Friday, October 1, 2010

Yet Another Senseless Tragedy

Not that there ever is a "sensible" tragedy - there isn't - but the recent suicide death of Rutger's University freshman Tyler Clementi points out in stark detail a facet of our society which so often is given lip service at best or completely ignored at worse: suicide of young people who are gay.

Clementi jumped off a bridge after his roommates at Rutger's shot a video of him having a romantic encounter with another male and posted it on the Internet. There are so many things wrong with this, starting with why the roommates were so unnaturally interested in such a thing, as if it only happens rarely in this world, and that it's any of their damned business anyway. Taking the video was bad enough, but posting it on the Internet took a very serious lapse of judgment and multiplied it a million-fold.

It's impossible to believe that the two roommates had no idea what they were doing, or what it meant to post something on the Internet, where it immediately gains a worldwide audience and assumes a life that ironically will be much longer than Tyler's life. They knew what they were doing every step of the way, and the only thing left is to decide the motivation. Was it a hate crime? I certainly think that it was.

At the very least, it was an outrageous violation of privacy. It's not like Tyler was doing something really obnoxious in a public place, such as a woman breast-feeding an infant in McDonald's (don't get me started). It was done in the relative privacy of a dorm room. I think that everyone everywhere has a reasonable expectation of privacy under those circumstances, and for the violation to be done by people Tyler knew, lived with and presumably trusted, makes this whole thing all the more baffling and disgraceful.

But what it shows about our society is much more troubling. The idea that many people have about posting the most embarrassing and personal facets of life for everyone in the world to see on the Internet is a direct offshoot of our 24/7/365 trash culture and the predilection that everyone is a voyeur. Our see-all, tell-all culture demands, validates and rewards such behavior, but far more toxic is the shame that Clementi must have felt after being exposed or "outed" in such a horrible fashion. One has to wonder, would all this have happened if he had been making out with a woman instead of another man? Would the roommates had even bothered making a video or posting it? I don't know, and we may never know the true answers to those questions.

But the fact remains, homophobia is rampant in our culture and is probably the last great "acceptable" (to some people) form of discrimination. Subtly (and not-so-subtly) reinforced every day by organized religion (yes, that means Catholicism, fundamentalist Christians, Mormons, and other groups), they sanctimoniously claim to "love the sinner but hate the sin." To that, I give a resounding BULLSHIT! Those supposedly "Christian" people are motivated by nothing but hatred, bigotry, ignorance and intolerance. They hide behind their Bible as a cowardly way to shield themselves, much as Islamic terrorists carry out their work in populated areas, using innocent civilians as shields. All the while these "Christians" fight any and all normalization and integration of gay people as full members into our society, either by supporting anti-gay-marriage amendments in many states or working to pass anti-gay ballot initiatives in cities and states everywhere. They know how to use the media and code words to appeal to the homophobia and bigotry of their ignorant followers without having to answer directly for their hatred and bile. All this results in a pervasive attitude in this culture that being gay is something to be ashamed of, and gay relationships, while often longer-lasting and every bit as deep and valid as heterosexual relations, do not deserve equal recognition under law. The recent shameful actions by crotchety old cowards like John McCain to delay the repeal of the ridiculous "don't ask don't tell" military policy is another in a very long string of incidents that show just how deep-seated the bigotry of some people is, and how eager they are to show it to the world.

Justice denied to some is justice denied to all, and we really cannot claim to be a nation of freedom and equality if discrimination of this kind is tolerated, encouraged and codified into the laws of this country. The United States must be the laughing-stock of the world as so many major countries have long since made their gay citizens full members of their society, and the world didn't come to an end for any of them. So many Americans insist on showing themselves as ignorant, backward, poorly-educated and just plain hateful to the rest of the world, and that is something that degrades and denigrates every single one of us.

No comments:

Post a Comment