Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, June 26, 2009 8:15 pm

Michael-Jackson- and Farrah-Fawcett-free post on how we treat one another


How we treat one another is the overarching theme of two otherwise disparate items I wanted to touch on.

First, earlier this week in the N.C. House, freshman Rep. Darren Jackson spoke in support of an anti-bullying bill. This bill encountered a lot more opposition than it should have. Some opponents feared it was giving “special rights” to gay kids or, tacitly, didn’t want to put any formal obstacles in front of kids who want to bully other kids who are, or who even appear to be, gay. Others, who looked to me like people who’ve never had to deal with being bullied themselves, kept insisting that bullying isn’t a real problem. Speaking as someone who got his butt kicked pretty regularly just for having a smart mouth, I can assure you it is. The bullied kid doesn’t want to go to school, doesn’t want to ride the bus, doesn’t want to be within a hundred miles of where the bullies are for any reason. Kids who are bullied suffer academically. On top of that, some bullying crosses the line of physical assault, and rather than treating it as a simple disagreement between kids, it needs to be treated as a crime, particularly when weapons are involved.

Here’s Jackson’s speech, in part:

[A constituent with an autistic son wrote me:] “Students learn more than academics in school, and part of their education should include how to treat others with respect and dignity and look to peers for support, not how to dodge a fist.” We can begin the process of tolerance tonight by taking a stand against bullying for any reason. I know some of you in this chamber have been having these culture wars for many years. This bill is not about that. …

This bill simply says that no child should be bullied even if they are perceived to be poor or disabled or maybe different. This bill’s about protecting kids; at least, it is for me. If this bill prevents one suicide, or one school violence episode, then it’s a success. If this bill is passed, then it will be a step forward for protecting children—maybe even one close to you.

If you’re going to vote no against this bill, at least be honest with yourself about why you’re doing it.

I’m going to count my vote as yes. And when my daughter and I, who’s serving as page this week, go out to eat and go home tonight, I’m going to go see her little brother, who’ll be in bed asleep. I’m going to lean across that bed and kiss my 10-year old goodnight. And I’m going to know that I voted the right way, the way to protect him and other children like him. And if that costs me my seat in this chamber, then so be it.

Then there’s this essay (h/t: Jill) by the Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou on the parallels between the civil rights struggles of African Americans and those of gays. Right from the title, which drops the N-bomb, the essay is going to make a lot of people uneasy, even some who agree with the basic premise. But go read it, and struggle with it a little if you have to.

To say that gays are the new niggers is not to say that black oppression has disappeared. The claim that black folks are fully enfranchised and free is simply not true. Stark racial and economic disparities continue to exist in the United States, regardless of who is in the White House.

Legislative onslaughts and public disdain against queer folks invites them into the community of niggers. By carrying the racial epithet beyond race, Rustin insists that blacks and queers share a common quest to save democracy. He calls us to look critically at the ways in which racism and heterosexism are two heads on the same devil. …

For oppressed communities around the world, the civil rights movement is a model for their unique and particular struggles. Although geography, pigmentation, class, religion, and capacity to self-organize may differ, they hold in common the structures of relegation and resistance. The police of conservative, racist, and homophobic forces wield literal and legislative billy clubs.

A relevant point that bears a lot of repeating because it undergoes a lot of forgetting: The Second Great Commandment bars us from arrogating to ourselves rights we would deny others. To do that is to deny that of God that is in our fellow men and women.

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