America was horrified by the story that erupted in the national news that Rutgers college freshman Tyler Clementi threw himself off a bridge because his new roommate used a webcam to tape a homosexual encounter in which he'd engaged. Media outlets quickly dispatched their cavalry to find the experts to explain why America is a land of incessant bullying.
The if is no longer debatable. We're on to the why.
This could have been a moment of national unity. Almost everyone can tell a story of being the target of bullying or mean-spirited ridicule about being too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, too dumb, too smart, you name it. But others found this tragedy offered too rich a rhetorical opportunity. It was not a suicide to them. It was a murder.
CNN's "Larry King Live" brought on the antonym of human dignity, Kathy Griffin, who quickly inflamed the Clementi moment by charging "the blood's on their hands" of our "so-called leaders." She insisted, "I think that the way that we had trickle-down economics in the '80s, this is trickle-down homophobia. And I really want people to connect the dots. And that's why I believe there's a connection between Prop. 8; Don't Ask, Don't Tell; and now the string of teen suicides."
Holy smokes. So Ronald Reagan killed him.
Let's put aside that ridiculous "connecting the dots" charge for a second. Larry King should have been asked: Given that Griffin regularly takes to the stage and television to viciously attack other people, is she really the kind of personality that can plausibly pose as the guardian of empathy and the role model for anti-bullying behavior? This year, she made the rounds of talk shows laughing up the controversy she created when she said Sen. Scott Brown's daughters were "prostitutes." One daughter, Arianna, is a freshman at Syracuse University -- the same age as the boy who took his own life. Griffin's even wished violence on people. She recently told a Playgirl magazine writer, "I'd like to push Sarah Palin down the stairs." Now she's CNN's anti-bullying poster child.
But Griffin wasn't alone. Sitting right next to her was lesbian comic Wanda Sykes, who chimed in with her own love taps. "In the laws and everything else that's out here, in the churches that they preach that homophobia (sic) is wrong. You pretty much have given kids permission to disrespect and, you know, and to cause harm to the gay and lesbian community." This is the same "comedian" who "joked" in front of the president that she hoped Rush Limbaugh's kidneys failed and he died. Now, she's on CNN lecturing on bullying.
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