The internet has been having a field day with 10-year-old Barron Trump, subjecting him to all forms of cyberbullying. Worse, a lot of the cruel things said about the boy came from reputable people in their respective industries, many of whom have chosen to delete their tweets, and even close their social media accounts following the backlash.
This subject is something that this writer, as a former bullying victim, feels very strongly about. For most of my years in school, not to mention some offices I had worked for, I had been subjected to cruel taunts from peers, as well as some physical bullying in elementary and high school. And while the scars and bruises from getting occasionally beaten up by larger kids may have taken a few days to go away, it’s the verbal scars that take much longer to heal. Just think how it may feel right now to be Barron Trump, cyberbullied by people he doesn’t know personally, picked on via platforms where hundreds, and sometimes thousands of people can join in on the cruelty.
Just how have people been picking on Barron Trump? We should first note that it’s not just ordinary people, but well-known individuals who have been poking fun at the young boy. And it may have all started with some assumptions about the presidential son. Not more than two weeks after Donald Trump won the presidential elections, actress Rosie O’Donnell tweeted a YouTube video that showed certain behaviors that may suggest Barron is autistic. According to Snopes, there is no evidence that Barron has autism or any learning disability, and neither Donald nor Melania Trump have made comments to that effect.
Even if it were true that Barron Trump was autistic, it wouldn’t really matter. Autism is not a disorder to be made light of, and even if O’Donnell claimed that she was trying to raise awareness of the condition and not letting her long-standing beef with Donald Trump get in the way, it was rather uncalled-for that she and the video’s creator made such assumptions about the President’s youngest son.
Unfortunately, it got worse. More recently, Barron Trump was cyberbullied relentlessly as his father took office in the White House. Saturday Night Live writer Katie Rich tweeted last Friday that Barron “will be this country’s first home-school shooter.” Following massive backlash from users who felt she had crossed the line by picking on a 10-year-old boy who happens to be the President’s kid, Rich deleted the tweet, as well as her Twitter account, the Chicago Tribune wrote.
That wasn’t the only case of cyberbullying reported immediately following Donald Trump’s inauguration. According to Bustle, author Caitlin Moran tweeted that Barron Trump’s facial expressions are “100 percent Joffrey,” referring to Joffrey Baratheon, the evil, sadistic teenage king played by Jack Gleeson on Game of Thrones. Twitter users also took to calling Barron a “future rapist” and someone who “looks more of a freak than his dad.” Writer and actor Matt Oswalt, the younger brother of comedian Patton Oswalt, likewise chimed in, tweeting that Barron is “wandering around the White House right now looking for stuff to burn.”
It goes without saying that autism does not automatically drive one to become a school shooter or rapist or disturbed individual. In fact, there are many people who have succeeded in life despite being “on the spectrum” — Babble lists Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, American Idol finalist James Durbin, actress Daryl Hannah, and director Tim Burton as some of the famous people with autism. But that brings us back to a couple earlier points — there is no tangible proof, no confirmation whatsoever, that Barron Trump is autistic, and that someone’s real or perceived autism is never a good excuse for cyberbullying, or any kind of bullying.
Neither is bullying Barron Trump because of who his parents are. Many people have expressed disdain for Donald Trump as a person, and now as a political leader. But as Bustle‘s Jessicah Lahitou wrote last week, one has to separate the actions and words of a child’s parents from the actions and words of said innocent child. Many people who have made those comments about Barron do not know him personally, yet have taken such delight in making crude jokes about him because they happen to dislike Donald, and at times, Melania Trump.
“As a mother, this breaks my heart. I cannot imagine the immaturity and meanness necessary to drag someone’s child into an adult dislike of a political leader. It goes a long way in explaining why so many good people don’t want to enter into politics at all. With the bright lights unleashed upon one’s family, a person who would otherwise rush to become a public servant is justified in thinking it would be unethical to force their kids to endure public harassment and shame.”
A lot of us might not agree with Donald Trump’s politics, and a lot of us may be disgusted with the things he may have said about women and immigrants, among other controversial remarks. But it’s not fair that a 10-year-old, Barron Trump, gets cyberbullied just because of who his parents are, or just because he looks a certain way in photos.
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]