The city of Saskatoon is considering enacting legislation that will ban bullying from schools, playgrounds, parks, shopping malls and other public places.
While I understand with the underlying idea of putting a stop to bullying, attempting an outright ban is going to create more problems than it solves.
One of the biggest hassles is going to be how to define said "bullying". What constitutes an offense worthy of the proposed $2500 fine for a conviction? Who will decide what the definition of "bullying" is in practical terms? Who is going to be responsible for enforcing the ban? Do the city police not all ready have enough to do, sufficient areas of enforcement that are difficult enough to keep up with as it is?
How much of the implementation of such a law is going to depend upon the perception of the person who feels themselves to be the victim of bullying and how will that effect possible charges against someone who, while being perceived as a bully, was not actually aware of how a comment or action could be perceived by the person wanting to press charges?
Are people really so naive as to think that legislation against whatever the definition of "bullying" turns out to be is going to actually put an end to something that has been a part of human nature and action since the beginning of time? I truly wish such a thing was possible, sincerely I do, but once again all I see is one more attempt to regulate morality that is going to fall flat and cause more damage than a lot of the actual bullying.
What happens to freedom of speech?
How can the innocent be protected against someone who is out for revenge after feeling bullied for a long time and finally chooses someone upon who to take out their frustration in the courts, when the person being charged is not actually guilty?
We all ready have laws whereby if someone is physically bullied or beaten the offenders can be dealt with in a court of law. We all ready have anti-defamation laws. People are all ready suing each other under the cover of very sketchy definitions of racial hatred, ageism, gender inequality and sexual harrassment. Our court system is in enough turmoil all ready sifting through definitions, actualities and possibilities. Now one of our cities is considering adding to the all ready considerable confusion of how to practically deal with these issues and others that involve the ephemeral area of human, individual perceptions of offense.
I can't help hoping Saskatoon decides against implementing this particular law. If they do the entire city population and all visitors will be better off living their lives in silence than to risk opening their lips and ending up vicitimized by a vengeful person in a litigation happy society that is developing here only a few decades behind our neighbours to the south. There is an aura of "I am the persecuted" that is beginning to pervade our society. While I am well aware of the terrible bullying and expressions of hatred that exist and are worsening in our country at all ages and levels of society, I am hoping and praying we can come up with better solutions than government legislation that depends on human perception of ad hoc definitions and leaves our courts and our population in more moral legislation limbo than all ready exists.