Jun 30, 2007
In the course of the next week in the United States, we will have Independence Day on July 4th. That's a day of fireworks, picnics and, of course, speeches. The speeches take the same course, to the point that I think most of us have them down to memory. The speeches will be about our freedom, and our democracy. And then I read once more about Tempest Smith's death in February of 2001, and I wonder just how much freedom and democracy we actually have.
It can be fairly said that a prisoner in jail has freedom of movement - he may move anywhere he wants within his cell. Is our Religious Freedom that constrained?
Let us not forget that Tempest Smith died because of the non-stop teasing, ridicule and bullying she was subjected to. She was twelve years old, and a student at Lincoln Park Middle School.
Much can be said about her classmates who taunted her, and then made such apologies at her funeral. Much might also be said wondering how the faculty and staff at the school could actually claim to not have known what was being done to her.
Suicide is a favorite subject for "Monday morning quarterbacks," since the person most directly involved is not available for comment. But suffice it to say that Tempest Smith died from the torment.
Perhaps there is a lesson for the rest of us to learn from this.
The Jewish Defense League came up with a slogan some years ago which seems to fit this situation: "NEVER AGAIN!"