Commentary: Just Because He Drives a Miata?!?

Bullying...over this car?!? - Photo by Randy Stern
Bullying…over this car?!? – Photo by Randy Stern

In my prior work, I dealt with the issue of bullying on a regular basis. It was because someone is different by looks, behavior, emotional capacities and by sexual and gender differences – perceived or real. Seven years after raising awareness of this kind of dangerous behavior in our educational system, the end to all of this is far from resolution.

This, however, is beyond idiotic.

To understand what I am on about, there was a story that came about reporting a young Mazda MX-5 Miata owner getting bullied by his fellow students at a Dallas-Fort Worth area high school. The issue that he bought his car with his own money, chose the car for its classic and sports car value and was very proud of his purchase. The story goes that he was bullied for two weeks since getting the car to the point that he complained to the school and the district regarding the behavior of his students towards him.

Why would anyone at a high school bully anyone for the choice of car he or she bought? In the story told to, the student’s Reddit feed stated the following: "I've taken my father's Audi S5 to school numerous times and nothing has happened to that. [I] guess if it [isn't] a.) Lifted truck b.) 14/15 Mustang or c.) some fancy German car, they have a problem with it."

Peer pressure is a huge factor here. I've seen it at my high school and some of the schools I worked as a substitute teacher some twenty years ago. If you do not follow peer pressure, you are an outcast. This is a screwed up way to segue into adulthood.

In 2008, America saw a problem that was once simply called "teasing." Before that, anything beyond teasing was escalated to bullying, which included violence and/or worse. We, as a society, are aware that excessive bullying is one the major causes of suicide of young people under the age of 18. It affects families – including a local friend of mine who lost her son in 2008 to suicide due to bullying at school. She is still trying to change the mindset of the school system her son attended classes in to understand the importance of mitigating, if not eliminating, bullying in that district.

Bullying is serious business. By targeting a person because of what he or she drives take this issue to another level of concern. It goes to one of the rituals a teenager goes through towards adulthood – the driver’s license and the first car. This was not the case of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, emotional and behavioral health – this was a student's first car!

How ridiculous could teenagers be?

If I flip back to the days of my high school years, we joked about other people’s cars. I know there were jokes about my 1972 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Luxury Sedan when it arrived at the "jock lot" most of senior year. There were cases of cars getting keyed because someone did not like another student. Stolen radios and other criminal acts were prevalent, too…and not just my high school.

But, still, this is absolutely dumb…

Perhaps I am overreacting. If I am, you could comment accordingly. I'm just a little pissed that a student's first car that did not meet the standards of a high school’s status quo was the impetus for bullying to occur.

This was supposed to be a clear cut case of student's rights and that student's choice of car to own at his or her age. So what if this student bought a first-generation (NA) Mazda MX-5 Miata? What is wrong with that? Since the student is male, the "stigma" put upon a Miata as not being masculine falls into line with classic bullying scenarios.

Let me say this this student that the Miata is a great car. It is the preferred weapon of the Sport Car Club of America's Club and Pro racing series. They are great on the track, in autocrossing and truly fun on the road. Sure, there was an image years ago when Miata owners were seen as not "masculine" to those who do not understand the roadster's appeal and potential. Maybe this student understands all of this and has some ideas on how to make his Miata his own.

There is a message I will impart. It is my duty as an automotive writer/journalist/photographer/whatever to impart any wisdom I could pass along to someone in need of positive vibes.

Young man, without being trite and at the mercy of Dan Savage’s "trademark," it will get better. I promise you. With your Miata, you will explore how many of your fellow enthusiasts are out there. They range from high schoolers to old fellas – yes, older than me. Some have modified their Miatas for the track. Others have kept their stock due to their potential value in the classic car market.

Oh, and if you want inspiration, there's a great new commercial by Mazda that shows up how it will get better for you.

In all seriousness, bullying should not to be taken lightly. Students need to have their rights protected when on campus. Parents, educators, school administrators and board members, governmental entities and communities need to take responsibility when situations like this arise. As humans, we also need to take pride in our identity as a human being – even budding car enthusiasts!

To the young man in he DFW Metroplex dealing with this situation – it bears repeating: it will get better! I promise you!

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