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What Sarah Palin and gay youth have in common

This weekend I watched the HBO film Game Change, based on the book by John Heilemann and starring Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin. I highly recommend it. Moore’s performance is strong. So strong, in fact, that while watching this film I found myself (to my utter shock) starting to like Sarah Palin. Okay, maybe “like” is taking it a bit far. But I certainly felt sympathetic toward her and can relate to some of the things she’s been through. Although it pains me to admit that I can relate to someone who savagely kills wolves by aerial hunting and thinks she can see Russia from her door, it’s true. In ways, I can feel her pain. I may not agree with her politics or morals, yet I can identify with the way she at times is unfairly attacked. There’s no denying that she brings a lot of the criticism on herself, but after watching the film, I got a deeper sense of her humanity.

Like many gay youth, I was bullied throughout school, and to various degrees deal with bullying to this day. But I can only imagine what it would feel like to deal with bullying on the Sarah Palin level. To have most of the world rip apart and vilify everything, from your beliefs to your accent and your family.

The impression that Game Change left on me, above all else, was how alone she must’ve felt. In an instant, her world changed forever, and thanks to the 24-hour media of today, she was lifted on a pedestal only to be dragged in the dirt faster and more viciously than anyone in modern history. But underneath the image lives an actual human being. Whether you agree with what she stands for or not, no one deserves to be censured as cruelly as she has been. The level of hatred that many people feel for her is similar to the hatred that so many gay youth are experiencing on the bus, in the playground, in class and on the internet. Bullying in the 21st century is rampant and more powerful than ever before. There’s no getting away from it. So what would’ve happened if Sarah Palin had buckled from the pressure and public disapproval and used one of the guns she usually reserves for helpless animals on herself?

Would your conscious be clear?

Obviously, when you’re in the spotlight, (especially when there’s a chance you might be the next vice-president of the United States), you’re opening yourself up to some severe and scathing condemnation. You’re going to be the butt of a few jokes. Catch me on a bad day, and I might just be blogging one of them. But there is a difference between criticism and bullying, and we all have to be aware of that or take responsibility for the potential — and, unfortunately, sometimes all too real — tragedies that we create. 

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