McDonald's attack rooted in ignorance

April 26, 2011

The race, gender, or age of the attackers are largely irrelevant to the vicious and senseless beating of Chrissy Lee Polis ("18-year-old charged in McDonald's beating," April 25). This was an act of cowardice, hatred and bullying — pure and simple — and is not peculiar to any particular group. It is the personal responsibility of the attackers and the bystanders who apparently encouraged them.

Ignorance, the arrogant self-righteousness to which it often leads, and a lack of empathy are at the root of such incidents. Those of us not afflicted with gender anxiety can only imagine the difficulties and suffering these people must endure — and many of us don't even try.

We need to educate ourselves about, and try to develop a little empathy and compassion for, those who are different or suffering. Jennifer Finney Boylan's book "She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders," or Jeffrey Eugenides' "Middlesex" are two good places to start.

A quote attributed to Ms. Boylan's mother sums it up well: "It's hard to hate someone whose story you know."

Do we want a society of compassion and tolerance, or one of hatred and division, as epitomized by Fred Phelps and his clan? It's up to us to stand up to the bullying of anyone.

Craig Herud, Aberdeen

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