In response to the avalanche sparked by the rebuttal to my homeschool socialization column, my husband wrote the following.
Well. Patrice's last WND column certainly created a (small) firestorm. Personally, I saw nothing wrong with any of it, up to and including the "weekly afternoon freak show" comment. I suppose this puts me deeply in the offensive column.
Now putting aside that the main points of the article were completely ignored so that the respondent could immediately get to the ubiquitously liberal "I'm offended" stage, the whole of the respondent’s arguments were either illogical, superficial or ultimately un-provable. It's always easy to make debate points based on anecdotal examples. I'm certain there are prize-winning physicists out there with the AC-DC logos tattooed on their foreheads and fine upstanding churchgoers who attend service in spandex leotards and crotchless panties. But I'm guessing they are a serious minority.
The majority of the respondent’s comments, however, were concerned with the horrible "sin" (although I suspect that wouldn't be a term he would use, just a judgment call on my part.) of making judgments.
Well so be it.
I am heartily sick and tired of the moral relativism that has been the mental marinade we've been soaked in here in the U.S. for about fifty years. It seems that if you are of a progressive or liberal bent, you are totally free to judge those who aren't. Does anyone remember who it was that said?
"And it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
Well here's a news flash. Human beings make (and must make) judgments constantly. If I'm walking down a city street and I see a group of young men on a street corner dressed as gang-bangers, I'd better make a snap decision quickly. Could my decision be wrong? Might they simply be a Christian a cappella quartet waiting for the church bus to take them to their next gig?
Sure. But probably not.
Or maybe I pass that same corner the next night and see several young women under the street lamp wearing stiletto pumps, hot pants, and tube tops. Might they be attending a Brittany Spears look-alike contest in the dilapidated building behind them? I suppose so, but the odds don't favor it.
Look. Humanity is married to symbolism. If someone's outside appearance, i.e. flag tee-shirt, death-metal headband, pants down to their uhh... firmament, or sporting facial tattoos reminiscent of Darth Maul… then it is usually meant to tell us something. Most folks who wear such clothing or body art are (proudly) showing us their affiliations, namely the things they admire and therefore wish to emulate. The baggy coat, low-rider pants, and India ink tattoos now worn by millionaire rappers got their start in prisons. Now those "artistes," many of whom are currently on parole, also wear them while singing (well maybe not exactly singing per se) about "capping" a few cops, or uh... having intimate procreative associations with underage females.
The point is that if you sleep with dogs you wake up with fleas. If you dress like a prostitute or a gang-banger or even a cowboy, you are advertising to the world that you share something in common with those sociology-types. You are asking people to judge you because you've already judged yourself.
I don't blame the high school kids my family sees in their weekly freak show. I do blame their parents. What kind of adult would want their daughters to look like they're for sale? What kind of mature human being would want their sons to appear to be small-time entrepreneurs with dime bags for easy purchase?
The Bible tells us, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Note: that is actually two statements. If it stopped with the first statement, then it would fit in well with the usually hypocritical liberal whine of "You can't judge people! Even the (meaning your) Bible says so."
Well here's another news flash. You can, you must, and you are required by God to make judgments. You do already. As living, breathing humans, we all do. And you must often make those judgments on pretty skimpy info. (See Brittany Spears or Lady Gaga.) But you must also be prepared to be judged in return because you will be. It is said that a person may be judged on the associations they keep. That is unerringly true. It is also true for the associations you advertise.
I once knew a young man (remember, my wood-working business takes we to a lot of "counter-cultural" events) with so much metal hanging from his face you'd assume he had a head-on with a scrap metal truck. He was a nice enough fellow and I enjoyed talking with him – providing I could face him in such a way as to minimize the glare. He was a student and was very upset that he was having a hard time finding summer employment. Even when he was responding to help wanted ads at service industries like restaurants and convenience stores, he couldn't seem to land a job. He was indignantly sure it was due to discrimination.
And you know what? I completely agree. It was.
I also completely agree that the owners of those businesses have every right to NOT hire 'Iron Man' if they don't chose to. Discrimination is not a bad word. It can be used that way, but we all of us discriminate – or we should. Do I put my child into the "Reformed Sex-Offenders Day School"? Don't think so. I use my discrimination to make that decision. Do I hire Bernie Madoff to do my book keeping? Nope.
Now to be sure, there are certain discrimination taboos that I do agree with. I'm not at all certain they should have been enshrined by law, but that's neither here nor there. These types of discrimination are those against God's gifts. They are not a human choice. These include the color of one's skin, a person's gender (originally only two choices), one's religious beliefs or lack there of, and so on. (And even here there is wiggle room. Should I be forced to hire an atheist for my church’s Pastor?) But what's important here is that your decision to turn yourself into an ambulatory Christmas tree or a walking pen and ink billboard is not on that list.
It is often said that stereotyping and generalizing people is wrong. What nonsense. Stereotypes and generalization can be wrong when based on ignorance and fear. But those that have their basis on empirical data are often true. It's why the words exist. And like it or not, those with solid foundations usually stand the test of time. This doesn't mean you judge someone entirely on the niche they seem eager to fill, but if they are wearing a Nazi uniform and are not at a costume party, you have my permission to assign them initially to the “dangerous nut job” category until new evidence come into play to modify that generalization.
The true problem with words like 'generalization' or 'stereotyping' is how often they are used incorrectly to justify aberrant behavior or attack those making a reasonable judgment.
“If I want to have intimate relations with kitchen appliances, who are you to judge me? Don't stereotype me, you ignorant country bumpkin!”
So practice discrimination. Make judgments based on moral and ethical values. Guard and guide your children in Godly ways. But try not to get 'offended' so often over inconsequential things. It really waters down the truly important fight we must all share against the destruction of morality, decency... and judgment.