“Call me a faggot one more fucking time. . .”
I must have watched it well over a dozen times. You might have too. That video clip of that gay teen somewhere in middle America who had finally had enough from his tormentor. The kid’s name is Jordan Steffy, the school, Indiana’s LaPorte High School. But it could have been any of us in any of the small-town cinderblock public schools we came from, the hallways we had to carefully navigate, the bullies we had to dodge. Time we had to bide. I think that’s why the clip was so popular. That and that glorious slap was something out of a Hollywood sound-effect studio. So perfect. Go watch it if you haven’t yet. “Because I am motherfucking done with you. . .” I wonder how far this kid had been pushed to get to that point?
It also resonated because it could have been any of us really. And we sort of wish it was, right? Sweet justice for a bully. And frankly, I’ve always thought it a mistake to mislabel gays as cowards, people not willing to stand up for themselves. Truth be told, some of the gays I know in Washington are the most ruthless people I’ve ever met.
Maybe the video and again that sweet slapping sound resonated perhaps because it represents a larger turn of the tide, or a least a change of tactics for some of us. This past week there were several headlines of liberals (finally) getting angry. Literally, go Google it. “Nancy Pelosi Gets Angry,” “Joe Biden Gets Angry.” And people largely responded well to it. Nancy Pelosi laid it out in no uncertain terms for a right-wing news journalist when asked if she hated President Trump. The look on her face says she might be a grandmother but she’s not putting up with any of that crap. “Don’t mess with me,” she told him with a pointed finger. Joe Biden responded similarly when an Iowa voted rather foolishly gurgled up some Republican talking points. Anyone out there might want to rethink the whole past-his-prime narrative after seeing his reaction to the voter mentioning his son and supposed corruption. “You’re a damn liar,” Biden told the man.
Perhaps both should have told their hecklers that they were “motherfucking done with you.” Maybe only a gay teen pushed too far can get away with that sort of colorful language. But, like that kid, I’ve always found it annoying and regrettable that liberals have the reputation of running out of the room as soon as the fight starts. Or that it seems that Democrats for some time were always bringing knives to gunfights. Or that any emotion, especially anger, is too much emotion. Maybe all that’s changing.
Maybe it’s time to get a little angry. To start slapping back. Maybe I’m mistaken. But their side seems to have been pretty damn angry for some time. And don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should stoop to anyone’s level of pettiness and vitriol. But we should certainly stand up for ourselves when we find ourselves being horribly misrepresented, mischaracterized, or even pushed around. It might be the only language they understand.
Going into next year, an election year, this is an important takeaway. Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but shouldn’t have John Kerry responded a bit more forcefully to being Swift-boated? Hillary Clinton more soundly to endless email drama? Ignoring bullies only goes so far. Just ask Jordan Steffy from LaPorte, Ind. He’ll tell you. Sometimes a little anger every now and then is worth it.
Brock Thompson is a D.C.-based writer who contributes regularly to the Blade.