Poliwood Round-Up: The HATE Contagion!

The mid-term elections in 2010 didn’t just usher the Rethuglican Party back to power in the House and introduce America to their bat-shit crazy sidekicks the “Tea-Party” but it also brought a tsunami of hate that has been spreading across this country faster than climate change! No sooner did a newscaster utter the cringe worthy term “post-racial” did the flood gates of hell seem to break open—making America circa 2011 look more “Jim Crow-esque” than Jetsons.

Since 2009 in Anoka, MN home to the largest school district in Minnesota, where eight students who were bullied for being gay, or because kids perceived they were gay, from middle school to high school have committed suicide. Is this a coincidence? Not so much.

2009 was the same year that the Anoka-Hennepin school district passed their so-called “neutrality” policy. It sounds benign enough, the term “neutrality”, but in the case of this MN school district it is costing students who attend there, their lives. The policy forbids teachers to discuss or even mention LGBT issues—including any bullying that takes place because of a student’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Let alone step in to protect the kids who are victimized.
Essentially, forcing students who undergo incessant anti-gay harassment both physical and emotional to be invisible or risk reprimand by both their peers and school staff.

The neutrality policy was introduced to the school board by the Minnesota Family Council, a Christian fundamentalist group, spearheaded by their Hate-Monger-In-Chief Barb Anderson. While at the high school Barb saw a poster for an LGBT helpline (you know those horrible places that help kids in need), she called the school officials ranting about the “homosexual agenda” taking over the school and began her devious plan to abolish all sensitivity and understanding within the Anoka-Hennepin district—making Anoka, MN ground zero for yet another culture war.

The administrator of the school is calling the phenomenon of 8 students taking their own lives a “suicide contagion”. But it sounds more to me like the Hate Contagion! And we have Michelle Bachmann, Anoka’s Congressional Representative and current Presidential candidate, to thank the most for this, since her nasty, hateful campaign rhetoric against gay people has helped to create a hostile climate for LGBT youth in her district and thanks to the 24 hour news cycle, she can now spread her hate mongering across the country!

The Hate Contagion really kicked into high gear with the passage (and then subsequent stalling) of the California marriage-equality law in 2008. Since then, there has been a rise in anti-gay sentiments coming from religious zealots and “Tea-Darlings” across the country. They have become so emboldened by their hate they use their vitriol towards gays as a campaign fundraising tool to rally their base.

For so-called parity, when media outlets begin to tell the story of marriage equality they also profile the anti-gay, discriminatory “alternative opinion”, which is essentially the conservative plan to undermine justice in America and relegate gay people to second-class citizenship (or worse).
But instead of just being informative, the press fodder seems to empower the right-wing crazies these days, and gives license to all hate-mongers to pursue their 15 minutes of infamy. It seems to me that bringing on anti-gay fear mongers to discuss the “dangers” and “perversion” of marriage equality is like bringing on the KKK to provide their “informed” opinion on President’s job thus far—sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?!

There is a direct correlation between the bully-related suicides and the all the anti-gay rhetoric, legislation and political measures that continue to be put forward around the country.…
Every politician that gets on a soap box to justify why it’s okay for more than half the states in this country to fire gay people from their jobs or for doctors to deny them treatment just because they are gay…

Every wack job religious entity (like Westboro Church) that gets press coverage chanting “kill the gays” and ranting about the so-called hazards of marriage equality… And every school administrator that turns a blind eye to the harassment of any student, especially students that are perceived to be gay, whether they are or aren’t…Is responsible for the fate of these poor children, and as political leaders and religious figures they are supposed to be models and servants to the community not infect it with hate.
This rhetoric pollutes society, and suppresses LGBT youth’s right to hope, and right to dream that just like their peers they will one day find love, have a family, and be accepted.

Imagine a world where there was no hope for the future because everyone around you is telling you that you are a “disgrace” and a “mistake in need of correction”—this is the everyday existence of many LGBT teens. For too many the future is dark and filled with loneliness.

Currently there are anti-gay measures on the books in a majority of states in this country. That means that within these states elected officials believe it’s their duty to legislate hate. So much so we have an entire pool of Republican Presidential candidates that have signed marriage pledges and pledges to launch “investigations” into the LGBT community should they be elected. WTF?

What kind of country are we living in where presidential candidates can outwardly express their disdain for Americans? This neo-McCarthyism and defamation of an entire group of people is leading us down a dark road…one we walked down once before during the 1960’s Civil Rights movement, and one we should not be headed down again.

The election of America’s first African American President brought us both hope and despair. Hope that within us lies the desire to be a better nation that lives up to its ideals of equality and justice for all—including leading the free world. And despair, that a black man’s election seems to have invoked bigoted bravado that we hoped had long passed. The Tea Party seems to have breathed new life into overt racism and homophobia…

How have we reverted to a time when school boards can vote to ostracize students for being gay or perceived to be gay, where opposing political parties hold birther witch hunts, and rallies to burn their opponents names in effigy, and websites with cross-hairs literally “targeting” people you dislike and believe aren’t American enough?.

My hope is that America wakes from this painful time in our history better off than which we began. The key to our success as a nation is to progress towards the future, not regress to the unfounded fears of the past.

Hate, it seems is Americas recurring disease that we have yet to find a cure for. Here’s to hoping we find an antidote in 2012 before it’s too late!

Musical inspiration after the jump…We can each be the “Firework” that sparks change!