Hate is taught and grows from the smallest of seeds.
Going on from last week’s blog regarding bigotry towards transgender people I wanted to express the very real danger of hatred becoming action. Hatred for others comes from fear or resentment of what is unfamiliar or unknown. To physically hurt or kill someone for nothing more than who they are is immoral, inhumane and a hate crime.
To validate and legitimise their violence folks often claim that their beliefs are being infringed upon and taken away or that they’re being forced to accept things that go against their beliefs. Their beliefs and rights are not being taken away. It is that toxic beliefs are being challenged. No one is forcing their lifestyles on others or stopping them from living the way they want (except for maybe extremists). The only agenda happening is equality.
If someone has a problem with a different religion, with gay marriage, with trans people, people of a different colour or any other minority then there is the option to keep it to themselves. I’m not saying others have no right to speak their truth but that their truth is not the truth. People don’t get to denigrate others freely because of their feelings or to turn the lifestyle of others into a daily battleground due to their refusal to respect others rights to equality. People have every right to sprout their beliefs as much as they like, just like I’m allowed to call others a douche when their beliefs cast negativity on others. People should expect to be challenged for their beliefs and opinions when they choose to share them.
The death of Matthew Shepard made him a martyr of sorts. Though never intending to be, Matthew became a poster child of the reality of hate crimes. The intense violence that he suffered at the hands of his perpetrators affected many. His death strengthened the gay community in their resolve for equality because he was one of their own. To others, his death shone a light that intensified the reality of hate crimes. It was such a horrendous act.
Resentment for the ‘other’ may grow into an irrational hatred that is fuelled by propaganda and manipulation by the media. People will sometimes also look for an echo chamber to justify their xenophobia and insecurities. This only intensifies the paranoia of a non-existent threat to their way of life.
Knowledge is a great thing as it diminishes fear of the ‘other’. Fear of the ‘other’ should never grow to the extent of needing to kill, maim or inflict suffering on another being. Mathew’s horrendous death has left behind a legacy reminding us to continue to fight the good fight against evil being done due to wilful ignorance of the unknown.