Hatred.

Never in my lifetime have I witnessed such blind hatred.  Never in my lifetime have I seen hatred so freely and openly expressed.  Never in my lifetime have I witnessed hatred shared by SO MANY people.  Never in my lifetime have I seen hatred so widely considered socially acceptable.

My only experience with hatred of this magnitude comes from history books and news reports on countries that lack our freedoms and comforts.  I never thought I would personally experience it.  I never thought it would be in my own backyard.  I never thought I would feel so powerless to stand up to it.  I never thought I would feel so frightened for my future…  For OUR future.

Hatred disguised as tolerance.  Except I am not seeing or hearing any tolerance.  All I see and hear are people with differing viewpoints being verbally assaulted and labeled with the word “intolerant” before they have even had the opportunity to speak.  To explain their point of view.  To even HAVE their own point of view.

Because why should you be given that opportunity when merely knowing it slightly deviates from their own is enough to know that it is WRONG?  That YOU are wrong.  Because if you DARE to question or disagree it means that you are racist/sexist/homophobic/xenophobic, etc.  It’s just your “privilege” talking.  Apparently, this “privilege” makes it socially acceptable to degrade and oppress you.  Makes it ok to judge you before a word even leaves your mouth.

Whatever happened to the free exchange of ideas?  Whatever happened to trying to see things from someone else’s perspective?  Whatever happened to getting to know a person before judging them?  Whatever happened to agree to disagree?  Whatever happened to live and let live?  Whatever happened to LISTENING to each other?

I keep seeing the phrase “social justice warrior” thrown around… but as far as I can tell, it’s just a fancy new term for a bully.  A “politically correct” way of justifying intolerance.  A badge to render anyone they disagree with as “the enemy”.  A way to always be “right” even when they are completely in the wrong.

I wish I could fix the world, but it doesn’t work like that.  All I can do is live true to my ideals and morals and hope the idea catches on.

 

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Tolerance – “The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

Intolerance –
“Unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one’s own.”

Is the World Black and White? Or are there Shades of Gray?

Recently I did something I thought I would never do… I allowed the cruel words of a complete stranger to get under my skin.  I allowed them to wound me.  To cause me to question myself (for a minute or two).

Normally, I only concern myself with the opinions of people who matter to me – those who I love and/or respect.  All other opinions just roll off my back…. Normally.

Something was different the night this happened.  Something about this opinion just wouldn’t be ignored.

Perhaps I have just been more sensitive lately, with some of the recent events in my life (that I won’t go into now).  Or perhaps so much time separating myself from harmful people caused my emotional calluses to soften.  Or perhaps it was just meant to be that I have this experience.  That I learn from it.

The words weren’t really about me, you must understand.  The person who wrote them never met me and did not have me in mind.  She was merely expressing her thoughts about a group of people that I am included within.  You see, in this woman’s world – because I can check a certain box off next to my name, I have no empathy and am not capable of feeling love – oh, and I am an INSECT.  (There are only two kinds of people empaths and insects, didn’t you know that?  Yeah, it was news to me as well.)

This person believes “the world really is black and white” so therefore I am EXACTLY the same as a PSYCHOPATH.  To her, just by existing, I am as harmful as a serial killer.  Just by existing, I may as well be skinning people in my basement. (A touch of hyperbole here, but most deserving of it, I assure you.)

Why?  Because: “Call it by a name; narcissist, sociopath, psychopath, bipolar, even autistic. All disorders lacking empathy. Cluster “B” personalities. They can not love. On the other end there is depression, anxiety, stress… All disorders felt by those who have empathy and usually as a result of dealing with a non-empathetic person.” [I will NOT link to the original source, as this person does not deserve your attention.]

(Should I mention the irony that she thinks people with Cluster “B” Personality Disorders are insects when one of those disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder, is identified as having “extreme black and white thinking”?  Of course, this same person ALSO went on to say that spreading hate about someone different than themselves makes them an insect – so there seems to be A LOT of projection at work here.)

To be perfectly honest, as I was first reading her blog I didn’t think she was just the worthless human being she clearly is (perhaps I suffered a head wound).  I innocently thought she was just miseducated.  After all, some of the disorders on her list CAN present with a lack of empathy or difficultly recognizing emotions in others.  Perhaps she just misunderstood what that meant.  Most people who haven’t dealt with mental illness first hand are completely clueless about it.

For a bit there, I foolishly thought I could actually educate her and make the world a slightly better place.  (Maybe that has a lot to do with why I allowed her words to have such a strong effect on me.)  I mean, not EVERYTHING she said was so off-base.  Such as the following:

“Wars should not be about religion, politics nor race. None of those things really matter. What does matter, is being human and helping one another.”

But then I started to read some of the upset comments people had left her…. And her responses back.  The things she said to the parents of autistic children were just plain DERANGED.  She told them their children didn’t really love them, that they were just convincing themselves that they did to make themselves feel better, and that the PARENTS were SPREADING HATE by ENABLING their children!

Logically I knew nothing I had to say would make any difference either, so don’t know why I bothered.  But I couldn’t live with myself if I said nothing.  So I left a comment of my own.

“The only way to see the world in black and white, is to lack empathy yourself. Those who possess empathy have the ability to see the shades of gray created by trying to understand another human being’s perspective. Not everyone feels things the same or reacts to things the same, and you can never know what goes on inside them. But if you have empathy, you try to. If you don’t try to, you don’t have empathy.

‘Any person who spreads hate about someone different than them, you can almost automatically assume that person is an insect.’

The people who suffer from the disorders you mentioned are different from you, and rather than try to understand them you have made things easier for yourself by writing them off. You’ve manufactured justification so there is no need to try to understand them by turning them into an “insect”. And in this post, you are telling others to do so as well – and that is most certainly spreading hate.”

I felt good about my comment.  Very good.  But somehow my cloud still lingered.  Her words of hate still clawed at my soul.  This woman is the embodiment of the fears of stigma that every person with a mental illness has in their heart when it comes to people “finding out”.   I thought she was just the bogeyman.  (i.e. I was scared of people feeling the way she does, but never actually BELIEVED that educated people in this day and age really did.)

Thankfully, she responded back to me.  Because her response was enough to finally knock some sense into me and help me to stop caring about her opinion.

Her reply: “Those who see “grey”and feel empathy are enablers. The only thing more dangerous than an insect is an empathy driven person tricked into enabling an insect.”

Sooo… what you’re saying is… the only thing worse than NOT feeling empathy… is actually FEELING empathy???  I was actually foolish enough to allow THIS person’s words upset me?  Shit, now I’m embarrassed as hell.  But like I said earlier, perhaps I was MEANT to have this experience.  Because retrospectively, I feel like it was profoundly important.

Even after I stopped allowing myself to be hurt by it, the experience stayed on my mind all night and all day.  It’s ironic – being told I was not capable of feeling empathy just opened me up to a new level of empathy when it comes to how it feels to be discriminated against.

Here’s the thing – I have been discriminated against plenty of times in my life for various things (as has EVERYONE at some point). For my gender, my age, my appearance, my social status, my sexuality, and of course my mental illness. The list goes on.

Sometimes this discrimination is not even worth discussion, because it’s just the opinion of some asshole on the street. Sometimes it’s more dangerous and has kept me from getting jobs or promotions that I deserved or otherwise impacted my ability to live my life the way I deserve to.

But this… this was the first time I ever experienced discrimination that made me feel SUB-HUMAN. The difference between someone assuming you aren’t as good as they are because of something you cannot control versus someone assuming you aren’t the same SPECIES as they are and are therefore INCAPABLE of feeling the same emotions as they do. That you are completely wiped out as being A PERSON.

I didn’t realize this level of discrimination still existed in the First World.  But it’s just a small sliver of what Black people had to endure during slavery and segregation, or Jews during the Holocaust, and many other groups in different times and cultures.  Except not just from one random asshole – from society as a whole. From the LAW and respected, educated people.

This has always been some of the darkest parts of humanity, and I have always had a very soft spot for the people who endured it and a hatred of the people who enacted it. But I now feel like I can better put myself in their shoes and imagine their pain. It physically hurts. I’ve had to stop myself from publically crying. (Must be a fluke though, since people with Bipolar Disorder can’t feel empathy or love.)

So thank you, random bitch on the internet.  Your hatred just helped to make me a slightly better and more understanding person.

Black Lives Matter v. All Lives Matter (i.e. why you’re an asshole)

If you feel offended by the words “Black Lives Matter” – then you are missing the point.  This movement was not started with the intention of elevating the value of Black lives above the value of the lives of people of any other race.  It was started because ALL lives matter equally… but unfortunately there are still areas in our country where the lives of Black people are not treated as if they matter as much as the lives of White people.  This slogan was coined as a way to create awareness of this problem and to stand up against it.

If you feel offended by the words “All Lives Matter” – then you are missing the point.  “ALL Lives Matter” MEANS that “BLACK Lives Matter” just as much any other lives.  It does not diminish that, it SUPPORTS it.  While it is possible that the person saying those words missed your initial point – “All Lives Matter” speaks for itself.  The only way you can argue against it, is if you DON’T think that ALL lives matter.  And that attitude is the very problem all of this was supposed to be trying to solve.

Now it does bear re-iterating that “Black Lives Matter” was not STARTED with the intention of elevating the value of Black lives above the value of the lives of people of any other race – it is most unfortunate and reprehensible that the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) has adopted this noble message and perverted it into spreading wild racism and hate against White people (not to mention how it has perverted the message and memory of the ORIGINAL Black Panthers).  There is NOTHING positive about genocide, and that is what the NBPP is rallying for.

“I say, if they don’t get out of town, we kill the men, we kill the women, we kill the children, we kill the babies, we kill the blind, we kill the cripple, we kill the crazy, we kill the faggots, we kill the lesbians, I say goddammit we kill them all! If they are white, kill ‘em all!”  – Khalid Abdul Muhammad (National Chairman of the New Black Panther Party until his death.  The same message is still being spread regularly by the current heads of the NBPP.)

But this is NOT the opinion of every Black person spreading the “Black Lives Matter” message!!!!!  If we just gave up entirely every time some fanatical group of people perverted something positive with their hate, we’d have nothing positive left.  If we judge all people in any group by the actions of a few, then by that logic there would be no good people at all left in the world.  AND JUDGING ALL THE PEOPLE IN ANY GROUP BY THE ACTIONS OF A FEW IS WHAT MOST OF US ARE TRYING TO END with all these clever slogans!

So to sum things up – whether you’re saying “Black Lives Matter”, “All Lives Matter”, or “ANY OTHER Lives Matter” – YOU’RE RIGHT!  If you’re offended by any of those phrases – YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE!

Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System?

It gets talked about a lot these days, how there is a major problem with racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. A very hot button subject that itself is used as an example in even larger civil liberties debates.

Generally, it’s not even a debate whether or not this discrimination exists (or it’s level of severity) within our criminal justice system, it’s simply considered FACT that is proven by the flat statistics. Percentages listed of how many more Black and Latino/Hispanic people are in prison than White people (or get arrested, or remain in prison awaiting trial, or get assigned a public defender for their lawyer, etc., etc.).

I see a lot of MAJOR flaws in this logic. I do not understand how flat statistics could ever possibly be expected to prove MOTIVATION. Why is the conclusion that is jumped to by these statistics that it must be RACIALLY motivated? Why is it not even considered that the reason more Black and Latino/Hispanic people are in prison than White people, is simply because more of them happened to have actually committed crimes?  Why is merely ASKING that question considered racist by many people?  Why aren’t more people asking those questions?

Honestly though, stop a minute. Put any judgements you rushed to aside for the moment and open your mind. Forget race and consider the fact that the majority of crimes are committed by people from LOW INCOME URBAN COMMUNITIES.  And that IS a fact.  Why do you suppose that is?

Myself, I suppose that is because people who live in these areas have the cards stacked against them.  Because people in these communities have a horrendous public education system leading to low paying jobs and an endless repeat cycle where every generation is worse off than the last.  Children in these areas are often raised by parents who have a poor education and low paying jobs (giving the parents little opportunity to help their children do better), are surrounded by crime (making it seem normal, acceptable, and easily attainable), and have very little chance of breaking the pattern because their public education often doesn’t even teach them such basic skills as how to read – let alone prepare them for college or a better adult life and the means to move OUT of that area.

Communities comprised of uneducated people with a low income subsequently tend to have the HIGHEST crime rates.  And it just so happens that the people who live in these communities are primarily Black and Latino/Hispanic, with White people as the minority.  And it stays that way, because like I said, few people are able to break the cycle and move someplace better.

That’s not racism, that’s geography.  If the tables were turned and the people who lived in these areas were mostly White – then more White people would be in prison and all those other things.  And I suspect few people would be crying racism if that were the case.

I read quite the interesting article on this subject on Huffington post.  The author was adamant that this discrimination against Black people exists and, immediately after listing all the statistics that prove it, said the following:

“Poor whites and people of other ethnicity are also subjected to this system of social control. Because if poor whites or others get out of line, they will be given the worst possible treatment, they will be treated just like poor blacks.” [FULL ARTICLE]

I found this statement priceless.  Everything you need to know is right there.  Two sentences that discredit the entire article, in the author’s own words, embedded in the center of it.  Poor people, no matter what their ethnicity are treated equally to each other by our criminal justice system – bad.

Does that mean that racial discrimination DOESN’T exist in our criminal justice system?  Of course not.  Myself, I definitely believe that it does – primarily when it comes to who is targeted for committing crimes (e.g. the “stop and frisk”). But I do NOT believe that unfairly targeting a person based on race automatically equates to unfairly convicting a person based on race. There is a lot of ground between those two events. Some of the people unfairly targeted will undoubtedly be unfairly convicted… but how many? No such statistics exist or could exist. And without knowing those numbers, none of the other statistics prove ANYTHING. They are just statistics. And all we’re left with are suspicions that can neither be proved nor disproved.

That doesn’t mean we should stop talking about this subject. I think it’s important for everyone to think about it and ask questions and take actions that could improve our society as a whole. But we won’t be able to take the RIGHT actions if we haven’t correctly identified the problem. And we can’t correctly identify the problem if we just make assumptions and stop asking any more questions.