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Except for *you*

I never realized until recently how insensitive and condescending this statement is.

It always comes on the tag of "I hate people who..." type statements. When you point out to someone that they have offended you, they grant you the special magic wand exception from their hate.

In the late '80s I worked with a guy who had very strong and loud opinions. We would have very interesting and detailed private conversations - they had to be private, and we would warn people who came near us, as we were risking someone overhearing us and filing harassment charges for some of our topics.

For a while our group had a rotating pile of administrative assistants. I'm not sure if our insanities drove them all away or they found better offers, but we rarely kept one longer than 6 months for about 2 yrs. One of these was a man who was very openly gay, in the stereotypical flamboyant way. He was extremely friendly and excellent at his job.

One day he came upon Mr Opinionated and me having one of our outside, in the corner conversations and asked if we minded his company. We told him he was welcome but pointed out that the conversation topic was rather sexually explicit and that it might be offended, and that's why we were away from others. He replied that, "Nothing you can say will shock me, don't worry." So I turned back to Mr Opinionated and asked a further question about how his health issues were causing erectile problems. Mr Admin Assistant went pale, muttered something like, "Sorry, gotta go," and scurried off.

After Mr O and I were done giggling, Mr O said to me, "You know, I hate fags, but that guy is OK."

Mr Opinionated had 20 yrs on me and I've always been one to give a little wiggle room for people older than me, who may have come from a longer time with biased beliefs. At the time I thought something like, "Let him like one "exception", maybe he can realize that if one is ok, they can all be ok."

Now, let me be clear here: There really is no group of people who are all good and all bad. The Late Great Robert B Parker's "Spenser", when wanting to point this out, that "Hitler liked dogs". (To Spenser, through Parker, there is something wrong with people who don't like dogs.)

But that's the point. We're people. We're more than our gender, our sexuality, our religion, our marital status, our studies, our politics, our race, our heritage, etc. These are just things that make up who we are. In the end, we are people. When we start lumping people together to love or hate them we lose the basic part: That we're people.

When you take that lump of people and then start making exceptions here and there, you're stating that only the exceptions have the right to really be people, and that you are waving your special magic wand to grant them this exception. It's a condescending, "There, there, it's ok, I don't think YOU are bad, too!"

The next time you realize that you think "I don't like people who are X, but Joe Blow is OK", remember that Joe Blow is still in that X group. Instead of hating groups of people lumped as gays, conservatives, Muslims, women who get divorced, or even people who don't like dogs, take issue with the concepts behind them.

There is a world of difference between, "I am uncomfortable with the idea of homosexuality" and "I don't like gays." You can disagree or dislike parts of a religion without lumping all the people who believe in it as bad.

Please think about it.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2010 12:24 am (UTC)
I've been trying to be more aware of how I use the word "hate" in general. First of all, I try to use it only when I mean it. I mean, I definitely hate lima beans. And those ugly "C" monogram Coach purses.

But, especially when I use it when referring to "people". I have realized that most of the time in the past, when I would say "I hate people who...", what I really meant was "I hate when people do this...". It is the action I strongly dislike, not necessarily the person. I don't know that there are really any people I truly hate. Even some people whose behavior and overall presence I find extremely unpleasant, if they were on fire I would still probably try to do something about it.

Now that I've rambled, I'm not entirely sure what I'm saying is even relevant.

Hmm... HA! I have possibly been off-topic on your LIVEJOURAL! It's all part of my EVIL PLOT against my ARCH-NEMESIS! (who I would still try to extinguish if on fire).
Aug. 23rd, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you both for nicely articulating a couple of my (somewhat related?) pet peeves. Barring any objections, I'll quote your words rather than trying, once again, to compose my own next time "hate" rears its ugly head.
Aug. 22nd, 2010 03:03 am (UTC)
{*writes "I agree" on the blackboard 10,000 times*}
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Moose J. Finklestein

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