Thursday, January 19, 2006

Euphemizing or Euthanizing?

In his blog Tuesday, Joe Perez writes:
Nobody's a bigot or a misogynyst or a homophobe these days. People just have
"race issues," "issues with women," or "gay issues."
I commented that it seems “more accurate” to call these things “issues” because this implies that they could be “temporary conditions” amenable to change rather than irremediable and central aspects of a person’s very nature. Someone replied that I’m letting these people off too lightly and that, in any case, “there's a time for euphemizing.. and a time for euthanizing,” a time to “tear these people apart and challenge them to grow out of their small town minds.”

Christians often tell me the same thing when I question their unflattering name-calling of people who debate them in public forums. They argue that they’re just following the example of Jesus who was not all pleasant parables and sweetness but who also excoriated the moneychangers, hypocrites, and harlots. Yes, but, aside from the issue of what qualifies them to judge as Jesus judged, what good did it do him or them? It got him nailed to a cross, and there’s no evidence that it helped the people he disparaged. More likely, they simply became infuriated and even more entrenched in their evil ways. I’m not sure how to respond to bigotry, misogyny, or homophobia. But I’m quite certain that responding to it with insults is one way decidedly NOT to do it.

I myself haven’t completely outgrown insulting people who don’t behave as I think they should. But I’m working on it while trying to find better ways to encourage them to move in more positive directions.

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