Thursday, May 5, 2011

Bullying: An Essential Component of Government

COLUMN NOTES: Looks like I fired up a few people in the comments section on the newspaper's website again.
HARBESON: A bolt of inspiration

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — I don’t understand why Indiana Democrats are so upset at the possibility of the Republicans introducing an “anti-bolting” amendment this year in order to prevent the minority party from staging future walkouts.

After all, it’s not much different than what they demand of the state’s minors because anti-bolting legislation is really just a compulsory attendance law for legislators.

This should make sense to anyone interested in fairness and equal treatment. If state government is going to make it so difficult for a 16 year old who is not being well-served by the government schools to bolt, then legislators should have to abide by similar laws. Why treat people who support the compulsory government education system any differently than they treat the kids who suffer in that system?

To continue the school comparison, it’s not just me that sees similarities between the legislative walkout issue and school problems. When I typed “Indiana anti-bolting law” into Google, the search engine not only did its job and gave me results for the terms I requested, but also checked to make sure I didn’t mean to search “Indiana anti-bullying law” instead.

I thought about that for a moment and realized Google has a point — bullying is relevant to this discussion.

As far as this year is concerned, I’m sure the Republicans would agree their amendment could just as easily be called “anti-bullying” legislation. We know the Republicans certainly felt bullied when the minority Democrats ran out and spent a month or so away from the legislative session.

So Google is on the right track, but I’d go further and say we should be talking about bullying in regard to the entire government system itself. Bullying is an essential component of all government operations. Legislative bullying is rampant because the main goal of those in the General Assembly is to try to use government to force people to do what they want.

It really gets twisted, too. For example, in this session here’s how the bullying is playing out: Republicans think its fine to bully individuals to pay for another family’s education in a private religious institution, even if those being forced to fund it have deeply held convictions which cause them to object to funding religious institutions.

Similarly, Democrats think it is fine to bully individuals to pay for another person’s abortion, even if those being forced to fund it have deeply held convictions which cause them to object to funding abortion.

Why don’t we consider and think about these inconsistencies, irregularities and downright hypocrisies more than we do?

It’s just like being back in school and being caught between two big hairy bullies who are constantly vying for power. All you, the average citizen, can do is put ice on your black eye while listening to the bullies argue over how they are going to spend your lunch money.

Part of the problem is that we allow legislators, sometimes assisted by the media, to set the tone of the discussion. Legislators work hard to get us to focus on the issue as they want to frame it, which in this case is the “problem” of quorum rules in the legislative session and what, if anything, should be done so the minority party cannot stop everything by staging a walkout.

Maybe it’s time to realize that the issues we should be discussing are never the surface topics that government officials want us to focus on. It’s not about bolting, it’s not about walkouts and it’s not about quorum rules.

Google’s search engine seems to understand there are deeper issues at play. I do too. What about you?

— Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson is always prepared to bolt.


  1. Consistency is good and lawgivers should always live under the same ridiculous "laws" they inflict on us.

    (So instead of a "bug-out bag", you have a "bolt bag"?)

  2. Great article. Tweeting.