A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Things I read today that bothered me greatly

I've got a blog and I've got an opinion.  Many people are scared to utilize their blogs to express their opinions.  I'm not one of those.  As I've stated before, I'm opinionated and cranky - and I'm not afraid.

The first thing that got my attention was this set of blog posts recently tweeted on my Twitter feed.
Laurie Halse Anderson's Blog
Myra McEntire's answer to this same situation

There's also a tweet chat hash tag for this.  If you've got a Twitter account and want to follow it, I highly suggest you do so: #SpeakLoudly

First, I HATE censorship and denying access to books to people that might give them hope or help...or might just entertain them for a brief time.  I'm all for allowing people to read/watch whatever they want.  Let them form their own opinions.  I understand there are some things that you don't want a child to read, but that's up to the PARENTS to monitor - not society, not outsiders, and most certainly NOT an outspoken man who claims to be a Christian.

Now, for the record, I'm a Christian.  I'm not one of those in your face, Bible thumping, "do it my way or you're going to HELL" Christians.  I don't go in for that, and will walk away from people who do that.  But today...today I couldn't walk away.  I couldn't stay silent, and I won't be silenced.

I am referring to the horrific statement by Wesley Scroggins, referring to the rape scenes in the YA novel SPEAK as "soft pornography".  I was already feeling sick because of a stomach bug I seem to have caught.  That made me want to puke even more.  (My apologies to my more sensitive readers but again, I won't censor myself on this blog.)  Spoken like someone who has no concept of what rape does to a victim.

Here is Scroggins' article, for those who are interested

Rape is a violent and brutal violation of a person's body - and their soul.  They begin to doubt themselves when society - people like Wesley Scroggins and those who share his beliefs - says that it must be their fault they were raped.  I'm sorry, but in this case I am deeply ashamed and disgusted to be a Christian because the opinions of people like this man and his rabid, foaming at the mouth followers give the rest of us who have a personal and more compassionate connection with God and Christ a bad name.

I've never read the book in question.  That doesn't mean I'm not qualified to give my opinion on the situation.  That book has also been moved to the top of my 'to-be-read' list over on Goodreads and will be one of the first books I try to get from the Library.  Why?  Because I want to see what this story is about.  I want to know what I'm defending and why Scroggins thinks it's evil.  Personally, when fanatics like him swear it's evil I end up loving it and adding it to my personal collection.  I can quite cheerfully say I own quite a few of those books that are now on the "banned books" list.

Religious fanatics in general irritate me.  This leads to another link that got tweeted that really got to me.

A journalist apologizes for his fellow Americans

I used to shop at Paul's, a local grocery store that is only (or so I've seen) really popular in Southwestern Idaho.  I made friends with a woman who lived in my old apartment complex who was Muslim.  She was a very sweet woman who was living there with her two daughters.  She'd left her abusive (Christian) husband when he told her that she and her daughters were no longer allowed to practice their religion and would have to convert to his.  She was working as a cashier.  She wore the head scarf that Muslim women wear, and I always thought she had some of the most beautiful things ever.  Bright and colorful, I always knew where she was and would go through her line even if there were several people there.  I just loved being able to say hi to her.

One day I found myself apologizing to her for the behavior of the people in front of me.  They were a couple of young male college students (they'd been bragging to the young ladies in front of THEM in line about their studies which is how I know this) and one of them tried to reach over and pull off her head scarf.  She stepped back, smiled, and politely asked him not to touch her.  He went off and started screaming at her about being a terrorist, asking her how many babies she'd murdered, how many people had she killed, if she'd been bin Laden's lover, etc.  I almost clobbered the guy and I'm not a violent person.

My estimation of the store owner and managers went up 1000 times that day as they came out of the office when one of the other cashiers called them.  These were a trio of older men who walked up to the cash register.  The louder of the two young men demanded that my friend be fired, or at least that she be required to remove her head scarf when serving "real Americans".  The other guy, who'd been quiet up until now, chimed in that since she was a Muslim we were at war with her and technically that meant that all Muslims who still followed their beliefs were war criminals.  My brain about exploded at this.

The owner of the store, who also lived in our same apartment complex, saw me and knew that I was this woman's friend.  He asked me to take her back to the break room so he could personally deal with the two men.  I did as he asked, and let her cry into my shoulder.  I reassured her that I thought that those two college students were bloody idiots and that I loved her and her daughters as some of my dearest friends.  A few minutes later, the manager came back and asked her if she wanted to go home.

I applauded my friend's bravery as she looked up and shook her head.  She asked for a few more minutes to get herself back together and some time to wash her face, and then she'd be back on her register.  He told us that the two men's sale had been voided and they'd been forcibly ejected from the store.  They were also banned and that if anyone - customer or employee - saw them in the store we were to notify the managers who would call the police.

I went back out and picked up a couple items I'd forgotten and went back to her cash register.  I was disgusted by the fact that there were still people mouthing off about how she deserved everything she got.  But I was also touched to see that the other cashiers stepped in and told them to leave, and those who were there and actually cared spoke with my friend and assured her she was beautiful and she was their favorite person to deal with.

Two months later, my friend's apartment was vandalized and her younger daughter was rushed to the hospital with multiple lacerations due to being next to the sliding glass door when some fucking ASSHOLE threw a cinder block through the glass door.  My friend and her daughters disappeared.  I've had two emails from her in the last year.  All she'll tell me is that she and her daughters are living "somewhere new".  I think she's still scared of being attacked again.

So...to my friend, to the non-extremist Muslims who just want the option granted by the First Amendment to ALL Americans, and to those who truly believe that people should have the freedoms we're given by the Constitution and Bill of Rights that people seem to want to deny them (Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion being the main ones these days)....I APOLOGIZE ON BEHALF OF ALL THOSE THAT ARE TOO BIGOTED, STUPID, OR BLIND TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE'RE ALL HUMAN AND DESERVE THE SAME RESPECT REGARDLESS OF WHO WE ARE OR WHERE WE CAME FROM.

Censorship isn't just for the written word.  It comes when we deny the basic right to believe as they wish to people.  We need to remember that.  We also need to remember, for all our "holier than thou" bullshit attitudes, that Americans destroyed the lives of the Native Americans because of bigotry and racial hatred - just like we're accusing the Muslims of doing to us.  Christians have been persecuting people who don't follow their beliefs for centuries.  We've even killed people for it (the Crusades, anyone?  Spanish Inquisition?  Do those ring a bell?).  We need to step back and realize that we are all humans, and that while there are those fanatics out there who try to ruin it for everyone, that NOT every Christian/Jew/Muslim/Pagan are the same as all of the others who profess to follow the same faith.

No comments:

Post a Comment