Slur at boy reminder hatred has no place here

A Feb. 21 incident involving a ethnic slur directed at a middle-school-aged Columbus boy ought to shock people across the city.

The boy told his parents, and later the police, that a man driving an older-model pickup truck directed an expletive at him and Muslims in general, and made a vulgar hand gesture. The parents reported the incident to Columbus Police Department.

No doubt it scared the boy, as such behavior would also scare adults. Although the boy was rattled, fortunately he was not injured.

While it’s uncertain whether the incident would be considered a crime, police want to locate the truck driver and give him a lesson in respect and human relations.

A lot of people could use such a lesson right now.

In this time of inflammatory rhetoric and deep-rooted opinions about national security, terrorism, refugees, race and ethnicity, many opinions are being expressed — some constructively, some rudely. However, all should agree that directing insults at a young boy crosses the line.

Such an act of bullying by an adult against an adolescent is cowardly. It’s already unfortunate that some school children locally have felt empowered to make similar comments to other classmates, but for an adult to feel empowered to say such a thing to a child is low.

The people of Columbus have long made it clear that such behavior will not be tolerated. Welcoming initiatives have focused on inclusion, understanding and respect. Those are the principles that make the community better. Comments and actions such as those demonstrated by the pickup truck driver have no place here.

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