Unchecked Hate Has a Price

After the disturbing news of several more hate crimes against lesbians and gays recently, my friend, Barrett wrote eloquently on her blog about this disturbing hateful trend that seems to be growing in our society. Check out her outstanding words.

I, too, have been deeply impacted by these crimes and it has made me wonder what’s happening. Barrett had a couple of ideas spot on: We should be able to disagree without violence and the hypocrisy and the hatred has to stop. One of the best ways we can do that is to take a stand against hateful rhetoric, wherever we hear it. But too often, our society turns a blind eye when hate and intolerance are broadcast via the airwaves or simply uttered in our presence.

Consider the popular comedian, Daniel Tosh, of Comedy Central. Last month he joked about rape in a standup show. When a woman in the audience objected, was Tosh apologetic? No. He doubled down. He followed with, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now?”

Seriously, Daniel? Yes, I know, he offered a half-assed Twitter apology. Whatever. Here’s the thing. Daniel’s rape subject matter has a history. Here’s another example of his twisted humor, using his sister in one of his rape jokes. I’m only including his video because you have to hear it to believe it. This guy has issues. Worse, he has a following.

But the thing that makes my blood run cold is that, even with his propensity for this type of cringe-inducing stand-up, he is wildly popular. He should be a pariah, but he’s not. At least he hasn’t been until this last over-the-top rant. The fact that there has been at least some backlash is encouraging, but it’s not nearly enough.

Kids are getting bullied and committing suicide because of their perceived homosexuality or disability. In story after story, not only did other kids join in, but parents, and in some cases teachers, said nothing—or worse fueled the taunting behaviors, through tacit, even active encouragement. Popular pastors are preaching intolerance and hatred. Rush Limbaugh resurrects the old “Feminazi” label and calls a college student a whore for speaking about reproductive rights. Citizens at a political debate boo a gay service member currently serving in Afghanistan. All in plain sight and without any real consequence to the haters. Oh, but the consequence is very real, my friends.

I talk often about the power of touching one person at a time in my life. It’s the best way for me to fight the overwhelming feeling of helplessness that can so easily take over, because it seems so hopeless sometimes. The simplest part is also the hardest because human nature is usually to avoid conflict, and we mostly try to get along with our family and friends. But I suggest to you that we have to speak up. No, not make speeches or wear a t-shirt emblazoned with: I’m a Lesbian! (If you want to, that’s cool, though.) What I’m talking about is refusing to be silent in the face of this misogynist, homophobic, racist intolerance that too often goes unchecked. There are many moments in our daily lives that give us the opportunity to make statements large and small, and every one of them is huge when we do. Whether we boycott companies that bankroll anti-gay measures, calmly tell a male co-worker that his sexist remark is unacceptable, or explain to a child in our life why a cruel joke isn’t funny. It matters.

“Us versus them” is destroying us. Girls are being gang raped, a young lesbian couple is shot, a gay couple savagely beaten, and there was yet another mass shooting last night at a religious temple in Milwaukee. The tragic list goes on, chipping away at our collective spirit. It’s all about the different, the weaker, the other. Somewhere along the way, those who spew intolerance have gained a perverse acceptance, and those who speak for the different have been marginalized, as though they are saying something wrong. That is what we must change. I may be hopelessly naïve, but I believe it’s possible. Hate breeds in ignorance and division from one another enables hate to spread. Divide and conquer is the tactic. Demonize the different. The problem is, that fracturing of our collective whole is what’s taking us all down. Each of us has a role in stopping it.

There’s a saying: We become what we think about. What our society needs is a lot more thinking about our common humanity and a lot less looking for reasons to hate.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Peace.

~LM

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20 thoughts on “Unchecked Hate Has a Price

  1. I actually see the current sh*tstorm of hate speech as a positive thing. Yes, the words are hard to hear, but the haters are saying now out loud in front of god and everybody what they used to say in the safety of their churches/cults. And a lot of decent people are appalled.

    It’s like when I was in Mississippi in 1965 and saw how black people were treated there. I had no idea! I was appalled, and that experience changed me. I didn’t want to be like the Germans who ignored the Nazis until it was too late. In 1965 the Nazis weren’t all that long ago, and the world learned the hard way about the evil that comes from ignoring hatred.

    For decent people it’s going to come down to this: Do we stand with the oppressed or the oppressors? It’s getting easier and easier to tell which is which.

    • Hi Catherine,
      Welcome. I’m thrilled you stopped by to chat. I agree, the haters are becoming so emboldened that it is easier to spot them, and that is a plus.
      I truly hope the decency that I know is in my fellow citizens will allow goodness to rise up and take back our country. I appreciate your perspective.

  2. It shouldn’t be but it’s so hard to say “no, sorry, that’s really not funny” when someone “jokes” about rape, or any sort of hate speech. Gay jokes are NOT funny. Racist jokes are NOT funny. Blond jokes aren’t really funny…well, maybe they are, especially when we know we are not dumb, and it’s fun when people think we are!
    My problem is I have so many dear friends who are LGBT, and I can’t see them as anything but “my friends.” IF I dislike someone who is not WASP, straight, it’s because in my mind they’re jerks, not due to anything else. I don’t think I’m in the minority, but I do think we are a very silent majority. I don’t have my “gay” friends and my “straight” friends. I avoid so many churches when I hear them brainwashing children. Guess I need to be more of an activist.

    • Hi Mona. You have summed up exactly what I’m talking about. I have many friends that aren’t gay or lesbian, and I don’t put them into special categories. But, I do hold my friends and family to a standard of conduct. I am known for gently (okay sometimes not so gently) but firmly rebuking people in my life for racist, homophobic or other offensive comments. I’m certainly no big hero, I just try to maintain a no-hate zone whenever possible. It sounds like you’re a good friend to have. Thanks for your thoughts and taking the time to chat.

  3. Hats off to you, Lynette, Jeanne “Barrett” Magill and K.G. McGregor for your blogs reagarding the awful hate that is in the world at this time. As Barrett put it, “Thanks for walking the walk!” We are family is not just a song title, it is us!

      • Hey, Lynnette! I am doing fine, thank you for asking, and hope this finds you the same. Please don’t feel humbled because in my, and others, opinion you, Barrett, & K.G. are unique in a class of activists for improving the lives of all. Wish there were many more like you. I agree with you in “Let’s hope our voices grow to a deafening pitch!” and might I change “pitch” to the much needed ROAR!! Let’s have Lesbians Unite Against Hate as our family mantra!!

  4. Well, Jeanne, I had to put some of my thoughts down because it seemed that you were reading my mind in many ways. And I still believe that the way to stop abusive bullies is to expose them for the cowards they truly are. Thanks for starting a great conversation.

  5. Men – as a majority – do not understand the concept of rape because they do not experience sex as an emotive happening. For instance: My brother said that when he was 12 years old (he looked 16) an older woman seduced him. He then said he really enjoyed it but he ‘guessed’ that he was raped. He didn’t know. But he thought that might be what women experienced. I was so flabbergasted that I couldn’t speak for a minute.
    But that is what men – as a majority – believe rape is. A good feeling encounter that is unexpected. They have to be beaten and taken anally with an barbed probe in order to experience what the victim feels as trauma but the attacker calls ‘sex’. At least, that’s what I described to him. He still had a hard time with it because he could not imagine anyone getting the better of him. He was a golden glove boxer as a youth and still works out with a heavy bag. He’s an old man now. 70 years old. But it is not in his ability to imagine being helpless. Yet. And he and his gender seem less able to experience empathetic perception than a woman at any time in her life. I have 3 brothers. One who I know has beaten women. One who I know who stood by and witnessed a woman get gang raped. And my older brother who never raped a woman but doesn’t have a clue what rape is.

    • Gova, I appreciate your comments. You’re right, men, as a rule will never appreciate the full value of rape. Our culture builds males up to feel impervious to this type of experience. Bless you for trying to educate. Keep the faith. Speaking our truth is our salvation.

  6. Thanks, Lynette (and Jeanne and K.G.) for your good and wise and true words in these various blogs. Your line, “He should be a pariah, but he’s not.”, in speaking about Tosh sticks out for me and captures one of my great frustrations and puzzlements in the whole milieu of hate and violence. I am always astounded that when people behave this badly they are not ostracized. Tosh has a huge following. Rush, even bigger. Here in Minnesota we have the infamous Michelle Bachmann and her recent tirades on Muslims. Yet, the couple of weeks after even Republicans taking her to task, she raised more money for her campaign than ever before. Makes me scratch my head!

    I guess I was raised with treating people with decency and respect and not accepting exceedingly bad, hateful or violent behavior. Of course, that didn’t always work out at home, but at least there was lip service (and sometimes more) paid to the Golden Rule and accepting consequences for bad behavior. Those are the values I hope to live by. But we make celebrities and reward this totally unacceptable behavior in this culture. I am not totally sure how to turn that around, but thanks for having the dialogue.

    • Anita, thanks for that perspective. I agree, I was raised similarly. I remember my mom chastising me “You don’t hate anyone. You disagree.” Now it seems tragically that disagreement and hate mean the same for many folks. But, I guess because of my upbringing I still believe in the golden rule, too. I have no answers about how to turn it around, either, I just hope a conversation might be a start.

  7. Well said! Isn’t it funny.. Not really.. How Popular it is in the mainstream to be “unique”, but in real life, people do as much as they can to be (or appear) like everyone else? After all this time on earth, all the intellectual development through the ages, people still fear differences. I say ppppppbbbth!

    • Thanks for your comments, Peco. Yes, we need to minimize differences, but I also think that right now that’s not happening in our society. Any thoughts as to how we can make that happen?

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