Thursday, 10 October 2013

The "We're Not All Like That" project

So, Dan Savage (he of many problems) is helping start a new video campaign in the mould of “It Gets Better”. This one is called “we’re not all like that.”

It’s basically a place where religious people can make videos assuring GBLT people that they’re not raging bigots.

Uh-huh. My eyes are rolling so much they’re getting friction burns.

Firstly, I do not think we need to broadcast this message because we already hear it over and over and over again. You cannot criticise any element of bigotry from organised religion without veritable flocks of apologists zooming in to wring their hands about us being so mean to worldwide forces of bigotry singing, first and foremost, that “we’re not all like that.” (The only reason you won’t get it on this post is because I have so little patience for such arguments that I’ve slapped them down and hard). And then the conversation (if any) about how organised religion is supporting bigotry derails into flocking round hurt religious fee-fees because the organisations they are supporting and affiliating with continue to oppose human rights.

Because that is what “we’re not all like that” inevitably means – not supporting LGBT people who have to deal with worldwide religions that loathe our existence – but playing PR for those religions so they can dismiss their own bigotry. Or providing a sop for the conscience of people who are supporting bigoted religions but still want to think of themselves as one of the “good ones”.

It’s the same motivation as that behind the dishonest attempt to present GBLT people as unjustly attacking religions – rather than the reality of us fighting for survival against forces that quite literally want us removed from the planet. It’s all part of misrepresenting the religious bigotry LGBT people face and trying to downplay the hatred the religions support and spread.

I don’t want to hear “we’re not all like that” because we already spend more than enough time focusing on the exceptions to the RULE of religious homophobia rather than actually challenging religious homophobia or seeing it as acceptable.

And, frankly, I’m not sure I believe you. Ok, maybe you’re “not all like that”, but most of you? Yeah, I think most of you ARE like that or, at very least, quite happy to tolerate “that.” How many billions of you support bigoted churches with your presence and your resources? How many of you say “we’re not all like that” then attend a Catholic mass or put money in an Othodox collection plate or tithe to the LDS or tick “Anglican” on the census form? How many of you say “we’re not all like that” and attend a synagogue condemning marriage equality or a mosque participating in an event inviting speakers who think gay people should be thrown off a mountain?

How many of you declare “we’re not all like that” but are quite willing to support people and organisations that are? How many of you sit in the pews and ignore the policy of your churches? How many of you close your ears to the hatred? How many of you decide it’s not that important?

How many of you actually DO anything to show “you’re not all like that” other than make a crappy youtube video – if that?

And don’t give me the “we’re changing it from within” bullshit – because we’ve seen no examples of that oh-so-special change you’ve been working on for so long. In fact, we’re so inured to religious bigotry, so accepting of it, so willing to make excuses for it that vast numbers of people were PRAISING Pope Frances for his dodgy PR speech. How many of you PRAISE the Anglican church for being liberal despite it fighting every last fight for LGBT equality in the UK and having its fingers behind many genocidal anti-gay laws that it can barely bring itself to criticise?

And, hey, maybe you do have powerful reasons to stay with your churches. I've said before and I'll say again, I do not think everyone should leave their churches because churches can be essential to them on many levels - from community to genuine belief. But don't attend those churches, lend your tacit support to this bigotry and then DENY it. Don't sit in the pews adding your numbers to the bigots and then turn round and say "we're not like that!" to salve your conscience.

This, this pathetic writhing to pretend the bigotry they're perpetuating isn’t happening has been going on for DECADES – in fact, it’s actually one of the reasons why I hate the Westboro Baptist church (beyond the obvious). Because their hateful trolling is so ridiculous, it gives all these “we’re not all like that” people a perfect scapegoat to point to and claim how wonderful they are in comparison.

Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I don’t give a damn about Fred Phelps’s trolling. He does not have and never will have the power to make any real change and his hate speech is so ludicrously over the top and accompanied by such repellent theatrics like picketing funerals that it has little to no societal effect –it probably has more societal effect pushing back against hate speech, he’s so extreme. The Westboro’s don’t have the capacity to hurt me or any other LGBT people – what can hurt us is the EQUALLY hateful (but more carefully worded) rhetoric of Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals, Imams, Rabbis, Pastors and Popes who have the weight of numbers and resources behind them to shape our society with their bigotry.

And they have the power to shape our society because of the millions – billions – who follow them. INCLUDING all these people saying “we’re not all like that” and pointing at the Westboros. Y’know what? If you WERE like the Westboros, you’d probably do less damage.

So you can keep your precious little youtube videos with their conscience salve that helps you scrub some of the blood from your fingers. It’s self-serving and part of an ongoing pattern of denial of bigotry

And if you’re not all like that? Fine. Prove it. Prove it with change. Prove it by shouting down your fellows. Prove it by doing something. Prove it by taking a long hard look at the people you are affiliating with. And if you won’t do that then maybe you need to ask whether you really AREN’T like that. And if you CAN’T do that – because the bigotry in your organisation is so strong that progress is near impossible or moving at such glacial slowness that you’re becoming another agent for it by praising the none-steps – then I ask you what the POINT is of you telling me “we’re not all like that”? Because it’s not for me or any other LGBT people, it’s not helping us you trying to drape a cloth over your religion’s hatred. It’s not helping us if you’re “we’re not all like that” comes with the caveat “but most of us are and most of the rest don’t give a damn, so it’s not like we can stop the bigotry.”

Get out there and prove it, don’t produce a youtube clip so you can claim your cookies and pat yourself on the back for being a good ally – or a good {insert religion here} because you were willing to sell the deception other LGBT people. This initiative won't help LGBT people - it merely provides another scrubbing cloth for the Lady Macbeth "allies" trying to deny the blood on their hands.