• Mon, Nov 19 2012

I Felt Bad For The Outing Of The Racist Kids For About Three Minutes

Have you guys heard the one about the kids across the country saying some pretty amazingly hateful things about President Obama? There is no punchline to this. There are a bunch of kids under the age of twenty-one (and of course, older people as well but we are talking about the children here) who are using social media to hate-bomb in increments of one hundred and forty characters or less. And on Facebook. And on Tumblr. And wherever else those crazy kids these days connect with other crazy kids.

I’m a mom. I’ve got kids. My kids are dumb. Your kids are dumb. All of our kids have said some dumb things. The majority of all of our kids don’t say racist stuff. In the case of my kids it’s usually a swear word directed at a door that mysteriously got in their way, or a hurled insult of “dork face” over a video game defeat or a frustrated complaint about a classmate or friend. Normal stuff. Dumb stuff. The sort of thing we can time-out them over or use to foster a discussion about how words can hurt others.

Our friends at Jezebel outed the racist kids. And a few other media outlets have as well. When I first read the piece at Jezebel I virtually high-fived them in my head. But then I started to feel bad for the dumb kids. If colleges or future employers happened to do a google search on these kids they would find out what racist hate speech these kids were spewing and it could affect their futures. All kids are dumb and say dumb things and something typed in the heat of the moment out of frustration or the recycling of whatever hate speech their parents are spewing at the dinner table should not be held against these kids. How dare news outlets bully these kids by calling attention to the fact these kids are saying dumb things on the internet? Freedom of speech for everyone!

But no. Bully away, I say. Call them out. Call them out everywhere.  When you really start to read what they are saying and see the sorts of images they are posting it’s horrifying. These kids need to learn that their actions have consequences, even if they are just engaging in freedom of speech. They need to know if they are going to say hateful, vile, repulsive things on the internet that it will have consequences. These aren’t babies. They are old enough to sign up for accounts, engage in social media, share links with their friends, and photoshop images in vulgar, disgusting, purely evil displays of racism. It’s not okay. Even more importantly, call out their parents for raising such ugly little mouth breathers.

I’m fully aware it’s probably from the parents that these kids are learning this stuff. If parents aren’t happy with our president or don’t share his political views, they are capable of discussing it with their kids without resorting to saying foul things about him. Racist parents raise racist kids, but I think even the most idiotic parent can understand that if their kids are saying this shit on social media using their real names it may have real life consequences.

I’m so thankful for my kids. I’m so thankful I have normal children who would never think or type this sort of garbage on the internet. I used to feel bad for those kids who were making such giant mistakes, but now I just feel like they all need a fuckton of community service, a permanent bar of soap in their mouths, and to never be allowed on the internet. Ever.

(photo: Stefano Panzeri /shutterstock)

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  • chickadee

    Exactly. These kids have grown up in the internet age, so they really have no excuse for not realizing that people other than the intended audience can (and will) see this and that it can (and will) affect what people think of them and how they are to be treated. I have zero sympathy for them if it affects their employment status or college acceptance. You reap what you sow, especially when your racist epithets are hurled at historical underdog.

  • Jenni

    I got a facebook account right before it opened to high school kids (so, not one of the first on it, but almost.). Anyway, I was a dumb college freshman, and even I knew that anything posted on the internet would stay there forever. So, I didn’t post anything that might look bad to a future employer. If I can have the forethought required for that, then anybody should be able to do it!

    I got so annoyed reading posts about how this would hurt the kid’s futures. Maybe they should already know that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And maybe the fact that they are being lambasted by practically everyone will make them question their words and wonder if they might actually be in the wrong.

  • Em

    I work at a tutoring center. On election day many children (Under the age of 6) entered bawling their freakin’ heads off because their parents said Satan was going to be our president. How effed up is that? Terrible parenting.

    • Justme

      I was told by one of my 8th graders that now that Obama was reelected she would surely see the end of America at some point in her lifetime. I just looked at her and said “we are not having this conversation.”

  • Shea

    I’m with you. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from any consequences occasioned by saying whatever you want. Those kids are free to say horrible racist things, and other people are free to call them out on it. And if that means colleges deciding not to admit them, or employers declining to hire them, well, that’s what happens when you write vicious, bigoted things in a public, global forum.

    I keep hearing about how people are being “too hard” on these teenagers because they’re
    “just kids” and kids do stupid things. Sure they do, but these kids are old enough to know that spewing racism isn’t appropriate. They’re not five-year-olds too young to know that repeating their parents’ racist language is wrong. They’re old enough to understand that actions have consequences, and if these kids experience some negative ones as a result of their “outing”, I can’t say I feel too bad for them.

    • http://www.cafepress.com/ladycrim ladycrim

      A great quote I read recently: “Freedom of speech means you won’t get arrested for saying what you think. It doesn’t mean you won’t get called out on it if you’re being a jerk.”

    • lea

      One of my favourites:
      “Free speech does not protect you from the consequences of saying stupid shit”, Jim C Hines (author)

  • March

    I agree with almost everything you said except the “Bully away”. Do not. EVER. tell anyone to feel free to bully someone, no matter what that someone may have done. Call them out by all means. Teach them the consequences of what they are saying – teach them the hard way, if necessary. But leave it at that. Bullying is cruel and counter-productive. Plus, it would mean stooping to their level.

  • BBJim’s Mam

    Freedom does not mean freedom from consequence.

  • Justme

    I’ve read the original article as well as a few blogger’s opinions on how this should have been handled. Some people are thinking that it was perfectly fine that the teenagers got called out while others believe that since they are still technically minors that perhaps the names should have not been released.

    I really don’t know where I stand.

    I can see valid points on both sides of the issue. Yes, the children needed to be held accountable for their actions and understand the potential consequences of the words they chose to put out there on the internet. BUT….should the person holding them accountable be a stranger who includes their full name and Twitter handle in a widely read online article?

    It’s a tough call to make.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      It is, I agree. I fluctuate on it too, but a lot of these kids were using their real names on Twitter. When I saw the updates to Hello, Racists it really cinched it for me. It’s really, really ugly and hateful.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y43G2GBLYWFPOIKU76DGRXPOSQ Parvati Lynn

      They attached their own full names to what they said. If they didn’t want anyone to see it, they should have kept it to themselves. They could have at least strengthened their privacy settings and not used hashtags that would pull up for anyone.

    • Justme

      I didn’t say I agreed with what they did, but I’m not sure how I feel about the article that was written by the Jezebel journalist.

  • Yournamehere

    FYI — You are using the concept of “Freedom of Speech” incorrectly. Freedom of speech means the government has a high bar to clear before arresting you for what you say.

    These teens aren’t “engaging in free speech” on twitter because the government does not administer twitter.

    • http://twitter.com/EveVawter Eve Vawter

      Thank you, I didn’t know this, what is the correct term then?