Two events happened recently that I feel compelled to share, to spread the word so to speak, especially since they deal with two things close to my heart. I want to give each incident its due, because I think these issues are important, so I’ve split this into a two-part article about bullying, ignorance, and how some people still support this behavior.
As most who know me, know, I get my news from a lot of different sources. Sometimes I watch it on TV but most often it’s online. Yahoo news, The Blaze, CNN, and where ever else an interesting link takes me. I’ve learned over the years that no one source ever tells you everything, so it’s best to get the same story from a lot of sources. I saw, in my twitter feed, a link to an article about a kid being bullied for having a My Little Pony lunch box and since my son is a brony I clicked on it to see what was causing a trend of hash tags and pictures in my feed. Loads of wonderful parents taking pictures of themselves with their children, surrounded by MLP toys and imagery.
I won’t rehash the entire story. You can read it here. The gist of it, however, is a kid needed a new lunch box and when his mom took him shopping for one he chose a Rainbow Dash themed container. That’s one of the ponies from the show, for those who aren’t down with the lingo. (I’m not down with the lingo, I just like to sound like it.) So what, right? It’s a cartoon. I admit, when I found out my son was a brony I didn’t get it. I remember the show from when I was a kid and it was heavily targeted at girls back then. I had cousins who watched it and had the toys, and at that age I was into G.I. Joe and Transformers. It didn’t matter though. Whether I got it or not, it’s what he likes. The show does teach good morals, and ideals. When my son wants to get something from the show we let him, that’s what you do.
So, anyway this mother does what any loving mother would do and supports her child’s interests. Go mom! Then the troubles start, and the kid gets bullied at school. Nowadays bullying is supposed to be handled harshly at schools. Gone are the days when we tell kids to stand up for themselves (I still say that, but things have changed.) Schools are supposed to be putting a stop to that garbage right away. This school in North Carolina, however, actually told the mother and son to hide the lunch box, or not bring it at all. They actually advised the kid to hide who he is and the interests he has to avoid being bullied. Is that was we teach our kids?! Conform to the ‘norm’ or you will get hit? Be like everyone else or get pushed? Sure, we all know that sometimes being different means you will be treated differently, but isn’t it the school’s job to teach the bullies to change, not the victim? I was more disgusted by the school’s behavior than the bullies. The kids are kids, they don’t know any better until they are taught. The school administrators are adults, they are supposed to know better! That’s what I thought, until I stood with Grayson on Twitter…
Now, this guy Chris seems to have deleted his original post, but in essence he said he was sorry for the bullying (this makes his last post terribly ironic) but that they should have known it was a bad idea. Yah, later he said apologists drive him nuts…apologists are those that make arguments in defense of something controversial…like defending the actions of bullies because of the behavior of the victim. I’m not going to go so far as to make a comparison to shaming a rape victim because of her attire but it’s not a far leap to see the same mindset. Chris’s mindset is the ignorance part of this lesson. He probably thinks that MLP is just for girls, and the boy was asking for it by having a MLP lunchbox. He clarifies the mother should know better, but how is that different? MLP is not a cartoon just for girls, just like playing with G.I. Joes is not only for boys. People like Chris are the reason that others think it is all right to behave this way.
I don’t always agree with Glenn Beck, I know most hear that name and shudder, but in this one case I think we can all agree. It’s OK to be different, it’s OK to like something that other people don’t, and it’s OK for a little boy to have a lunchbox with a blue horse on it, and if you don’t agree “you can pound sand.”
And to Grayson and his Mom, keep doing what you’re doing. You’re doing it right!
Yahoo news has a great article on this as well, as well as a link to a support page from Grayson’s family and a great idea about talking to Hasbro about their own marketing of MLP.