It’s About Human Decency

There are many things about the world I cannot understand and hate is one of them.

Over the past few weeks, report after report has rolled in of gay teens and young adults committing suicide due to bullying at school or in their community. It’s something that makes me so sad, so angry and upset, that it’s hard for me to write this post. How, tell me, can someone bully a person so persistently, so viciously, that that person feels they cannot live in this world any longer? How can someone commit themselves so fully to hating a person that it drives their target to take their own life? How could anyone ever think they have the right to treat another human being that way?

I don’t care what you believe. You could think that homosexuality is a choice, that the “gay lifestyle” will corrupt our world. You could think that all gay people are sinners, aliens, crazy people. I don’t care what you think or how crazy your opinions are.

Surely, we can all get behind human decency. I’m certain we all agree that treating people with respect, no matter what the situation, is important.

The problem is that I’m not seeing that. I don’t see that in the world, in the news media, in the way people treat others on TV, in classes, in their everyday interaction. Something has happened to our ability to be respectful. We have forgotten the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated. We have forgotten it, and children are dying.

We’ve all been victims of taunting and name-calling. Whether it’s someone calling us fat, ugly, too tall, whether it’s someone deriding our religious beliefs or political affiliation, whether it’s someone bullying us for our race, gender, sexual preference, we’ve all dealt with it on some level. We all know how it feels. Most of us have probably participated in it at some point in our lives. It’s a part of life. One group gets picked on. That group picks on another group so they can feel superior. The chain continues down, trickles down the line, until someone gets told too many times they’re not worth it. They shouldn’t be alive. And so, they go home and hang themselves. They find a gun and shoot themselves. The taunting turns to something sinister. The taunting takes a life.

It’s easy to forget that pain. It’s easy for us to forget how our words can hurt others. It’s simple to think of it as “just a joke” or something that you “didn’t mean.” But we all have a breaking point. These people were broken one too many times.

It comes down to human decency. This should be our wake up call. Think about how we treat each other and how we treat ourselves. Every life is worth it.

I was teaching some sixth graders yesterday, and they were being particularly loud. I had to ask them numerous times to quiet down. I had just reached my breaking point when the program director walked in and started yelling at the kids.

“When the teacher is talking, you don’t talk! She has had to ask you so many times to be quiet! It takes one word for a human to understand! She should only have to say one word and you should be quiet. You’ve stopped being human right now. You’ve stopped being human!

It was a lesson in respect, and it struck a chord with me. We’ve stopped being human. It takes one word for a human to understand that they need to be respectful. It took us five lives.

Let this be our wake-up call.

Let us remember how to be decent.

Obese Star Loses Weight!!

"Obese Star" Real Headline

But not the kind of star you’re thinking. I was browsing articles over on HuffPost earlier today, and was shocked to run into an article with the headline: “Scientists Discover Obese Star…” It was somewhat shocking to me because I had no idea actual astronomical stars could be obese. Having taken an astronomy class in undergrad, I thought I knew all types of stars…red giants, white dwarfs, etc. But I’d never heard of an obese star.

What does this tell us, then, that journalists (or maybe even the astronomers?) are co-opting weightist language to describe phenomena? For me, it actually makes me wonder about how we use the word “obese.” I am a fat woman. That is how I describe myself. But, medically, I am obese. To many people, being “obese” means you’re ill. It means you’re too fat. Many people think it denotes laziness, overeating, inactivity. To many people, “obese” is a negative term.

How, then, does this translate to astronomy? It doesn’t. The star in question has a lot of mass. It’s 320 times larger than earth’s sun, and is quite a discovery. But calling it “obese” doesn’t add anything to the article. All it does is make you wonder, “How could a star be obese?”

It wasn’t until I read the article again (I had saved it because it bugged me so much) that it really hit me. The reason the astronomers and journalists are couching this star’s discovery in terms of obesity and weight is because it’s an analogy that most people will understand.

“Unlike humans, these stars are born heavy and lose weight as they age,” said Crowther, an astrophysicist at the University of Sheffield in northern England. “R136a1 is already middle-aged and has undergone an intense weight loss program.”

They’re trying to humanize it, and give it a defined relative mass. They’re trying to make it resonate with people through a metaphor that is obvious.

To me, it’s reminiscent of “ha ha, look at how funny we’re being by calling this thing fat.” They’re trying to be clever, but they don’t think about how they’re using the word. Does this stretch obesity too far? Are people now relating obesity to anything bigger than the sun? If this article were read by millions of people, would people call me a “big fat star” instead of a “big fat elephant?” When will the hyperbole end, and what damage will it do?

Talking Back Around all those Big Macs in my Pie Hole

My mom keeps me updated, it seems, as she sent me this HuffPost article by John Ridley talking about how “weightism” doesn’t exist.

Ummm….just because you don’t like fat people doesn’t mean we deserve to be discriminated against, buddy. All your arguments are either unsupported by fact, or extremely presumptuous and pretentious.

Sorry, but it’s a little…no, actually it’s a whole lot insulting to equate girth with race, gender, age or sexual orientation; aspects of ourselves with which we were born and over which…we have no control.

I can’t change my race or my gender. Despite my best efforts and millions of dollars spent trying to locate the fountain of youth, I just keep getting older. Yet, same as millions of Americans I can moderate the number of Big Macs I shove in my pie-hole.

But in the Everybody-Give-Me-A-Hug victim culture in which we live, the obese want a spot at the table along with those who face discrimination based on the way that God or Nature or our Intelligent Designer created us.

Yes, because you know me. I’m sitting here, my currently vegetarian self, shoving all those Big Macs into my pie-hole, getting fatter and fatter and “making you pay for it.” You wanna know what I think? I think that our “Give-Me-A-Hug victim culture” is teaching you to see any outcry against the violation of rights as someone calling wolf. You are trying to delegitimize our struggle, saying it’s not real, no one should consider it discrimination. Well frankly I think you just proved that’s exactly what it is with your stereotypical comments about how I’m shoving my pie hole full of Big Macs. If that’s not obvious discrimination based on my size, I don’t know what is.

So why don’t you shove your pie hole full of Big Macs and shut the hell up.