Sparked by the story of Keaton Jones, yesterday I blogged some advice for dealing with bullies. Overnight the story continued to evolve and then devolve. A brouhaha ensued. Pictures circulated of Keaton’s family holding Confederate flags. Allegations of racism started flying around.
And then the internet, which wanted Keaton and his family to be either saints or devils, did what it always does. It drew apart to into extreme camps. Because people want easy answers.
The irony is incredible. What if Keaton and/or his family are bigoted? I’m not saying that because I refuse to make a snap judgment based on the Twitterverse, and I believe one should first take the log out of his own eye before pointing out the speck in somebody else’s.
But let’s just say for argument’s sake that he/they are racists. What do you think would change their point of view? Do you think a multiracial and universal outpouring of praise and support would make them see the world differently? Maybe. But most of what was previously offered is now being withdrawn as the social media tide flips to the opposite extreme.
Racist or not, Keaton was bullied and his pain is real. If the bullies have a legitimate problem with something Keaton said or did, the kids can work it out if they talk. But if talking breaks down and one side gets physical, let the other side put up their dukes. Both sides will soon learn that petty scuffles are stupid and that violence stinks (and it hurts).
Then, if they all apologize and can manage to forgive and forget, they can shake hands and treat each other with new-found respect.
So I stand by my advice of yesterday, to parties on all sides.