As I am in Oregon helping my Dad recuperate from knee surgery, I thought I’d do something I’ll call “On This Date In ISBL History” and repost some things from back when the blog was new, and newish … this was originally published November 9, 2010:
Brandon Bitner was tortured at school because he was different. He was what many call "emo" and he wore his hair dark and in his eyes; he wore the requisite dark clothes. He played the violin. His bullies assumed he was gay.
Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't. Maybe he was just a different kid in dark clothes who loved to play the violin.
Now he's dead.
Brandon Bitner left a suicide note in his house, then walked 13 miles down a darkened highway until finally deciding to run in front of a tractor-trailer.
I can only begin to imagine what went through his mind on that long walk in the middle of the night. Was he thinking, hoping, wishing, and praying that it would get better?
Earlier in the week, at Midd-West High School, where Brandon Bitner was a freshman, there was an anti-bullying assembly. It wasn't held in response to any specific incident, but because the principal felt it was an issue that should be addressed.
Most students at school recall the assembly being treated as a joke. Bullying is fun for warped little minds with low self-esteem and too much time on their hands.
But, and this is where I get even more angry, many of Brandon Bitner's friends knew he was being bullied because of his perceived sexual orientation, the way he dressed, his love of the violin. And they spoke out against the bullying … after Brandon Bitner ran in front of that truck. I would have hoped they'd spoken up before Brandon Bitner died.
We all need to speak up.
If we are friends with someone who is being taunted and tortured by classmates, by strangers, by their family, it is our duty to speak up.
If we see it happening on the street we need to speak up.
If it's happening to us we need to speak up.
See, bullies live in the darkness and bully from the shadows, but with voices we can shine a light on them and they'll scamper away like rats.
We need to speak up. Before another Brandon Bitner talks a walk in the middle of the night and never comes home.
There really is no update as Brandon is still dead … as are the other young people in the other forty-plus posts on this blog who killed themselves because they were bullied.
We don’t hear about it as much as we did in years past but it’s still happening.