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Boy Allowed to Wear ‘My Little Pony’ Backpack to School

GraysonMyLIttlePony

After national attention, a North Carolina school has rescinded its ban on a 9-year-old boy’s wearing of a “My Little Pony” backpack.

USA Today (“School will allow boy to bring My Little Pony backpack“):

Grayson Bruce’s My Little Pony backpack will return, and with it may come new initiatives to prevent bullying in local schools.

Buncombe County Schools administrators met Thursday with the mother of Grayson Bruce, the 9-year-old boy who was propelled into the national spotlight this week after saying he was prevented from carrying his “My Little Pony” backpack to school because administrators told him it “triggered bullying.”

Noreen Bruce also said Thursday that she would work with the school system to send Grayson back to Candler Elementary, after pulling him out last week following the incident.

“We are considering all options for getting Grayson back in school,” Bruce said after the meeting. “We are pleased the school system is working closely with us. All of the options include Grayson taking his My Little Pony bag to school.”

The story has gone viral over the past several days, attracting the attention of national news outlets and more than 65,000 Facebook supporters rallying behind the #SupportforGrayson hashtag.

[...]

Bruce has made several national media appearances in the last 48 hours, including the Glenn Beck show in Dallas and an interview with “Good Morning America.”

Noreen Bruce and two friends set up a Facebook page to support her son Grayson.

Thousands of followers from around the world posted photos of My Little Pony memorabilia and supportive comments under the #SupportforGrayson hashtag on Facebook and Twitter. One of the television show’s creators, Lauren Faust, even weighed in on Twitter Tuesday, saying, “#standwithgrayson ’nuff said.”

Buncombe County Schools administrators released a joint statement Thursday, saying they would work with Bruce to make “a safety transition plan and an allowance for Grayson to bring the bookbag to school.”

“We have appreciated the opportunity to meet with the Bruce family and discuss the issues. We sincerely regret that the issue of being told to leave the bookbag at home was perceived as blaming Grayson. While that was not the intent, the perception became reality. We support Grayson bringing the bookbag to school.” the statement said.

“Every situation with young children is a teachable moment and we will use this example in our efforts to address a wider issue of bullying. We ask for everyone’s patience and understanding as we continue to work collaboratively with the family toward a resolution that is best for Grayson and his classmates at Candler Elementary School.”

School officials look silly here but their response was hardly unreasonable.

Yes, it’s wrong to bully a little boy for wearing a backpack marketed to little girls. (My five-year-old daughter loves My Little Pony, especially Rainbow Dash.) And, yes, the ban was effectively blaming the victim. But the fact of the matter is that kids of that age can be vicious, bullying and mob behavior here was quite predictable, and it’s impossible for teachers to be everywhere at once. It was just easier to tell Grayson to leave the backpack at home, removing the immediate catalyst.

Schools do this sort of thing all the time and have forever. For decades now, schools have banned clothing with potentially inflammatory messages or even banned wearing hats and other clothing in colors locally associated with various street gangs. The fact that people ought not react viciously to other people’s free expression is outweighed, especially with children, by the probability that they will.

Nowadays, it’s just easier to create a national incident out of it.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    But the fact of the matter is that kids of that age can be vicious, bullying and mob behavior here was quite predictable, and it’s impossible for teachers to be everywhere at once. It was just easier to tell Grayson to leave the backpack at home, removing the immediate catalyst.

    The very idea that making him leave his “My Little Pony” bag at home would stop the inevitable bullying this child will be subjected to is ludicrous on it’s face. Yes kids are cruel, and they attack those who are different. These kids weren’t going to beat up a “MLP” bag, they are going to beat up the kid. Making him leave it at home wasn’t going to change that fact, James.

    And no, teachers can’t be everywhere. It was a hard lesson to learn when I was growing up but going ‘psycho’ was then the best way to deal with bullies (4th grade, cried all the way home after leaving one in a bloody heap). If that didn’t work, than ‘evil’ was the secondary choice. Better to be thought crazy, than scared.

    Unfortunately (or not), those tactics get one arrested these days. Thank Dog my sons are adults now, and I don’t have to worry about it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  2. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: If the kid’s otherwise different, especially effeminate, then I concur. But some school official not unreasonably figured he was getting picked on because of the backpack and decided it made sense to remove that visible symbol. It’s a path of least resistance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner:

    But some school official not unreasonably figured he was getting picked on because of the backpack and decided it made sense to remove that visible symbol. It’s a path of least resistance.

    This is where you and I differ on a very fundamental level James. The school official removed the backpack because it was easier than dealing with the REAL problem. It was the path of least thought.

    As one who was “different” growing up, let me assure you, all this school official was doing was telling this child, “Change, fit in.” People can’t change, James. The only thing that happens when they try to, is they get messed up in the head because they become convinced there is something wrong with them, AND they still get beat up because they are still different. Or they become ‘crazy’. Or they become bullies themselves as overcompensation.

    This school official wasn’t being reasonable, he or she was being lazy.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 1

  4. JWH says:

    I take a somewhat nuanced view on this. I don’t think the school should ban the kid from carrying a My Little Pony backpack. It’s self-expression, and it’s not provocative. But at the same time, I think the school should be frank with the student and his parents about the limits on its power to prevent other boys from picking on him.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JWH: One of my sons had a bully problem. I told him to use a brick. Another time I thought about paying a visit to the father of a bully and “discussing” it. Realized that might very well make things worse. Really, I don’t know what the answer is, other than for the affected child inflicting enough pain on the bully du jour that he/she decides it isn’t worth it. The thing is sometimes bullies are tuff, and will put more of a hurt on them.

    So again, psycho.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: All of which totally ignores the fact that a lot of bullying these days occurs on line.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  7. Tillman says:

    School officials look silly here but their response was hardly unreasonable.

    They can be forgiven for not knowing that My Little Pony suddenly has a huge fandom due to Friendship is Magic. I mean, 65,000 Facebook likes doesn’t seem like anything worth getting interested in, but you combine it with perceived persecution of a minority fandom (bronies) and you get results.

    If I seem too knowledgeable on this, it’s because I have male friends my age (late twenties) who love that show.

    Y’know, I still remember when they banned Pokemon trading cards in middle school. Was that to curtail bullying or a burgeoning underground economic market outside the school’s control? You learn intriguing lessons growing up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  8. Tillman says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Which makes the school’s response dumber wasteful in a way since the primary vein of the kid’s support was online. You’d think one would cancel the other out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Sure. But laziness and the path of least resistance is often the same.

    The news this morning was the first I’d heard of the case, so I have zero knowledge about the rest of it. Is the kid otherwise “different”? Or, as @Tillman suggests, does he simply like this particular show? I haven’t the foggiest. Nor do I know that banning the backpack was all the school did here. Maybe they just took that as a preliminary step to see if it helped alleviate the problem but otherwise intended to keep an eye on the situation.

    Alas, if he is, as you figure, “different,” I fear the mother here has done him no favors. She’s taken a possibly isolated incident and made her son a minor national celebrity, further calling attention to him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  10. Tyrell says:

    @Tillman: I remember “Little Pony” being popular about 10 or so years ago. I have not seen any of that stuff at all lately. My favorite now is “Hello Kitty”, which seems to be popular with everyone. The brand now that is seen everywhere on young people is “Under Armor”. I can’t go one day without seeing it. Somebody is making big bucks. I see it more than Nike.
    I also remember the infamous case out in California where some misguided school administrator and judge banned a student from wearing a shirt with a US flag on it. This because they feared it could upset or offend someone at the school where they were going to have some sort of “Mexican Day” day of celebrations and activities. Imagine that. I understand the concern over possible violence. The proper course would have been to tell them to have their “Mexico Day” nonsense somewhere else, like in Mexico. Also, get rid of the violent kids in schools. Imagine: a US flag not being allowed on the grounds of a US school !!. A school built and maintained with US tax money. Where was AG Holder on this one ? This has to be one of the top ten outrages of the …century!!
    here is are facts if anyone needs them: http://www.aol.com/article/2014/02/28/court-school-can-ban-us-flag-shirts-for-safety/20840489/
    USA # 1

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  11. PJ says:

    Personally I’m against forced conformity, but that’s just me.

    If a kid has a pink watch, should he be allowed to wear it? Is it ok for a kid to dress in all black? etc.

    Should kids who act differently be sent home until they learn how to conform?

    On the subject of My Little Ponies:

    Former President Bill Clinton on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, being quizzed about My Little Ponies.
    Former Vice President Al Gore on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, being quizzed about actual ponies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  12. Tyrell says:

    @PJ: We still have some of those “little ponies” in the toy closet. Maybe someday they will be worth some money. I think we got some at McDonalds with Happy Meals. My personal experience with a real pony was not good. It would bite, and you wouldn’t dare get behind it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. @James:

    Schools do this sort of thing all the time and have forever. For decades now, schools have banned clothing with potentially inflammatory messages or even banned wearing hats and other clothing in colors locally associated with various street gangs.

    Indeed, but I would differ with you by pointing out that in these cases there are blanket bans. If the school had issued a blanket policy requiring that all backpacks not have marking, or some such (as they do with t-shirts) then I could live with the policy. After all if, this case was a “catalyst” for bullying, then other backpacks may well be as well (as unfortunate and ridiculous as that may well be).

    To single out the one kid and ban his backpack, however, is amplifying the bullying from the micro to macro level (after a fashion), in my opinion, thus making the situation worse, not simply eliminating a specific problem.

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  14. Even the school administrators are afraid of the bullies they refuse to control.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  15. ernieyeball says:

    @Tyrell: The proper course would have been to tell them to have their “Mexico Day” nonsense somewhere else, like in Mexico.

    Yeah, Like Mexico IL, Mexico IN, Mexico KY, Mexico MD, Mexico ME, Mexico MO, Mexico NY, Mexico OH, Mexico PA, Mexico SC, Mexican Town AZ, Mexican Colony CA, Mexico Beach FL, Mexico Crossing GA, Mexican Place ID, Mexican Springs NM or Mexican Hat UT.
    Just don’t go to Tyrell Town to party on Mexico Day. You won’t be welcome there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  16. Tyrell says:

    @James in Silverdale, WA: Agree. I have seen too many times where teachers and principals are not supported by the administration in their efforts to get bullies and troublemakers out. When I was in school the principal would show them the door and if they lived close enough, they walked home. And the parents supported them. Now a days they have to worry about some sort of judge or the federal government tying their hands. No wonder charter, private, church, and home schools are growing. And some of the best schools in the country are in the inner cities where the staffs have been authority to effectively control the school and not tolerate a bunch of nonsense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. @Tyrell:

    Now a days they have to worry about some sort of judge or the federal government tying their hands.

    It is less an issue of “Now a days” as it is the quality of the principal, the school district’s administration, and the parents. I say this as the husband of a middle school teacher who has had a wide variety of experiences in this regards.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  18. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I concur that it’s the wrong solution to the problem. I just understand why this was the reflexive bureaucratic response: Kid getting picked on over his choice of backpack, ban backpack, problem solved.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

  19. This kid wasn’t just getting teased; he was getting beat up. And if a school can’t keep it’s students from getting beat up regularly, the problem is not the students getting beat up. If they white students were regularly beating up the one black kid, would you suggest, “Well, maybe the black kid should just stay home. After all, the teachers can’t be everywhere!”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  20. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @James Joyner: It’s definitely a path of least resistance, but that doesn’t make it the right path, either ethically OR pragmatically. If you think the backpack is why that boy was being bullied, you are exceedingly naive, James–especially given the serious problem that bullying is in schools today–and yes, more so than it used to be. I’m a lot older than you are, James, and I got bullied as a schoolkid, but I wasn’t driven to suicide. And I don’t recall any stories, much less dozens of stories, in the news about children committing, or attempting to commit, suicide because the bullying was just that bad.

    The bullying may–MAY–have started because of the My Little Pony backpack, but once it did, leaving it at home would certainly only make it worse. They won, James! You think they wouldn’t know that? You think the bullying would not get even worse? They’re bullying this kid, James, because they CAN. Because he’s vulnerable, because in some way he’s perceived as different, and the My Little Pony backpack is only one tiny outer aspect of that difference or that susceptibility or vulnerability. Have you seen photos of any of the children, or adolescent or teenage girls or boys who become news because of bullying so severe they either tried to kill themselves, or did, or their parents had to take them out of school, or in some way things got to a point where it became a news story? Have you seen any of their photos? The photos of these kids that other kids call ugly, freaks, nobody likes you, that kind of thing? They’re not ugly or freakish-looking, James. Not that that would justify it. But they’re not. I see beautiful, perfectly lovely girls and boys, nothing wrong with them–not fat, not pockmarked, not dirty, not unattractive. It’s not anything external or outwardly visible that explains why they’re bullied. They’re bullied for reasons much deeper than that. If you don’t know this, you better educate yourself, because you DO have two daughters, James. It could happen to them.

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  21. James Joyner says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: I don’t think we have any evidence that these things are worse than they used to be. We used to just write it off as “kids being kids” and now realize that it’s actually a big deal. And, because of 24/7 cable television and the Internet, the extreme cases get national attention now.

    Aside from the publicity, I think there are two things that are different now than when I was a kid. First, we have social media. Then, when kids were getting bullied, they at least got a respite from it when they weren’t in school. Now, it follows them home. Plus, it can more easily become a group activity. Second, few of today’s kids have stay-at-home moms. While the flip side of that (married women having careers, or at least jobs) is mostly to the good, it has removed a major safety valve.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  22. argon says:

    I hadn’t realized that My Little Pony was marketed for girls. I learned something today.

    But I’m still keeping their pictures in my office.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  23. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @James Joyner: I agree with you about the social media. But that’s not a minor thing. Social media is here to stay, and the fact that children now can be tormented 24/7, in their homes where of all places they should be able to feel safe, is a huge factor in the increasingly serious consequences of bullying.

    What the greater prevalence of working moms has to do with this problem, I don’t have any idea. Moms are usually home in the evenings and on the weekends when kids are being tortured by their schoolmates on the Internet. Do you really believe that this is just a matter of letting off steam to a stay-at-home mom?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. James Joyner says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: I think the level of engagement is lower.The time and energy available just isn’t what it used to be. It was hard enough parenting while one parent devoted full time to keeping the household running. Now, both parents—or, in my case, just the single parent—comes home at the end of the day, still has all the household duties to take care of, and has to deal with all of the kid stuff.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  25. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @James Joyner: Well, okay. I’ll grant you the point. I do think life in general, at least for middle-class families, is more stressful (it was always stressful for poor families). We don’t have an economy that allows blue collar or even what used to be middle class families to thrive on one income anymore. We haven’t had for a long time, and we never will have again. I know never is a long time, but I do not believe that kind of society is ever coming back. We have to deal with what is, now. So the two-income (or often, three- or four-income, or even more–there are people who work six jobs, believe it) economy does make the problem of bullying harder to deal with, and the consequences more severe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  26. ernieyeball says:

    @argon: I hadn’t realized that My Little Pony was marketed for girls.

    I did not know that either and I have seen little boy childs and little girl childs sporting My Little Pony paraphernalia everywhere.
    Sometimes the girls aren’t so little though.
    http://www.capecentralhigh.com/cape-photos/entertainment/purple-crackle-becomes-the-pony/
    **Link SFW
    Talk about bullying…

    “The first bomb dropped on United States soil was in Williamson County [Illinois] when members of the Shelton gang flew over the Charlie Birger roadhouse and tossed three dynamite bombs at the Shady Rest. The only one to explode did little damage.”*

    *I am taking the author’s word for this.
    Shady Rest was 70 miles NE of E. Cape.
    The Flying Saucer was another club near The Crackle. Fond memories of good acid…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  27. Rafer Janders says:

    It was just easier to tell Grayson to leave the backpack at home, removing the immediate catalyst.

    Well, by all means, let’s just do what’s easier, not what’s right. If there’s one thing that defines a person of conscience, it’s seeking the easy way out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  28. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    Alas, if he is, as you figure, “different,” I fear the mother here has done him no favors. She’s taken a possibly isolated incident and made her son a minor national celebrity, further calling attention to him.

    Agreed. Far better to cower and hide. Better to be an anonymous victim than to be known for fighting back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  29. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: I’m not arguing that it was the best or wisest decision. I’m simply arguing that the bureaucrats were acting in a perfectly predictable, non-venal way. They were trying to alleviate, not exacerbate, the situation and I can understand why they did it.

    @Kathy Kattenburg: Yeah, it’s simply a different world. And I think there are plenty of non-economic reasons for two-income families. My late wife and I both made enough money to support a middle class lifestyle for our children. Neither of us had any interest in giving up our careers. (The fact we had our first child when I was 43 and she was 35, rather than 22 and 22 as my parents did, makes a difference, too.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  30. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: He’s not going to be known for fighting back but for hiding behind his mommy. I’m not saying that’s right. I’m saying that’s the life of a fourth grader.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  31. Lit3Bolt says:

    The scrutiny this case is getting makes me suspicious. With all the new anti-bullying laws, I’m sure there are some litigious parents out there who I’m sure will tell their kids to wear and or do things that get them bullied, and then sue the school system for failing to stop the inevitable bullying.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 14

  32. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @Lit3Bolt: That is truly the stupidest, most brain-dead comment on this story I have seen. Truly.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  33. Paulus Praetorius says:

    Wow, James, this is bad enough as a statement of realpolitik (as applied to domestic concerns)::

    “The fact that people ought not react viciously to other people’s free expression is outweighed…by the probability that they will.”

    But the tag line is colder than Henry Kissinger’s corpse:

    “Nowadays, it’s just easier to create a national incident out of it.”

    Why shouldn’t this be a national concern?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  34. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @James Joyner: Shorter James: ” Stop being a bleepin’ f@&&*t, kid. Buy yourself a pair and stop acting like a girl, for gossakes.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  35. ernieyeball says:

    @Paulus Praetorius: But the tag line is colder than Henry Kissinger’s corpse:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Kissinger
    I always thought Hank should have been charged with War Crimes but I’ll wait till he’s dead to shovel the dirt in on him.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeSEENbfHcg

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. James Joyner says:

    @Paulus Praetorius: I state at the outset that it’s wrong to bully the kid over this. But, yeah, bullying is and always has been a problem. I don’t blame school officials for trying to remove what they saw as the proximate cause, even if there’s a bigger underlying issue.

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Sigh. Read the piece.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  37. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t blame school officials for trying to remove what they saw as the proximate cause, even if there’s a bigger underlying issue.

    See, that’s where we all disagree with you: we do blame them. They have a responsibility, not just as school officials but also as adults, as people, to deal with the bigger underlying issue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  38. Tyrell says:

    And what is the underlying issue ? And where does the line go ? Who is deciding what could be something that could cause some sort of scene, problem, or lawsuit? The list could include all of the following and more: Washington Redskins, NRA, AA (in this case Army Airborne), WWE, crosses, yin yang, F-14 shirt, animal themes, Barbie, Barney, Duck Dynasty (really popular now),
    My favorite is Hello Kitty. Now who could have a problem with that ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  39. Matt says:

    I’m friends with several bronies..

    If the kid is going to be picked on it’s not really a matter of a bag.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. jd says:

    Victims do not trigger bullying. Bullies trigger bullying. There are programs to track and reduce bullying in schools. This school district has simply decided the kids aren’t worth it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  41. Ken says:

    @James Joyner: I’m not arguing that it was the best or wisest decision.

    But you did argue that it was a “reasonable” decision. So you may not think it’s the “best” decision, but you certainly seem to think it’s pretty much A-OK.

    @James Joyner: I state at the outset that it’s wrong to bully the kid over this.

    “Yes, it’s wrong, BUT… ” is not what any person of principle would consider to be taking a stand. I know you’re not defending the bullying. But you are defending the asshats who chose to blame the victim rather than the perpetrators.

    @James Joyner: I don’t blame school officials for trying to remove what they saw as the proximate cause, even if there’s a bigger underlying issue.

    Anyone with a lick of sense can see that the backpack was not the proximate cause. Unless you’d care to argue that wearing a short skirt can be seen as the proximate cause of being raped, or refusing to hand over your wallet is the proximate cause of being shot? And yes, I see you’re very careful to point out that you’re talking about what you think THEY saw as the proximate cause, while silently eliding what YOU see as the proximate cause. Given your defense of their actions, along with your contention that they were reasonable, many here are going to assume that you agree with them.

    I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do know that victim blaming is goddamned despicable, whether it’s a woman who was raped or a child who was bullied, and defending victim blaming is not much better. Continuing to defend it after several people have pointed it out to you? Well, I can’t imagine you care much what some random internet stranger thinks of you, but I really thought you were better than this

    I, too, understand why they did what they did, but that doesn’t make it right, nor does it make it even the least bit reasonable. If he had been beaten for saying he was a Christian, and they had decided that the easiest solution would be to forbid him from saying so, would you be so understanding of their actions then? If he had gotten beaten because he was black, would you still be so willing to say “Well, teachers can’t be everywhere at once. It was easier for them to ask him to stop hanging around near the white kids”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  42. ptfe says:

    @James Joyner: She or he did.

    The problem is that you wholly excuse this is as “kids will be kids” behavior. We’re reading the words — they look shockingly like this:

    And, yes, the ban was effectively blaming the victim. But the fact of the matter is that kids of that age can be vicious, bullying and mob behavior here was quite predictable, and it’s impossible for teachers to be everywhere at once.

    Sure, you’re not blaming the victim, you’re just totally fine with blaming the victim. Blaming the victim is absolutely, entirely, with 100% certainty the wrong thing to do. At no point do you admit this. The second sentence is a wholesale brush-off of concerns about victim-blaming by coming up with several reasons why the path of least resistance is not only understandable but justifiable.

    Fvck that.

    Either the bully is wrong and needs to be stopped, or the victim is wrong and needs to be stopped. Which side of the divide are you on? Read your words carefully, since they’re what we readers have to go by.

    This is why women wearing tight clothes are told it’s “their fault” they get raped. Even if we’re more willing to prosecute rapists today than we might have been 30 years ago, “she was asking for it” is still used as a legitimizing excuse, still accepted by a shockingly large portion of our society as some sort of mitigating circumstance, and still used to make life socially miserable for victims. It’s why trans people are shrugged off when they get beaten up — hey, if you don’t want to be beaten up for dressing like a woman, stop dressing like a woman! Stop making excuses.

    What the administration did here was wrong. Full stop. End statement. Instead you hem and haw about it, acting like beating up a “girly kid” is totally normal and can’t be dealt with appropriately because, well, kids will be kids and we should totally understand kids beating up some girly-boy with a Rainbow Dash backpack.

    I don’t have any illusions that kids aren’t cruel, that kids aren’t prone to meanness and violence where adults likely aren’t, or that teachers can 100% monitor and control everything that happens on school grounds. But any administration so lazy that it comes up with this solution is definitely part of the problem that needs to be dealt with.

    Oh, and FYI, “mob rule” can happen pretty readily at the adult level — indeed, it’s happened in the not-too-distant past in some places in this fair country. But I haven’t seen the black people in our neighborhood hiding inside for fear that a bunch of racist sh!tbrains will show up to drive them out or kill them. Something else is going on here, and it has to do with attitudes, the worst of which are perpetuated by simplistic platitudes and excuses.

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  43. Vast Variety says:

    My Little Pony hasn’t been marked mainly to girls in a long time now. It has a huge male following that is also not limited to kids. Just google the term Brony.

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  44. ernieyeball says:

    @Vast Variety: Just google the term Brony.

    I did:

    Brony
    Fans of the new G4 My Little Pony show “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”. Mostly refers to the older male viewers of the show, but female fans use it too. A Brony is generally pretty involved in the community at large.
    Brony 1: What’s your favorite pony?
    Brony 2: Fluttershy, cause she’s just so cute!
    Brony 3: Hey man, those are fighting words. Rarity is obviously the best pony!
    Brony 2: What are you going to do?
    Brony 3: I’m gonna love and tolerate the crap out of you.
    *hugs*

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  45. Matt says:

    @Vast Variety: As I said earlier.

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  46. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @James Joyner: I can, too, since they obviously were stupid people. I mean, with respect, James, saying ‘I think what they did was wrong too but all I’m saying is I understand why they did it’ is not saying anything meaningful. ALL of us understand why they did it, in the sense of knowing. I mean, you’re not stating anything different from what the school authorities themselves said. ‘Leave the backpack at home and that will solve the problem.’ The relevant point is WHY they thought making the victim of the bullying the source of the problem would solve the problem, and I think there are deeper reasons for that, having to do with attitudes about gender roles and about sexuality that are very fundamentally held in our society. The underlying message conveyed by telling the boy to leave his backpack at home was, “We have some sympathy for why these kids bullied a boy who came to school with a “My Little Pony” backpack. It’s understandable. Of course, it’s not right, but it’s understandable.” And that underlying message is NOT accidental. All you have to do to see that is change the variables. There are Jewish kids who are bullied for wearing symbolically Jewish items, like a Star of David necklace. If a school authority told a Jewish child to leave the necklace at home, while other, Christian, kids, were allowed to come to school with crosses, I cannot imagine you saying, “It wasn’t right, but I understand why they thought it was the easiest way to solve the problem.” Or, for that matter, if a child was bullied for wearing a cross.

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  47. BTW, I’d like to throw the comment thread at this previous post into the discussion. Posts like this one are precisely the reason why I was bothered by JJ’s apparent lack of regret back then. He really did apparently learn nothing from his experience and are still willing to just shrug and go “oh well, that’s just the way things are” when institutional problems with bullying or harrassment pop up.

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  48. ernieyeball says:

    @ptfe:..“mob rule” can happen pretty readily at the adult level — indeed, it’s happened in the not-too-distant past in some places in this fair country.

    Like 1981 in Skidmore, Missouri.
    Town Mute for 30 Years About a Bully’s Killing
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/16/us/16bully.html?pagewanted=all

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  49. jd says:

    Chew your Pop-Tart into a gun shape and then see if it’s all “boys will be boys”.
    Gosh, we’ve got our priorities fsck’d up.

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