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Can't Hide in Hicksville
October 15, 2010 10:03 AM   Subscribe

A message to small-town high school bullies: you now risk being made an example of across the entire nation.
posted by hermitosis (99 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah!
posted by No Robots at 10:06 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. This actually was in a place called Hicksville.
posted by randomination at 10:07 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Smart bullies will stick to beating up the nerds, not the gays.
posted by smackfu at 10:08 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


This actually was in a place called Hicksville.

I know right! The first two lines of the folk ballad about this are going to be:

Down in the town called Hicksville
No, really they called it Hicksville
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 10:09 AM on October 15, 2010 [11 favorites]


I don't know if it matters, but Hicksville is anything but a small town. Despite the name, it's quite large and suburban, pretty close to NYC. I don't know if this would have received the same profile (or treatment from police) in an actual small town.
posted by Edgewise at 10:11 AM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Small-town is a mentality.

I know this isn't exactly "national news" in the sense that it's all over CNN (yet), but the fact that stories which used to be considered barely worthy of even local media attention are now triggering changes in national awareness is so... well, it's goddam inspiring to me.
posted by hermitosis at 10:11 AM on October 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


"Small-town"? Nassau County has a larger population than 11 U.S. states.
posted by RogerB at 10:11 AM on October 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Man, just when I delude myself into thinking that kids today are more sensitive and congenial than they were when I was in high school, someone goes and reminds me that there are still are heartless little monsters tromping around in department store clothes.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:15 AM on October 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Lots of places on Long Island have a small town mentality. Hicksville's a little different than that, but there are lots of small minds there.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:16 AM on October 15, 2010


Wow. This actually was in a place called Hicksville.

Yeah, this has caused many a schoolbus full of day-tripping NYC schoolkids to crack right the fuck up, distracting them from brandishing "HELP WE'RE BEING KIDNAPPED" signs at passing drivers and trying to get truckers to honk their horn and/or show them some porn.

Back to the topic. I'm usually against people winning the Scapegoat Special, but, fuck 'em. Everyone responsible for that 14-year-old kid getting beaten deserves to be put in the stocks in the town center. Fortunately, the town is not the entire world, thanks to the internet. This is the kind of situation for which "tried as an adult" exists.

Also, a quote from the SFGate link that I don't think needs any comment: "Police say a group of gang members beat and sodomized a 17-year-old recruit because they thought he was gay."
posted by griphus at 10:16 AM on October 15, 2010


Good to know although I'd feel a bit better about Perez Hilton being part of the story if he wasn't such a misogynist.

(BTW, that Newsday link is subscriber only. I've considered a sub in the past if only for access to Alan Hahn's Knicks coverage but being in the UK there's no use for the rest of the site. Stupid paywalls.)
posted by i_cola at 10:17 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


in department store clothes

What's the significance of department store clothes?
posted by mikepop at 10:17 AM on October 15, 2010


Stomping someone, slapping someone, kicking someone—these are crimes. It's not (just) a discipline problem. If your kid is physically assaulted for being gay—or for being or not being anything else—don't (just) call the principal, don't (just) complain to the school. Call the cops and file a police report and press fucking charges.

This needs to be said far and wide.
posted by anti social order at 10:19 AM on October 15, 2010 [45 favorites]


someone goes and reminds me that there are still are heartless little monsters tromping around in department store clothes.

Would it be better if they were in designer clothes? Or hand-me downs? Thrift-store vintage? Halloween costumes? Sorry for the derail, but that qualifier is confusing.

I think times are changing. For every 50 stories of bullying and small-mindedness, there is one "Oak Reed for homecoming king" story. I wish the ratio were better, but it's a start.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:19 AM on October 15, 2010


What's the significance of department store clothes?

Land's End is the new Abercrombie and Fitch?
posted by reductiondesign at 10:20 AM on October 15, 2010


But would they have done it if they didn't feel that a wide representation of society didn't actually approve, or at least not really disapprove?
posted by biffa at 10:20 AM on October 15, 2010


Fine, drop the clothes. Whatever.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:20 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Poor bullies.
posted by Mister_A at 10:21 AM on October 15, 2010


The department store clothes line totally made me laugh, because I totally associate shopping in department stores with being a miserable teenager. In fact, I still can't really shop for clothes in one without being slowly overwhelmed with feelings of dread and futility. I recently freaked in Lord and Taylor and had to put everything back and just leave.
posted by hermitosis at 10:26 AM on October 15, 2010 [16 favorites]


Related: A YouTube project that is intended to tell stories about getting through High School as a gay teen, encouraging kids to not commit suicide, because it gets better. (I especially liked Dan and Terry's story, they seemed such great guys.)
posted by gemmy at 10:28 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


> e department store clothes line totally made me laugh, because I totally associate shopping in department stores with being a miserable teenager.

Yep, I just meant clothes obtained at the mall, which is where lots of kids get their clothes. No class warfare or 300 level humanities studies implied.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:28 AM on October 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


filthy light theif: I think times are changing. For every 50 stories of bullying and small-mindedness, there is one "Oak Reed for homecoming king" story. I wish the ratio were better, but it's a start.

I'm certain that there's a lot more Oak Reed stories out there that don't make the national news narrative at this point in time.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:32 AM on October 15, 2010


I assume the department store clothes was like saying "monsters in human clothing"? Am I wrong in that reading?
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:32 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, they are PURE MONSTERS MADE OUT OF MONSTER ATOMS and their clothes are but an illusion. Or, it was just a passive association that sprung to mind to connote that they look outwardly like shiny happy teens but inwardly are made of cruelty, and I didn't realize it was going to be
posted by Burhanistan at 10:35 AM on October 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


analyzed.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:36 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I got abused on the bus sometimes (I'm not gay, but oddly, what Carlos Diaz wanted was for me to show him my penis or let him give me a wedgie -- 'my choice') which culminated one day when I was held down, my shoelaces tied to the seat, and pants pulled halfway off. So at my stop, I'm halfway back the bus, in tears, trying to break my shoelace with my pants around my knees, and the bus driver did nothing. I've always wondered what the fuck was going through his head, ignoring me like that.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:38 AM on October 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


PURE MONSTERS MADE OUT OF MONSTER ATOMS

Poppycock! 100% monstronium is unstable at standard temperature and pressure!
posted by Mister_A at 10:40 AM on October 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


You know who else needs made an example of? The bus driver and monitor who watched it happen without intervening.
posted by Runes at 10:40 AM on October 15, 2010 [15 favorites]


Yeah that's crazy. I don't get how anyone can let a kid be tortured like that. I'm sorry that happened to you.
posted by Mister_A at 10:42 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Poppycock! 100% monstronium is unstable at standard temperature and pressure!

Heh, this is why you need a Nautica shirt or something to use as alloy to allow for real-world applications.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:42 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


While the bus driver's (lack of) actions were reprehensible, I can see the logic behind them. You try to get in between there and the next thing you know, a teenager full of hormones and adrenaline takes a swing at you and, defensively/out of reflex, you throw a punch back and suddenly you're on the hook for actively assaulting a minor. Which, I can only assume, is worse than allowing a minor to come to harm.

Still bullshit, though.
posted by griphus at 10:44 AM on October 15, 2010


From one of the linked articles:

The arrests come just days after 10 men were charged in the Bronx with what New York City officials say was one of the worst cases of anti-gay violence in recent memory. Police say a group of gang members beat and sodomized a 17-year-old recruit because they thought he was gay.

Um, uh, right; nothing unusual going on there.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:45 AM on October 15, 2010


I think the bus driver was probably thinking something like "damn, those kids are shitheads, I'm glad they're not mine. I don't get paid enough to bother with this nonsense. I hope they get off at the next stop."

That doesn't excuse him not stopping and calling for help, though. He didn't have to physically intervene, he could've just pulled the bus over and called his supervisor.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:47 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. This actually was in a place called Hicksville.

I once lived on Lizard Lane, in Grubville. Directions to my place included "turn after Joe Mama's Hilltop Tavern"
posted by nomisxid at 10:49 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Small-town is a mentality.

In my book, small minded is a mentality, but small town is small town, and not everything about small town American culture is bad. A lot of people lack the privilege of living in a giant sprawling metropolis and can't afford to be so contemptuous of where they live. In other words, there's really no reason to drag them into this.

For the record, as I write this I'm in Nassau county about 20 minutes from Hicksville, so it's possible to live in a fairly urban area, and like it, without hating on more rural folks.
posted by Edgewise at 10:50 AM on October 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Winner!

Winner!

Wiiiiiiiiiinnnnner!

That's what the jean-jacketed nicotine-stench-ridden hooligans at the back of the bus used to say when I boarded. Also tormented were the chubby girls, the little guy from Pakistan and that mussy-haired kid with the cleft palate.

The downtrodden of 1978 didn't have the luxury of boldfaced national headlines and breathlessly vengeful bloggers, so after a year or so I eventually snapped and kicked the shit out of one of them.

The benefits of this approach are admittedly much more localized, but the results are noticed immediately.
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:55 AM on October 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ubu: they did it with a broom.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:55 AM on October 15, 2010


Frankly, I think we're lucky that what happened at Columbine isn't a more common occurrence.

You try to get in between there and the next thing you know, a teenager full of hormones and adrenaline takes a swing at you and, defensively/out of reflex, you throw a punch back and suddenly you're on the hook for actively assaulting a minor.

I know it's dicey, but my understanding is that you can kill in self-defense in this country. Is there really no defense for fighting back if someone else makes the initial assault? Because if not, that's messed up.

And yeah, I know, even if it were, you end up with some parents and their lawyers who will never admit their kid did anything wrong and will make a bus driver's life hell to prove it. But it'd be nice if the law was at least ostensibly even handed.
posted by namespan at 10:57 AM on October 15, 2010


Related: A YouTube project that is intended to tell stories about getting through High School as a gay teen, encouraging kids to not commit suicide, because it gets better.

Recent FPP on the project: 'Dan Savage fights teen suicide.'
posted by ericb at 10:57 AM on October 15, 2010


But would they have done it if they didn't feel that a wide representation of society didn't actually approve, or at least not really disapprove?

Well, that's what the status quo has been for ages, hasn't it?

I just finished watching the 1999 documentary After Stonewall. In it, stats are cited for gay youth suicide and comments are made about the pervasive bullying which youth who are perceived to be gay have to endure.

Before that, I watched Word Is Out, from 1977. In it, personal stories of suicide attempts and being bullied are shared.

Images of gay men being picked on have been present in our media for about as far back as I care to look. Sometimes it's the queers complaining about the treatment. Most often, it's the subject of comedy, or even worse, it's somehow a befitting tragic end for a pathetic life. Or some equally bullshit storytelling device.

What I hope to see, and maybe what we are seeing happen right now before our eyes, is society starting to stop approving, of it actively disapproving even, the act of physically and emotionally assaulting someone because of their sexual orientation. It's been a federal crime now for a bit, but the problem has been ignored for the "charge them as a minor" crowd. But that's where it starts, and maybe we're seeing the end of that beginning.

Gods, I hope so.
posted by hippybear at 10:58 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I especially liked Dan and Terry's story...

That's Dan Savage and his partner who started the 'It Gets Better' campaign.
posted by ericb at 10:59 AM on October 15, 2010


In related news: Dad Storms Bus, Confronts Disabled Daughter's Bullies [video | 01:17].
posted by ericb at 11:02 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Frankly, I think we're lucky that what happened at Columbine isn't a more common occurrence.

It's important to make clear that Harris and Klebold were in fact the bullies, not the bullied. See Cullen's book, Columbine.
posted by No Robots at 11:03 AM on October 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


What's the significance of department store clothes?

Ordinary boys, happy knowing nothing
happy being no one, but themselves
Ordinary girls, supermarket clothes
who think it's very clever to be cruel to you
for you were so different
you stood all alone
and you knew
that it had to be so
avoiding ordinary boys
happy going nowhere, just around here
in their rattling cars
and ordinary girls
never seeing further
than the cold, small streets
that trap them
but you were so different
you had to say no
when those empty fools
tried to change you, and claim you
for the lair of their ordinary world
where they feel so lucky
so lucky, so lucky
with their lives laid out before them
they're so lucky, so lucky
so lucky, so lucky
posted by Ratio at 11:04 AM on October 15, 2010


A broom? Ew.

I know it's dicey, but my understanding is that you can kill in self-defense in this country.


Not really. You can use reasonable force in self defence - it needs to be proportional to the threat. The only time that killing would be "reasonable" would be if you legitimately feared for your life.

Is there really no defense for fighting back if someone else makes the initial assault?

Of course there is, as long as it's proportional. The problem with adult-minor situations is that often an adult is that much larger, and is also expected to behave with greater self-restraint.

In this case though, it seems the bus driver was a woman, versus a group of teenaged guys, so I'm thinking "I don't get paid enough to deal with this crap" was the more likely response, although it still should at least have been reported afterwards.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:08 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Frankly, I think we're lucky that what happened at Columbine isn't a more common occurrence.

The columbine murders were not bullied, they were the bullies.
posted by absalom at 11:09 AM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


The columbine murders were not bullied, they were the bullies.

It doesn't really matter -- in the confusion that followed, it was the bullied and downtrodden whose fantasies were most articulated by that tragedy, and whom had that narrative projected onto them by everyone else.
posted by hermitosis at 11:26 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


...and whom had that narrative projected onto them by everyone else.

Pretty much. I got the shit bullied out of me during my entire junior high experience and a bit into freshman year of high school. Then, during said freshman year, Columbine happened and it stopped. Just, like a dead silence where the bullying was. And a few cock-eyed looks and whispers. Kids got picked on around me, but no one touched me anymore. Only because my friends (and, eventually, I) were the freaks with the long hair, boots and trenchcoats. I guess it was a "at least the trains ran on time" effect.
posted by griphus at 11:30 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


The columbine murders were bullied, they were also bullies.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:32 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Uh, of course, there's the flip side. A girl I dated (after high school) was pulled out of her school during junior year and dropped in the Troubled Kids school. No explanation, no reason, just reassigned one day. Her parents fought tooth and nail and got her into the local college academy to finish up high school instead of going to the school they assigned her to. The school with a dropout rate over 50% and no college acceptance rate at all.
posted by griphus at 11:33 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


See, I was part of the boots and black clothes crowd in high school (not the long hair, since my hair goes out instead of down as it gets longer), and it got worse after Columbine, even when the narrative was "bullied kids go on rampage".

Frankly, I'm a big fan of the present anti-bullying fad, and I hope it accomplishes something useful before people move on to something else.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:34 AM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


...and it got worse after Columbine.

Er, I guess I should mention that my experience was an outlier. I went to high school in Brooklyn where the population was ~4000 and my graduating class had 800 people in it. There was no such thing as "popular kids" or "outcasts," for one thing. Everyone had friends. And there really wasn't a fear of a school shooting from the get-go what with a generally held (and probably accurate) assumption that at least some of the kids in school were already packing. Still, it was really odd and almost harrowing how having certain friends and looking a certain way kept me out of the shit.
posted by griphus at 11:41 AM on October 15, 2010


Fortunately for the 14 year old kid who was beaten, it gets better.
posted by Legomancer at 11:43 AM on October 15, 2010


...and the bus driver did nothing

I'm not sure what a driver can realistically do. Yeah, they can stop the bus--but it's not always easy to find a place to safely stop a 40 foot long bus. It's not like you can just jerk the wheel over and mash on the brakes.

And then what happens? The kids causing trouble now know that they can delay going to school for every incident. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happens next.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:50 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some kids at State College Area High School in Pennsylvania decide to step up.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:51 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Griphus: A girl I dated (after high school) was pulled out of her school during junior year and dropped in the Troubled Kids school. No explanation, no reason, just reassigned one day.

I'm not sure exactly what you're saying here -- the details are scant -- but it sounds like you're citing this as an example of unfair overreaction against bullies? Of course I don't know this woman or anything about the situation, but if that's the case, it's possible that she just didn't see her actions as unusual or bad -- when she was in fact was a pretty egregious bully.

You probably know this from your own experience, but a lot of bullies, particularly those that don't hit, see nothing wrong in what they're doing. "We were just being funny," "everybody does that," etc.
posted by msalt at 11:56 AM on October 15, 2010


Some kids at State College Area High School in Pennsylvania decide to step up

You know, that was awesome. Great video, great concept, nicely done. And while I know it was largely the emotional manipulation of the underscoring music from the video, I seem to once again have something in my eye.
posted by hippybear at 11:57 AM on October 15, 2010


The columbine murders were not bullied, they were the bullies.

Noted. Thanks for the info. I still had the old narrative in my head.

I suppose I should say instead that I sometimes wonder why retaliation like the old narrative doesn't happen more often. I sure as hell thought about taking a gun to my tormentors. I guess the reason I didn't was that I realized it was probably a good way to ruin my own life and problematic morally, but there were times when I was so upset that if a firearm had been handy I'm not certain I wouldn't have done it.

In related news: Dad Storms Bus, Confronts Disabled Daughter's Bullies [video | 01:17].

Having an adult threaten kids like this is ugly, but I'm not sure it's a uniformly bad thing for kids to confront the fact that this particular kind of misbehavior can antagonize people who are bigger and much more capable of harm then they are.

And I'm not sure I blame the father, either. There are more sophisticated, acceptable, and even arguably civilized modes of retaliation here, and even if you're leaving ethics out of this, they're better to take for pragmatic reasons alone. But let's face it: sometimes the system and the community refuse to operate to protect the victims. Everybody who's been bullied knows this, and until you're utterly beaten down, there's a point where there's a near irresistible impulse to lash out.

I wouldn't put that guy in front of a court without also putting the kids, the bus driver, and the school administration in front of the court as well.
posted by namespan at 12:01 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


...but it sounds like you're citing this as an example of unfair overreaction against bullies?

Oh, not at all. My example involved the Columbine tragedy having, in a twisted way, a benefit for me, a 9th grader in a trenchcoat and combat boots simply because I looked like the kids that did it.

She was not a bully at all, just also not-mainstream-looking and had friends of the same type and was plucked out for that reason alone after Columbine. So, two sides of the coin for weird kids: I no longer got the shit kicked out of me, and she was almost robbed of her future by being thrown into a school that was one step above juvie.
posted by griphus at 12:04 PM on October 15, 2010


The columbine murders were bullied, they were also bullies.

Middle and high (and for some folks elementary) school are pretty fucked up places. In many ways it's a sick system (although, as Dan Savage points out, things do in fact get better) that everyone is so wedded to that it seems inconceivable it could be any other way. So, often, unless you're at the very top of the pack, the bullied are also the bullies. You basically shit on other people as you get shat upon yourself. This doesn't excuse any sort of bullying activity, and it's right that these teens are being publically called out for what they've done, and criminally punished, but it makes you wonder what could be done to fix high school so it's less of a foregone conclusion that it's going to be living hell for ~%30 of its participants.
posted by codacorolla at 12:06 PM on October 15, 2010


BTW -- Dad apologizes for rushing bus to confront bullies
"I handled it the wrong way. I thought I was backed up against the wall as a parent, and I just didn't know where else to go. As a dad, I snapped, and I apologize again."
posted by ericb at 12:07 PM on October 15, 2010


Having an adult threaten kids like this is ugly

An adult who did what the kids did would be faced with the police battering down their door, throwing them on the ground, handcuffing them, and driving them down to the station in a police car.

Police said Jones not only threatened the lives of students on the bus, he also gave physical threats to the driver.

And yet the students themselves do this to each other on a regular basis and neither the police nor the schools seem to care very much.

Where is the press conference where the students on the bus are apologizing to his daughter and the school is apologizing for not doing anything about it?
posted by deanc at 12:16 PM on October 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


Hey, that's pretty cool, eric. I appreciate the way the dad felt but did not agree at all with his handling. I am glad that he too acknowledges that this was the wrong course of action, however attractive it may have seemed at the time.
posted by Mister_A at 12:17 PM on October 15, 2010


I'm not sure what a driver can realistically do.

A friend of a friend was a bus driver. He faced just this sort of incident, and stopped the bus and called the police. Kept the doors shut until the police showed.

Of course, the attitude of your local police toward being asked to do their job may affect this tactic.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:23 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


All I can think is that, maybe, had someone at my school cared enough to scare the girls who physically harassed me throughout middle school with a cop or a judge, I wouldn't have breaking one of the girl's ribs on my conscience to this day. But when adults do nothing, or barely anything, sometimes children feel they have to fight back, even if it goes against their moral principles.

It is really long past time we accept the fact that in order to be a civilized society, we cannot tolerate children doing things we would throw an adult into jail for merely because they are children.
posted by strixus at 12:28 PM on October 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


I read strixus' comment quickly, and was going to respond that i agree with "throwing children into jail merely because they are children"... but, on closer inspection, I guess I'll just say... oh, nothin'.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 12:37 PM on October 15, 2010


Man, when I was a kid (in the 70s), the mere possibility of another adult yelling at us for doing ANYTHING was enough of a deterrent. I remember some neighbor kid's dad came out and hollered at us for something that had to do with his kid, and it stopped us cold. We all ended up slinking into our houses, terrified that our own parents would find out, and we would catch hell again.

Now that I am a parent of a kid who has been teased and bullied, my first instincts are to start hollering at the kids who target my son. And then I think about things like police, court dates and all that. The idea of litigation is enough of a deterrent for me. Because I know that some parent would try to sue and that is something I cannot afford, frankly. It's sad, really.

I don't condone what the father did in the school bus video, but there are some days when I feel just like he did. What struck me was the fact that the kids appeared to be catcalling while the father was ranting. Were they heckling the father? I can tell you that if I were one of those kids, I would have been FROZEN and unable to speak. Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but there seemed to be a belligerence to the kids. I hope I'm wrong about that.

As for the main story in this post, this sort of thing is not going away. No matter how many groups gather on Facebook, no matter how many vigils are held, no matter how many celebrities attach their names to the cause. This is so fucking pervasive. Think about it, there have been a rash of these stories in the media over the past weeks, and these kids STILL did what they did. They had to know that what they were doing was wrong, yet they continued. What the fuck?
posted by sundrop at 12:52 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


A note on the bully/bullied dichotomy: The current research on bullying sees that bullying is in fact a very complex psychological cycle of victim-bully-bystander, where any one individual can inhabit any and/or all of the three roles at any given time in the cycle. Columbine offers an example of this. There is always someone lower on the totem pole, as it were, and even when a near-always victim is relieved of victimhood for whatever reason, the cycle dictates that more often than not the victim slips into either the role of either bully, or more neutrally, bystander. Bystanderness offers a safer haven; one is not in harm's way. This is perhaps one of the more insidious aspects of the cycle. The reason bullying is so pervasive is that no one wants to be the target and so standing by and letting it happen in specific cases lets bulling happen in larger and more overarching societal ways.
posted by oflinkey at 1:12 PM on October 15, 2010


Small-town is a mentality.

Defining teenage homophobic violence as a "small-town" mentality just makes you (an by extension those associated with you) look dumb and divisive. I went to school in one of the largest and wealthiest urban areas in the country and homophobia was rampant. Even at one that was pretty much designed as a school for the children of hippies.

Homophobia is not bound by class, race, or population density. Nor does being in or from a small town equate to being dumb, prone to violence, or bad, which your attempt to stigmatize such people implies. Get over yourself.

This is a great example of the smug elitism that's damaging this country. You posted an inflammatory and in part incorrect post. When you're called out on it, rather than admitting your mistake (which spending one minute on wikipedia would have caught), you insult a rather wide swath of people. You're being the polar opposite of a tea partier.

P.S. The town is named after Valentine Hicks. Teehee, some people have funny names.
posted by Candleman at 1:23 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns reaches out to GLBT teens with a personal story and a message of hope: "It Gets Better".
posted by ob1quixote at 1:26 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


across the entire nation.

For those who haven't noticed, Every. Single. Link refers to the same exact story of bullying in Nassau County, New York.
posted by deanc at 1:26 PM on October 15, 2010


"Kathy Griffin is donating her salary from an upcoming show to the Trevor Project, the national suicide prevention hotline for gay youth."*
posted by ericb at 1:38 PM on October 15, 2010


Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns reaches out to GLBT teens with a personal story and a message of hope: "It Gets Better".

FPP: Gets Better...and better...and better!
posted by ericb at 1:39 PM on October 15, 2010


Defining teenage homophobic violence as a "small-town" mentality just makes you (an by extension those associated with you) look dumb and divisive.

Well, without even debating if small town folks are more likely to be homophobic or not, you have to acknowledge that anything that makes you a social outcast is going to have amplified results in a smaller community as compared to a larger one where you can remain anonymous and find others like you.

That said, yes, small town folks are more homophobic and racist and generally more socially conservative, deal with it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:43 PM on October 15, 2010


For those who haven't noticed, Every. Single. Link refers to the same exact story of bullying in Nassau County, New York.
Yes, and this story is being exposed to audiences all over the country.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 1:54 PM on October 15, 2010


...and the bus driver did nothing

I'm not sure what a driver can realistically do. Yeah, they can stop the bus--but it's not always easy to find a place to safely stop a 40 foot long bus. It's not like you can just jerk the wheel over and mash on the brakes.

And then what happens? The kids causing trouble now know that they can delay going to school for every incident. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happens next.



You should all know that school bus drivers are explicitly told to NEVER interfere as they will likely be suspended immediately and probably be brought up on charges both civil and criminal - no matter what the incident and their participation. Just saying, a bit of compassion for the folks who make on average less than $15K a year and are told they are non-entities.
posted by eatdonuts at 1:55 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


small town folks are more homophobic and racist and generally more socially conservative, deal with it.

The same could be said of Afghanistan. However, if the post had said "a message to Afghani bullies" it wouldn't make it any more correct to say "Afghani is a mentality."

There will always be cultural differences between urban and rural areas. Both sides have to get along to a certain extent with each other. Pointing and laughing is not helping and is just fueling the tide that's going to put a lot of Republicans into power this coming election. Pointing and laughing when incorrect is particularly damaging.
posted by Candleman at 1:56 PM on October 15, 2010


Just some figures from Wikipedia:
Hicksville: Population ~41,000. Population density ~6,000/mile^2.
Nassau County, NY: Population 1,344,000. Density ~4,700/mile^2

Which makes it more urban than Dallas, TX city limits.

In contrast to Greene County, Indiana which had it's first gay pride festival a few years ago with 33,000 people and a population density of 28/mile^2.

furiousxgeorge: That said, yes, small town folks are more homophobic and racist and generally more socially conservative, deal with it.

Sure, but this case isn't even remotely an example of that. In spite of the name, Hicksville can be characterized as a high-density suburb or an edge city. One of the worst incidents of anti-gay violence happened a 40-minute drive away in the Bronx with 10 men arrested for torturing three victims and raping one. So the obvious question here is what's going on in the New York Metropolitan area.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:00 PM on October 15, 2010


I'm sorry, I had not followed on recent developments on the New York City story it just gets more vile.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:16 PM on October 15, 2010


You should all know that school bus drivers are explicitly told to NEVER interfere as they will likely be suspended immediately and probably be brought up on charges both civil and criminal - no matter what the incident and their participation. Just saying, a bit of compassion for the folks who make on average less than $15K a year and are told they are non-entities.

What the hell? Do you mean physically, or calling the cops?

It occurs to me that not only having a bus-cam, but a driver with an obvious phone cam taking pictures might do a lot to dissuade them. And if it doesn't, then you have a bigger problem.
posted by emjaybee at 2:48 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]



someone goes and reminds me that there are still are heartless little monsters tromping around in department store clothes.

Would it be better if they were in designer clothes? Or hand-me downs? Thrift-store vintage? Halloween costumes? Sorry for the derail, but that qualifier is confusing.


That qualifier makes perfect sense for me, both descriptive and poetic.

Department store clothes are back-to-school clothes. Someone's mother takes them shopping every fall to get school clothes, then over to the stationary store, to get notebooks and binders. In some sense they have prepared their child for school.

But the child is not really prepared. Was the mother too distracted by other windows in the shopping mall? Is she shopping for bargains, and can't afford the medical costs of treating mental illness? Because, in fact, the child is so unprepared, going into the defining cultural socialization tradition (school,) that his score, on the savage through civilized scale, is as far towards savage that he may belong in a demographic including our primitive ancestors that couldn't even get it together to make proper clothes.

And then, as a bonus, it's a slap at the little monster, saying he hasn't earned any clothes at all.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:49 PM on October 15, 2010


For those who haven't noticed, Every. Single. Link refers to the same exact story of bullying in Nassau County, New York.

Yes, but it's the sources for those links which are the important part, as clarified by "across the entire nation". This isn't just some small story being reported in a paper local to the incident. It has received nationwide publicity. It's an important start to the overall mentality shift which will be necessary for this bullying problem to be stopped.

You see, for far too long, the bullies have been dismissed by the dominant culture in a variety of ways. For starters, the general attitude of many parents and school teachers and coaches has traditionally been that of "glorify the strong and beat down the weak". I, myself, experienced in junior high PE class a coach who actively encouraged the more athletic kids to brutalize the weaker kids, saying that they needed to be "toughened up". This may sound like it was a simple matter of dodge ball politics, but it extended far beyond that. This man was also a history teacher in the school, so he was present in the hallways between classes, and he often turned a blind eye when the "queers" were being physically assaulted by other students. All part of his life philosophy, I guess.

Also, the legal system has often looked the other way. Students who report bullying to the superiors within the "local system" of the school (teachers, principals) have routinely been told that they need to find another route to their classrooms during break to avoid the bullies. Or have been told that they need to toughen up, or not be so sensitive, or any number of other blaming-the-victim stories. Mostly it's just adults not wanting to have to deal with teenage conflict, despite that being the age in which most social practicing and learning takes place and carries forward into the adult world.

Continuing the legal system avoidance, police are often loathe to begin to get involved in cases of minor-on-minor assault, for any number of reasons which include (but are not exclusive to) lack of a clear evidence trail beyond word-of-mouth, general societal attitudes toward the weak or queer or queer-perceived, or general lack of manpower and time required to truly follow up cases to prosecution. Once a case has gotten beyond all the hurdles put before it by the "order" branch, it's often beyond the means of the "law" part, either because student families cannot afford the kind of legal representation required to truly pursue a case through its court life, or because the State itself doesn't want to "waste" taxpayer dollars on prosecuting minors for assault charges, because "well, everyone gets bullied a bit at school", or whatever.

Of course, none of this even takes into account the social costs to the kids who actually report bullying. How often have young adult stories included a moment where the bullied kid is the target for even MORE assault after bringing adults into the equation? This isn't based on a fairy tale -- it's a real world fact that many kids who turn to older humans for help in a time of persecution by their peers find that things get worse afterwards.

The problem is that we have a SYSTEMIC illness. Bullying has been overlooked, tolerated, ignored, victim-blamed and/or encouraged for so long that it's become endemic to our school system. It's gotten to the point where it's even pervading our adult lives, as many of those who have suffered under workplace bullying and mobbing can attest. The plight of Hester Prynne carries forward into the modern age, only without the embroidered letter. Instead, its mark is clearly visible in the number of broken lives and beaten-down personalities which live lives of quiet desperation, starting in elementary school and continuing well into adult life. This doesn't even account for those who choose death rather than live with constant fear and misery. It's as if a zillion years of social evolution simply doesn't matter for 10-20% of the population, who find themselves at the bottom of the heap, and therefore should be shit upon by the masses, just like chimpanzees throwing feces in the jungle.

That this particular incident has happened so close to the suicides, and is garnering national attention... well, that fills me with hope and fear. Hope, that something will finally happen to make the culture at large wake up to the real problem of bullying in our schools. And not just against gay-perceived (or out gay) youth, but against anyone who is somehow marching slightly out of step with the dominant culture. Fear, that this is simply the outrage of the moment, and we'll find it fading from our national consciousness before any real cultural shift takes place regarding our historic tolerance of assault on the different.
posted by hippybear at 3:00 PM on October 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


"There's plenty of people here to help you. When we get together, It's going to be the bullies who will be worried, not you." Governor David Patterson of New York contributes to "It Gets Better."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:47 PM on October 15, 2010


I recently freaked in Lord and Taylor and had to put everything back and just leave.

I've had near out-of-body experiences watching myself trying to get around slow bastards walking ten astride in the Garden State Plaza. Malls are surreal places.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:52 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why the bus driver is the first target when it comes to assigning third-party responsibility. The driver is driving, and his or her attention cannot be divided between the road and the scrum in the back. Is it because the bus driver is an adult? Adults don't have magic powers over teenagers.

If third parties must be found, what about the other kids on the bus? They were right there, watching it happen. They did nothing, and for that they deserve contempt. It is this passivity which gives tacit approval to school bullies. The response of authority figures means nothing to teenagers anymore. Only the esteem of one's peers counts. Bullying in schools would become vanishingly rare if the uninvolved would get involved.
posted by Ritchie at 3:55 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I can't see why there's all this fuss about the human race perhaps being wiped out in the near future. It certainly deserves to be." --Philip Larkin
posted by Rangeboy at 5:43 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


seriously? a few local news articles are being heralded as the coming of a great new time?
posted by krautland at 6:34 PM on October 15, 2010


seriously? a few local news articles are being heralded as the coming of a great new time?

No. Nationwide coverage of what would, until recently, have been regarded as non-newsworthy or local news is being heralded. Perhaps not as the harbinger of a 'great new time', but certainly the topic of anti-gay bullying and assault is finally gaining the kind of traction which gay beatings finally got with the Matthew Shepard event. I only hope that the mark left by this period in our culture is as pervasive as that one a decade ago.
posted by hippybear at 6:48 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I actually have something in common with Tyler. I'm not gay, but I also had my early sexual experiences broadcast to the public at large during my first year of college.

My roommate during my freshman year in college found my diary one day and read it; as it turned out, I'd just lost my virginity and that's what I'd written about. My roommate decided to share this delicious gossip with the rest of my floor. But -- everyone else either said "...so what?" or told her she was a bitch for blasting my business around.

The mere fact that the rest of the kids stood up for me was enough to make me get over the incident quickly. But it also was the beginning in undoing a lot of damage from other bullies -- it was the beginning of my starting to believe I was WORTH standing up FOR in the FIRST Place.

The video linked above by the State College Area High School sums up perfectly the ONE SINGLE THING that would have helped me most when I was being bullied. I mean, my parents tried with the whole "just ignore them because they want to see you upset" thing, and my friends offered what support they could with helping me clean up after.

But NO ONE ever expressed the opinion that what the bullies were doing to me WAS SOMETHING WRONG, and was something THAT I DID NOT DESERVE TO HAVE HAPPEN. And in the absence of people saying 'you know what, those bullies are doing something WRONG and you do NOT deserve that," you start to think....maybe you do deserve it. Maybe you should just ride it out, because this is just the sort of thing that you need to expect will happen to you and you can never expect anything better.

The belief that I didn't deserve better treatment, the belief that I am a person of value who is WORTH the effort of getting better than what I have, has been so pervasive that it's been taking me the past TEN YEARS since that incident in college to believe it. And it is ENTIRELY because when I was a kid, no one ever said "what these people are doing to you is wrong and you do not deserve it." Better still would have been if someone turned to one of the bullies and said, "you know what? You're an asshole. stop it."

It is the behavior we need to call out. The reason it's wrong to punch, kick, give wedgies to, throw condoms at, read the diaries of, or broadcast clandestine YouTube videos of kids isn't because of the kid you've targeted - it's because punching, kicking, throwing condoms at, and reading the diaries of someone IS A BAD THING TO DO TO ANYONE EVER, and if you punch, kick, give wedgies to, throw condoms at, read the diary of, or broadcast clandestine YouTube videos of ANYONE then you are BEING AN ASSHOLE. And more of us need to call out the assholes like we see them, publically.

Because believe me, the victim's sitting there thinking "...am I really the only one who thinks something's wrong with this? Maybe they're NOT being assholes and I'M the one with the problem." And I wouldn't wish that kind of self-perception on anyone.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:58 PM on October 15, 2010 [16 favorites]


It's important to make clear that Harris and Klebold were in fact the bullies, not the bullied. See Cullen's book, Columbine.

hi sorry but this is wrong and cullen is a hack or absurdly disingenous. it is well established that they were bullied (and in fact called 'faggots' etc)

--
As one member of the Columbine High School football team bragged after the massacre, "Columbine is a good, clean place except for those rejects. Most kids didn't want them there... Sure we teased them. But what do you expect with kids who come to school with weird hairdos and horns on their hats?... If you want to get rid of someone, usually you tease 'em. So the whole school would call them homos."
--
Former columbine student Brooks Brown recounted one incident: I was smoking cigarettes with [Klebold and Harris] when a bunch of football players drove by, yelled something, and threw a glass bottle that shattered near Dylan's feet. I was pissed, but Eric and Dylan didn't even flinch. 'Don't worry about it, man,' Dylan said. 'It happens all the time.'"
--
Once, a student reported them to the administration for allegedly having brought drugs to school, just to humiliate them for a laugh.
--
They were so marked for abuse that even talking to them was dangerous. One female student recounted how, when she was a Columbine freshman, some jocks spotted her talking to Dylan Klebold in the school hallway between classes. After she walked away from him, one of the bullies slammed her against the lockers and called her a "fag lover."


source (an excellent read by the way)

these were kids deeply disenfranchised by the institutions that surrounded them -- high school, suburbia, etc. -- and rebelled. in eric harris' own words, "we're going to kick start a revolution, a revolution of the dispossessed!"
posted by p3on at 10:42 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have found, when I encounter something like this, that simply walking up and giving an unrelenting disapproving stare does a lot to take the wind out of bullies. They will try to challenge you, but you don't have to engage, simply make eye contact and make it obvious that you do not approve.

Of course, if they don't stop, then you kick the shit out of them.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:37 AM on October 16, 2010


Which makes it more urban than Dallas, TX city limits.

If Dallas is anything like most of the cities in Texas, the city limits extend far beyond what we'd think of as the city, which is, of course, going to lower the population density. I can't figure out if this is the case for Dallas. San Antonio has a population density of about 2800 people/square mile, but, as an unsuspecting visitor, I assumed we'd left the city limits long before we actually did because we were driving through fields.
posted by hoyland at 7:31 AM on October 16, 2010


Dallas as a city is pretty much defined by all the other communities surrounding it. It's not like some of the cities where there is a lot of undeveloped incorporated land lying around it. It's like Phoenix in that regard -- completely locked in by the metroplex that has grown over the years.
posted by hippybear at 8:59 AM on October 16, 2010


There is a world of difference between a major urban center like Dallas and San Antonio, and an actual small town that has 1% of the population and 1% of the density. If the definition of a "small town" is mangled to mean everything less dense than Brooklyn, then it's a term that's lost all meaning.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:12 AM on October 16, 2010


Maybe the term was poorly applied on my part, but I find it really interesting that it was something others felt worth quibbling over.
posted by hermitosis at 9:11 PM on October 16, 2010


"A host of young Broadway stars came together to record a song in the hopes of calling further attention to the problem of suicide among LGBT youth. The song, written by composer and lyricists Jay Kuo and Blair Shepard, embraces the theme of 'It Gets Better' and will be available for download via iTunes on October 19th. Proceeds will benefit a terrific cause - The Trevor Project. What's just as good is that is the fact that the song is actually catchy"*
posted by ericb at 11:38 AM on October 17, 2010


Runes: "You know who else needs made an example of? The bus driver and monitor who watched it happen without intervening."

We recently had 3 black boys assaulting girls on the school bus, trying to force them to perform oral sex and touching them. The bus driver never stopped it but he knew it was happening. They brought charges against him but he was found not guilty. He also claims he reported it to the school and they ignored him.

(As for the boys, 2 got probation & time served, and 1 has to register as a sex offender and do jail time.)
posted by IndigoRain at 12:25 PM on October 17, 2010


We recently had 3 black boys assaulting girls...

What the hell does the boys' race have to do with anything?
posted by ericb at 2:26 PM on October 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


BTW -- neither of the linked articles mentions the race of the boys involved in the despicable behavior.
posted by ericb at 2:31 PM on October 17, 2010


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