Thursday, September 30, 2010

So you want a horror story

This morning I come home from work and turn on the TV, by chance I had left it tuned to a news channel instead of TBS when I left.  What was I greeted by?  The news of Tyler Clementi who had apparently jumped to his death off the George Washington bridge. The police officially ruled it a suicide.  Tyler was a 18 year old freshman at Rutgers, and by reports a talented musician.

With so much bad news, honestly this just registered as just another sad story.  I hate to admit it but I went on about my daily rounds with little attention, but did make a mental note to look it up and find out more.

Before I had time to change the channels however, I heard about Asher Brown.  Asher was a 13 year old from Texas who died of a self inflicted gunshot wound.  Another tragedy.  What besides the obvious do the two teens have in common?  Both were the subject of harassment and bullying.

Asher was bullied because he was small for his age.  Small kids typically have a hard time and are the target of the stronger bully types.  However Asher was also a Buddhist, and also gay.  This made him the perfect whipping post for other kids.  Kids raised by homophobic, right wing parents.  Kids who make themselves feel stronger but beating down those who can't fight back.  maybe he could fight back if it was a fair fight but with gang mentality he never had a chance.  It's sad he chose the path of terminating his own life.  Suicide is not the answer but in Asher's case I can't call it the "easy way out." To a 13 year old kid, just coming to grips with his sexuality, with nothing to look forward to except being an outcast it had to seem to be the only way out.

With Tyler it wasn't bullying in the traditional sense, but betrayal and public embarrassment.  He was recorded by his roommate while engaged in a sexual encounter.  That recording was then posted to the Internet and the roommate tweeted about the prank inviting people to watch.  Sure , maybe it sounds like a harmless prank, but once again played upon a young man, dealing with his sexuality, a sexuality still frowned upon by so many and looked on as a source of humor.  Now in the Internet age embarrassment isn't just something between a group of people, your embarrassment can be broadcast worldwide.  What escape did Tyler have except for death?

I don't condone the suicide of either, but I do understand.  We live in a bigoted, intolerant society.  A society where if you do not fit in you don't have a right to privacy, intimacy or even life.  It would be bad enough if it were only these two, but it isn't.  I just read of an unnamed California teen, 13 years old, who hung himself due to being tormented about his sexuality.

Bigotry, racism, homophobia, hatred and fear.  When will we grow out of them?  When will we step up and do something to stop our children from killing other children?  Until that time hope your child isn't the one being tortured.

Asher Brown
Asher Brown victim of fear and bullying

Tyler Clementi
Tyler Clementi
For those who do care, please remember these kids and let's work to end this so no other parent has to lose their child this way.

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