Friday, November 16, 2012

Hating on Hate

It's really frustrating to feel like I'm being blasted on one front and trying to keep students from blasting away on the other.

Election season seems to put people in one of two camps—the excited camp, and the "Is it over yet?" camp. (I imagine a lot of people flip-flop between the two.) I definitely fell in the latter this time.

My school is in an area that leans heavily to one side of the political spectrum. Then there's the too-typical teenage response to the "different"—tell them they're wrong or stupid, or just make fun of them. (I went on a bit about that not long ago.)

Some kids were able to reasonably say why they supported one candidate over another. That was always great to see. But others were more, "This one's evil, that one's stupid, you're an idiot for supporting him." So I did the usual putting out of fires, making it clear that people are allowed their opinions, and you don't attack them for it.

At the same time, I found myself feeling (indirectly) attacked, particularly in my online life. Vocally supporting your candidate? That's cool. Describing how you don't agree with the other guy? Also cool.

But throughout and after the election, lines were crossed here and there. Lines between "this is what I believe" and "anyone who believes differently is an idiot and should jump off a cliff." Not usually in so many words (although some came close), but often with a clear undertone.

One statement from the Walls of Facebook, by a so-called "Friend":

"Who would want to make a Mormon the most powerful man in the world?"

Let's imagine we replace the word "Mormon" with one of the following:

Atheist.

Jewish.

Muslim.

Catholic.

Buddhist.

Gay.

Straight.

Vegan.

Should I let my students get away with saying any of those things? Yet when adults are the ones spreading such hate throughout social media, is it any wonder kids don't see a problem with doing the same?

By the end of election night, I felt beaten down, torn up, and truly sad. Not because of who won or who lost, but because of the hate I felt ... even from some (not all) of those who were spouting "Let's all work together (by being more like me)" hours later.

I know these attitudes aren't true of all, or even most, on either side. But there are enough of them to really get me down sometimes.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to think of new ways to convince a certain fifteen-year-old that calling girls sluts is never, ever okay.

4 comments:

Richard said...

I love this post of yours.

At the risk of being an egoist, I think my view is the right one: it doesn't matter what religion or color or ethnic origin or political party, etc., that you belong to as long as you swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and follow through on it.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post. I felt that way, too, and it had nothing to do with which candidate I did or did not support.

I've just made it a policy not to discuss any issue: politics, religion, dog training, child rearing, bread making, how to write books, how to get published, car models, dieting, etc. when the other person (or group) is absolutely convinced they're right and everyone who doesn't agree with them is wrong.

I'm too afraid I'll wind up punching them in the nose instead of trying to be logical and persuasive.
;)

Johanna Quille

AlishaKlapheke said...

Great post. I was also saddened by what I saw on Twitter and FB. Many people I admire were either doling out backhanded niceties(now let's all try to be more...)or being downright closeminded or mean.

I'm an independent, and it frustrates me to see how polarized everyone is.

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