Editorial: Take action against hate speech

The Newtonite

The chants of “you killed Jesus” from Catholic Memorial’s fan section at Friday’s basketball game were an unacceptable show of ignorance, bigotry, and disrespect. Such open and blatant anti-Semitism is a threat to our community’s values of acceptance and diversity and needs to be taken seriously.
The students involved in the chants are in all likelihood not intentionally hateful people. The chanters probably didn’t mean to hurt anyone. However, their utter disregard and insensitivity for others, particularly with such a historically problematic and inaccurate taunt, deserves consequences and attention.
Of course, Catholic Memorial is not alone in the practice of inappropriate taunting at basketball games. It is a regular practice for North’s fan section to poke fun at opposing schools. At times, this may be slightly indecent and problematic. However, there is a substantial distinction between a chant like “sausage fest,” a crude play on the fact that Catholic Memorial is an all-boys school, and “you killed Jesus,” an idea that has been behind hateful persecution of Jews for centuries.
While “sausage fest” was a rude jab toward Catholic Memorial as an entire institution, “you killed Jesus” was not only a targeted degradation of Jews, but also a distorted generalization of the North community.
In the recent political climate where presidential candidates seem to reject the need to be politically correct, events like this one have garnered national attention and pose danger of an even larger division in society. In the Catholic Memorial case, political correctness simply takes the form of having human decency to see the problematic nature of anti-Semitism. Taking action against it is crucial in achieving a more accepting society.
Catholic Memorial’s administration has responded well to the situation, is effectively reprimanding the students responsible, and is taking steps to prevent similar issues in the future. In turn, the North community should take this opportunity as victims of hate speech to reflect on its own internal issues of hate and bigotry.
This year alone, North has seen hate speech everywhere from online surveys to bathroom walls. In December, “No Jews” and two swastikas were written along the wall of a boys’ bathroom. This past week, another swastika was discovered in a girls’ bathroom. During last week’s BLAC Day, racist comments and questions were sent to an online survey that asked for serious discussion questions on racial issues. In October, Feminism Club held a social experiment in the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms that received extremely sexist remarks. The list goes on.
Clearly, as accepting as people may think the North community is, the reality is that we have substantial room for improvement. Simply bringing these issues to light and discussing them openly and honestly is a start.
Does it make sense that one single story out of the many similar to it is suddenly thrust into the national spotlight? Probably not. However, we should use this unfortunate occurrence as a stepping stone into acknowledging and addressing hatred and bigotry in the United States, as well as in our own community.