A rant on Gay Rights, equality, hypocrisy, bigotry, and Faux-Christians. Part 1 is in the story section.
Passing the Buck
By Christopher Michael Carter
Part 2. A Note on Tolerance: A Rant
I have an intolerance for intolerance. I think I just about always have. Of course I had my moments of cultural ignorance as a child but I like to think I’ve grown out of them. Growing up I’ve been teased, picked on/at, dogged out, trashed, talked down to, and jabbed at about my weight (which has always been a struggle for me), my teeth (I got a gap and everything’s not exactly straight), being white (I’ve been called honky, whitey, cracker, you name it), being a geek (I love comics, animation, and all those kinds of things), and being poor (something I’d always had against me coming up). I know what it’s like to catch flack for just being me. I hate racism, sexism, homophobia (which to my knowledge has yet to receive its own ‘ism’), and classism (something so many of us have been through but a term we haven’t heard too often), and ageism (another term not heard often but seen plenty), and abuse (there’s just no call for it). I don’t have time to list all the people of color, women, and gay people who can do and will do better in life and for the world than myself.
Growing up in my family we moved around a lot and during those moves I’d see and hear a lot of different reasoning and ways of thinking. Some people have different ways of getting their thoughts out there; some are physical about it and a violent act speaks for them while others have blogs, video channels, picketing, or even just become standup comedians to say what they feel they need to say. I love writing; especially dialogues like ‘A Certain Level of Tolerance’ as they give me an opportunity to get points across and to get thoughts/beliefs out through my characters without being overly preachy. I’ve yet to see any of my dialogues or monologues acted out but hopefully someday I will. Characters like the two in the dialogue piece mentioned are all over the world: the one who doesn’t understand the hate and the one who can’t stop the hate. While racism has seemingly taken a backseat to the homophobic issue, it’s a wonder that so many people don’t see how alike the two problems are. When people like the Charlene character goes on her rant they don’t realize how powerful it is. When the Nazis, Neo-Nazis, and KKK have their rallies and spout their views (not unlike the character’s views) people will stick up for them and say “They should have the right to rally and speak. Freedom of speech.” but I will add that all actions, including violence, start with a seed of thought and when someone goes on a tangent of hate they intend, whether knowingly or not, to spread those seeds through society. I’m in no way saying I don’t enjoy or believe in the freedom of speech I’m just saying that people need to know how powerful their words can be.
It’s interesting to note that a lot of these kinds of people will lash out at you for cursing and swearing but they’ll turn around and preach hate. I guess if you say hateful and hurtful things without saying a cuss word then it’s all good…
I, myself, am more of the Kevin character and I come across people like the Charlene character all the time, whether it’s in person or online or what-have-you. Kevin is as stuck in his ways on equality as Charlene is on intolerance. You see Kevin tried fighting ignorance with ignorance but instead of picking up on that Charlene just focused on the negative word being used (and not why it was being used). These arguments can cause rifts and breakups as going head to head on who deserves equality and who doesn’t can ruin friendships and relationships alike. Just because two people see a situation two different ways doesn’t mean they need to be at each other’s throats and while there are times where we should just be quiet and let the ignorant rant, sometimes it’s hard not to stand up and against such mentalities. A lot of times you will more than likely see the argument come down to an “agree to disagree” situation; but often times one or both of the people will be firm on their stance and won’t even agree to that. Kevin stayed calm just asking questions and Charlene became more heated and shouting, when they should’ve talked their points out more calmly. Communication is as important in different cultures and lifestyles as it is in relationships. Through trying to help her see the error of her ways Kevin wasn’t exactly fully right with his word choices; his Bible comment clearly was too far and he probably could’ve opted for an alternative for the word “Nigger”. However it was he went about it, his case fell on deaf ears as she chose which parts of his argument she wanted to hear (picking and choosing is something I’ll be touching on soon).
When it comes to the gay rights or gay marriage debate it usually comes down to a Christian argument. I have nothing against Christians or Christianity as a whole; I’m not one to trash an entire society of people because of a few bad apples. From boyhood to manhood I’ve run the spectrum of belief. When I was a child I was very much into the faith and as I grew I went through being an agnostic and an atheist and now I’m a firm believer in God. There is a common misconception that non-believers are “bad” people and that’s an awful untruth. Even when I didn’t believe, whether I’d be on the fence or just plain denied it, I was tolerant. I didn’t treat believers bad because of their beliefs and I didn’t promote hate or hate speeches. No matter what my beliefs were I was still into the notion of treating people right; it’s just common sense to me. If I had problems with people it stayed personal and not because they chose to believe something I didn’t. I have met just as many “bad” believers as I have non-believers. We’ve seen agnostics and atheists save peoples’ lives (not every fireman and doctor is religious) as we’ve seen certain believers scar and ruin lives (we all know the molestation cases and televangelist scandals).
As others do, I have wonderful, God-loving Christians in my family who aren’t pieces of trash because while they believe and listen to the message they don’t use the message (or their interpretation) for evil-doing. I have heard these kinds of people quite frequently speak such hateful things about a whole society of people and hide behind their beliefs. They say nasty things and when approached about it they simply pass the buck and BLAME God and his word. There’s a difference between living by someone’s word and throwing stones at others while hiding behind it. What do these people say when you ask “Why do you hate gay people?” They say “It’s not that I hate them it’s just that God doesn’t like them so I don’t like them. The Bible says so and I believe in the Bible.” Buck up and be a man (or woman) and take responsibility for your actions and words. You should be ashamed to even call yourself a child of God just to turn around and blame him for you being a bad person.
They’ll claim they aren’t passing the buck or blaming anyone and that it’s just the way it is. Some Christians will look down on you and with an elitist tone say “You’re not a Christian so you wouldn’t get it. We’re not on… the same level.” <- That is word-for-word something I’ve been told; a quote from the higher ups if you will. But I do get it; you can treat people and their lifestyles like garbage and blame it on someone else. Of course these are the very same individuals who, when you question their lives and choices, will become erratic and often violent. I meet way too many people who pass the buck. If you’re afraid of something or are just turned off by it just say so, you’re allowed preferences in life — you don’t have to say “God says so.” You think God really approves of you treating people like dirt and going an extra mile towards hate speeches and even hate crimes? You hear racist people say “Well my parents are racist so I’m racist” and “Well my dad was an alcoholic so I am.” Like most people’s families I have different social classes all over the place in my family tree and along with working class and successful people I also have those that are the opposite. There are members of my family that are alcoholics, drug addicts, and criminals, and though I spent time with them and love them I never turned out to be any of those things. When I was a boy I was taught to steal and refused to because I thought it was wrong as I can form my own thoughts; something a lot of these people can’t do and in turn blame their belief system. There’s nothing wrong with having a firm belief system, but to use it to be awful to people is just plain wrong. You can’t use it as a pass. I grew up in some very racial environments and situations and I came out of them NOT a racist. I grew up around drugs and alcohol and despite an occasional drink I’m clean. I hear these people say “I was raised being taught that being gay was bad and that it’s a sin.” And they always take it too far, from not agreeing with something to spreading filth and slander about a group of people as a whole. “I was always taught that it was evil.” You were also taught to love thy neighbor – which class do you think you’re passing?
I once met a kid whose grandfather was in the Ku Klux Klan and believed him to be a superhero who was ridding the world of the black evil. I wasn’t much older than this kid and of course being fairly outspoken I felt the need to tell him that his grandfather was no hero. As a matter of fact he was a villain terrorizing a race of people because he didn’t like/agree/approve of them living around his race, or even just being alive for that matter. He was frozen and stunned after dropping some knowledge on him. When I was a young boy I had a grandmother who, when I asked why they’d moved from a big nice house, had told me “’Cause the blacks were taking over” and it never sat right with me nor did it leave me. Racism isn’t dead but I pray that together we can kill it in time. Racism is horrible but what’s worse is the fact that discriminations like it and others are injected into minds at such an early age and from that those children believe it’s right and they praise that and look up to it (and scarily enough, more than likely never grow out of that mentality and teach it to the next generation). Probably the wrong thing to say to the boy but I was a kid; I had no tact. I could’ve easily had said “okay” and left and never thought or talked about it again but I couldn’t keep my fat mouth shut. I’m not blaming my faults on anyone, that’s just me; just as I don’t blame my weight problems on anyone – I like to eat. God made us all individuals with free will. We make our judgments here; he’ll make our judgments elsewhere. We’re the ones who are choosing whether or not to be tolerant and equal.
I believe in equality. I think there should be prayer in our schools just as I think that people who don’t want religion or spirituality in their lives shouldn’t have it forced on them. I think that people of all races should be able to mingle amongst each other without catching guff from rednecks and Nazi-folk. It’s 2014 and there are still people who disapprove of interracial relationships (I’m engaged to a beautiful black woman and I’m very proud of what we have and when I write for couples I tend to write them biracial). Hell, there are even those that disapprove of interracial friendships. If two people like/love each other and are good to and for each other what difference does it make what color, sex, or religion they are? I believe that gay people should be able to get married whenever and wherever. I’ve always thought that turning that down was odd – what does it matter to you who gets married? You don’t even know these people. Ask yourself this- how many people in the world were worried or even cared when you got married? These people are more worried about two gay people getting married than they are two idiots getting married (and the two idiots are more than likely going to breed more idiots).
There’s a common male double-standard when it comes to the gay debate which usually goes like this: “Man- Ugh two guys? That’s disgusting. Two chicks? Alright!” I have a friend who once dated a bisexual woman and didn’t care to be around gay men at all. He would tell me “I was raised being taught that it was wrong.” I said “Dude, your girlfriend likes women and has had many relationships with them.” “Yeah well…” And a real reply was never given. You see people pick and choose what’s wrong all the time. I’ve met people who say “Homosexuality is a sin” only to turn around and have an affair; so screwing around with someone else’s spouse is fine as long as it’s straight? You see & hear “God doesn’t like it” and “God doesn’t condone it” but God also doesn’t condone murder but soldiers are killing all the time and we cheer them on; however when it comes time to sign a document for marriage (which doesn’t involve killing people) it’s denied and looked down on – as if that’s the line in the sand. Yes, as a society, we love to pick and choose.
The hate is bad enough but the hypocrisy of such faux-Christians makes it worse.
One of the worst and most senseless things I see is racist Bible thumpers. I’ve heard these people trash foreign beliefs and talk about wanting to keep it all American; some even preach about a “white America”. A lot of people out there love to praise Christ and talk of living by the Holy Bible all while dogging out non-Americans and their “kooky” religions. By the way, neither Jesus Christ nor his story is American; again with the picking and choosing.
A lot of people like to sift through the Bible and pick what they like to use out of it, much like people who pick and choose what Commandments AND Amendments they live by (the average person only knows about/pays attention to the 1st, 2nd, and 5th amendments, or at least that’s all you ever hear mentioned). And when people combat any of this with scripture or something they’ve heard from their parents or whatnot, they only further prove my point by passing the buck. I’m in no way saying don’t read or believe in scripture; no, what I’m saying is don’t USE it to cover up not having reasoning, rational thought, or an opinion. More often than not when someone starts an opinion off with “My dad says…”, “The Bible says…”, “God says…”, “The great philosopher such and such says…”, “Ol’ Uncle Jimmy says…” then they don’t have an actual ‘opinion’. Of course it’s very much in wording. You can say “I agree with these people when they say…” or “I don’t really know or have an opinion on it but so & so says/or/ but I’ve read…” Or you can just come clean and say “I don’t know” and leave it at that. If I don’t know something I either let the other person in the conversation know that I have no thought on the matter or I just stay quiet. We certainly shouldn’t be picking a few sins to target a large group of people when there are more sins and even more sinners around than we may care to believe. Let’s start dropping our dropping our stones, people.
I’ve never understood selective racism (ex. A black man who is fine with white and Asian people but has a dislike towards Mexican people – and any variation of races you’d like to use). I don’t understand when people throw a fit about foreigners, claiming we need to send them all back. We live in America; this country was built by immigrants. Of course coming to America doesn’t give you the right to be a snob or a jackass to people. I get sick of hearing people say “These foreigners are coming over here and stealing our jobs” and that’s clearly not how it works. These are people who are in need of work and are looking for work; they find an opportunity to make life better for them and their families and they take it—when done here by people born in the states we call that “the American way”. More often than not the corporate offices transfer the employment to someone that will cost them less; in other words they fire you and give the job to someone that will get paid less costing the company less money. Those “darn foreigners” aren’t the ones “stealing” your jobs; they’re just looking to work and better themselves, and we’ve all been there.
There are a lot of poor kids in the world not getting into good schools because of their social class and I have met some smart broke kids. The size of your wallet doesn’t dictate the size of your intellect. But the old adage of “it’s not what you know it’s who you know” holds true, sadly enough. I worked with an older woman one time who absolutely hated working with young people because of that – they’re young. Those were her words when asked what her problem was, “All these young kids working here.” I was 22 and was working hard to pay rent and bills. At that factory we’d get a lot of older workers come in and automatically complain about the youth only to not be able to handle the work and then quit. I’ve seen a lot of younger people not get much of a chance just because the older people think they aren’t going to work but horse around without getting to know them. And vice versa, I’ve seen a lot of older people have trouble finding places to work and live because of their age. I’ll never understand the amount of abuse in the world, spousal, child, etc. I’ve seen guys who beat their wives repeatedly and what do I hear? “Well they grew up watching their dad beat their mom and that’s all they know.” If you’re that unhappy in your relationship to where you feel the need to actually beat the other person, just leave; it’s a lot easier than it seems. I see the same thing with child abuse; kids are beat all the time for no reason. Again, something you usually hear as a hereditary habit. I don’t get sexism: I hear “Women can’t do this. Women can’t do that.” Most of the women I know are some of the strongest people I know in mind, body, and spirit. Just as I have great friends of different religions who are tolerant and don’t discriminate, I don’t understand the church/religion battles; not wars or crusades mind you, the prejudice between churches. I hear church members of one religion talk crap about other religions and churches. You all believe in a higher power, just in different ways and go by slightly different rules, but as a whole it’s all for the love of God. I hear it a lot: a Baptist who finds Jehovah’s Witnesses bizarre, a Methodist who finds Catholicism crazy, and every variation you could web together from religion to religion. Instead of trying to make the world better they want to bicker over who’s the better sibling. Spread joy. Work together. Use what you have to help others, the poor and the hungry. We need to evolve and progress as a people and stop playing “My God is bigger than yours”. We need to break these cycles.
Ideals like racism, sexism, and homophobia are still here today because ignorance is handed down. Make a choice and choose not to be ignorant. You’re not a numbered product shipped out of a factory; you’re a human being with your own brain, your own thoughts, and your own soul. Form your own thought, your own opinion. Use common sense and logic. Bigotry doesn’t have to exist. So many people say “Well it’s what my parents taught me” or “If it was good enough for my mother/father it’s good enough for me” – don’t be so one-dimensional, learn something for you. Find your way. “It’s just what I was taught.” Are you a trained monkey or a person? If your parents just believe what their parents believed, and you just know what they were taught, there’s no progression and we’re just a stalled society. I’m not saying forget the past, I’m saying you have to learn for yourselves and form your own theories and thoughts. We have to move forward.
In terms of rights, people like the character Charlene and her question, “What about my rights as a Christian?” are understood, to an extent; Christians were persecuted for many, many years for their beliefs. However, just as we’ve covered people who’ve watched abuse so they, in turn, abuse others, their society’s past doesn’t give them the right to discriminate against groups of people because they disapprove of how they live. Also, it’s worth noting that just because you have rights, they don’t cancel out everyone else’s; that goes for everyone. Coming from a past of oppression, why would someone, or a group of individuals, want to do that to another collective of people; another society? How often do you hear “Do unto others…”?
When you hear intolerant people, some of them so-called “Christians”, say “Well that’s just your opinion” about equality and tolerance, these are people who are proud to hate and have no problem discriminating. They think “this is how I was taught and I’m not going to change”. Some of them suffer from severe tunnel vision and are so blinded by their beliefs that the logic and rational thinking of equal rights is nowhere in sight. Be careful when dealing with these people though as they are often far more dangerous than any of the types of people they rally against. There are parents, teachers, preachers and pastors out there teaching hatred and segregation to our youth and they need to be stopped. The next generations need to be taught to be better people; extraordinary people who will change the world for the better, not trained to be ignorant bigots.
Now, everyone has a sexual preference whether or not they admit it or talk about it. Everyone has something that turns them on. There’s nothing wrong with gay people; they’re human beings like you or I, yet they’re being persecuted for their sexual choice. No crime involved, just a sexual preference; much like people are persecuted for their skin color or ethnicity, no crime, just different. I’ve always heard a lot of people’s negativity towards something is a sign of their own insecurity, like those who are strongly against alternative sexualities are actually just insecure about their own sexuality. I wonder now if it’s the same with faith: when some of these people who are so staunchly against beliefs different than their own, it makes me wonder if they are indeed insecure with their own faith. It seems to me, if you are secure with yourself, then no matter how much you do disagree with something you can just move on. But if you have troubles dealing with, and actually handling, other’s beliefs or lifestyles, you might want to look inward as you probably have a lot of insecurities to iron out.
I’ve known a lot of people who claim, due to their faith, that they can’t watch certain movies, read certain books, listen to certain music, etc, etc. and to me that’s sad. For example, if you’re watching a horror film that has possession in it, you’re not taking part or dabbling in any such thing; you’re simply watching a movie, a piece of entertainment. To me it doesn’t show the strength or respect in the faith but the fear of its weakness. If you’re that afraid that a piece of entertainment could sway you another way spiritually, then perhaps you need to reevaluate your belief system. It’s the same way with other people and their lifestyles. How weak is your faith that the way someone else chooses to live scares you? Again, if you are secure, then nothing should reroute you that easily.
This is an open letter; a note about tolerance and equality across the board. This isn’t an article to spark a religious debate or set to offend anyone. I don’t target any class of people in a broad sense; I’m looking at individuals. Actually, if you are offended by any of this you are more than likely one of those individuals (i.e.: if you’re offended by the anti-racist comments, you’re more than likely a racist and if you’re offended by the comments of blaming God and his word for wrong-doings, you’re more than likely one who passes the buck.) I’ll be clear with this: if you’re insulted by this writing you are more than likely saying “Hey, I persecute others for being different and you’re talking about me.” If that’s the case, then you betcha. Otherwise, I hope you read this and either learn something or show it to someone who can.
I’m not saying “Why can’t we all just get along?” or setting out on a fight for world peace because I know that won’t happen. I’m a dreamer, not an idiot. I’m simply saying I don’t understand it: the intolerance, the hate, the discrimination, the disgust, choosing what is okay in whoever’s eyes and what is deemed a horrible offense. I know a lot of people are either going to skim through this or just not read it in its entirety and will accuse me of attacking God or Christianity which would be, of course, if you’ve read it all, untrue.
Through my journey of faith and finding a relationship with God something had been off and once it hit me, it all became clear. There comes a point where you’re not living by someone’s rules or wishes but using them and their name. The same people who tell you not to use the Lord’s name in vain will then use the name to justify their mistreatments of others. At what point do they ask themselves “Am I being a child of God or am I trying to play God?” Seeing and hearing people use God’s name for their despicable actions was rubbing me wrong; it hit me that people are blaming Him (whether they realize this or not) and, as I’ve been repeating, passing the buck. It’s insulting and cowardice. The fact that this has been an excuse; using his name for bad instead of good for so long is sad and disheartening to say the least. By the way, while these individuals use the Bible and God’s name to attack others who are simply different than them, they’re breaking a certain commandment quite specifically, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” and in turn they are no better than those they attack. While I have love for God, this isn’t an article about Him but people as individuals and the lack of responsibility. To reiterate, this is neither a piece about whatever higher power you choose nor the scripture you choose to believe in, this is about us as people and how we handle and treat one another.
I’m just a regular guy; I’m no genius. I’ve never been to college. Everything I know I’ve picked up in life along the way as well as reading and studying for my own wanting and needing to know. It probably sounds odd hearing about equality from someone in my position: a straight, white, male; but it’s a hot button issue with me as it is with a lot of people. I hate inequality and intolerance because it just makes mankind sound that much dumber and the more people say such ignorant things the farther back it pushes us and hinders our progression. We look back at our history now and either chuckle or hang our heads and someday we’ll do the same about today. You can be well educated (master’s, bachelor’s, the whole nine yards) and well traveled (seeing things some of us have only read about) however if you still don’t know how to treat people, honestly, what good is all the knowledge acquired? What good are you?
I, like many others, have been a jerk to a lot of people in my life and I own up to it. I either had a personal issue with them or was simply being just that – a jerk. Either way, don’t pass the buck, just call it what it is; if you’re disgusted by something, turned off by something, or just plain don’t like it – say so, don’t blame it on other sources. And if you’ve spent a good deal of time passing the buck and trashing classes and societies of people who are just different from you, make amends and move on. If something does come on television that you don’t like – change the channel. You don’t have to start a hate rally. If someone is living their lives in a way that you don’t approve of (and it’s not hurting anyone), just ignore them. If you choose to ignore this writing and continue hating, don’t be surprised when it comes back around your way, because when you preach hate you’re just inviting it in.
Do people and views annoy me? Yes. Just like anyone else. There’s always going to be something that bothers you and me but we don’t have to be hateful; and if we’re going to be mad at somebody for any reason we can keep it with the individual and not take it out on a society of people.
We all need a certain level of tolerance.
*All of the examples given are real and it’s all set up very vague with “people”, “some”, and “they” to protect the ignorant and the mislead.