Our Opinion: Youth's ordeal teaches a universal lesson

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It was a story about a big-hearted boy who acted like an adult, an adult who acted like a child, a good cop who jumped in and a celebrity who did the right thing. It happened here in Berkshire County, but its lesson is universal: Be true to yourself, and don't listen to those who would drag you down.

Eight-year-old Jacob Shelsey of Lanesborough, described by his mother as an "old soul," decided to dye his hair pink in a show of solidarity with breast cancer awareness (Eagle, July 14). Later that same day, he was repeatedly harassed and mocked for his color choice by an auto body shop employee who allegedly called him "Mary," a term sometimes used to disparage gay men.

Jacob's sister, Courtney, posted an account of the incident on Facebook. There it was seen by a Pittsfield police officer, Darren Derby — a friend of the family — who felt that Jacob needed some bucking up after his experience. Making use of some connections, Officer Derby soon had young Jacob Skyping with none other than celebrity Kelly Osbourne, who is known for her own unconventional hair treatment.

Ms. Osbourne shared some simple but wise words with Jacob: People's comments are their own issue, so walk away. And they're also afraid of what they don't know.

Then, she posted a video of the conversation online, which has now been shared thousands of times all over the world.

As a result, Jason's ordeal, by drawing the attention of others, may help move the needle of tolerance just a smidgen in the right direction — something our increasingly splintered society could use a little more of these days.


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