12:22 p.m., March 5, 2013

Jen Stogsdill
Jennifer Stogsdill, Co-editor

Photo by Dan Herring, Photo Editor

Time to accept all differences

As the increasing number of bullying cases has led to suicides and shootings, we are finding often these bullying cases are the result of some sort of discrimination.

According to the bullyonline.org, “bullying and harassment (at work, in society, at school and at home) is a major cause of injury to health, both physical and mental,” and “the source of most bullying and harassment can usually be traced to one individual.”

Also, according to bullyonline.org, “Bullying is the common denominator of harassment, discrimination, abuse, violence, etc.”

Editor bothered by characteristics
of society

Prejudice and discrimination have always been characteristics of society that have bothered me the most. It seems as if no matter where you go or what you do or how you look, some people will bully or treat you differently because you happen not to be what they consider “normal.” When you are what people are not used to, they respond in fear of the unknown. Bullies project their personal insecurities onto those who are different out of fear.

Prejudice and discrimination, whether it’s against race, style, sexual orientation, are all the same in the end: You fear people who are not you, those who are not what is common in society. Once you discriminate against someone because of race, what is stopping you from discriminating because of sexual orientation, or personal likes, or handicaps, etc.? Where does it stop? Instead it can end in a domino effect.

Discrimination is discrimination

Discriminating against one characteristic is no different than discriminating against another. All humans are different, so whose place is it to determine what is “normal” and what is the right way to live a life? Not all people are married with two kids, a 9-to-5 job, a three-bedroom house, a dog and a garden with a picket fence.

We should start getting to know a person rather than jumping to conclusions and making assumptions because he happens to look differently or act differently or live differently than the conventional norm of society. We should respect people for their differences. We don’t necessarily have to like all people, but accept them; get to know a person before discriminating against him for his differences.

Even I have been discriminated against because I don’t always dress like a “normal” person. I wear a lot of black, a lot of makeup, a lot of jewelry. Because of this, some have treated me differently. I have grown to realize I never want to define myself as anything. I am me, and I have come to the conclusion that labels on people are pointless. People are so diverse that they shouldn’t be limited by labels other people have put on them, nor should they have to compromise to be accepted into a “normal” society.

I have learned to ignore the few people who happen to treat me differently. I know people, though, who have been bullied for being different whether it was because they looked different or were homosexual or Goth or punk or nerdy, and it has really gotten under their skin. Today, it seems as if a lot of people are telling us to be ourselves, yet if we are not “normal,” we are harassed. People shouldn’t be penalized for being themselves. Without these differences, we would all be the same, and society would be rather boring, wouldn’t it?

Differences shaped cultures

Differences are what shape a great culture and lead to new inventions and artistic expression.

Ironically, it isn’t even possible for everyone to be considered “normal.” There will always be something about us that makes us a little different: hair color, eye color, style, ethnicity, sexual orientation, beliefs, morals, goals, etc.

If we start singling people out because of one characteristic, what makes us think we will stop at one? Discrimination because of race is no different than discrimination because of sexual orientation, and that is no different than discrimination because of someone’s hair color.

It’s all incredibly stupid and pointless in the end.

Bullying in the workplace has always been an issue. First, it was racism, feminism and now the LGBT community being discriminated against in the workplace. Same monster, different face, but everyone will eventually have to enter the workplace and work with people who are different. It’s time in college that we should learn how to be accepting of other’s differences.

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