Cara’s Rant About Intolerance, July 2015

I’ve had several rants percolating around in my head, sparked by the asshattru idiocy against the Icelandic Asatruar last week. I always have a wide variety of rants in my head, most of which don’t make it to the computer because really, who wants to write rants all day? Not I. But this Icelanders-receiving-hate-mail thing just pushed every single one of my buttons. This lovely Heathen breaks it down quite well with words and a tone (and even the eyebrows!) that pretty much exactly match my own:

So in addition to the obvious, what this got me thinking was about how intolerant groups of any ilk successfully reposition an argument to make it about something it is not. For example– I’m a Pagan. I’ve been a Pagan, of one kind or another, since I was 19. I was out as a Pagan at my middle-class mostly-white private liberal arts college in the Midwest in the late 1990s. Despite the university’s official stance on this, there was no real diversity, of any kind, happening at my school. So, me being out as a Pagan was a pretty big deal. I was Wiccan at that point, so I would go around wearing earth-mother type clothes and a large pentagram everywhere I went. (I think Wiccans actually have it worse than Heathens or Druids or whatnot in this respect, because people rarely look at a Thor’s hammer or a Brigid’s Cross and go, “Ohmigod! The Devil’s sign!”) In any event, it was a Big Deal. Luckily I was also an anthropology and comparative religions student, so a bit of weirdness was expected of me, but still.And, literally from Day One of my being out as a Pagan, I had Christians on campus attempting to convert me. (Long story for another day.)

And you know what? I expected it. I believed that somehow I deserved it. I was convinced that these strangers had a right to critique and change my personal spiritual beliefs. That being Pagan was no-wrong-bad and if someone wasn’t currently ranting at me for my non-Christianness, then there was certainly somebody at home working on a new and interesting plan of attack for later on. Me being me, I would walk around campus with my pentacle flaring and my head held high with a attitude of “Who do you think you’re looking at, you unevolved amoeba? I pity your inability to get out of the gutter you’re in and rise up to my level. I’m polite, friendly, well-spoken, and reasonable, so obviously you’re the clearly the one in the wrong here, not me. *tsk tsk* Poor thing.”

(I can lay it on really thick when I want to. It’s a gift.)

But inside? Inside I was cringing from attacks both real and imagined, because I fully believed that I deserved to be the brunt of someone else’s ignorant, intolerant anger. I knew that society would (and probably should) side with my attacker, not me. When all was said and done, I was the one in the wrong. I was the one who wasn’t following The Plan. And so I deserved any abuse that I got.

And that is fucked up.

When I see intolerant groups–racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, what have you–defending their behavior based on some BS religion-based morality, it makes me want to scream. THE ISSUE IS NOT ABOUT ANYONE’S RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OR LACK THEREOF. IT NEVER HAS BEEN, AND IT NEVER WILL BE. The issue is human intolerance (not ignorance, though that is a problem as well)–human intolerance and fear. Everything else is anyone says about it is just bullshit camouflage designed to make us ignore, and therefore never address, the real problem.

With my example above, the charismatic Christians who tried to convert me kept arguing that the Bible said we shouldn’t worship any other Gods. Looking at this logically, WTF cares which Gods I worship? Last I checked, we were all intelligent, highly educated individuals on this campus, not mindless components in some Borg-like organization. Why would a poorly-translated (and even less well understood) book, put together 1700 years ago by people I don’t know and am not related to, from a different country, geography, and culture than I have now, have any effect on my spiritual beliefs? Answer: IT DOESN’T. So why were these Christians trying to convert me?

In program, we would say it is because they are feeling “dis-ease”. Me not being “like” them makes them feel very uncomfortable. One of their strongly held beliefs–that “There is only one God, who is all-powerful and all-knowing”; or “The Bible says sinners will be struck down; why is this not happening? I guess I’ll have to do it myself” or, “Everyone should be the same”, or “Everyone should be like me”, or “People who don’t look or act like me are not real humans and shouldn’t have the same rights that I do” (people have a lot of really deeply-held beliefs that have nothing at all to do with religion or spirituality, honestly) are being challenged, and this level of cognitive dissonance makes people irritable and aggressive. And so, instead of analyzing it, they project it on whoever is causing them to feel this level of dis-ease. Because, honestly, a person’s religious beliefs and spiritual practice has nothing to do with anyone else. It’s personal. That topic is between them and their Gods (or ancestors or whoever); not other humans. It’s not about you; it’s not your business.

(Wow. Now I get why Scandinavians nail this humanist attitude so well. It’s a cultural thing. They are just so not about getting all up in other people’s business.)

The same goes for LGBT issues, imho. It’s not about whether the Bible or Koran or whatever BS you want to come up with says that homosexuality, etc, is bad; it’s about some people thinking that they have a right to get all up in other people’s sex lives and gender identities. When, again, it is not their business, never was their business, and never will be their business, because it has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else.

I’m not sure how this applies to racism or sexism, honestly. Religion and sexuality are things that are seen, however incorrectly, as being about “choice”; so, someone is making the wrong “choice” and needs to be “corrected”. (Sounds eerily like the hate mail threats the Iceland Asatruar were receiving.) Probably sexism too, to a certain extent–one is “choosing” not to follow the traditionally assigned gender roles. I know there are reams of articles and books written on this topic, but it’s been quite a while since I’ve been in any of any sociology or women’s studies classes, so… this is as much as I have right now. Maybe something will come through later on, but currently it all just seems to be rooted in human intolerance, uncomfortability, and fear. /End rant.

5 thoughts on “Cara’s Rant About Intolerance, July 2015

  1. *puts away the pitchfork and torches* that was exceptionally well written and reasonable. your call for reason just farther emphasizes that people have inherent dignity that should be respected regardless of how much you agree or disagree with how they are living their life.

    though i’m now wondering what to do with the pitchfork and torches. bonfire with gigantic marshmallows? 🙂

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