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.