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Answers for bullying

Perhaps Dan Lett should have spent more time in a classroom before presuming he has the right answers for the problem of bullying (Allan right to shut down opponents of anti-bully bill, Feb. 27).

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There is absolutely no doubt that we need anti-bullying programming in our schools. Over my years teaching in both public and separate schools, I witnessed bullying with different degrees of cruelty towards students who were not masculine or feminine enough, wore the wrong clothes, were too modest or not modest enough, had the wrong body shape or size, had a hairstyle that others found ridiculous, had a nose or ears too big, were not athletic, or were too short or tall.

The list of perceived reasons for the justification of bullying goes on and on. Girls, and in particular girls of colour, received some of the cruellest bullying I witnessed over the years, even girls as young as seven or eight years old.

This raises the questions as to why we need a specific type of anti-bullying club. A visit to the Gay-Straight Alliance website leaves me no doubt that this particular club is a smokescreen for a much broader agenda.

SHIRLEY MACKINNON

Oak Bluff

ñü

Some months ago, the Free Press reported on a large public demonstration in Egypt, by men protesting an attack on their religious freedom. The problem? They were not allowed to impose strict Sharia law, which oppresses and marginalizes women (their own wives and daughters) and other vulnerable members of society.

On Feb. 26, the Free Press reported on a huge public meeting in Manitoba, by citizens protesting an attack on their religious freedom. The problem? Under the province's proposed new anti-bullying law, they will not be allowed to oppress and marginalize gays (in some cases, their own sons and daughters), and other highly vulnerable members of society.

What do the two groups have in common? One is Islamist, the other Christian, but each one is demanding absolute freedom of religion, but only for its own religion. If, in the name of that freedom, they must trample on the rights of others, so be it. Call it collateral damage.

MARTHA OWEN

Pinawa

ñü

I attended public schools in Winnipeg. In Grade 6, I was the only religious student in my class. This made me different than the other children.

I wouldn't conform, so I was bullied every day. It took years to heal from the cruel things they said and did.

Now the Christian schools, concerned about Bill 18, are under that same pressure to conform.

And we're the ones accused of bashing?

CELESTA THIESSEN

Steinbach

ñü

How ironic. An amoral government is bullying a Christian school for standing up for the right to say yes or no.

This is no less than an attack on the biblical Christian faith and is, in fact, an attack on freedom itself. Who will be next to lose their freedom?

REV. LYALL SUTTON

Matlock

ñü

Some Christian-based schools (that receive public monies) have suggested to the education minister that they should be exempted from aspects of Bill 18 that might contradict their values.

One implication to be drawn from this stance is that these schools would not offer protection to lesbian, homosexual and transgendered people if they were being bullied simply because of their sexual orientation. How compassionate and Christ-like.

TOM SHERBROOK

Gimli

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I strongly support Bill 18. Although bullying and harassment can never be fully eliminated, we can make it clear to students that it is not acceptable behaviour.

It may be possible that there are no GLBT students in the Manitoba Federation of Independent Schools, but it seems more far more likely that such schools simply refuse to admit their existence. If these schools were entirely privately funded, they might have a better case for their position.

NANCY GILBERT

Winnipeg

ñü

Is an anti-bullying bill really necessary? It seems to me that it is a given that bullying is wrong, just as is stealing.

Technically, we do not have anti-murder bills, since everyone knows murder is wrong. When bullying occurs, schools should not need a bill on which to base their disciplinary actions. Let's stop passing new bills and just apply common sense if there is any left out there.

VALERIE WADEPHUL

Winnipeg

Value for the money

In his Feb. 22 letter, Looking after its own, Cal Paul suggests that we should elect Bob Dietz to take the reins of the provincial government (eliminate all positions except his elected position) and then we would get things done and get value for our tax money.

Or would he choose certain positions as "essential" and pay a pauper's wage because he has control over finances?

Well, there are many essential services (those bringing trade and commerce to our province) and public-service unions to protect the workers. The mere suggestion that only business owners pay taxes and have a greater intelligence than public workers is wrong.

HARRY F. McFEE

Winnipeg

Plato had right idea

Re: Making hash of pot laws (Feb. 25). Medical marijuana has proven itself to be the fatal compromise that has set back the legalize movement 10 years.

As a libertarian, I support the efforts of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition in repealing the entire war on drugs rather than fighting for legalization one drug at a time.

It was Plato who argued that during a war the wounded should not be removed from the battle field. Plato argued the war would go on forever if it were cleaned up. War should be seen for the ugliness that it is in order that it be brought to an end as swiftly as possible.

The government has no more business protecting the people from drugs they want to put in their bodies than from ideas they want to put in their heads.

CHRIS BUORS

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 28, 2013 A14

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