Are We Going Backwards in Terms of Tolerance?

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    Mar 07, 2012 8:53 PM GMT
    I observed something unsettling today. A student came to school today wearing headphones around his neck (apparently a hip hop fashion statement). One of the teachers confiscated them and told the student a parent would have to claim them. After school the kid was going back to retrieve them himself (presumably by force). Luckily a police officer was there for another matter entirely and grabbed him and calmed the situation down. Before that however, the kid was angrily referring to the teacher as "that faggot". The teacher is married, has grown children and I've always perceived him as something of a right-wing fundamentalist. I'm pretty sure he isn't gay. The point is, the kid (a 6th grader), in his anger, used the term that was the most demeaning thing he could think of. This isn't the first time I've heard an elementary school student use that term to signify that he thinks someone is the lowest of the low. It looks like college students are embracing diversity and are probably more tolerant than any generation before them but it seems to me that younger children may be taking a step back. Anybody have similar observations or do you disagree?
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    Mar 07, 2012 8:58 PM GMT
    Well kids get that stuff from any number of sources, including the home. But you can't compare them to college students, because there are no gay kids to elicit compassion or to tell their peer off for using this language.

    All kids are straight until some of them realize they aren't in their later teens. Unless you bring in average gay guys to the school, they don't have anything proving their source of the term wrong.
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    Mar 07, 2012 9:12 PM GMT
    The kids I have most contact with are the ones here on RJ, an amazing amount of which wind up on ignore because of just this. Also I sometimes have contact with my nephews and their friends.

    What I think I notice is the level of hostility generally, not just directed towards gays, but towards any of their targets du jour. I don't think it is selective memory, but I do not recall my friends growing up being as mean as these kids. I think it is something in the water.

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    Mar 07, 2012 10:42 PM GMT
    The kid is low life scum to begin with.. un-disciplined and ripe for a smackdown.. Ignore those types. they're societal goners anyway!
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    Mar 07, 2012 11:06 PM GMT
    While there may be anecdotal evidence stating otherwise I think acceptance of diversity is on the rise not falling. All of my nephews and nieces are extremely laid back about homosexuality and some of them have gay friends. The relatively small southern town I grew up in, Durham NC, has had annual gay pride parades since the 80s and it is now treated locally similarly to a fourth of July parade. It's not at all like the shock the public parades in larger cities, but rather a kind of wholesome parade with even a few church floats.

    I think, however, the backlash to this progress leaves the impression that things are getting worse. I would also add that the shrinking middle class leads to an angry underclass that hates just about everyone.

    As an example, we have two nearby beaches here where I live. One is a gentile beach with emerald water and pristine sand. The cost of buying a home there is outrageous now, while in my childhood it was nothing but modest beach shacks. The other beach is still affordable but prices have been rising. It was traditionally the working class beach because the water is often muddier since it is close to the mouth of the cape fear. This beach is becoming somewhat gentrified, nonetheless, but there are still many rednecks there. Wilmington, in general is one of the warmest, most polite places I have lived but twice when I've gone to that beach I've had an angry redneck lash out at me for absolutely no apparent reason. As an example, last week I was getting ready to surf when a family was leaving. The mom was sitting on a bench reading while one of her daughters (about 8 or so) was playing around near the road. The speed limit on the road was 10 miles per hour and it ended before reaching the spot where the kid was playing. A man arrives in a bubba truck and asks me if she is my daughter. When I say no he yells at me that I should keep an eye on her all the same because he nearly ran her over. I answered that I would let her parents know and he raised his voice even higher. NO! YOU WATCH THAT KID! IT'S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TOO. I thought about explaining to him that he was driving the truck and should not rely on bi-standers to clear a path but decided he was an angry nut case. It made me wonder if his anger had more to do with "his" beach being gentrified.
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    Mar 07, 2012 11:14 PM GMT
    Coach_Mike saidI observed something unsettling today. A student came to school today wearing headphones around his neck (apparently a hip hop fashion statement)
    icon_rolleyes.gif Really?

    I taught middle school for three years. Around this time, the 6th graders all start hormonal and getting a case of "bigger than their britches". It doesn't excuse what he said, but I wouldn't say that the elementary and middle school kids are going backwards in tolerance.
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    Mar 07, 2012 11:22 PM GMT
    I guess if you turn back the clocks you'll see the problem.

    I don't know how the American system is with grades or what age would be in sixth grade but I'll just guess somewhere between 10 and 12 (from what I've seen on TV). So back to my point of turning back time, 5-7 years ago the world wasn't as tolerant as it is right now or at least trying to stop using words like faggot as an insult. That kid must have been 4 or 5 and heard maybe an older sibling, cousin or parent using that word as an insult and just picked up on it. By the time he reaches college, he probably won't be using language like that anymore and at that age, when you're angry some things slip. For all you know, he might have just been in a blind rage and said it by accident. Sure, it's programmed into his head as an insult but his generation might be the only ones with it planted there and after that, it may see less and less use.
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    Mar 08, 2012 2:07 AM GMT
    friendormate saidWhile there may be anecdotal evidence stating otherwise I think acceptance of diversity is on the rise not falling. All of my nephews and nieces are extremely laid back about homosexuality and some of them have gay friends. The relatively small southern town I grew up in, Durham NC, has had annual gay pride parades since the 80s and it is now treated locally similarly to a fourth of July parade. It's not at all like the shock the public parades in larger cities, but rather a kind of wholesome parade with even a few church floats.



    I think this is probably true. We can easily be lead into thinking it is worse today by the endless barrage of news and information we receive through the internet, several 24 hour news channels, local news that has expanded from a half hour a day to several hours a day, and network news that in addition to their half hour evening news now all have three or four hour broadcasts in the morning. There is more room for news and information today. I think this may be the same for our impression that teen suicide has increased. It used to be that most of the time the report of a suicide did not make it out of the circle of the family and close friends. They've always been happening and it was probably in greater numbers than we were once left to believe.
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    Mar 08, 2012 2:14 AM GMT
    some hip hop fashion statement? lol u sound soooooooo ...... white...


    anyway. So what? kid was in the 6th grade. Probably 12 years old or something. Kids say things all the time. Just because one 6th grader used the term faggot doesn't define an entire generation of kids.
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    Mar 08, 2012 2:17 AM GMT
    There is deep rooted historical hate in the gay community. Think of other deep rooted historical issues of hate (such as race). The derogatory words and terms continue to stay charged for CENTURIES. And then some. These are sociological factors that can't be changed by an act of will. Look to changes in legal legislation and the outward support present today for the gay community for signs of positive, forward change. Bet ya dollars to doughnuts that loooog after gay marriage is legal worldwide (because it will happen one day) the words faggot and gay will still be thrown around as insults.
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    Mar 08, 2012 2:42 AM GMT
    He's a hormonal 6th grader who got his shit taken away and used he the most scathing insult he could think of.

    You think he gives a damn about tolerance? Lol.
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    Mar 08, 2012 2:52 AM GMT
    Ariodante saidThere is deep rooted historical hate in the gay community. Think of other deep rooted historical issues of hate (such as race). The derogatory words and terms continue to stay charged for CENTURIES. And then some. These are sociological factors that can't be changed by an act of will. Look to changes in legal legislation and the outward support present today for the gay community for signs of positive, forward change. Bet ya dollars to doughnuts that loooog after gay marriage is legal worldwide (because it will happen one day) the words faggot and gay will still be thrown around as insults.


    I think that those particularly will stay because of the probably eternal hatred of gays by some people. Once that hate exists, the terms will be used as an insult. You can still hear people use racist comments but thankfully it's been reduced a lot and hopefully faggot/gay being used as an insult will diminish as well.