Mike Barthel declares bullies "the new cultural villain of the moment," traces the shift in attitudes toward suicides among gay teens, and tells an anecdote about a time he gave his class bully a bloody nose:
[W]e're telling kids that it gets better. Which means we're pretending that adults are far less terrifying creatures.
I've known enough friends who've gotten gay-bashed as adults that I know bullying doesn't stop at graduation, and that seems like a far bigger issue. ... It's hard to escape the feeling that things like Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" project, National Coming Out Day, and this nightmare have only been successful because they make straight people such as myself feel better about ourselves, like we are doing something to help the cause of equality, even though we're not really doing anything substantial.
They may make us tear up, but it also makes gay people into Sanrio dolls for the enjoyment of the straightscuddly creatures who, like John Hughes characters, are pure of heart. That's better than being seen as child molesters, but it still seems unproductive. And on one level, anti-bullying campaigns are just one more way to delude ourselves that human cruelty is something we can overcome.
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