Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gay Rights, Wrong Ideals?

The Excesses - And Potential Dangers - Of The "War On Homophobia" 

[WARNING: I can tell already that a lot of you are going to think this article is apologetic towards homophobes, or even encouraging homophobia. That, obviously, is not the intent of the article, but rather to discuss some logical inconsistencies within the arguments of many hardcore “gay-rights” proponents, particularly on the issue of “hate speech.” If this is too much for you to handle, here’s a link to play Mega Man 3 instead – a good day to you. –Thnx, Mgmt.]

Back in the third grade, I had to sit out of recess once because I called some kid - a fellow male student, by the way - on the playground a “lesbian.” Since this was before the days of the Internet, I really had no idea what a “lesbian” was, just that I heard it on the news a lot and figured it had to be something negative as a result. I mean, Peter Jennings was always going on and on about “layoffs” and “trade embargoes,” so I figured if anything was talked about on the evening news, it probably had to have some sort of detrimental or harmful ring to it. Hell, I just as easily could have called my playmate a “beneficiary of NAFTA” after he threw a dirt clod at me, and I never would’ve known the difference.

According to a lot of people these days, however, such a remark, even if uttered by someone that had no idea what the complexities of the term entailed, would be considered a “homophobic attack.” In fact, a lot of the pre-college culture I experienced would be labeled “homophobic”, with some of the more extremist gay rights folks saying that my milieu was a living, breathing hate-crime morning, noon and night. What’s even more amazing to me is that kids of this generation are able to detect an aura of “bigotry” and “discrimination” that, for the life of me, I never knew we were guilty of.

For example, I had no idea that my pop cultural oeuvre - at the time, a goulash of the most low-culture things you can think of - was really a festering bin of hatred. When Korn and Eminem - back when both were relevant and/or gave a shit about what they were doing - dropped the terms “homo” in their lyrics, I didn’t know that, by proxy, I was guilty of supporting an oppressive, hetero-normative hierarchy. Nor was I aware that the crude chants often overheard at pro hockey and pro wrestling events in my youth - specifically, the fan favorite “(insert disliked figure here) takes it up the ass” - was actually a means of subjugating an entire subgroup of the U.S. populace. This entire time, I just thought that I was giving Claude Lemieux and Shane “The Franchise” Douglas a hard time, when all the while, I was really propagating an institutionalized hegemony that devalued my fellow man. The fact that I found Eddie Murphy’s jokes about AIDS in “Delirious” amusing when I was 13 is the modern day moral equivalent to being a closeted SS officer, I imagine.

I bring up all of the above aspects of my youth culture because they have all been criticized by the generation ahead of me for being homophobic. According to myriad YouTube users, the lyrics of Limp Bizkit, the rowdiness of late 90s’ sporting events and virtually all forms of stand-up comedy up until 1991 were all blatantly anti-gay, and the theoretical amusement we procured from such media is comparable to all of the old white guys that used to get their giggles watching minstrel shows and D.W. Griffith movies. 

To them, its absolutely unimaginable that we couldn’t have seen such displays as inherently discriminatory, and it’s super-duper-mega-unimaginable that we can’t see them as such in hindsight today. And if you even look like you’re to be an apologist about the pop culture of twenty years ago, even in the remotest, you might just get ran out of town by people holding pitchforks and torches.

“Homophobia” is the new social blight, the same way “racism” was the cultural albatross up until fairly recently in American discourse. Alike “racism,” I think it’s pretty clear that nobody is a big fan of “homophobia,” and, most certainly, nobody wants it to be used as a component that skews political or social decision making within our culture. Nobody, repeat, NOBODY in the United States wants “institutionalized homophobia.” Even the most hardcore of the hardcore, your Fred Phelps types and the like, aren’t necessarily vouching for the institutional disempowering of gays and lesbians. They may say a lot of heavy-handed stuff pertaining to their religious beliefs, but they’re not lobbying to keep gays out of political office, or even for social impositions. They don’t want gays out of public schools, and they don’t want gays to have to use separate bathrooms - they may not like ‘em, but they’re not really trying to get them factored out of the general social system, either.

As far as the modern gay rights movement goes, the only two institutional blockades I can think of involve gay marriage and adoption, which are two social obstructions almost guaranteed to be knocked down by legal proceedings within the next 20 years. You could argue the whole “don’t ask, don’t tell” thing, but seeing as how that isn’t a general imposition on American society (for example, your sexual orientation can’t be used as an element for your hiring as a bank officer, a non-bat-shit-crazy-university professor, or the President of the United States), I really wouldn’t deem it as a cultural restriction. At this juncture, the term “gay liberation” is a complete and utter oxymoron, as there really isn’t an institutional inhibition for said gays and lesbians to surmount.

A lot of gay rights crusaders like to compare the GLBTQABCLMNOP movement to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, although it’s kind of apparent that the cultural restrictions placed on blacks during that time-frame was considerably harsher than anything most gays and lesbians have had to overcome. Whereas the Civil Rights movement was mostly about equal representation in society, the gay rights movement of the early '90s to today has, generally, been a quest for equal recognition and acceptance - a completely different struggle, because a lot of gay hardliners want not only changes to social policies, but a change to social thinking itself.

The things blacks were fighting for during the Civil Rights era - access to education, employment and the guarantee that they won’t be denied institutional rights like voting and municipal services - are all things that gays and lesbians have had in America since, well, forever. The things gays and lesbians seem to be fighting against nowadays aren’t institutional barriers, but rather, individualistic displays of homophobia, be it perceived or perfectly blunt. The problem here is quite obvious - while blacks wanted infrastructural changes to policies and social services, gays want across-the-board toleration and acceptance from the culture in its totality, with the added incentive of protection from criticism from individual members of that cultural milieu. The hardcore gay rights advocates aren’t just fighting against “homophobia” - an intangible, subjective term, lest we forget - but the complete eradication of whatever it is that “homophobia” entails. This is a “goal” that is not only incredibly naive and unrealistic, but ultimately, one that is far more harmful to the social well-being of both hetero and homosexuals than ANYTHING you’ll hear the Pat Robertsons and Dr. Lauras of the world spout out of their ironically sphincter-shaped oral cavities.

For the most part, it’s the gays and not the hetero-normative detractors that are the ones vouching for separatism, in the form of reductionistic social enclaves that eliminate “perceived” homophobia by getting rid of all non-homosexual ideologies - and the more extreme circumstances, influences - whatsoever. The term “gay” today means something more than a sexual preference, it indicates a certain counter-cultural stasis, complete with its own tracts, texts and experiences that are specifically homosexual. In every major city in America, there’s at least one “gay district” in town, in which the sociological constituency is overwhelmingly homosexual - they have gay bookstores, they have gay movie theaters, they have gay bars, everything a “normal” community would have, only with the prefix “gay-” welded onto it. The inherent “gayness” takes precedence over all other qualities to such a degree that the element of sexual orientation - the thing that the gays want the hetero-normative detractors within society to totally ignore - becomes not only the central aspect of one’s life, but the utmost qualifier of his or her being.

Remember, these “gay enclaves” aren’t examples of social subjugation, as nobody forced the gays within the community to group together and live as an individual subsystem. Rather, it was a conscious, structured decision by local gays themselves to socially transform an area into an idealistic utopia, if only for a few blocks. Of course, some critics would say that this self-selected isolation was reactionary to the “general” homophobia of society, and as such, is a preemptive means of avoiding “homophobic” sentiment and influences. Not surprisingly, this has led to the comparable phenomenon of privately funded “gay high schools” cropping up amongst the more liberal hinterlands of the United States - in essence, the literal and not just figurative endorsement of social segregation by those that claim to be “oppressed” by a largely “unavoidable” hetero-normative culture.

A recent Rolling Stone article brought up the story of a small town in which a rash of teenage suicides plagued the community. Over a fairly small length of time, nine students (of which four were “outed” homosexuals) killed themselves, with many gay advocates claiming that homophobic bullying and the institutional inability for the schools to address homophobia were the chief drivers of their suicides. Scientifically, it’s not really a sound assumption, since a majority of the students that killed themselves during the time-frame were reportedly quite heterosexual. Nor does that assumption take into consideration socioeconomic factors (far and away the most important physical and mental determiners of one’s behavior, and certainly more influential than sexual preference, religion or race combined), or even the notion of suicide clustering, a freak social phenomenon in which teenagers respond to traumatic exposure to death by causing their own deaths as reactionary statements (which means, for all intents and purposes, “Heathers” is probably the most sociologically-accurate teen movie ever made.)

The danger here is really obvious; per the gay rights proponents, one of those essential rights is the right to “not by offended or criticized,” which is a right allotted to a grand total of nobody else in society. Many, many advocacy groups are trying to turn these suicide rashes into a social imperative, with the assumption that unless drastic, precautionary measures are taken to insure that gay students will not experience anything “offensive or critical” in regards to their gayness, the cultural and academic milieu is at fault for their deaths.

This, of course, brings us to the topic of “hate speech regulation,” an Orwellian construct advocated by hardliner gay activists that stands out as perhaps the most daunting civic obstruction of our time. To the hardliner gays, their perceived right to avoid indignation is so great (and apparently, centric only to them) that formal abridgement of the civil rights of others is worth sacrificing. In other words, they feel as if the freedoms of others HAS to be eliminated for them to fully enjoy their freedoms, an idealistically-sharpened dagger pointed right at the very heart of our First Amendment convictions.

Sure, it’s easy to target extremist homophobes like Fred Phelps and his merry clan of Kansan fundamentalists, but the extremists on the other side of the pasture never seem to get the ink that the unabashed gay-haters get. What of iconic lesbian writer Valeria Solanas, who once said that heterosexual culture is an oppressive regime that must be destroyed in order for everybody that’s a non-heterosexual, Caucasian male to live complete lives? Seeing as how she put a bullet in Andy Warhol, it stands to reason that she’s done more damage to the homosexual community than ANYBODY she accused of promoting a hetero-normative hegemony. And what about the feminist organizations of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s that harassed women for bringing their male infants to rallies and vigils? For that matter, what about the radical lesbian contingents that have publicly declared their desire to genetically phase out males from the human gene pool? Last time I checked, hatred isn’t a one way street - logically, if “homophobia” exists (and is worth restricting free expression to keep in check or prevent), then is it really that far-fetched a consideration to say that comparable free expression restrictions should be implemented to curtail a perceived “hetero-phobia?”

The locus of gay activism in the modern era is almost wholly dependent on a Marxist impression of perceived oppression. You really can’t use the term “gay rights” or “gay awareness”, since gays are most certainly entitled to virtually all social services that “straights” are guaranteed (marriage and adoption currently notwithstanding) nor is it really acceptable to say that gays have been culturally marginalized via systematic under representation (the popularity of Lady Gaga and “Glee” clearly contradicts this - in fact, it’s becoming increasingly rare to find a contemporary television or film offering that doesn’t have a “queer” angle to some extent.) In this, the only thing gays and lesbians have to fight for is the unobtainable aspiration of a persecution-less social milieu, which by proxy, becomes a “battle” against the more extreme homophobes and a perceived threat from the hetero-normative majority, whom they gays and lesbians fear are working against them based on longstanding, although unstated, political or religious grounds. And what do the socio-politically bellicose do in the absence of true battles?

They just make one up, of course. With perceived homophobia in check, why not go after perceived historical homophobia next? That way, they can adjudicate the blameless of today very-much-to-blame for contemporary “injustice” based on retroactive cultural milieus and whatever faint connections the individual in question has to such long-gone structures. In a quest for perpetual victimization, you just have to go on a good old fashioned witch hunt every now and then - a rather shameful way to maintain group pride, don’t you think?


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