The aftermath of Tyler Clementi’s suicide and Liu Xiaobo’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize is provoking similar reactions of public outrage and humiliation to their oppressors.
Since Clementi’s suicide after being outed on live Webcam by his Rutgers roommate, there have been numerous efforts to speak out against homophobic bullying. Examples include The Trevor Project, which provides resources to end GLBTQ teen suicides, the It Gets Better videos project, launched September 21st to respond to another GLBTQ teen who suicided, Billy Lucas of Indiana, which records affirming messages directed at GLBTQ teens, and amending the 2009 Safe Schools Improvement Act to include anti-bullying language.
The It Gets Better project has gone viral with new videos posted daily by people from all walks of life, including Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson. The goal is to affirm publicly the value of GLBTQ teens’ lives and to state unequivocally the moral wrongness of those who perpetuate hate language and bullying acts.
Chinese political prisoner Liu is serving an 11-year sentence for writing a document promoting democracy. Calls for freeing Liu have come from President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Kan and are deeply humiliating to the Chinese government, which says that Liu’s imprisonment is an internal issue.
Social media used to elicit activism is electrifying. Everyone can be an activist in one’s own home. The public outrage is loud, instantaneous and omnipresent. The humiliation is deserved for those to whom the outrage is directed. Let us hope that humiliation will lead to changed behavior.