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Archive for September 23rd, 2007

“Does Bigotry Exist?”

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 23, 2007


My Friend Knate wrote the below:

“What about bigotry? Is bigotry all in our minds?

If symbols can’t have a collective meaning – because their meaning is consciously chosen by each individual viewer – then is bigotry only a mental aberration? Does bigotry exist only because people are “duped” into thinking we can be discriminated against?

If a person refuses to accept they can be bigoted against, does it mean then, that bigotry can never take place?

We control what we want to see and what we want to believe, some say.

Can we eliminate bigotry (and racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, etc) just by refusing to “buy into” the concepts?

Or does bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia and other hates exist outside our personal perception? Is hate real? Is bigotry real, and harmful, no matter what we think? Who is in control? Our own minds, deciding we’ve been discriminated against or not? Or uncontrollable outside people, who force their bigotry upon us?

Does bigotry only exist because we “accept” it exists? Or does bigotry exist, regardless of what we think?” (From this Discussion)

My initial response:

“Can we really separate the thought from the act? Is it possible to harbor a bigot mind-set and not be a bigot? I don’t think so. I think reducing bigotry to a mind-set is just another convenient way of avoiding responsibility. It’s like the reasoning some Xians employ around GLBT people – “love the sinner and hate the sin”. It is extremely difficult to prove a mind-set – to do that one need acts to go by. I also think that we have establish that acts are not just what one does with his or her hands, but also what one speaks.

It is true that there is no such thing as “thought-crime” (except in the world of George Orwell), but it takes a lot of self-discipline to not let thought turn into words or actions – and I dare say that very few bigots have that self-discipline.”

Someone added to the discussion:

…what I have also noticed is that often times the way the word it is used and thrown around (misused) takes away from true forms of bigotry, I’ve had that word used against me for my stance against affirmative action in modern times, or because I believe in strong secured boarders, my spiritual beliefs…”

It is true that the words “bigot” and “bigotry”can be and are used as some sort of “I am shutting you up, because I can’t deal with what you are saying and that frustrates me…” it’s like the Reductio ad Hitlerum argument – on the other hand, how probable is it that we see the depth of our own flawed reasoning? Especially when it comes to religious beliefs or our patriotism? (Yes, I am bigoted against Xianism, I think it’s by definition bigoted, and quite honestly I have found nothing in it’s teachings that will dissuade me of that opinion.)

The thing with bigotry, is that we all have it, we all express it, and to claim we don’t is just a trip up the River of Denial.

big·ot
noun

  1. One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.
  2. a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

big·ot·ry:

  1. stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.
  2. the actions, beliefs, prejudices, etc., of a bigot.

On the other hand a dictionary definition like the one above indicates that there has to be a strong feeling behind a negative opinion for it to be bigotry. We rarely display or hold such strong feelings, so not all negative opinions about something are bigotry. I think we would have to add another element to a negative thought-pattern for something to be bigotry – irrationality. That takes us into the realm of -phobic. Xenophobic, Homophobic, Islamophobic, Judeophobic, Liberalphobic, Repubiphobic, Yeah, yeah, I created those two last ones, but I know places and people that are just that.

My point with bringing in the -phobic is that it puts what we some times label as bigotry into perspective. It gives us reason to question whether what we accuse others of is truly bigotry, but hopefully it also tells us that a lot of what we see in ourselves and in others is indeed bigotry.

Posted in Bigotry | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Are Swastikas Offensive?”

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 23, 2007


There is a subtle difference between the Ancient, non-offensive Swastika:

and the distorted version the Nazis used:

If you look at old photos from the WWII you will notice that the Nazi Swastika is ALWAYS “at an angle” – this is the offensive use of the Swastika.

I think it’s important to know this difference and to be aware that it is only this swastika, and derivations of it in later times, that signify what Nazism stood for.

As always it is a matter of education and information.”

“It doesn’t matter at this point …what the swastika originally stood for … the common perception of the symbol today overrides any history prior to the Nazis.

I’m a firm believer that, in most cases, people are offended by things because they choose so be. But when there are so many who are to strongly offended, then yes, it earns the label of “offensive.” -“

“The line between where and when the swastika becomes obviously offensive does cross somewhere, even though I don’t think the line is so easily drawn. I think we have to go with the best we have: widespread agreement of its offensiveness, across many contemporary peoples and cultures.”

“I’m thinking, just because the Nazis distorted the original meaning of the swastika, doesn’t mean we have to.”

“I am not offended by a few scratches, I am offended by meaning.”

Five different people, five slightly different opinions.

The general consensus in that discussion was that, YES, the Nazi version of the Swastika is offensive to a majority of people.

A minority in that discussion wanted to have his definition of it as “non-offensive” elevated to general consensus presumably in the name of Free Speech. Because he doesn’t find it offensive, it is not offensive. Pretty weird coming from someone who purports to defend freedom of speech – trying to impose a dictatorship on the rest of us.

Is it offensive? Is it a violation of free speech to expect people not to use it in public?

“I am not offended by a few scratches, I am offended by meaning.”
“Well, […] – the Nazi Swastika carries meaningconnotations – for a majority of people born between 1933 and 1980 (I am going by when the youngest person I last spoke to about this, who could actually give a time line of the Third Reich, was born). That meaning is negative. In its “simplicity” it spells out genocide, hatred, discrimination, death, extermination, torture, racism, all things bad. That is what people “see” when they see a Nazi Swastika. They see the meaning, and they are offended – by the meaning it carries. The symbol carries that meaning and by removing the symbol, the meaning is removed.

To many of us, the meaning of the Nazi Swastika is a pure physical feeling of up-chucking, fear, anger – the knowledge that someone in that area is prepared to kill us. If it doesn’t have that meaning for you – good for you, but to claim that it doesn’t signal those things, and therefore is not deeply offensive, is just simple lack of imagination, compassion and a down right denial of historical facts, as well as denial of the impact that symbol had on people’s lives and still have.”

At least he is offended by the meaning of the symbol, even if he doesn’t get the connection between the symbol and the meaning of it.

There are some things society as a general entity find so abhorrent that it will legislate against them, simply because the mere existence of those things is an affront to human society. Promoting genocide is one of those things, racism is another.

In a modern society symbols that carry the meaning “genocide, hatred, discrimination, death, extermination, torture, racism” is automatically considered an affront to society, because those symbols cannot be used in any other or meaningful way, they cannot signal anything else.

Of course people have the right to hold views that coincide with the meanings of those symbols, and to speak their opinions – but to expect that they can do so unopposed by either society or the general majority seems a bit naive, or even claim that when they are opposed, they are being silenced is just so much horse manure.

Posted in Third Reich | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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