Stewart and Colbert: Fixing America?

This may seem like a joke, but it isn’t.  Politics in America and the perception of what is happening in the country (promoted by America) have devolved into a game of name throwing, fear creation, and blame.  Interestingly, the government (I’m focusing mostly on the U.S. Congress, but this is broadly applicable) does not actually end up doing all that much.  You see, when politicians call each other names and degrade the positions of the other party to scare their constituents (as opposed to representatives actually representing their constituents), there is no chance for agreement on most policies.  The media has only made the situation worse.

Jon Stewart has announced his “Rally to Restore Sanity” to be held in Washington, DC on October 30.  Let’s make America sane again.  Stewart writes that the rally is for people “who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler.”

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Logically, Steven Colbert must then have a counter rally.  His is the “March to Keep Fear Alive“.  Note that he is being ironic here – something that seems to have been lost on some people.  Colbert says that “America, the Greatest Country God ever gave Man, was built on three bedrock principles: Freedom. Liberty. And Fear — that someone might take our Freedom and Liberty. But now, there are dark, optimistic forces trying to take away our Fear.”

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I guess we will find out how effective these two funnymen are at raising awareness of the dismal state of American politics.  We can only improve.  I look forward to the (utopian?) day when politicians represent their constituents instead of themselves.

Suicide As A Result of Bullying and Intolerance

Sometimes things happen that are unacceptable.  There has been a string of suicides lately among young gay men.  What is unacceptable is not so much that they killed themselves (note: I am not saying that I support suicide), but rather that they were forced into a situation where the only way they thought they could get out was through suicide.  What is unacceptable is that intolerance and a refusal to understand and to accept creates this kind of situation.

There has been a series of suicides this past month – and their ages are quite simply too young.  No one should be treated this way – ever, for any reason.  That is especially true among 13 year olds, middle school students, high school students, freshmen in college:

Billy Lucas, 15, hung himself after being made fun of by classmates.
Asher Brown, 13, shot himself in the head after being bullied by classmates
Seth Walsh, 13, hung himself because of gay taunts
Tyler Clementi, 18, jumped off a bridge after college roommates posted a video online taken secretly of him in a sexual act

Whether or not you are gay, are an ally, an advocate, or think being gay is “okay”, you have to admit that each of these situations is horrible and that something needs to be changed.

Yet people still do not want to take responsibility.  The Dallas school district involved in Asher Brown’s suicide blames his home life.  Unacceptable.  While it is possible for his situation at home to contribute to his feelings, the situation at school was certainly inextricably involved.

There is a basic human instinct that requires one say “Why is this happening?”  “What can we do to make people feel safe?”  “How are we raising our kids?”  “What allows our children to treat others this way?”  “What kind of examples are we setting?”  We need to make this type of behavior unacceptable – because no one should be treated this way and no one should feel that killing one’s self is the only way out.

People ask “What else was going on that made him want to kill himself?”  As I read in one commentary this week, would you ask they same thing if someone were killed by a drunk driver or by a bullet from a gun?  No.  Yet, it seems not to be enough that these people killed themselves because of intolerance and the way they were treated.  And this double standard is exactly the point, isn’t it?

Ellen Degeneres had a short monologue recently about this “epidemic”.  Listen to what she says.  Ellen sums up the way I feel and the way I hope so many more people feel:

I feel for those who are in similar situations and the families of Billy, Asher, Seth, and Tyler.  I hope we can all change the way we treat each other.