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Posts for May, 2012

Is There An “America’s Ugliest Town” Contest I Don’t Know About?

Jim Burroway

May 31st, 2012

It seems that everyone is looking for their Big Viral Internet Meme in the sun. The problem is, some of those viruses are deadly. A pastor in Newton, North Carolina wants to round up gay people and put them in concentration camps; his flock stands behind him. Another pastor, Curtis Knapp of New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas, says that gays should be killed:

They should be put to death. That’s what happened in Israel. That’s why homosexuality wouldn’t have grown in Israel. It tends to limit conversions. It tends to limit people coming out of the closet. — ‘Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them, no?’ — I’m saying the government should. They won’t but they should. [You say], ‘oh, I can’t believe you, you’re horrible. You’re a backwards neanderthal of a person.’ Is that what you’re calling scripture? Is God a neanderthal backwards.. in his morality? Is it his word or not? If it’s his word, he commanded it. It’s his idea, not mine. And I’m not ashamed of it.”

Knapp later claimed that he really didn’t mean it, using words to suggest that he really, deep down, did. “We punish pedophilia. We punish incest. We punish polygamy and various things. It’s only homosexuality that is lifted out as an exemption,” he told CNN.

And then there’s the viral video of a four year old boy at the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle in Greensburg, Indiana, singing, “Ain’t no homo’s gonna make it to heaven.” The congregation leapt to its feet in shouts and applause. Someone — a parent probably? — shouted “That’s my boy!” They loved it so much that they brought the kid up for an encore. Greensburg is where 14-year-old Billy Lucas killed himself because he was perceived as being gay. The community banded together for a massive cover-up, but Billy’s memorial page on Facebook told the real story, leading me to dub Greensburg America’s Ugliest Town.

And you know what? It apparently still is, although several other pastors are trying to put their own towns in the running.

Greensburg, Indiana: America’s Ugliest Town

Jim Burroway

September 17th, 2010

Want more reasons to be furious over Billy Lucas’ suicide?

Homophobic hate messages were left Thursday on a memorial page set up for Billy Lucas, a Greensburg High School student who killed himself last week after being mercilessly bullied, friends said. Numerous images were uploaded to a Facebook group, giving visitors a taste of the kind of hate Lucas endured, friends said.

The messages chided the teen about defending himself and made attacks on his presumed sexuality, 6News’ Joanna Massee reported. Lucas was found hanged in a barn at his grandmother’s house last week. Some of the messages attempted to make light of the way Lucas died.

In Greensburg, bullying doesn’t end with death. It goes on beyond the grave to torment those left behind. Greensburg, Indiana right now is the ugliest town in America.

More details from Billy Lucas’ last day

Timothy Kincaid

September 17th, 2010

More details have come out about the day that 14-year-old Billy Lucas took life. (WISHTV.com)

His mom last saw him around 8 p.m. that night as he put up the horses. In the police report she says he “was acting strange earlier and called 911…he told the dispatcher he was causing problems for his mom and people should come”. She told police she didn’t know why he called and told dispatchers there was no problem and not to come.

Billy had been suspended from school that day. Friends say he was fighting back with cuss words against the bullies. They say girls were harassing him in class when he stood up and let the words spew. He was suspended.

Jade Sansing met Billy as he was being harassed a year ago. She tells 24 Hour News 8 of his final days “everything seemed normal, but he did tell me some people were making fun of him and I told him I would help him and I did.” Help from Jade is now memories in the Facebook memorial page she created. She says, “I made a Billy Lucas memorial page so I could say my last goodbyes and everyone could know about the bullying.” She had to make her last goodbyes on the internet because there was no public funeral for Billy. Jade says the bullies would call Billy “gay and tell him to go kill himself.” Karen questions, “You actually heard people tell him go kill yourself?” She answers “yes”.

As for the school? They are denying everything.

The coroner and Greensburg school district say there is no evidence bullying led up to the suicide.

There is nothing about this story that doesn’t leave me furious and near tears.

With a mother like this, who needs bullies?

Timothy Kincaid

September 16th, 2010

The mother of Billy Lucas is defending Billy… from assumptions that he was gay. (Fox 59)

The mother of a teen who killed himself after being bullied is speaking out. Annie Lucas told the Greensburg Daily News that billy was not gay and added that he was too young to know what he was.

She says quote:”I know everyone has these assumptions but they’re not true. I know he was bullied. It wasn’t that he was gay. He was bullied for everything.”

She goes on to say, “I don’t want this to turn into a gay activist thing. I don’t want it to turn into anything.”

How many gay kids have heard, “you’re not gay, you’re too young to know anyway” from a parent that was far more concerned about their own social standing, religious opinion, or selfish plans for their child than they were about the mental health of the kid trying to open up to them?

As we’ve said from the beginning, we don’t know if Billy was gay.

But I do know that the bullying he experienced was primarily over assumptions about his sexual orientation. And I do know that if I were a bullied gay kid with this mother, life just might seem unbearable.

And now Annie Lucas is trying to make his death meaningless.

UPDATE:
I believe I neglected to share a detail that may have influenced my thinking on this matter. When reading the various news stories about Billy’s suicide, I ran across this comment:

Lucas had a history of fighting with his mother and problems at school.

Although I did not include it in my original commentary, it did impact the extent to which this story touched me. I felt that this poor kid may have had no adults in his corner and I do think that it is likely that his lack of a support network at home or school or anywhere really contributed to his overall feeling of worthlessness.

Indiana kid bullied to death

Timothy Kincaid

September 14th, 2010

I’m usually detached enough that this stuff doesn’t get to me. But for some reason, Billy Lucas’ story has me on the verge of tears. (Fox 59)

He was a teenager who didn’t quite fit in. His classmates said Billy Lucas was bullied for being different.

The 15-year-old never told anyone he was gay but students at Greensburg High School thought he was and so they picked on him.

“People would call him ‘fag’ and stuff like that, just make fun of him because he’s different basically,” said student Dillen Swango.

Students told Fox59 News it was common knowledge that children bullied Billy and from what they said, it was getting worse. Last Thursday, Billy’s mother found him dead inside their barn. He had hung himself.

I am sick of reading this story over and over and over and the only change is the name. But I am even more sick, disgusted, and outraged at hearing “I didn’t know” excuses and blame-the-victim justifications from administrators who ignored the abuse – often deliberately.

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This time the ‘I Don’t Give A Damn Award’ goes to Principal Phil Chapple, who had no idea that Lucas was being bullied. Nope, no clue.

But he did say this:

“Sometimes he created that atmosphere around him,” Chappel said. “Kind of like a little tornado because he went around doing things that made dust fly, I guess.”

So Chappel saw dust fly, but never noticed that kids were threatening Billy every day. Un-huh. And he admits that his problems were because “people found out who he was.”

So I guess Chappel’s version is that Billy “created that atmosphere” by being “who he was” and “went around doing things” that “made dust fly” but Chappel never noticed any bullying, no sir. In his rush to blame Lucas for his own mistreatment, Chappel didn’t even see the internal contradiction in his own story.

So now that the news cameras are on him, what is Chappel doing? Is he contacting GLSEN? Is he instating long-tested anti-bullying programs? Is he letting the teachers know that there will be no tolerance for anti-gay bullying? Is he even acknowledging that this has LONG been a problem at Greensburg High? (Eyewitness News)

school administrators met Monday to discuss forming a committee that would include students and parents to help battle the bullying issues

Chappel’s newfound awareness of bullying is total bull. Another previous student – one who survived his own suicide attempt – told school officials about his anti-gay bullying. They did nothing.

I guess Chappel thought that he too “created that atmosphere.”