“This is a eulogy, as so rather than making it a lecture on what and who failed Bart, it is most important at this time to celebrate Bart’s life, and to grieve over our tragic loss.”
The eulogy for Bart Palosz, who Greenwich High sophomore who committed suicide after the first day of school last week, was well written, emotional, and largely sidestepped the major issues that led to Mr. Palosz ending his life, after years of bullying, and indifference on the part of the Greenwich school system. Instead of naming and shaming names, it did what it was supposed to do: celebrate the life of someone who was, by all accounts, a brilliantly intelligent young man who didn’t fit in with the societal norms expected of a teenager. In short, they handled it with grace and dignity.
I don’t have nearly the same limits, and therefore, don’t require the same grace and dignity.
Let’s be blunt: the larger community of Greenwich killed Bart Palosz. They might not have pulled the trigger on the shotgun, but through equal parts bullying and depraved indifference, they might as well have. What’s striking about this young man is that he really was the better person in just about any case one could think of; he was outright told that he should fight back, but ultimately decided that it wouldn’t be “right”. He took his beliefs to the grave when it became too much to deal with.
The reason it became too much to deal with is because of the stupid, lazy and downright incompetent people that have been involved with the schooling of this poor kid since he started to receive abuse, not to mention the inhuman devils that literally beat him into submission. People were told throughout the years that the bullying was getting worse and worse, and administrators continued to put their heads in the sand. They had union meetings to attend, I guess. And really, Greenwich is rich; couldn’t they afford a shrink? We have almost 2,500 students to address! How could we notice the subtle and understated clues that he was giving?
Naturally, this kid should have just sucked it up. After all, everyone is bullied at some point in their lives, and we all turned out fine! That’s some of the sentiment I hear about the suicide of a kid. Local resident Tony Mammone, who is such a buffoon I’m not even going to play nice by just calling him a “local resident”, summed up this mindset in a Facebook thread:
Everyone faces some sort of bullying growing up. It is more widely publicized now. Quit coddling the youth today as it is making them a bunch of overly sensitive babies.
Idiot? Ok thanks. I did read the article. I was the fat kid growing up. I got teased for it and ‘bullied’ it’s part of growing up. If the kid shoots everyone in school, he a menace. If he kills himself, he’s bullied. Why not speak up, and ask for help.
Anyone saying this is thinking back to some idyllic time where people all mostly got along, and the worst anyone did was occasionally receive a swirly. I was bullied a lot as a kid, and in some cases, I got it *bad*. Some of it, I’ll never forget, and some of it, I’ll never forgive, even in my 30s, a time when I really should be over it. I was able to survive, and even thrive after the fact, but there were a few key differences:
1) Bart Palosz is a better person than I was. He wouldn’t strike people back. I, on the other hand, fought a lot. This frequently meant I had to fight four or five on one, granted, but a lot of bullying was able to be stopped simply because I got big enough and angry enough to do some damage. This is the easy answer for people my age or older, but guess what? It’s a bad answer! Violence is a bad thing! Do you know what fighting got me? More fights! More times being hurt! More times hurting other people! And no, it wasn’t limited to just people who tried to beat me up; I got very trigger-happy in my adolescence, and I’m not proud of that. Even today, my first instinct is to just punch someone who I think is a threat. I’m 33! This shit stays with you.
2) Today’s bullies are vicious. Read this post in the Daily News – of all places – where they described some of the things he went through. They bashed his head against a locker in the 8th grade, causing him to go to the ER. Someone smashed his phone in the middle of biology class. And this is just the stuff we’re hearing about in the papers! Of course the Greenwich school system is playing defense.
3) Today’s bullies don’t stop at school. When I was young, most of the time, stuff ended at school. If you lived in a rough area, sometimes it extended to that area, but you could avoid it just by going home for the most part. Today, that’s not possible for anyone who has a Facebook or Google+ account. Girls are particularly aware of this type of bullying; leave school, come home, and have people posting your half-naked picture online while filling your inbox with “whore”, “slut” or (for the boys) “fag”. Bullying is a 24/7 enterprise in 2013, and it’s getting worse.
I am aghast that no one looked at his Google+ page and decided not to get involved. I have personally gotten involved in the cases of three people who were going to kill themselves or at the very least were saying they were. I don’t mean just making a comment with ascii hearts or “~~hugz~~”, I mean calling the police. Each case involved deep information diving on my part, and calls to various police forces. Bart’s G+ profile outright says he lived in Greenwich; did no one take him seriously? Or did no one give a crap? I wish I saw this before the fact, put it that way. At the very least, it scares someone straight. At best? It could save a life. And blaming the parents in this particular case isn’t wise, either; I don’t expect Polish immigrants in their 40s or 50s, with a daughter going to college, to know their way around the internet.
So of course, the Greenwich community is positively mourning the loss of their young man. Reports came out that after Bart’s death, all of his old schools were overrun with crisis counselors to console anyone who needed it. How quaint. The people who either outright bullied Bart, or who stood by and watched it happen with at best cowardice and at worst a bemused and perverted enjoyment of the festivities. A show with lunch, how adorable. Where the fuck was Bart’s crisis team!? Where was his guidance counselor!? Where was anyone, who was in a position to stop the inhumane treatment he was receiving, day after day, year after year, throughout his entire schooling life, until he finally decided that death was a preferable solution to having to endure this torture for one more year, let alone three?
The saddest tragedy in all of this is that this will go away. The administrators in charge of Greenwich’s school system will be able to put out passive statements about doing everything they can to “look into” what happened, without actually doing anything. The people who covered up his being smashed into a locker and covering up the video footage won’t be charged with even a civil crime, much less a criminal one. The horrific human beings who slowly beat and abused him to death will not only never see the inside of a prison cell, but will not have any inconvenience, short of press attention for a few days, to their lives. If the people who did this are football players, they will never miss a game; after all, Greenwich might be good and the FCIAC is tough, you know?
It is my sincere hope against all hope that the people who are responsible for the murder – yes, murder – of Bart Palosz know what they did, and that the image of this tall, awkward but developing child haunts them every waking hour of their day. I hope they have the intellectual honesty to admit – if only to themselves – that they – students, administrators, teachers – are directly responsible for the death of this person, and that the combination of that realization and their natural cowardice causes them to experience a gradual mental breakdown, as the weight of their crimes works at their conscience like a pickaxe on a rock, breaking them down farther and farther until they become husks of their former selves. Then, and only then, can they understand what they did to this man. The Christians can save their adorable notions on forgiveness for Sunday mass. I want these people to suffer for the rest of their lives, and to die broken people.
Sadly, I might be asking too much. Empathy is a human emotion, after all. These people who systematically killed a child aren’t human.