Plank in the Eye
April 24, 2006

Most of the time, I don't think about being "that" ... about being one of "those people." I'm just me and I don't have time for labels and boxes and I never did. In fact, in junior high, when Izod shirts were all the rage, I got a big alligator applique and had Mom sew that onto one of my shirts. It was my joke to all the preppy kids who just lived and died by whether your shirt was Le Tigre or a real Izod Lacoste. Frankly, most of mine were logo-less Bar Harbor shirts. And of course my patently fake Izod ... I actually had a girl who very kindly took me aside one day to inform me, somewhat nose-in-the-air, that my shirt was not a "real" Izod. It was difficult not to laugh.

I suppose, really, I simply don't understand judging people on things that don't seem to matter much. I don't get why being black should make a difference in how I treat someone. Maybe if they dress "urban" I might respond in a different fashion, try to adapt a little to the culture that person is familiar with ... or at least try to remember which words might mean different things to her than to me. I don't get why I should be suspicious of someone with the last name of Florez hanging around my El Camino. I don't get why I should ask the dude with slanted eyes to do my taxes for me. I don't get why I should be scared to leave my kids with a guy with a lisp and a limp wrist.

I'd really rather get to know the people before i go making decisions. Now if the dude named Florez is sleazy looking and acting nervous or otherwise suspicious, then I probably don't want him near my El Camino or my VW bug.

I really don't get why it would be okay to fire Florez for being Mexican just because "those people don't like to stay in one place too long anyway ... they're all migratory." Let me guess, they like it that way, right?

Or why not selling the house to Huey Freeman is okay because "those people like sticking together and there's none of his kind over here."

The question is, how do we keep these prejudices from happening in our society? If we had a very small society with similar values, it could be done by simple means. You do something everybody else in town dislikes, they'll talk you out of it. But we don't have a very small society and we don't have similar values after some of the "top dogs."

We've come to the conclusion, in most western countries, at least, that we should legislate these types of things. And we've gotten such very mixed results from it.

I don't like the fact that each state has a different set of non-discrimination laws. Nor do I like that various towns and cities have their own ordinances ... or that companies have their own policies which might cover even more than the local laws (and thus that company has voluntarily made itself more responsible than legally necessary). I don't like the fact that these laws list out various "sub-groups" of people.

We ought to be able to pass a law that simply says, hey, stop discriminating against people for stupid stuff.

The problem, of course, is who defines "stupid stuff"?

Is it discrimination to not hire a convicted child molester to work as the cook at a day care center? It probably is ... but it's also good sense to me.

Is it discrimination to not hire a homosexual to work as an elementary school teacher? It certainly is ... but it also seems like just as good sense to some people as the previous example.

My question is why?

A child molester has harmed children and so I'd be awfully anxious to let one around my kids. But what harm is a gay going to do to a child? I don't understand the logic here.

Pedophiles are most commonly "straight" men, not gays. Actually, if we were a little more honest, pedophiles are not straight in any way. A male pedophile prefers children to women. He might be married, attempting to hide from the world what he really wants, but he's not really a straight man.

I got an email from my church earlier today. Calling us to action as our conscience dictates. Our town is debating adding sexual orientation to the non-discrimination clause for city employees. The majority of our church is solidly behind this move because we don't feel we have the right to judge. Our church is not a "gay church." It's a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) church ... one of the many mainline protestant denominations struggling with the issue of homosexuality.

Back in the late 80s or early 90s, that church was actively looking for a segment of the local population which needed ministry. They did several studies on what the bible really has to say about homosexuality. They researched it, studied it, prayed about it. And this congregation of people in their 50s and 60s and 70s decided to reach out to the gay community because they didn't see any biblical reason not to do so. They saw no reason to condemn folks who loved a monogamous partner of the same sex.

Today, we got an email from the church, telling us of what the opposition is saying about the so-called "special rights" being bullied out of the town council by the pushy activist gays. The website cited frightens and depresses me.

The last paragraph of their site is as follows:

This is not an issue of tolerating what people do in the privacy of their own home. This has become an aggressive attempt to force the moral acceptance of homosexual acts as normal on the entire population. That is why every citizen with Faith should actively oppose these attempts to legitimize homosexuality and the attempts to punish anyone who dares to disagree with these radical homosexual activists. At the same time each citizen with Faith should be learning how to reach out to those who have become addicted to homosexuality and who are suffering the consequences of this dangerous, destructive lifestyle choice...

I had a friend recently tell me a joke that he thought I would find funny. He was rather surprised that I didn't find it funny at all.

A father watched his young daughter playing in the garden. He smiled as he reflected on how sweet and pure his little girl was. Tears formed in his eyes as he thought about her seeing the wonders of nature through such innocent eyes.
Suddenly she just stopped and stared at the ground. He went over to her to see what work of God had captured her attention. He noticed she was looking at two spiders mating.
"Daddy, what are those two spiders doing?" she asked. "They're mating," her father replied. "What do you call the spider on top?" she asked. "That's a Daddy Longlegs," her father answered. "So, the other one is a Mommy Longlegs?" the little girl asked.
As his heart soared with the joy of such a cute and innocent question he replied "No dear. Both of them are Daddy Longlegs." The little girl, looking a little puzzled, thought for a moment, then took her foot and stomped them.
"Well, we're not having any of that gay shit in our garden." she said.

And all I could think of after seeing that joke on my screen was the utter depression ... how do we stop a moving train? How do we reach not only that little girl, but the people that don't understand why that's not a funny joke, why it's a harsh and sad reality for so many.

How do we as a society stamp out prejudice? Does legislation do any real good? Or does it create bitter feelings and martyrs on both sides?

How do we move beyond judgement of petty disagreements and focus on what really matters?

And for those who think that homosexuality threatens the sanctity of marriage, that asking for a few civil rights equals special rights, what's your reasoning? Can we keep the bible out of it since the U.S. supposedly has a separation of church and state? (Because not all religions follow the bible, and yet are still considered legitimate religions in the U.S.)

Posted by Red Monkey at April 24, 2006 4:34 PM | Struggles | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

 

zoe said:

I don't think labels can be overcome, there will always be insecure people in this world.

April 24, 2006 5:05 PM

 

Leslie said:

I don't know if it can be overcome but if we stop trying it will surelly overcome us.
I would like to think my child "hates" no one. I don't see her at school or alone with her friends but i have tried to show her as best i can what happens when you hate. She herself knows becuse of me and her other mother. in her short life she has been a victim of hate. Not because someone didn't like her but because they didn't like her "lezy" moms, or for all i know because she looks mixed when she tans. This wonderfull child is hated, yet she gives so much love.

April 25, 2006 6:52 AM

 

guppyman said:

OK... I've been daydreaming all day, so if this looks like totally irrational thoughts piecemealed together, you know why....

Let's start with my joke. Yes... it was me folks! And i still find it hilarious. You may not... and that's ok too. I figure if you can't look past all the petty crap/prejudice/whatever and just laugh at life.... you are in for a miserable time. Maybe that's just me?

Anyway... On to a few points

Most of the labeling I see (you may see different things- that's ok) is done from the groups complaining about being labeled. Sometimes it's race, sometimes it gender, sometimes it's sexual preference... maybe because I don't fall into one of these little groups i don't see what they perceive to be these "injustices".

I tend not to see color. I tend not to pay attention to who one might be sleeping with. I tend to deal with people on an individual basis.

When I see people who purposely set themselves apart by whatever dividing line they think is there, It really makes me wonder why. I don't quite get it....

I do however get pissed off when people demand that they should have "rights" that intrude on mine for something I had nothing to do with. Quotas, affirmative action, preferential treatment, etc... We're all out here struggling trying to do the best we can with the hand we were dealt. Get over it and make someting of yourself the way we all are people! When people figure out how to do that, there won't be any need for all the little groups who think they speak for everybody....

    Red Monkey said: However, asking that I not be fired just because I happen to be black ... or happen to be gay, is NOT asking for preferential treatment ... I'm not sure if that's what you're calling special rights or not. I tend to disagree with quotas and preferential treatment exactly because it is "correcting" one wrong with another. However, this is a HUGE issue that is far more complicated than we're getting to in a tiny little blog. :)

OK... On to your question about marriage...

My problem is this.... You are wanting to change the definition of what marriage is. I've had many discussions about the issue and I have to stand back and laugh at it really...

My favorite are folks who want to redefine marriage from a man and a woman to any two people who are in love.... But for some reason they want to limit it there. Why? Why get mad at me for wanting to limit marriage to a man and a woman, when you want to limit it to only two people? What if somebody is convinced they love more than one person? Why shouldn't they all get married? Or if somebody loves their dog? If we are throwing morals out the window... why stop at just homosexual marriage? Why not chunk em all?

    Red Monkey said: And here's where I think you're wrong. There's the government sanctioned union and there's the church sanctioned union. We already can allow, for example, a Catholic priest to deny the Catholic sacrament of marriage to a couple he has deemed unworthy. I don't see why that should have to change at all. And, obviously, a Catholic priest is not going to marry a gay couple (unless he feels like getting excommunicated and having the Catholic church then annul the marriage. On the other hand, the church that I go to, Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, is a congregational church ... some of those churches would marry gays ... some wouldn't. And that seems fair to me. To change that would be to work within the church and for that denomination to study and reflect and pray.
    However, the governmental status of marriage is pretty recent. And I see no reason why that cannot be changed to be between two consenting adults.

You may decide that my argument is ridiculous... and really it is. But I think it's just as ridiculous to demand that something most find to go against what they think is right, but to turn around and pass the same judgements on somebody else-

    Red Monkey said: This just sounds like the same kind of reasoning used in the 1800s to me. "Everyone knows X is true." That doesn't make it just.

One last thing- Why should I keep the Bible out of anything? For me, It's part of who I am. I don't leave my faith at the door when I speak about certain things. I don't expect anyone to do so either. If they are politicians that have faith.... good for them. If it differs from mine.... who cares? I still haven't figured out where this supposed seperation of church and state says people who have faith can't make decisions based upon that faith. All I ever found was that they can't tell us what to pray for- Some act like we're not allowed to pray at all.

    Red Monkey said: I just wanted to keep the bible out of this particular discussion as a reminder that the bible is not the basis of our law system. And, considering how many belief systems operate in the U. S., I think that's a good thing. Can we talk about it, sure. But maybe in another post. :)

I know... My comments are a rambling mess... I told you I was daydreaming today.... Hope it makes a bit of sense...

And Ender....

Smile!

April 25, 2006 9:18 AM

 

michele said:

We'll never get rid of prejudice people who are basically
insecure people who feel good about themselves, when they put down other people.

April 25, 2006 12:53 PM

 

Scotty said:

First off, Ender, I love this post because it says so much of what I have said and believe. AM I a bad person because I love someone of the same sex? No. I had so much I wanted to comment on and then I read guppyman's comment and sheesh...it changed my whole thought process on what I want to say here.

I find it interesting that one who HAS all these rights finds it so easy to criticize those who don't. You know Canada is allowing same-sex marriage and Canada didn't sink into the ocean from God's wrath. I would totally agree with guppyman if I didn't beleve that a gay man (or woman) is BORN this way...it is part of our genetic makeup. If you beleive that to be true (just as you KNOW a black person is born with black skin) then his arguements are invalid.

As for his joke...I laughed...but my partner and I find humor in gay joke...heck I tell some myself. You have to be able to laugh at yourself or the negativity woudl probably get to ya at some point. I have learned to find the humor and it made my life a lot better.

Anyway, hope I don't seem argumentative...it is just when I read that comment...it really got under my skin. No straight man can understand because they have never been told they have to be gay even though they are straight. THAT is what I am being told...that I have to be straight to be accepted and to get married and be normal. Until you have walked a mile in the other person's shoes no one really knows...they only know what the have been taught by their church or through their upbringing...and what we ahve been taught...isn't always right!

End of RANT!

Sorry to use your comment section as a sounding board! I appreciate you coming by my blog so often and thought I should check in here and see who this Ender person is!

April 26, 2006 12:01 AM

 

Goddess of one said:

hey guppyman here ya go
"My favorite are folks who want to redefine marriage from a man and a woman to any two people who are in love.... But for some reason they want to limit it there. Why? "

My favorite are people who think they own marriage. I'm not a christ lover heck i can say my goddess gave BIRTH to your god. My people happen to have marriage and that was way before you people had it. how would you feel if i compared your peoples marriages to poligamy(sp?). or better yet beastiality? thats close to hetro people right? one man with one girl dog? HUH.... offensive?
how do you like it? your love compared to every outlandish thing someone can think of on a late night! "love is never a crime just the lack of it"

April 28, 2006 11:50 PM
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