Paws Up for Jamey Rodemeyer

21 Sep

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/hausofjamey/status/115295838594535424″%5D

That was the last thing that 14 year-old bullying victim Jamey Rodemeyer Tweeted.  The Williamsville North freshman was a huge Lady Gaga fan and found solace in her image, in her lyrics, and the camaraderie of her “Little Monster” fans.

At school and online, however, Jamey suffered from relentless bullying from other kids.  Bullied for being “fat”. For being a “fag”. For being different.

My reaction to all this is that our society pays fantastic lip service to the pervasive, growing problem of bullying in America. The advent of the internet has only given the bullies the ability to take away the bullied kid’s only sanctuary – his home. The Buffalo News reports that Jamey had been bullied in middle school, and his transition into high school only made matters worse.

Jamey did have bad days. Issues of bullying and even suicide talk were not new to many of Jamey’s family or friends. They were common topics for him and seemed to ramp up to an extreme level when other students started making taunts with gay references to Jamey about 12 months ago.

“JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!” read one post.

Another read: “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it 🙂 It would make everyone WAY more happier!”

Other posts were similar, but friends also came to his defense.

“Don’t listen to cowards on here Jamey,” one friend responded.

Another wrote: “Um. Jamey is amazing and it doesn’t matter if someone’s gay or not. Everyone loves Jamey, and if you don’t then you obviously didn’t take the time to get to know him.”

Rodemeyer said her son had questioned his sexuality for the last year or so, and some of his classmates used those issues as an excuse to say horrible and malicious things about him.

Friends of his reported the message posts to the Heim Middle School guidance counselors, she said.

Even before then, she said, Jamey was emotionally troubled.

“He was totally against bullying,” she said. “He has had issues since fifth grade. He had suicidal tendencies back then.”

He also had friends. Olivia said she thought even the male bullies at Heim Middle School became more accepting over time.

But high school meant facing off against a new set of peers.

“We sat him down multiple times and said, ‘What’s going on?'” his mother recalled.

Jamey denied that anything was amiss, she said. In fact, when the family went to its usual camping spot this past weekend, Jamey seemed happy. Even taunts from peers didn’t seem to phase him.

And Jamey got all the intervention the “system” had available to it. He was seeing counselors, the school knew about what was going on. But what do we do to really prevent bullying? We give presentations, we incorporate feel-good happy-talk into school curricula. We talk about mutual respect, etc. but in the end, why weren’t the specific perpetrators – the actual bullies – called out and punished? Why were they allowed relentlessly to torture this poor kid?

No way their identities were unknown. No way people didn’t know exactly who was torturing whom.

And I think that these torturers – these emotional murderers – should be punished. If society is really serious about combating bullying, then happy-fun-time prevention assemblies aren’t the answer. Punishment is. Deterrents are.

It’s not just the bullies who need a wake-up call, so do their parents and other adult enablers.

What if those precious snowflakes in Williamsville North suddenly found themselves expelled from high school? College dreams dashed, lives forever altered. What if they were sued?  Sure, at least they’d still be living and breathing – the same can’t be said for Jamey Rodemeyer.  What if they could be prosecuted for what amounts to the intentional infliction of extreme emotional distress? What if a new crime to define and punish this form of reckless, criminally negligent, or intentional indirect homicide was created, sending these kids to a state penitentiary?

Society’s attitude doesn’t help either. How many of you are gearing up to write a comment about how kids have always been teased kids throughout history? Well, I’m not talking about “teasing”.  I’m talking about mental and physical torture for shits & giggles.

That’s the Focus on the Family position. It’s beyond despicable; it’s apologia for torture and murder.

And every time some cleric or politician denounces homosexuals, using language to demean them and demonize them, that person should be shunned by any civilized society. They are part of the problem.

But to rub salt in the wound, the principal of Williamsville North had this to say:

Williamsville North Principal Petrina Neureuter sent a letter home with all students Monday informing them that Jamey had died. Members of the district’s crisis team from both North High and Heim Middle School were also at the school.

“We make it apparent to the kids that there’s help all day long and in the days to come,” said Dale Bauer, a licensed school social worker and clinical social worker at North.

Jamey is the second Williamsville North High School student to die since 2010. Joe Chearmonte, a junior honor student, died in February of last year.

When a new school year starts, Bauer said, the high school counseling staff meets with the middle school counselors from North’s two feeder middle schools to discuss the needs of incoming ninth-graders.

Counselors then make it a point to try to stay in touch with the kids who are considered to be at higher risk, she said.

But There are limits to what a school can do, she said. Despite the extensive counseling staff at North, she said, no one routinely checks the online posts of troubled students.

“We really encourage kids not to use those sites if they’re having a hard time because it just aggravates the situation,” she said.

The school is not a mental health clinic, she said, though it has licensed counseling staff, offers some services and makes outside referrals.

“The school can offer these services, but we can’t force students to partake of them, and we’re only one piece of the puzzle,” she said. “It’s really a question of us all working together.”

That sounds remarkably defensive, don’t you think? No one said the school is a “mental health clinic”, and Jamey was taking advantage of mental health counseling. The school is, however, in loco parentis, and needs to be vigilant and take seriously complaints and information it receives about children being tortured.  Jamey used Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, and other social media to express himself – to express his thoughts, fears, loves, feelings.  How dare the school dissuade a talented young man from using his mind and creativity to express himself?

If the school is “a question of us all working together”, what specifically did the schools do in response to the information that Jamey was being relentlessly bullied and tortured by its students, within its walls?

Consider the fact that there’s a pending lawsuit brought against Williamsville North for alleged discrimination and bullying of a teacher by other teachers.

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I contacted Ms. McCann and her lawyers, and they offered no further comment, so the public filing speaks for itself.  If true, it would reveal that Williamsville North has a very serious issue with bullying – one might even consider it to be a school trait, if teachers are harassing other teachers.

I think the touchy-feely anti-bullying measures have been a failure. I think it’s time that society took indirect murderers like the kid who wrote, “JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND UGLY. HE MUST DIE”, and his ilk, and gave them real consequences to match up with the very real consequence of Jamey’s death. Oh, there can be a three-strikes program so as to not let our precious snowflakes destroy their own lives prematurely. But in the end, habitual, chronic torturers should have their academic careers destroyed, and possibly face criminal prosecution.

This young man is gone, but even in his last days, he was able to show compassion and warmth, and tell people it gets better.

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For Jamey, alas, it never did. Hopefully it starts getting better at Williamsville North.

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56 Responses to “Paws Up for Jamey Rodemeyer”

  1. Brian Castner September 21, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    You say the bullying problem in America is pervasive and growing. I would agree with the first, but what proof is there of the second? I’m not gearing up to write a “kids have always been teased” post, but I think its legit to define the scope of the problem. For example, what message boards were all this filth written on? If adults were writing that about each other, they’d be kicked off the site.

  2. Howard Owens September 21, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    Good post, Alan.

  3. Howard Owens September 21, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    BTW, speaking of punishment … I read recently of a photographer who went through her senior portrait appointment book one day and check all of her potential client’s on Facebook.  She found three girls who were bullying other girls and sent them each a letter along with a CC to parents informing them their appointments were cancelled. She wasn’t going to work to make somebody beautiful on the outside who was ugly on the inside.  It’s a hint of how we might all respond to bullying when we become aware of it.

  4. Ward September 21, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    Yes, kids have always been teased, and “fags” have been bashed. Like people segregated those of other races; and folks thought nothing of driving drunk or, less tragically, tossing bags of trash out their car windows onto the roadside.
    Legislation never proved to be a great solution, until a collective awareness grew of the consequences of this behavior, and the behavior ceased to be generally tolerated or even snickered at. Unfortunately it seems to take a drunk-driving slaughter, or a Mississippi lynching, or a Jamey Rodemeyer suicide, to place the problem squarely in the public eye from which it will not fade, and prompt the sort of revulsion that it has merited all along. Will this be the event that does the job? We can always hope. Or, we can take it upon ourself to urge the process on–as you have done, Alan. Thanks.

  5. Fat Tony September 21, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    BP, I had the exact same thoughts as you when I read the article. Administration should have come done remarkably hard on those bullying Jamie, expelled them and sent a message to everyone else. We hear about state standards and passing regents….how is a kid supposed to learn in a hostile environment. If that were a workplace, the EOC would be all over it. But because it’s kids on kids, that makes it OK?

    Williamsville may rank high on school lists but I’m glad my kids don’t go there. There’s clearly a punk element there and an administration that may say all the right things but are really just ostriches with their heads in the sand.

  6. MJC September 21, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    Schools need to adopt tough rules against bullying immediately. Expulsion should be an option. Believe me, when kids see a few other students permanently removed, it will affect their behavior.

    The harder problem, however, is with the online bullying – which I will bet is more pervasive and probably far more harmful given the number of people you can reach instantly. What is a school going to do about a student who sends the type of ugly message seen above from his home, away from school grounds? Can a school expel someone for online harassment that takes place at home?

    It is no wonder that students occasionally take matters into their own hands.

  7. MJC September 21, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    By the way – schools MOST certainly play a major role in creating this problem, in addition to failing to stop it. Thirty years of preaching false, unearned self esteem to students has created a generation of narcissists who believe that their superiority has given them the right to look down on others.

  8. Michele J September 21, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    This may be the one area Buffalo Public Schools has far surpasses suburban schools..One hint of bullying and they are in serious trouble and everything is documented..

  9. Fat Tony September 21, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    @MJC — I would think the schools would have the power to do something even if it was sent from home. I’m thinking about all the athletes over the years who have been suspended when administrators found about a weekend party where booze was involved. If they can take action in that instance, I’m sure they have some ability to do something on the bullying front.

  10. Chris Smith September 21, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    But. but, but…the invisible man in the sky says these people are sinners and abominations!

    When a signifcant percentage of your population believes that a group of people is doomed to hell and deserves shunning, well, this is what you get. Schools are supposed to solve a problem like this?

  11. MJC September 21, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    @Fat Tony – I am sure they could try as well. But you can bet that the parents of the bullies would fight any suspension to death.

    Amazing is that most of those same parents would take the school’s side for something like partying. But bullying is just “kids being kids” to these neanderthals.

  12. J September 21, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    @Michele J “This may be the one area Buffalo Public Schools has far surpasses suburban schools..One hint of bullying and they are in serious trouble and everything is documented..”

    I would second that and say that although it is only one area, it’s a huge aspect of education. As a Buffalo Public School alumni, the welcoming atmosphere at my high school contributed to the formation of my personal stance of acceptance and encouragement of diversity. I also feel I was able to learn more efficiently without the distraction of malicious peers. I will always treasure my memories of going to a high school where a GLBT/Gay-Straight Alliance student group thrived and every student was encouraged to be creative and true to themself.

  13. Jeff September 21, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    Here is what the response should be:

    “As the Principal of Williamsville North, I am shocked and saddened by the death of Jamie Rodemeyer. His family has my deepest sympathy. I cannot begin to fathom the sense of loss they feel. When a child commits suicide, it is difficult to fully understand the reasons why. I will do everything I can to find out why Jamie took his own life, and provide Jamie’s family with some answers, and, perhaps, some comfort.

    Let me make clear the school’s position: we will not tolerate bullying under any circumstances. I will begin a root and branch inquiry as to how we, as a community, failed to protect Jamie. Those who engaged in the bullying will be found, and they will be punished in a manner befitting this tragedy. Their enablers will also be called onto the carpet and asked to explain themselves.

    I will also inquire into how our system failed Jamie. We must determine if we did everything we could to stop the bullying and prevent Jamie from taking his own life. 

    I know none of this will bring Jamie back, but I promise that we will take bold and swift action to punish those who bullied Jamie, and prevent this from happening to other students.”

    There. was that so hard?

  14. Clark Urbanski September 21, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    Nice post Alan… one question, what would you have done differently if you were a school administrator? Would you expel the bullies from school, publicly recognize or humiliate them? What would you do that the principal and teachers at Williamsville North and Heim Middle didn’t do to help this boy? As a parent, what would you have done differently if this was your child?

  15. Nate September 21, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    While I’m not a product of either school district (WLMS or BPS), rich suburban schools are filled with the worst kid of kids. Rich entitled kids that think they are better than anyone different and if the golden child is reprimanded, they have the parents to back them up (regardless of guilt).

  16. Anon September 21, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    Bullying just doesn’t happen to GLBT… happens to lots of kids, adults… remember that.

  17. MaGuinn September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    It is sad that this has to happen to young children!!!! Kids that torment and bully other children should be held responsible for their actions and maybe even the parents for not parenting their children. I understand nowadays families have to have double income households to survive – but we are forgetting to teach and discipline our kids – bullying someone who is different is NOT okay.

  18. Brian F. Wood September 21, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Thomas Hardy: “The death of a child is never really to be regretted, considering how much he has escaped.”

  19. MJC September 21, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    Instances like this always have someone remarking that “kids can be cruel”. Go check out the posts on WGRZ.com, foxnews.com, or any other website primarily inhabited by racists and homophobes. The problem doesn’t end with the onset of adulthood.

    Maybe it is time for a national conversation on how America has truly become a nation of self-absorbed assholes.

  20. The Roving One September 21, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    @chris smith…please tell me you’re joking

    • Christopher Smith September 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

      Why would I be kidding? Christian evangelicals believe these kids make a choice to live a sinful lifestyle, seek to deprive them of equal protections under the law, and tell their congregations that gay people are an abomination against god. You don’t think any of that influences this behavior in any way? I would return the question, please tell me YOU’RE joking.

  21. peteherr September 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    Takes a concerted effort. Last year in my school the senior class was remarkably intelligent. Something ridiculous like 90% were honor roll students. There were about three mean kids in the class and by the end of the year they found themselves completely ostracized from the mainstream of their class. I’ve talked to all of my classes today about that approach to bullying behavior. The cyber bullying is a hard topic to address. As you can imagine, none of us teachers/administrators take active students as our Facebook friends. It’s hard for us to find the bullying unless someone prints it and turns it in, but when we do, we act.

  22. Michele J September 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    I went to a suburban high school and you “judged” everyone by their address..You never hear of that in Buffalo Schools..whether a kid lives on Chapin pkwy or Sweet ave…they dont seem to care.

  23. MJC September 21, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    The political atmosphere of this country certainly influences the behavior of bullies. Ask any African-American who went to a predominantly white school in the 1950’s or 60’s. Racism wasn’t exactly frowned upon back then, making a lot easier for kids to mimic this behavior.

    If it was only a small percentage of the population it wouldn’t be such a problem. But there are millions of evangelicals that preach hate and the superiority of those who share their beliefs. Those two ingredients absolutely lead to the kind of treatment this kid received.

  24. rastamick61 September 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Klebold and Harris claimed to have been victims of bullying too. Failure to address this kind o barbaric behavior may lead to homspun solutuions like Columbine. Again, kids well provided for in creature comforts but ugly and poverty stricken on the inside. I agree BPS is a much more tolerant environment and nobody thinks they can stroll into school wearing a dog leash and spikes, these kids know this crap doesn’t fly so they don’t bother with it.

  25. BrianS September 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    Hate to bring politics into this, but trend-wise, we have a whole new movement dedicated to a sort of bullying to get their way. They are the Party of Tea.

  26. The Roving One September 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    I wouldn’t disagree that they influence SOME peoples behavior, but I’m sure if you asked the children who were bullying Jamey why they bullied him, they wouldn’t say “because my pastor says gay people will burn in hell”. I’d be willing to bet that the children who were bullying him aren’t christians to begin with.

  27. MJC September 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    They may not be absorbing the homophobia directly from the clergy, but it definitely filters down to them through the media, their parents, citizens in general, etc.

    Many of these same kids would never harass someone on account of race. Why? Because they picked up on the societal taboo against such behavior.

  28. Charles September 21, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    I feel for the parents of Jamey. The way bullying is handled in a scandal that can devolve into tragedy.   The worst two years of my son’s life (and my wife and mine) were the two years he spent at an elite private all-boys HS.  Even though he was heavily recruited because of his academics and promised a huge sense of community, it turns out that “community” only existed if you fit the jock mold. As an undersized kid, he was mercilessly teased and bullied by fellow students and even some parent coaches. Most teachers turned a deaf ear to the issue and the counselors were most concerned with getting my kid to cope rather than putting an end to the abuse.  We put him into public school for his senior year, but the damage had already been done. Counseling, suicide watch, hospitalization, you name it, we went through it. Happily, after 10 years away from that hell, he has overcome most of his demons to begin to put his own life together. He is doing exceptionally well in a demanding college program. As his parents, we are relieved and happy that he has finally found his way.  But in the back of our minds is the ver present fear that somehow he will relapse. But our hopes and expectations are high as he seems to become stronger with each milestone  accomplishment. 

    RIP Jamey.

  29. pirate's code September 21, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    So, we’ve decided that this tragedy was caused by Christian evangelicals.  And we know that how?  Are you suggesting that only Christian evangelicals are homophobic?

    I hate these stories.  Certainly, for the tragedy that is a life lost at such a young age.  But also for what always seems to happen afterward, namely the blame game by people who likely have no way of knowing what demons — internal and external — this poor young man wrestled with.  Christian evangelicals?  The tea party?  Really?

    I will not make equivalency arguments, as I too don’t really know any more than what I read in the paper.  But, as the parent of young man who for various reasons has struggled with mental health issues, I can tell you with some certainty that trying to find the true root cause is both difficult and painful.  Trying to place blame is an exercise in futility.

    • Alan Bedenko September 21, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

      Yes, but assessing blame against known, flesh & blood perpetrators is anything but futile.

    • Christopher Smith September 21, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

      So, we’ve decided that this tragedy was caused by Christian evangelicals.  And we know that how?  Are you suggesting that only Christian evangelicals are homophobic?

      I didn’t claim this specific suicide was caused by christian evangelicals. I said their beliefs influence societal mores and attitudes towards homosexuals and create an environment where intolerance for gays is justified. Would you not agree? If not for religious bias, would being gay in America even be a fucking issue? Let’s not be obtuse, mmmkay?

  30. Eisenbart September 21, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    Is this even bullying? Looks like torture to me, I couldn’t even imagine.

    It seems to be the case with a lot of teens hooked on the internet. You go to school and are tortured. You don’t have a lot of friends so you turn to the internet for relief only to be dragged in the dirt there as well. Awful to think about. 😦

  31. Chris September 21, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    Nice article.  Great points.  It certainly does amount to IIED as far as I am concerned.  The problem is so does religion and America is so close to a Christian theocracy it almost isn’t even subject to debate.  That’s their gig; be scared of hell.  It is mentally and emotionally distressful, particularly for a child.  It’s all woven together and the death of the child in this story’s is deplorable. It’s sad because they don’t even know what they are talking about.  Whether it is a chosen lifestyle or not doesn’t even matter.  Religion makes it a sin and labels people evil and a myriad of other things simply because of their subjective belief systems.  Those kids are parrots for their parents and the church.  They should be held accountable civilly for IIED if not criminally.  He went through 4 years of wanting to commit suicide for constant harassment.  One would think something in criminal law would address the problem by that point.  I’m as big a proponent of speech and the first amendment as there is, but four years of that and the school doing seemingly so little is unacceptable.  It’s hard to imagine people raising children being so obtuse and idiotic as to the state of mind of any child, irrespective of whether or not it is theirs.  Don’t curtail speech, but kick them into court for sure.

  32. Anon September 21, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    @Eisenbart… bullying is torture. It is deliberately hurting another individual to get what you want; viz, a sense of superiority.  Bullies usually bully because of their own insecurities and fears.  Even if you know that they are weak and pathetic and that is why they bully, it still doesn’t mean that it isn’t effective torture.  Also bullying is NOT just about homophobia.  In general I think it is about xenophobia and feelings of inadequacy.  So many people bully b/c they feel uncomfortable and insecure about someone who is different from them.  They fear what they do not know.

  33. Jack Sinclair September 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    I always find it amazing how people are confident that they can know enough about a particular case just from reading a handful (or less) of news articles and, from there, make proclamations about what laws should be changed. It’s impossible to know why this poor kid did what he did. It’s unlikely his parents have perfect visibility into what happened and it’s unlikely his closest friends have perfect visibility into it – so why is anyone outside that circle assuming they understand the details enough to make sweeping judgments about what went down? 

    Second, let’s assume the surface story is the entire story. The young man was ridiculed for his sexual orientation repeatedly by punks. Well, a lot of kids (teenagers especially) do stupid stuff all the time. They can be nasty and cruel and generally unaware of much (unaware of the fact that they are mortal and shouldn’t drive like lunatics, unaware of the fact that their words have consequences, etc). Sure, it would be nice if 14 year olds had the wisdom and self-restraint of 40 year olds but they’re 14 so that isn’t going to happen. It’s not going to happen whether you legislate it or pray for it. 

    Third, only a lawyer would suggest that someone should sue the school district because of this tragedy. Kids ridicule another kid. The school has some anti-bullying programs in place. Nevertheless, the ridiculed kid took his own life. So as a result, the taxpayers should pay the family? Absurd. Expecting schools to stop this sort of thing is over the top and indicative of a culture where too many people believe ‘someone’ has to pay for every single tragedy (or slip and fall accident). 

    But we agree that this is a terrible thing. And I wish the best to the family and friends of this poor young man. 

  34. Jason September 21, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    Great article Alan, I really appreciate what youre trying to do here. Too much focus in these cases on what kind of counseling the victim should have gotten or what the victims parents should have done. What about the perpetrators and the multitude adults who knew what what was going on and looked the other way?!?

  35. Lucas September 21, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    To start, I’m a freshman at Williamsville North High School. Though I didn’t know Jamey personally, I shared some classes with him. He was a nice person, outgoing, and confident. You wouldn’t be able to tell something was wrong, but everyone has their secrets. The entire school is devestated by his loss, for both those who did and did not know him. I was not aware of any of the bullying that went on towards him or anyone else. I’d like to make a difference and stop things like this from happening. If there’s anything that you think I could do, then please, tell me and I’ll do my best to make it happen. Another thing I’d like to say is that North is not a bad environment. The majority of people are kind and compassionate, and nearly every single student and teacher would have supported Jamey had they known what they could have done. I trust the authorities at North, and that they are doing what is necesary. Again, I will gladly listen to anything you have to say.

  36. Mike September 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    LoL! So the Christians may have played a small part in the bullying of this boy, but they are responsible for gay hate everywhere!

  37. pirate's code September 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    @ pundit — I completely agree that assessing blame against known perpetrators is not futile. My point, apparently poorly made, had more to do with the rush to assess some societal blame with really knowing the facts.

    My frustration is borne of my son’s struggles that, when made known beyond the immediate family, quickly became the subject of amateur psychologists and half-assed social scientests who were oh-so-quick to opine on what, exactly, caused this, that and the other thing without really having a single fucking clue as to what was going on. It continues to this day.

    Sorry, geek, if that makes me obtuse.

  38. BrianS September 22, 2011 at 4:27 am #

    When I mentioned the Party of Tea, I was merely pointing out that while many in this country try to move towards more tolerance and inclusion, there is a relatively new movement that’s trying to set us back a century in that regard. As it relates to this case in Williamsville, bullying is in fact a weapon of choice by people of that same mentality.

  39. Brian F. Wood September 22, 2011 at 5:22 am #

    As the great Roman Catholic spiritual leader of the Crusade against the Albigensians (fellow christians) said: “Kill them all; God will know his own.”
    2000 years of bullying, murder, torture and pedophilia WILL make a difference in a society.

  40. Clark Urbanski September 22, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    @ rastamick61, “Klebold and Harris claimed to have been victims of bullying too.”… Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet, Barack Obama, Chuck Norris, Newt Gingrich, and Colin Powell have all publicly claimed that they were victims of school yard bullying too. Instead of using this as an excuse, they used this as a motivator. The scars still remain though.

    I was bullied a lot in school and it hurt a lot, but I can’t think of anything that the school administration, teachers, or parents could do to stop it. So much of it was subtle and passive, the blocking of my locker, stealing clothes after gym class, the elbows and shoves, the nasty comments from girls and challenges from the boys. These are all part of the day to day life in school. I don’t see how we can legislate a stop to all of this.

  41. Clark Urbanski September 22, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    A friend of mine took his own life in 1987, he was a student at Riverside while I was at City Honors. At that time his mother and the school district blamed the music he was listening to and the dungeons and dragons games he was playing as a contributing factor to his death.

    In 1995, my ex-boyfriend took his life two weeks after coming out to his family and friends while on vacation in Stone Harbor, NJ. His friends and family blamed his sexual orientation and his family’s religious beliefs for his suicide.

    In 2002, a close friend’s husband took his life leaving her to raise two children on her own. Friends and family blamed the stock market collapse, losing his job, and gambling debts for his suicide. His wife has been a champion against gambling addiction ever since, she blames online casinos and Atlantic City for her husband’s death.

    We all need to blame someone or something for pushing someone to take the permanent step of taking their own life. I know each of these three personally, and they had reasons far beyond what was visible on the surface or what seems like a logical reason to end it all.

  42. Black Rock Lifer September 22, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    My daughter graduated from Davinci High School this past June. There were openly gay members of her class that were not just tolerated but embraced by the majority of the student body. I think the diversity of the city tempers the forces of hate and exclusion. It is easier to be different in an environment where the norm is diversity, not just of culture but also in the diversity of wealth. The band Rush put it best in the song Subdivisions “Nowhere is the dreamer or the misfit more alone” and “conform or be cast out”

  43. Ethan September 22, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    @Chris Smith is entirely correct to indite religion–or at minimum, the Abrahamic ones–as the chief normalizer of anti-gay attitudes and so too the consequences of them.  

    But my favorite comment here was “Maybe it is time for a national conversation on how America has truly become a nation of self-absorbed assholes.”  No doubt!  I look forward to our coming century as a second-tier nation; we could use a modicum of humility instead of all that “shining city on a hill” exceptionalism bullshit.

  44. Allen Miller September 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    Jesus Christ does not hate gays. Misguided Evangelicals may. Jesus wants us to love him, he does not put a hierarchy on our sins. Your sins are no better or worse than mine, we all have them, every single one of us. The bully is committing just as egregious sin as the person he is bullying.

    May God have love on mercy on Jamey. Please let’s all have love for each other. Just because we may be different or disagree does not mean we should hate one another.

  45. Eric Saldanha September 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    @Allen – What right do you have in calling me a “sinner”? What right do you have to call anyone, even total strangers, sinners? Where do you find the gall to project your own insecurities and fears onto those around you?

    “The bully is committing just as egregious [a] sin as the person he is bullying…”
    say what? Are you seriously contending that Jamey was equally to blame and had just as much fault for his bullying as the psychopaths who tortured him? I’ve heard of blaming the victim, but this takes the bloody cake.

  46. Allen Miller September 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    Eric

    Its not about rights, its a fact. You do sin. I sin, everyone sins. I would bet the house, the farm and everything I have on it. You are human you can not avoid it. If you do deny it your are committing the sin of lying. Ever been angry?? Ever hated anyone?? Ever born false witness? Have you ever stolen anything? need I go on? You have sinned my friend. You are not eligible to cast the first stone, no one is.

    Humanistic hierarchies of sin and degree of sin and determining the penalties based on those sins are for man to decide by concepts like court and jail/prison.

    I am not contending any blame for anything, I am not trying to judge anyone. Jamey had committed sin as well because he is human. I am not referencing anything about fault or blame, It is obvious that the bully sinned.

    You couldn’t have interpreted my point more backwards if you tried, for that I apologize. The point was that Jesus does not hate gays. Christian Evangelicals who narrowly read Leviticus 18 and use it to cast aspersions are they themselves committing just as big a sin. (again because all sins are equal) Jesus loves gays as much as he does the bully and wants the bully and the sinner (whatever the sin is) to love him. By loving Jesus we move farther away from sin. That is a basic fundamental concept of Christianity.

  47. Eric Saldanha September 22, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    Allen – I respect your faith, but please don’t mistake my courteousness as an invitation to project your superstitions onto me. I live in a civil society where we don’t go around pointing fingers at total strangers screaming “SINNER!” You have a hangup with “sin”? Fine…go self-flagellate or whatever the penance is nowadays. I am not a sinner. I didn’t come into this world with the stain of Original Sin. I’m human with a host of flaws and “areas for improvement,” to borrow from the corporate-speak. I’m also a basically decent person who respects others (well, at least up to the point where they start disrespecting me).

    And, also….Jamey wasn’t a sinner. He was a bright, mature teenager who had the tragic misfortune of having a bunch of sociopaths in his path who drove him to kill himself.

  48. Allen Miller September 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    Eric – As I respect your humanism. I will redefine my language as to say “we all have a host of flaws”. If you want to to give the rose another name that is fine with me.

    You are not a stranger and my comments were invited. There were many comments in this post about Christianities role in this terrible tragic incident. I am expressing my point of view on that. Expressing your view in a blog is expected and encouraged. I am not standing around on a street corner with a bible pointing my finger at people and condemning them to hell. My main point of the comment was that faith in Jesus did not encourage these terrible acts, a flawed civil society did.

    I believe you are a fine decent human being, I have read what you chose to publicly state about yourself. I feel the same about myself, however I will not accuse you of disrespecting me, just misunderstanding me. No doubt I have a large degree of misunderstanding about you as well.

    Jamey was a bright, mature teenager, and it was definitely a sin what happened to him by any ones definition. I am sure like all of us he had a “flaws and was in need of areas for improvement”. At fourteen he had fewer than you and probably many fewer than me. It appears you are closer to perfection than I.

    I think its important to ask about his tormentors? I am sure at some point in their lives they were bright warm teenagers as well, I bet their parents still believe that. I do not know this but I would be willing to say some of them, if not all now wish they had not tormented him. Because there is really little in our civil society of human laws that can be done to them, the main punishment they will have is a lifetime of inner hurt for what they did to their warm fellow student.

    What about our civil society drove them the so called sociopaths? Our civil laws are no match for what humans are capable of doing. While you may be a better person than most, there are many people out there that are just plain despicable. Take for example the Westboro Baptist Church Members. How more despicable can you be than to show up at a dead soldiers funeral and torment their families by yelling out “This is punishment because God hates fags”. However our civil society has said they have a right to do so. You wondered where I got the right to say we are all sinners? There you have it. The Supreme Court gives me the right in our “Civil” society.

    Even though I and my family are people of faith I sent my all my children to private secular schools. They had many ways of completely eliminating bullying if you are interested I can tell you how they went about doing this, they had 100% success. It can be done in public schools but even with such incidents I doubt they will.

    May God Bless and wrap his love around Jamey’s soul and may he grant his family peace.

    I will seriously listen to what you have to say if you so desire to retort.

  49. Rebecca September 22, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    First of all, Jack Sinclair: these kids were not “ridiculing” Jamey Strodemeyer. They were saying downright nasty, cruel, cold things. On my worst days of anger and frustration as a teen, I never would have said those things to another human being. And it wasn’t a one-time incident; this was an ongoing pattern of abuse over a period of years.

    Second, no new laws need to be created; the ones we have need to be enforced. Here is a link to the Williamsville Central School District’s Code of Conduct, which specificially mentions verbal and psychological abuse as well as cyberbullying. http://www.williamsvillek12.org/policies.cfm?pid=218&searchwords=

    And the police are investigating whether they can levy charges of harassment or of a hate crime. This was not merely ‘bullying.’

    I’d say Jamey’s parents have a case.

    A final note: in the aftermath of Columbine, when research was done, it was found that Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold were not bullied… they were bullieS. Harris in particular is now considered by experts to have a been a true sociopath, while Klebold was a depressed, neglected kid who was easily led. Their hatred and contempt for other people, left unaddressed, is what led to them killing their peers. It was only in retrospect that people saw the signs and connected the dots. When people raise the topic of Columbine as someone did here, all I can say is, if authorities had come down harder on those two kids when they had the chance, maybe the tragedy wouldn’t have happened.

  50. Anon September 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    @ Rebecca
    “Their hatred and contempt for other people, left unaddressed, is what led them to killing their peers.”

    Right on.  Based on my own observations of the atmosphere at North, and my discussions I have had with a classmate of Jamey’s, the perpetrators are acting now as if they had never done anything.  Their hatred and contempt for another is what led them to hand Jamey a gun, put his finger on the trigger and squeeze it for him.  They are sociopaths.

  51. Jason Galvez September 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Hello:
      I have been reading the paper and watching the news regarding Jamey Rodemeyer and the one missing component that I am not hearing is anyone distinguishing Homophobic Bullying from other types of bullying as they are completely separate.  I wish to include a portion of my graduate thesis  http://jasonjdotbiz.wordpress.com/ if for no reason than to raise awareness.  Thank you 
    “Homophobic bullying is not like other types of bullying.  If a student is bullied based on race, religion, their weight etc., they can run home to an understanding (often relatable) parent/family who understands their pain and can console them.  Gay youth do not have that refuge as they 1) Are usually not out to themselves yet, and 2) fear being thrown out of their homes and family.  This pent up frustration, hurt and anger eventually leads to what has (sadly) been happening in the media as of late.”
    Jason Galvez

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Stories for Jamey « WNYMedia.net - October 3, 2011

    […] response I received after what I posted about Jamey’s situation was overwhelming. Many parents, students, and former students reached out to tell me their horror stories – […]

  2. The llluzzi Legacy | Artvoice Daily - September 26, 2012

    […] vote for same sex marriage came very close in time to the death of Williamsville North freshman Jamey Rodemeyer. Illuzzi was a pious attendee of a local megachurch and was consistently, devastatingly homophobic. […]

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