Opinion: The Hate In Our Halls


TBR News Media

On Friday, October 8, three days before National Coming Out Day, somebody thought it was a good idea to commit a hate crime.

Liam Mickulas-Mesco, Freelancer

Apparently, being mature is too hard for some people in this school. On Friday, October 8, three days before National Coming Out Day, somebody thought it was a good idea to commit a hate crime. 

To be clear, what happened on Friday was a hate crime. The Department of Justice defines a hate crime as “a crime motivated by bias against race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.” Scribbling racial and homophobic slurs in a bathroom, along with a drawing of a Nazi swastika, definitely falls under the category of bigoted bias. 

Not everything about what happened is known. But while listening to the assembly before our lock down drill, something that was said troubled me: “I don’t believe that there are bad children, but I certainly believe that there are children that make bad choices and bad mistakes.” 

I’m sorry, but that’s just not true. If you write slurs in a location those affected by it will see, you are a bad person. Slurs are meant to dehumanize and degrade those they are targeted at. 

To write something homophobic on a day where the school was celebrating being out of the closet, you have to be a bad person. To draw a swastika — a symbol we all know represents hatred — that makes you a bad person. We all know the Nazi’s views on those of the Jewish faith, but Hitler himself also hated Hispanics; to draw a swastika during Hispanic Heritage month makes you, simply, a bad person. 

Do I believe the person that did this was an anti-Semite? Yes. You don’t draw those symbols because they look cool; you draw them because of the meaning they hold. Do I believe this person was a racist? Again, yes. In no circumstance is using a slur against a community justified.

As well, this person is clearly a homophobe. On October 8, two LGBTQ pride flags were displayed in the commons in celebration of the upcoming National Coming Out Day. It is no coincidence when these flags were raised to support and represent those in the LGBTQ community, a slur was scrawled in the bathroom. 

What should be done about this? Obviously, first and foremost, the student who did this needs to be punished appropriately. I’m not talking about detention, or even suspension; when you engage in real crimes, you do real time. Your actions, no matter how juvenile they may seem to you, have real world consequences that impact other people. If you can’t understand that before you commit a hate crime, maybe you’ll get it after you’re punished. 

The ways these matters are discussed needs to change, as well. I’ve heard too much of the following: “It was meant to be funny. It wasn’t actually supposed to be offensive.” Regardless of the intent, the impact is what matters. People were hurt by what this student did, and this school needs to show that it understands.

It’s not just this vandalism that hurts people. It’s way too common to hear slurs thrown around this school. I’ve seen it happen where teachers or other adults were present and did nothing to condemn it, much less stop it. To have hate speech normalized in a school hallway is just awful. Northport has to do better wherever they can, because, despite their genuine efforts, people like this student ruin the progress our school has made. 

If the student that committed this hate crime is reading this, I hope you get whatever punishment is coming your way. Your actions directly make people like me in this school feel like they don’t belong. 

Bigotry has no place in any community, and it should not be tolerated in Northport. If you wanted to make others laugh, you didn’t. If you wanted to prove a point, the one proven is not the one you thought. If you wanted to intimidate minority groups in this school, I’ll let you in on a little secret: We’re not afraid of you, we’re just over your stupid ignorance. It’s time for you to grow up.