The First Amendment, Bullying and Harassment





first-amendmentA new bullying bill (HSB 196) is moving forward in the Iowa House.  I gave it a mixed review, but one aspect I like is that it would amend the current bullying law in the Iowa Code to include First Amendment rights.  The bill states that “nothing in the legislation shall be construed to restrain or discipline speech that expresses political, religious or other protected categories of speech, which address legitimate matters of public concern.”

That of course has liberals worried as reported by The Cedar Rapids Gazette:

Education lobbyists and others are concerned about one part of the bill that says the law is in no way meant to restrain what a “reasonable person” would consider political, religious and other types of speech protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“If I use my religion as an excuse for that, that is not religious freedom, that is not free speech. And how do you define a reasonable person?” said Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa. “Obviously, we stand for religious freedom, but it can never be used for bullying and harassment.”

The problem is that many on the left will say any indication of disagreement with them, in particular if you disagree with them on anything related to LGBT issues, is hate speech and thereby bullying and harassment.  Look to Canada to see where this is going.

So no, a kid should not harass and call a homosexual student names, that isn’t what the bill is trying to protect.  A student should be able to state their belief that homosexuality is a sin or that gay marriage is wrong.  That is the type of speech that the bill seeks to protect among other things.  I hope that Connie Ryan Terrell and other liberals can understand the difference.

Photo Credit: Juli Shannon via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 3.0)

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