He was a 13-year-old eighth grader at Hamilton Middle School out of Cy-Fair who committed suicide last week by shooting himself with his step-father's handgun.
The reason for what in the world could cause a 13-year-old to truly believe his young life was no longer one worth living?
Apparently, young Asher was taunted mercilessly "for his small size, because he didn't wear designer clothes and because he was Buddhist".
It seems that since the Dawn of Time there have always been bullies in one form or another. I'm sure you dealt with them growing up. So did your parents. So did their parents.
There never seems to be a shortage of people who hold more power, strength, or popularity than someone less fortunate who elect to use said power, strength, or popularity to abuse. It isn't limited to 8th graders, either. In another highly publicized case this week, 18-year-old Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in New York City. The reason for his suicide was, again, bullies picking on him.
I think most of us were brought up to have nothing but disdain for those choose to be bullies. We are taught from a young age that bullies are usually people born out of insecurity regarding themselves. How many of us were taught cute little overly-idealistic methods of dealing with bullies when we were kids?
"Just ignore them?" or my personal favorite: "Try to be their friend!"
The bottom line is when it comes to dealing with bullies that the only truly effective method of dealing with one is to stand up to one. How often do parents preach that to their children anymore?
And how many times a day to we bypass the opportunity to do so?
How many times a day do we bypass the opportunity, maybe not to stand up for ourselves, but to maybe to stand up for somebody else who is being bullied?
It is very easy to cry on TV, hold a solidarity march (which changes nothing), or announce you are going to launch an investigation which will ultimately yield nothing (other than possible charges against the parents). But here again, you are talking about doing too little too late.
As lawyers, we have the opportunity to combat bullying more so than most. Prosecutors have the ability to stop some bullies by putting them in prison. Defense attorneys have the ability to stop some bullies by standing up for their clients' rights. Prosecutors have the ability to say they aren't going to follow an arbitrary policy that over-punishes someone for a minor crime. Defense attorneys have the ability to say we'll take it to trial if you try.
But there is always more that can be done.
Moments like this make me think of my friend, Mark Bennett. Mark, to be sure, often beats to the tune of his own drum, and has never been shy about espousing an unpopular opinion. But the guy has never been bullied out of his opinion, and he's never been shy about standing up against people he thinks are being bullies, either.
For that, I admire him. Even when we disagree.
When you ignore it, you become nothing more than a coward who condones it. When you stand against it, you'll often find many will stand beside you.
I know this is probably seeming kind of rambling, but what happened to Asher Brown and Tyler Clementi has got me kind of worked up today, I suppose.
So, I guess I'd say that my message today to bullies would be "grow up and knock it off".
And to the rest of us, I'd say we've got a duty to stop it where we can, and not be afraid of being bullied ourselves. To paraphrase The Once and Future King, it should never be Might that makes Right, but Right which makes Might.
Nobody should ever die over bullying.
Certainly not teenagers like Asher and Tyler.