Love, Hate, and the American Way


It is well, when judging a friend, to remember that he is judging you with the same godlike and superior impartiality.  ~ Arnold Bennett

Hell of a week.  Horror in Haiti.  Thousands upon thousands dead, more missing. Some will likely never be found.  Tragedy tends to bring out the best and the worst in Americans.  The Red Cross, Wyclef Jean, Doctors Without Borders. They all stepped up as did countless Americans who saw a chance to do some good and took it.  God bless them all. 

And then there is the bad.  Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, and sadly countless Americans stepped forward and said, “Hey, why should we help them? They are (choose your remark here – ‘heathens’, ‘devil worshippers’, ‘illegals’) and they are already getting enough of our money, and by the way, send back the ones that are already here, why dontcha?”

Nice.

I had a whole speech planned on introducing Pat Robertson to Jesus Christ, (Pat, this is Jesus, don’t believe you’ve met) but realized that if he hasn’t found him by now, he isn’t all that interested in looking.

I am just trying to pinpoint the moment when the tide turned.  When we became so damned judgemental of everyone in the world.  When did we decide that our way was the only way and that any other way must be stopped, crushed, destroyed?

In my mind the moment was when Sarah Jane Moore attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford.  A man in the crowd saw the gun, risked his life and saved the president.  He was a hero for a day. And then they found out he was gay.

He was outed by Harvey Milk, but that’s a whole other blog.  The point is it was the 70s and being gay wasn’t OK with a lot people.  The man’s name was Oliver Sipple.  He was a decorated Marine, a Vietnam vet.  A bit listless but a good guy by most accounts. 

But now the world knew his secret.  His mother disowned him.  His life went to ruins.  He began to drink.  He took drugs.  He eventually killed himself. 

He was never invited to the White House.  He went from Hero to Demon in the turn of a page.

And it was not any of our business.  He did a good thing. Hell, he did a great thing.  He saved the life of the President of the United States.  And all that was washed away because in that time and that place being gay meant there was something wrong with you. 

That’s where it started. And it has never stopped. 

A few other things that are none of our business:

  • Tiger Woods’ sex life
  • A school teacher’s sexuality
  • Anything, and I do mean anything, discovered by the Enquirer.
  • Who fathered Jodie Foster’s children
  • Linsay Lohan’s drug problems
  • Arthur Ashe’s AIDS diagnoses
  • Tom Cruise and Katie Holme’s marriage
  • How much President Obama paid for lunch with his wife.
  • Madonna’s religious beliefs
  • Who smoked pot in the sixties.

Things that are our business:

  • What is happening in Afghanistan
  • What the banks are doing with our money
  • What the hell happened in New Orleans and why
  • Dan Rather not checking his facts
  • The CIA, FBI and NSA spying on Americans
  • The criminal background of our children’s teachers

Morton Downey Jr. Jerry Springer. Tyra Banks. Rush Limbaugh. Glenn Beck.  Survivor.  Oprah.  Dr. Phil. Judge Judy.  We have become a nation of voyeurs.  Unlike your run-of-the-mill peeping Tom however, we seem to think not only do we have a right to peer into the lives of strangers, we have a duty. 

It reminds me of the Salem Witch Hunt.  And I have for one don’t think I could survive the scrutiny.  Could you?

Big Brother is not some omnipotent dictator from the mind of George Orwell.  It is you and me and everyone else.

That should scare the hell out of you.

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~ by D.L. Graves on January 16, 2010.

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