Miami Dolphins: Team Controversy Brings Bullying and Intolerance in the NFL to Light

You might have caught wind of the recent Miami Dolphins’ controversy.  While it’s easy to dismiss the dispute as a war between the two players most directly involved -Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito- in truth the story and the resulting back and forth provide a telling look into the bullying, bravado and intolerance permitted and encouraged by NFL culture. It may be just as tempting to assume that this controversy is a sign of the times, the truth is that the fallout has elicited some insightful commentary on football and the NFL from those in a position to know. I wanted to share some of those items, but beforehand here’s a quick summary of what’s going on.

(Note: Both Gawker and Buzzfeed have extensive summaries that provide a play by play of what’s occurred for those who want to dig deeper.)

In short, the two players involved are 24 year old Jonathan Martin and 30 year old Richie Incognito, both of whom are teammates on the Miami Dolphins NFL football team.  Incognito has a history of violence, a history of bullying, and a history of using racial epithets comfortably under the influence and on the football field.  Martin is said to have been a “friend” of Incognito’s who was subjected to intense bullying by his teammates, and Incognito specifically.  Incognito allegedly was asked by coaches to “toughen” Martin up, which if to be believed, included everything from being called racial slurs to being ridiculed in front of the team.  Martin’s treatment resulted in him having what’s been described as a “breakdown” incited by a table full of his teammates getting up and leaving when he sat down to join them. upon him attempting to join him, which ultimately led to him leaving the team.  The league is currently investigating the particulars of the case but a leaked racially charged and violent voicemail left on Martin’s phone by Incognito was enough to result in his immediate and indefinite suspension from the Dolphins.  Despite mounting evidence that points to an abusive relationship, the members of the Miami Dolphins who have weighed in overwhelmingly did so to voice support for Incognito.

In response, Martin’s counsel released the following statement:

Jonathan Martin’s toughness is not at issue… Jonathan endured harassment that went far beyond the traditional locker room hazing. He attempted to befriend the same teammates that subjected him to the abuse with the hope that doing so would end the harassment. This is a textbook reaction of victims of bullying. Despite these efforts, the taunting continued. Beyond the well-publicized voicemail with its racial epithet, Jonathan endured a malicious physical attack on him by a teammate, and daily vulgar comments.

In many ways this controversy has put into question- if not uprooted- stereotypical notions of jocks and “tough guys” by sparking an actual conversation on the humanity of the young men who suit up and hit the field every weekend.  Beyond that, questions of race, language, and acceptability are also being put into focus. While Martin’s teammates may be inclined to leave him high and dry, current and former players continue to weigh in on why this controversy matters in the first place.  What’s being debated is greater than one man’s failings or one man’s hurt feelings.  We’re debating what’s at the heart of a game that leaves many of its participants with  head injuries and seen other participants outright take their own lives.

Nothing is black and white.

It’d be foolish to try to make any definitive statements on masculinity or mental health based on the particulars of this one incident, the specifics of which are perplexing– Martin and Incognito were said to have been close friends. Yet that friendship doesn’t provide insight into the mental state of either men.  It’d be foolish to make any rash generalizations but it’d be equally foolish to turn a blind eye to the cultural and social dynamics that do, in fact, encourage the sort of tough guy, man up attitude that characterizes the NFL.

In the wake of the controversy, Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears did an excellent job of summing up the failings of NFL culture saying;

Take a little boy and a little girl. A little boy falls down and the first thing we say as parents is ‘Get up, shake it off. You’ll be OK. Don’t cry.’ When a little girl falls down, what do we say? ‘It’s going to be OK.’ We validate their feelings. So right there from that moment, we’re teaching our men to mask their feelings, don’t show their emotions. And it’s that times 100 with football players. You can’t show that you’re hurt, you can’t show any pain. So for a guy to come into the locker room and he shows a little vulnerability, that’s a problem. That’s what I mean by the culture of the NFL. And that’s what we have to change.

Marshall speaks from experience having personally suffered from mental illness, he goes on to suggest that players should actually get together to talk about things like this.  It’s a sentiment that’s gaining popularity as more players step forward using big messy words like “trust” and “caring”.

ESPN’s Chris Carter thinks Martin didn’t approach his coaches because “he didn’t trust him”, noting the importance of trust in a game where you rely on your teammates to not get your head cracked.  He went on;

When a young kid can’t go to a coach and tell him what’s happening to him- that’s how guys get weeded out in the football league. But you’ve gotta care about these guys…. it’s a shame nobody [stood] up for that kid.

Furthermore, beyond the issues of manliness and vulnerability there’s the racial component. Incognito called Martin, who is mixed race, a “half-nigger” and he was known to throw the word around liberally in front of his teammates.  The word and its usage cause disagreement even among black players.  In response to this controversy, Shannon Sharpe took to ESPN to admonish the Dolphin players who permitted Incognito to throw the word:

People will tell you what you want to hear, people will tell you what they think you’ll believe and then they’ll tell you the truth.  From what I’m hearing from the dolphins, from what I’ve read in the paper- I don’t believe they’re telling the truth.  Ted Wells will get to the bottom of the truth but I want to talk about a culture that was fostered in that locker room and was allowed to flourish.  The Miami Dolphin’s locker room probably consists of 75, 80% blacks.  If you allow Richie Incognito to walk around in an open locker room and to use a racial epithet that most black Americans, all black Americans know the stigmatize and the hate and the vitriol that comes with that word– if you allow him to do that, you’re encouraging him to do that.  It has to go unchecked.  I read- and I don’t know, it’s alleged- that some black players said Richie Incognito as an honorary black.  There’s no such thing.  This tells me everything I need to know about the Miami Dolphin’s locker room.  how we got here and why we got here.  Because so many people- if you don’t understand it, because I’m 45 I grew up in rural south Gloria maybe I’m a disconnect… maybe it’s me.  Just ask your parents, ask your Grandparents.  The mountain that they climbed so that a black person in America can have respect, so they could have dignity, and you allow this in an open locker room to take place, it’s unacceptable.  I place this, I’m so disappointed… I just hope that someone was misquoted, I hope I’m wrong and they didn’t allow Richie Incognito to say this racially charged word in an open locker room and go unchecked… that’s unacceptable.  I’m embarrassed for [everyone]- because when he said, if he said that to Jonathan Martin, he didn’t only say that to him he’s talking to you, too.  Because if you’re black you know what that word means.

Alternatively, over in the NBA, when Clippers player Matt Barnes was fined $25,000 for tweeting the word, Charles Barkley jumped to his defense stating that while Barnes shouldn’t have used the word publicly;

Listen, what I do with my black friends is not up to white America to dictate to me what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate.

Without delving too deeply into it, my thoughts on the word itself are likely a nuanced and a contradictory cocktail of Richard Pryor and Louis CK’s sentiments.  I agree with the notion that fear of a word gives it power and yet it’s not a word I feel compelled to use.  I don’t care for censorship but I think the historical and cultural implications of the word, paired with the fact that it genuinely hurts people’s feelings to hear it, is reason enough to not use it.  I don’t feel that way about other four letter words because I’ve yet to hear a compelling argument as to why those words carry more weight than others.

I don’t know what Incognito’s intention was in using the word and I don’t know what Martin was feeling upon hearing the word.  Yet the fact remains, once the dust on the who-said-what aspect of this controversy settles there’s a lesson to be learned and it’s one rooted in our shared humanity.

Brian Phillips has an excellent piece over at Grantland on warrior culture that I highly recommend reading in full.  In it he hits on what I can only hope is the ultimate takeaway from what’s transpired as he emphasizes the need to care for unseen injuries saying:

The brain is a part of the body. It’s an organ. It’s a physical thing. Sometimes it breaks. Sometimes it breaks because you beat it against the inside of your skull so hard playing football,and sometimes — because it’s unimaginably intricate, the brain, way more intricate than even a modified read-option — it breaks for reasons that are harder to see. Your ability to chortle “boys will be boys” doesn’t mean that psychological abuse of the sort that Martin apparently endured can’t widen that kind of fracture. But then, does the cause even matter?

If what comes from this back and forth is just a bit more awareness, a stronger inclination towards seeing the person behind the uniform, and caring from the wounds incited by harsh words and cruel actions then that in itself is a welcome step towards the end zone.

#Justice4Daisy RallyToday, Maryville, MO Rape Victim Has Voice

 

Anonymous, love ‘em or hate ‘em–and I am rather fond of them–get results. And yes, some Anons have gotten jail time for doing what they felt was right. Here’s what they’ve been doing for the past week and a half, and it has been completely legal and really right on.

On October 14, Anonymous launched a Twitter blast #Justice4Daisy to support and bring attention to the Maryville, Missouri rape of  two girls, 13 and 14. Daisy Coleman, the 14 year old, has written eloquently about what happened to her when she and her friend snuck out of the house and drank with senior boys from her high school, one of whom had sex with her while she was unconscious as another boy videotaped it. Her 13 year old friend was also raped. Rape means someone sexed you without your consent. If you are drooling drunk or passed out you cannot give consent.

Daisy was dumped in front of her house in freezing weather. Three hours later her mother, hearing what she thought was a dog scratching at the front door, found her with ice chunks in her hair. Daisy was bruised and bleeding, and a trip to the hospital showed that she had been raped.

Her assailant, Matthew Barnett then 17, is the grandson of Rex Barnett, who served as member of the Missouri House of Representatives from 1994 to 2002.  Barnett was initially charged with sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, but two months later the charges were dropped. Jordan Zech, another senior, videotaped Barnett raping Daisy, and that video was passed around school. Zech was charged with exploitation of a minor. Those charges were dropped also and the video “disappeared.” One boy present that night was sentenced in juvenile court for his assault against Coleman’s then-13 year old friend.

The Nodaway County prosecutor dropped the felony cases against the youths, one the grandson of a longtime area political figure.

The incident sparked outrage in the community, though the worst of it was directed not at the accused perpetrators but at a victim and her family. In the months that followed, Coleman lost her job, and her children were routinely harassed. When it became too much, they left, retreating east to Albany [Missouri].

Daisy has attempted suicide and been hospitalized. Her mother lost her job, Daisy was harassed and bullied at school.  The family’s house burned down.

But last week, two Missouri officials — Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and House Speaker Tim Jones — called for new investigations into the case (and one hopes, the cover-up).

At that time, Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice stated that the amount of evidence was inadequate to prove a criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt, and that Daisy refused to cooperate. He posted similar coments on social media.

Daisy’s mother Melinda Coleman told the AP that she and her family cooperated with investigators and that any accusations that they refused to testify are untrue.  The local CBS channel reports

Melinda Coleman, Daisy’s mother, told CBS News’ Crimesider during a phone interview on Friday that the family never stopped cooperating. She said she only invoked her Fifth Amendment right after the felony charges were dropped in the case and after Rice and a rape advocate talked her into doing so.

She told Crimesider that Daisy was suicidal and in the hospital at the time she invoked her Fifth Amendment right and that she was told by both Rice and the advocate that even if she were to continue cooperating with the investigation, the only remaining charge was a misdemeanor and it would only serve as a “slap on the hand.”

She said there was never a deposition before the felony charges were dropped and that she believes the charges were dropped for “political” reasons.

Yesterday, October 21st, special prosecutor Jean Peters Baker was appointed to investigate the case.

The #Justice4Daisy rally will be broadcast live at 6pm CT on the Missouri Torch website.

Melinda Coleman, Daisy’s mom sent this message to attendees:

Maryville Police Department will be providing portable lighting, a podium, and portapotties for the #JusticeforDaisy rally. They are encouraging everyone to gather at the Northeast corner of the courthouse for the event. I will be putting out parking recommendations shortly but parking around the square will be prohibited. Look for updates to come and thanks for all everyone’s doing to help make this a peaceful demonstration.-Courtney Cole

Justice for Daisy Coleman Wants to remind everyone that it was the Nodaway County Sheriffs who botched the case, not the Maryville Police Department….

We would just like everyone to know that we Maryville is NOT a terrible town. We love so many people there and really were happy there until 1-9-12. Some families there are truly great friends!!! The school was incredible and tried so hard to protect my children…..above and beyond the call of duty…

A lot of people did support as much as they were able. To those people I am so grateful! And to the people who tried to defend us but were also terrorized and threatened……I’m sorry you suffered for us but I love you dearly for trying to help us. We wanted to stay in Maryville. We would have stayed if there was a fair investigation and I had felt my children could be safe. I left for fear for our safety from the family that thinks it’s a little mafia….their threats were very violent.

I would never condone an violent protest and all of the protestors have been asked to simple carry a daisy or daisies. A reporter told me innocent people in Maryville were being threatened. I checked in to that and found out that the only “threats” have been people sending daisies to the courthouse. I think that sounds nice and not very threatening. I do NOT condone violence in our defense. I don’t want others terrorized as we have been. I want everyone to have peace. I also believe that having only Matt Barnett’s mother speak at the press conferences after Sheriff White and Robert Rice, the Prosecuting attorney, clearly illustrates the connection of their family and the powers to be. It was a press release……not a pep rally.

VIDEO: Why and How NOT to Say, “That’s So Gay”

 

 

Ash Beckham delivers, and brings it home, laying out the whys and hows of not saying

That’s so gay

in a 5-minute speech in front of over 800 people as part of part of a series sponsored by Ignite Boulder.  With 20 slides set on auto-advance every 15 seconds, it’s a challenge, and Beckman conquered it, laying out the difference between tolerance and acceptance, and evoking laughter from the crowd for her use of images.

She rocks. And she’s right.

 

HT: SheWired

Teen’s Powerful Anti-Bullying Video

Jonah Mowry expresses his feelings on being bullied since he was 6.  He began cutting himself that year. He is now in 8th grade. With tears in his eyes, he assures viewers he is not going to kill himself, he

just needed to get this out here.

 

Lady Gaga at Obama Silicon Valley Fundraiser

Lady Gaga bought a top-tier ticket and attended an exclusive Silicon Valley fundraiser at the home of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on Sunday night. Wearing a black, sleeveless lace gown and with her hair piled up, Lady Gaga was 2 feet taller than everyone including Obama, thanks to her super high heels and substantial up-do. Her outfit included a black veil. In recent days Gaga has been saddened and angered by the suicide of 14 year old fan Jamey Rodemeyer, and her choice of attire suggests mourning.

Last week Lady Gaga said she would be meeting with POTUS to discuss her concerns about bullying–at one point Gaga tweeted that bullying

must become illegal

 

USA Today reports from pool reporter Carol Lee of The Wall Street Journal:

POTUS spoke for about 8 minutes, with Lady Gaga sitting front and center. And although he never acknowledged her obvious presence, it seems likely the two crossed paths during greetings inside the house before the dinner.

ABC reports a slightly different scenario from an anonymous source inside the tent. According to their source, Gaga thanked the President for what he has accomplished, then read what she said was a letter from a fan discussing another of her fans who committed suicide over bullying. After which she

thanked Obama for hosting his anti-bullying conference with Michelle Obama, and then made a general plea to everyone in the room, including the president, to do what they can to prevent bullying.

Gaga was spurred to tweet on bullying after Jamey Rodemeyer killed himself over incessant bullying. His final tweet was

@ladygaga bye mother monster, thank you for all you have done, paws up forever

and he was buried in a “Born This Way” shirt. Jeremy had made an It Gets Better video in May, but the bullying at Williamsville North High School in Buffalo, N.Y., and online was ceaseless. New York already has an anti-bullying law, the Dignity for All Students Act, passed in 2010.

The Gay Straight Alliance issued a statement with regards to Gaga’s call for the criminalizing of bullying:

It’s great that Lady Gaga is bringing national attention to this problem, but now we must focus on real solutions. By writing letters, starting and supporting Gay-Straight Alliances, talking to teachers and administrators and mobilizing our communities, we can push schools to enforce existing non-discrimination policies in a way that doesn’t contribute to an environment of fear and punishment, but rather fosters a culture of safety, inclusion, and respect for all students.

Ticket cost for the Obama fundraiser was the standard $35,800 per couple/single seat. Gaga apparently came alone.

Now That’s Just UnAmerican! High School Internet Filter Messes with Religion, Baseball

This caught my eye:

The Gainesville (Georgia) School Board has promised it would look into why two Chinese oriented meditation websites come up as ‘occult’ and are blocked by the Gainesville High School Internet filter…Expressing her concern at Monday’s board meeting held in the high school cafeteria, Mary Silver, who supports Clear Wisdom and Falun Dafa, told board members the sites do not encourage involvement in the occult. Far from it, she said.

Falun Dafa is also known as Falun Gong, a form of exercise and meditation banned by the Chinese government in 1999. Practitioners have been jailed, sent to work camps and tortured. And if you believe some websites, killed and their organs sold for transplants. Occult means “secret” or “hidden.” At time the word is equated with “esoteric,” and has by used by some to describe practices like meditation, yoga, astrology, witchcraft as well as various mono- and polytheistic faiths which may practice these exercises and arts. Lumped into “occult” by pop culture are werewolves, vampires, zombies and anything else scary.  Eye roll.

A quick search for “Falun Dafa” and “occult” gets you to discussion forums like Vampire.nu and Occultforum.org, as well as one site that claims Falun Dafa practitioners

collect energy for [their] own benefit, but a portion is re-directed (by occult processes) to the Falun Gong cause in China.

So basically, Falun Dafa practitioners believe they are using some not readily known method to help gain freedom to practice their religion and to draw attention to human rights abuses. Kinda like prayer circles where the faithful pray to make money or to get rid of demons in their neighborhood.

But wait a minute.  Why is the term “occult” blocked by the high school’s internet filter? What other words are blocked? And why? Is “atheist” blocked? “Evolution”?   Are certain religions? Philosophies? And how would parents feel if terms like “resurrection” or “son of God” were blocked?

In April Prince William School District in Virginia received a letter from the ACLU pointing out that the school district’s internet ban on the term LGBT was unconstitutional. TDB reported:

According to the ACLU, barred websites under the system’s “LGBT” filter include those for educational organization The Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, school diversity campaign the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, anti-bullying initiative Day of Silence, and anti-suicide initiative the It Gets Better Project.

Meanwhile, because Prince William County Public Schools does not elect to bar “political/activist groups,” “health,” or “reference,” it currently allows students to access anti-LGBT websites like People Can Change, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, and Exodus International.

At they time they sent out the letter, the ACLU issued the following statement:

The ACLU also sent similar letters to schools in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas as part of the organization’s “Don’t Filter Me” initiative, which seeks to combat illegal censorship of LGBT information on public school computer systems by enlisting students to check their school’s web browsers and report what they find.

Under the First Amendment right to free speech and the Equal Access Act, gay-straight alliances and LGBT support groups should have access to national organizational websites that help them to function, just as other groups, such as Key Clubs and the chess clubs, are able to access their national websites.

Ken Blackstone, a spokesman for the Prince William school system said that:

the school system is required by federal law to use Internet filtering software to keep students and staffers from looking at inappropriate content at school. He said the division’s Blue Coat filtering software blocks out 32 specific categories, including, for instance, sites containing pornography or promoting violence or drugs.

Butt the process is automated and sometimes the software doesn’t correctly differentiate between, for example, gay support groups and gay pornography.

In order to correct that problem, Blackstone said the school division has a process by which students or staff can request to have a site unblocked. He said that to the best of his knowledge, no one made such a request in this case.

So, if websites about certain  “occult” faiths, philosophies and belief systems are not allowed into the school, and other religions and philosophies are allowed to pass through the Internet filter, why? Who sets up these filters? Are they set by prevailing community standards, the Federal government, or by the school itself using certain guidelines and their own interpretations?

Seems though that blocking equal access to all religions is a blow against freedom of religion, one of the very cornerstones of our nation and one of the reasons we even have Founding Fathers.

And side note: banning the word “occult” prevents seekers from finding information about colon cancer, arthritis and even baseball!

SHELTON APOLOGIZES SORTA: Country Star Blake Shelton Okays Beat-Downs on Gays

UPDATE below

Country star Blake Shelton who has had charted numerous hits over the past decade and is now one of the judges on the new NBC singing show The Voice posted the message above to his Twitter Wednesday night, parodying Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine.”

Note the use of “tries” rather than “does.”  One accidental bump in a bar, or someone looking at you in a way you construe as inappropriate and a beat down is okay? WTF? If women acted like that toward men who tried to touch them, let alone did, civil behavior in public would be long gone.

And what if a woman grabbed Shelton’s ass? Would that be okay? Why? What if it was a woman he didn’t find attractive?

Shelton seems to be justifying this violent anti-gay behavior not because he thinks “no means no” gay or straight, but rather--based on the report below from the Advocate– because he definitely likes to mock LGBT and now feeds on his fans’ reactions to his comments:

Shelton hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas with Reba McEntire over the weekend. When Swift came up, McEntire warned, “Don’t make jokes about Taylor Swift. If you make her mad, she’ll write a song about you. She writes songs about guys who break up with her. Which I don’t understand in the first place. She’s beautiful, she’s talented, she’s sweet. What in the world was Jake Gyllenhaal thinking anyway?”

Shelton responded by saying: “Wait a minute, he was in Brokeback Mountain.” The crack prompted laughter and cheers from the audience.

(Um, Blake honey, acting is a job. Straight actors play gay or straight. Gay actors play straight or gay.)

Now with that audience approval, Shelton seems to have found an angle: Making fun of LGBT.

To suggest that beating up anyone who “tries” to touch you is despicable. And in a climate of increased bullying and violence against the LGBT community from elementary schools onward, to suggest beating someone until they are a

bleedin’ heavin’ kinda guy

is grotesque and vile. And cowardly.

UPDATE:  On their blog GLAAD points out that The Voice, which features Blake Shelton as a judge, was praised for being one of the most gay-friendly shows on network TV. GLAAD calls for action from The Voice and an  apology from the cowardly cowboy Blake Shelton.

We have already called the show’s producers asking them to take action. But right now, Blake Shelton needs to recognize that violence against the LGBT community is not a laughing matter, and he needs to apologize to his fans, and to fans of The Voice, for his comments. We sent Blake this tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/glaad/status/66144223379984384

UPDATE 2: Shelton tweeted the following:

Hey y’all allow me to seriously apologize for the misunderstanding with the whole re-write on the Shania song last night…

It honestly wasn’t even meant that way… I now know that their are people out there waiting to jump at everything I say on here or anywhere

But when it comes to gay/lesbian rights or just feelings… I love everybody. So go look for a real villain and leave me out of it!!!

@glaad hey I want my fans and @nbcthevoice fans to know that anti-gay and lesbian violence is unacceptable!!!!! Help me!!!! And DM me…

“Misunderstanding”?  “People waiting to jump on you”?  Mmmm…not quite. You said something vile and inflammatory. Teddy has it best in comments below.

Obama Anti-Bullying Video

Thank you, Obama. While you haven’t been the president we thought you would be, thank you for your compassion in speaking out on the rash of LGBT teen suicides. I hope other former presidents–George W Bush for instance–do the same, as do other eected officials from both sides of the aisles.

You are not alone. You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t do anything to deserve being bullied. And there is a whole world waiting for you, filled with possibilities. There are people out there who love you and care about you just the way you are. And so, if you ever feel like because of bullying, because of what people are saying, that you’re getting down on yourself, you’ve got to make sure to reach out to people you trust. Whether it’s your parents, teachers, folks that you know care about you just the way you are. You’ve got to reach out to them, don’t feel like you’re in this by yourself.

The other thing you need to know is, things will get better. And more than that, with time you’re going to see that your differences are a source of pride and a source of strength. You’ll look back on the struggles you’ve faced with compassion and wisdom. And that’s not just going to serve you, but it will help you get involved and make this country a better place.

It will mean that you’ll be more likely to help fight discrimination – not just against LGBT Americans, but discrimination in all its forms. It means you’ll be more likely to understand personally and deeply why it’s so important that as adults we set an example in our own lives and that we treat everybody with respect. That we are able to see the world through other people’s eyes and stand in their shoes – that we never lose sight of what binds us together.

As a nation we’re founded on the belief that all of us are equal and each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness; to make the most of our talents; to speak our minds; to not fit in; most of all, to be true to ourselves. That’s the freedom that enriches all of us. That’s what America is all about. And every day, it gets better.

In 8th grade, we read Lord of the Flies. Very cheery book for an all girls school. Since then I have spent a lot of brain and life looking at how people behave towards each other. What we call “bullying” has a long history–it is part of our animal nature, driving out what is perceived as weak or different in order to make the herd feel secure. Witch burnings, the Inquisition, anti-Semitism, persecution of Protestants during the Reformation, genocide are bullying in the extreme and all stem from fear. You can this in any society and culture past and present be it indigenous jungle dwellers or MTV watching kids. There is a drive and belief that the Other must be blamed, must be destroyed.

Often that fear is fueled from a place of self-righteousness based in twisted socio-religious justifications which gives the bully, the persecutor the sense of moral superiority.  Since most of America identifies as Christian, it becomes necessary to bring up this:

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them (Matthew 7:12; cf. Luke 6:31).

Yeah, basically

do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Parents of bullies, school administrators and other officials should think for a moment how they would feel if their child or family member were treated thusly, potentially to the point of killing themselves, and act accordingly. And kids who are being bullied need to having coping resources that empower them and get them through that vile place.

Modeling is important, which is why I was a bit shocked by the “turd burglar” comment in HCAN’s otherwise spot on video with Jack Black. Like wtf, a progressive group perpetuating anti-gay epithets?

I pray daily that the actions of school bullies toward LGBT, the disabled and and all those who are perceived as different will stop; that old women will not be stoned and burned in their villages; that love will replace hatred.

Wearing Purple to Show Love and Support

Today, through Tumblr and Facebook, over 3.5million people are wearing purple. Please join them in showing your love and support for teens who are bullied and harrassed, and to mourn the suicide of LGBT teens who were the victims of bullies.

Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that’s exactly what we’d like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality. Please wear purple on October 20th. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and schools. RIP Tyler Clementi, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase and Billy Lucas. You are loved.

Our youth is a vital resource, and we should be fostering love, support and tolerance. Please avoid the use of the word “gay” as an insult as in “That’s so gay.”

And while today is to visibly support spirit and peace, every day we need to make the effort and set an example.


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