I was at a public event this weekend, that may or may not have been a high school graduation, and the speaker insulted all 7th grade girls. No, I am not kidding. I wish that I were. In the midst of making a point, he said something to the effect of "Do you actually enjoy conflict? Do you enjoy being at odds with or in the midst of an aurgument with another person? There is a word for that - dramatic pause - a seventh grade girl." My head shot up, the jaw of the person next to me dropped and suprise registered on her face, there was scattered laughter from the audience, and I noticed several dads and moms put their arms comfortingly around young women while speaking in their ears. My heart broke when I saw the face of a crestfallen young woman regsiter the statement.
It is 18 hours later and I am still offended and upset. It is not okay to insult your audience for the sake of entertainment. It very well may not have occured to him that there would be 7th grade girls in the room, and people that love 7th grade girls. It is unfortunate, as he was in many other ways an expcetional speaker, but he lost my respect after that point. And I wonder why he was chosen to speak at an event honoring young men and women as they make their transition into adulthood.
Sadly, it is common practice for speakers to insult teenagers. I understand a little of why people do this. Teenagers are very visible in our culture, and shows like Glee do not cast them in the best light. Teenagers can be hard to understand and very initmidating, especially in large groups. Many adults view teenagers as foolish, fiivolous, and unfriendly. And people laugh at these jokes. So, in some ways it can be the perfect mix of ingredients for a laugh when one is one stage. Adolescents are incredibly insecure, and it is unkind to insult them at all, and unwise to do so when speaking in public. These are young men and women created in God's image, and because of their insecurities and vulnerabilities they deserve the extra mile when it comes to compassion.