June 3, 2013

"Monona parents whose children repeatedly bully others can now be ticketed by police and fined in municipal court."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports:
Monona Police Chief Wally Ostrenga... thinks the parent-liability clause will be used sparingly, if at all, and only in cases where parents are obstructive or uncooperative. He hopes the mere threat of a ticket will be enough....
The broader ordinance prohibits any person age 12 or older from engaging in bullying, subject to similar municipal fines. The ordinance defines bullying as “an intentional course of conduct which is reasonably likely to intimidate, emotionally abuse, slander, threaten or intimidate another person and which serves no legitimate purpose.”
Ironic that bullying is defined to include threats and the police plan to use the ordinance to make threats. But the ordinance refers to threats that serve no legitimate purpose. But is there a legitimate purpose to threatening to make parents pay $114 if they don't take action to control the teenagers who express themselves in a manner that the authorities have decided is too hurtful?
“Sometimes you’ll knock on someone’s door and they won’t want to talk to you — their kids are perfect, they could never do anything wrong,” Ostrenga said. “This is for those times when we get the door slammed in our faces.”
So the purpose is, admittedly, to pressure parents to talk to the police. The people who have been declining to speak with the police will now have to pay for the privilege.
Parents who are making a good-faith effort to address a child’s behavior would not be ticketed, he said.

City Attorney William S. Cole called the tactic “a tool of last resort” and said he believes it would withstand a court challenge.
I guess there is such "a court" here in Dane County — where Monona, like Madison, is located — and I would feel much more intimidated, emotionally abused, and threatened if I didn't believe — speaking of beliefs — that court would be reversed on appeal.

57 comments:

Meade said...

Cops out with the megaphones,
Telling people stay inside their home.
Man, can't they see the world's on fire?

Pettifogger said...

The municipality by which I am employed likes rules giving discretion whether to penalize. I have the reputation of a killjoy, in part for saying such laws are improper.

AllenS said...

Ironic that bullying is defined to include threats and the police plan to use the ordinance to make threats

WTF? Oh, noes!

AllenS said...

This just in! Police are going to arrest an armed bank robber, and they are going to use guns to do it!

rhhardin said...

That solves the never talk to the police problem.

edutcher said...

"Monona Police Chief Wally Ostrenga... thinks the parent-liability clause will be used sparingly, if at all, and only in cases where parents are obstructive or uncooperative."

Famous last words, right up there with, "It is the last territorial claim which I have to make in Europe".

PS You want to help the kids that are getting pushed around?

Teach them to fight back.

Oh, yeah, then they would be good little victims, needing the protection of the Welfare State.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Monona Police Chief Wally Ostrenga... thinks the parent-liability clause will be used sparingly, if at all, and only in cases where parents are obstructive, uncooperative, or conservative.

Fixed it.

Patrick said...

I would feel much more intimidated, emotionally abused, and threatened if I didn't believe — speaking of beliefs — that court would be reversed on appeal.
Hell, most people can't afford a lawyer to fight the charge in the first place, let alone to take the matter up on appeal. That's not much comfort.

The Godfather said...

Informational question: Is there some established standard of civil liability for parents whose children cause damage to others? If so, what is it? Is there such a standard for criminal liability and if so what is it?

Terry said...

Let's give the cops discretion to determine what a crime is and whether it should be prosecuted!

Michael K said...

"
Famous last words, right up there with, "It is the last territorial claim which I have to make in Europe".

Or, "I will have the most transparent administration ever."

Patrick said...

You should have no confidence that a government official will use this, or any other ordinance as a "last resort." Not only will they use it as frequently as possible, they will push the limits of the text of the ordinance, and reach far more people with it than anyone currently assumes. Governments use their powers to the fullest extent, and then expand it.

Moose said...

Isn't this the basis for all law enforcement? Or laws in general? If you don't comply they force you to or punish you?

It's only "ironic" if you consider the law itself valid. In my opinion, its specious in its intent.

Ann Althouse said...

"Hell, most people can't afford a lawyer to fight the charge in the first place, let alone to take the matter up on appeal. That's not much comfort."

This is what the ACLU is for.

Ann Althouse said...

"Isn't this the basis for all law enforcement? Or laws in general? If you don't comply they force you to or punish you?"

You have a right not to speak to the police. This is fining you for exercising that right.

And the underlying conduct of the offspring is defined to include a tremendous amount of constitutionally protected speech.

David said...

More lefty authoritarianism.

Are people ever going to figure this out?

David said...

"This is what the ACLU is for."

Are you taking bets on whether they will show up for this one?

prairie wind said...

Bullying is WRONG. Unless you are picking on the kid you think is bullying your kid. People approve of bullying the bullies.

Ann Althouse said...

"It's only "ironic" if you consider the law itself valid. In my opinion, its specious in its intent."

Oh... you want to argue about the scope of what is irony?

We could do that too.

I see irony the police chief's expression of intent to use the law to threaten when it's a law against threatening. My view that the law is invalid doesn't dissipate the perception of irony.

Freeman Hunt said...

Insane. Somebody send a copy of the Constitution to Monona.

Also, I hate these "Well, we won't use it much, just when we want to stick it to a guy," laws.

James Pawlak said...

In recent days a teacher was punished for informing students that their Fifth Amendment rights allowed them to NOT respond to drug/alcohol use questions on a "required" survey.

Will that law be expanded to taking children from parents without "due process of law"?

Sorun said...

This made me laugh, but I'm not a lawyer:

"Much of the broader ordinance addresses conduct already prohibited by state statute, Ostrenga said. However, the state statutes don’t use the term “bullying.”"

Deirdre Mundy said...

If a coworker punches you at work, you can call the police and press charges.

If a kid punches your kid at school, well.... that's just how things go.

Bringing the police in is a good way to get the schools to man up.

campy said...

the parent-liability clause will be used sparingly, if at all, and only in cases where parents are obstructive

They had better keep detailed records to prove the clause is not applied in a racially discriminatory manner.

SteveR said...

I don't know about this idyllic little hamlet but in general it is hard to imagine this type of law making any difference.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

Hell, most people can't afford a lawyer to fight the charge in the first place, let alone to take the matter up on appeal. That's not much comfort.

This is what the ACLU is for.


Having a tough time recalling the last time the ACLU went to bat for somebody when it didn't further the Lefty agenda.

T.K. Tortch said...

The problem is that Courts are expected to deal with this kind of matter at all.

I used to do a lot of domestic legal work. I concluded that of all matters Courts are asked to regulate, their area of least competence is domestic and social relations. It's all thumbs all the time and a hodgepodge of desperate kludges. "Balancing equities" becomes a measure of who to screw less.

It isn't really the Court's fault. They shouldn't be required to deal with domestic institutions beyond fundamental structural issues like marriage, divorce, child custody etc. But more and more they are asked to fine-tune domestic matters because individuals in society are less and less capable or willing to do so themselves.

That "less and less capable" would include not just the parents who can't control their bullying kids, but parents of bullied children who can't deal with the situation without calling the cops.

Tibore said...

While on the surface this sounds like it might be a good idea (Get the police involved before things turn into a big arrest and court drama involving the children), isn't it getting a little state-intrusive into parenting? The default presumption behind behind invoking this law is that if a parent refuses to talk to the police, it's to stonewall an investigation and deny a child's involvement in a bullying case. But can that truly be the only reason a parent refuses to engage?

And to address a higher level issue of police/state intrusion into life (not just parenting), as well as expansion of powers: If the case demands police attention, wouldn't it already be at the level where arrests can be made and cooperation can be compelled without additional laws? And if the case does not demand that level of official intervention, is it really necessary to compel cooperation in this manner?

Don't get me wrong; I'm fully aware of the problems police face when dealing with recalcitrant people. I've seen cases myself where a fight happened and suddenly everyone involved or witnessing "didn't see anything" or otherwise didn't even try to help. I imagine the problem extends across more than just physical battery. So in the real world, yes, the police do experience issues with getting the information they need to determine when a problem exists. But that said, is that truly something to be fixed with a law, or is it just a collective citizenry that needs to re-evaluate how it interacts with law enforcement personnel?

The ultimate point I'm making is about unintended consequences. The principle of least government involvement seems to be getting violated here, and that's even after accepting that a problem exists. Is this really the right solution for the issue?

Ann Althouse said...

2 consecutive comments above:

1. "This made me laugh, but I'm not a lawyer: 'Much of the broader ordinance addresses conduct already prohibited by state statute, Ostrenga said. However, the state statutes don’t use the term “bullying.”'"

2. "If a coworker punches you at work, you can call the police and press charges. If a kid punches your kid at school, well.... that's just how things go. Bringing the police in is a good way to get the schools to man up."

Yeah, the non-speech aspects of bullying are already criminal under state law as are the kinds of "true threats" that are unprotected speech. So why is this law needed? Apparently to reach the things that are protected speech, to slap the label "bullying" onto the whole thing to please a political constituency, and to extract payment for the exercise of the privilege not to speak to the police.

khesanh0802 said...

"Bullying". The latest hottest topic in human behavior to be made "al right" by the progs. I agree with those who think the bullied should learn to fight back. Most "bullies" hate that. When does someone learn to stand up for himself when mom and now "mommy state" wants to interfere. Not really doing anyone any favors.

I agree with Ann that the law is unworkable and probably unconstitutional.

Also Hurray! for the teacher who taught his students (wittingly or un) about the 5th Amendment.

traditionalguy said...

Why not arrest the under 18 perpetrators? Probably because the crime is not a crime at all, but use of free speech to anger others.

EMD said...

By the way, the ACLU is doing a magnificent job on behalf of the Americans targeted by the IRS!!

edutcher said...

Wondering if this is a nod to the Dan Savage crowd.

Alan said...

They had better keep detailed records to prove the clause is not applied in a racially discriminatory manner.
This is Wisconsin, correct? They'd have a very hard time finding a minority to discriminate against in that town, according to the U.S. Census

ErnieG said...

Pettifogger said...

"The municipality by which I am employed likes rules giving discretion whether to penalize. I have the reputation of a killjoy, in part for saying such laws are improper."


As we approach the time when we are all felons and everything is against the law, such discretion becomes more important as a lever of power.

Methadras said...

This is clearly leftist tyranny couched as public safety against bullying while the 1st amendment is attacked again by them. If an adult is yelling or bullying another adult does that constitute a crime? Making bullying a hate speech crime is bullshit. We told you that leftists would do this shit and slowly and incrementally chip away at our rights and they are doing it and no one does a thing but nod their heads and clap like seals at how much it's needed.

wyo sis said...

"If a kid punches your kid at school, well.... that's just how things go.

Bringing the police in is a good way to get the schools to man up."

If you like a law that removes other people's constitutional protections you are in a dangerous place. If their rights aren't protected, yours aren't either.

David said...

"The broader ordinance prohibits any person age 12 or older from engaging in bullying, subject to similar municipal fines. The ordinance defines bullying as “an intentional course of conduct which is reasonably likely to intimidate, emotionally abuse, slander, threaten or intimidate another person and which serves no legitimate purpose.”

In other words, it applies to everyone, not just in a school context (which is bad enough.)

It amazes me that the "conservative" commenters in this thread see no problem here. The police can decide (sparingly, naturally) whose speech and conduct is inappropriate via some subjective test of emotional abuse or intimidation? What could possibly go wrong?

There is a concept in the law of "assault." It developed under common law and is statutory these days, but the development of the concept has recognized that governmental allegations of "assault" are themselves potentially abusive. Therefore there are significant restrictions on prosecuting for assault.

This just gives a blank check to those in authority.

The mayor of Monona is quoted at the end of the article saying that the law "reflects the values" of the community.

Indeed it does.

That value is: "we will attack you if we don't like what you say."

The other value is: "Refuse to be interviewed by the police and be fined."

Lovely place, Monona.

Methadras said...

City Attorney William S. Cole called the tactic “a tool of last resort” and said he believes it would withstand a court challenge.

This is the kind of statement that pisses me off to no end. Pass a law with the hopes that it passes the spaghetti on the wall test just because. Superfluous creations of laws for the sake of simply doing it is anathema to the principals of liberty and freedom. This is tyranny.

Martinkh said...

This is about thought crimes. The benificiaries are liberal protected classes- criminally inclined minorities, feminists, homosexuals, muslims. They will use nerdy white boys as poster children, but they will never go after a black bully unless the victim is a double-minority, like a black gay.

Bryan C said...

Back in the day, giving money to cops so they'd refrain from hassling innocent people on trumped-up charges was called a protection racket. Today? It's still called that.

Sorun said...

"Bringing the police in is a good way to get the schools to man up."

Mommies love this stuff -- they want someone to man up and be the daddy replacement. Who's is going to be, the school or the city?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Let's treat the unruly kids like pit bulls.

The parents are responsible for keeping their kids/pets in line and to keep them from harming others. If they can't or won't then we either fine the parents or euthanize the kids or dogs. Maybe both.

Problem solved.

Joking....sort of.

Revenant said...

Sounds like a retarded idea to me.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Sounds like a retarded idea to me

Yah. I know. Euthanizing the kids or dogs will still leave the scumbag parents.

:-D

/wink

Carl said...

So in the real world, yes, the police do experience issues with getting the information they need to determine when a problem exists.

That's because they're assholes. Try talking to the police a few times from the wrong end of the gun. It's all about their sense of power. Stand on your rights, insist on a little respect, and you can find yourself cuffed in no time. Truckle and kiss ass, and you could be packing heat and 500g of meth in your sock and it's all good.

That's why teens who mouth the cops at a traffic stop can be ravaged with pot charges and truancy and all manner of BS until they grow up and move away, and at the other extreme Ariel Castro in Cleveland can get away with 10 years of rape and kidnapping.

Do we even need to mention the LAPD shooting up a few women because they thought they maybe looked like Chris Dorner? Any cops going to prison for that? Ha ha.

But that said, is that truly something to be fixed with a law, or is it just a collective citizenry that needs to re-evaluate how it interacts with law enforcement personnel?

You've got it backward. The citizenry has already re-evaluated how it interacts with law-enforcement personnel, based in part on how they act, and based in part on what happens to you if you get tangled up in even the slightest way with the justice system.

The result of that "re-evaluation" is exactly why people don't talk to the police as much. Most people who've actually come in contact with the judicial system from the "customer" end have lost all faith in it.

Maybe what needs to happen is that the citizenry needs to "re-evaluate" the kind of people they elect to public office, and maybe even "re-evaluate" whether if they're sufficiently obnoxious they ought to meet with some very old-fashioned direct citizen justice for misbehaving tribunes. As Instapundit says, tar and feathers would be a good start.

Strelnikov said...

What a load of crap. The Left's obsession with "bullying" has become pathological and in conjunction with law enforcement's innate desire to control, dangerous.

Anthony said...

I'm sure they have a clear definition of what constitutes "bullying" such that it will only be applied to people who makes those in Official Victim Groups feel badly.

Strelnikov said...

"They had better keep detailed records to prove the clause is not applied in a racially discriminatory manner."

Even if any are available in Mononga, I predict this law will never be used to charge a black parent regardless of the child's actions. Write that down and date it.

Strelnikov said...

"By the way, the ACLU is doing a magnificent job on behalf of the Americans targeted by the IRS!!"

Bazinga.

Strelnikov said...

"Monona Police Chief Wally Ostrenga... thinks the parent-liability clause will be used sparingly, if at all, and only in cases where parents are obstructive or uncooperative."

I'll still respect you in the morning.

The check is in the mail.

Etc., Etc.

MadisonMan said...

"DO SOMETHING"

That's where this ill-advised law is coming from, like so many ill-advised things.

C R Krieger said...

So, does this mean it might be OK to spank one's child to prevent future bullying and fine paying?

Regards  —  Cliff

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Well, there's bullying and then there's criminal assault. Remember, say, the Richmond, CA gang-rape case?

IMO the police don't belong investigating ordinary fisticuffs or verbal abuse unless the parents of the victim (or the victim him/herself) has already tried going through the school administration. You'd be amazed how fast most kids learn to behave themselves after there parents get a call from the school principal. At least, that was my experience tackling a cabal of female bullies (mostly verbal bullying, some small physical stuff of the pulling-hair and stepping-on-toes sort) after months of enduring it daily. I taped a school bus ride, made a transcript, and dropped tape and transcript on the principal's desk the next morning -- naming names, of course. Problem instantly solved :-) I'd say half a dozen of our neighbors' kids got the law laid down for them in a big way that evening.

Whether that works for more aggressively physical bullying of the boy-on-boy sort I don't know. But it ought to be fairly successful for all-around jerkiness, especially if you can document it (which is a lot easier now than when I was in high school.)

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Agreed with most here about police "discretion." The trouble is that every time a school system tries to tamp down on "discretion," what we get is the equally idiotic "zero tolerance" BS. For some reason we don't seem to be able to craft rules that recognize that a kid who gives her friend with the nasty menstrual cramps an aspirin isn't a drug pusher, that a Nerf gun or a bubble gun or for that matter a drawing of a gun isn't a "gun," that a rounded-tip, non-serrated butter knife isn't a dangerous weapon either, and so forth. We make ridiculously overbroad rules so as to make sure we're not leaving anything out, and then either enforce them to the letter, no matter how stupid, or else pick the stuff we wanted enforce and leave the rest alone -- leaving no one any clue what the rule actually does and doesn't cover.

Jupiter said...

When they passed the seat belt law in Oregon, they told us it would be "used sparingly", and that no one would be stopped for a seat belt offense if they were not being stopped for some other traffic offense. They were lying.

Let it burn.

JAL said...

You know all the hoopla over the years about how our rights would be trampled should those religionist Christians be elected to public office?

Hahaha!

This stuff (and the toaster pastry guns and the Federal Feelings Protection regs, and ....) is being written by the "Get Out of My Bedroom!" "It's My Body!" people.

Maybe it will activate more people to work for the sanity of individual rights, small government, genuine responsibility, genuine accountability, and all the rest of the adult behaviors which produce a vibrant cultrue and society. Not a bunch of crybabies and Nurse Ratcheds.