The following are excerpts from the September 26th edition of the Buffalo News related to a vigil for Jamie Rodemeyer, the Williamsville North freshman who committed suicide after enduring incessant bullying from fellow students:
A group of mourners gathered on Allen Street and walked four abreast with candles down Main Street to Club Marcella. Some had come in by bus from the University at Buffalo. Some had bused in from Ohio. They wore lots of purple. Some wore Lady Gaga "Born This Way" T-shirts. Other shirts read "Some Kids Are Gay. That's OK" and "It Gets Better." Speakers in a brief program included gay marriage activist Kitty Lambert Rudd.
Here's the problem: A tragic set of events that culminated with the death of a promising young man has turned into a cause celeb for the gay community. Even worse, it has minimized the overall issue of bullying into a microcosm of sexuality instead of staying focused on the issue at hand.
Bullying sucks - we all agree on that. Those of us who haven't graduated from high school within the past 15 years have no concept of what kids deal with today. Sure, we were all bullied to some extent - I even endured a few wedgies back in the day. But we could escape - we could go home, pop in a cassette and put the troubling day behind us. Not today. Cell phones, computers, iPods, text messages, instant messages, Facebook, Youtube, MySpace, Twitter mean that every message sent gets to its intended destination in seconds. Then it gets to its unintended destinations.
The case of Jamie Rodemeyer is an awful, awful situation. The people who drove him to suicide need to answer for the actions and they should be held responsible in a court of law. If they are found to have contributed to this young man's death, they should go to jail. If teachers, administrators or counselors from Williamsville North are found to have been negligent in their responsibility to protect Jamie, they should be fired and charged. Messages need to be sent that bullying in any form will not be tolerated under any circumstances.
What people seem to forget is that New York State already passed a law dealing with bullying in 2010. The act aims to do nothing short of affording "all students in public schools an environment free of discrimination and harassment." The law covers harassment or discrimination based on "a person's actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex." That's nine different criteria that the state has identified.
Sadly, members of the gay community have taken this issue and made it about one: homosexuality. They've taken the death of Jamie Rodemeyer and are exploiting it to advance their cause of gay rights. They have completely lost sight of the fact that a young man's life has come to an end because of bullying, not because he was unsure of his sexuality. What if Jamie was bullied for being Jewish? Or disabled? Or overweight? Would the vigil have been held at Club Marcella, a well-known gay night club? Would Kitty Lambert, a leading activist for gay marriage, be speaking at the vigil? Would Lady Gaga be Tweeting about it? I don't think so.
Of course, some are going to read this and think it's some sort of anti-gay thing because frankly, that's what leaders of the gay community do - they twist words and circumstances in any way they can to suit their cause. Frankly, I don't give a shit what they think. A young man's life has come to a tragic end. Nothing will ever change that. Diverting attention away from that fact in an attempt to advance a personal cause is a goddamn disgrace. Kitty Lambert, who is nothing but a bully herself, puts herself out there as some champion of the people - a champion for Jamie Rodemeyer, when nothing is further from the truth. The media, when glamorizing people like Lambert in this tragedy, do a massive disservice to Jamie and his family.
Let's get our eyes back on what's important - eradicating bullying. The reason for the bullying isn't the primary issue - the act of bullying is. How are you going to change how someone "feels" towards a person? Frankly, in most cases, you're not going to be able to. But you can change how the person acts on those prejudices if we as a society send a message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. Sadly, we've clearly got a long, long way to go.