Bill O’Reilly is upset that little kids are using profanity, and he has a ludicrously sentimental vision of small town America.
OK. That happens every day, all day in the public schools here in New York City. And I know it happens in Chicago and Los Angeles and Boston and Washington, D.C. In any major urban center. It doesn’t happen in the small towns; it happens in the cities. I live in New York. I’m not gonna have my 6-, 7-, 8-, 9-year-old go to a school where they’re saying that stuff in the hallway and the teacher doesn’t do anything about it. You know, private school, that does not happen.
Oh, brother. I grew up in a small town in the 60s and 70s—Kent, WA, population 14,152 (we lived on the edge of town, right near the city limits sign, and I caught the school bus every day right under that message)—and my fellow children were obscenely profane all the time. I now live in an even smaller place, population just a hair over 5,000, and if you want to hear some hair-raising language, walk by the elementary school playground. Heck, I’ve been startled a few times while walking past the Catholic school yard in town. I don’t have much experience with private schools, but I would be very surprised if human nature was much changed by the imposition of tuition (and, come to think of it, some of the most casually explicit chatterers I remember from the old school days were the most well-off kids).
Here’s what real small town America is like: petty, irrational hatreds, intolerance, and vicious smears of anyone who is the slightest bit different, leavened with far too few more charitable individuals. My daughter and several of her friends have been joining in the “Gay? Fine by me.” campaign—basically, they just express support for people with different sexual preferences in a very low key way. How do you think other fine, upstanding Middle American school kids react?
Today was the second Gay-Day. A bunch of us wore our “gay? fine by me.” T-shirts to school. Funny that the first time people didn’t react, but then they went boom this time. It was the standard moronic bashing. Flicking us off in the hall, calling us fags, asking if we were gay, asking why we liked gay people, saying that gay people should be shot, that they aren’t real people.
Bill O’Reilly, bigoted blowhard that he is, probably thinks that kind of thing is just fine, as long as they don’t use the “f”-word*. Personally, I’d rather see kids cussing like sailors as long as they were tolerant of each other’s differences. I’m afraid, though, that small towns aren’t exactly shining beacons of idealistic American values…those progressive values, no less, that are the antithesis of what O’Reilly promotes.