Bus Monitor Bullied

First we saw the viral video of school bus monitor Karen Klein being bullied on the bus by middle school boys, and it rang a few bells with people.


Next we heard of generous donations pouring in to help give poor Karen Klein a vacation. The original goal was $5,000 – a respectable amount for a public school employee whose yearly salary is $15,000.

Then the donations poured in and the next day the total was a whopping $30,000! And the latest I hear put the final figure at $540,000!! Eleven times the original goal, and a cool half million dollars. I’m sure the poor bus monitor couldn’t have imagined such an outpouring of support that humiliating day on the bus.

The bullies have since apologized for their shocking behavior, and rightfully so. They should also have to do some kind of community service, but that’s just my opinion.

Now the conversation is turning to the plight of teachers and principals in this day of cyber bullying. And about time, too!

I’m very happy things worked out so well for Mrs. Klein. I wish her only good things in her future.

And I wish the same sort of successful outcome for all bullying victims – whether their torment becomes a viral video, or not.

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Pantsing a Bully

I don’t know where this was filmed. I don’t know the ethnicity of the people on the train. I don’t know what they’re saying to each other.

But the message is clear:

Watch out American bullies. If it can happen there, it can happen here – AND go up on YouTube.

The Boxer Rebellion is now in PRINT.

Praise for 

THE BOXER REBELLION:

“If you breathe, this book is for you! If you have children this book is an eye-opener to their everyday world! If you are a child in school, this book will show you that you are not alone!”


“The characters are so well developed you find yourself grinding your teeth or wanting to give a high-five to the first person you see. The book got my attention and will have you laughing your butt off…. and crying.”

NOW AVAILABLE IN PRINT!

Due to popular demand we are proud to announce that The Boxer Rebellion is now available in a paperback version.

 
Click on the book and it will magically transport you…

HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

It’s June – the gayest month of the year! Pride events are already springing up across our great nation with rainbows flying proudly. Families are bringing picnics, musicians are performing in the open air. Booths, displays and giveaways give free information and entertainment to the LGBT community. Children have their faces painted, pretty beads and balloons are everywhere. People stroll in public parks and down public streets holding hands or even kissing. And nobody has to hide. There is no shame allowed. That’s why it’s called PRIDE, by the way.

I’m old enough to remember the first struggling Pride parades (if not old enough to have actually participated in any). And I grew up in an area of the country where conservative values have a choke hold on the community. So I’d never seen anything like the Twin Cities Pride, that is until 2002. The parade alone pulled a quarter of a million people, not all of them lesbians, or gays, or bisexuals, or transgendered folks. A whole lot of supportive straight friends and families contribute to the atmosphere of acceptance and collective strength. If you’re supportive of gay rights, find your local Pride event and go down and check it out. If you have friends that are supportive, bring them along. The more public support we have, the better.
President Obama may never have been to a Pride festival, and probably won’t for quite awhile. But I’m sure, absolutely positive, that he’s welcome at any one he might choose to visit. Here is his declaration of June 2012 as National LGBT Pride Month:

I never thought I’d live to see the day that I’d have a black president endorsing gay marriage and offering public support for our civil rights. Why, it’s enough to give one Pride, with a capital ‘P’.

HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

American History Changing Novels

I have always loved books that stir stuff up, either socially or solely within me. So today I thought I’d pass along two of my favorite American political shock waving titles – AND I found them for free on Amazon.com!

All you need is an Amazon account and an e-reader or app. If you don’t own a Kindle you can still read these two history changing novels by downloading a FREE Kindle app for other devices, such as PC’s, phones, pads, and others. See the link just to the right of this article. And yes, it really is free, and so are these books:

When I first read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle I became increasingly supportive of federal regulations with regard to preparation and packaging of meats. Poor Sinclair said something like this once, “I aimed for their hearts but hit their stomachs.” Read this book before you eat your next can of spam.

I love Uncle Tom’s Cabin, not because of the story or the style of prose, although it’s a fun read, but because it started a war.  Harriet Beecher Stowe was a middle aged female author who was passionate about an issue, and through her dramatization captured the hearts and imaginations of not only her own country, but the world. President Lincoln said at the time that there would have been no Civil War without Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and he was right.  I’ve linked here to a free Kindle version for those who haven’t had the pleasure of reading this yet.

The Green Lantern Battles Bullying

Green Lantern to the Rescue!YES. YES. YES!

     This morning I was scanning the news headlines and discovered an article by The New Civil Rights Movement website that reports Alan Scott, aka The Green Lantern (yes, the way cool super hero first introduced in DC comics 72 years ago in 1940), is not only gay – he’s now championing the fight against bullying! Perhaps not literally on the page, but by being an inspiring role model. 
     I followed The New Civil Rights Movement link to another article also published June 1, 2012, but by Dareh Gregorian of the New York Post titled DC Comics Green Lantern relaunched as gay superhero I quote from that article:

     [James] Robinson, a British writer who lives in San Francisco with his wife, is no stranger to gay characters – he wrote DC’s “Starman” comic in the 1990s, a groundbreaking title that starred a homosexual superhero. He said the only agenda he’s pushing is reality.
     “It’s a realistic depiction of society,” he said. “You have to move with the times.”
     He said he did hope the character – who’s the most powerful member of DC’s superteam, the Justice Society – would be an inspiration.
     “He’s a type-A personality who doesn’t hide in the shadows,” Robinson said.
     “I hope he’s a positive figure. If there’s some kind of kid out there who’s reading the comic and who’s worried about the person he is, maybe it will give him a positive sense of who he is. Or maybe a different kid will read it and decide I don’t need to bully some kind of kid in school,” Robinson said.

     A Rolling Stone article, written on (yes, you guessed it) June 1, 2012  titled Green Lantern Comes Out As Gay in ‘Earth Two’ continues:

Robinson and [Nicola] Scott are planning on portraying an idealized world in which Alan Scott is judged only by the quality of his character. “He doesn’t come out in issue two; he is already a gay man,” Robinson says. “Alan Scott is super-heroic, he’s super gallant, he’ll die for the earth, he’ll die for its people, he’s everything you want in a hero. I imagine he’s such a Type A character that when he realized he was gay, he was like, ‘Okay, I’m gay, now I’m just gonna go on with my life.’ He’s so accepting of it himself and he’s such a compelling person that the world knows Alan Scott’s gay. He’s such a leader, he’s such a good man, that the Justice League don’t care. And that’s a healthy depiction of a team and how it should be.”
Scott says her instructions from Robinson were to make this version of the Green Lantern as heroic as possible. “With Alan, the brief was very clear,” she says. “He needed to be a big, strapping, handsome man that everyone would instinctively follow and love. Alan strikes me as an incredibly open, honest and warm man, a natural leader and absolutely the right choice to be Guardian of the Earth. His sexuality is incidental.”

YES. YES. YES!

     It’s true Green Lantern isn’t the first comic book/superhero to come out gay – but he’s the most powerful, and longest respected comic book character to do so to date. He’s been a symbol of honorable integrity for over seventy years. Well done, D.C. Comics! Well done.

Dharun Ravi gets 30 days – Is it enough?

Dharun Ravi, as you may recall, bullied Tyler Clementi before he killed himself. After the talented Rutger’s freshman jumped to his death it was discovered that Ravi had set up a webcam to catch Clementi in a romantic encounter with the mysterious MB. When Ravi found out there was to be a second date, he Tweeted about it, urging others to watch with him. In his last hours, Tyler Clementi’s computer shows he visited Ravi’s Twitter page thirty-seven (37) times before leaving Rutger’s campus and driving to the George Washington Bridge.
     On May 20th, the New York Times published 
In Rutgers Spying Case, Voices for Gay Rights Urge Leniency
 an article about certain gay activists who thought sending Dharun Ravi to prison would send the wrong message. Quoting the article: 

Dan Savage, a gay columnist whose video campaign, “It Gets Better,”began in response to other suicides of gay teenagers just before Mr. Clementi, 18, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge, argued that simply locking up Mr. Ravi was a lost opportunity to talk about the other institutions and people “complicit” in Mr. Clementi’s death. 

“What was he told about being gay growing up, by his faith leaders, by the media, by the culture?” Mr. Savage said. “Ravi may have been the last person who made him feel unsafe and abused and worthless, but he couldn’t have been the first. 

“The rush to pin all the responsibility on Ravi and then wash our hands and walk away means we’re not going to learn the lessons of these kids.”

     The very next day, May 21, 2012, the sentence was announced, as reported by msnbc in their video: Rutgers Trial: Dharun Ravi Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail
     The outcry in the LGBT world was immediate: the system had failed Tyler Clementi and other bullied gay kids. A thirty day sentence wasn’t nearly long enough, given the severity of the crimes he was charged with, and ridiculous compared to standing convictions of similar charges.
     I’m an activist when it comes to LGBT bullying by kids and young adults, I’ve written three novels about it. And Dharun Ravi is guilty of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation – which means the jury was convinced that he bullied Tyler Clementi.
     A jury convicted him. He’s guilty – that’s now a fact no matter how often he says he’s not, unless another court overrules the finding of twelve honest Americans. How many times a day are the words, “But I didn’t do it on purpose,” heard in courthouses? Ignorance of the law is no excuse, and neither is disdain for human decency.
     The Superior court judge sentenced him to:

  1. 30 days in jail
  2. $10,000 to support groups for victims
  3. 300 hours of community service

1.  30 days in jail may be nothing to a hardened, serial bully who searches for targets, but it’s a daunting sentence for a young man in a foreign country who acted arrogantly, rashly, and childishly. He was probably more bi-curious than anything else. In this instance, whether he realized it or not, he was being a bully. 30 days in jail, the conviction on his permanent record, and a scandal that will haunt him for the rest of his life is a harsh sentence for a kid’s act of stupidity, but quite appropriate for an act of bullying by a young adult that included not only private voyeurism but also the intent to cyber bully by sharing other episodes live on the internet.


2.  $10,000 to support groups for victims of bias intimidation: That’s a lot of money. Period. I don’t care who you are, $10,000 is a lot of money. I hope his parents will make him pay them back every cent of it, but judging from the rather stereotypical Indian mother/son dynamic (Little Prince Syndrome) expressed in the courtroom, I doubt it very much. They will pay for everything and then spend more in trying to have his record expunged.


3.  And the REALLY BIG part of Judge Berman’s sentence: 300 hours of community service, much of it to be served with LGBT groups. This is the real wisdom of the bench’s decision. Yes, Ravi is guilty of bias intimidation, but he doesn’t really realize it – even now. He understands the legal term, he understands the social ramifications, and he thinks he understands the intent – but he doesn’t. Not yet.
     300 hours breaks down to 7.5 forty hour weeks. Whether he performs the better part of two months work all at once, or spreads it out over the course of time he’s been given, he will be deeply embedded in the culture fighting bigotry and arrogant disdain for human beings who are different. His arrogance will be shaken, if not outright destroyed, by what he learns. Dharun Ravi will come away a much better man for the experience.
     
     And isn’t that the point? Our courts are about Justice with a capital J, not vengeance dripping in blood and demanding it’s pound of flesh. Judge Berman has made a wise and fair decision that will force Dharun Ravi to come face to face with fear (jail time in a foreign country), make financial restitution to society ($10,000 worth), and finally be forced to learn about the very people he so casually disdained, face to face and upfront and personal. He will never look at or consider LGBT folks in the same way again.
     Until LGBT people are given equal rights and protections under the law, anti-LGBT bullying will happen. It’s human nature for some people to enjoy humiliating and degrading others. But cases such as this one are bricks that build a solid foundation of legal status. With each decision reaffirming LGBT rights as equal citizens, the day when true equality will be the law of the land.
     Tyler Clementi was bullied to death, but not ONLY at the hands of Dharun Ravi. He’d been bullied for years, and thought college would free him of it. When he found out the culture of bigotry was pervasive and systemic, he killed himself. Ravi was only the final straw. If Tyler had just held on a little longer, or taken a different approach to his arrogant, dismissive roommate, he would have found out that after you leave the ivy walls of education it really does get better for most LGBT people. Clementi’s artistry would have freed him, but he gave up and killed himself before learning that. He died at his own hand, of his own volition, and was not shoved off that bridge by anyone. He jumped.
          Ravi volunteered to start serving his 30 day jail term tomorrow, May 31, 2012, before the appeals made by both sides are heard. He has been lambasted on the world stage by news agencies hungry for blood, passionate activists, and furiously grieving family, and will be followed as a curiosity for some time to come. He’s been bullied by the press and others demanding he carry the total weight of human prejudice, and serve the time deserved by many. This privileged young man who came to one of America’s finest universities in search of a degree that would grant him status and control over others, has come face to face with American Justice, with a capital J. 
     Dharun Ravi will get what’s coming to him, and because of the wise Judge Berman he still has a chance to become a good, decent human being. And while Tyler Clementi will never have that chance, we must remember that he took his own life, and was not murdered. He was driven to despair by the cruelty of a culture that said he wasn’t as good as his roommate, and he believed it.
     We have to change the system, and to do that we must start rounding up other bullies and making them pay now, not after another tragic suicide.

Words and Works of Award Winning Author Genta Sebastian

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