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Why does this keep happening?
Section 2 of 16

We'll remind you again and again that societal conditions which give rise to homophobia and gay-bashings also give rise, to this very day, to many other major and serious forms of discrimination, including racism, sexual discrimination and religious persecution and discrimination. We'll press the point again and again that no one, nobody, is safe from either these conditions or the injustices they cause.

 

The problems of homophobia and other forms of discrimination often seem to appear quite different, particularly to those who cling to the belief that homosexuality is a "lifestyle choice", as if that would make hate rhetoric and criminal assult and murder somehow more acceptable.

Differences between homophobia and other class hatreds, such as racism, are to found in superficial distinguishing characteristics only. Details of the alibis and contents of the slurs vary, but the harm to the victims has always been the same.

Defamation and injury knows no boundaries of race, color, creed or sexual orientation.

There are two possible approaches to analyzing legal or illegal discrimination.

One is to approach the underlying "theory" and historical pattern, trying to isolate root causes, as in isolating any other disease.

The other is by enumeration. A theory without known instances is worthless. An incident without known relationship to other incidents is an inexplicable random event.

We will do both. However, analysis of the "principles" underlying discriminatory behavior is a much more efficient way to establish whether the "principle" satisfactorily identifies its instances.

Besides, I do not have the stomach for enumeration. The documentation, the reports of the "special interest groups", and the FBI crime statistics, all of that is a matter of public record.

It also astounds me that programmed violence against minorities in this country is still considered a "special interests" concern, somehow not dehumanizing to the rest of us, and that the FBI had to be goaded to begin compiling hate crime statistics as a category at all.

Instantiation of wrongdoing is sufficient proof for thinking people, but only produces numbness for those already in denial.

The "List" (following shortly) enumerates dome of the causes often (and quite reasonably) cited as contributing to homophobia. Before you scan it, there is one more useful concept to introduce.

TARGET GROUPS

Sociologists and analysts in the social services use a concept called a "target group", to refer to a population group with similar characteristics, within the context of the study. Originally, I believe the concept was supposed to refer to a statistically credible sampling group.

Over the years, as studies have expanded to examine population groups which have been victimized by chronic discrimination, the distinction between the actuarial sampling population and the marksman's concept of "target group" has blurred. Gays are a target. So are ethnic and religious minorities.

The degree to which a specific group is targeted varies with time and cultural climate, which is to say, from the perspective of the target at least, with the whims of society.

As you browse the following list, particularly if you are NOT gay, consider that just about everybody in this splintered country counts as a minority in one or more respects, perhaps as a smoker, hunter, disabled person, senior citizen, or member of a small church or political party. Consider the audit trail you leave in your wake as you pursue the business of living.

Anyone can be a victim of discrimination. Being a member of a recognized class or "target group" does not make it any worse or better. Willful violation of another's rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is morally wrong.

"The OTHER side of the story": you could be a target.

Below is a list of irrationalities which, suppressed inside single individuals, may or may not cause harm to others. Actionable offenses against other persons begin when these thinking defects are translated into action.

If you substitute the word "gay" below with the word "nonsmoker", or the word "human", try now to remember how many target groups you actually do fit into. Then put yourself in the shoes of people on the receiving end of discriminatory action.

The List

Public Discriminatory Behavior

  1. Public antipathy or apathy to gays
  2. Public antipathy or apathy to sex, period
  3. Public antipathy or apathy to equal gay rights

Personal Discriminatory Behavior

  1. Generalized homophobia
  2. Generalized fear of difference
  3. Generalized indifference to Bill of Rights
  4. Generalized skepticism about the fairness of the process
  5. "Every man for hisself" -- look the other way

Religion-related Discriminatory Behavior

  1. Biblical injunctions
  2. Ecclesiastical disagreement about the meaning of the scriptures
  3. Sectarian disagreement about the teachings of Jesus
  4. Political exploitation of fundamentalist sects
  5. Church-sponsored homophobia
  6. Organizational religious homophobia

Community/Civic Discriminatory Behavior

  1. Police reluctance to treat murder as hate crime
  2. Community resistance to reform and change
  3. Political resistance to "special rights" target groups
  4. Mass confusion over separation of church and state
  5. Mass confusion over roots of morality and political power
  6. General disagreement about the proper functions of a government
  7. Church PACS: infiltration of politics and legislature

How many of the disorders above might be contributing to homophobia in America today? How many have contributed to other forms of discrimination? How many could be applied to cause harm or injury to you and your family?

We observed that homophobia is just part of a generized pattern of discriminatory behavior condoned, sanctioned or winked at in the United States today. In noting that American citizens today enjoy more personal and civic freedom than peoples anywhere else in the world, please consider that

1) Gays are not asking for and do not need "special rights" not already accessible to other citizens. We are working for recognition and legal protection of our existing, constitutional rights as United States citizens.

2) Your interest in this, whether you may be gay or "straight", or a member of any other identifiable minority, is rational self-preservation. So long as gays are compelled to be dependent on the changing tides of social whim and political caprice, so are you.

Note that every contributory factor in private sectors trickles organizationally upward to political action groups and political action.

Gays and lesbians are not the only target group, nor the largest, nor have they generally been the greatest sufferers (because so many have hidden their orientation out of an unearned sense of guilt, or fear of reprisals).

Gays may be the last minority group to still be systematically and legally denied fundamental rights of full U.S. citizenship on account of race, color, creed or sexual orientation.

And this in no way minimizes or detracts from the injustices which occur to individuals and groups in other minority categories every day. The message here is that discriminatory or exclusionary violation of rights, when permitted or abetted by law, threatens the security and well-being of everybody.

  1. Rights for which gays are seeking inclusionary recognition include:
  2. Right to enter into legally recognized contractual relationships,
  3. including marriage and inheritance/probate laws, and visitation rights
  4. Right to equal protection under the law
  5. Right to serve in the armed forces
  6. Right to rent, live, work and enjoy recreational and public facilities on a par with other citizens

One might suppose that we would see more gays alongside the NAACP in court, fighting egregious violations of the rights of African-American men and women. One might also look for more participation by NAACP figures in the causes of GLAAD or the Gay And Lesbian Task Force.

There is still racism in the gay community. There is still homophobia in the black community. Although it would be unfair to say either community could be characterized as contributing to distrust of other minorities, it seems politically expedient for each group to remain single-issue, because of difficulty securing general agreement within the ranks on a public position with respect to the other groups.

Unfortunately, this contributes heavily to the unfair and ironic general perception that gays and blacks (to name two groups only by way of example) are unwilling to participate in the problems of society as a whole.

I believe this tends to underscore the great need for different groups to recognize they are being victimized by common problems which, in turn, give rise to the many tactical fronts these groups are all fighting separately.

An inability to protect vulnerable classes of citizens from unlawful random violence is a problem of society as a whole. It is too late to save Matt Shepard. But gays and blacks in this country (again, to name just two groups) need your help to save America from itself.

Almost every American understands and supports the "war against terrorism", though we may not always agree on the methods and degrees required to enforce safety and prevent random politically motivated death.

This is because we understand that terrorism is principally directed against us from the outside, by "foreigners" in nationality and spirit.

TERRORISM

The distinction between terrorism and hate crimes is not so great as you might suppose, in terms either of odiousness, or of severity of threat to you and your loved ones. It is time for us to come to grips with hate crime, recognize it for what it is, and deal with it forcefully.

We are going to argue for passage of the Hate Crimes bill, but, more importantly, we are also going to ask for your support in not tolerating the sentiments which give rise to hate crimes: principally, racism and homophobia.

This will never happen until Americans learn how to think outside traditional class, political and ethical boundaries. Thinking outside your political party, for example, does not mean voting for the other candidate. It means not accepting the political platform as the given, the starting point of evaluation and acceptance. It just means thinking for yourself.

 

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