Mean Country

Mean Country

by digby

I think there's a sense among many Americans that all this political sturm and drang that there's a bit of kabuki involved --- that it's part of the bit Political Show, a reality TV show (which bores most of them to death.)

But there are real life ramifications to the spectacle of average Americans behaving like thugs. I think this may be one of them:

Nine Massachusetts teenagers have been charged with involvement in a months-long campaign of bullying that led to the suicide in January of a 15-year-old girl, a prosecutor said Monday.

Phoebe Prince's body was found hanging in the stairway leading to her family's second-floor apartment in South Hadley, Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel told reporters in the western Massachusetts town of Northampton.

"It appears that Phoebe's death on January 14 followed a torturous day for her when she was subjected to verbal harassment and physical abuse," she said.

Earlier in the day, Prince had been harassed as she studied in the library at South Hadley High School, apparently in the presence of a faculty member and several students, none of whom reported it until after the death, Scheibel said.

Prince, who had recently moved to the area with her family from Ireland, was also harassed as she walked through the halls of the school that day and as she walked on the street toward her home, Scheibel said.

The harassment that day, by one male and two females, "appears to have been motivated by the group's displeasure with Phoebe's brief dating relationship with a male student that had ended six weeks earlier," she said.

But that day's events were not isolated; they "were the culmination of a nearly three-month campaign of verbally abusive, assaultive behavior and threats of physical harm toward Phoebe on school grounds by several South Hadley students," Scheibel added.

It appears this little girl was mentally tortured to death.

I'm sure this behavior isn't unprecedented. Lord of the Flies was an allegory, but it was also a fairly realistic depiction of human behavior. But I can't help but feel that the violent, apocalyptic rhetoric of the right over the past few years has torn off much of the civilizing bonds we'd built up over the years. Certainly our recent cavalier attitude toward torture ("when they deserve it") hasn't gone unnoticed.

Keep in mind that most of the people who are screaming in red faced rage in news stories every day aren't young people. It's older people --- the faces of authority --- who are doing it. These parental (and grandparental) role models acting out of control with anger gives tacit permission to some kids to act like animals too.