Thomas Sowell thinks most of the contemporary rhetoric about school bullying is nonsense. Empty rhetoric, says he.
There is a lot of talk from many people about bullying in school. The problem is that it is all talk. There is no sign that anybody is going to do anything that is likely to reduce bullying.
The trouble, as Sowell sees it, is that teachers can't decisively respond to bullies in the classroom. Why is that? Because the courts are more interested in protecting the rights of the bullies. And you see, when the courts are all over the teachers, when the government interferes with how discipline in the classroom is handled, nobody can be in charge. And then there are bullies.
Might educators abuse their power, if the courts did not step in? Of course they could. Any power exercised by human beings can be abused. But, without the ability to exercise power, there is anarchy.
And so there are two choices: anarchy consequent of judicial meddling to preserve the rights of bullies or . . . What?
For years, there have been stories in New York and Philadelphia newspapers about black kids beating up Asian classmates. But do not expect anybody to do anything that is likely to put a stop to it.
If these were white kids beating up Hispanic kids, cries of outrage would ring out across the land from the media, the politicians, the churches and civic groups. But it is not politically correct to make a fuss when black kids beat up Asian kids.
I am going to take a shot at what Sowell's suggestion is: racial profiling for bullying. Alright, that's crazy. How about not being worried about the racial politics of identifying violent individuals, regardless of the color of their skin? That seems plausible, but is that outlawed by the courts? No. So that's not a different option. Okay, I don't know what the proposal is. Certainly not about how teachers should run class, now.
Sowell isn't very clear about what he sees as the alternative. Fine, maybe we can see his alternative in the way he handles a contrast case:
Britain was once one of the most law-abiding nations on earth. But the reluctance of the left to put some serious punishment on criminals has been carried so far there that only 7 percent of convicted criminals actually spend any time behind bars. Britain has now overtaken the United States in various crime rates.
Ah, so it is the state punishing criminals, but more severely? How does that have anything to do with teachers in classrooms? Or bullies? Now it's about crime rates. Huh. Some false dilemmas derive from there being two options posed, but the best third option suppressed. This false dilemma has one option posed (and rejected), and then no clear alternative offered. Maybe should be called the 'false whatever-lemma'.