Posted by: cousinbrandon | October 14, 2010

“It Gets Better”: A Speech by Joel Burns

Let’s be honest: I’m an asshole. Or at least I perceive myself that way, as I’m sure many of you do. I’m jaded. I’m cynical. I’m self-loathing and have contempt for the majority of the population. I hate idiocy. I hate conformity. I hate groupthink and, hence, the ability to think for oneself. Yet despite my flaws and self-perception as a jackass, I do, in fact, have a heart.

Normally I wouldn’t post something like this on my blog. Not because I want the rest of you to think I’m an asshole, but simply because it doesn’t so much jive with the overall tone. Other than Versus, this blog is typically comical and light-hearted. Hell, that’s all I’ve asked and all I’ve wanted. But then, as I was reading through my timeline on Twitter, I came across this tweet by one of my heroes, Patton Oswalt, which prompted me to write today’s entry.

[UPDATE: Patton blogged further about this issue, in an honest, self-incriminating piece.]

I do marketing for a nonprofit organization that works with 12,000 youth and families a year nationwide. What’s more, as I’ve mentioned a million times, I hate my job. I don’t hate what we do; rather, I hate how we do it from an administrative perspective. I don’t agree with how money is allocated. I don’t agree with the management style. I don’t agree with the groupthink of those in charge. What I believe in, though, are the people in the field who are working with our clients. And this October 12 speech by Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns (which you can again view here if you didn’t already do so in Patton’s link) was enough to make me want to share it with the rest of you. Burns gave an impassioned and highly revealing/personal speech on the effects of high school bullying, particularly in how it affects gay and lesbian youth. My organization focuses on bullying as one of the factors for at-risk youth we look to stomp out. And as a parent of a six-year-old, it’s heartbreaking to think she could ever be on the receiving end of this type of verbal abuse. The video is over 12 minutes long, and I absolutely promise you will watch it in its entirety.

Again, I don’t typically share this sort of thing here, and I’m mainly on my soapbox only when it pertains to things like music and why I’d advocate for Rachael Ray to be buried alive in that Chilean mine. So, I hope you’ll forgive this off-brand post and at least take 12 minutes out of your day to watch Burns’ speech. It’s worth it.



  1. Good Stuff. But is it still okay to bully fans of “Lost”?

    • That, too, is an outrage!

  2. Brandon, no need to use 3rd party videos to spread your own message. Just keep in mind…it gets better. It gets better.

  3. It’s funny, I too am an asshole, a big big asshole. I say a lot of disgusting things, generally hate a lot of things about people, I’m cynical and jaded and find a strange comfort in all of it. Strangley enough, I am a child therapist. WTF? Seriosly, and nothing hurts more than to watch these kids go through the sort of demeaning, terrible bullshit that they have to go through everyday. Sometimes I want to give them a riffle, a pen and pad and some lipstick and say do your best:

    (Not the best clip, although it doesn’t have Sandler so that should make you happy)

    The thing is, how do you stop it? You can tell kids to go tell on the bully which works sometimes and makes the situation known but most of the time it does nothing because a) The kid might get their ass kicked even more and b)NO ONE DOES SHIT ABOUT IT!!! The culture surrounding bullying is a scary, scary thing. As much as I hate things that are over done and talked about too much in the media, bullying is the only thing lately that I have welcomed in redundancy. Calling to light what so many voicless kids feel.

    Sorry for my high horse standing on a soapbox, but this shit gets to me. I have so much more to say about this, but its hard to write while O’Doyle is giving me a wedgy(ie?). Ill save it for later responses.

    • I do despise Sandler, but since it’s Buscemi-centric, it gets a pass.

      As far as how to stop it, crotch, I honestly don’t know. Hell, I realize it’s a rhetorical question, but I wish I had an answer. I can tell you that organizations like mine spend a lot of time focusing on bullying. It’s become one of the hottest topics nationally, in terms of epidemics. And in light of these recent suicides (not to mention Joel’s speech), it’s only going to get bigger.

      Like anything else, awareness is key. There’s always been bullying, and I’m sure there always will be. That shit’s not going to change. But if nothing else, maybe speeches like Joel’s will make some of these bullies realize the type of damage they’re actually inflicting. Kids are cruel. They do stupid shit. We all did. But there is a line between light teasing and crushing someone’s spirit. I guess I’m more sensitive to it because I have a kid now, but it really upsets me to no end to think that someday, someone might talk shit to my daughter. They’re unprotected out there, and that’s reality. But the hope is to make these fuckers realize the kind of deadly effect words can have.

  4. All bullying starts in the mind of the bully, first. So, if one can change the mind of the bully with respect to the evil thoughts that pricipitate the actions against others, the problem will go away – one person at a time. So, when will you start having good thought about Rachael?

  5. Well told story. Hate is ugly.

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