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I’m wearing purple today.

I’m hoping the world is a sea of orchid, aubergine, magenta, violet, and mauve today.

In case you haven’t heard, people are wearing purple today as a symbol–a statement–that homophobic abuse must stop. This demonstration was triggered by a recent rash of teen suicides.

  • Asher Brown,13 years old 
  • Tyler Clementi,18 years old
  • Seth Walsh, 13 years old
  • Billy Lucas, 15 years old
  • Justin Asberg, 15 years old

These talented young men saw no way out. Their lives had become a living hell, and all they could think about was escape. They were tormented and bullied–either for being gay, or because their peers suspected they were gay. It’s enough to break your heart.

While no one deserves to suffer because of their sexual orientation, I don’t think anyone should be bullied. It’s time for us as a nation to stop turning a blind eye and saying “kids will be kids”. Is this progress?

Some say that we’re raising a generation of bullies. Since today’s kids are weaned on the Internet, video games, computers, and television, they’ve lost the ability to connect with people in the real world, or so the theory goes.

As for me, I don’t think bullying is worse now than it was years ago. Granted, the tools of the trade have become more sophisticated, and a bully can spread his poison much farther over the Internet than he could over the telephone.

Back in the ’80s, I witnessed kids being trampled, spit on, called names, and ostracized. Gangs of “mean girls” would wait outside a diner for hours until their victim finally emerged. I saw one girl run down the street, pursued by a pack of bullies–male and female–who took her bike apart and threw the pieces at her. My friend and I were beaten by a guy with a hockey stick until we were bruised and battered. A concerned woman stopped and offered us a ride home, but–afraid to accept a ride from a stranger–we said no. The guy continued to beat us after she drove away. None of these victims were gay, or even suspected of being gay. I shudder to think what would have happened to the poor kid who dared to come out of the closet in that town. Fitting in was a matter of survival.

Bullies have always existed, kids have always been cruel, and parents and teachers have always turned a blind eye or given useless advice. (Remember ‘sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me’? Exactly what good was that supposed to do?) It’s great that people are paying more attention to this issue now, but these bursts of attention come and go in waves (as they did after the Columbine shooting). It is time to take action–consistently–until something actually changes.



Let’s begin by wearing purple as a silent but poignant message.

The bullying must stop.

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7 Comments

  1. Laura Best

    I actually have purple on today but I didn’t know that people were wearing it as a statement.

    This is a subject that angers me greatly. I can’t, for the life of me, understand why people lash out at others who are different from them. One would think that in this day and age that attitudes would have changed, that bullying would be a thing of the past. I think it’s time for people to grow up and think about how they can improve their own loves instead of worrying about others.

    Reply
  2. Chris

    I have a pessimistic theory that humans are essentially selfish and violent creatures from birth, and that society only functions as well as it does because most people have those tendencies socialized out of them to the point where they can function productively in society.

    Unfortunately, in keeping with this theory, kids can be horrific. I see it as a positive sign that bullying is becoming a hot topic in schools, and that some schools are becoming a lot more proactive in educating students at a young age why bullying is wrong. I don’t think the problem will ever go away completely, but hopefully if we can start the brainwashing at a younger age we can make a difference. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    It is better to prepare the child for the path than to prepare the path for the child.

    Reply
  4. Nietzsche

    @Anon

    He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.

    Reply
  5. Story Teller

    Thanks for your comments, everyone.

    @ Laura – it seems your spirit was in tune with the feeling of the day. I understand your rage. It is frustrating, but not all that surprising, unfortunately.

    @ Chris – Agreed. And part of that brainwashing needs to be directed at ending homophobia, which seems to be one of the last “acceptable” forms of prejudice. That has to stop.

    @ Anonymous. Well, Dylan and Eric in Colombine certainly found a way of clearing their own path. If we continue to turn a blind eye to bullying, we can’t be that shocked when the kids fight back.

    @ Nietzsche. Indeed. And Forsooth.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    @ Neitzsche. I agree completely. That is exactly what I was trying to say.

    @ Story Teller. Obviously the Columbine children were not well prepared for the path, then, were they?

    What is the better way to fight bullying? To bully the bullies, or to ensure that the support systems are there for their victims?

    If the recipients of bullying have enough support from other facets of their existence, maybe they will not feel drastic measures are necessary. You didn’t. I didn’t. We had support. It only made us stronger.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Ah, but that came out wrong too. I will firmly say that I do not agree with bullying. I think it is evil and should not happen. That said, how do we go about stopping it? It is a learned behaviour that with violence – either physically or emotionally – comes power. To stop bullying, we have to look at the nurturing and upbringing of the bullies in every aspect of their lives from birth to winning their first fistfight, or making their little sister cry with insults for the first time. We have to make sure that no incidence of this is ever deemed to be acceptable behaviour. We have to look at the bully’s parents. Does his mother beat down the children emotionally? Does the father beat down the mother with fists or words? Do we have any power to change that?

    If we do not have that power, then we should at the very least be diligent about preparing our children for it. Arm them with self defence skills and self respect. Give them outlets to talk about the problems and maybe resolve them. If we do that, then maybe when the bullies attack them they won’t be victims. To not do so would be to do our own children a great injustice.

    Reply

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