Felony Assault Against Journalists and Others, Not Teachers

Jan 17, 2019 by

It was reported yesterday that Governor Cuomo has proposed that an assault on a journalist should be classified as a felony. Because of their vital role as guardians of freedom of speech and their heightened vulnerability as targets of partisan condemnation, journalists deserve to be a protected class, according to this implicit argument.

So does everybody else.

Assaults on all categories of people should be treated identically, whether they be journalists, police officers, bodega  proprietors or Uber drivers. Neither should there be any statutory distinction between a charge of “first-degree’ or “second-degree” murder based solely on the occupation of the victim.

It is now a felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison, to assault utility workers, bus drivers and many other titles of employees. They deserve it just as much as journalists. It should not be begrudged them.

But under the law, teachers don’t fall into a category meriting such protection. It appears that lawful safeguards for them are relatively muted. Is it a lesser crime to slash a teacher?. Why is that?

Surely the omission of tens of thousands of city employees facing a fairly routine hazard cannot be an oversight. The level of violence against them by students and irate parents is relatively high.

Perhaps teachers are expected to not notice or put up with it in order to prove they are dedicated and care about kids. Maybe prosecution of violent parents might jeopardize the school’s community engagement initiatives?

Are we saying that education is a hazardous-duty job and teachers volunteered for combat duty with their eyes open? Let’s have parity for teachers.


Ron Isaac

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