Bullied Part II

 

Stephanie DonaldI’ve received a lot of emails (but no comments, strangely enough) regarding my last essay about bullying and I felt it deserved a second essay; not to explain but perhaps to clarify a few things and not just about the editorial itself but about LGBT-Today itself.

LGBT-Today is an activist magazine and I’m not pretending to have all the answers. I’m not some messiah who came down from on-high to hand deliver a message from Mt. Olympus and Zeus did not pick me as his personal messenger nor did Jesus, Allah or Buddha.

I do have a few years’ experience in this world through some pretty weird generational changes. We went from “peace, love dope”, to the “me” generation all the way to “if you’re not with us you’re against us” times.

These aren’t just periods of history that are specific to the LGBT community; they apply to everyone and when I write about some things like bullying, they sometimes have a bearing on all people and not just gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

 


Everyone can be bullied and everyone can be a bully. I’ve seen our own LGBT community dish out bashing just as well as they’ve taken it and I suppose that given the severity of people like the Reverend Fred Phelps it isn’t that hard to understand why we sometimes want to get just as mad at them as they seem to be at us.

I get angry just like everyone else does. I admit it. Sometimes I want to pick up a stick and bash ignorant brains out over moronic statements, hateful viewpoints that seek to destroy the peace our community lives in. If I didn’t get mad then I wouldn’t have started LGBT-Today in the first place! My outlet for this anger is sometimes “writing my way out of all this”.

Lately I’ve been feeling that this world is imploding in on itself. Not my world specifically but the world we all live in.

Sure we’ve faced problems before. Back in the 1960s through the 1980s I was “in the closet” and I really didn’t like it but the problems I’m seeing now are larger than just the problems of gay civil rights. They’re larger than whether or not homosexuals can serve openly in the military or get married like straight people do.

I picked up a rock in the foundation of our society and looked underneath and it disgusted and scared me at what I saw underneath.

No, I don’t have an immediate answer to how to solve the problem, but like I’ve done all my life I wrote about it and hoped that by putting it out in public I could stimulate discussion and discourse about the problem.

All I got back was bitching with no constructive exchange.

Here’s an excerpt from one email: “Why write about it and upset everyone if you can’t solve the problem?”

I sat there for four hours re-reading that one sentence in the email and blinking at the absolute vacancy of logic that statement showed.

Okay, I will attempt once more to stimulate discussion about this matter in a forthright and intelligent manner and hopefully this time we will have some intelligent comments posted? I can hope for sunshine on a rainy day, can’t I?

I worry about children today and what happens when they become the target of the modern-day bully. No one could feel more alone, more cut-off and isolated than a child or teenager that has committed some mysterious faux paus with his peers that brings criticism and bullying down upon his or her head.

It isn’t hard to understand the attraction of being the one doing the bullying. It gives you power over someone else’s life. It gives you a sense of belonging and in today’s world of bullying; the meaner the barb or joke you play on someone, the more popular it makes you with everyone.

The bullying crowd would just entice the person getting bullied to “tough it out” and retaliate, forcing them to sink to the level of those who did horrible and mean things to them and no doubt some who are reading this would agree that might be a way to handle it but I ask: Isn’t that just perpetuating the bullying cycle and starting a Hatfield-McCoy type feud that will just go on and on with no resolution? The methods will just get steadily worse until someone gets hurts or even killed. You read about it in the nightly news all the time. Two teens shoot each other for no apparent reason over an argument and innocent people get caught in the crossfire.

You have to ask whether that confrontation was the result of an escalated bully episode and just how “innocent” were those bystanders in reality? Were they in fact egging the two of them on?

So far I’ve talked about teens and bullying but what about younger children who don’t understand all of this?

Parents are letting kids in 1st grade have cell phones these days and these kids also have Facebook accounts and Twitter pages.

Used correctly, a cell phone, Facebook and Twitter can be wonderful things and computers themselves are tremendous teaching tools for young minds.

Now take that 1st grader who has a teenage brother or sister and a father who is about 25-32 and belongs to a group like 4chan or some other mischievous technological boredom terrorist group and this poor kid’s life is about to turn into a living hell while a new bully is born with reinforcement from his/her behavior from a sibling or even mom or dad. The father or sister or brother is going to teach the kid how to become a cyber bully and then tell them how proud they are about what they've done to someone else's life after they've managed to terrorize a young person over something very small and insignificant and "voila!" A new cyber bully is born and then passes that knowledge on to others who become enthralled with how to make someone's life a living hell.

Now I haven’t even talked about LGBT bullying but it deserves to be discussed because especially in smaller communities it’s ever-present and in coming from the clean-cut and supposedly upright members of society.

Even the youngest children who belong to Christian parents are going to start hearing anti-homosexual rhetoric from their parents and from their pastors or priests from the time they’re old enough to attend regular church services or masses with their parents. The subject of homosexuality bashing is a favorite among a majority of denominations (with a few notable exceptions) including the majority of Jewish and especially the Islamic faiths.

If the child is gay or transgender and has to grow up hearing this constant barrage of hate-filled vitriol then there is little doubt that they’re going to feel bullied from birth to begin with.

If the child grows up in a community filled with fundamentalist Christians then let the games begin! That child will be subjected to every invective that the other children and the adults can say about them and sometimes (most times, in fact) their own parents and relatives will join in just for fun.

Let’s just say that I have firsthand experience with family issues about these issues and that I’ve counseled many other young people who have had families who have rejected them based on their homosexuality and gender identity through the years. It’s a heart breaking experience to go through yourself and when you’ve experienced it firsthand then every time you help someone else with it the pain of what you felt comes back just as strong as when it happened to you but helping others does help you heal no matter how much it hurts.

We all deal with bullying every day of our lives.

We deal with it at work. We deal with it from banks, mortgage companies, landlords, utility companies and sometimes from places we would least likely expect it.

Humanity was never intended to work like this but you can’t tell most people this anymore. They won’t listen. Most are too self-absorbed in their own problems to notice the issues of their friends and neighbors and the only times they seem to take notice is when children are involved.

That’s a good thing but the issues of children are the same issues we all have to carry and the problems they’re suffering are the ones that the parents have caused.

The young learn from the examples set by their parents so what we see in the rash of suicides in young people and the joy on the faces of those who could get to those young people enough to cause them to take their own life is a reflection of their parents faces because everything they do, every method they used, every attitude they have and every dirty trick they employ is a reflection of either what they did learn or what they didn’t learn through neglect from their parents.

Some people asked me for solutions in my essays so here’s one:

Let’s start holding the parents of the bullies responsible for murder when their children are responsible for causing the suicide of a young person through the use of harassment and bullying tactics.

Let’s start holding the churches and religious leaders responsible for murder when their sermons spark community hatred that causes bullying to become epidemic.

Let’s hold parents responsible for kicking underage kids out of the house who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender or that result in their committing suicide.

Let’s hold teachers and school administrators responsible for aggravated assault when a student is beat-up on school grounds for any reason and they didn’t protect them.

Let’s hold the government officials responsible when they refuse to grant equal protections for all minorities and as a result this is proven to result in hate crimes being committed against members of the community because it’s interpreted by people as meaning that any minority isn’t worthy of government protection.

Let’s hold social networking sites responsible legally when they’re used as weapons against anyone and this includes blogging sites that can be used as platforms for hate speeches like calling people “dumbass”, “c*nt” and other invectives and hate speech. Unless someone owns their own server, they purchase server space and they have to sign agreements about using the space responsibly. Appearance of any hate speech for any reason makes it self-evident that someone has issued an attack and therefore that person deserves to be punished. That punishment includes criminal prosecution and civil action.

Just because 20 people say something isn’t hateful and insulting doesn’t make it so. If you’ve got someone telling you that you hurt their feelings then listen to them and believe them and stop making excuses for yourself.

The number one reason for people getting into petty fights and parting friendships these days is because they don’t listen to each other.

You wanted solutions.

Now listen to them.

By Stephanie Donald

Editor
LGBT-Today

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