Sometimes I’m ashamed to be human

Just the other day Woodsy posted a lovely photo of a young red-haired boy on her blog because she happens to have a weakness for young red-haired boys.

Today, I read this in the news. Canadian teenagers spent Thursday assaulting red-haired people just because they happened to have red hair. There’s a Facebook group called Kick a Ginger Day which originated in Vancouver. It quickly gathered over 5000 members.

The kids got the idea from an episode of South Park which claimed that “redheads are soulless and inherently evil” and that they are “nasty” and “born with a disease.”

November 20th was designated as this auspicious occasion.

So, redheaded kids all over Canada (especially western Canada) were kicked and beaten on Thursday and mocked for being “soulless, evil, diseased and nasty.” Most didn’t even understand what was going on until later in the day. Many ended up in hospital.

 All over BC and Alberta redheads were swarmed and beaten by gangs of their fellow students or just randomly kicked as they went about their day. In BC one kid talked about how he kicked 80 times during the course of the day.

 Other redhaired kids who were wise to the Facebook group stayed home from school out of fear.

 This past week was also International Bullying Awareness Week.

“It was all a joke”, non-redhaired kids are saying. 

 Police, however, are treating this as a hate crime. Kids have been suspended from school and in some cases criminal charges are being laid.

It’s all exceedingly creepy. We can blame South Park, but it’s clearly just a TV show about animated idiots who do idiotic things that no real human being does?

How does a kid’s brain go so quickly from watching this cartoon to deciding that because the cartoon makes some random, idiotic statements that it would be a fun joke to savagely beat up your friends and classmates?

And we still pretend to be stumped as to how easily Hitler got so many people to jump on the Anti-Semite bandwagon; or how ignorant 19th century Americans were to treat their fellow human beings as slaves; or how some ignorant 21st century Americans still treat their fellow human beings; or how something like Apartheid could possibly exist; or how horribly some middle-eastern countries treat their fellow citizens.  Seems it doesn’t take much to get us to gang up on each other.

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24 responses to “Sometimes I’m ashamed to be human

  1. Ifool myself that I usually understand the younguns but this really stumps me. I can’t imagine beating people just cause they have red hair. Now if they got the brown eyes as well that’s different.

  2. I read that and I really didn’t know what to think. (Apparently it’s not a new South Park episode either.) It’s one of those wear did we go wrong moments. Clearly the message that diversity is something to be cherished is not getting through…

  3. I take it that the episode got it’s inspiration from all the idiotic things said about left-handed people through the ages (didn’t see it, just guessing). Point would have been that it’s just as ignorant, but apparently kids don’t get the finer messages.

  4. How sad… I did not even know about this event when I posted my picture.

    I watched the redhead episode with my sons a few years ago. I remember how it sparked a very interesting conversation about prejudice and intolrance.

    Maybe the problem is partly with the parents.

    When I realized my sons had started watching South Park, I too started watching it with them to make certain they understood what it was really about. Luckily they did understand that the show was a parody and meant to mock and discredit the “right-wing” thinking. Smart kids.

  5. Oh no! There are so many facets to this that I don’t even know where to begin.

    I agree with Woodsy about South Park. Trey and Matt use parody throughout the entire show (pick an episode, any episode), and it’s sad when kids are allowed to watch it without supervision or guidance.

    I mean, it’s a “cartoon” but it’s NOT for immature audiences.

  6. One of my girlfriends told me yesterday about her red headed son coming home from school on Thursday with his jacket ripped and bruises and sick to his stomach about the very idea of returning to school on Friday…but he never admitted to being bullied. Then, I read your blog and now I wonder if this is what happened to him. This is in small town Ontario to a ten year old.

  7. Just horrible. There does seem to be some sort of deep seated need to belong to a “tribe” and hate the other tribe lurking under the skin of young humans, particularly young human boys. It comes out in really odd ways. In the UK we have football violence with hordes of young guys fighting on the pretext that they support rival teams. In Scotland it is even worse, because it is football mixed with religion – and this involving kids who probably have never crossed the door of a church in their lives. A remnant of the old “fight strangers who might steal our food” instinct perhaps that sometimes just needs to find an outlet? Certainly proof that at times we are not as civilised as we would like to believe.

  8. Bandobras – As I pointed out in the last paragraph, it ain’t just younguns who can turn savage in a heartbeat.

    Nat – I think our inner savage is lurking very close to the surface at all times and it takes just a little nudge (permission) to make it break loose.

    J – And that they think it’s funny…

    Becky – They’ve actually said and done some pretty horrible things to redheads through the ages, as well. They used to be burned alive because they were thought to be some sort of evil mutation

    Violetsky – Like I said to Nat, I don’t think it takes much to turn many of us savage.

    Mike – Facebook certainly made the news travel faster and farther, but something like this could just as easily have happened without social networking. And it has.

    Woodsy – Yes, your photo was an eerie coincidence. I’m not sure parents know all the stuff their kids are exposed to on a daily basis — so many influences, especially as they get older. We can only hope we’ve given them a good grounding and the ability to make independent and wise judgments.

    CP – I’m sure there are some horrified parents out there since Thursday. At least I hope they’re horrified and will make it very clear to their offspring what a horrible thing they’ve done and all its ramifications

    Deb – I wouldn’t be a bit surprised – this went on in elementary and Jr High schools, too. She should have a talk with him and find out. I know this Kick a Ginger thing spread all over the country. My daughter says they knew about it in their school, but no one hurt anyone. Some people did, however, give every redhead they saw a little gentle kick. She and plenty of other kids knew though that even that wasn’t right. So, good for them.

    Loth – Not just young people either. So-called adults can turn pretty vile pretty quickly, too sometimes.

  9. That’s awful. In Southern Italy, people will often make a sign to avert the evil eye when they see redheads. Being married to a ginger and with an almost redheaded daughter, this anti-orangism is particularly upsetting to me, but you’re right: it is not the specific attribute that’s the problem, it’s the way people can adopt a terrible hatred of anything so arbitrary. It’s terrifying, and it makes me want to go and be a hermit.

  10. these children are morally lost.

    there is something wrong if a child is moved to do such things after watching a show, playing a certain video game or listening to certain kinds of music.

    hell, i grew up listening to to ozzy osborne/black sabbath and never went out and did crazy things like commit suicide. would you believe that he was blamed for a childs suicide.
    i just knew that you didn’t do bad things to people.

    i don’t know what to say.

  11. Fairstar – Do you have a blog? I’d love to read it. But anyway, thanks for coming by and leaving a comment. I can’t believe this happened in Canada in 2008. It sounds like something out of the middle ages.

    Raino – We missed you today! And ya, this redhead thing was totally crazy. How awful for the redheaded kids. I wonder if they’ll ever feel the same again among their peers?

  12. This hearkens back to the “everyone else is doing it” mentality. People are basically sheep. It seems that if something is “sanctioned” then it’s “okay.” It also touches on the “better him/her than me” aspect of human nature. While both of these are common human behaviors/responses, it does not make it okay.

  13. Cedar – Very good question. Something ugly and primitive from which we never seem to evolve.

    Geewits – Yes, I think that’s the key –“sanctioned”. Suddenly, they were given “permission” to beat up on a certain group, to demean a certain group and they jumped at the chance.

  14. I heard about this idiocy. I cannot believe that in 2008, there are still young people who get exposed to such hatred against their fellow human being. This total lack of respect has to start somewhere, usually at home. They have no values, nothing has been ingrained in them! Missing this fundamental value called respect is the root of so many problems with kids today.

    If they don’t respect anything, why should a redhead be any different?

  15. I have a friend from Scotland who insists that “Gingers smell like piss”
    Oddly enough probably the last fetish that I suffer from is red headed girls….

  16. UA – I somehow don’t think these kids are all that different from any of the rest of us. With the right kind of persuasion and influence I think any of us might turn savage; turn against a certain group — it happens all the time. Look at the current suspicion of people who look middle eastern. If there was suddenly a campaign to pursuade people they were evil and needed to be stopped at all costs, I suspect a lot of people would be only too happy to comply. We’re a scary bunch — humans

    Lebowski – Well, at least 1% of the population is safe.

  17. I just heard about this, this morning on Canada AM. I couldn’t get to work soon enough to post on my blog about this.

    It’s Hate.
    Pure and simple.
    VERY simple.

    “Just a joke” Bullshit. That’s a phenominally lame excuse.

  18. I saw that Southpark episode in question. And it was actually quite hilarious.

    But that episode was no different from any other. In the past, they’ve poked fun at Catholics, Jews, Afghans, Nazis, Scientologists, Al Gore, George Bush, Hybrid Cars, Tom Cruise, Oprah, Ethiopians…etc.

    And besides, anyone with half a brain would recognize the point they were trying to make. Namely: what a miserable little sh*t Eric Cartman was for having such biased opinions.

    And there certainly was NO message that it was okay to bash red heads. (Actually, the other children were against him and wanted to teach him a lesson).

    So I agree…you can’t blame Southpark.

    The root of the problem is basically two fold: BAD kids…(and/or) BAD parenting.

  19. Kitty – Yes I saw your rant on this on your blog. It’s funny how us grown-ups didn’t hear about it until after the fact, but pretty much every kid in the country knew what Nov. 20th was.

    Friar – Getting people stirred up into some new craze isn’t all that difficult. You don’t necessarily have to be bad to get swept up in it, perhaps without thinking — but I DO think you’ve got to have a few bits missing to take it to the extremes that some of these kids did — putting people in the hospital? Ya, that’s just BAD.

  20. I think everyone should know the character in south park is a total sociopath. The joke is not to make fun of ‘gingers’ but to laugh at the stupidity of those comments. No one mentions that in the episode, the character is made to think he became a ginger, and instead of learning anything, he starts a movement that involves getting rid of everyone who is not a ginger. South park was saying that people who say things like that are self-serving and dangerous. South park is actually against the actions of all those teenagers. But those teenagers just didn’t understand the show, and that’s why it’s an ADULT cartoon. If parents let their kids watch it, they should be there to guide and educate their children on what the show is actually about. Just like Woodsy did.