Sunday, September 6, 2015
Religious bigots aim at gays and harm themselves
Black people can be bigots. Some deny this, but then, bigots always deny their irrational prejudices are motivated by baseless prejudice, preferring instead to pretend they are based on practical experience, solid science, or, when all else fails, religion.
I know this because when the civil rights struggle of our time, the growing acceptance of gay, lesbian, transgender and other assorted folk into the realm of accepted humanity, is called that, sometimes African Americans will complain to me, and vigorously point out that while race is naturally assigned—by God, if they are so inclined—and unchanging either way, that sexuality is a choice, sometime a sinful choice.
That isn't in any way true, but a good try.
The struggles of the civil rights era are evoked in the push for gay rights because they're so relevant. For instance, today, the New York Times ran a story about Kentucky clerk Kim Davis going to jail rather than issue her gay fellow citizens marriage licenses, as the law compels and a court has ordered her to do. It explained how her defiance has rallied American mullahs to press their lost cause of intolerance anew, It mentioned how 13 of the 67 counties in Alabama, like Davis, stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether rather than comply with the law and end discrimination against gay people.
This is called, in the vernacular, "cutting off your nose to spite your face," and evoked a similar practice in the 1960s and 1970s, where small towns in the steamy Deep South would fill in their swimming pools with dirt rather than integrate them. They'd rather no one swim at all then let those black kids in with their white sons and daughters.
They no doubt could quote scripture and science.
I remember that because it was a particular horrible and telling detail, and showed the ultimate self-destructive quality of being a bigot. While prejudice certainly hurts the object of irrational scorn, it also blows back on the prejudiced. Your worldview is skewed and nobody gets to swim. Or gets issued a marriage license.
The more particular hatreds fall into disrepute, the easier it is to see the damage that bigotry causes the bigoted. Regarding race, a person who openly expresses a contemptuous racial prejudice will now suffer more than the minority being condemned. Regarding sexuality, the backwoods religions making a last ditch stand against gay rights are undercutting whatever fig leaf of moral authority they might have had, much more than they are stopping the rapid progress of human rights in this country. Sad that they don't see it, but then if they did, they wouldn't behave the way they do.