Writer disagrees with column

October 27, 2013

A very dear friend of mine who happens to be from Bladen County occasionally forwards me columns from your publication. Usually this is his attempt to illustrate for me some of the reasoning he has to contend with amongst the people from his home; in that vein, he forwarded your recent op-ed “We’re Producing Too Many Weenies.”

The opening third of your column didn’t surprise me — the run of the mill railing against entitlements, etc. I don’t agree with a single thing you said (I don’t know a single struggling person sitting “on the seat of their pants”) and think your argument is full of gaping holes, but not particularly offensive.
Many readers would take issue with the way you describe young mothers. I might myself if I didn’t have something more pressing to address.
As you seem to be aware, bullying has become a problem of epidemic proportions in this country. The suicide rate among young people in the age of Facebook as a result of bullying has skyrocketed. Many times this is a deliberate targeting of LGBTQ (that’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) by homophobic bullies spurred on by their homophobic parents, communities and churches. Other times, it’s bullying for other reasons.
Regardless, it’s widespread and deadly.
The fact that you chalk the problem up to a) the notion that we are raising too many “weenies” and a) that what young people really need is to turn to God, would be laughable if it were spouted by a neighborhood alcoholic at the corner tavern deep in the chasm of a Saturday night. The fact that it’s being articulated by you, the editor of an online publication that purports to represent the people of Bladen County, is shocking.
Does it not occur to you, Mr. Vincent, that the epidemic of bullying that is resulting in so much suffering and so many suicides these days has to do with the shifting landscape of technology and social media and that youth have far more resources with which to bombard their targets than historically? Because that’s what every single respectable study into the well-known phenomenon has pointed to—that and the virulence of the homophobia involved in many cases. “Weenie” raising by “entitled” people? Not so much. At least the studies aren’t there yet.
You entirely ignore the real explanation for the tragedy of this young girl’s death and so many like her. You string together your rhetorically weak critique of “entitlements” with the sociological phenomenon of bullying, which is an Olympian leap to make. To say that you don’t quite stick the dismount is to dramatically understate the case. But more to the point you just forthrightly and proudly called a young girl who has recently been psychologically battered and subsequently killed herself a “weenie.” And her parents.
I hope, sincerely, that you never dare to call yourself a Christian.

Eli Hastings

Seattle, Wash.