Responding to the death of 14-year-old Kenneth Weishuhn, a high school freshman who committed suicide after facing cyber-bullying and death threats following coming out to his classmates, the local paper, the Sioux City Journal, turned over their front page Sunday to an editorial that is a painful, yet poignant read:
Some in our community will say bullying is simply a part of life. If no one is physically hurt, they will say, what's the big deal? It's just boys being boys and girls being girls.
Those people are wrong, and they must be shouted down.
We must make it clear in our actions and our words that bullying will not be tolerated. Those of us in public life must be ever mindful of the words we choose, especially in the contentious political debates that have defined our modern times. More importantly, we must not be afraid to act.
How many times have each of us witnessed an act of bullying and said little or nothing? After all, it wasn't our responsibility. A teacher or an official of some kind should step in. If our kid wasn't involved, we figured, it's none of our business.
Try to imagine explaining that rationale to the mother of Kenneth Weishuhn.
It is the business of all of us. More specifically, it is our responsibility. Our mandate.