Came across a short article in the Reader’s Digest entitled “The Case of the Facebook Bully”.
In a nutshell, it was an account of a young high school student who was the butt of postings on Facebook from pictures and comments of him that were nasty, mean and insulting. He was upset to the point of tears. His parents and subsequently, law enforcement, got involved. After a short period of time a six-teen year old boy was singled out as the instigator, though others had joined in with him, along the way, and they hauled him out of school, arrested for breaking a new law in North Carolina, which made it illegal to post on the Internet “private, personal, or sexual information pertaining to a minor… with the intent to intimidate or torment” him or her.
Went to court, found guilty, appealed twice, found guilty, appealed a third time to state supreme court where the three lower court decisions and the state law were overturned and he was found not guilty.
The state law was too broad. It prohibits “the act of using the Internet as a weapon to inflict fear or emotional distress” on a minor.
“Harassing or intimidating conduct is not protected by the First Amendment…Hurtful speech can’t be “criminalized.””
Though the boy “…may have felt threatened by the nasty posts, he wasn’t actually threatened, which would have counted as “injury.””
“The protection of minors’ mental well-being may be a compelling governmental interest, but it is hardly clear that teenagers require protection via the criminal law from online annoyance.”
Bottom line was:
“Harassing or intimidating conduct is not protected by the First Amendment”
“…hurtful speech can’t be “criminalized”
“…mean and insulting comments…are perfectly legal.”
That’s what you get when men make laws.
The mistake we make is that we think bad behavior can be changed by making a law. The law however, has no power to change the heart and mind. It only, from my observation, makes us more skillful at getting around it. And we will find a way to get around it if we want to.
In the beginning we were all children and we all had parents. Torah tells us that as parents, regarding God’s laws, we are to:
“…store up these words of Mine in your heart and in all your being…teach them carefully to your children, talking about them when you sit at home, when you are traveling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up; and write them on the door-frames of your house and on your gates- so that you and your children will live long on the land…” Deuteronomy 11:18-21. CJB.
He was talking to the children of Israel, but are we not His children as well, brothers and sisters in creation? My mother used to say “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” This instruction is good for all people for all time.
The scriptures tell us to be strong, be bold, fear not. Should we not be teaching our children that? They have to understand there are hurts in this world and they must learn to deal with them.
The scriptures tell us to trust. Are we as parents the ones our children can trust in to walk with them when circumstances are out of their control? Do they know that?
Are we paying attention?
The scriptures tell us to love our neighbor as ourselves and do unto others as we would have them do unto us, spoken in the negative, don’t do to others that we don’t want done to us.
Are we teaching that to our children and most importantly do they realize that we are requiring this of them, that this is right and it is how we expect them to behave? Do they understand there are consequences if they fall short?
The scripture out of Deuteronomy makes it clear that this task of raising our children is a continuous process of teaching, monitoring, correcting and rewarding them so that they may live in harmony with each other and with God. We parents are to pay attention and be involved as long as we are alive.
And yes. Our children have minds and free choice just like adults. Will they take the instruction to heart, value it and live by it? Our authority to enforce good behavior diminishes as they get older and is only as strong as their willingness to submit to it. Sounds like the relationship we have with the Father.
The fathers will not bear the guilt for the wrong deeds of the sons and the sons shall not bear the guilt for the wrong deeds of the fathers. Our children need to know that they reach a point where they are fully accountable. (Ezekiel 18:20).
But… if we don’t teach them that, then we are like the watchman on the wall held accountable for the coming disaster that they should have, but didn’t, warn the people about. We need to know and remember that. (Ezekiel 33:1-6).
These two paraphrased scriptures and the quoted scripture, are Torah instruction. There are literal and underlying principles regarding responsibility and accountability that are and always will be applicable in our lives. Torah is given and is for observance in the living of our lives, not for salvation, but to live righteously the save life that has been gifted us.
If we learn and are obedient to the laws and rulings, the instructions written on the pages of God’s Word, all the written laws of men regarding their treatment of one another would be so much wasted paper and ink.
And if we be trusting and obedient children of His, our obedience, the work we do, will be done from a heart of love for Him and for His creation, our fellow man.
Father, we are human and even with the best of intentions we fall short.
Forgive us Father when we do fall short and tender the hearts of others to forgive us as well.
Thank You that You talk to and touch the lives of all people and that You can and do undo the harm that has been done.
Thank You that because You are God of individuals as well as peoples, You teach individuals, personally and make up for the lack of teaching, You give knowledge that Your child needs and may not have been given in order to know You, to be pleasing to You and love his neighbor.
Father, may we be protective of our children when they are wronged and may we be strict in correction when they do wrong.
May we be, as parents and adults close by, examples of the kind of people You want us to be so that the little ones can see only what is right and that becomes the norm for them.
Father, thank You for life, for forgiveness, for knowledge and Your fellowship.
May You be praised and honored and glorified.
We love You Father.
In Yeshua’s name we pray,
May God’s love be in us all.