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David Ziemer: Bullying and breeding new attorneys

David Ziemer
The Dark Side

The school year that starts this fall will be totally different from what it used to be.

Pursuant to a new law, effective Aug. 15, every school board in Wisconsin must have an “anti-bullying” policy.

I have no doubt that the law will entirely eliminate bullying in schools.

After all, since the federal government outlawed marijuana in 1937, not a single person in the United States has smoked marijuana. This is true, despite the fact that, prior to 1937, everyone in America was stoned all day long. They all quit overnight, just like that, and no one has blazed up any doobage even once in the last 73 years.

But while I suppose it is a good thing that bullying at school will disappear overnight just like marijuana did, the question for me, as always, is whether or not this is good for the legal profession.

At first, I thought it might be a bad thing.

Let me explain. When I was a child, the school bus was a pretty violent place.

The privileged fifth graders got to sit in the back of the bus, with the fourth graders in front of them, and so on, up to the oppressed and underprivileged first graders, who had to sit in the front.

Except for me. As a first grader, I got to sit in the very back row, with the biggest, meanest fifth graders in school. The privilege didn’t come free, though; every day, I had to yell out the window at pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists.

For example, if the bus was stopped at a red light, and some old man in a Chrysler New Yorker pulled up alongside us, the fifth graders would prop me up in front of the open window, and say, “Yell ‘s***, f***, b****,’” or something to that effect.

So, I would yell “s***, f***, b****” at old men driving Buick Roadmasters.

When my parents found out about this, they were not too pleased, but they didn’t stop it, either.

I explained to them that I had to swear out the window at civilians, or else I’d lose the protection of the fifth graders from the second graders and the other first graders, and I’d get beat up every day.

So, my parents let me yell “s***, f***, b****,” at old men in AMC Ambassadors out the school bus window.

Thus my dilemma — with school bullying having been outlawed out of existence, I feared it might harm the development of young attorneys. After all, at the tender age of five, I was already adept at exacting benefits for serving as a mouthpiece to rogues and ne’er-do-wells.

To fight a government as oppressive as the Socialist State of Wisconsin, lawyers need savvy, as well as formal legal training. And the best place to learn savvy is in oppressive public schools.

On further reflection, though, I think the anti-bullying law will make schools an even better place for the next generation of lawyers to learn their art.

The law is patterned on employment statutes, in that it doesn’t just prohibit bullying, but also retaliation for reporting bullying, whether or not the initial report of bullying was validated.

So, suppose Little Andy does nothing wrong, but Little Bobby lodges a false report of bullying against him. The school investigates and exonerates Little Andy, but he’s mad about the false report, so he beats up Little Bobby. Under the law’s retaliation provisions, only Little Andy, and not Little Bobby, must be punished.

With rules like that, I think this new law will provide very fertile ground for breeding the next generation of lawyers.

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