Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Recognizing Intolerance, The Easy Way.

Chances are, this has happened to you too: You start feeling slightly uncomfortable while listening to somebody, like there's something wrong with something they've just said, but somehow you can't quite put your finger on it.

Take, for example, Pope Francis' recent remarks on Homosexuality:

"The problem is not having this orientation, it is lobbying," he said. "That's the most serious problem I think.

"If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?"

That's great news, right? The Pope promoting tolerance of Gay people - perhaps there is actual change happening in the catholic church! Except, I can't seem to get rid of that funny feeling. Am I just prejudiced after years of criticizing the Pope? Have I become so used to the role of condemning everything the Pope says that I now feel the need to find something wrong with every statement he makes, even good ones? Am I being queasy for no reason here?

Well luckily, there's an easy way to test this. It works like this: Most of us have extremely well trained alarm-bells with regards to racism - It's just one of those things most of us have very little trouble spotting. So, to exploit that fact, all we need to do is to take the above statement, and change its content from gay vs straight to black vs white. While otherwise keeping the wording intact. The result looks something like this:

"The problem is not having black skin, it is lobbying," he said. "That's the most serious problem I think.

"If someone is black and seeks to act white with good will, who am I to judge?"

Suddenly, the reason for my uneasy feeling becomes very clear.

I highly recommend doing this every time somebody makes a public statement regarding any minority. Especially when what they're saying is designed to make them seem open-minded and tolerant. Gays, atheists, women - whatever they're talking about, just write down the exact statement and then replace the minority with "black". I promise, you'll be shocked what kind of statements you almost let people get away with.