This was my first shot at the May 29th cartoon. There have been bills languishing in the Michigan legislature for some time addressing the issue of bullying in schools. Over 40 other states have passed anti-bully laws, so what’s holding Michigan back? I’ll get to that in a minute, but first let me tell you that these programs are not “pep rally, self-esteem-building, everybody wins a trophy” sort of affairs. They are, in fact, very much the opposite. They are the establishing of proper rules of behavior, real-life training for following the rules, and a challenge and expectation that everybody follows the rules. If you want a program that teaches children functional skills that will help them become sensible, responsible adults, you want an anti-bullying program in your school.
I know this firsthand because we have been blessed to have a program in the Grandville Public School system run by Christy Buck. (Christy is the woman in the comic, and, yes, I did check with her first.) Since I was more or less paraphrasing things I’ve heard her say, I thought it appropriate to draw her. Her program addresses bullying as part of a larger mental health initiative. Here’s a good overview article and a link to Christy’s organization, the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan.
Now then, I wrote “first shot” because after submitting this cartoon, it got spiked (cartooning parlance for “decided against publishing”). I was disappointed, but it was absolutely understandable. I’m the guy who gets to smack the hornets nest, but it’s the editors who mostly have to deal with the angry hornets. And for this particular comic, there was real potential for unintentionally large swarms. In the end, it gave me a chance to draw a comic closer to the point I was trying make.
So what is it that’s holding Michigan back from anti-bullying legislation? I believe it be the Ewww! Factor. Sen. Alan Cropsey of DeWitt and other keepers of morality are leery of bill’s language. (For more details, here’s an article for that.) They are uncomfortable (and I believe that’s the appropriate word here, uncomfortable) with the possibility of a local school board picking up on the legislation and specifying homosexuality as a reason not to bully. (Of course Cropsey and others had no problem at all specifying homosexuality as a reason not to marry — in the Michigan frickin’ constitution!) So Cropsey may be a hypocrite, but I don’t think he’s a homophobe. The problem is that he, like many people, simply thinks too much about other people having sex.
Other people having sex (hetero, homo, and other variations we shall not enumerate) is disgusting. There are those who will tell you that it is beautiful and natural, but they are wrong. It is in fact nauseating, and the more you think about other people doing it, the more squeamish you’ll get and the more likely you will become fixated on preventing their nasty behavior. To the point where you will look completely past the larger good of something like anti-bullying legislation to stifle the remotest possibility of encouraging other people having …ewww! This is the Ewww! Factor.
Fortunately there’s an easy solution: Senator Cropsey, please stop thinking about other people having sex. There. That should do it.