Tuesday, April 25, 2006

On offending me by your mere existence

Okay, so I know I've flogged this Laura Mallory/Harry Potter thing about as far as it can go until the Gwinnett County school board makes its final decision, but I was scrolling through the AJC blog devoted to the subject and found a disturbingly telling comment:
By red
April 20, 2006 02:32 PM | Link to this
What I am asking is not unreasonable. What you are demanding is down right pushy. You still have access to your books. It won’t affect your children at all if they are removed. I don’t want my children exposed to them at all. Not in conversation not at all. I don’t want them to feel different because they feel different about the books than your children. This can be accomplished if are just a little bit considerate what this vast number of parent and children are concerned if you would just by the books or check them out at your county library. But the majority of the people are just selfish and won’t even consider a compromise.

What I am asking is not unreasonable; I just want the entire world to conform precisely to my preferences. This has become an ever-louder refrain from a certain subsection of the religious right. Your personal choices offend me by the very fact that you make them; your immoral existence taints my own by the very fact that I know about it. The fact that gays aren't willing to stay silently in the closet like good boys and girls violates my right never to know that they exist. The fact that my religion isn't explicitly endorsed by the government violates my right to shove it down everyone else's throat. The fact that I'm allowed to make choices for myself but not for everyone else violates my right to be the boss of everyone in the whole entire world.

There's a certain toddlerish, sheltered quality about that attitude. It's the attitude of a three-year-old who has never seen a world that hasn't been straightened, padded, disinfected and painted pink by Mommy; who thinks that by hiding behind a floor lamp and closing her eyes, she disappears completely. Most children grow out of this around age three or four, when they begin learning to take turns, share, settle minor disputes with other children. This is also the stage where children begin to play pretend, have imaginary friends, and learn the difference between reality and fantasy.

Some people never really grow out of that stage. They never learn to compromise or adapt to circumstances that aren't their ideal. When, in the course of conversation, someone disagrees with them, they throw a tantrum; you're not allowed to disagree. They actively avoid anything that might challenge their established viewpoint; Europe is smelly, and the food tastes weird, and they won't talk American, so why on earth would anyone want to go? Subconsciously, they realize that their fragile, self-contained, idealized universe will collapse like a house of cards at the slightest draft, so they make an effort to sequester themselves from anything that might disturb their peace.

Unfortunately, a person can only live in a fortress for so long, so before they venture out into the real world, they work to disinfect it of anything that might threaten their pleasantly blinkered existence. Their goal is to turn the outside world into the idealized world inside their heads. Their beliefs must be espoused as law, their likes encouraged, their dislikes expunged completely. The very existence of such unpleasant ideas as homosexuality, alternate belief systems, alternate family structures, any work of fantasy or imagination, even heterosexual sex that lies outside the limited bounds of their experience, must be erased completely from record and never mentioned again. Forget drug use, violence, corruption; if we can pretend they won't exist, if we can ignore them, they'll simply cease to be.

That's why, to them, anyone who contradicts that existence is selfish. In their minds, they've already compromised enough by allowing you to exist at all. They're generous enough to not kill gays on sight, as long as the gays promise to never actually become romantically involved with someone of the same gender. They're generous enough to allow Jews to exist, as long as they pretend to be Christian when they're in public. The commenter above is generous enough to allow other parents to buy objectionable books or check them out from the public library; why does no one laud her for her generosity? All she wants is that her children never hear read, see the spine of or overhear discussed in the halls a book that she fears might disturb her carefully assembled fantasy world.

This is how a group of people who hold an 80 percent majority in this country still manage to make themselves into victims - The majority of people are just selfish. They won't let me have my way. They won't play the way I want them to play. They won't let me be the boss. These people influence legislation and have the ear of the president of the United States; they've got our country over a barrel, and they're three years old, each and every one of them.

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