Opinion

‘Bully bill’ just more political gamesmanship

With all of the important work facing them during the current session, we wonder how Washington lawmakers found the time to even consider the so-called “bully bill” that won approval in the Senate last week.

The measure, which is expected to pass quickly through the House before lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn later this week, will then undoubtedly be signed into law by Gov. Gary Locke with the enthusiastic support of Attorney General Christine Gregoire.

“Passage of this bill sends a clear message that bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our schools,” said the two in a joint statement last week. “We must make sure that every student has a safe place to learn.”

The question is, safe from what?

Obviously school administrators have always had the ability and inclination to address discipline issues related to the physical safety of students. But this bill does little or nothing to add teeth to their efforts to maintain order in the classroom or on the playground.

Nor is it intended to, really.

The bill’s unstated purpose is to reinforce the victim status of certain favored minorities — most notably homosexuals, a key constituency of Democrats like Locke, Gregoire and the leaders in both houses of the Washington Legislature.

At the same time, the bill’s advocates also use the opportunity take a swipe at perceived Republican supporters by insisting the bullying problem today is worse than ever because of the prevalence of guns and the ever-present possibility a maligned student will turn one on his or her classmates.

Again, genuine physical attacks or intimidation of any student for any reason shouldn’t be tolerated in our schools and, for the record, they never have been. And this measure won’t change that reality one way or the other. As a practical matter, about all it amounts to is another report to be written by another school administrator.

Grand pronouncements by the governor and attorney general aside, the bully bill isn’t about protecting anyone’s safety. It’s about throwing a bone to one’s political supporters while maligning opponents.

All of which makes for grand spectacle on the campaign stump, but the point is why, when they should be trying to write a budget or solve the state’s transportation problems, are Washington lawmakers wasting valuable time with this kind of gamesmanship now?

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