It’s 2015; I had to make at least one Back to the Future reference. I just opted for something other than the hoverboards and flying cars. I’m good with cars staying on the ground. Some people have enough trouble controlling them when they have only two axes to worry about; throw in up and down and people will die. In a flying car if you have a fender bender, you still have to land. That’s assuming your car still runs.
Now that that’s out of the way…
It’s a new year, the middle of the decade. Are we were we hoped we’d be? I don’t think so. I think the media needs to take some responsibility for that. I still contend that a 24-hour news cycle has caused more problems than it’s solved. Gotta get viewers, and people don’t watch good news channels. That’s already been proven. So, find news and spin it so your majority viewership will tune in. That’s not healthy. It’s even worse when you have a network that insists absolutely everyone else is against them, that their viewers can only get their news from a single source. That’s called a cult. There are some very prominent examples which I’m sure people can dredge up fairly easily, and other less-obvious, less-mainstream examples. One resource is not valid, regardless of whether it agrees with your line of thought. Picking another news outlet is great, but not if it uses the same source. I don’t mean the source like public record or a document proven as immutable fact, something along those lines, but the bits and pieces that aren’t known, and the bias with which the story is told. Some of those news sources are less reliable than the office gossip.*
There’s one that’s caught my attention…caught the attention of the world, really – Leelah Alcorn’s suicide.
Let me start by saying that the comments here are monitored. Discussion is fine, intolerance is not. You don’t have to agree, just be civil. Comments that are deemed hateful will be deleted. This isn’t a government page, your right to freedom of speech isn’t being violated.
Leelah’s parents are hurting and confused, as is the truck driver who struck her. I do not condemn her parents, but I do condemn those who would seek to hurt them verbally, mentally, emotionally, physically. They’ve lost a child. Is it their fault? Partly, yes, and I think they know that. Attacking them will only push them farther into their closed world; give them time to grieve, and maybe they will be able to open up. If they’d been willing to listen instead of condemn, this story might have had a different ending. That still doesn’t make them evil. Leave them alone. If they start actively campaigning against trans rights, THEN it’s open season; for now, let them grieve, let them care for the other children in the home, let them deal with what happened in peace. Please.
On December 28, 2014, there was a blurb† about Josh Alcorn getting killed by a semi on I-71, just north of Cincinnati. There wasn’t much information, no immediate connection to anything else, not even a confirmation of suicide, just a teenager struck by a truck on an interstate. It was tragic. There was also a suicide note posted on tumblr by Leelah Alcorn, a transgender girl, who felt she had no other options. A connection was made. I didn’t hear the story on the 28th; I didn’t watch the news that day.
I did hear it on the morning of the 30th, though. I only know that because I sent out a tweet commending the newscasters for their choice of pronoun (they referred to the descedent as “Leelah” and “she”). They were defending their choice to cover this story, noting that suicides are generally not covered simply because the families are already going through enough. They provide further explanation for their decision on the 31st.
Our convention center has the name of the city spelled out in lights on the west-facing wall. Makes for a lovely skyline view that doesn’t require much of a caption. Generally the lights are white, but they do change it up for various reasons. On December 30th, they changed it to rainbow colors for Leelah Alcorn. They weren’t in order, but that is why they did it. That was completely unexpected. For me, anyway. It’s not the same city I left in 2001; even though a lot of the same problems are there, the responses have begun to change. Today, there are vigils in town, as well as around the country; around the world. Will it be enough to change attitudes? Maybe. Meanwhile, people are showing that hate and intolerance is not exclusive to the extreme conservatives; that behavior is not acceptable, any more than killing a cop because a different cop murdered someone. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth only leaves everyone blind and toothless.
Not all local stations have been quite so accepting, although it’s amazing what a little editing can do for your perceived position. I doubt it will be much of a surprise which station – which network affiliate – had the most difficult time accepting Leelah rather than Josh. One of their anchors has already expressed her opinion about others in the LGBT community, forgetting that what she’s reporting is supposed to be news, not an opinion piece. Do I think all of the staff at WCPO agree? No, I don’t; that’s preposterous. They are keeping it professional, though, and that’s the part that matters to me.
To sum up –
Let Leelah’s family grieve in peace.
Remember intolerance can strike anyone, regardless of their politics
Be patient with one another; be kind
Don’t confuse “kind” with “doormat,” those are not the same thing.
Flying cars would be a HUGE mistake.
Happy new year.
*BTW, most of my gossip came from the males in the office. Just saying…
†Why are my links all from the same website? Because that is where I first heard the story, and because they treated it with compassion and respect. Because they continue to report on Leelah and offer information for others who may be going through the same thing. Because they’re about the community and not necessarily about some sound bite that goes viral.