Monday, 27 July 2015

Fear and Loathing of Intolerance - Part 3 Racism

If I look at you reading this now what do I see?  Do i judge you by who you are (or to be more accurate the face you show the world) or do I judge you by vastly generalizing about things like your sex, your sexual inclination or your religion?  So far we’ve covered those and shown I hope how illogical they are.  But by a carpet mile the most widespread intolerance is that where we judge people based only on the colour of their skin.  As I’ve mentioned before my skin through whatever accident of birth assigns us to the parents we have, mean I am white… any paler and I’d be mistaken for a corpse.  But I had the good luck to be born to parents who were not racist, weren't particularly sexist, weren't homophobic and I spent from the ages of 6months old to 5 living in Leeds.  (Which is a large city in Yorkshire in England).

One of the things about Leeds that coloured me for the rest of my life is it was a multicultural melting pot.  I got used to seeing different colours of skin, different religions and the fact that you cannot and should not generalise.  Simple mathematics dictate that at some future point the idea of skin colour will disappear as we all mix together over the coming millennia.  There will be no black, no white, just people.  

Lets try a little mental exercise to show how stupid racism is.

Let's assume that skin colour doesn't exist for the moment. If people started to judge each other and say for example people with no wisdom teeth were stupid, prone to violence and obviously must be less highly evolved what would your reaction be?  If small groups of white sheeted  pointy hood wearing idiots started burning crosses outside of the houses of people with no wisdom teeth what would you say then?  No doubt people with wisdom teeth would congregate themselves into areas that those with wisdom teeth would basically turn into ghettos over time. Suddenly  you’d hear people saying on news interviews “well we all know crime is far higher among the wisdom toothless hordes, so our prejudice is with good reason”.

Suddenly you might even see police officers shooting far more of these wisdom toothless people… some may even think it would be a form of extermination.   The media may even be horrified at it all...but nothing would change it would only get progressively worse.

...all because some people were born without wisdom teeth.  So how is that any different to skin colour?  We no longer live in an isolated world where the idea of seeing someone from a very different culture, religion or skin colour is unusual.  We see people very different to ourselves all the time.   Is ginger hair any different really than dark skin?  That fact that some people get to save on suntan lotion in hot weather is really no different to people who may have for example a larger than usual lung capacity.  

If you victimize a group of people eventually they will stick together for protection, this will then be used as yet another excuse why they are ‘bad’.   So regardless of the colour of your god damned skin, if you're an asshat I am going to tell you you're an asshat. Not based on skin colour...but based on the fact that you actually are a terrific asshat.    Some people are idiots, some people are evil motherfuckers… skin colour plays no part in that.  if you removed the skin from everyone right now could you tell the difference?  What would you judge by? Body language? Accent?

I often hear how people being proud of their race is fine if you're not white.  Do you know why I think this is? Its because every single time a movement of white people being proud of being white it gets taken over by idiots wanting to exterminate people, or march them into death camps.  To take away any money or rights they have.  THAT is why white people do not need movements like that. We already have white privilege, white skin isn't going to give you a greater chance of getting shot or stopped by the police.  Imagine if you had to have a talk to your kids when they got old enough to go out on their own with friends about why it’d be a good idea not to wear a hoodie...or to not look directly in the eye of a police officer in case they shot them for no god damned good reason.

So the colour of a person's skin should never be used to judge them, and certainly not to judge them badly.  Maybe we should start judging people by what type of person they are instead of if they need to buy suntan oil on a summers day.  That seems to be a rather silly way to judge what sort of person someone is.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Fear and Loathing of Intolerance - Part 2: Homophobia

Every single person reading this has a perversion of one type or another.  So whether you're male or female; straight bi gender or gay there always at least one thing that will really turn you on sexually.  So every single human on planet earth deviates from ‘the norm’ in one way or another, thus making us all perverted in one way shape or form.  As I’m a straight guy I’m going to approach this from that point of view. So is you are a straight male you may find tits the size of barrage balloons turn you on, maybe it's some S&M; possible you have a thing for bottoms or you prefer your women with shaved lady gardens. (One guy I know has a thing about long wavy hair).  The point of this all being that no matter how hard we all try to portray ourselves as ‘normal’ sexually, the bottom line is there is no normal.  Normal only exists as a default imaginary state.  We all have at least one thing that sets us apart that turns us on and excites us in the bedroom..or the shower...or on top of a car , or behind the nearest bus shelter.  This is also why I find it so odd that homophobia exists at all.  I have a trope that I’ve trotted out so many times in conversation that if I had an English pound for every time I’d be a very rich man.  

That trope is that I have no interest whatsoever what you do in your bedroom.  I don't care if you tie up your other half and then invite the entire English rugby team in for a go… that's your business and as long as it's legal and nobody's getting hurt and all parties agree what the hell interest should it be to me or anyone else. It is no ones business (or it shouldn't be) apart form your own and your partner / partners.  I know a fair few people that fall outside of the ‘straight’ area of the sexual spectrum, some I’m related to, some have been work mates and  some are damn good friends.  They are not lesser people because they prefer something else in the bedroom.  

They are god damn human beings just like us!  Heterosexual males often have a rather confusing logical standpoint on people who are gay.  Women from the People's Republic of Lesbania are deemed as fine and often the focus or more than a few porn movies that many straight guys love.  Although to be fair this is often is as far from reality as straight male on female porn is.  But people are allowed their fantasies and they can inspire us out of sexual boredom.  A seemingly large percentage of straight men have a penchant for anal sex, or so information would have us believe and that seems on the increase.  Its deemed fine by the vast majority of people to stick a cock up a woman's ‘back door’ but should you dare to want to stick it up a blokes backside all hell breaks loose!  Suddenly a stream of insulting terms and names spring forth  to describe such people. (Just as a heads up I shall not be using this article as a thinly veiled cover to use any of these terms.)  

How does this make any logical sense?  So lets get this straight…. Its deemed ok to be turned on by a woman’s arse, it's deemed ok to do it doggy style, it’s deemed ok by most it seems to indulge in anal sex, it's deemed fine to watch videos of two women at it, but it is not deemed fine to do the same said things with another man, or to watch videos of two men….  It seems that there is a fine line between acceptable sexual preference and ‘you are an evil dirty pervert!’  I’m sorry but that makes no sense.  There are a whole host of things that on a sexual level don't turn me on, but I don't go and fucking vilify people who may like them.  Would anyone support an attitude where doing it doggy style was illegal or ‘evil’?  Is it do so very different?

Why is it that homophobia inspires some to truly terrible violent acts? Not all of it can be put down to religious intolerance or people trying  to distract others from their own sexuality.  Where does this violent urge to hurt others simply because they want to stick Mr Floppy into a different sort of hole come from?  How much of it is learned behavior from our families growing up and our peers?

There are a great many things I find offensive, I do not however go hunting out people who do these things and giving them a good kicking.  I believe in live and let live, you like the stuff you like and I like the stuff I like.  As I mentioned in the last article, the human being doesn't like people who are different and stick out from the crowd.  So in the same way that people of other religions or races can (and often are) the subject of all sorts of discrimination those that dare to fall into a smaller sexual preference group become targets through no fault of their own.

Homosexuality is often treated like its a disease to be cured, or something you can catch if you hang around people who are anything other than straight.  If this were truly the case the sheer amount of gay people I have mixed with over the course of my life would have had some effect on me surely?  Some sort of documentary effect would have occurred you’d think. However not once have I been tempted to stick Mr Floppy in a blokes backside.  My interior decor skills have remained as terrible and unchanged as ever and my fashion senses the same as it was when I was 18. (Terrible) 

So no, homosexuality isn't catching any more than eating spaghetti is catching by hanging around places that sell pasta.  Maybe it’s just more than a wee bit unhealthy to take an in depth interest in what someone does in the bedroom and in what way they do it.  I wouldn't go up to a mate and ask which position he screwed his girlfriend in last night and then kick the almighty crap out of him if he had dared to do it in anything other than the missionary possition.  So why should I be so intolerant towards someone who simply prefers the same sex as themselves?  The bottom line is the hole itself is unimportant, surely if two people get together and it makes them both happy (even if it's only for a single night) and both parties are in agreement who the hell am I to judge?

The greatest tragedy to me is those people unlucky enough to have been born in the wrong body.  Its something I simply can't process how that must feel living a life in a body that always feels wrong.  The gender reassignment surgery is incredibly painful and not something anyone would go through just for shits and giggles or as a ‘lifestyle choice’.  Anyone who is prepared to go through something like that just to feel as normal as others do gets my god damned respect!  

We have to be careful once again not to generalize about sexuality and not see it as something that is a black or white, good or bad thing.  But of course we also have bisexuals who find both sexes attractive.  Does that make them more ‘normal’ or acceptable to those judgmental arseholes who go around victimizing gay people?  What's the points scale on this?  Is it plus 90 points of being gay, plus 30 points for being bisexual and minus 20 points if you're a lesbian?  Who works out what's acceptable and what's not?   

But of course people who have sexuality other than straight often have a very hard time of it, imagine if you could never bring a partner home to meet your parents for fear both you and your partner would get a good kicking or thrown out of the house.  Imagine if just because you like a blow job or a 69 you could end up homeless.   Imagine if a little light bondage could end up with you getting knifed in a back alley. Pick your perversion...we all have one. Would any of that be fair? How would it make you feel?

But I have a theory, one I hope is correct in the long term and it all hinges around the internet.  The invention of the internet was a massive moment for mankind.  The elephant in the room is it HAS changed the human race, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. As suddenly everyone can in theory  have listen to what WE HAVE TO GOD DAMNED SAY!  Back when I was in my early teens the idea of a bloke doing anal on a woman was a rare thing and had a fair bit of stigma attached to it.  But judging by recent trends in porn movie production this has now changed as we have been exposed to more and more alternative sexual things.  So in a similar way, what are often termed ‘fringe’ sexual interests such as spanking, bondage etc have seen a massive surge as well.  Why? 

Well maybe as for the first time in human history the internet gives the option of coming across all sorts of things that maybe you didn't even know you were interested in.  Even if you aren't interested in them, it makes us more tolerant of other people's sexual interests.  So I think in time, the same will happen slowly to homosexuality and transgender, it will simply become more and more acceptable.  I’d like to think as a species we are too evolved for tiny unimportant things to get in the way of us all.  Homosexuality isn't catching, being around homosexuals won't corrupt your kids or yourself.  So what are we really afraid of?

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Fear and Loathing of Intolerance - Part One – Religion

I came to an astounding realisation at a very young age.  The human race is a bunch of absolute screaming dicks.  We judge people based on the most spurious of reasons.  It can be the colour of their skin, the religion they follow, the sex they find attractive or even just being a bit different or odd.  So this is the first in a series of articles where I want to examine why as a species we behave like a bunch of judgemental dickwads in various ways.  Intolerance is all around us and it makes us weaker as world.  The core message in this series is the fact that you cannot and should not fight intolerance with even more intolerance and hatred. So I’m going to start with religious intolerance and more specifically the demonization that I see going on all over the world. 

It may seem odd that although I don’t follow any specific religion, I am a boring straight Caucasian male I feel the need to write this series of articles.  In fact if my skin was any whiter I’d be fucking transparent.  But yet again I’ve always been cursed with thinking deeply about things.  It never made sense to me to believe in something just because everyone else did or because I was told to.  As a child in my early teens I went to a catholic school, where you were told to simply ‘believe, don’t question...’ That just didn’t add up to me, why were we not allowed to ask questions to test the veracity of the whole bible story? Were they hiding something? Were there some dark parts we were too young to know?  

So I did something very few teenagers in my home town ever did.... I read the bible to see what I thought of it.  Then it occurred to me that maybe other religions may have a better point of view or make more sense.   So I read the Torah, the Koran (an English translation of it), some Hindu texts and so it went on and on.  It was my secret,  because let’s face it... when your 16-20 years old none of your mates are going to be too impressed with the fact you’re reading ‘religion’ for fun.  Let alone other religions.

That’s why victimising someone or generalising a person or group of people just based on somewhat spurious reasons makes no god damned sense to me.  It’s an unfortunate fact that human beings hate anything or anyone that’s different.  Anyone who sticks out and doesn’t move with the majority or follow the crowd is always in for a tough time.  But if we judge others by the cover they come in then we risk not knowing that the book itself may be rather interesting.  So in the same way as the different kids always had a far tougher time when at school, we often single out those we deem to be different.

At the moment the current religious group getting hammered as ‘evil’ are Muslims.  So whether its due to sometimes dressing a little different to the majority in the west.  Or the fact that middle eastern languages sound so different to the sounds within western ones, it means that right now a demon is needed to blame and tag they’re it!  The media portrays them as barely human hot heads that seemingly have a penchant for world domination and cutting people’s heads off (with a side order of blowing shit up.)  But they aren’t the first religious group to be vilified based on religion, and they certainly won’t be the last if history is in any way a judge about the future.  They are just one of the most recent in a long line of creating a group to blame for problems that we perceive cannot possibly be our fault.

But generalisation is the mother of all fuck ups.  Would you judge Christians as a whole on the actions of beliefs of the KKK?  Would you think these pointy hat wearing motherfuckers are representative of all Christians?  How about the Westboro Baptist Church?  If that sounds too crazy how about the Salvation Army whose local arm near me has a building with the phrase  ‘To cleanse the world with blood and fire!’ carved onto it in 2 foot tall letters above the damn door? Can you imagine if a mosque had that carved above the damn door? It’d be a major news story all over the western world!   So in a similar way that the aforementioned lunatics are not representative of all Christian religions (or even the west itself), all Muslims are not evil.  That’s a tiny percentage.

Sometimes if you flip the things being portrayed from one bunch of religious extremists to another you find a lot of similarities.  Catholicism has often declared throughout the centuries that there is only ‘one true god’ and waged religious wars on unbelievers, it has also had at times in its past a small minority of nutters who managed to create all kinds of evil in the name of religion.  Let me tell you how I see the whole thing.  Every race creed or colour has more than its own fair share of nutcases and whack jobs who are using any excuse they can to raise some hell.  I’m lucky enough to have met and talked to people from all sorts of religions, and 99% are normal people just like you and me.  Some may be religious in a sort of loose way the same as many Christians who may only visit a church once in a blue moon but ‘try to live a good life’.  Some may be very religious and try to follow what they believe to be the word of god as best they can. So why do we feel the need to have a bogey man to blame for what sometimes is due as a direct result of actions by leaders who have acted in our name? 

The west often tries its level best to bring ‘civilisation to the savage hordes’ in the same way it did back in history.  It’s a constant within our society, the need to feel better than someone else. Part of a nationalistic need to be enlightened enough to bring our lovely warm capitalism to them and make them civilised. (But not TOO civilised or they may end up richer than us!)  I’ve actually heard normally sane and regular people use phrases such as ‘those heathens need to be wiped out, they can’t be trusted to not cause shit.’  You know that’s been tried before, it’s called genocide and as a general rule it hasn’t worked out too fucking well in the past.  Anyone who thinks wiping out an entire race or religion just because they feel threatened has bigger issues than whatever religion someone follows or god they pray to.  That’s using it as just as much of an excuse as radicals and fundamentalists of all religions have done in the past.

All extremists regardless of their flavour of religion will warp and twist a book or text to best fit their goals.  They need a reason that will seem to make sense to some so they can do all the damn killing and violence that they like.  That way they can always say it’s in some god’s name.  It’d be far more refreshing if these types just admitted it’s all just a cover story and what they really want to do is raise some hell and kill as many people as they can. 

Another favourite argument is why don’t Muslims do more to stop these extremists?  Well let me answer that with a question: When was the last time you tried to stop the KKK or the Westboro Baptist church? (...and no... posting something on line or writing an article does not count!)  Have you ever taken direct action to stop them?  The vast majority have not...

If all religions had never existed as of tomorrow morning, you would still have these exact same people doing the exact same things with just another excuse used to verify to both themselves and others that they aren’t evil really... just following orders (regardless of whether they think those orders come from a god or somewhere else.  How many schizophrenics have claimed they only wiped out a family because a voice in the TV made them?  Is that any different really?  It doesn't really matter where someone thinks the message they follow comes from, whether it be from a god, a religious book, the fucking TV, or the Teletubbies, people will always find a way to justify their evil.

So how do we stop these people?  Do we bomb the shit out of them and try to bring ‘civilisation to the heathens’ again? Because that hasn’t really worked out too well in history.  People who are different cultures to yourself are not somehow less than you.  To think that will only lessen the person you are.  But yes there are those such as ISIS that want to kill and use a warped version of their religion to do so.  Do we fight intolerance with even more intolerance?  Intolerance we back up with bombs and drones and all sorts of other weapons no western power wants to admit they use?  Against often countries that have  This is the equivalent to a 16 year old kid stamping on a 5 year old kids sand castle.  No we don’t fight the likes of ISIS with even more intolerance backed with nasty weapons, ironically you fight them by showing tolerance and letting them become the Westboro Baptist church of Islam. So don’t worry, nutcases of any religion always burn themselves out once they have to do the boring things like create a working infrastructure of hospitals, roads, schools, income tax etc.  Without these no country is sustainable and so logically ISIS will burn itself out as most people have worked out. But alas those that make the weapons would far rather we all keep fighting and shooting and bombing each other so they keep diving into huge vats of money like Scrooge McDuck. 

So what god someone follows is of no consequence, I feel they should be able to follow whatever god they like without persecution.  If someone wants to pray to Mickey mouse they should be able to, what anyone else things is immaterial.  If someone gets something positive out of something and it isn’t harming anyone else why are we so bothered?  So no one should ever have to live in fear of intolerance that forces them to live grouped up in ghettos to protect themselves.  Wherever you have intolerance towards a group they inevitably band together for protection and support.  If you were in their position would you honestly say you would do anything different if you had a gauntlet such as that to wade through every single day of your life?  Or would you one day decide it’d all be far easier and less stressful to be around others similar to yourself who are also being persecuted?

Always put yourself into the other person’s shoes and ask yourself how you would behave and react if you were in their position.  Would you go in all high and mighty and ‘raise some hell and show those nutcases who’s boss’ or would you like 99.9% of people simply roll over, try to ignore the crazies and get on with your life as best you could?  Chances are the media would be simply telling you to roll over and take it like a good little boy.

But let’s not forget many of these crazies are crazies that we have created, or at the very least our leaders have.  Back in the gulf war we rounded a shit load of people up and stuck them in a huge camp (one of many) most without trial and many were innocent it was later found of ANY wrongdoing.  These places them basically became a terrorist version of Harvard or Oxford University.  The innocents, angry as all hell and being locked away with a bunch of fucking violent lunatics became desensitised and learned how to ‘fight back’ from these very same crazy bastards.  

Fast forward to Gulf War 2 (the with even bigger explosions!), and the west hires these very same people at a rate of $300 a day to fight and do all the nasty shit we don’t want to admit to doing.  Then magically we are told ‘hey guys! Iraq is sorted now...we can all fuck off home!’  Only it wasn’t.... it really wasn’t.  We handed over control to the new government and they then stopped paying these guys their $300 a day.  Now after a good few years living like fucking kings they missed the lifestyle that money brought them.  So when what was eventually ISIS went to them and said ’hey guys we’ll hire you...but only for $200 a day’ they jumped at the chance.  Half don’t even know who they are fighting for or even that it differs from their reasons of simply making us pay for shutting them in a camp with a bunch of fucking crazy bastards.  Simply put we helped to create a problem and exacerbate an existing one through a combination of bad foreign policy, corrupt politicians taking back-handers from the military industrial complex and even in some cases, just some downright evil stuff. 

Can you say if you lived in Iraq and a bunch of guys broke into your house with guns, raped your wife and daughters, killed your sons then slammed you into a prison full of mad bastards who want to kill everyone that it wouldn't leave you damaged? That one day you wouldn't turn around and simply not be able to take any more and turn to the dark side?  There’s never been a side in any war yet that has not committed war crimes, if you think otherwise your fooling yourself. It’s time that we realised this isn’t about religion, that’s just an excuse. Don’t blame the innocents for those who just need a thing that makes them not appear to be the psychotic fuckers they really are who could twist any book, even Barbie goes to Toyland, into a reason to wipe people out.  Never generalise ... anyone who says ‘All [insert object of irrational hatred here] is [insert insult] is a bloody fool.  That’s offensive to us all as human beings; we should all be allowed to be proud of who we are. No matter what that may mean.  But we fear that which we can’t or don’t understand, so maybe the key is to try and understand others better.  Maybe then we’ll find that those we fear aren't so very different to us after all.