Recently, a Rutgers University freshman, a young man named Tyler Clementi... killed himself. He was only three weeks into his Freshman year at Rutgers. Two of his fellow students thought it would be a cute idea to secretly film Tyler having sex with a man in his dorm room... and then put the video of the "encounter" on the Internet.
Clementi then became the victim of such intense harassment, and the crude rudeness of so many... that he finally just "gave up."
He went through absolute hell. He felt hopeless. In his despair, three days later... Tyler left a final "update" on his Facebook page: "Jumping off the gw bridge. Sorry."
It took a week for his body to be found.
Time after time... the bullies take over the school, the campus, the playground, the mall. The hallways become battlegrounds.
One could so easily ask the question: Where the hell do kids get the idea that it is perfectly alright... to harass and bully homosexuals ?
Where do they get that idea ?
It's simple. We give it to them. As a society... we tell them it's ok. We show them by our example. And, when they see the adults around them do it... they figure... and logically so... that if their parents can do it... so can they.
We do it in two ways. First, by acting as they see us act. Or... we do it by NOT standing up to those who do act that way... and saying "enough is enough."
Nonsense, you say.
We don't tell them that ! Uh huh.
The US government continues to enforce a policy of exclusion and un-equal rights... which, in effect, says that it is ok to "bully" gays and lesbians by treating them as second-class citizens. They are told they MUST keep quiet about their sexual orientation... or risk being bodily thrown out of the service... no matter how bravely or nobly they have served their country.
We don't tell them that, huh ?
One state after another continues to pass laws... making it the "law of the land" that insists that gay and lesbian Americans are second-class citizens. They are prevented from marrying, or entering into civil unions. Even Florida... recently... tried to ban gay couples from adopting children, as well. Some even want to ban them from teaching in our classrooms.
We don't give them permission to abuse their gay classmates, huh ?
I guess you haven't see some of the Televangelist preachers lately. Or even seen the headlines from their so-called churches of God... that preach the gospel of hate, declaring homosexuality a perversion in God's eyes... and a danger to innocent children.
No... we are Christians... we would never encourage them to harass or bully ! Uh huh.
Newsrooms all across the country bring us stories of that twisted cretin minister in Kansas... the "Reverend" Fred Phelps... preacher of hate... taking his troop of vile creatures... his "flock..." to mock the dead. As their grieving parents bury their children... those who lost their lives in the service of our country... they picket military funerals with signs reading "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for AIDS."
Who gives our children permission to bully their classmates ? We do.
America continues to bless and sanctify the bigotry that empowers the bullies. And when the bullies go too far... children die.
How do we, as adults, encourage these bullies ? By continuing to show them that hatred... driven by fear... is ok.
These children... these children of ours, and of others. By our continuing to allow gays and lesbians to be treated as second-class citizens... refusing them their rights as both Americans, and as children of whatever God we believe in... we show these bullies that it's ok.
These children did not kill themselves by commiting suicide. We killed them. When, oh when, will we stop ?