that my comparisons of our country to the repressive (former) Soviet Union may seem exaggerated. After all, we are the United States. In contrast to the “Evil Empire,” we stand for freedom and goodness. However, it may take someone who is actually familiar with the operations of the USSR to recognize the direction we in the “free world” are taking.
The following is a letter from a reader who knows first-hand what I am talking about.
This is your new Russian friend Andrei Rodin. Thanks for the info you provide in your newsletters. It feels like a breath of fresh air. Trying to keep up with the most recent info on anti-bullying programs, I am amazed at how much taxpayers are wasting on the research, development, implementation of new policies, guidance lessons, seminars, etc., devoted to the latest breaking news on anti-bullying. What is there to break? “You can’t throw a scarf on everyone’s mouth” (ancient Russian proverb). And they tried to do so in the Soviet Union–to cover all mouths. Guess what? There is no more Soviet Union.
I am so tired of reading same old @$#& about reporting the bullies, teaching kids that being mean is not nice, being respectful while we–educators– tattle on each other to our administrators. This is one hypocritical environment that tries to establish heaven in schools while putting colleagues through hell on a daily basis. And the kids see straight through this. I think it is disrespectful and unethical, since we–THE TEACHERS–teach our students to be tolerant, kind, caring, while we are being vindictive, petty, angry, CONTROLLING…
The hilarious, if not scary, thing is that we are preaching tolerance and diversity while prohibiting the expressions of those. Instead of adding celebrations of Hannukah and Ramadan, for example, we banned Christmas and Halloween from schools. Now we are happy? Why can’t the educational society admit the simple strategy: Don’t like the show, change the channel? Instead, we’ve created an army of watchdogs who are eager to distract the kids from learning by taking their academic time to preach the values that they, themselves, do not uphold.
Thank you for your common sense, belief in kids, and support of those of us who are trying really hard to keep the mental health professionals from joining the police force. I really enjoyed your article about the Soviet Union. I lived in that hell. I thought I escaped it by coming here. No darn way. The Big Brother is checking my e-mail, as I learned last week during the meeting with my supervisor. Please, keep educating people on Freedom of Speech. If you ever run out of the examples of how scary it is to lose your ability to speak openly, let me know – I have 28 years of the Soviet stories I would love to share.
Looking forward to your next monthly newsletter.