California City Achieves New Lows In Anti-Bullying Laws, Makes Public Entirely Subject To Other People's 'Feelings'

from the protecting-the-elusive-5-25-demographic-from-feeling-down dept

Just stop.

"Fixing" bullying through rushed, stupid, reactionary laws does nothing to address the issue and generally just makes things worse. Carson, CA, Mayor Jim Dear thinks he's going to beat bullying and he's going to use a new law to do it. His plan is a real gem, though, requiring only a one-paragraph summary to encompass its utter vapidity. (via Adam Steinbaugh)

Under an ordinance that will go before the City Council next week, it would become a misdemeanor in the small Harbor-area city to cause anyone from kindergarten through age 25 to “feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested” with no legitimate purpose.
1. This wording suggests there are legitimate reasons to "terrorize, frighten, intimidate, threaten, harass or molest" people aged 5-25. Sadly, the mayor fails to provide examples.

2. Thicker skin is apparently grafted on at age 25, at which point people can expect to be terrorized, threatened, etc. right up to the limits of existing laws. The subtext here is that people are expected to "grow up" and deal with bullying better at some point in their lives. That arbitrary point appears to be four years past the legal drinking age.

3. This bill is entirely subjective -- the key word being "feel." No one is allowed to make anyone "feel" any of the above forbidden feelings. As presented here, there's no "reasonable person" subjectivity bar, which makes everyone in Carson subject to everyone else's feelings.

This bill also covers "cyberbullying," which is incredibly redundant considering all of the feelings listed above. But it goes beyond simple redundancy, offering additional actionable feelings specific to electronic communications.
It cites “hurtful, rude and mean text messages” as a key form of cyberbullying, along with “spreading rumors or lies about others by email or social networks.
"Hurtful?" "Rude?" "Mean?" Have you not met children, Mayor Dear? They can be all of these things without being bullies, simply because their sense of perspective has yet to mature. The most amazing things fall out of kids' mouths. Some grow brain-mouth filters as they mature. Others don't. But most start out without a knowledge of societal norms -- the unspoken agreement that specifies that you don't point out what's different or strange or funny about someone else to their face. But to Dear, these childish statements may be treated as misdemeanors.

For additional unintentional hilarity, here's a statement from the bill's co-sponsor.
Councilman Mike Gipson, a co-author of the measure, said the goal was to make Carson a “bully-free city.”
Gipson's idealism would be admirable if it weren't completely indiscernible from the sort of thing politicians who have long since kissed their ideals goodbye would make. It's a promise that can't be kept, stated as a lofty goal towards which the city will e'er strive, even if it means criminalizing protected speech and non-criminal behavior. If this effort fails (and it will, at one level or another), the goalposts can always be moved, or the definitions changed, so that Carson, CA is constantly approaching the "bully-free" ideal.

The problem with unquantifiable goals is that someone will want to quantify it, if only to justify the arrest and booking of schoolchildren. And when you make certain activities the target, that will be what's counted. The more "bullies" it prosecutes, the closer it must be to achieving Gipson's and Dear's utopian goal. This provides twisted incentives for law enforcement and prosecutors, both of whom are now involved in a problem that used to be solved by parents and schools. Good work if you can get it -- especially if you've got a crusade on your mind -- but it's hardly a solution to a societal problem.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), May 5th, 2014 @ 10:24am

    That's the second time today I thought (and commented) the US will need bigger prisons.

    Now that I'm thinking about it, having something in your police records will mean absolutely nothing once the majority of the population get an entry in their records.

    So you are a felon? What have you done, used too much ketchup in your German sausages?

     

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  2.  
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    Pixelation, May 5th, 2014 @ 11:09am

    This law will get tossed after someone gets bankrupted fighting it.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 11:09am

    The more bullies

    it prosecutes will create shortage of bullies, therefore true to government bureaucratic tendencies, they will have to create newer, tougher, stricter laws to find more bullies!

    US Law has starting becoming a fantastic example of how to create criminals where none existed before!

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 11:11am

    Re:

    Why bother with building bigger prisons? Just turn LA into a prison.
    In fact, we're going to need one on the east cast too. I'm nominating New York.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 11:11am

    Re:

    As long as it stays in California City, I am okay with that.

    Those people voted in their oppressors. To bad the children have to suffer for their adults stupidities!

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re:

    *east coast

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re:

    I see what you did there....

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 11:17am

    Get a 21 year old...

    to accuse the city of causing him to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested” with no legitimate purpose.

    Got to start at 21 cause the years it will take to prosecute, one might accidentally turn 25 and suddenly get reasonable.

     

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  9.  
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    Scote, May 5th, 2014 @ 11:18am

    Actually, CA has had a state law like this for decades

    CA has a law against **annoying** or molesting minors.

    "647.6. (a) (1) Every person who annoys or molests any child under 18 years of age shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both the fine and imprisonment."


    Pretty sure a lot of younger siblings should be in jail based on this law.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 11:29am

    "...the goal was to make Carson a “bully-free city.”"

    Guess they found the best way to do that... Become the bully! I mean I do feel "frightened, intimidated, [and] threatened" by this law...

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 11:32am

    Lets see if I have this right, you stay silent to avoid offending the little persons feeling, and promptly get done for intimidating them, because your silence frightens them.

     

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  12.  
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    Trevor, May 5th, 2014 @ 11:41am

    Three Seashells

    I read these stories, and feel like we're one big earthquake away from living in San Angeles.


    /Demolition Man

     

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  13.  
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    JWW (profile), May 5th, 2014 @ 11:43am

    Re: Get a 21 year old...

    Why do you think the language "legitimate purpose" was put in there.

    Of course the authorities always have a legitimate purpose.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 11:51am

    But of course...

    But of course there are legitimate reasons to "terrorize, frighten, intimidate, threaten, harass or molest" people aged 5-25 - just ask any law enforcement agency

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 11:53am

    Re:

    I replied to this with a blank space .. it was held for the moderators to look at :)

     

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  16.  
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    Michael, May 5th, 2014 @ 11:54am

    “feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested” with no legitimate purpose

    Like, for instance, taxing people to pay these idiots to come up with rediculous laws?

     

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  17.  
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    Violynne (profile), May 5th, 2014 @ 11:56am

    Californians. I'd wish they'd stop drinking the salt water.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 12:03pm

    Who does the law consider to have a legitimate purpose to terrorize, frighten, intimidate, threaten, harass or molest?

    That would be the police, and they are very good at it.

     

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  19.  
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    Chris Brand, May 5th, 2014 @ 12:03pm

    Legitimate reasons to terrorize ?

    "This wording suggests there are legitimate reasons to "terrorize, frighten, intimidate, threaten, harass or molest" people aged 5-25. Sadly, the mayor fails to provide examples."

    Policing

     

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  20.  
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    Michael, May 5th, 2014 @ 12:04pm

    Re:

    ...or start.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 12:07pm

    One bad law after another. Here's another law so vague as to be used for nearly anything, just cook up a reason why you feel ___________ and fill in the blank. If they can't get you on using computers, they can make something up that will work. After all, how do you prove a feeling scientifically and legally?

    Cop on the street gets filmed doing something wrong? Hey no problem, he was feeling terrorized while he was doing his job in public. He's got a charge to suck you into the legal system.

    Politician feels threatened over a political ad while he's campaigning, no problem. His reputation was threatened by this bullying newspaper reporting all these things he can't be.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 12:10pm

    I can't wait for the headline: "Being mean now a crime in the state of California."

     

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  23.  
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    bob, May 5th, 2014 @ 12:11pm

    no more showing of the movie "JAWS"?

    I mean.. what 5 year old isn't "terrorize, frightened" by that movie?
    and I'm pretty sure those feelings were the intent of the creators.
    even 18 year old and 25 year olds can FEEL frightened and terrorized after watching that movie.

     

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  24.  
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    mattshow (profile), May 5th, 2014 @ 12:21pm

    I'm hoping, at the very least, the law will require some sort of positive action on the part of the accused. I have a few tattoos and I've been told by other people that when they first met me, they were intimidated by me because of that. Apparently, depending on their prejudices, sometimes you can intimidate someone just by wearing shorts.

     

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  25.  
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    dave blevins (profile), May 5th, 2014 @ 12:26pm

    No more bullies ...

    ... because no more citizens at all. They are not all in jail, just in some other town.

     

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  26.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 5th, 2014 @ 12:28pm

    Re:

    In your case, it would probably be 'you walked outside and the tattoo's were visible', because let's face it, when you start with idiotic laws, might as well go all the way with 'em.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re:

    Snake Plissken is available to help those imprisoned wrongly in either place escape.

     

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  28.  
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    Mark (profile), May 5th, 2014 @ 12:38pm

    Should we call him an idiot now while it's still legal?

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re:

    I like where this thread is going...

    Just think of all the people these laws could result in being sent there. I mean who could blame the few imprisoned snakes who would try to escape from those two places.

     

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  30.  
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    New Mexico Mark, May 5th, 2014 @ 12:40pm

    Next on the city counsel agenda

    There will be a vote to declare Hadleyburg... er... Carson "The most incorruptible city on the face of the earth".

    Also, was it just me or did anyone else find that picture of Mayor Dear a bit creepy? It looks like a scene from early in a horror movie before any of the other characters catch on that the reason the evil person smiles so much is because he's bat-s*** crazy and deeply in love with his chain saw, "Elvira".

     

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  31.  
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    Jay Lahto (profile), May 5th, 2014 @ 12:57pm

    Bullying Bad, Sex Good?

    So this is the same Carson, California that had a Child Development Center sued for allowing it's young charges to perform oral sex on each other?
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/07/health/church-preschool-child-development/
    So add this to what Bell did and I can't wait to see if Diamond Bar shows up next.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 12:57pm

    Re: The more bullies

    @3:
    > US Law has starting becoming a fantastic example of how to create criminals where none existed before!

    Started? You must be new here. Such laws have been going strong since 1798 at least!

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 1:29pm

    I have the perfect plan for defeating this act of genius.

    Step 1: Show up at City Council meeting with someone under the Age of 25 (we shall refer to said person as "Snotty Pre-teen").
    Step 2: Snotty Pre-teen must read an incredibly condescending and sarcastic speech to the Honorable Mayor during the comments period.
    Step 3: Wait for the Honorable Mayor's negative reaction.
    Step 4: Snotty Pre-teen must state that Mayor's negative reaction has caused him/her to "feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed and molested" and that this makes the Honorable Mayor a bully under his own ordinance.

    Bonus Step: Have further commenters berate the Honorable Mayor for committing an act of bullying and initiate recall petition.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    JP, May 5th, 2014 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Actually, CA has had a state law like this for decades

    Younger siblings? All siblings children with siblings are going to run afoul of this new law. What younger sibling hasn't annoyed their elder sibling? What older sibling hasn't annoyed and/or terrorized their younger brother or sister at some point Hell, both options are half the fun of having siblings!

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re: The more bullies

    lol, I stand corrected! Touche!

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 2:11pm

    Legislating growing up

    I've always had a mouth that could be much faster than my brain, and when I didn't control it, I could say all sorts of things. On more than one occasion I said things well before I even really understood how crude, insensitive, or even mean-spririted they were. There are times I think back on some of the things I said as a kid, and burn with a lot more guilt than I did when I first said them.

    I wasn't bad, just thoughtless. What I needed was a dope-slap, or even better, someone to point out to me how stupid my words were and why. I didn't need a fat criminal fine and a jail sentence, I needed to learn how best to control my impulses. I needed to connect to the basic empathy and decency inside of me that could tell my mouth just where to stick those stupid words and how far.

    This law as written is not how you cultivate the decency inside a person, and I think that will be bad for everyone involved, the bullies, and the bullied.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    KRA, May 5th, 2014 @ 2:17pm

    Just what we need

    Generation Bubble Wrap, the first generation whose members believe they have a right to never be uncomfortable.

    Good luck on planet Earth, kids. The adults who should be teaching you autonomy, decency and resilience are crippling you, and ensuring that you think the solution to every problem is giving government more power.

     

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  38.  
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    Maxwell (profile), May 5th, 2014 @ 2:22pm

    Legitimate reasons to terrorize..

    Attempts to codify "terrorizing" always brings this up in my head: http://youtu.be/izNMkqWfK4s?t=34s

    I cant keep a straight face anymore at the first "terrorize!"

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous, May 5th, 2014 @ 2:49pm

    This is retarded.

     

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  40.  
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    PRMan, May 5th, 2014 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Re:

    The city is Carson, CA, next to Long Beach.

     

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  41.  
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    PRMan, May 5th, 2014 @ 3:00pm

    Re: Actually, CA has had a state law like this for decades

    You misspelled "older".

     

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  42.  
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    PRMan, May 5th, 2014 @ 3:01pm

    Re:

    Wonder how many parents will get prosecuted under this law.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    PRMan, May 5th, 2014 @ 3:05pm

    Re: Bullying Bad, Sex Good?

    From the article:

    "Michael Weston, spokesman for the California Department of Social Services,"

    Nice to see that his burn notice has been cleared and he can leave Florida now.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 3:29pm

    Well..

    I now feel terrorized, frightened and intimidated by this new law, and I do not believe that "Fixing Bullying" is a legitimate reason for me to feel terrorized, frightened and intimidated

    Does that mean Mayor Jim Dear has committed a misdemeanor since I am under 25?

     

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  45.  
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    Loki, May 5th, 2014 @ 4:17pm

    Re:

    I don't know about bigger prisons, but they have to do something about the loss of all that revenue that our increasingly privatized prison system will lose as they continue to lose the war on keeping pot illegal.

    And having a record will still mean something. Thanks to the newly discovered disease "affluenza", it'll be a legal way for the upper class to help limit the power of the lower class.

    Whether people want to except it or not, this country is devolving into a feudal society.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, May 5th, 2014 @ 4:21pm

    Re: Bullying Bad, Sex Good?

    Bullying bad, sex good? FREAKIN'-A RIGHT!!!!

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Loki, May 5th, 2014 @ 4:27pm

    Re: Legitimate reasons to terrorize ?

    Becuase most of the examples are only three letters long: NSA, TSA, DHS, CBP, FBI, CIA..

     

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  48.  
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    Eponymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 4:47pm

    25 year age cutoff

    "2. Thicker skin is apparently grafted on at age 25, at which point people can expect to be terrorized, threatened, etc. right up to the limits of existing laws. The subtext here is that people are expected to "grow up" and deal with bullying better at some point in their lives. That arbitrary point appears to be four years past the legal drinking age."

    The reason I assume for the 25 years of age cutoff is that the human brain isn't fully developed until then, so I imagine their concern is on the developmental impact of being bullied.

     

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  49.  
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    Bergman (profile), May 5th, 2014 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I don't know about you, but I'm feeling harassed and terrorized by politicians passing bad laws...and while I'm older than 25 I bet I could train any kids I'm around to feel the same way.

    Anybody need a babysitter? =P

     

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  50.  
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    Bergman (profile), May 5th, 2014 @ 5:20pm

    Re: Re:

    Haven't you heard? Strict obedience to the law is proof you are violating it. They don't need to worry about revenue, everybody will be a customer soon enough.

     

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  51.  
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    JMT (profile), May 5th, 2014 @ 5:28pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The Innocence Project would have to let all their lawyers go and hire a bunch of Plissken-like mercs.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    zip, May 5th, 2014 @ 10:44pm

    lowering the bar -- the current definition of "BULLY"?

    I'm confused as to exactly what a "bully" even means today.

    It used to be, at least in the old days, a bully was the kind of boy, typically in late-elementary or middle school --public school-- who would do things like shove someone to the ground and laugh, and the victim doesn't dare get back up and fight back, because he knows he'll get the living crap beat out of him -- as many before him have.

    Traditional bullies were typically boys who failed one or two grades (often from all the suspensions they got due to fighting) and were therefore the biggest and toughest guys in the class, the grade, or even the whole school (next to the PE teacher, of course). Bullies loved to start fights, and win fights, and just plain hurt people in general, and didn't care how many (more) times they got suspended from school for it.

    To me, that's what a typical bully used to be. But it seems that now, the word "bully" is often used against someone who has never beat up anyone, or even threatened to (either overtly or through sheer reputation) -- or is even remotely capable of it.

    Anyway, I always ask this question, because what 'bully' has always meant to me is obviously not what it means to many people today.

     

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  53.  
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    OC, May 5th, 2014 @ 11:50pm

    Imagine a 24yo running for Mayor in that city. What would the opposing campaigns look like?

     

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  54.  
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    toyotabedzrock (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 1:53am

    Age 25 is when your brain stops growing and so in a sense you are more stable.

    Why do they not just copy from the UK laws that restrict speech in a similar manner.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 2:44am

    Re: Re:

    nah just extend the mexico fence to enclose the country...

     

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  56.  
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    WysiWyg (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 2:55am

    Re:

    Ketchup IN your sausages? I think you might be doing it wrong...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    me@me.net, May 6th, 2014 @ 5:22am

    One more misapplication of zero tolerance

    When will be that we can expect immense stupidty from an elected official to be a misdemeanor?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 7:58am

    Hey I'm 51, it don't apply to me..

    Oh wait

    ...

    * SEEN BY: 1:203/XXXX

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 8:02am

    Maybe I just need some hints.

    "hint" me along the TSA lines.
    "hint" me up the side my head when I go on about that stupid constitution rant.
    "hint" me off to a box when I know too much
    "hint" me with a drone


    ...

    * SEEN BY: 1:203/XXXX

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 8:55am

    Re: lowering the bar -- the current definition of "BULLY"?

    I agree. The term has been stretched so far that it is approaching uselessness. This always seems to happen when we get deep into a moral panic like this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
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    RJ (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 11:28am

    This law makes me feel uncomfortable and threatened. Unless we want to countenance the complete breakdown of civil society and render the law impotent, the mayor must be found guilty!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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