Beyond grief is the loss of young Jamey Rodemeyer, only 14, whose fragile ego was finally crushed by the poison of homophobic bullying from classmates at his Williamsville North High School in upstate New York on September 20, 2011.
A child’s death at any young age is tragic enough, but a deliberately targeted murder seems more horrible than an accidental or disease death. This child was clearly an innocent victim of American scripture-based discrimination against homosexuals.
Hatred in youth is inherited from hatred in parents, peers, church, school, society, government. Homophobia so devastating and pervasive among bigots that it is taken as normal, as a right of passage in high school, as a righteous act of religious ethics, as a popular political position.
Homophobia is truly a social cancer that kills children. If a manufactured product injured children or a medication were deemed harmful it would be recalled and removed from store shelves very quickly. But because so many local and federal politicians are steeped in self-declared ‘legitimate scriptural views’ of sex and marriage they feel homophobia is justified; based in blood-soaked Biblical-Koranic-Talmudic conditioning this killer disease remains in the public domain with no remedy in sight.
In a slight gesture toward justice (revenge is what many are calling for against the perpetrators, their parents and school officials) the local police in Amherst, NY, are investigating to determine if any hate crimes were committed against Jamey; it’s hard to imagine they were not as he received anonymous (and traceable) condemnations and urgings to kill himself from schoolmates.
These bullying kids had no idea of the deadly effect of their actions, not unlike being ignorant of the risks of playing with a loaded gun; stupid on their part and irresponsible on their parents’ part.
Jamey had been verbally assaulted by cyberbullies who made degrading comments with gay slurs on his Formspring account, a website that allows anonymous postings. “JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND [sic] UGLY. HE MUST DIE!” one post reportedly said. Another read, “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it 🙂 It would make everyone WAY more happier!”
The danger of such abuse we have known for a long time. To counter this criminal behavior the internet pro-gay ‘It Gets Better’ campaign has been online for over a year. Strangely, Jamey had posted his own video on YouTube that was encouraging in tone and looked beyond current problems to future promise of better times.
But something snapped in his mind within a month and he collapsed under the cruel rejection from schoolmates. Shame is one of the most painful punishments a person can endure. Many Asian and Arab gay people remain deep in the closet for fear of being shamed or bringing dishonor to their families. Other LGBT people have come out and in turn been murdered by a family member to avenge the dishonor.
Such powerful hate-and-shame-fueled homophobia is so overwhelming that it turns a loving parent or brother into a murderous family member. What switch gets flipped to turn love to hate for no apparent reason–no action, no words, no overt offense from the gay person.
And from classmates who have less bonding the curses are all the more easy to make. This is not just a personal tragedy, it’s a national disgrace among those who advocate intolerance and discrimination.
By Richard Ammon
September 26, 2011