by Molly N, Ben A, Kacey D, Dan F, Fletcher D, Brooke S, and Mark Brown
The ‘Laugh it off’ culture has got to come to an end. It is not funny.
In high school, when someone uses words such as retard, the n-word, or homophobic slurs, they are immediately, and rightfully so, dubbed as an ignorant person. When jokes are made about rape, we are absolutely horrified. How could anyone find humor in rape?
When, we have called those out who make use of such disgusting language, however, most every time we get the response ‘chill.’
That response leaves us questioning: Do they know the weight of their own words, or do they truly find meaning in the use of such foul language?
Who are we? Who do we want to be?
It is now 2017. The world has developed and changed drastically in the past 10 years. The rising generation grew up with different races, genders, sexualities and religions all around them. So it often takes you by surprise when you hear a 13 year old yell out the n- word oh-so-casually. Jokes were made, and in middle school, they go right over your head, but then you hear them when you’re 17, and you know very well that it’s not right. The issue is when kids fail to figure out right from wrong.
It seems as though we have lost sight of the importance of tolerance and empathy. It seems as though we have let freedom of religion and sexuality become subject for humiliation.
How did we get here? Why do we think that the exploitation of human beings is comedic?
No one should draw a swastika. It is our obligation as human beings to intervene in a situation like this. These actions should never become normal or acceptable.
Censorship, however, is not the answer. In the Supreme Court case of Brandenburg v. Ohio, the court decided that the government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless it is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Whether or not certain cases are deemed punishable, is up to law enforcement and the courts.
Nonetheless, it is impossible for a society to function if we cannot all live in one place at the same time and accept and respect the culture of others. Racism or any kind of discrimination is wrong, and in order to prevent it from happening, we as a society must educate children at a younger age to distinguish between right and wrong.
This country has shown it’s willingness to accept diverse individuals. The Civil Rights Movement helped African-Americans have the chance to vote. In the 60s, people protested against the Vietnam War and expressed themselves freely. Gay marriage was legalized across the country two years ago.
Duxbury is not diverse. This town is 96% white.
Many people in this town say racist things as jokes. People will say that someone is racist even when they don’t say a racist comment. Some people even think that saying racism is a joke. Racism is not a joke.
We do not want to be a part of a community that finds anti- semitism and racism funny. We do not want to be a part of a community that shames people based on who they love and what faith they practice.
We want to be a part of a community that spreads kindness and acceptance to all human beings. We want to be a part of a community that is conscious of the feelings of others. And that starts with just a few key aspects: tolerance, awareness, and sensitivity.
Hate is not speech. Hate is a threat.
If you see a fire beginning to burn and you turn away, saying nothing and doing nothing, are you not, at least in part, responsible for the damage and the suffering caused by those growing flames?
The first sparks of hate often kindle from seemingly casual comments and an acceptance of those comments.
We cannot control the thoughts of others. We should not attempt to control the thoughts of others. What we can control, however, are the expectations of our community. What do you accept? What do you reject? If we smile, laugh, or even remain silent when we hear cruelty or hate, we make that injustice a part of our community. We allow a fire to grow that can consume the very values we claim to believe.
We are all responsible for the expectations of our community. If you spew hate, know that we will oppose you. We will not remain silent. We will speak out.