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I hate Atticus Finch. No really, I do. Who could live up to that standard? A perfect shot with a gun from a guy who doesn't own a gun and doesn't want to shoot one while being the nice 50 year old guy who doesn't judge anybody else. Really? How do you top that? I try. I do try, but then every once in a while along comes someone like Mike Jeffries, the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch. Apparently, He is only interested in selling his apparel to the "cool and popular" kids in our schools. Now, I could probably dismiss this as a hyped up marketing controversy, but I would be lying to myself. Something Atticus surely would not allow. 

Atticus Finch is the lead character in To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee which I just happened to see this past weekend being spectacularly performed by the Main Street School Of Performing Arts (MSSPA). To Kill A Mocking Bird is a coming of age story about reducing discrimination and understanding another person's plight in life. Mike Jeffries is the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch which sells clothing to coming of age children by discriminating against the plight of other people. Did you see the difference?

This difference was not lost on me while I watched the intimate, and powerful performance this past weekend from the students at MSSPA. I had just read numerous articles about Mr. Jeffries and his outright stance against selling to anybody who was not seen as cool. You see, as an at home dad, I have a passion about reducing bullying in our schools and other organizations. I have witnessed countless children bullied because of their background, race, heritage, living conditions, religion and yes, even their clothing. For a long time, I couldn't understand how children who come into this world so innocent and open minded, could work so hard at abusing other children. But as I watched I saw a pattern of abuse reinforcement and failure to act by adults that fueled the bullying system through discriminatory choices, religion shrouded in "club" morality, turning the other way, popularity stoking, role modeling mean, mental manipulation, and even physical abuse. 
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Now Atticus Finch would say, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." I won't say that I understand Mr. Jeffries or his company's choices. But I will say that discrimination against body type and popularity through brand clothing sales or what I would call "popularity stoking through mobbing" does increase bullying. I am not out to judge Mr. Jeffries. After all, I have never walked in his skin and know nothing of his situation. And honestly, who am I to judge a man and his company? Mr. Jeffries has the right to sell to whomever he wishes and we have a right not to buy. But I would kindly ask him to take a second look at his strategy and find if there isn't a way to articulate it so that Abercrombie & Fitch doesn't add to the already mounting problem we have with coming of age bullying in our society. 

If the response from Mr. Jeffries was to be I can do whatever I want and everybody else does it anyway. Then as a 50 year old at home dad who strives to help all children succeed and not to judge, I can only say what Atticus Finch said to Scout, "From now on it'll be everybody less one."

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