Monday, February 26, 2007

Ignorance and Bigotry

Via Canadian Cynic this morning, I found myself directed to Canada's Right Wing Nut Club, and reading what could possibly be one of the most ignorant bits of screed I've ever read.

While defending his stance that he is "not homophobic", the author brings out just about every cliche and misunderstanding of gay men that I've ever heard of.

Here are 10 more things you should know about most typical heterosexual males:

1. Just because we like art and fine furniture, wash our cars, regularly bathe and brush our teeth, and like nice clothes doesn’t mean we’re latent. What it means is that your team doesn’t have a monopoly on taste or decorum.

2. No, we don’t want highlights in our hair or a manicure/pedicure.

3. We think Vespas are for beautiful girls to ride. Not guys. Harley’s, custom West Coast Choppers, Triumphs, Indians or Von Dutchs = a dude’s bike.

4. We don’t like dogs that have “toy” as a prefix to their name.

5. A hunted wild animal’s gut pile is a glorious and beautiful thing. Long live the hunt and the hunter.

6. Keep your lip gloss; we’ll use our Carmex.

7. We like boots not flip flops.

8. Normal men do not like Celine Dion. If you see us crying during one of her shows, it’s not because she struck a nerve with a ballad; but rather we are lamenting our manhood slowly draining away from us as we sit here, for the eight time, and listen to this chick whine.

9. When we look at a pretty girl, we think “wow” and say, “howdy.” To us, the lovely lady lumps trump a man’s hairy back any day. Call us crazy.

10. We don’t think Adam and Steve is an improvement or alternative to Adam and Eve. But that’s just us.

I could dissect the idiots argument piece by piece - as I often do when someone's stupidity is particularly galling, but I think that list makes it for me. That's one giant collection of stereotypes and ignorance coming out there.

Most social bias comes out in the form of ignorance. That column's author, Doug Giles, has just demonstrated his own ignorance of gay men - I'd have to guess he got most of his "knowledge" from the hallways of his high school, and hasn't updated it since.

Does ignorance of a group equate to hatred of them? Not necessarily, but ignorance tends to generate fear - which can devolve quite rapidly into the kind of loathing and hatred that results in gangs of thugs bashing the tar out of somebody.

What we are talking about is understanding people both for who they are and their cultural/social context. It means stepping back from a thought, and asking yourself if the thought/comment/whatever in your head is based on knowledge of the person or a lack of knowledge of their context.

When you start your argument from stereotypes - whether it is the "effeminate gay male", or the "illiteracy of immigrants" - you are guaranteed to completely misunderstand the situation you face.

It comes down to this - treat the people around you with a modicum of respect and dignity and you will get much further ahead. (Better yet, try to learn a little about them before you decide to judge them)

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