Sen. Roger Chamberlain (
by Steve Timmer
Apr 4, 2014, 9:00 PM

Consider Roger Chamberlain

Lightly armed in the battle of wits

Most of you know that the Safe and Supportive Schools Act, a/k/a the “anti-bullying” bill, passed the Minnesota Senate on Thursday, April 3rd. Since the bill passed was titled H.F. 826 and was only amended in a couple of (minor, really) ways, we can pretty safely assume that the House will concur, and the bill will be signed by the Governor (because he said he would).

This is one of the highlights of the session, my friends.

Opponents of the bill brought their “A” game — sad as it was — to the Senate floor to derail the bill. My favorite champion of the Right to Bully was Sen. Roger Chamberlain. He said a couple of things that were at odds with each other, revealing — to me, anyway — that the opposition to the bill was foolish, ill considered, and panicked.

What about the First Amendment rights of students? thunders Sen. Chamberlain; he’s apparently worried about the ability of eighth graders to evangelize their gay classmates, or suspected gay classmates, by telling them they are going to hell. Over and over.

School yard theological debates are so elevated. I remember, as a confirmed seven-day-a-week swimmer at the local pool (and aspiring lifeguard), being told by one of my more fundamentalist classmates that it was a sin to swim on Sunday, implying that my immortal soul was in danger.

Oh? I asked. What would you do if you fell in the water on the Sabbath?

She thought for a moment, and said, I’d sink!

That impressed me as great fidelity to doctrine, but unobservable in practice.

I’d like to ask Sen. Chamberlain about his own across-the-board fidelity to the constitutional rights of students. Would the senator support a high school newspaper that wanted to publish a story about contraception or that was critical of the school administration? Or how about the wearing of black armbands in school to protest a military action by the United States? And surely the senator would support the protection of student lockers against warrantless searches from the principal?

Or is it just some constitutional rights you’re worried about, Senator? Or perhaps you just talk big like my sinking classmate?

Later in the same debate, Sen. Chamberlain bemoans the loss of innocence of the children. C’mon, Senator, which is it? Are the kids firebrand evangelists, or are they guiless cherubs?

The real loss of innocence comes, of course, from being unable to learn, or having to change schools, or considering or committing suicide because of the unremitting harassment of your classmates.

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