Bullying, Tolerance & the Disconnect


Yesterday, I wrote a little about the rampant bullying that is driving too many gay teenage boys and straight teenage girls, to suicide.

Today, I look at how that can be, after whole generations have heard the “tolerance” messages since their cradles, and suggest one surprising step that the church could take, in order to teach the world how to actually walk all that talk.

USA Today has picked the piece up, with predictable emphasis. I notice that in the midst of the pc-focus on gays, abortion and the pope, the suicides of teenage girls goes unmentioned (another one–a beautiful 13 year-old just killed herself last month after being cyber-bullied). A friend wrote: “yes, abortion and homosexuality, those two issues always crowd everything out.”

Maybe that’s part of the reason all the “tolerance” talk has ultimately fallen on deaf ears; people stop listening when the same notes are repeatedly being struck; refusal to get off of favorite notes and play other ones makes for a very boring tune.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://lowlytuber.blogspot.com tim maguire

    The New Jersey violinist did not kill himself because he was cyberbullied, he killed himself because he was outed against his wishes. A subtle difference, perhaps, but a vital one. He couldn’t bear his parents finding out that he was gay. If he was confident of his parent’s love, he’d still be alive today.

  • Rob Crawford

    What’s the term? “Marcusian tolerance”? The idea is that “tolerance” is a weapon: the left demands we “tolerate” their every whim, while even our oldest traditions and most uniting traditions must be quashed.

    Thus, we must “tolerate” events like the “Up Your Alley” farce, and must “tolerate” those who threaten to murder us, but public celebration of Christmas is forbidden.

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  • Maureen

    The New Jersey violinist didn’t leave any note that’s been released, so we don’t know why he killed himself. But wouldn’t the humiliation of having sex, or even kisses, broadcast to the world, be more than enough to make a shy person of any persuasion kill himself or herself?

    Sheesh, I probably would have killed myself if somebody’d ever broadcast one of my blandest, most accomplished poems on an impersonal subject. Even with my permission. Everything done in front of other people seemed humiliating back then; even things that were fun at the time, and unexceptionable to others, would end up haunting my dreams and accusing me.

  • Jeff

    I may be misreading something here, but sheesh I wouldn’t say the concern with abortion on demand is PC or a negative when it comes to measures against bullying. If anything the abortion industry has probably made everyone respect life a little less, including our own on some level.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    The only thing about bullies and suicide that we know for sure is that there are a lot of people trying to exploit such things for their own political purposes.

    There have been bullies — extreme bullies — forever. And there have been youth suicides — thousands of them — for decades. And many studies have demonstrated that there is a copycat effect with youth suicides, that is, when it is publicized, it frequently results in other young people killing themselves.

    Neither of these are new. What is new is certain factions, e.g. the gay rights bullies, are using these things to advance their agendas.

  • Abe

    Bullying didn’t kill these kids, bullying has been around forever.

    Being gay killed these kids. If you’re honest, yo’ll see that.

    [I am honest. Hope and Phoebe were not gay. They were straight teenage girls. Sadly, the suicides of straight teenage girls who have been bullied seems not to elicit much sympathy from some quarters. I guess they're the wrong sorts of suicides to care about. -admin]

  • Christine

    I have another idea. If we were, as Catholics, to learn the faith and let the world know about what we really believe, we would not have to “out” homosexual priests, which I believe would be very dangerous to the lives of these priests. If we “out” a Priest who is gay and he suffers for this inclination to sin in which he is not indulging, the reason he would be martyred would not be because of his Catholic faith, but because he experiences and does not act upon his homosexual inclinations.

    For this reason, outing a gay priest would be akin to outing a priest who had any other sinful inclination, say for instance, a recovering thief, alcoholic or drug addict, or a Priest who was sexually promiscuous with women before entering the Priesthood. A Priest’s job is hard enough without adding in this new and dangerous dimension of revealing to all his personal inclinations that could potentially lead him to sin.

    However, if we as Catholics were educated as to what is truly sinful, and then passed the information along to others, there might be some understanding of what we hold true. Some people, as they have throughout time, will find our way of life unacceptable, but others may perceive through the Truth, that the Catholic Church does indeed hold more truth than Its opposition to abortion and the homosexual act. The Body of Christ has been far too silent on these matters, as well as the fact that although we all sin, God forgives us if we come to him with a contrite heart in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

    [Nowhere in my piece do I suggest that bishops "out" their priests; I suggest they acknowledge their existence; if a priest who wishes to "out" himself would at least be free to do so without fear of condemnation, and helpfully able to communicate that homosexual does not mean "lesser" or "promiscuous" or unable to serve. Which is the whole point. -admin]

  • Joe Y

    Connect your bullying posts with the your pop culture post several posts below. The social pathology of the acceptability of bullying is a logical consequence of the popularity of rap culture with its glorification of violent macho idiocy and its degradation of the female half of humanity as nothing more than two breasts and three orificies collectivity renamed bitches and whores–excuse me, ho’s.

  • Jeff

    But I think it does mean unable to serve as a priest. At least that is what Benedict has ordered. There are about 10,000 other ways a man with that inclination can serve the Church. The homosexualist agenda is to make heterosexuality and homosexuality appear to be morally equivalent, and it ain’t going to happen, not in the Church. Sorry.

  • Jeff

    Look at Carl Paladino, a Catholic running for New York governor. he is now being tarred and feathered merely for pointing out what the entire Catholic/Protestant culture held in common only 20 years ago, i.e., homosexuality, in practice, is a deviant lifestyle. ZERO tolerance is being shown Paladino.

  • Christine

    My apologies. Priests have come forward in the area where I come from and it has not helped, but rather been a hinderance – emboldening the gay pride movement that stands in opposition to the church

    There are, however, good Catholic outreach groups for people who are homosexually inclined. The US Bishops did write a statement of “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual nclination” in 2006. Perhaps the Bishops should work to make outreach to those with homosexual attraction more prevalant in order to provide those who have a spiritual poverty that many of us do not understand a forum where they can receive assistance and guidance. The goal is to bring the separated lambs back into the fold and I think that a good shepherd, regardless of his sexual inclinations, can give good counsel.

    It might also be more beneficial for our shepherds to discuss how we should treat our brothers and sisters who have homosexual leanings during homilies. I don’t think that we hear enough about the difficult topics, and their discussion would provide direction for the faithful.

    [My experience is that there is very little instruction, on most any specific topic, dogma or sacrament, coming from the pulpit on almost any topic. And that's too bad. -admin]

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    If there is anyone who self-identifies as a “gay priest” — no, he cannot be a “good, faithful, and holy priest.” Not because of any homosexual inclinations, not because gays are “bad,” but because he continues to cling to and harbor and identify as “gay,” rather than as simply “priest.”

    A “gay priest” is as flawed and inapproriate as a “big breast priest” or “leg priest” or “likes redheads priest” or “porn priest” or any other X-priest and for the same reasons. A priest must be celibate, not merely below the waist, but above the neck as well.

    However, with homosexuality, especially where a priest continues to identify as “gay” and to think of himself as “gay,” there is also a gross misunderstanding of theology and, thus, disqualification from the priesthood — namely, that a priest, like Christ Himself, has a spousal relationship with the Church, which is maternal (i.e. “female”). That is, a priest MUST identify in “heterosexual” terms vis-a-vis the Church.

    AND, a good priest must be able to fully explain and defend and promote all of the Church’s teachings, including those on human sexuality, including homosexuality. Someone with a conflict of interest, given his own personal views and inclinations, cannot do so.

  • http://thesilloftheworld.blogspot.com/ HKatz

    “Maybe that’s part of the reason all the “tolerance” talk has ultimately fallen on deaf ears; people stop listening when the same notes are repeatedly being struck…”

    Tolerance seems easier than actual compassion and human decency. With decency and compassion you have to look at people as individuals; you have to see the humanity in them. With tolerance, in and of itself, you can just check if they’re part of some larger group (one favored by political correctness, or part of a fashionable cause of the times or in tune with a hot-button issue) and you can let your eyes slide over them if they’re not. It becomes only about disadvantaged groups or sides in a political debate; no need to look deeper into the evils and darkness in individual human nature and feel for the individual people tormented and tortured as a result.

  • jeff

    I would only add that it is not correct to equate the male priest who feels an attraction to women with the male priest who is attracted to men or boys. The first is a NATURAL inclination; the latter is unnatural and disordered.

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  • Stacey Shoemaker

    turning the other cheek is only an invitation to a bully, bullies only understand “eye for an eye”

    what that means is this – punch that bully right on the jaw as hard as you can.

    bullies are cowards they only go after easy prey, don’t be easy prey.

  • Stacey Shoemaker

    children that are raised like hot-house flowers always have a hard time coping with real life, let your children out into the world, is there risk in that? yes, but every second we exsist on this physical plane misery, suffering, danger and death are our constant companions, these things do not destroy us, the fear of them does.

  • Annie

    I am very concerned that we are not going to learn from these heartbreaking events if we ONLY see them as a result of bullying and intolerance (which most certainly are partly to blame).
    Yet it also underscores so many of the problems we see today… particularly with this generation of youth…
    A total lack of respect for the privacy and the dignity of another human being…a reckless use of technology…a concept of sex as entertainment and pornography as a victimless crime…young kids getting involved sexually when they are not ready for it, and not able to process it properly… a weakening of the concept of friendship… a loss of meaning and purpose in life, and the knowledge that God profoundly loves every human being.

    I fear that if we don’t address ALL of these issues, we will see these tragedies repeated.

  • Stacey Shoemaker

    this whole notion that there should never be any violence, any fighting or strife is a progressive trick that sadly is swallowed hook, line and sinker by many people of “faith”

    look up some of the early progressive religious leaders from the 1920′s and 30′s they were targeted by communists who knew that certain people of faith were vessels waiting to be filled with marxist propaganda, they who they could twist the words of Christ to make it seem as if Christ were an advocate of collectivism.

    then read some C.S. Lewis
    then grow a spine

  • Stacey Shoemaker

    @ Annie

    these tragedies will continue no matter what we humans do, Earth is NOT Heaven and no amount of trying will make it so.

    do you only read the parts of the Bible that make you feel good?

    God created us as imperfect beings in an imperfect world, the whole thing is a test of the soul, pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, they all depend on each other, take one away and the other goes with it… and that is not a world we were meant for.

  • http://thesilloftheworld.blogspot.com/ HKatz

    “these tragedies will continue no matter what we humans do, Earth is NOT Heaven and no amount of trying will make it so.”

    This isn’t about making Earth into Heaven. Even if we can’t prevent every possible instance of bullying, there’s still more we could be doing. It doesn’t do to say, ‘eh, it’s bound to happen…’ and turn away from suffering. Murders are also bound to happen, and rapes, and theft, and every other crime under the sun, but we have to still do our best to keep a lawful society, right? To prevent such things or punish them as best as we can in our imperfect human way? Same goes for the kinds of values we teach children and the way we handle bullying (especially cases like some of these, which are beyond the pale in terms of the concentrated malicious effort to tear someone apart, mentally, physically, online, offline, no respite).

    So no, it isn’t all or nothing, Stacey Shoemaker. It isn’t a choice between the Progressives’ utopian dream and a callous apathetic inertia.

    “but every second we exsist on this physical plane misery, suffering, danger and death are our constant companions, these things do not destroy us, the fear of them does.”

    Actually, sometimes the things themselves do destroy us, not just the fear of them. And even as death, misery and suffering are companions to our lives, so are compassion, love, and kindness, strength and support – or they ought to be.

  • http://thesilloftheworld.blogspot.com/ HKatz

    “God created us as imperfect beings in an imperfect world, the whole thing is a test of the soul, pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow”

    Yes, it is a test; yes, we have trials. And part of our test is how we choose to contribute our own small imperfect selves to helping others and helping them find their strength and deal with all the pain out there. In our own small, imperfect way.

  • Jeff

    Bullying exists in myriad forms, and can be particularly acute during our younger years. As we age it moves into social ostracizing, usually for views we hold as any believing Catholic well knows. Announce at a cocktail party in Manhattan that you are pro-life or agree with the Church’s teaching on sexuality, are against gay “marriage,” and you will experience bullying first hand.

  • Ann

    ” but because he continues to cling to and harbor and identify as “gay,” rather than as simply “priest.”

    This is a great point. We are more than our sexual urges and to me identifying as “gay” emphasizes the sexual aspect of the person. Is that all they are? Sexual. If so then that would seem to be a disrorder at least in terms of who and what they are, a child of God made in the image and likeness of God. Our sexuality is only a part of us, and a small part. Or at least it should be.

    “Their disorder and spiritual brokenness makes them more inclined to grave and disordered sins.”

    Yes, I am afraid so.

    I believe, Anchoress, that the John Jay study conclusion that homosexual attratction didn’t make homosexuals more likely to offend was based on wishful thinking and not on any sound reasoning that would square with the facts. This conclusion has disturbed me for some time and I glad to hear someone challenging it. I would be interested in references to good sources that would substantiate both sides of the debate.

    “BUT his sexual inclinations have also made him question most of the sexual doctrines of The Church; birth control, abortion, divorce, premarital sex, etc. So he often remains silent on them instead of reminding the congregation of their responsibilities as Catholics.” Not surprising. Behind every public dissent on Church doctrine by a Catholic is a Catholic who is actively being disobedient with the use of artificial contraception being the number one offense. Private questioning and struggles are different, once it is public and vocal disobedience will follow.

    When I first read this post I felt it wasn’t the best that the Anchoress has written. To me it mixes up several issues and tries to address them with one solution. If they weren’t all gay then what is the point of the push to change the Church’s approach to gay priests? From what I have read, the bullying aspect isn’t clear either. And if it all goes back to a bullying situation then I have to ask why to do some committ suicide when bullied and some do not? These are not the only kids bullied. What was missing for them that they couldn’t cope? These individual stories have individual answers but as a society, I believe, the answer is that we are spiritually broken. If there are more suicides today then it is a sign that we are collapsing from within. A million people, a million reasons and no common thread like common decency to hold us together, individually and collectively. No faith.

  • Doc

    I was going to chime in on the Anchoress/LS exchange, but Bender put it better than I could, so, uh…what he said. I will observe that Catholic men tend to take a harsher view of homosexual men than do Catholic women. Perhaps the homosexual act is more revolting to normal men than it is to women. I know one exception, who as a teen, was nearly raped by a homosexual boy from her neighborhood. She was saved when her friends showed up and beat the hell out of him. (I suppose they would have been brought up on bulllying charges today) When the gay kid was asked why he was assaulting a girl, he said, “a hole is a hole”. To me that sums up the homosexual mindset. Hedonism. And, no, gay men should not be priests for the same reason they should not be Boy Scout leaders.

  • Michael

    This is a version of something I posted to your article. In the article, you wrote:

    “I wonder if her bishops and religious leaders will, for example, have to acknowledge with loving support the numerous celibate homosexual priests who, throughout history and still today, serve her faithfully, courageously, and with great joy… It would speak to the value of the human person as he is created; it would reinforce the church’s own teaching that the homosexual inclination is not in-and-of-itself sinful…”

    The inclination is not sinful, but it is unnatural, is it not? To be clear, I am not using the word “unnatural” in a pejorative sense. I just mean that the inclination goes against man’s created nature and, as such, represents a vitiation of that nature. It is, as the Catechism says, an objectively disordered inclination. When you speak of “the human person as he is created”, that sounds like you mean that some people are just created with homosexual inclinations, that such inclinations are part of their created nature. I know I am being imprecise here, but it seems to me that saying “God wants me to be this way” is a little different from saying “God allows me to be tempted but gives me the strength to resist”. Suffering from Down syndrome or autism, which are both evils of a kind, is different from suffering from an inclination to a sinful act. Those who resist temptation are to be lauded, but isn’t that what is already done, at least in principle? Why single out a particular sin in this way? If the Church did that, how could she escape the accusation that she is lauding, if not the sin itself, then at least the inclination to the sin? And to do so would be to encourage those so inclined to dally in temptation, and that is a form of scandal.

    The idea current in popular culture is that some people are just gay: being gay is part of their nature. Some men are gay, and others are straight; being gay is like a recessive trait. Isn’t this part of what the Church has to reject? Doesn’t it go against the Church’s teachings on the nature of man? There are some Catholics who say that gay men are called to live celibately. But even that gives in to the popular notion. Men–all men–are called not to engage in sinful acts. But that doesn’t mean that marriage and family are closed to someone with homosexual inclinations. There are plenty of couples who support one another and raise thriving families without a whole lot of romantic attraction; maybe it’s not the ideal situation, but we all take what we can get. At any rate, if the “acknowledgement” that you describe is something more or other than what the Church is already doing–however badly–then I don’t understand how she can “acknowledge” the ministry of homosexual priests as such without undermining her opposition to the popular idea on this issue.

    I write all of this as someone with his own unnatural inclinations on top of a neurological cognitive disorder…

  • Grace56

    Clementi stated that he was out to get Ravi in trouble.

    Clementi was apparently trying to entrap Ravi, to get Ravi in trouble. He knew that Ravi was filming him, and he exposed himself purposely. “cit2mo” is Clementi.

    This is from article link “Did Tyler Clementi Reach Out for Help Before Suicide?” from AOL News:

    “So the other night I had a guy over. I had talked to my roommate that afternoon and he had said it would be fine w/him,” cit2mo wrote. “I checked his twitter today. He tweeted that I was using the room … and that he went into somebody else’s room and remotely turned on his webcam and saw me making out with a guy.”

    Cit2mo added: “So my question is what next? I could just be more careful next time … [But] I’m [kind of] p—-at him … It would be nice to get him in trouble but [I don't know if] I have enough to get him in trouble.” (emphasis added).

    Note the headline said that Clementi tried to “reach out.” How? By having sex with another guy in a shared room? He should have complained immediately.

    A lawyer will seize upon this at trial. Wei and Ravi will probably plead. (In fact, it seems that Wei is probably not guilty of anything except being the person Ravi went to while he was webcamming.)

    The NYTimes has this article link in which we learn of last messages from Clementi posted to a gay porn site which seems to have been a hangout of his, called “just us boys .com,” including this message,

    “Revenge never ends well for me, as much as I would love to pour pink paint all over his stuff … that would just let him win.”

    Young Clementi, outraged and wounded and immature, settled on jumping off the GWB as his best revenge against Ravi. It would, in one dramatic coup-de-theatre, establish him as the Victim–the supreme moral rank in his liberal milieu–and convict Ravi of a heinous hate crime, homophobia, and murder. That would unleash a tidal wave of opprobrium against his tormenter and cause a simultaneous wave of pity and concern and anguish for poor little Clementi. It’s the ultimate passive aggression. That kind of vengeful thinking, coupled with his immaturity, and having no source of guidance and authority to consult beyond liberalism and a gay porn site, led to the unfortunate young man’s death.

    The gay lobby will explode when the truth comes out. It’s all so predictable.

  • Rich

    Can we leave the sexual aspects out of this whole thing for a moment and get to bullying? Bullys, be they kids, adults, organizations or states, are the same: they prey on the week. Schools, with the best motives, decided that “zero-tolerance” rules (aka “no critical thinking required”) stated that the person who interrupts the bully with something as plebian as a fat lip or black eye is held equally responsible as the bully who assaults the weak. Then we overlay these policies with the concept of “mediation” and “settling our differences” insuring that the good kids who might defend the ones upon whom bullies prey will now not lift a finger to help the weak. What happens? Bullies run unfettered, the good kids turn a blind eye in the hopes that they will not be found morally equivalent to the bully and suspended from class. In the good old days, bullies picked on the weak for awhile and then, one day, the bully, noted more for prowess than intellect, made a bad decision and found himself on the seat of his pants the a bent nose and tears streaming from his eyes. At that moment he learned a valuable lesson, perhaps one which caused him to change the way he approached life as a whole. Want to stop bullying? Stop penalizing the kids who would help defend the weak among them.

  • Trump

    Here comes the contrarian point of view….

    I have zero sympathy for the weaklings that took their lives. KIDS GET BULLIED. That’s a fact of life. School is a jungle, and kids sense weakness more keenly than the most successful predators.

    I was the fat kid in school, from kindergarten throughout high school. You want to know about horrible bullying? Try that. Or try being the poor kid. Or a “nerd” Or anything except a jock or cheerleader.

    What ever happened to growing a set? You better believe I learned to say “f**k you” to some of these bullies. And you better believe I learned to fight as well. Sure, I got whupped more often than not, but you’d be very suprised at the damage you can do with a bic pen and picking your sneak attack carefully. It helped just enough to keep some of the bigger cowards at bay.

    The kids who offed themselves are simply veals raised in the age of unearned self-esteem. I don’t wish being bullied on anyone, but at the end of the day, I can sure tell you that nobody walks on me or my family in large part due to the thick skin and attitude I developed in my school years.

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