Dead Kids, Queer-Bashing, and Denial:
When you're in the Deep South, there's a far greater amount of day-to-day religiosity that you can't avoid as you can in the far more secular, heathenistic Northeast. This weekend, the Rude Pundit found himself being taken to a Catholic shrine in the middle of nowhere, Louisiana: a grave of a girl who died in 1959 in a small cemetery next to a church surrounded by now-harvested sugar cane fields. The day was dry and cool, the land flat, the sky blue. He stood there while everyone he was with knelt graveside and prayed. You could write down your request for this overworked child corpse to make a miracle happen and put it into a glass box on the grave. Everyone said they felt something, some peace or something else. The Rude Pundit did not feel anything other than thirsty. When asked about his skepticism, the Rude Pundit offered, "You'd think that if there was a Casper doing magic here, she'd wanna do it on the guy who doesn't believe." He was asked nothing else. The point here is not to mock where people go to make sense of the world and what places make them feel stronger. Shrines, bars with really good beer, who is to say which is better or more sacred? The Rude Pundit went to both in a single day. Even he can't answer the question.
No, the point is that around here, such an activity is merely part of how the world operates. Religious belief influences everything in a far more open and pronounced way (Yeah, yeah. Of course religion influences everything everywhere everyday, but if you're from the South, you know about this.) You happen to find yourself near a grave of a near-saint? Sure, you visit. You have a problem with bullying in the schools? You talk about it, but you don't say why it happens.
An article in the local paper about local middle-schoolers being beaten up in their locker room does mention the recent incidents like 13-year old Asher Brown of Houston, tormented until he shot himself. The article says he was subject to "constant harassment." Seth Walsh of California is said to have "suffered relentless taunting" before he hanged himself. You read the article without any outside knowledge and you think they were short or had pimples or something. But knowing the actual stories means you can say that the article itself is part of the problem.
Because nowhere, not once, in the entire piece about bullying, does the author say that the torment many kids suffer is because they are gay. No, not all bullying is about the sexual orientation of an adolescent. But if you're gonna write an article that specifically cites two cases where the dead children were bullied because they were gay, then you kind of have a duty to mention that. If you leave that out, then you are saying that their queerness was something to be hidden. You re-closet them.
See, if one acknowledges gay-bashing, then one must acknowledge gays. And if one acknowledges gays in an article that says bullying in general is bad, the one must say that gay students deserve the same respect and rights and safety as every other student. And if one says that, then one is, by implication, saying that being gay isn't something to be condemned. And if one doesn't think that gayness should be condemned, then one has to accept that gay students should be allowed to be gay. And if one agrees with that, Jesus will get really fucking angry and probably just create a giant hole where the school will be sucked down into Hell and then everyone will get bullied by demons with pitchfork penises that can skullfuck three sinners at once.
On Facebook, the page honoring Rutgers student Tyler Clementi is up to over 100,000 followers. No one's arguing for his sainthood. But he was sure as hell even more of a martyr than the little girl being prayed to here.