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Letter: To the Parent of Last Week’s Letter About Bullying

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for your family’s pain. I am sorry for my neighbor’s brutish behavior. But I am mostly sorry for my participation. You see my taxes are giving these bullies some of the finest education in this country.

The schools’ zero-tolerance policy on bullying, while laudable, is laughable. It’s ineffective and unenforceable. On campus physical fighting can be addressed, but we all know that is literally a microscopic percentage of what bullying actually is. Because what you and your family are suffering through is the one of the staples of our community and country; freedom of speech, and with that, the freedom to hate.

Yes. Hate. In its simplest and most basic form.

I’m sure some who read your letter simply shrugged and thought your child should toughen up, and you and your daughter should take on your tormenters. That seemed to work quite well at Columbine and more recently at Fort Hood.

I co-founded The Manhasset Arts and Cultural Center not merely to encourage artistic expression in this community, but create a place to also promote cultural diversity and acceptance of the continuing evolving and changing town of Manhasset. There are many who’d prefer that not happen. They would hate for that to happen. Suffice it to say, we haven’t gotten much interest or support from many in the community, although we’ve been told if we wanted money for another athletic field, we’d have the cash by the end of the week.

In the business world there are repercussions for those who bait and harass others. Here, in many cases, it is not only encouraged, but a badge of honor to have a reputation as a bully, be it male or female. I’m sure talking with some of your neighbors they respond with, “Yep, that’s Manhasset.”

Shame on them. Shame on all of us.

While I cannot offer you concrete answers or solutions, I want you to know my family’s hand and home are open to welcome you. And your daughter should know that compassion is the most powerful weapon in the human arsenal of emotions, followed by honor, trust and friendship. Hate comes in dead last. It always comes in dead last.

Please remember, hope always burns hotter than fear.

Your friend,

David L. Paterson