Saturday, 19 March 2016

People have a right to protest

in a democracy. What they do not have a right to do is cause  harm to others while doing it.
Yesterday one of the Senators in this state had his office attacked by people opposed to his, admittedly conservative, views. The protestors harassed his staff, "trashed" the office, and wrote slogans in chalk over the walls and floor both inside and out. 
These protestors were claiming their actions were in support of an anti-bullying campaign the Senator does not support. (I had best quickly explain here that the Senator does support anti-bullying campaigns but not this particular one - in its present form.) These same protestors apparently fail to see that they are also behaving in an unacceptable, bullying manner. 
They made it quite clear that they believed they had the "right" to do what they did and that the damage they had caused was far less than the damage caused by the bullying the program is designed to prevent. Really?
Bullying seems to be more of an issue now. I don't know whether it is really a greater problem than it once was - or whether people simply believe it is. Is it simply that people have simply become more aware of their "rights" and are quicker to take offence because of that?
I got bullied at school. I was an easy target...disabled, head's kid, always with my head in a book. The bullies knew damn well that I wasn't going to say anything to my parents. I would have received no sympathy anyway. I would have been told to "deal with it yourself". What happened of course was that the bullies were dealt with by other, fairer minded students.  It's what happened to all of us.
Kids then had their own ways of sorting things out. They were not under the almost constant supervision of adults. Even when a teacher was on playground duty they did not interfere in such things. It was up to kids to sort it out for themselves. It was the way we taught ourselves to negotiate, to support and respect each other.
Kids chose leaders for games, who was on which team, what the rules were going to be. They argued. They fought. They made up. 
There must still be some of that going on but, talking with children here, I am aware that there is much less of it. There is much more adult interference. "Negotiation" is hedged around by adult imposed rules about "caring", "kindness", "equality", "inclusion" and more. If you don't abide by those rules then someone tells the teacher (because they have been taught they must) and there will be a classroom "discussion" about the "unacceptable" behaviour. 
Surely, all this is supposed to prevent the sort of behaviour that occurred at the Senator's office? 
It won't because it is externally imposed, not internally grown. 

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