Thursday, November 6, 2008

Youth and Hate

Yesterday, I was saddened to learn that students at my alma mater, Baylor University, strung up a noose and burned Obama memorabilia upon learning the results of the November 4th election.  I don't like to think of myself as naive, but perhaps I was, thinking that the Obama supporters might get a brief (say, 1 day?) grace period to breathe.  Apparently, I was wrong. 

It turns out Baylor's was not an isolated event.  Two of my friends have posted blogs about encountering hate first-hand; one, Lisa, whose post can be found in my blog roll, said one of her students posted the following status update upon hearing of Obama's victory:  "The white house is called the white house for a reason!!!!!"  Her school is now in arms.  Another, Claire, said she'd been accosted on facebook immediately after mentioning the election day.  Her "friend" asked her what reason she could possibly have for celebrating the downfall of our nation.  My own acquaintances have not been so openly bigoted, though some have posted that they now feel free to "have all the babies they want so that someone else can care for them."  

The problem, for me, isn't that these people were hateful.  This world is so big and the thinking often so small that I don't wonder that sexism, racism, and classism still exist. No, the truly disturbing characteristic that all these stories share is that every one of the slurs I mentioned were made by someone young.  

It's not that the youth were supposed to be pro-Obama; it's that the youth are supposed to be forward-thinking.  They're the people who have grown up attending integrated schools.  They have been friends with children who have homosexual parents.  They are the most technologically connected generation the world has ever known, which means that what they don't know or understand, they can research in the time it takes to ride the subway or wait for a fast-food order to be filled.  In other words, they should know better.  They can't claim ignorance.  They can't say "well, the world has always been divided by sex or race" because it hasn't, for them.  Their opens minds are supposed to take us one step closer to erasing sexual and racial barriers.  But if the youth are the ones stringing up the rope, what are we supposed to do? If the youth burn hope in bonfires and yearn for a more violent time, how will change come?



Camille said...

As disturbing as these incidences are, the fact that people are allowed the freedoms to participate in them are exactly what we claim we want. Isn't that what's called a conundrum?

Kacy said...

I claim that I want the eradication of racism, sexism, and classism, even though I know that's not possible. I want a more united America, idealistically. I want people to love each other. They already have the freedom of speech -- I don't have to want that for them.

Lisa said...

Like Billy pointed out to me yesterday, we all have the freedom of speech. What we do not have is freedom from consequences. If someone's free speech contributes to someone else's personal injury, then we have a problem. I agree with your idealistic view, Kacy, I just wish I knew how we could speed the process up a bit.

Adam Boyd said...

I have seen the same "America is DED" truck four times now.

And no...'ded' is not a typo. I too was surprised by all the hype. Ah Kacy, I am interested to see how this years Christmas goes. You have already had a falling out with some of Nana's friends and now Adam and I are going to bring not only our pretty fierce liberal views, but our unborn, illegitimate child as well to Christmas in East Texas. =) Man oh man...are we going to be the talk of the town.

Adam Boyd said...

Ahahaha! This is Lindsay, as if you didn't know.

Had to post under Adam's e-mail since he's the blogspot user around here.

Anna said...

Legally, free speech does not extend to hate speech. While that definition is still debated, threats against the life of another human being are unquestionably hate speech. Racist speech is protected, yes, but racist acts are not, nor are threats directed at individuals. The KKK cannot be denied its right to exist, hold rallies, and print materials, but they have to be ever so careful to be generalized (this is rarely an issue for them) and cannot target an individual person. This is not to say, unfortunately, that these laws enforced at the local level. This is simply the Supreme Court's ruling on the matter.

Also, threatening the life of an elected official in the USA, even in jest, is illegal. This was so even before the Patriot Act; it merely stiffened the penalties and allowed for stronger surveillance of those voice such threats or demonstrate such tendencies.