Socio-Political Thuggery

Today, the Camden County Tribune & Georgian published an article about a recent case of “bullying” at our high school. A link to a video was posted on the T&G’s Facebook page – and I urge you all to use great caution before you watch it. Please check to make sure there are no children around, that it won’t be seen by those who are emotionally fragile, and that you, yourself, are well braced.

“Two Camden County juveniles were arrested for sending this disturbing death threat video to some fellow students, but only served a few days in a youth detention center before being released back to school. Because the charge was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, the students will face no punishment by the school system.”

This is not “bullying” – it is terrorism at its most foul and cowardly. The video is the culmination of an ongoing program of torment on the part of students who chose to target three others. It is horrifying, nauseating, shockingly professional, and will lodge itself in your mind and heart.

All that prevents me from wanting to lock the perpetrators up and throw away the key is that they are teens themselves and obviously in need of psychological intervention. As it is, the two boys were given a plea deal for “misdemeanor disorderly conduct”…and they returned to school. That’s it. (And after each tragedy rocks this nation, people ask “Why didn’t anyone see that coming?”)

Weeping angel statue by Alex KearnsI ache for the parents of the victims. Were I them, I think my rage would lead me into questionable waters. And what do you tell their younger siblings? What do we tell ourselves?

I cannot help but think that the prevailing fad of applauding and embracing socio-political thuggery and intolerance is bearing toxic fruit. For each wretched anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” bill (nothing more than reprehensible legislated bigotry), there is a child who is learning to feed and unleash the monster of cruelty inside. For every adult that mouths racist opinions and prattles mindless slogans of xenophobia, there is a rock in the hand of a young man or woman. And with every blow to the ideals of compassion and equality, another child is broken.

Related:

An open letter to Senator William Ligon (R – GA).

How dare you, sir? How dare you presume to say that you represent us and then proceed to act in such a way as to revolt many of your constituents and violate our trust?

On Feb. 23, 2018, the Georgia State Senate passed your SB-375 (the so-called “Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act”); a vile piece of legislated discrimination that will allow child welfare organizations, including adoption and foster care agencies (even those that are taxpayer funded), to refuse to place children with same-sex couples. What “faith” is this? Whose “faith” is this? Not mine, I assure you.

Senator Ligon, are you aware that there are more than 400,000 children in foster care nationwide and almost 14,000 in Georgia alone? Should your efforts not be directed toward attracting qualified parents and not attacking gay couples who seek only to provide a child with a solid and loving permanent home? And to do so on “religious” grounds? I am sickened by your blatant and sanctimonious display of hypocritical legerdemain.

And what of interfaith couples, single parents, divorcees and others with whom an agency might have a “religious” objection? Are the Christian/Jew couple to be punished? What about mixed-raced couples? Or are you planning to exhume miscegenation laws as your next trick? Once you’ve set us on the rancid, greasy slope of LGBTQ Jim Crow laws, where will it end? But then you’re not even making a cosmetic pretense at “separate but equal”, are you Senator Ligon? You’re just standing on your flimsy high-horse and throwing crushing rocks at those of whom you disapprove – and you’re doing it in our name.

How dare you! How dare you and your like-minded brethren convert your version of Christianity into a bullet and shoot it into the hearts of those who seek only to provide a home for a child in need. 
YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME – and your actions are fueling the fires of hatred. (See above and read through again and again…imagining that your own child, Sir, was a target of vicious bullying/terrorism.)

Sen. William Ligon
121-E State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334 
Phone: (404) 463-1383
Email: [email protected]

Addendum:

It has been a brutal day of shock, disgust, and (hopefully) introspection in Camden County as people try to make sense of the incomprehensible terrorizing of three of our most-loved high school students. There is little I wouldn’t do right now to crumble rafters, shout down walls, rattle the doors of complacency, and scream the truth to those who pretend that justice was done.

(I hope that my intense rage isn’t influenced by my past eleven years as the victim of a death-threat-spewing cyberstalker…but I don’t know. I, too, sought action by the courts and law enforcement and I, too, was told that “there’s not much we can do about it until he shoots ya.”) But I suspect that it’s just my extreme allergy to unfairness and that my mother-self that has roared within me since I saw the video.

And then that makes me wonder: how do the parents of the perpetrators feel? Proud of their miscreant little progeny or alarmed that they are so horribly off-track? And then I want to weep for the children who thought that making such a video (or tormenting others at all) was right or funny or clever. What is to become of them? The concept and production of the video required a level of sophisticated malevolence that shakes me.

There is a way forward in all of this – beyond the usual “forgetting in the face of the next atrocity” – but I don’t know what it is. I pray for healing for all involved. And greater wisdom and insight for myself so that I can do more than write, write, write.

There it is – a very minor epiphany. This case has, for many of us, exhumed every other lost or hurt child, every online attack, every student who failed to come home from school, every Matthew Shepard, every back turned in cruel judgment, every hope crushed by the damnation of an intolerant society, every politician willing to turn a blind eye, every one who thinks “It’s not my problem.”

Thank you for “listening” as I tap out my thoughts. Hug your kids for me, please.

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Image: the feature image of the weeping angel was taken by the author, © Alex Kearns.
Alex Kearns

Alex Kearns

Alex writes for a variety of national and international publications. A relative newcomer to the United States, she co-founded her town's first environmental organization (The St. Marys EarthKeepers, Inc.). In turns bemused, confused, entranced, frustrated and delighted, she enjoys unravelling the eternal enigma that is the Deep South.