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Thursday, June 21, 2012

New York adopts Cyberbullying – A Victory for Parents? – Maybe. At least not defeat.

                                                                            By Eric Ross, Ph.D.    June-20, 2012

Following the passage of cyberbullying legislation in NY, electronic communications such as text messaging, blogs and social networking sites will be targets for New York schools’ anti-bullying strategies, following the passage of cyberbullying legislation.
This legislation is a far cry from the anti-First Amendment bills that were proposed and feverishly promoted by Republicans and Democrats on the pretext of “protecting children.” This measure effectively throws into the garbage the other four bills, aimed at criminalizing children and criminalizing political free speech on the Internet.  So, in this respect New York parents and political activists can now breath a collective sigh of relief.

Let's take a step back and have another look at the attack on the Political Freedom of Speech, bills A.8688 / S.6779.  State Senator O’Mara (R-District 53), Assemblymen Dean Murray (R,C-East Patchogue), Jim Conte (R-10th district), Phil Palmesano (R-C, Corning) and many more. According to Murray and O’Mara, passage of their Act would “…cut down on cyberbullying, protect small businesses such as restaurants from unfounded, negative reviews and, naturally, protect politicians from baseless, derogatory attacks during campaign time.” Hmm,  that last concern must have been nothing, but afterthought!  

There are plenty of "baseless, derogatory attacks", because there is no lack of stupid people.
If, as a politician,  you can't stand the heat, just get out of the kitchen.

Another bill was seeking to criminalize just about anything a child might say on the Internet, that an enterprising lawyer would gleefully interpret as "cyberbullying." The proponents of this "masterpiece" to secure massive cash flows from parents to legal eagles (S.6132) were N.Y.S. Democratic Senators Jeffrey D. Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), Senator Diane Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn ), Senator David Valesky (D-Oneida), and Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange).  In their self-proclaimed "definitive report" they went as far as suggesting that Freedom of Speech is not a fundamental right of the people, guaranteed by the US Constitution, but a "privilege," which then may be taken away by some dimwit government bureaucrat.

So arrogant were all these self-important law makers that they even blissfully ignored the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Even now that their bills were defeated, these politicos spin the one adopted as their victory, despite the fact that what they insisted on until the last moment was "criminalization."

As an alleged "serious societal problem," “Cyberbullying” is really nonsense that the busybodies in the NY Legislature were self-servingly promoting.  Some were hoping to line up their pockets with parents’ money by criminalizing children. Others were going after their political critics. Being overbroad from the Constitutional perspective, these bills rightfully belonged on the political graveyard. 

It looks as if Governor Andrew Cuomo, mindful if his own Presidential aspirations perhaps, but also to acknowledge the four Democratic senators, steered overall legislative efforts towards a compromise, allowing them to save face, but steering clear off Constitutional violations.

The real winners of this unnecessary legislature, as it was thus adopted, were the GBLTQ community and the advocates of “Political Correctness.” Aside from the use of PC to influence the pop culture, I see no immediate harm coming out of this bill, except School District bureaucrats may find a way. 

Despite a push from four Democratic senators, this bill will not impose criminal penalties specifically for cyberbullying. The final legislation is limited to awareness and reporting. 
The openly gay Manhattan Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, a former public defender, called it “the right approach.” He argued that the law already provides for penalties if cyberbullying escalates to a criminal level. “There’s no place for this in the criminal justice system,” he said about attempts to criminalize cyberbulluing. “All of the research, all of the experts, say that is the wrong approach. If you assault someone, you assault them. You don’t need to expand that.”  

It is not a coincident that a gay legislator speaks on the legislation effecting GBLTQ community. The idea that “assault” is a physical action, not some mean-spirited verbiage posted somewhere on the Internet is what we have been saying all along, as well. The fact that a legislator who speaks up on the issue of how idiotic is the idea of criminalizing speech as “assault” happened to be gay is purely coincidental.

He said that the cyberbullying component of the Dignity law will take effect next year in order to give schools time to incorporate the changes. He said that the bill, which protects all students, represents an especially important next step for LGBT individuals after the passage of marriage equality legislation in the state last year. 
O’Donnell said in a telephone interview. “People are coming out at a much younger age, coming to terms with their sexuality at a younger age. Because of those positive changes, that also means that kids are at risk. I can’t find a gay person growing up who wasn’t bullied.”

And so, the measure, which defines “cyberbullying” as “harassment or bullying that occurs through any form of electronic communication,” extends Dignity law, which goes into effect in July 2012, after a two-year implementation period. It prohibits harassment in schools on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, a law with specific protections for transgender individuals.

According to a news release from the New York state assembly, the cyberbullying amendment to Dignity law will “establish protocols to respond to cyberbullying, harassment, bullying and discrimination, including designating a school official to receive and promptly investigate reports; take actions to prevent recurrences; coordinate with law enforcement when appropriate; and develop a bullying prevention strategy; and provide notice to all school community members of the school's policies. It would also set training requirements for current and new school employees.” 

The cyberbullying component of the Dignity law will take effect next year in order to give schools time to incorporate the changes, said Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell, who also spearheaded the Dignity effort. “What this Dignity bill does is, if reasonably foreseen that it would cause major school disruption, then the schools are permitted to discipline. We define cyberbullying and include cyberbullying within the confines of the Dignity bill.”

Students today live in a cyber-world – it’s how most choose to communicate,” said Senator Stephen Saland, the Republican from Poughkeepsie, who sponsored the bill, in a statement. 
“It’s also how many are cyberbullied -- whether through messaging, emails or social networking sites, it’s difficult for victims to escape the 24/7 exposure to threats, bullying or discrimination. With this new law, when cyberbullying impedes a student’s ability to learn, victims and their parents will now have the ability to report the incidents to school districts to investigate.  This is a critically needed step toward ensuring a safe school environment.” 

-- Aren’t kids supposed to study in school, instead of texting? To have good friends, instead of “faceboook friends”?

Some in the NYS Senate Dig-in Their Heels, Declaring the Fight is Not Over to Criminalize and Legislate Human Behavior and Lack of Manners

Sen. Carlucci seems to vow to "continue our fight to end Cyberbullying": 

Cyberbullying is finally getting its day in Albany, as state lawmakers and I have finally said, “Enough is enough.” The truth of the matter is that this is a national epidemic affecting our children, many of whom are tormented so severely that they contemplate taking their own lives rather than endure any further harassment. With the proliferation of new technologies, bullies have made their way from the schoolyard to the Internet, with new, vicious ways to harass and intimidate each day.
Albany has acted boldly; students in New York now finally will be taught about the dangers and warning signs of cyberbullying. At the same time, teachers and administrators now will be required to respond aggressively to it. It will be defined for what it is — harassment, taunting, and threats through social media and text messaging. The bottom line is that our children need to have confidence that they are protected, and parents need to have faith that their child’s school will take swift action to stem the epidemic.
I am proud to support this common-sense legislation, as we continue our fight to end cyberbullying throughout our state.
                                                                             David Carlucci
                                                                             New City
The writer, a Democrat, is a New York state senator, representing District 38.

Senator Diane Savino suggests that this is just a first step, and that instead of a direct frontal assault, State Senators may engage in a creep upon the Constitution, piecemeal, one stupid law at a time.  She commented on her Facebook page on the passage of Cyberbullying law: 
" a fair first step, but, it is not enough. if it is a crime to to [sic] stalk me or harass me by snail mail, why not by email?"
-- Well, Senator, it is because to stalk or harass by email is already a crime, and any TRO specifically says so. Your law proposals, meanwhile, spoke broadly about Internet at large,  including discussion forums, commercial and non-profit websites and social media. They defined "cyberbullying" broadly as "anything your heart desires, honey." Your argument with "email" is disingenuous.  Criminalization of the lack of manners would be an inexhaustible source of money for lawyers, and would bring untold suffering upon the "unwashed masses."  It is about time you became true Democrats, defending the interests of the People, instead of the privileged elites. 

I believe that legislative proposals, such as A.8688 / S.6779, S.6132 and  S.6614A to criminalize and legislate human behavior, such as lack of manners in electronic communications, are deliberately overbroad, serving to secure cash flows for trial lawyers at the expense of the general population, especially so the school-age children and their parents. One man's rudeness is another woman's speech mannerism. Children should be taught better how to behave, not dragged to court on criminal charges, and possibly stigmatized for life, if they are rude, obnoxious in behavior or verbally abusive. If you watched any of today's "children's" movies and their sequels, such as "Dumb and dumber, " "Jackass," "Dictator," or "That's My Boy" -- the children are literally brainwashed, enticed and encouraged by our "popular culture" to behave disrespectfully and to be verbally demeaning to others.

There's overwhelming evidence from numerous reputable peer-reviewed studies that such behavior (not to mention outright criminal behavior) in Children is a direct result of the forcible removal of fathers from the lives of their children, which – based on the 95% statistic of custody to mothers – seems to be the "mission" of the family courts, often acting in gross violation of due process.  "According to 72.2 % of the U.S. population, fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America." (Source: National Center for Fathering, founded in 1990 by Dr. Ken R. Canfield; Fathering in America Poll, January, 1999.) In the U.K. last week, the British government has finally come to its senses, because the social costs of fatherlessness there can no longer be borne. Last week, the British government announced that from this point forward, the preferred option in family court will be “the presumption that a child’s welfare is likely to be furthered through safe involvement with both parents.”

With the US beating each and every world "record" in absolute and per capita numbers of incarcerated, we need more "criminalization" like a hole in the head.  It pays the lawyers' bills, but it bleeds the country dry. The numbers of men in US prisons far exceeds those for the most populous countries such as China and India. 


  1. Let us stop cyber bullying, too many lives and reputations had been destroyed because of this. Let us join the fight.

  2. Looks like "expert witness" wishes to create a market for her services.