Saturday, June 02, 2007

You're it, I'm it.

Anyway, something captured my attention last night. e-Harmony is being sued for discriminating against gay people. Without getting into the specifics of that, I really wanted to raise another question.

It is difficult for me to grasp discrimination. The idea of exclusion is anathema to my sensibilities -- separatism seems such a waste of energy and spirit. Anyone who has read more than two of my posts knows how distasteful it is to me. I believe we have an obligation to grow up and put away childish things, to be more expansive, more mature, more loving and kind.

But I reserve a special distaste for those who discriminate based on something that someone has no control over, such as skin color or sexual preference. In my mind, the only thing that justifies exclusion is bad behavior.

It's unfortunate when formerly targeted groups turn out to be no more inclusive than the world at large. I'm sure in their minds they figure, hey, we're all just human and making it through the world under the weight of our various loads of baggage loads -- and sometimes, in the name of comfort or self preservation or whatever, we choose to be selective about the people with whom we associate.

So at what point does this become okay? At what point is it okay to say "I don't like that person, simply for who he is and I choose to not include him ~ and additionally, I'll keep my friends from doing it, too."

So I ask... when is this behavior justified?




MsLittlePea said...


slouching mom said...

An individual is justified if another individual is engaging in, as you put it, bad behavior.

At the group level, I believe it is never justified.

QT said...

I have to agree with slouching mom on this one.

Christine said...

It is not ok, unless they are being hurtful or cruel to others. Beyond that, group discrimination is nothing but bullying and is more than distasteful, it is disgusting.

meno said...

Not ever, never. That's the definition of bigotry, hating someone for what they cannot choose or change.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

It is impossible to affirmatively like every person we meet. But to deny anyone their rights is always wrong.

I have never understood such exclusivity. Perhaps it is based on fear, but it results in a depletion of fresh ideas which is ultimately catastrophic.

When we associate only with those who are exactly like us, there is no exchange of energy,and our gene pools and societies die of attrition. Or boredom.

Anonymous said...

Discrimination about skin color, for example. OK. you with your post and all the people commenting here feel good to say:"me? to discriminate? never!"
But what is the point here? of course, we all reading your posts feel the same. Oh no, no discrimination, of course, that is so mean...
But this is quite useless, all the people around here having the same thinking, a right one, of course, how nice to feel good...
I am pretty sensitive to the problem tonight, because my Korean daugther in law just said how she keeps being hurt by many people in the streets in France, looking at her with a despising look.
Whom do you want to convince with your right thinking ? Noone here!your commenters are SO good thinkers and SO full of compliments : you are SO wonderful, your thoughts are SO deep etc... can you tell me what all this will change in the world ? just keeping people comfortable because they feel good? which pzople? the few who read your posts, adn of course, agree with them, otherwise, they won"t read them?
I am sorry, but tonight I feel a bit bitter

thailandchani said...

G, the genesis of this whole post is a comment made by a friend of one of my neighbors... who claims we all have the right to like whomever we choose, under whatever circumstances we choose. Any target of the discrimination, well, that's just life, isn't it?

The comment offended me.

The people who comment here.. I believe them. I don't think they are just giving lip service. I read all of their posts and I would recognize insincerity if I saw it. At any rate, I certainly resent the implication that they are fawning or just saying it to agree with me.

How does it change the world? It changes the world because people talk about it and acknowledges it.

Knowledge changes behavior.

Am I going to change the world with blog posts?

Of course not!

I'm not that arrogant...

... but I do observe and I do think about the things I see in the world.

And I talk about them here.

jen said...

i'm with slouching mom too. but yet the root causes, right, are always fear. fear of what is different. and then, instead of embracing it with curiousity and wonder, we pull away and define and wall off.

and about the last bits in the comments- i see your blog as a way for you to share your thoughts, never do i sense you seeking "group hugs" or huge pats on the back. you are just putting your thoughts out there. which is what i thought blogs were for.

and i believe that all of our good intentions matter in this world. our energy contributes.

Hel said...

We were just talking about how sometimes the people who were discriminated against believe it gives them the right to discriminate against anyone who is the same sex or coulour as those who did the discrimination first.

Going to University with many people of different cultures and talking openly about these things made me realise that someone is either a sexist or racist or they are not. It does not matter whether they belong to a previously disadvantaged group. Their spirits are still too small to rise above the obvious.

And that is ok too. People are just blind sometimes and need to believe what they believe in order to keep going.

Hope this made sense.

Anonymous said...

I just meant that I am tired of reading all people agreeing with your posts and congratulating you, and so feeling good, me the first. Not that I am critisizing what you write, on the contrary.

And I am wondering: is this useful? to what? we share the same way of thinking. No need to convince each other, just being comforted ( is this word English?)
I have the feeling that this is to turn inside a circle, if you understand what I mean. And I am afraid that we, people writing and people reading, can be just content with it, and so, feeling good and no need to do more.
I feel more and more cynical about the possibility to change whatever in the world.

thailandchani said...

G, it is useful in a smaller sense than perhaps what you are wanting to see. And I understand that. This social structure we live with is horribly frustrating.

"Spinning our wheels" would be the American colloquialism for what you're saying and.. in a sense.. yes, we are spinning our wheels.

By talking about it, we connect with likeminded others who feel the same way and that makes us feel less alone.

I've been on this planet far too long to believe I can change the world. We're all just following our karmic paths.


thailandchani said...

Jen, you're right. I've never been a person who seeks "group hugs" or the like. I'm not that insecure. It's not my style... in fact, it's very far from it. I'm about the least cliquish person you'll ever find.

But good intentions do mean something... and expressing good intentions means something. As you say, it all feeds into the general energy pool.


Anonymous said...

I've been called the anti-opinion and now I'm beginning to think that's a good label. What in the world are you thinking?? The very thing you claim to hate is what you send towards those who don't see things the way you do! That just grates on MY nerves! I have a friend who takes things that aren't hers. She's a kleptomaniac and has been one since the day she was born. She can't control herself! She was born that way. When she visits your home and walks away with the precious ring your grandmother left are you going to react? Hey -- she can't halp it! Cece

thailandchani said...

Cece, what we are talking about her is a more general discrimination. Naturally, no one is expected or has a desire to associate with people who behave badly.

However, if your friend was.. say... Asian.. and she came into your home and stole from you and you extrapolate that to "all Asians are thieves", that would be a larger problem ~ and the one we are talking about.



Anonymous said...

I do know that you are not arrogant, and seeking for appreciation. I just wonder what all the comments agreeing with you are useful for. OK everyone feeling less alone.But then?
if you don't hope to change the world, or the world able to be changed, so what?
Why to write about the revolting things in this world if we are sure nothing can be changed? Would it not be more useful to DO something instead of writing about it?
I am not critisizing you here, I am just wondering, probably "spinning MY wheels"

thailandchani said...

G, I think the comments are made so that I know people are reading and "heard" me. It is a nice, polite thing to do.

In some sense, while the comment forums can certainly be used for debate, "I heard you" is nice, too.

I have no such arrogant notions as me being able to change the world. The world has gone on for millions of years before me ~ and will go on for millions of years after me.

Life is suffering. I know that. Nothing is permanent. We all do the best we can with what we have.. and if we can offer companionship, friendship and comfort to each other along the way, that certainly can't be of any harm to anyone.

The idea that we can always DO something is a false belief. We can "spin wheels" in the belief that we can ~ but in reality, most things we can not.

We can change some things. We can change ourselves. We can influence others. Changing the world is probably a rather large order, particularly for someone like me.



liv said...

And now for something completely different...Here I am, probably destined to make enemies, but I have to say that I think that given the fact we live in a capitalist nation, eHarmony has the right to target whatever demographic they so choose as a corporation. The bottom line is that they will ultimately lose money by not being inclusive, and that is a choice that they have to make. And whether or not it's true, the coverage that I have read states that their proprietary "science" is based on research among heterosexual couples. One of their tenets is that they have no idea how their particular matching process would bear out among same sex couples.

So, if the localized question of the post is about corporate rights, I'd say that eHarmony should be able to operate the way they desire. Some other company is bound to fill in the gap. If the global question is about discrimination, then surely it's rhetorical.

Laurie said...

My first thought was never, just as Littlepea said. I'm sticking with it.


Anonymous said...

Oh for heaven sakes. eHarmony doesn't have to cater to homosexual couples! That's like making the Boy Scouts of America accept homosexual leaders! Do you realize what homosexuals DO to each other?? I mean really. To stand here and try to make all of us think that is normal and acceptable behaviour and that we all have to accept it as o.k. is ridiculous. I don't condem the person. I condem the things they deem "normal". And if that offends you? I don't care! What homosexuals (and let's call it what it is -- they aren't GAY) do happens to offend me. And that is my right, too. Staley B.

Anonymous said...

We are allowed to make choices for ourselves, and associate with people who make our lives better and avoid people who don't.

But every action has a consequence. When we exclude, we are limiting your own life experiences.

Limiting our world to only people who look, think, and act as we do is like painting everything in our home beige; we're free to do it, but it's not a very interesting way to live.

Anonymous said...

I think Hel is right about discrimination being an individual characteristic. I certainly grew up in a house where prejudice was taught, but realized that it didn't make any sense.

I can distinctly remember the horrible feeling I had when, as a teenager, I tried to practice a little peer pressure to get some of my friends to exclude another. I still feel guilty about it.

So, while it's sometimes expedient to make snap judgments about people in our busy lives, it's not right, or good for the long run, and it's definitely not appropriate to influence others to do the same.

Julie Pippert said...

Ohhh that is really complex, your question.

"At what point is it okay to say "I don't like that person, simply for who he is and I choose to not include him ~ and additionally, I'll keep my friends from doing it, too."

Certainly one can say I do not like this person for who he is...we all do it at some point.

Switch "who" for "what" (presuming that to mean it is an element beyond his control such as skin color) and it becomes egregious.

You also mention friends, versus strangers.

Take a group of friends, nice people on the whole. Take a person they all know, maybe not so nice. This person tends to say everything she thinks, usually to the hurt and offense of others.

Say lady a has a party and decides not to invite Not So Nice Lady. Everyone enjoys and nobody misses. Say this action is repeated through the group.

Perhaps even Lady b says, "You kow, I don't plan to invite Not So Nice to my events, and prefer her not to be around."

It is excluding. But I think a natural consequence exclusion.

I can't say the above is okay, but I can't say it's not okay either.

My feelings about it change to definitively Not Okay if, say, Lady B were to tell everyone she crosses paths with, or takes out an ad in the paper...begins telling straners they must not like Not So Nice.

And I directly oppose it if Lady b says we must not like Not So Nice because she is Color, Race, Creed, Religion, etc. and also says all people of that same "group" are bad.

I don't like eharmony excluding any group, but I don't think we ought to require them to include.

I'd prefer it if it were not even a question in any area of society, not to discriminate.

Then again, the only way we've effected change broadly is by forcing integration.

So I don't know.

To me the question is not so much "is this okay" as "how do we successfully integrate and erode prejudice?"

Pam said...

I'm with slouching mom, too.

As for your take on Bush, I agree that he is a dangerous man. He scares the hell out of me and everyone I know.

thailandchani said...

Staley, I just had to answer your comment. It's not very often that I am negative toward anyone who comments here ~ and I'm not trying to be with you, either.

However, I just have to ask you...

What business is it of yours or mine what someone else chooses to do in the bedroom? Consenting adults can do whatever they bloody well please. I don't have to like it.

There are plenty of heterosexual bedroom activities that I find disgusting as well ... but that is no excuse to deny them common human rights or respect.

There's just no excuse. None.



Anonymous said...

It still revolves around the question of "normal". As much as you'd like to be completely unbiased and afford absolutely everyone equal-rights under the law...I think you have to stop and ask yourself (at some point anyway) "What do I consider unacceptable and perverted and therefore NOT OKAY?" And the minute you decide that one group of perverted bahaviours DESERVE protection (which always ends up costing the public monies) I take issue. Want to live with your same-sex partner and do the perverted acts? Fine. That's your CHOICE. Want special rights and privledges? No. No. No. I don't see why that's so difficult to understand here. Well, actually I do in a way. It's just to same old "if it feels good, do it. or live-and-let-live-everything-is-okay
if-you-say-it-is. God help us when we all start thinking that. Staley