This was written shortly after hearing a news report on the Santee California high school shooting, in which a student interviewed said the shooter was called a fag by fellow students. I found the use of the word fag highly offensive, and the attitude of the girl interviewed very unfeeling. These, our children, are supposed to be our bright hope for the future. However, whenever I see one interviewed on the news, they always seem to come across as snotty, snooty brats with major attitude problems.

I know, I've turned into my father. When I see teenagers I feel they are being immature brat, and realize this is how my father saw my generation. This is a very disconcerting feeling, but that doesn't change the fact I feel we are harvesting ignorance within the American youth, and that must stop.

Harvesting Ignorance
A Gay Opinion 3/08/01
By R.A. Melos

A high school student goes on a shooting spree, and everyone says how terrible his actions were, and then the community erects a memorial to the memory of those innocent children who were gunned down before they could achieve anything more with their lives. Society condemns the actions of the student who, more than likely, would never have gone to the lengths he did if he hadn't been pushed beyond his capacity of tolerance by those people whose lives he ultimately took.

I'm not condoning any actions of violence taken by one child against another, but I fully understand what these victims of a cruel society are thinking and feeling. I am older, and from a much different generation, but I know why they did what they did.

I challenge any of those people who fail to see the pain of these victims to consider the following:

I know what it is to be picked on, relentlessly, on a daily basis, since I was six years old, simply because I was being myself. I wasn't a flamboyant person. While growing up I didn't really know what gay was, only that I was different from what I was supposed to be according to my peers, and yet by the age of six I was labeled a fag by fellow classmates, who, from that time on picked on me daily.

I know what it is to wake up every morning, since I was six years of age, knowing I was going to be picked on, called names, and beaten up at least four to six times a day by my so-called peers because they didn't like me. What didn't they like about me? Well, I didn't like sports. I wasn't raised in a family of sports minded people, and knew relatively little about sports. My father never sat down to watch a game on television until he retired from work at 65 years of age, so I didn't have a sports fanatic father.

Was that the reason I was beaten up or picked on? No. I wasn't the smartest kid in school, by choice. I figured out early, if I excelled beyond the other kids, those who were bigger than me, I would be beaten up in the coat room after school, or in the hallway between classes. I would be slammed into lockers by five or six kids between classes, simply because they didn't like me. I was a fag.

I was six, and seven and eight, and didn't even know what a fag was, but I was labeled different, and abused for it. I experienced this kind of physical and mental abuse for 12 years, and I managed not to go on a shooting spree. Do you know why, more than likely, I didn't go on a shooting spree? Because I didn't have access to a gun.

There were many times at eight and nine years-old, when I would wish my attackers dead. I faked illness and tried everything I could think of not to go to school, because I knew I would not go through one day without someone physically or verbally abusing me, and I never knew what it was I did to provoke these attacks.

I was the smallest child in my grade level. I was blond, slender, and shy. I didn't make friends easily because I was not outgoing. I didn't excel in class, for the above mentioned reasons. I didn't have interest in sports as a child, although now give me basketball or tennis to watch (I like games where there are men in shorts), and my lack of interest was perceived as being different. None of those were reasons for my so-called peers to take such hateful actions against me on a daily basis, but they did.

I was labeled queer in second grade by a little girl who probably didn't know the meaning of the word, but resented having to give me a valentine card along with the rest of the class (everyone in class had to give everyone else a card) so she wrote on it "Be my queer." As I've written about this before, I was an atrocious speller and thought it spelled "queen," which I still didn't understand. However, from that time on I was labeled something which, in all honesty, it took me another 15 to 20 years to fully comprehend.

I understand the pain and confusion the real victims of these shooting went through. I understand being hated simply because I exist, because my so-called peers could not tolerate my being among them. I did nothing to provoke their hate, other than to be born. Of course, at six years of age, and seven and eight, I could not comprehend being hated for simply existing.

So, after years of being picked on, a school aged child finally snaps, and the world mourns those who picked on that child. It's true, not all of those who were gunned down in the numerous school shootings throughout the United States during the past several years bullied or picked on, or even knew the shooters. Some of those who were gunned down were innocent victims of someone who was pushed beyond their capacity of tolerance.

However, even the innocent weren't all that pure, for even if they weren't actually doing the physical and emotional abuse, if they knew it was going on, shouldn't they have spoken up? Yes, of course they should have spoken up, but then they would have been in the unpopular position of taking a stand against ignorance. I wondered if our society will ever be ready to take a real stand against ignorance?

Yes, society has taken great strides in overcoming ignorance where races are concerned, although we still fall back occasionally when a man is dragged to death behind a truck simply because his skin color is different from those around him. And every time a slur is uttered, whether it be a disparaging remark of someone's ethnicity or sexual preferences, or height or weight, we, as a society take another step back, and we harvest more ignorance.

Yes, it was another tragedy in the occurrences at Santee California, but the real tragedy is, no one was there to help the shooter to realize, by committing his violent actions, he allowed society to beat him again. Those students in Columbine who took their own lives after venting their pent up rage, also allowed society to win, and those are the real tragedies of these acts of violence, for as long as we as a society fail to see the real causes behind the actions, we fail to prevent them from happening again, and we fail our fellow human beings by allowing them to suffer the ignorant actions of cruel oppressors.

I would like to think the human race is better than it is, but realities such as Columbine, Santee, and several other towns remembered as sites of school violence, all come together as proof the human race is not above ignorance, and with each epitaph of hate uttered, each person singled out and condemned simply because they are different, the human race reaps what it sows.



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