September 29, 2011

Manipulation of a Tragedy

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.


Michael said...

Excellent piece!! You are right. It was not the sexuality at issue, it is the bullying. But you can't just lay blame on the gay community. What other group came forward? Did the teachers? the school system? the politicians? No! Not a word.

Too bad the gay community and all the rest do not understand the concept that bullying is bullying. And it doesn't matter who you are, what color your skin is, if you are an illegal alien, if you are fat, or any of the other words you can put in here.

Once again. . . .Nice piece!!

Kitty Lambert-Rudd said...

I agree, nice piece.

I am certain you did not attend the Sunday Vigil for Jamey Rodemeyer,though. If you had been you would be aware that in my short speech I talked about being the kid with coke bottle glasses.

Additionally, in the last eight years of working and lobbying toward getting New York's Dignity For ALL Students Act passed, you weren't there. Two times a year we filled buses with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Straight allies that spent 12-plus hours traveling to and from Albany to meet with legislators to beg them to pass this legislation. You weren't there.

Are you aware that this anti-bullying legislation doesn’t even go into effect until 2012? I am.

Are you aware that the law doesn’t include any form of cyber bullying? I am.

Are you aware that only three State Senators - de Franchesco , Volker and Maziarz - voted AGAINST this bill? I am.

We have 12 grandchildren. I attended the Sunday night vigil for every single one of them. I traveled to Albany for every single one of them.
Where were you? You weren't there.

You want to criticize my efforts? Then do so for a good reason, not
just because I am a gay activist. That is only one small part of what I stand up for or against. (Wanna talk Fracking?)

Again, I will point out that you weren't there. Jamey’s family was.
Yes, Jamey was gay - but it is certainly not all Jamey was.

I will emphasize again: you were not there.

Senator Mark Grisanti, a Republican, was there. I begged him to take the microphone. Why? Because that is how we will stop bullying, with legislation that has teeth. Senator Grisanti was concerned that people would see his address as a political move on his part. (Really? What do people think we pay these guys for?) In the fall of 2012 there will
be legal repercussions if bullying occurs at our schools. Not just at
Williamsville North, but at every single public school in New York
State including Niagara Falls. More importantly, there is additional legislation still needed. Senator Grisanti knew that and pushed for the passage of the LEAD Act (the Law to Encourage the Acceptance of All Differences) with a particular focus on children with disabilities. It passed unanimously through the Senate but the Assembly has yet to address it.

I knew that, did you? You would if you were there Sunday night.

I never once called upon any of the 3,000 people who attended the
vigil for Jamey to step up just for gay kids. None of our 12 grandkids is gay and the legislation is not called the Dignity For Gay Students
Act (thank God!).

And, if you think I am a bully for standing up and speaking out…. I
don’t give a shit.

I won’t be bullied out of doing so.


Notice I didn’t say "one more gay child"? I didn't, because the gay
community is concerned about ALL bullying - not just the way many of us are bullied.

Yes, we took the lead on lobbying for anti-bullying legislation. Yes, we organized the vigil. Yes, we cry for Jamey Rodemeyer as one of our own. But if you'll lobby for a law, organize a vigil of 3,000 and mourn a dear dead boy, I'll step aside. But I think
it's safe to say you won't.

Because you weren't there.

What are YOU doing to stop it? What has YOUR Senator done?

I can tell you what I have done. But I am willing to bet you a box of Timmy Ho’s donuts you won’t post my comment.

I am curious, though: how do you think we will eradicate bullying?

Most sincerely,
Mrs. Kitty Lambert-Rudd

Nameless Soldier said...

I think it's interesting you speak so strictly on such a cause in which you clearly state: "Those of us who haven't graduated from high school within the past 15 years have no concept of what kids deal with today."

I am a kid that doesn't fit into the category you put yourself in. I do get bullied and I do have friends that get bullied. And with confidence, I can say that bullying ends lives. Bullying can "go too far" and end up killing someone "directly." But on the other hand, bullying can "go too far" and end up leaving the person being bullied committing suicide (killing him "indirectly").

Obviously, all people have their own opinions. My opinion is that both the "directly" and "indirectly" scenarios which I gave as examples are very direct.

Aside from my opinion, however, you are stating your opinion as if it was a fact.

-Kids Get Bullied
-Kids Die From Bullying
-The People Standing Up For The Bullying Is Irrelevant
-Bullying Must Stop

I do agree with what you said here: "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." But, like it was previously asked in a comment ("how do you think we will eradicate bullying?"), I too have the same question. To me, saying that bullying is bad and should be stopped is obvious. Also, the summarized statement "you can change how the person acts on those prejudices if we ... [show it's not tolerated]" is entirely, obviously true, but your mocking whats being done and giving as reason as to why your mocking it with what they are actually doing. -- (my apologies for shortening what you said, but I feel over-explanations are merely excuses to avoid being entirely incorrect - opinion)

My intentions in posting this are not to do what it seems you did. My intentions are not to stand up for gays....:

My intentions are to let people decide (based on both of our opinions), whether or not your statement - and my response - is at all relevant to the event.

To me it seems you are using this event as you said others shouldn't, for attention.

Obviously, people who read this will make their own decisions, but I think it's fair that they see multiple opinions, in an open, caring way.

Someone who couldn't care less about who's standing up for people being bullied as long as someone does,
Timothy Zorn, Student Who's Tired Of Bullying