Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Have Bullying and Intimidation Become the American Way

During the last month, I have gotten a very disturbing window into the way vulnerable people are treated who dare to question policies of powerful organizations, even when they do so in a polite and respectful manner

First, I found myself fielding complaint after complaint about threats, intimidation and punitive treatment of children who had decided to Opt Out of State tests given during the last two weeks of April in New York State. Students as young at 8 were made to stare silently ahead while their fellow students took the test, while older students were threatened with exclusion from honors classes, school teams, proms and school trips as a consequence of Opting Out. One 9 year old on the verge of undergoing brain surgery even visited by a teacher demanding he take a test while in his hospital bed. Parents also received threats. One parent was told she would be barred from school grounds for protesting treatment of her Opting Out son and a lawyer in one Long Island school district lawyer threatened to sue Opting Out parents for revenues lost by the state as a result of children refusing to take tests. I found myself scrambling to find civil liberties lawyers for these children and families, and was able to make some headway, but the cruelty displayed by some school officials left me deeply shaken

Then, yesterday, I received a call from a wonderful second grade teacher I work with in the Bronx who had been thrown down, hand cuffed and thrown in a cell at a local precinct because he had dared to ask a policemen gathered at busy Bronx intersection why they were there in such numbers. In addition to this manhandling, he was insulted and mocked for daring to ask police what they were doing and then insisting that he actually had rights such as being read charges before being arrested and making a phone call! Once again, I found myself scrambling to get him the numbers of civil liberties lawyers who might represent him, who ironically, turned out be the same lawyers whose numbers I gave to Opting Out families

What's going on here? Why are people who respectfully disagree with the actions of public officials subject to threats and abusive treatment? Is this how a democratic society should function, or have we so accommodated to economic autocracy and the concentration of wealth among the few that we erase the substance of democratic citizenship and ride roughshod of what is left of our Constitutional rights


TheWeyrd1 said...

In a word...yes.

peek said...

A shame that respectfully voicing an opinion results in one getting abused, isn't it?

mspippocallsbs said...
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