Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Tears Of A Bullied Boy Go Viral: But Are They Enough To Move The Bully-Enablers?

Are The Tears Fake? At This Point, Who Cares?

Just as Jamey Rodemeyer's suicide touched off a firestorm against bullying by posting his "It Gets Better" video, so too has this latest one from Jonah Mowry. He posted his video back in August, but in the past 24 hours, it has gotten over 550,000 views on YouTube, not only because it was mentioned by Perez Hilton, Joe Jervis (Joe. My. God) and Michelangelo Signorelli, but also because it was posted by thousands of viewers on the facebook pages. 

It's the kind of video that dares you not to cry along with young Jonah: he never says a word, but relates his story through music and flash cards because he's trying to summon courage while tears are streaming down his face. Some people might consider it a ploy, an almost cloying plea for attention, but they would be dismissed as heartless. Some others might consider it a put up piece - too histrionic to be real, but Jonah answered the naysayers in a follow-up video thanking people for their support. That video (Thank You Everyone - 3) unfortunately, has been removed fromYouTube by Jonah for reasons that one can only speculate, but he disclosed the fact that spammers and bullies bombarded it's posting. 

So far, Jonah's parents have not come forth with a statement about the video, provoking comments like "where's the parents in all of this?" The 14-year-old may have a good relationship with them, but so far he has not given evidence on whether or not they reported the bullying to Jonah's school. In the video, his accounts of cutting (self-mutilation) go back 8 years.   


The video is so powerful, however, that cries of "fake" are rendered moot: Jonah's emotions are clearly raw, demonstrating that an appeal for attention is not what's at stake here: even a fictional appeal can transcend itself and result in something good. And the good that it has done is touching hearts is enough for many people. 

If it is a fake, then, it is a fake appeal as a WORK OF ART.

The outpouring of sympathy, admiration and encouragement has definitely been one-sided ... so far. Elements of America's Christian Right will need to react (positively or negatively) if they are to seem "compassionate" at all. But compassion is sometimes not their forte: Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association may try to cast Jonah as the "real bully" since the teen must be considered part of the "homosexual agenda." Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has flatly stated "We're not the cause of teen suicides," belying the fact that arbiters of morality has been the cause of hundreds of millions of suicides in the last 3000 years. Yesterday, the eponymous Christian Historian David Barton declared homosexuality to be completely "unnatural". 

One might argue that pharisees have never known when to shut up and leave well enough alone.  

In a brilliant open letter to the Christian Right, John Shore of LGBTQ Nation dares them all to respond:

Tell me that your belief system didn’t help but the hot tears on this kid’s cheeks. Tell me that the bullies who torment this kid aren’t in any way encouraged or empowered by your tacit approval of their actions. Tell me that the shame this kid feels about himself has nothing to do with the shame that you believe all gay people should feel for themselves.
Tell me that you can’t comprehend the connection between your conviction that God finds homosexuals repulsive, and the fact that this kid finds himself so repulsive that he habitually cuts his own flesh.
Tell me, please, how you love this kid. Tell me how you understand his pain. Tell me how when he cries, you cry.
Tell me how you want to do everything in your power to make sure that no one, ever again, feels free to in any way victimize a young gay person.
A Christian myself, I am pleading with you to be honest with me about this.
Tell me, please, how none of this kid’s anguish has anything to do with you.
I’m listening. I really am.
We all are.
Yes, we all are waiting, but the answers to this appeal will be lame, speaking of a "love" that transcends the needs of teens and even humanity. So we are not waiting with baited breath - or even anticipated amusement - but an impending sense of ennui. We will monitor the responses (or non-responses) of:

Bryan Fischer - Tony Perkins - Pat Robertson - Michele Bachmann - Bill Donohue (Catholic anti-Defamation League) - David Barton - Linda Harvey (Mission America) - Lou Engle ("The Call") - James Dobson - Peter LaBarbera (NARTH) - and yes, Ann Coulter. Maybe Cindy Japan-is-shaped-like-a-dragon Jacobs will chime in, babbling incoherently. 

And we will have to look for the response of Jonah's parents to his sudden celebrity. Jonah has not actually mentioned any support or antagonism from his parents. Perhaps this is the most glaring omission so far, prompting many to postulate that it was a fake. 

Whatever the responses from the Right, they're sure to be virulent and definitive.

To Quote or Not To Quote: When Is It WRONG To Quote The Bible?

Salisbury University students found out yesterday. Kudos for the dean who accepted the athiests' right to free speech.