A reader writes:
I think the people "defending" Willow's slur are missing the point. I think the problem, and what we should be criticizing, is Sarah Palin's lack of response to this.
Not because Willow said something stupid and cruel, but because Willow participated in and contributed to the culture that's driving so many gay teens to suicide. It's bad enough that Palin's kids would say something like that, and it's easy to criticize her parenting abilities when her offspring jump so quickly to cruelty. But the larger issue is that not only has Palin raised children who would say something this stupid and cruel, but that she won't refudiate it.
And it's not that she'd need to publicly scold her daughter; she should take this as an opportunity to talk about how this sort of childish cruelty isn't actually very childish, that small acts of bullying add up to a culture of hatred that's literally killing kids. And that, while we don't need to litigate a teenager on national television for a stupid thing she said, parents do need to talk to their children and make it clear that small acts like this can have a more extreme outcome than you intend.
So I don't think we should rake Willow herself over the coals for this, but neither can we use "childishness" as her defense. The problem here is with Sarah Palin, not Willow, and with her refusal to take this moment to speak compassionately towards the gay teens who contemplate suicide because kids like Willow are so quick to call someone a faggot. But, of course, this would require Palin to speak publicly out of compassion instead of self-interest, and that's clearly never going to happen.
From Palin's Facebook page from February 1, for the record:
Just as we’d be appalled if any public figure of Rahm’s stature ever used the “N-word” or other such inappropriate language, Rahm’s slur on all God’s children with cognitive and developmental disabilities and the people who love them is unacceptable, and it’s heartbreaking. [...]
As my friend in North Andover says, “This isn’t about politics; it’s about decency. I am not speaking as a political figure but as a parent and as an everyday American wanting my child to grow up in a country free from mindless prejudice and discrimination, free from gratuitous insults of people who are ostensibly smart enough to know better...
So far from Palin: dead silence.