Monday, October 12, 2009

Law passed, hate eradicated

And so they marched. Here's what I think ...

I get that as a member of the LGBT community, you want the country, the world even, to see that you're a force to be reckoned with and that you want equal rights and no hate. It is not too much to ask for equal rights. Every human being deserves equal rights regardless of the color of your skin, religious belief, disability, sexual preference, foreign-sounding last name, whether you choose to wear a veil, etc. The list goes on and on.

But hate exists and will exist in the future regardless of how many miles are picketed down and speeches are given. It pains me to see that ugly issues like racism, sexism and other kinds of prejudices (including homophobia) are still woven into the tapestry of society. It sucks, it's not fair and I don't agree with it. But unfortunately a government can only legislate over these issues to a point. And though they are pending Senate passage to be made into federal law, anti-hate laws already do exist in many states. The problem is that they only govern so much, because people aren't robots. They can't be told what to feel. (Oh how peaceful our world would quickly become if this were true.) Just because the government says something is officially illegal does not mean people who harbor hate will automatically change their minds. And that's the crux of the problem.

Also, I don't think it's fair or right to repeatedly compare the plight of gays in America today to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. It does not take away from the importance of the equality cause in the slightest, but comparing it to the trials and tribulations of African Americans in the Civil Rights era is laughable. The widespread segregation, discrimination and overall oppression that occurred for hundreds of years against blacks doesn't even come close to the injustices members of the LGBT community complain of enduring today. Last time I checked there are no "gays only" schools, "gays only" water fountains, "gays only" sections in diners or "gays only" stores that refuse service to any homosexual who even thinks of walking through the front door. Gays weren't brought to this country under horrific conditions and forced to serve in brutally oppressive slavery for centuries, denied basic rights like saying "no" when being raped by their owners and, bottom line, gays never endured stringent and unfair voting barriers like reading tests or special "voting taxes" designed to keep them from voting. So enough with the African American comparison. The two situations are like apples and oranges.

It's terrible when a tragic hate crime occurs, but it happens. After the passage of many laws in recent history, hate crimes still happen to African Americans, they still happen to women and they still happen to many, many immigrants right here in the U.S. There should be dire consequences to these kinds of attacks.

But unfortunately the reality of the situation is that you're not going to change the mind of someone who hates and wants to attack you just because you pass legislation saying it's not right. Yes, it probably will and SHOULD win you more equal and deserved rights (i.e., the right to marry, come out in the military, etc.), but it won't solve hate and that's the main problem. A law passing should not be confused with hate diminishing. Change has to happen within each individual, and not just on a federal level.


Lizzy said...

I agree to a large extent. Oppression, in any form however, sucks. Be you black, white, purple, rainbow or trans, the oppression from hatred sucks and should be eradicated. No, the passage of a Hate Crimes law for the TBLG community will never regulate hate, but what I hope it does, is raise awareness, and ultimately? Set the example that if the government can stand by these minorities, so should the populace- at least to tolerate. Awareness = education. Education = social change.

So, will hate still exist regardless of what laws are in place? Yes. Do hate crimes have an effect socially? Did the number of lynchings go down once the laws were passed and enforced?

I could go on. As a member of one of these minorities, the topic of awareness and education is always near and dear to my heart. That said, I think I addressed your topic without delving into mine.

Thanks for the post!

Tania Asnes said...

Hi Crystal,

I'm a new reader; loving your blog.

Just an idea, and one you've probably considered extensively anyway: laws may not change prejudice, but don't you think they go a long way towards invalidating prejudice? If the government won't stand up for gay people, why should anyone? Even though hatred remains in people's hearts, laws prevent them from doing harm and punish them when they do.

Andi said...

I really like what you said here and ironically had a similiar conversation with my BF about the comparison, as you say: apples and oranges!

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