Oh, Jim. Last time I checked, no one had recently been beaten or killed because they liked to talk about corned beef hash with willing waitresses: [link]My reply wound up way too long to post as a comment, so I've published it here. It's so long, in fact, that I've highlighted the most important parts (for those in a rush).
Or even forced to quit their job, or leave town or hide out.
False equivalencies are a dangerous slope. We can never imagine someone else's life, and telling them to get a life isn't our most generous act.
Thanks for commenting. Looks like I wasn't clear about the comparison I was making. My fault. Let me try to sharpen it. The distinction is a bit counterintuitive, so please forgive some repetitiveness as I try to approach it from a few different angles.
I'm drawing a strong distinction between bona fide persecution/oppression (which, for the record, I think is bad, something I figured readers would grant me) and the kind of social sorting and friction which, though unfair and unthoughtful, is inevitable in any society for literally everyone.
Hopefully, we can create a society where everyone has political and legal equality. It ain't easy, but it's getting there. Gay people are doing awesome. Even my crude friends strongly favor equal rights and marriage for gay people (we discussed it). If someone tried to attack this guy, they'd have defended him....I have no doubt at all. In 1970? Perhaps not. But now...yes. It's a great time.
But there's a question, and it's real, and oughtn't be dismissed without some clear-eyed contemplation: is everyone owed full, respectful, social acceptance by everyone? Beyond legal/political/economic rights and personal safety rights?
I'd love to answer a resounding "yes". But be brutally honest with yourself (as I've tried to be here with myself): do YOU fully respect and accept everyone who appears in your social orbit? I try to do that. I really do. More than most people, I suspect. But I fail a lot. Petty sociality is an often mean-spirited arena, and conceding this obvious truth doesn't mean you've conceded that some people deserve to be beaten or persecuted!. You may secretly hope the obnoxious, bad-breathed stranger who's latched onto you at a party might fall into a deep pit...and you might even roll your eyes or otherwise let him know how unpleasant you find him. But if a pit magically appeared, you wouldn't imaginably actually push him! I believe that's an important distinction. In fact, it's the very one I'm drawing. We're not talking about hatred. It's a lighter matter (though that guy would nonetheless be mortified if he knew what you were thinking), and we need to see it as such.
We all have dismissed certain sorts of people, and shut them down even when they're non-evil. We even might smirk or glare a little, though we hate to admit it and try hard not to. Perhaps not at gay people, but we all have our flavor of "different" which strikes us as amusing, disturbing, or beyond our particular pale. I've elicited catty, mean remarks from gay strangers for my shlumpfy clothing (and they were right!!). I'd never expect immunity from that.
No one should. Human rights don't extend that far! In our moral imaginations, everyone in a social setting ought to be treated with perfect kindness and respect. But that's one of those imagined ideals which even idealists don't live up to. Why do many of us pretend otherwise?
Question: when you watch the Marx Brothers, does your heart break over Margaret Dumont, the aristocratic, uptight fat lady attempting to sing an aria at her pompous party while Groucho and the boys ridicule her and ruin everything? Think about that one! I actually think about it a lot. It's exactly my point. I mean...women have been victimized by misogyny for centuries, and overweight people are tragically discriminated against. So do you duly recoil at the disgusting treatment she receives in those movies? If not - if you laugh (or if you EVER laugh at slapstick) you need to self-examine, Seth, and try to understand why you're not a perfect font of tolerance and generosity (that's what I was attempting to do in that article).
But don't judge yourself too harshly. Because there's a huge difference between social callousness/petty meanness and bona fide brutality/oppression. That's the distinction I'm trying to draw. And it's not fatuous, it's not hateful, and it's not uninteresting. But you, alas, dove past the distinction to flatly equate the puny with the brutal. My friends aren't brutal in the least. And neither are you or I, even if none of us is a perfect font of tolerant gentility.
No human being escapes from social callousness and petty meanness. And gay people (who can be as snobby, condescending, mocking, and judgmental as any of us) would be hypocritical to demand otherwise.
As I once wrote, the opposite of being a discriminated-against minority isn't becoming an empowered minority, it's pluralism. Boring old pluralism! And in pluralism we put up with petty affronts and social friction. If a disenfranchised minority imagines soaring past pluralism to a point where petty social swipes never afflict them, that's 1. unrealistic, and 2. not something they could ever manage, either (unless they're Mr. Rogers....who I idolize, btw).
Human beings irritate, abrade, and offend each other, but brutality, oppression, and persecution are - as of recently, at least - beyond the pale. So that's where the line gets drawn. But it doesn't extend to uniform niceness and social smoothness. I'm not always nice. You're not always nice. You and I don't beat people up, however, or deny them their rights. Those are completely different things, and that is the real false equivalency here. Any minority (each of us is a minority in a few respects) who fails to recognize this distinction is doomed to mistake the unavoidable petty swipes of pluralism for the unendurable brutal assaults of hatred.
Lots of minorities miss this. It creates bitterness and division. It may be the single most troublesome miscalculation humans make. And the solution is not to try to transform humanity into a uniformly thoughtful and welcoming species incapable of social affront (good luck with that!), but to encourage everyone to see petty as petty and brutal as brutal. All negative life experience doesn't stem from a single monolithic blob of evil persecution.
If you've got a zit on the tip of your nose, all external injustice appears to stem from that.
Finally, yes, people who primarily self-identify via their preference for innies or outies (including straights....and as a member of a Queens health club, believe me, I see a lot of that) rub me the wrong way. It does the same for plenty of gay people, too. Just for one thing, if you make that your primary characteristic, you can hardly be offended when others see you primarily in terms of that characteristic. A fuller and broader persona invites people to view us as less narrow and cartoonish.
Yes, you're right, though, that any such judgement is ungenerous of me (though perhaps you missed my recantation further down). But a question: are you rubbed the wrong way by certain sorts of behavior, Seth? Or do you personify the perfect large-minded generosity you're advocating? If not, why the scorn as I attempt to earnestly parse through it all? These are tricky, knotted matters to try to unravel. I'd love thoughtful input!