Friday, April 13, 2007

Our Prejudices, Ourselves

Harvey Fierstein wrote a scathing op-ed today with the same title for the NYTs and he calls each and every one of us out on our tolerance/acceptance for some hate speech but not others. Why is it okay for someone to use "f*****" as a put down yet "nappy-headed" is considered racist? The former is used on elementary school playgrounds while the latter is used within the African American/Black community to belittle each other. Aren't both derogatory terms that should not be repeated? How about the word "retarded" and how it denigrates those with a real developmental disability? Listen to a group of high school girls and you'll hear the word used 10 times in as many minutes. Again, refusing to use words such as these and not allowing those around to employ sting while in your presence is one way to help eradicate such language from society.

Here's the very last paragraph:

The real point is that you cannot harbor malice toward others and then cry foul when someone displays intolerance against you. Prejudice tolerated is intolerance encouraged. Rise up in righteousness when you witness the words and deeds of hate, but only if you are willing to rise up against them all, including your own. Otherwise suffer the slings and arrows of disrespect silently.
Something I still don't understand (and I'm not sure I want to), is why someone who is oppressed would want to inflict said oppression on someone else, an example being African Americans/Blacks being intolerant of homosexuals. You would think, through their ordeal of slavery, a Civil War and Jim Crow laws, they would be empathetic of an individuals rights to personal freedom because they had to fight so hard for their own. With the 400th Anniversary of Jamestown coming up, the Native Americans are another example.

But that doesn’t always seem to be the case.

And you know what they say: if you and your friends use the word(s) to describes yourselves, then you are unintentionally giving others the right to use them against you, too.

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