Friday, February 27, 2009

Gays And Lesbians Know The Meaning Of The Word Attack

Watching this video was confirmation of two of my strongest beliefs; all people matter and language is extremely important.  The fundies  appropriate language as a weapon to defend their undeserved privileges.  Often behind the mirror of free speech they are simply spreading hate.  When I spoke in favor of separating hate speech from free speech, instantly the word censorship raised its ugly head.   The point that must be remembered, is that hate speech has real world consequences that often mean violence and even death for a particularly marginalized group.  Language is how we frame and practice discourse and therefore; if we continually frame someone as other, it is because we understand them as such in a desire to privilege certain identities.  If there is a cost to speech it certainly is not free.

As allies of the gay and lesbian community, it is increasingly important that we take it upon ourselves to speak out when we hear bigots using hate language to attack.  This kind of attitude flourishes because we tolerate it.   They need to learn that there is no such thing as a safe space to express  hatred.   As a mother I have taken this one step further by actively teaching my children that love in whatever form it manifests between two people of equal standing is a beautiful thing.   Language that is regularly tolerated at the homes of their little friends quickly gets an invitation to leave my home.  It is of the utmost importance to their father and I, that our home is a safe space for all who may enter and that means each person must actively acknowledge through action and behaviour that all people matter.  You could say that this is our family slogan.

It can be terrifying when you first start speaking up in the cause of justice because you face ridicule and censorship however; it is important to remember that whatever social stigmatization that comes your way, it is far less than that which is faced from those that inhabit the bodies that are deemed less than by our society.  At times in your zeal to be of aid, you may even say something that is offensive to or about the community you are trying to advocate on behalf of; don't get defensive, apologize, learn, and move on.  Standing from the outside looking in you can never have an accurate understanding of all of the issues at hand, but if you have a sincere heart and a willingness to learn, you can make a difference.  Small everyday acts matter and if your form of revolution is to ensure that your children learn to value people, speaking out in the company of friends, or simply not buying from companies that promote hate and difference, rest assured that each small act in the defence of equality and justice is a stance in the promotion of all the goodness that we are capable of.  We cannot change the entire world but if we can sweep the cobwebs from our little corner of the universe, we make the world a safer, happier space for all.

H/T The Bilerico


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