We Should Know Better
One of the downsides to social media is that it can turn people who are for the most part decent human beings into total douchebags and assclowns. Surprisingly, some of them are those who should know better.
Charles Fowler, a South Carolina high school assistant principal, resigned last week amid allegations that he shared a picture of a six-year-old girl that was taken by another customer while she was at Walmart with her family. Fowler made fun of the little girl with the caption “Honey Boo-Boo at Walmart” on his Facebook page.
The little girl’s family found out about the picture and were hurt and upset. A cousin said that she suffers from health problems and now feels uncomfortable about going out because of her weight. An online petition is circulating asking the school district to fire the assistant principal. Even his son signed the petition. The Facebook page was made private and the post removed.
Thanks to a combination of social media and the obesity panic, anyone visibly fat is a target of ridicule, including children. FFF’s Gingeroid blogged about Alexis Shapiro, a 12-year-old girl suffering from hypothalamic obesity, a condition that causes rapid weight gain and hunger, that was triggered after brain surgery to remove a tumor. Her family had raised the money needed to perform weight loss surgery, hoping it would stop her weight gain. Since that original post, Alexis did have the surgery on March 21, but doctors had to do a sleeve gastrectomy instead of gastric bypass, because her liver was too large and stiff.
When the story broke, there were the usual hate-filled comments about her not being able to put the fork down. Despite her diagnosis, she was still treated with scorn and disdain, and I’m sure the majority of those comments were made by people over the age of 18. Again, people who should know better than to pick on a child.
There is also a real creep factor to this. We have grown-ups discussing a child’s appearance and we have people taking pictures of children they don’t know and posting them online to be put up for public ridicule. Why would anyone think this is acceptable or funny in the first place?
Those who feel that Fowler and others like him aren’t doing any harm should step back and realize that while some kids can get past the taunts, others might not, and long-lasting damage, both physical and psychological, can occur as a result. When we hear the phrase “think of the children” we usually roll our eyes, but in this case, we actually should.