Friday, April 20, 2007

Hate Mongering

My daughter, 19, in a local college, lives at home, but calls me during the day to pass on some snippet of information. Young adults are individual communication hubs. It's astounding really how connected they are. Her snippet yesterday was to tell me about Westboro Baptist Church. Rather than bury the link, I wish for you to see it here:

This is a group that spews forth hate messages in the name of God. Here is their news release:

Their message is quite simple--God hates fags......and the victims of this massacre are deserving of their fate because they go to an educational institution that doesn't denigrate others based on beliefs or lifestyle that are personal, if anything, in nature. Other targets are our service(wo)men killed in battle because they serve a nation that tolerates homosexuals. I think that anyone unwilling to stone to death a homosexual would be fair game for this group.

Hate-mongering is contemptible behavior. Pat Robertson has espoused similar messages in insinuating that God is punishing the homosexuals in Florida by unleashing powerful hurricanes. I believe that hate is born of fear and ignorance. Further, that fear and ignorance can be packaged in many wrappers that attract surprisingly crowds eager to identify with the message.

However packaged they are a dangerous combination, against which we should all be vigilant. Knowledge supported by critical thinking and practiced compassion are armament against our succumbing to fear and ignorance that too easily can creep into our lives under subtle (and not so subtle) guises.


joey said...

aghast here!

Anonymous said...

It is impossible to legislate judgment, sanity, tolerance, etc.

Leisa said...

Aghast is a reasonable reaction.

Legislation? No, you cannot legislate such things nor am I calling for such.

Anonymous said...

For the young people exposed to this kind of thinking, I worry. Good that you speak up and put it into a good perspective.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with the section in quotes ("God is not mocked"), as that is of course taken straight out of the Bible. Enough said.

On a separate note, with all the sympathy being extended to the victims of the massacre (and I would add mine as well), let's not overlook the intense pain Cho must have suffered his entire adolescent and adult life. No one really seemed to try hard enough to reach out to him. A truly concerned professor (not that I should be judging anyone here) might have asked him out for a beer, and kept asking until it worked. Instead, he was kicked out of his writing class. If nothing else, this incident reinforces my belief that small acts of kindness can sometimes go a long way.

Sorry this happened at your alma mater. I can tell you still feel a strong connection to the campus.


Leisa said...

2nd_ave. Yes, I agree that Cho was a tortured soul. It doesn't sound like any was able to reach out to him with any success.

Small kindnesses do go along way. I hope that people are making outreach to Cho's family. They must be dealing with unimaginable difficulties in facing the sur-reality of the act and the aftermath.

dyffed said...

Right on Leisa! Any churches listening?

Joel said...

2nd Ave:
I can't believe that you have accepted that Cho could be so easily deterred by treating him like he was not mentally ill. That was the College's tragic error.

The college's treatment of Cho's behavior for the past few years just defies common sense. He was obviously dangerous and unstable. He obviously should have been removed from the college population.
The school officials gave glib self-righteous smooth, rehearsed and practiced but incompetent news conferences. Cho was a "troubled" young man who had "issues". It would have been good if someone had "reached out". It's too bad America doesn't have better "support services." They avoided the direct clear desciption of this man, his actions and his condition because they would have implicated themselves in this tragedy.
Their failure to stop a man who had stalked two women, set a fire in his room, written morbid and violent plays and poems, been expelled from one class, and been declared by a judge to be "mentally ill" was due not to the lack of a government "safety net" but to their own inexplicable incompetence. Their responsibility is not diminished by complaining about inadequate "funding for mental health services in the United States." They failed to perform their duties to their student body in a responsible manner and they do not even have the decency to acknowledge it. Lets not be taken in by their propoganda.

Leisa said...

It is too easy to point fingers, but I'll state a few things that I know.

1. There is precious little funding for mental health and drug abuse issues. I know that first hand through my work with my community. The de-institutionalization of the mentally ill put a horrific burden on private health and human service agencies and was a major contributor to homelessness.

2. Accordingly, uncovering a problem and solving it results in a gap. I suspect that was at work here. But I don't know any better than anyone else, so I'll refrain from judging the situation.

3. Finally, hindsight is always 20/20.

I'll trust the investigative process to do its due diligence.

Joel said...

"I'll trust the investigative process to do its due diligence."
I would not trust a college's investigation to disclose how the college is implicated.

My children are all well past college age but my grandchilden will soon be there. Due diligence in the selection of a safe college is an impossibility. I do not know of a single college or police agency that discloses campus dangers to prospective students and their families. I am sure Virginia Tech never disclosed that it had a student who had stalked two women, set a fire in his room, written morbid and violent plays and poems, been expelled from one class because all the women students stopped coming to class because he persisted in using his cell phone camera to take pictures of their legs under the desk, and been declared by a judge to be "mentally ill". I expect that there are numerous similar situations involving other students that will still not disclosed.

These colleges are not financially strapped health care agencies. They are rich institutions with billions of dollars invested in funds. They have the means to address problems, but they apparently lack the will because nobody is holding them accountable.

There have been too many of these incidents. Columbine was a surprise and a numbing shock. Virginia Tech is only a shock, but a terrible shame.

Anonymous said...


Many institutions, whether financially strapped or not, seem to fail in their handling of mentally ill individuals. I see evidence of this every time I drive into downtown San Francisco, which has one of the highest "homeless" populations in the country. It's a sign of our times, and I'm not sure if the "failure" is due to irresponsible behavior or the fact that no one really understands mental illness. I don't know enough about mental illness to get into the "nature vs nurture" arguments about its etiology. But common sense tells me that if those around Cho had tried harder to understand him (didn't he say we had "a billion chances to avoid this") it may have kept him from totally losing it. What about the guy who gets out of his car and shoots someone he thinks cut him off? Is he insane, or did he momentarily lose control? A little acknowledgement or backing off can prevent alot of road rage violence. Maybe a little acknowledgement would have helped Cho. Maybe it's a wake up call. After all, we're all responsible as a society to keep things under control.


Joel said...

2nd Ave:
"But common sense tells me that if those around Cho had tried harder to understand him (didn't he say we had "a billion chances to avoid this") it may have kept him from totally losing it."

I suspect the solution is the converse. For example, when his behavior in class was so bad that he had to be expelled from the class because of the other students, the school rewarded Cho with private one on one tutoring. And, he was not expelled from the college for any of his other bad conduct. I should't try to detail his misconduct because only the tip of the iceburg has been revealed.

The "billion chances to avoid this" were by taking appropriate measures to protect the student body not Cho. Not because he is not a human being but because they are also human beings.

Anonymous said...

This is the era of permissiveness and being politically correct. I can't say I like it, but in general I'm more for rewarding good behavior than in punishing bad behavior. Cho grew up as someone's (hopefully well-loved) son, and something went wrong, which resulted in the deaths of 33 people. We should identify individuals at risk. What happens after that is obviously up for debate. I would not have opted for one-on-one tutoring. That sounds like isolation, and he's been isolated (whether by choice or not) most of his life. We should have found a way to include him in our society. There must be thousands more like him who have found ways to cope. It would be great if we could identify a few interventions that work.


sami said...

i wonder how would a god that hates fags look upon legislators that repeal assault weapon bans and refuse to institute meaningful background checks...

i wonder how much pain does a nation 1/15th our size suffer when massacres of V-Tech's magnitude are committed every 8 hours on average. of every day and every night. of every week and every month. for the past four years and who knows for how long to come...