A troubling sign | Steve Timmer photo
by Steve Timmer
Feb 28, 2014, 9:00 PM

The Mistress of Troubling Signs is back!

In her garage, Katherine Kersten keeps a lot of signs, most of them old: Impeach Earl Warren, Nixon-Agnew, Goldwater: Extremism is no Vice, that kind of thing. There are other signs, as well, Troubling Signs, and they’re all pretty old, too. She hauled out one of them the other day to protest anti-bullying legislation introduced in the Legislature again this year:

Beware teh Gay!

Here’s the lede paragraphs from Kersten’s little screed in the Strib:

“Antibullying” legislation is a top priority for DFL leaders at the Capitol this year. In the last session, their bill got hung up in the Senate, and they appear determined to muscle it through this time around.

Bullying is wrong. No child should have to put up with it.

But a glance at the bill raises troubling questions. Why doesn’t it protect all children equally, instead of singling out for favored treatment children of “protected classes,” such as race, sexual orientation, and “gender identity and expression”? Why are traditional victims of bullying, like kids who are timid or viewed as nerds, invisible in this bill?

Kersten glanced at the bill, all right, and that’s all she did. But HF826, the bill that passed the House last year, is far more comprehensive than Kersten suggests. Here’s the definition of prohibited bullying in HF826:

“Bullying” means intimidating, threatening, abusive, or harassing conduct that is objectively offensive and:

(1) causes physical harm to a student or a student’s property or causes a student to be in reasonable fear of harm to person or property;

(2) materially and substantially interferes with a student’s educational opportunities or performance or ability to participate in the school function or activity or receive the school benefit, service, or privilege;

(3) under Minnesota common law, violates a student’s reasonable expectation of privacy, defames a student, or constitutes intentional infliction of emotional distress against a student; or

(4) materially and substantially disrupts the work and discipline of the school.

You will note that nothing in this definition limits its application to any specified group. Nothing. If you bully your timid or nerdy classmate, that’s prohibited bullying under the bill. All kids are protected against bullying by the bill.

Kersten complains about lack of protection of the “traditionally” bullied victims, and of course, our avatar of grievance and resentment has it exactly backwards. The bill does go on to prohibit bullying conduct against the real “traditional” victims of bullying to include, but not be limited to:

Intimidating, threatening, abusive, or harassing conduct may involve, but is not limited to [emphasis added], conduct that is directed at a student or students based on a person’s actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color, creed, religion, national origin, immigration status, sex, age, marital status, familial status, socioeconomic status, physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, academic status, disability, or status with regard to public assistance, age, or any additional characteristic defined in chapter 363A [the Minnesota Human Rights Act].

Katherine Kersten is a disingenuous fabulist,  and a poisonous person. Either that, or she is damn near illiterate. Take your pick. I frankly don’t know which is to give her the benefit of the doubt. Not that I do. And not that you should, either.

Kersten will tell you anything, if it is in the service of her bigotry against gays and lesbians.

People like Kersten are desperately afraid of a bullying bill that prohibits bullying the people they want to bully. But a bill that doesn’t call out the truly traditionally bullied people for protection is useless.

That’s the whole idea to Kersten, and people behind groups like the Parents Action League. They don’t want gay and lesbian kids, among others, protected, because they know their kids will pick on them, and they are worried that the bigoted crap that they spew at home will seep out of their kids at school.

It really is that simple.

But I think as a state we’re better than that. In fact, I’m betting on it.

Thanks for your feedback. If we like what you have to say, it may appear in a future post of reader reactions.