Best of the Week
of April 25, 1999


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of April 25, 1999, as selected by Y? These
postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing our new database using our search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in our Original Archives (all questions from the Original Archives have been entered into the new database as well). In the Original Archives and the new database, you will find questions that have received answers, as well as questions still awaiting responses. We encourage you to answer any questions relevant to your demographic background, as well as to ask any provocative question you desire. Answers posted are not necessarily meant to represent the views of an entire demographic group, but can provide a window into the insights of an individual from that group.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at our guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.

 


Question:
This is for any law-enforcement folks. I guess it does sound like a slanted question, but I keep wondering: Why did all those SWAT police - with their helmets, flak vests, tear gas and rifles - seal off the school and wait outside for three hours while victims lay bleeding to death and those two kids wandered around shooting whoever they saw? What were police, and especially SWAT teams, good for when their commanders kept them safely out of danger, even though they knew via cell phones that people were being butchered inside the school?

I realize individual police officers were under orders not to act, but it seems like criminal incompetence and cowardice on the part of their superiors. Yes, there turned out to be (dud) bombs inside, but the police apparently didn't know that until later. I would really appreciate any comments from law enforcement officers as to the way that situation was handled.
POSTED 4/29/99
Erik J., Detroit, MI, United States, 35, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 4289990948:
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Question:
To German nationals: How do you feel about German being the 'unofficial' language of hate, since it is the language of choice by most Neo-Nazis and other supremacist groups? Are you angry, embarrassed or ashamed in any way?
POSTED 4/29/99
Cynthia J., Rockland, MD, United States, 29, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Florist, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 4269951717
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Question:
I do not attempt to justify the Columbine shooting, and I think it is a terrible thing to happen. But, even though the writings of the two boys and their friends keep saying that they were bullied badly and humiliated and beaten up almost daily, why is nobody even talking about this aspect of the problem? Also, how serious is this problem of discrimination against people who are different in schools in the United States?
POSTED 4/28/99
R.N. Mohan, Bangalore, NA, India, <rnmohan@hotmail.com> , 24, Male, Atheist, Asian, Gay, Student, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 42699115614

Response:
This is a problem that is not talked about in American society. Within our school system, students are often isolated and targeted for bullying. Quite often these students group with other students that have been targeted in a similar fashion. Everything I am hearing in the media indicates that the 'Trench Coat Mafia' of Columbine High School were just such a group. If these same kids had met under any different circumstances, they might not have ever become friends. I have brought this subject up with other people since the shootings and their reactions were the same. Many kids are bullied while they're in school, but they don't pack guns and build bombs to use against their fellow classmates. The circumstances in this case cannot be narrowed to just one thing. The problems they had in school with bullying probably helped to fuel other problems they were having, whether at home or elsewhere.
POSTED 4/29/99
M. Kemper, Tampa, FL, United States, 30, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Middle class, Mesg ID 4289951438

Response:
Yes, the problem is severe. I was a 'nerd' in high school, and I hated everyone I went to high school with. I suffered some pretty severe self-esteem issues until I was about 25. I see it today too, because I work with troubled youth. Kids are cruel and do not realize how badly they hurt other kids. It also seems that teachers do nothing about this. In my high school when I talked to teachers about it, they told me to 'toughen up.' I'm not excusing what happened, but some kids have a shorter fuse than others.
POSTED 4/29/99
Leah, Erie, PA, United States, 27, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 4289952222

Response:
I have often wondered this myself. It is like a man kicking his dog for years, and one day, the dog biting the man on the leg, and the man saying, 'How could this happen?' When I was in school, a few star athletes nominated a homely girl with slight retardation for Homecoming Queen as a joke. (Yes, stories like Carrie actually happen.) I remember watching cheerleaders ask a painfully shy girl if she was a lesbian, and laughing at her. One of my friends told me his gym coach even led the taunting. If we admit that most humans would break down with this kind of constant harrassment, we must also admit that one of the ways they break down is to kill themselves, and accept some accountability. There have been numerous movies about it: The Breakfast Club, Heathers, Carrie, Revenge of the Nerds, Welcome Back Roxy Carmichael. A review of Welcome to the Dollhouse said that it was relentlessly cruel and a bad film because it didn't let the viewer off the hook. It was, in other words, what some people go through in real life. Is it really a serious problem? Read this link and judge for yourself: http://www.youth.org/loco/PERSONProject/Alerts/States/Michigan/nabozny.html
POSTED 4/29/99
Craig, Minnepolis, MN, United States, <cmorris@loft.org> , 35, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 4289954343

Response:
I am a goth of sorts, and as such have experienced the alienation those boys experienced. Yet never have I wanted to kill or hurt someone for it. My goth friends and I agree: Our sympathy will always be with the students who were killed and their families - not with the murderers.
POSTED 4/29/99
A. Jacobs, Elkins Park, PA, United States, <magic_uder@email.com> , 15, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, HS student, Less than High School Diploma , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 4289974150
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Question:
Where did the term "jap" (Jewish American Princess) originate, and what traits or habits of Jewish women brought about this stereotype?
POSTED 4/28/99
Kaylee P., Portland, OR, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 4289953041
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Question:
Is there a dictionary or some other resource that defines rap words and phrases? The beat is great, but I would like to know more of what is being said.
POSTED 3/3/99
Ruth B., Female, Mesg ID 339924930

Response:
There is a site on the internet called 'The Rap Dictionary' that defines many of the terms and phrases used in rap music. I've found it to be incredibly useful because it's so thorough and comprehensive. The website is at http://www.rapdict.org/
POSTED 4/28/99
Nneka, Detroit, MI, United States, Female, Mesg ID 4289954545
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Question:
SO134: Why does it seem that most male hairdressers, florists, entertainers, interior decorators and clothing designers are gay? Also, why do so many gay men seem to be into showtunes? Of course there are exceptions, but there really does seem to be some truth to those stereotypes.
POSTED APRIL 21, 1999
K., 20, straight white female <gazelle_sunday@unforgettable.com>, Potsdam, NY

Response:
I must admit, there is some truth to those stereotypes, just as there is some truth to stereotypes about any other ethnic, religious or cultural group. Stereotyping is a kind of classification system that all human beings indulge in, but the hazard lies in overgeneralizing, in assuming that stereotypes apply to all people in a particular group. That having been said, I think many gay men are more natually gifted than straight men in fields that require some artistry, creativity and style. Show me 10 male hairdressers, and I'll show you at least seven gay men. In years past, many of us in the gay community did everything we could to combat such stereotypes, thinking them negative. But today, many of us have come to accept the fact that we are genuinely different. If anything, I think it illustrates the fact that one's sexual orientation in innate, not chosen.
POSTED 4/26/99
Chuck A., Spring Hill, WV, United States, <PolishBear@aol.com> , Male, Gay, Mesg ID 42699100118

Response:
How many gay me do you know? I know or have known hundreds, and very few fit the stereotypes you mentioned.
POSTED 4/26/99
Tony, San Francisco, CA, United States, <tonyway@yahoo.com> , 37, Male, Agnostic, Black/African American, Gay, New Media/Grad Student, Over 4 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 42599112525

Response:
I don't buy that you're allowing for enough diversity in your assessment of gay men. I know more than my fair share of mature, adult, professional gay men who have varied musical, fashion, and cultural sense - some loathe the overt 'silliness' of some 'queenie' individuals, while others just think it's cute and a nice memory, or altogether off-putting. You'd never guess one of my best friends, a blue-collar, steer-roping, horse-training, truck-driving fisherman, was gay.

But, to be true, those who had a difficult road on the path to coming out, or just recently stepped into the light, do tend to enjoy many, many, representations of sweetness, joy and overt happiness - and sometimes that takes a Gershwin tune, doncha think?
POSTED 4/28/99
Kathryne, Birmingham, AL, United States, 28, Female, Methodist, Straight, Consultant, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 4279955018
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Question:
GD68: What do people feel is worse: Blatant racism, such as KKK rallies, or institutionalized racism, such as cops targeting/pulling over blacks, people thinking there will never be a black president, lack of jobs for minorities, worse schools for minorities, etc.

POSTED APRIL 21, 1999
Skitherbud, San Diego, CA.

Response:
A couple of days ago I would have said that KKK rallies, while disturbing and annoying, are as harmless as gatherings by any other group of nut cases (NAMBLA, cultists, etc.) But occasionally tragic events like Colorado come along and remind me that exposing the (hopefully very small number of) people who are capable of killing to a message of hate is a dangerous mix. As for the set of issues you referred to as institutional racism, I still think these conflicts are more hurtful in the long run because they foster the tensions and reactions and anger that eventually lead to the hate necessary for the creation of groups like the Klan. Maybe you can think of overt racism as the spark that from time to time ignites the explosives of racial tensions built up by institutional racism.
POSTED 4/26/99
Mark, Alexandria, VA, United States, 32, Male, Straight, Married, Mesg ID 42699101259

Response:
I was going to say that each is equally detrimental, and then changed my mind. Institutionalized racism is like a cancer that grows from within and is extremely difficult to eradicate. This eradication can typically only be accomplished via a complete disruption, and in some cases destruction, to the system. Societal chemotherapy, if you will. Blatant racism is a simpler battle. This is not meant to imply that this form of racism is not as damaging as institutionalized racism. It is just not a systemwide corruption. Its roots do not penetrate through and attach themselves to the basic principles and psyche of society's machinations. To correct blatant racism, you deal with individuals or small groups as opposed to attempting to adjust the gears, and unfortunately in some cases the foundations, of certain facets of our government and society.
POSTED 4/26/99
David, Columbia, SC, United States, <dash@netside.com> , 29, Male, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 42699102325
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