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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Fuel discrimination: Attack a ‘ginger’

    In junior high school, I was that kid. I’m sure some of you were in the same position. I was the meager, stringy-haired redhead with pale skin that still has no clue how to accept a tan. Like many 12 year olds, I was picked on a lot, and my school administration was ineffective at preventing teasing and taunting. Thank God those years are over for me, but sadly, a worse fate has swept across the nation for preteens and high school students.

    Two weeks ago, A.E. Wright Middle School in Calabasas, Calif., began investigating an attack on a 12-year-old student, who was likely targeted because of a Facebook group, “”Kick a Ginger Day,”” urging students to beat up redheads. The boy was kicked and hit in two incidents on the campus of A.E. Wright Middle School by as many as 14 of his classmates, Lt. Richard Erickson of Los Angeles said. Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said Monday that two 12 year olds were arrested for suspicion of misdemeanor battery, and a 13-year-old was booked for misdemeanor cyberbullying. There were numerous reports of redhead assaults across the country that same day.

    A “”ginger”” is someone with red hair, fair skin, and freckles, and the term was coined by the South Park television series. In 2005, South Park aired an episode about “”gingers,”” and one of the characters said that these types of people have no soul. It’s very possible that this episode inspired the “”Kick a Ginger Day”” group and activity, though it would be silly to blame a television show for this kind of reaction. If anything, the abusers used the show as an excuse for their disgusting, animalistic actions. Redheads have been made fun of for their differences for a very long time, and this kind of incident does not call for censorship in television or scolding of the show for being too cruel and heartless.

    Blogger and redhead Vince Fitzpatrick knows all too well that red-haired people have endured a lot of harassment long before South Park ever created the infamous “”ginger”” episode. Fitzpatrick said in a Nov. 19 post, which appeared online before the A.E. Wright Middle School attack, “”As the years following the “”Ginger Kids”” episode passed, the jokes started to pick up. Friends would ask me if I was a day walker. Drunken passerbys accused me of lacking a soul. On mischief night, I got hit by an egg as someone in a passing car shouted “”Gingers suck!””

    I’m curious as to why someone would be so bothered by a red haired person. Are we redheads really that weird or scary? If you think we’re unattractive, don’t talk to us. There’s no reason for anyone to assault a redhead for having an unconventional look.

    Historically, redheads have gotten a bad rap. Because they only make up 1 to 2 percent of the population. They’re incredibly unique, and some people are highly uncomfortable with difference. Red-haired people are often stereotyped as being short-tempered, angry, and abnormally hotheaded, though I doubt this idea motivated the creation of “”Kick a Ginger Day.””

    In “”Gulliver’s Travels,”” which was published in 1726, author Jonathan Swift says, “”It is observed that the red-haired of both sexes are more libidinous and mischievous than the rest, whom yet they much exceed in strength and activity.”” There’s another instance of a redhead acting wild later in the novel. In art, redheads are sometimes portrayed as dangerous sirens that lure men into the water. Though red haired individuals have been a mysterious object of history for centuries, the recent assaults on redheads are completely unjustified, ludicrous and borderline psychopathic.

    It’s unfortunate that today’s youth could be so hateful against a group of people who have done nothing but be born with a peculiar hair color. Racism, bigotry and discrimination should never be tolerated, so school administrators and people across the world have to be proactive in preventing this kind of thing from ever happening to any group again. Thankfully, A.E. Wright Middle School recently scheduled a sensitivity assembly to address bullying, and teachers all over have generally responded to the “”Kick a Ginger”” atrocity with shame.

    What makes the bullies in this case any different than those who commit hate crimes? Redheads aren’t typically of minority races, so “”Kick a Ginger Day”” cannot be called racist. Even so, red haired people were still victimized for their identity and genetics. Shouldn’t the bullies be embarrassed about having this kind of prejudice? To beat or hurt someone simply due to appearance is discrimination, and it’s unacceptable. Anyone who acted out against redheads in this way should be absolutely ashamed, and so should these individuals’ parents.

    Though it’s unlikely, these harassers may one day mature and comprehend the severity of their monstrosities. This could coincide with growing up and learning more about the world. If and when these twisted individuals get their act together, I hope they forever feel guilty about their savagery and mean spirits. Even the most ignorant and naïve of preteens and young adults understand that it’s wrong to physically harm someone, let alone for a person’s appearance.

    Kids these days can be picked on for a myriad of reasons, none of which make any real sense. It’s childish to laugh at someone’s Dora the Explorer backpack or out-of-style jeans, but it’s even worse to fault a student for something beyond his control. Would you make fun of a mentally challenged person, or someone of a different race? Targeting a specific hair color is not only really stupid, but it shows that people are finding even the smallest ways to exercise bigotry, and this is a huge step back for our society.

    — Laura Donovan is the opinions editor of the Daily Wildcat. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.  

     

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