The Hypocrisy of Discrimination

After the somewhat biblical length of my last post, I’ve decided to leave today’s offering somewhat shorter.  In many ways, I’m forced to, because I have only a few answers for a number of questions.

Questions like: why is it socially unacceptable to say that you, as an individual, hate black people, but yet perfectly okay for a whole institution to disciminate against homosexuals, because of what’s written in the bible?

There was a time when, as a white, middle-aged, anglo-saxon, Christian male, you were pretty much entitled to deplore anyone who did not themselves check all of the aforementioned boxes.  Over the last century or so, there’s been an uphill battle of social change.  A fight for the rights of women, other races, the disabled, non-Christians and non-heterosexuals.  By all means, we’ve come a long way, but as is so often the case with social change, it’s easy to fall back at the last hurdle.  Partly, because the public is so convinced that equal opportunities is “political correctness gone mad” – something genereally spread by people who “don’t have a problem with darkies, just don’t want them next door”.

One of the huge areas of progress is that most people are now not overtly racist.  It’s also socially unacceptable to tell racist jokes in say, public speach, or in white-collar meetings.  But what about down the pub?  The fact is, we’ve all been there.. quietly having a pint and ending up listening in on an explanation of how “foreigners and gays” have destroyed Britain.

I’m resisting the urge to mention the influence of the right-wing media on that one.

My point is this: why do we so often put up with racism?  Most of us are past the point of endorsing it, so why do we accept it from others?  Why is it still okay for the guy down the pub to be spouting BNP propoganda?  Hell, if you really want to get away with racism, be old, or even better: be a war veteran.  Let me be frank: just because grandad fought and almost died in both World Wars does not give him the right to be a fucking racist.  I have the utmost respect for anyone who fought in WWII, but let’s not forget, we fought against fascism, not for it.  I’m sick of the, “Oh, well he fought for our freedom, we should listen to him when he says the gays should be killed”.  It’s disgusiting and automatically moots any previous respect you might have had.

The other thing that baffles me is why some forms of discimination are regarded as “less bad” than others.  Sexism and homophobia are generally regarded as “soft” forms of bigotry, compared to the “hard” bigotry of racism.  Racism is the kind of thing that gets you sacked, while sexism just gets you a verbal warning and a pat on the back after hours.  I don’t know.

Of course, if you really want to get away with discrimination, discriminate against an atheist.  It’s almost considered a technicality – you can’t discriminate against someone’s religion if they don’t have one.  It highlights the fact that belief in pure science is still considered infeior to “true belief” in a god.   I’m not sure why, but it still seems to be less acceptable to come out and say, “I’m an atheist” than to label yourself with any other belief system.  The strange thing is that it seems to do so even among those who don’t actively practice religion themselves.  I recall a survey once that found people would be more likely to vote for an election candidate who declared themselves as having “faith” than one who did not – regardless of whether the voter themselves was religious.  In many ways, it just highlights how in 2011, we still equate religion with morality and good.  Not even the child abuse scandal of the Catholic church has seemed to tarnish this.

I think one answer to my original question about the bible and discrimination is the issue of deferred responsibility.  Because of what the bible says about homosexuality, homophobic Christians are able to side-step the issue: “I never said it was wrong, the bible did!  It’s God’s opinion, not mine!”*.  Apparently hate is okay if it’s part of your religion.  Ironic, since it’s scriptured hatered which most Christian Westerners cite as the cause of Muslim terrorism.

I said that it’s too easy for us to now fall at the last hurdle.  I think the reason why is that now is when we have become complacent.  We have banished discrimiation to the shadows, but the shadows are where it thrives.  We need to remember that until no man ever again thinks “Oh, you’re one of them“, it’s not over.

Edit: * My friend Jason recently shared a video, which seems to go exactly along those lines.

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