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Culture, current events, morality


I’ve been thinking a lot about Tyler Clementi’s death.  There are a lot of things about the whole situation that disturb me deeply, and I’ve been in a bit of a funk all afternoon because of them.

I could make this entry all about the plight of closet gays in America, but there’s plenty of that going around the blogosphere at this time.  So I’m going to focus on something a little broader.

Life Without a Net is about healthy, happy non-theist living.  But it’s also about creating a better world through reason and science.  Tyler’s death is a grim illustration of the horrible things that can happen when we indulge the darker parts of our nature without reflection.

Here is the reality:  Homosexuality is a normal, healthy part of the human experience, in the same way that it’s a normal, healthy part of thousands of other animal experiences.  The notion of two distinct sexes with two dichotomous states of sexual attraction is as dead as curing colds with mercury — at least as far as science is concerned.

But it’s deeper than that.  At the end of the article I linked to is this paragraph:

Examples abound, such as the 18-year-old pupil in Cincinnati who hanged herself in 2008 after her former boyfriend circulated among classmates mobile phone images of her naked.

People of conscience should be appalled!  There are a lot of reasons why people kill themselves.  Some of them are pretty decent.  Extreme incurable pain seems like a good reason to die.  But a few high school classmates seeing you naked?  Not a good reason to die.

Why is it that in a nation with the scientific capability to send a spaceship to Pluto, we are incapable of recognizing the normality of our sexuality and our bodies?  Both the 18 year old girl and Tyler Clementi were reacting to social stigmas which simply should not exist.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not letting Tyler’s roommate off the hook, nor am I excusing any of the girl’s friends for spreading private photos around.  But these stories shouldn’t be about deaths.  They should be about well-adjusted teenagers who are incensed and offended that their privacy was unlawfully invaded.  There’s no reason for this to be about dead children.

I mentioned several days ago my suspicion that Facebook, cell phones, and twitter are threatening to expose our sexual natures for what they really are.  We are a species with gays, trans-genders, bisexuals, exhibitionists, voyeurs, polyamorists, swingers, and fetishists.   We always have been.  But now, we are being faced with our nature in full digital clarity.  Our dirty laundry is on the internet for as long as the internet exists.  We have to learn to live with this.

The place to start is the acceptance of our nature for what it is.  The antiquated, hateful, divisive attitudes of the past are the result of non-critical thinking, religious indoctrination, and self-serving political agendas.  We turn normality into sin for our own profit, and children suffer.

I don’t maintain Life Without a Net just to bash religion or sell some non-religious agenda. I do it because the truth is better than the lies we’ve been told.  I do it because understanding ourselves promotes acceptance.  And we need a lot more of that.  A lot more.



3 thoughts on “Acceptance

  1. Coitus interruptus…lemme gather my thoughts…hippies rule!

    Posted by george leslie thomas | October 4, 2010, 5:35 pm

  2. Here’s a wonderful exchange between Neil deGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins–Dawkins steals the show, of course–regarding educating the public. I worry sometimes that we’re going about it in a counterproductive manner, and liable to drag science down with us.

    But in any case, like any martyr, Tyler Clementi’s death is bound to bring about change. As absurd and tragic as it was, we do seem to be on a path away from this kind of thing, and that’s reason to be hopeful.

    Posted by Ian | October 5, 2010, 5:46 am
  3. But in any case, like any martyr, Tyler Clementi’s death is bound to bring about change. As absurd and tragic as it was, we do seem to be on a path away from this kind of thing, and that’s reason to be hopeful.

    Maybe. But I’ve been hearing this kind of story since I was a little kid, and they just keep sounding absurd and tragic. I happen to believe that cultures can decline as well as improve, and in some ways, we (Americans) have declined. Until the first Red Scare, we had atheist presidents. Now, admitting atheism in a political race is akin to being outed as gay at Rutgers. Might as well jump off the GW Bridge. This is most certainly a decline in acceptance and tolerance. We have to be aware that the same thing can occur for gays. For every state gain (such as in Massachusetts) there’s a Prop 8 with millions of hate dollars behind it.

    On another note, I’ve seen that exchange between Dawkins and Tyson before, and the longer I look at this thing, the more I’m beginning to agree with Tyson. Of course, Dawkins is right — Science is the closest thing to magic that exists in the universe. It’s amazing. And I tend to have the same attitude — anyone who disagrees with that can fuck off as far as I’m concerned.

    But there has to be, I think, a difference between personal opinion and public policy. Not ten minutes ago, I was listening to satellite radio and they were talking about having John Edward (The Biggest Douche in the Universe) on later today. The hosts were arguing about whether or not he’s real. Oprah has douchey psychics on her show. Woo is being marketed aggressively. We have to market science just as aggressively if we’re going to have a shot at competing.

    That’s one of the reasons I love Mythbusters. Those guys made science sexy. Actually, Kari Byron made science sexy. The rest of them made science accessible and fun. They make children think, “I can do that! That looks fun!”

    Non-belief needs that kind of marketing. Or so it seems to me.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 5, 2010, 11:56 am

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