“Brundage said he expects some backlash against
his book project and speaking engagements.”
After being interviewed by the Wichita Eagle and having the article released, I found myself grateful that I do not use Facebook. The few social media accounts which feature my writing are run by a publicist. I actually more-or-less loathe Facebook because it has become the depth of social hatred, arguments, and disgrace (and if you don’t believe me, read an article about politics — and the comments).
I learned early on to ignore the hatred and negativity spread by those who do not know the details of who I am or my own journey, and this media appearance was no different — until a friend of mine texted me a screen shot of some of the comments. Subsequently, my wife read a few of them to me from her phone when she found where the article was posted, and it was simply amazing to hear people’s perspectives (though I must admit, it was difficult to hear these words of hatred toward me in the melodic tone of my wife’s beautiful voice).
However, I noticed two common themes:
The first was the repeated statement that it should be “common sense” not to have a relationship with a student; with this statement, I completely agree. It really should be common sense. But the reality is, it’s not. And that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. Saying something like, “It should be common sense,” is an idealistic statement, but idealism and realism rarely (if ever) coincide. Yes, you’re right, it certainly should be common sense. But sadly, it is not.
The second repeated theme was the assumption that I am somehow the same sick son-of-a-bitch I was nearly a decade ago when I was making my life’s worst choices, living destructively, and carrying on the life of someone out-of-control. Honestly, this notion would be laughable if it wasn’t such a serious matter. Because the fact is, I am told regularly how different I am, even the way I talk and my simple demeanor. People have told me this repeatedly as I encounter them in public. The individuals who have given me the opportunity to speak with them have noticed the very clear alteration in my personality. In all honesty, prison worked for me. Counseling and therapy worked for me. Right now, I am the best possible version of myself, and my closest family and friends agree.
And yet, neither of those points addresses the petulant posts which really had nothing to do with anything, other than being hateful, which, as I said, is why I loathe Facebook. I would like to think common human decency and the concept of social norms would prevent someone from shouting those very things to my face. However, if those statements were merely spoken, I honestly wonder if people are enlightened and open-minded enough to actually consider a retort from the individual at whom they cast their verbal stones.
I definitely do not miss Facebook.
A very close friend of mine sent me a supportive text message, advising me not to listen to what these people were saying. I sent her a very sincere Thank You for her support, and she replied with this:
I have some of the greatest, loving, and most supporting friends.
The article itself and the accompanying video interview were exceptionally well-done. The reporter for the Wichita Eagle, Suzanne Tobias, did a superb job of providing thorough facts and research for the article, as well as showing no bias in any direction. She perfectly illustrated the goals of my book and maintained objectivity throughout the entirety of the article. Honestly, journalists like her are becoming rare; she is exceptional at her job! The article was not a negative portrayal of me or my goals with the book.
So I suppose my question to the naysayers would be: Why is what I’m doing a bad thing? Why is it a negative act for me to be an activist against unlawful teacher/student relationships? Why is it a bad thing to stand before teachers and administrators and provide insight into the biggest epidemic in contemporary public schools?
I guess I’m just a bit confused. It’s as though public opinion would indicate that doing the right thing is doing a bad thing. Because honestly, if teachers “didn’t need to be told” not to have relationships with students, then it wouldn’t be happening. But it is happening; every single day, it’s happening. And I am going to spend the rest of my life making sure it doesn’t.
“If this is who I’m going to be, if my name is going to be on a website, if my name is going to be synonymous with anything,” Brundage said, “I would like it to be synonymous with a solution, not just the problem.”