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"It gets better" is not enough
October 26, 2011 5:54 PM   Subscribe

He's usually kinda funny. Not this time. Rick Mercer's rants are well known in Canada. They're hilarious, though biting. What set him off? The suicide of Jamie Hubley, a 15 year old kid who liked to cover Lady Gaga, among others.

Mercer also participated in the "It gets better" campaign.
posted by kneecapped (67 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've thought for a while that teens of ALL orientations need an "it gets better" campaign. God, I wish I'd known.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:57 PM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I agree with that wholeheartedly.

"It gets better", maybe someday possibly if you can stand it long enough to get there, isn't good enough.
posted by mhoye at 5:58 PM on October 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


I saw this last night. Good on you, Rick. YOU HEAR THAT, JOHN BAIRD?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:07 PM on October 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Senseless, sad and unfair. I hope he finds peace in whatever sort of afterlife there may be.
posted by addelburgh at 6:08 PM on October 26, 2011


I guess it's indicative of our ad-crazed culture, but it's pretty unrealistic to think that a pithy, three word slogan will go any distance to solving complex, life-wrenching problems.

Other examples : "Just say no." "Stay in school." "Just do it." "Yes we can."
posted by crunchland at 6:09 PM on October 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


Every time I think I can weep no more, another punch like this makes me a liar.

I recently had a relationship with a young man much younger than I and I was reminded of several things. First, it takes people awhile to figure out who they are and what they want to be. And be it bullies, or uncaring family, or lack of mentors or role models, sometimes people don't get the chance to be who they want to be. Sometimes that leads to a life led in secrecy or hypocrisy, or unbearable guilt and shame. Sometimes, especially the younger you are, it leads to death.

Then there's also the fact that younger people--especially in queer culture where youth and beauty will always be put up on a ridiculously high pedestal--are taught to be scared of people who should instead be older mentors and role models. When my young friend introduced me to his best (also queer) friend, I was treated with enormous suspicion and repeatedly called a "creeper". Ageism in queer culture is a nasty thing that blights much of what good might come of a "it gets better" message.

In the end though, we--everyone--fail any kid who kills him- or herself. We can always try harder. One kid is too many.
posted by PapaLobo at 6:12 PM on October 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


High school is basically prison for kids. And yet as any Adult In Charge will tell you, a kid who gets off the bus hoping a gas leak or stray rock from space has reduced their school to a smoking crater is clearly completely deranged.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:12 PM on October 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Is Baird not out? If not, its Ottawa's worst-kept secret. It's not as though Nepean would stop voting for him if he were; if I recall a long-time mayor there (Ben Franklin) was also gay.

Anyways, this is really terrible. For some reason I was under the impression kids were getting better about this than when I was in school. I guess not
posted by Hoopo at 6:13 PM on October 26, 2011


Some people I know appreciate Rick's sentiment, but really felt he should have been more explicit in including himself as a gay adult. Particularly when ranting about not being invisible.

Others say that maybe he figures it's known enough that he didn't think he had to say it. But conversely, as part of that conversation, other people learned Rick was gay for the first time because people are accusing him of hypocrisy.

I don't know. I can see both sides of the argument.
posted by aclevername at 6:14 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sometimes it doesn't get better. But it's good that an attempt is being made to reach somebody/anybody, and if it works for one person, it saves one world.

Watching Jamie's cover of "Born This Way," I was reminded of my favorite line in the song, which is not original to that song, but still important: God makes no mistakes. That should be its own campaign.
posted by datawrangler at 6:14 PM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


God makes no mistakes. That should be its own campaign.

I think leaving 'God' the fuck out of the discussion entirely would be a huge step forward.
posted by FatherDagon at 6:16 PM on October 26, 2011 [38 favorites]


I was with him until he insisted that adults with any kind of public role out themselves even if they're not hypocrites and don't work in fields related to sexuality. The credible death threat an openly but not in-your-face gay friend received in Canada might have something to do with me seeing Rick Mercer's pushiness in this case as another flavour of bullying.
posted by thatdawnperson at 6:16 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess it's indicative of our ad-crazed culture, but it's pretty unrealistic to think that a pithy, three word slogan will go any distance to solving complex, life-wrenching problems.

True. All we need is one word.

Hope.
posted by googly at 6:20 PM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


FatherDagon, it's a line in the song. And for people who are queer and want to be part of a religion, accepted as an unqualified member of a mainstream (or any) congregation, etc., it means something. But if you must, we could go with this concept: there are no mistakes in the universe.

With the exception of bullying that is. But I digress.
posted by datawrangler at 6:20 PM on October 26, 2011


Any time I have used the phrase "it gets better", it has been in a manner so sarcastic you could baste a 20lb. turkey in the drippings and still make a thick gravy.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:23 PM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mercer only really came out publicly himself 5 or 6 years ago, so I'm sure this has some special resonance for him. The idea of John Baird and fucking Vic Toews doing one of these videos is just sickening.

Xtra published a pretty decent rant of their own about it.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 6:24 PM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


googly: "True. All we need is one word.

Hope.
"

The term 'hope' gets bandied around a whole lot these days, to the point of becoming a total platitude.
People shouldn't sit around hoping real hard that things are going to get better. They need some goddamn results, and they need them now.

Which, I think, is what he's talking about.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:27 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


there are no mistakes in the universe.

It has no more meaning than "it gets better". It's a catchy line in a song, but it's 'nonversation'.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:29 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


On a happier note, I thought this was a pretty great story. We can help these kids.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 6:31 PM on October 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


>he should have been more explicit in including himself as a gay adult

I watched the video, and, being Canadian, know Rick and his work. But I didn't know he was gay until I read your comment. I'm not sure whether that means very much.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 6:32 PM on October 26, 2011


Never heard of Rick before, suspected (but wasn't entirely sure) he was gay just because of how personally he seemed to take the responsibility of gay adults to help.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:34 PM on October 26, 2011


The term 'hope' gets bandied around a whole lot these days, to the point of becoming a total platitude.

Sure, it often is a platitude. But that doesn't mean that we should abandon the word entirely. My comment was a response was to crunchland's observation that a three-word slogan ain't going to solve the world's problems.

I think that the whole point of the "it gets better" campaign is to try to instill hope in kids in a direct and meaningful way that is way, way beyond the empty sloganeering of "just say no" and "yes we can." Is that campaign going to erase homophobia and violent bullying from the face of the earth? Of course not. But that's not its objective. Its point is to reach out to lonely kids who have to live with bullying right now and try to help them see that there is life after high school. Comparing it to "just say no" completely misses the point of the campaign.
posted by googly at 6:35 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


John Baird is gay?! I expect that the gays would rather he didn't tell the rest of the world.
posted by Flashman at 6:37 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't know he was gay until I read your comment. I'm not sure whether that means very much.

Only that it serves a point of one side of the argument whether Rick was being a hypocrite in this rant. My queer friends all very much know he's gay. Some say he didn't make it explicit because "everyone knows he's gay. So he's not invisible".

Others argue that many Canadians, like yourself actually don't know. So I guess you're just one small piece of anecdata :)
posted by aclevername at 6:38 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dark Messiah, it may have no meaning to you, but the point is (perhaps I should have made this more clear a couple of comments ago) that whatever it takes to pull a person back from the brink is a good think. Pablum, hokum, nonversation, whatever it takes. It could be a Hallmark card. Whatever it takes, because there is no one answer, and maybe no solution at all. You just have to reach out with what you've got, and until somebody proves that people are committing suicide because of this or any campaign, then...why not try?
posted by datawrangler at 6:40 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


think=thing

:::eyeroll::::
posted by datawrangler at 6:42 PM on October 26, 2011


But if you must, we could go with this concept: there are no mistakes in the universe.

Except that there are mistakes in the universe. At least "it gets better" has the virtue of being true for lots of people who suffer stigmatization during adolescence.
posted by layceepee at 6:44 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm skeptical that an intensive police investigation is the best response to Hubley's suicide.
posted by layceepee at 6:46 PM on October 26, 2011


Where is he going?
posted by eugenen at 6:50 PM on October 26, 2011


While agreeing with every fucking word he said, I found the scrolling graffiti backdrop really unpleasant.
posted by Trurl at 6:57 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mercer also suggested that teachers and parents take a stricter approach with the bullies themselves.

Bullying isn't some brand-new phenomenon. What is new is that for some reason kids are less able to deal with it then they have ever been before. And unfortunately, while it's easy to point to the teachers as a scapegoat, I don't think it's fair or reasonable to think that if we can only just get some authority to come swooping in and stop these bullies in their tracks, that will make everything better. What happens when the kids get older and they don't have teachers to stop the bullying? It feels like we're raising a generation of weaklings that are completely unprepared and unable to stand up for themselves, thus justifying the need for an ever-stronger outside authority to come in and protect us from ourselves. For kids, it's the teachers. For adults, it's the state. This is fundamentally unsettling to me.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:58 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Civil, these days kids can't escape bullying. It comes right to them via Facebook, twitter, tumblr and text message -- all key aspects of having a social life when you're a kid these days.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:06 PM on October 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Civil_Disobedient: What is new is that for some reason kids are less able to deal with it then they have ever been before.

What sevenyearlurk said. There's no longer any escape. Not gay myself, but elementary school sucked. If that shit had followed me in all aspects of my life, I never would have seen grade 10.
posted by Decimask at 7:09 PM on October 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Civil, these days kids can't escape bullying. It comes right to them via Facebook, twitter, tumblr and text message -- all key aspects of having a social life when you're a kid these days.

Which is a key point. That sort of faceless bullying is a) easier and b) less risky for bullies these days than pushing someone at the playground. Bullying isn't new, the techniques and reach on offer to pursue it most certainly are.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:11 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It comes right to them via Facebook, twitter, tumblr and text message -- all key aspects of having a social life when you're a kid these days.

I'm sorry, I don't get this at all. It only matters if you buy into it. This is such an unhealthy relationship with technology, and the whole "just accept it, kids need their Facebook!" mentality is frankly baffling to me. And understand, I'm a technology professional. I do this every day. I live in code. And yet somehow I'm able to have a social life that doesn't revolve around FB. But to ask kids to remove themselves from the source of despondency… oh, that's just cruel! That's like asking kids to not watch television! They'll be social pariahs! The poor, coddled things, where will they be without their beloved Wall where they post every detail of their lives for all the world to see, then complain because the internet has an infinite memory?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:22 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, I think you need to dial it back and think about the fact that kids are dying and whether snark is the best reaction to that.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:26 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, I don't get this at all. It only matters if you buy into it.

Sticks and stones may break their bones, but words will NEVER hurt them!
posted by FatherDagon at 7:28 PM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Civil_Disobedient, if I didn't recognize your username I'd accuse you of Fark-level trolling. There is strong evidence of a significant problem - kids are killing themselves. A lot. As others have already mentioned, there are reasons to believe that the bullying has, in fact, gotten worse. What evidence do you have to support your theory that the bullying isn't the problem, but that we as a society are raising weaklings? Is it our failure to teach the Stiff Upper Lip method?

It's going to take some pretty strong evidence to support the claim that when a tragedy happens after a tremendous amount of bullying, the bullying isn't the problem.

What happens when the kids get older and they don't have teachers to stop the bullying?

While there are certainly examples of bullying by adults, on average it's better, hence the campaign. Once people have reached the 22-year mark on average they have gained much more perspective and maturity than when they were 12. So your question isn't valid - when the kids get older, they won't need teachers to swoop in because the amount of bullying has gone down. There are other issues to deal with - say, violence - but the need to protect someone's feelings and mental state is reduced.

thus justifying the need for an ever-stronger outside authority to come in and protect us from ourselves... For adults, it's the state.

Are you honestly suggesting that we revert to a might-makes-right system? "The state won't take care of me - that would be socialism - so I'd better be tough enough to go Straw Dogs on these guys."
posted by Tehhund at 7:29 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I only learned a few months ago that Rick Mercer was gay, so I'm not sure how well known it really is.

Of course, I have the world's least functioning gaydar, so that's not necessarily meaningful. Also, a massive crush on Rick Mercer, so I may have been in denial.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:35 PM on October 26, 2011


There is strong evidence of a significant problem - kids are killing themselves. A lot.

Can you say what you mean by "a lot"? Are there more suicides among young people than there have been historically? Some quick research suggests that young people commit suicide less frequently than older people (and that young adults are significantly more likely to kill themselves than kids are), but perhaps a deeper look proves the opposite?

I don't think there's any level of suicide that's not disturbing, and I think efforts to reduce suicide among young people are useful, but solutions that start from false premises are likely to prove disappointing.
posted by layceepee at 7:45 PM on October 26, 2011


We can help these kids.

Hopesquads able to activate at an instant's notice are a fantastic idea. As a stranger on the internet there seems like so little I can do for help, but it's good to know that there are at least some things I can offer.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:15 PM on October 26, 2011


"It gets better" is a pretty useless platitude if you're trying to reach kids with it, but if you need a name for your movement, you could do worse.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:34 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]



Honestly? Civil Disobedient, this is not about having some authority "swoop in", and then making a person "dependent" on them for life (scary future you invented, unfortunately, scary-awesome as yours is, it is a hypothetical, a "future" that you are envisioning)... here, and now, is about us actively, already, currently, and by rule and force of law, putting young people, like this young man, (whose death, enraged Mr. Mercer, and made him want to take action, rather than just saying "we care"), it is about finding a way to get kids through this ~17 year long forced, imposed, locked up set of a bunch of years, after which they will be able to LEAVE the stupid, shitty, small minded, ignorant, small (or big) town behind. Moving to doing what they want to do with their lives.

I am sure you are self-sufficient, a self made man, free, by your own two hands, and a sword, right?

This young man isn't "complaining" about the infinite memory of the interent, it is bullying (which you think was always the same, but people have access to you anywhere; unless you talk to no one, and don't do anything, which also isn't especially viable way to grow up either), (tangentially, I do greatly appreciate that I can hear him singing a song, and seeming to have fun, through the internet, even though he is no longer alive, no longer able to tell us, or talk with us about what his "complaints" would really be [as opposed to those smearing, terrible outcomes that you have placed squarely on the shoulders of people saying "we need to do something"]), so, really, do you need to make this out to be "wimps are causing the government to get all in all parts of our lives, in the future, maybe, because people are weak, and have no swords" -- by 'really', I mean, unless you really mean that, must you do the "insinuating" the end of society is the fault of kids who actually aren't to blame, it is us adults, who make rules, and make institutions, and toxic spaces, where it is cool to abuse and take out fears and frustrations on those deemed "weaker", or "lower on some pecking chain".

"...outside authority to come in and protect us from ourselves."
By "from ourselves" you do mean "from popular, powerful peer people targeting, like stalkers, people across all aspects of their lives", right? Totalitarian bullying. Attacks across all facets of life, with dwindling public spaces...

Harden up. Wow, well it's really been "I'm tough, and hard, why aren't you; wimps" week here.
Look, I love your high level political philosophy discourse, it is great... in another context, and if you weren't using this as a way to press some sort of message, that seems not to be fully formed, I would likely greatly enjoy discussing this all, in fact, I bet a bunch of the kids who have taken their lives because they were bullied for being gay, transgendered or otherwise, would have loved to also participate one day, and had unique perspectives, and views to teach us; but, realistically, can you tell me how "bullies", of the peer sort, are not themselves artificial authorities imposed upon children while they are in the state mandated education system? All day, all publicly funded athletics are run through the school; and seriously, you are putting it on people being too "sharing". I guess it boils down to, why are you Petrified by the socially constructed government, but ignorant, or grossly dismissive of the socially constructed hierarchical (and, I'd say, essentially totalitarian) form of authoritarian power of the bully, and the toxic social space of a bullying environment.

So, like, what? Do you want to end school? Make it optional? Fund home schooling? Fine, but you aren't saying that, are you, you seem to be putting it all on children. Children who are expected to what, just "know" coping skills? Cool, this sounds interesting, but you didn't say this though. Or is the meat of the matter really, to you, entirely boiling down to "toughen up, wimps of society, oh, and authoritarian domination by the state is on you, wimps nyah!"
Is "do nothing" your point? That seems to be it. Can you explain, or describe how you enforce this society wide "hardening" that you espouse, by social education. Formally? Will you have classes to help? Therapists to teach it? Regular teachers? Parents? But parents come from "weak" previous generations. What if I refuse to harden, will you take me to a re-education camp to make sure I harden up, like a good little person? I cannot understand how your dismissive position is any more realistic, fair, just, or reasonable.

Is there ANY reason to believe that there is ANY evidence that this is even "doable"... like, what, do you think that young humans, before ending their own lives... didn't say "TOUGHEN UP, self, I NEED TO TOUGHEN UP". Gee, why didn't someone think of telling people to harden up sooner. If you really think that people taking their own lives can be boiled down to just not being aware that it is 'actually' super easy to "harden". I'd dispute an assertion that this is something that "everyone" can just "do". I would likely further wish to ask if it is something that we would want to encourage everyone to do?

I start to wonder, so, like, how hard is hard enough to you? Will you be teaching self-defence? Can someone punch a bully? Or will that brand the target as violent, and irrational, a risk, and to be further ostracized. Are you going to fund a better system of citizen operated dispute resolution forums? If not, how is it not "I can kill you, or beat you up, you lose". How is that BETTER than a state with coercive power over my body?

Ok, yes, a "thick skin" is a great theory, (I'd love for someone to actually start detailing, or explaining whatever it actually means[ beyond some "just don't LISTEN to peoples words" impossible platitude, talking of platitudes]); do you have any reason to believe that this will not lead to the other recent form of action taken by adolescent and young adult people who have been (or have felt) bullied, and, over time, hardened themselves to their pain, and ultimately hardened themselves to the lives of others; the shooting people, generally indiscriminately approach.

That worries me (about as much as your made up predictions for the future totalitarianism, caused by people working to stem a tide of bullying [that is really rich and precious, "working to stop bullying, is actually funding the terrorists"]). I need to harden up though.
posted by infinite intimation at 9:38 PM on October 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm also disappointed that Mercer wasn't explicit about being gay. I don't think it's widely known at all. I can't remember when I found out, but it wasn't from some coming out story in the news, it was because a friend lived on the same block as Mercer and his partner. I was surprised at the time, because he's so outspoken I couldn't believe it hadn't come up.

That John Baird is gay is an open secret, but I don't how widely that is known outside of Ottawa and gay circles. I know my parents were surprised when I mentioned in passing one day and it certainly caused a stir a couple years ago when a provincial Conservative candidate blurted out on live radio that Baird was "openly gay." The host's silence spoke more, I thought, to her having actually said it out loud on radio than to his sexual identity.

I don't think we're at a point yet, socially, where you can let being gay be implicit. If a person wants to create that climate that Mercer is talking about, if you want to show kids it's OK to be gay, you have to be explicit about it. I certainly can't think of any straight public figures who are silent about their sexual orientation. The silence, and the idea that "that sort of thing is private," the overhanging question mark, just perpetuates the shame.
posted by looli at 9:43 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


1) The 'It Gets Better' campaign is a good thing, and it helps people. It's only a bad idea if that's all that gets done.

2) When kids get bullied, the worst thing is the adults telling you to tough it out and not doing anything about it. Sometimes even taking the bully's side. It's the most disheartening thing about the situation.
posted by Garm at 9:44 PM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Anyone who thinks average people aren't often TREMENDOUSLY inspired by platitudes should check their facebook feeds. Or the bumper of the car in front of them.
posted by mreleganza at 10:00 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, Garm, thank you for saying what I was listlessly walking past in the dark, far more calmly, and efficiently too (the idea that bullying is about "getting a rise", so then the bullied person does respond, because if you don't react to words, maybe it is shoving next, or some body checks in soccer at recess, time and again though, the targets end up punished, it is far easier to remain hard, and in control while bullying, as opposed to while trying to figure out how to survive as a target).
So, really, the "authority" is already there, already in place, already acting, every day, on the bodies of the kids in the school... it just really frequently gets directed at the targets of bullying, when they lose control after weeks, months, and even years of perpetual hounding, because there is only one of them, one target at a time, meanwhile there is a pyrimid of bullies, a hierarchy, the "Really bad", and then those who act because of the social pressures of the tougher bullies, all down the line to those who can only watch, and those who wish something could be done, but don't speak up, or are afraid to get into the sights of bullies. But with each bullying session, new needles are learned by bullies, new soft spots identified, new buttons discovered, saved for later, stored and remembered; to be stabbed into the victim, and pushed, at a later date.
posted by infinite intimation at 10:04 PM on October 26, 2011


I'm also disappointed that Mercer wasn't explicit about being gay. I don't think it's widely known at all. I can't remember when I found out, but it wasn't from some coming out story in the news, it was because a friend lived on the same block as Mercer and his partner. I was surprised at the time, because he's so outspoken I couldn't believe it hadn't come up.

He's been much more outspoken about it lately, but he's been out publicly for a while. He definitely didn't seem shy about it when he was on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight around the time that IGB video came out. I think he probably just assumed that people knew.
posted by Dismantled King at 10:18 PM on October 26, 2011


Sorry, that "lately" link should have gone to this.
posted by Dismantled King at 10:27 PM on October 26, 2011


Hope and false hope, it's not a small subject.

I remember a friend latching onto me for showing an act of kindness, I felt out of my depth because I had most definitely reached my limit and I was in retreat, taking refuge in a safe place. So I said; I can't get high with you or anyone else, now or probably ever again and I'm just trying to keep it together and that means you might have to keep looking if you need hope because I am trying not to lose the last thing a person has. I have put hope aside for better days that I don't even believe will come. That is lot more articulate than I was at the time. I think I said out aloud, "I can't get high." and "I don't want to think too much."

I felt like terrible company and I probably was.

During the next visit he said, "It would be great to buy some bikes and ride them in the forest; I did that when I was a kid." I just said "yeah that would be good", but inside I felt a wrenching agony because I could not even imagine a future where that was possible. I was on welfare and managing symptoms from a schizophrenic episode, Ben was avoiding drugs as best he could while living in an emergency shelter. He came around to talk and I would make something to eat and that was it.

Five years later, I had a job and I was living better than I had for a while, I hadn't given much attention to the past for a while simply for the fact that it was never in focus rather than forgotten. I was riding a motorcycle that I had just bought after feeling a strong emotion that I needed it to escape and in my mind it was clear that if I didn't get a bike I would settle for a drug addiction instead. One day I was riding alone along a road that became a dirt track through the bush and I had feeling that I couldn't place. I went home and sat down on my veranda and that's when I remembered what Ben had said about riding dirt bikes in the forest and I balled my eyes out because he had committed suicide so long ago.

And I have the question in my mind about why I couldn't just say to him with conviction, "One day mate. We will both have bikes, we'll go riding out bush and it will be awesome." All I had was the starkest of offerings, you are welcome to come round here and be sober and if we don't talk shit maybe we'll last one more day. I felt like terrible company and I probably was.

There is something here about hope. I don't know if hope is good or bad. Suicidal teenagers and young people are a several levels of hell removed from just feeling discouraged. I don't think the "It gets better" ads can reduce suicides and I wonder if in some ways if the message is actually a cruelty for the teenagers and young people most at risk of self harm. It's a big subject.
posted by vicx at 10:52 PM on October 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


FatherDagon, it's a line in the song.
posted by datawrangler at 2:20 AM on October 27


That doesn't make it a good line. "God makes no mistakes" is a ridiculous, stupid and unhelpful statement whether it exists in a song, a poem or carved on a stone tablet.
posted by Decani at 2:32 AM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Decani, just because you think it doesn't help, or you've decided that it isn't helpful (full stop) doesn't mean that someone wouldn't find it helpful. It's not a black-and-white world, but it is certainly convenient to think of it that way.
posted by datawrangler at 3:04 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it is pretty useless to ask what platitude will help depressed teenagers. That is not something you can meaningfully generalize about. The emotional needs of damaged people are quite complex and often random. You need to serve those specific needs to do any good. To do that, you need to be there.

I suppose having a cache of slogans to use might help with some people, I don't know, but there's no particular slogan that's anywhere close to universally uplifting. So it makes more sense to use them to market to helpers, rather than depressed people.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:09 AM on October 27, 2011


John Baird is gay?!? Still processing that one.
posted by hepta at 5:30 AM on October 27, 2011


Can't we name and shame bullies? Forget platitudes and kumbayah moments. We get people to publicly call people out for their bullshit and make it okay for kids who are being bullied to use that as a weapon against the bullies.
posted by inturnaround at 5:50 AM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Rick Mercer was on The Current this morning (audio not yet available) and he talked briefly about different levels of being out. It was interesting, though some of his discussion about how adults totally should be out but he doesn't want to mention it ever on his show was more than a little strange.
posted by jeather at 6:39 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


John Baird is gay?!?

Sometimes those of us who swim in this sea forget how little gets transmitted out of the Ottawa bubble. In short, yes, and pretty openly on a private level. Baird is Harper's goto guy for squring Lauren Harper around when he's busy, has been for more than a decade.

Baird isn't the only not-quite-openly gay minster though, Jason Kenney (Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism) has been sort-of out for years as well.

These things are so open as to not even be secrets locally. The press just doesn't talk about it much because it's not usually very relevant. This is a rare case where the ministers' sexualities actually matter.
posted by bonehead at 8:29 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem is that, sure, politician X's sexuality isn't relevant for most situations. (Unless Harper decides he wants to get rid of gay marriage, which I think is probably a dead issue with him.) But so we have policians -- ones with lots of power -- who are gay and who few outside political circles know to be gay, because hey, it doesn't matter! So it seems obvious to teens that the politicians aren't gay, because sexuality is such a huge deal when you're 15 that it's hard to imagine that eventually it is less big a deal, and you can go to work with the prime minister and be gay and that never shows up in the news. (On the other hand, you don't want to see "gay minister Baird" every time.)
posted by jeather at 8:49 AM on October 27, 2011


"And yet somehow I'm able to have a social life that doesn't revolve around FB. "

Uh, you're old. So maybe stop bitching about the transistor radios and 45s all these kids are obsessed with, and stop blaming them for not toughing out their bullying. It just makes you look out of touch and cruel.
posted by klangklangston at 10:14 AM on October 27, 2011


LogicalDash: "It gets better" is a pretty useless platitude if you're trying to reach kids with it...

I think it's plenty useful, if only as an antidote to bullshit about "these are the best years of your life." That's a common sentiment (and i have no doubt that in many cases it's expressed by someone who means well), but what an incredibly toxic thing to tell a young person who's having a miserable time.

I remember very clearly a young me thinking that if I believed for a minute that things would stay this bad (much less get worse), I might as well take a dive off the bridge. Fortunately, I was wise enough *not* to believe that particular lie.

But having someone (or several someones) tell me "It gets better" (and maybe supply some examples) would have done a lot for my morale at that point in my life.
posted by sourcequench at 12:30 PM on October 27, 2011


God makes no mistakes. That should be its own campaign.

I think leaving 'God' the fuck out of the discussion entirely would be a huge step forward.


If you don't want the campaign to reach a huge segment of the problem, sure.
I happen to think that engaging religious bigots with the goal of turning them into religious non-bigots is a better approach than just dismissing them completely.
posted by rocket88 at 2:44 PM on October 27, 2011


"It gets better" is a pretty useless platitude if you're trying to reach kids with it, but if you need a name for your movement, you could do worse.

Agreed 100%. I feel torn about the whole "It Gets Better" movement because I like optimism and I think instilling a sense of hope and autonomy in marginalized people is important, but at the same time--what about all the people for whom it doesn't? Nice but empty words are exactly what you don't want to offer people hanging onto the edge.
posted by byanyothername at 3:18 PM on October 27, 2011


Rick Mercer is gay? I think that went well.

But seriously, didn't even know about that until just now, and I've considered myself a fan of the man for years. Good for him.
posted by cerulgalactus at 6:40 PM on October 27, 2011


Thank you for sharing this with us, vicx.
posted by jokeefe at 10:01 PM on October 27, 2011


God makes no mistakes. That should be its own campaign.

Yes, gay people should clearly take up the language of the groups who are the largest single source of socially-sanctioned opression. It will also help gay, non-religious kids feel even better.

Quite apart from how ludicrous it is on the face of it. The Holocaust wasn't a mistake?
posted by rodgerd at 12:36 AM on October 28, 2011


I dunno, I think if I was a gay, religious kid, I'd find the idea that God makes no mistakes pretty comforting. I'm just guessing here, because I'm neither gay nor religious, but I have to imagine being told you're going to burn in hell by the very people you have been raised to trust and respect must kinda smart a little, and having someone remind you that even they answer to a higher power and that higher power is infallible might help.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:40 AM on October 28, 2011


If God never makes mistakes, then He wants you in exactly as much pain as you are in right now.

Savvy?
posted by LogicalDash at 1:15 PM on October 28, 2011


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