Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
A 12-year-old boy who had been mercilessly ridiculed and even told to kill himself by members of the YouTube.com community has removed himself and his videos from the website, thanks in part to people reporting the cruel treatment to the authorities.
As WND reported, the boy, known for certain only by his screen name ChristianU2uber, made a series of videos about himself and about his faith for a popular video-sharing website, YouTube, which generated over a million views and tens of thousands of comments.
His video “Gay Marriage – Is It Right or Wrong?”, however, started a fierce backlash from the online community, as harsh and often profane comments poured in ridiculing the boy, calling him names and even calling for the boy’s death.
“Kill Christianity, and then kill yourself,” responded a YouTube community member identified as greenacidfusion.
A commenter calling himself WizzyBoy 520 added, “How do you know the Bible isn’t full of lies? You, just like everyone who is against gay marriage, is a mentally retarded bigot. No exceptions. Now go to h—.”
The response was so brutal, many WND readers, bloggers and concerned YouTubers began seeking protection for the boy, including intervention by the police.
Upon hearing the outcry, WND has learned, Internet crime specialists in Texas were able to locate the boy and his family and persuade ChristianU2uber to remove the videos and receive counseling.
“I wanted to update you that we have located this 12-year-old, and we spoke to him and his parents,” said Sgt. Chris Meehan of the Collin County Sheriff’s Office’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, in an email. “The minor has decided to remove his videos from his site and delete his YouTube account. Further, we will be providing him with counseling to get through this matter.”
Meehan explained that the attention generated by WND and concerned bloggers resulted in “numerous cybertips reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding ChristianU2uber.”
“How many times have we heard about – after the fact – the warning signs were there on websites, Facebook, MySpace, where if people had taken the time, perhaps tragedy could have been prevented,” wrote Lyndon Evans on his FOCUS blog, when he learned of the treatment ChristianU2uber was getting on YouTube. “Please, contact whoever you feel can help this young man.”
Evans, who publishes news links, blogs and other information of interest to lesbian, “gay,” bisexual and transgender readers, was joined by several voices in the LGBT community in issuing a call to help, not condemn, ChristianU2uber.
“In the world of Internet blogs and commentary, there’s a wide field upon which the left, right and center can mix it up, argue and point up and hammer out their differences – sometimes with the use of fairly harsh language,” writes Kilian Melloy, a contributor to Boston’s EDGE. “But recently, both left and right seem to have come to an agreement in the case of a 12-year-old boy identified as ChristianU2uber.”
“The consensus,” Melloy continues, “ChristianU2uber, also known as Scott, needed some form of intervention on his behalf, given the tone and tenor of his postings and other Internet communications, as well as the often rough-and-tumble comments that his postings have drawn from anonymous users.”
According to Sgt. Meehan, many people heeded that call for intervention, and Scott – if that’s ChristianU2uber’s real name – has stepped out of YouTube’s harsh spotlight for now, with others around to help him.
“I know that you and numerous others have expressed concern over his well-being and safety,” Meehan wrote to WND. “I can tell you that he is doing well, and he will receive any help he needs to deal with any issues he is having.”