Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hate Speech is Not Acceptable

LZ Granderson wrote, "Permissive Parents, Curb your brats" which left me feeling sad and upset. Here was an gay man of African descent who has won awards from organizations such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation which promotes "understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality." A man who would not stand for hate speech towards members of the gay community and yet he spews it towards children.  A man who subtly advocates for corporal punishment in our schools, says that parents should not rule out spanking young children, and yet I seriously doubt he would support violence towards LGBT people.

Vickie wrote a thoughtful response to LZ's piece, "LZ Granderson Needs a Hug. He's having a tantrum." Vickie reminds us what it's like to be a child and she points out something that came to my mind when I was reading LZ Granderson's original piece:

"I think that deep down inside any adult who hates children must be a child who was raised to hate himself.  

If he didn't deserve love as a child when he "misbehaved," then no child does. You can hardly blame him for feeling this way. It is part of a cycle that leads to more and more misunderstandings of how children should be and how we should be and how we should force them to behave."

What must his early years have been like? He's a successful writer now, but once upon a time he was a boy. He grew up, married, had a son, got divorced and now he lives with a partner and is an openly gay sports writer. How could his life experiences have not brought out a more compassionate attitude towards all people? What must his childhood have been like for him to hate children so much that he would post a opinion piece about it on CNN. Or maybe it's their parents he hates.

A couple threads on facebook lead me to do some serious thinking about how our society views children. Which lead me to write the following:

Imagine if I said, "Why do they let those old people onto planes? They take forever to get to their seats. They can never get their own bags in the overhead bins so *strangers* have to help them if a flight attendant isn't right there. They have to get up to go pee all the time. Then they have to get up to walk because of their lack of circulation. It's so annoying when they grab my seat for stability. Then they need to get up when the drink cart is in the isle and the attendants have to move back and it makes everyone wait for their drinks. I give the old people really nasty looks so they'll know I don't think they belong on the plane. I hate it when they forget to turn up their hearing aides so they talk Really Loud and you can hear them from rows and rows away. And if you have to sit by them they want to talk to you, I mean make conversation! I just want to be left alone. I can't stand old people. They completely ruin the flight for me, it really pisses me off. Their families should lock them up in nursing homes where they belong.

I've heard complaints like these about children countless times and yet it would be shocking to most people to hear the same thing said about the elderly. Simply put, we should not be disrespectful to senior citizens or to children. They are people, just like we are. They belong out and about in our communities just like everyone else. They need and deserve the love and support of the whole community particularly because they may need a little extra help now and then. Just as the families who care for them may need extra support and understanding.

We were children and hopefully we will live to be old. Why do we deny them what we ourselves should have had when we were young and hope to have when we are old?

I had just finished writing this post when someone posted a link to this: "Majority of US Adults Had Troubled Childhoods: Study finds that nearly 60 percent lived with abuse or other difficult family situations."

"About a quarter of the more than 26,000 adults surveyed reported experiencing verbal abuse as children, nearly 15 percent had been physical abused, and more than 12 percent -- more than one in ten -- had been sexually abused as a child."

We need to stop the perpetuation of abuse and trauma in families. We need to stand up and say, "Hate speech is not acceptable towards anyone." I can't believe that I have to point out that hate speech and violence towards children is wrong.