Violent speech leads to actions

Letter to the editor

To the editor:
   Matthew Shepard died alone and frightened in the middle of a field, left there to die by those who thought it was acceptable to hurt him because he was different. Because they were threatened by his sexual preference. Because they live in a society where they are taught it is OK to hate. Because violence in speech causes violence in action. Crimes like these are commonplace. People threatened, hurt, even killed, every day, because their actions, or simply their lifestyle, are deemed socially unacceptable. We need to stop this. We need to band together to say to the bigots and the haters that this type of behavior, this type of narrow-mindedness, this type of violence will no longer be tolerated.
   We can begin simply by demanding those in office espouse the views that allow us all to live freely and without fear. Those whom we would elect must hold themselves to a higher standard, not just of tolerance or even acceptance, but a celebration of those who are different, whether it be because of race, color, religion, gender or sexual orientation. We need to send a clear message that bigotry and hatred will not be tolerated. We can start locally with our own school board elections this April.
   One member of our current school board, Ms. Janice Mastriano, has made comments that show her to be prejudiced and homophobic. Her comments were not simply bigoted; they were full of violence and vitriol — comparing homosexuals to pedophiles. By showing this unfortunate disposition toward narrow-mindedness, she has clearly shown that she cannot be trusted to care for our children and make decisions about their education. Statements such as Ms. Mastriano’s are exactly the kind that give people the ammunition they need to hurt other people. Worse even, her comments, especially considering her position, are exactly the type that cause children who are growing up to think that these viewpoints are acceptable. But by far the most nefarious consequence of these types of comments is that they cause children who are growing up different to question themselves, to think they are somehow bad or evil, to hide who they are or even hurt themselves.
   On April 16 let us think of our children’s future and vote against Janice Mastriano in the East Windsor Regional school board election. It’s past time we learned to accept our differences; now is the time we need to celebrate those differences. Our children deserve nothing less.
Barbara Schreiber

Steve Schreiber
East Windsor