I was a bullied kid. Nerdly. Read too many books. Didn't date. Didn't wear make-up. Had the wrong clothes (poor people clothes). I talked 'funny' -- meaning I loved words and the way they were pronounced and knew some really big words and incorporated them into my ordinary sentences. I was a weird kid, and I got tortured for it. Teachers didn't do anything because they didn't care. I love learning, but hated school with the burning passion of a thousand suns. My answer to that was to stop going for long periods of time--months if I could swing it.
In reading the story of Eric Martin and his battle with the Henrico School district, I feel nothing but sympathy for this kid. Beaten senseless for defending himself from a constant and relentless barrage of abuse that included gay slurs, Eric probably has brain damage now from being stomped half to death by his peers. He was hospitalized last time I looked. His face was swollen. He's a cute kid naturally--the skinny, basically defenseless kind--and seeing what they did to him is absolutely heartbreaking in this cold way that I have developed for looking into the microscopic lens of mans inhumanity to man.
The fact that these kids beat the shit out of Eric doesn't surprise or horrify me the way it should anymore. I am not as indignant and rage-filled as I would like to be over it. It's wrong, but so are a lot of things. What does manage to break through the ice chips that comprise my heart is the fact that charges were brought against Eric for defending himself against this constant abuse. A group of savage animals is one thing. I expect to see that. Historically, if humans were ever good for anything they have always been good at making the lives of other humans as miserable as possible. From slavery to the Holocaust, we are good at the torture of others for any excuse, the most common being "that one is not like us'.
My problem becomes the fact that the school is standing by those who committed this atrocious act. After having been told repeatedly about the abuse that Eric was receiving on a daily basis and doing nothing to help him, when this kid finally stands up for himself, they want to punish him for doing so--like getting his ass kicked like that wasn't enough pain for him. They are actually going to make him the bad guy in this scenario. A little skinny kid who got brain damage by being bullied and beaten is the bad guy here. He is the monster.
If Eric has killed himself like so many kids are doing these days then he would be considered weak and wrong.
There is no win.
Here is what things like this are teaching people:
If you're being called a faggot or a nigger or anything else. If you're being pushed prodded and beaten, bow down and change yourself to suit the larger body of the aggressor. Become what you are told to become.
Black and wearing baggy clothes? Put on a button up shirt and speak real proper like -- or we'll fucking kill you.
Gay, look gay (whatever the fuck that means)? -- straighten up -- or we'll fucking kill you.
Have thoughts of your own, want to be left alone -- join us -- or we'll fucking kill you.
This is what we're teaching our children and then we sit back and wonder why the world is so fucked up, love is practically dead and if not completely dead definitely and individualized, sexualized and very personal kind of thing. Example: I love Tommy because he looks the way I want, takes care of me, and meets my physical and emotional needs.
Love is supposed to be so much greater than what it has been reduced to.
I can't really think of anything else to say. It's not like I'm the only person that sees this shit. I really hope that Eric receives some justice for what happened to him. I really hope that school becomes a place of learning and not a place where kids who don't fit the cookie cutter plastic mold of how they are 'supposed' to be get the shit kicked out of them and hospitalized. And their beatings and torture don't get cosigned by the adults that are supposed to be there to protect them.
If not, the world will just get meaner and uglier, day by day and year by year because the people who actually make it through school and get in positions of power will be the same people who thought it was okay to torture and beat Eric Martin.
And this stupid, ugly, worthless, senseless, incredibly cruel shit will just keep on...