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Progress=Death?

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A man was targeted and killed for being gay; in Greenwich Village this week. People are killed all the time of course. But targeting someone because of being gay in the geographical home of Northeast gay liberation is shocking. There will always be people who are threatened by others. But it does seem that anti-gay violence has increased in recent months. Yes, it could be that the stories make the mainstream airwaves now (versus barely a mention in years past.) But the past year’s crime statistics in New York City would suggest that is not the case. Hate crimes have gone up, and presumably some of that hatred is aimed at LGBT people. Why, 44 years (almost to the day) after Stonewall does this violence exist?

How others live their life is of little concern to most people. It is only when our lives (inner or outer) feel weakened or threatened that we pick our head up and look around. Our negative thoughts and feelings about strangers come from our sense of instability. If we are not happy with our lives or ourselves it is (briefly) satisfying to malign others. We can call it bullying or bashing; its genesis is the same, and there is nothing new about it. Bullying/bashing is almost always perpetuated on those who are perceived as weaker. There was a time that by virtue of their position in society and actual laws regarding their personal lives. LGBT people were frequently victimized. A person who may fear for his/her job, housing, family connections, makes an easy target. Bullies could lash out without much fear of repercussion. Who would press charges? Even if charged, would society care? No doubt there were people sitting at home thinking; ‘well if they knew he was gay he must have been doing something ‘gay’ at the time.’ And that, for many people in olden times, was upsetting.

But this is 2013. Studies (for the past decade or two) have consistently shown that younger people (college age) don’t view LGBT people as an anomaly. Many teens now publicly identify as LGBT, in numbers and manner that children of even the 1970s couldn’t have even dreamed. LGBT people are openly serving in politics and the military (both rather straight-laced professions.) With the exception of a religious institution (or the Boy Scouts) it’s difficult to conjure a profession that would (lawfully) oust an employee for identifying as LGBT. It happens, there’s no doubt, but it’s not routine and it’s certainly not legal. LGBT people are now represented in television and film as something other than the object of ridicule. This is no small thing, as there are many subgroups that are still considered an acceptable punch line by virtue of their appearance.

So how could there be violence towards a people who have made such significant strides? Could it be that it is because of those strides that we are seeing this abhorrent behavior? Can it be that individuals who feel dissatisfied with themselves and their lives are as antagonized by the belief that someone is ‘getting what’s mine’ as they were/are by those who are seemingly weaker? Are attacks on people who are finally getting what’s rightfully theirs (civil rights) inevitable? Is it an inherent part of the battle, these innocent casualties that occur as we get closer to victory? Must Freedom Riders always be sacrificed for freedom?

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Posted by on May 19, 2013 in Cultural Critique

 

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The White Hood Of The Web

There have always been people crouching behind barriers and throwing stones.  In an actual battle, this strategy is in fact prudent.  But when the stones are being thrown at unwilling participants it is abusive, and when the abuser is shielding him/herself it is bullying.  (Bullying is by definition an abuser preying on a weaker person.  Hiding offers protection, exposure leaves one weaker.)

Since the dawn of time, or since there were enough people on the planet to adequately ostracize some of them; people have bullied other people.  Often groups decide that someone, or groups of someones are a threat to the status quo.  The group itself gives rise to an enthusiasm and sense of protection for the abusers.  Persecution of women in Salem, backlashes to integration and voting rights, gay bashing; we have a rich national history of bullying,  And it’s getting worse.

We are in a time of economic uncertainty, political polarization, political correctness pressure and the internet.  People have not become more or less decent, they just may feel more threatened.  Nothing gets the bully’s goat like threat.  But what brings the simmering increase of abuse to the boiling point is the rise of technology.  Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and countless website comment sections, have allowed for a new form of white hood.  There is a vile cocktail of exhibitionism and hatred that litters the comment sections of legitimate news outlets.  For some reason web editors and/or executives are allowing their brand to be a platform for hate groups.  These posters use tragically uncreative screen names to hide behind, while rabidly posting.  The unsuspecting reader is affronted with spewing from people calling themselves by war criminal’s names.

I am willing to concede, that just like wildly offensive television programming, the viewer can avoid the offensive material pretty easily.  But I am concerned about the news outlets sense of responsibility and integrity.  Offensive and abusive comments on Facebook and Twitter can easily be blocked and ignored as well.  Even bloggers can block nasty commenters with ugly agendas.  But where does this leave us?

The fact that we can protect ourselves from these high tech hooded thugs, doesn’t address the real issue.  Why are we allowing people to hide in plain sight.  Newspapers have long made it de rigueur to only publish letters from individuals with confirmed identities.  Make no mistake, I am not advocating restraints on free speech.  Far from it.  But surely we have the technology to expose these people?  The rest of us non-software engineers, should ignore the comments (versus engaging) and not patronize sites whose management allows for this behavior.  People are entitled to be as dark and hateful as they desire, but civilized societies should not allow for them to do so in disguise.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2011 in Cultural Critique, Media/Marketing

 

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