Intolerance and acceptance

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Jason Kenosky
Journal Staff

The recent harassment toward homosexuals in New York is horrifying and sad. Add to that the also recent suicides of gay teenagers in America, and it’s enough to make you wonder what direction we are heading in as a society. With many great social advancements made over the last 50 years, it appears as if we have taken a few steps back in certain areas.

One area of concern is that homophobia is as alive today as it was 100 years ago.  Granted, there will always be at least one person who does not see eye-to-eye with reason, but if we are to truly advance as a society, we need to accept and appreciate that just like color of skin, ethnicity, and sex, who one is attracted to is no grounds for hatred and bigotry.

Five teenagers, ranging in ages 13 to 19, who identified themselves as homosexual, recently took their own lives to escape the torment of bullying they received because of their sexualities. It’s deeply saddening that a 13-year-old felt the need to end his life for any reason, but even worse that he did so because he was made to feel like some kind of mistake.

The kidnapping and torture of three homosexuals in the Bronx (two teenagers and one adult) by a makeshift gang enrages me to the point of wanting to choke these fools out. However, Pyrrhic victories are just as pathetic.

To round out these events, gubernatorial candidate for New York State governor, Carl Paladino, announced in a public speech that he believes homosexuality is immoral and degrading to society. Par for course, he recanted his comments by saying that his words were poorly chosen and that he supports gay rights, but still believes that homosexuality is not a valid option.

Not a valid option for whom? Bigots? Paladino sweeps these beliefs under religion’s rug, yet forgets a simple concept:  freedom of religion implies freedom from religion, too.  The Bible has no implication on American law or thought and churches already have the right to marry or deny marrying couples as they see fit. Not all religions are against homosexuality, and because of this, religious freedom is being infringed upon.

Even though certain religions oppose homosexuality, there is no way to logically reason that being gay is wrong. Outside of having the cahones to admit that you are bigoted and your opinions are fueled by hate and disgust, cognitive dissonance is the only factor at play.

How else can the fear and misunderstanding be explained? Is it because God or Allah said so? There is no god behind me, yet I have trouble comprehending the notion that a just and kind god would hold interests in punishing a portion of the population who desire nothing more than to express love and affection toward one another without ridicule.

So what else could be at the root? For most guys it is machismo; that somehow taking a stance against homophobia is admitting that you yourself are homosexual. There was a study conducted in the 90s where inmates incarcerated for killing or committing other violent acts against homosexuals were wired in such a way that the blood flow to their penises could be measured. While this was only one study, it suggested the idea of latent homosexuality in those who commit such crimes since it was shown that 80 percent of the inmates studied were sexually aroused by images of homosexual sex.

There is also the fallacy of a slippery slope that somehow acceptance of homosexuality would open up the door to ‘legalizing’ bestiality, incest, and other forms of vile incidences. Once again, this is based on fear by proposing an end result that is so horrible that a first step ought not be taken.

Then of course there are those who simply want to keep the status quo, who claim that homosexual rights are “special” rights. Once again, this is a false statement that assumes that homosexuals already enjoy the same freedoms and rights that the other 89 percent of Americans enjoy. It is a tactic used to keep class lines in check.

The words tolerance and acceptance are often used interchangeably, yet they have two separate meanings. While tolerance may be a first step, total acceptance needs to be the final goal. As an example between the two words, I offer you this: I do not like my job, yet I can tolerate showing up each day, and I am able to accept that fact.

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