Sunday 10 November 2013

Opinion: Deadening the blows of bigotry with insightful quotes

Yesterday morning, I read a quote on Kevin Maxwell’s blog that may not fit on a placard but will definitely serve well in a heated discussion where participants are open to some persuasion.
A bit about Kevin Maxwell; he ticks many boxes that define the struggles that minorities face in being treated with respect, with dignity, if need be, some sensitivity and where the environment might tend to hostility, the force of the law and the reorientation of the mind and mind-set should encourage mainstream acceptance.
Kevin Maxwell was a police officer who just happens to be mixed-race of white English & black Caribbean descent and gay. The last two elements that I introduced somewhat flippantly should be insignificant in a multicultural open society as race or sexuality should never define a person, their personality, their character, their conduct, their acceptance, their status or their career especially in the service of their country. [About Kevin Maxwell]
Challenging discrimination
The subtle use of the phrase, “the force of the law” in a previous paragraph has meant that Kevin can challenge issues of discrimination, both racial and homophobic that he experienced at work, from the media and from certain sections of the public. Kevin Maxwell won his case against Scotland Yard for discrimination, bruising that the battle for justice was. [BBC – February 2012] [The Independent – June 2013]
Kevin documents his experience in Broken: The Not So Secret Policeman with the subtext, “One Man’s Fight for Justice.” [Kevin Maxwell] [Youtube]
His is a fight against many fronts of the stigma of mental illness; depression brought on by the discrimination he suffered and standing as a man challenging unfortunately entrenched attitudes of “cover-up and containment” deployed by institutions that would rather discredit and intimidate than face up to complaints raised amongst their ranks. [The Independent – June 2013]
O God!
It is against this background that I have followed Kevin Maxwell’s story, and I found the quote he published yesterday in the blog – Godly Gay Fact.
As pertains to the quote, I always research the source and strive to attribute because that is what must be done, and so I retweeted, "Homosexuality is god's way of ensuring that the truly gifted aren't burdened with children." —Sam Austin

To my mind, this quote has a disarming quality to be used in a discussion, in an argument or on a protest placard against those whose implacable religious view is that all we, as human beings must do is reproduce and propagate.
Deadening the blows of bigotry
I am all for reproducing and propagating everything that is good in the broadest sense of that goal which accommodates and appreciates diversity, but I will not stand for reproducing and propagating difference, discrimination, bigotry, hatred, denigration or any act or practice, in word or in deed that diminishes our common and shared humanity.
Where we find people to engage, the respect for, and the interaction of allowing participants to speak and to listen in turn, achieves much, and we make much progress.
We deaden the bigoted stances; which reminds me of a blog I wrote on the second Sunday of November as today, eight years ago, titled Does gay marriage affect your marriage? That question was as disarming and it was effective; it stopped their mouths as they tackled the absurdity of their positions.
Every identity harbours diversity
The quote that inspired this blog was seemingly directed at a particular audience, but it triggered off a somewhat negative response from an unexpected angle; someone who took umbrage at the juxtaposition of homosexuality and religion because of their being probably an agnostic, an atheist, an evolutionist, a scientist or whatever else might define or not define them.
Much as we all have our persuasions, the struggle for rights, a sense of identity and justice when in throes of societal ambivalence of acceptance, indifference or rejection requires that all ears get a sounding, an opinion that might gather them to a centre of agreement.
Homosexuals are people with a history, culture, traditions, beliefs, prejudices, spirituality or the lack of the same, struggles and situations, just as anyone else anywhere else in the world, it should not define that person, but to some that is the only thing that stands out when mentioned.
Accommodating interesting opinions
We should however be careful when in the pursuit of the broadest range of rights to people who yet suffer issues of openness, shame, discrimination, oppression and persecution that what we reject and resent so strongly in the campaigns for acceptance and equality does not antagonise when the better part of valour is to inform.
Then again, the debate is open, robust and lively, through easy quotes crystallising thoughts or hard-won battles that Kevin Maxwell has fought.
Shalom! Have a nice Sunday.

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