My musings on the mainstream media and culture.

Archive for the category “GLBT”

Gay Marriage: An Appeal to Those Who Oppose on Religious Grounds

No Pumpkin

So I realize that most people who oppose gay marriage do so because of their religious beliefs. If this is indeed what you believe, I appeal to you to consider this argument.

Imagine that you are living in the United States of America.  Currently, in the U.S., the majority of people are Christians.  But let’s say that something entirely unexpected happens, and the majority of Americans convert to a religion called Fundamentalist Jibberjabberism.

Now let’s say that although the majority of Americans become Fundamentalist Jibberjabberists, you do not convert.  You are a Christian.  When the mass conversion happens, you are nervous.  However, you remind yourself that the United States is a secular nation governed by a secular Constitution, and that religious minorities like yourself are protected.

Things seem to be going well for awhile.  You continue to go to church and to worship just as you always have.  Then a disturbing development happens.  A week before Thanksgiving, pumpkins become illegal because pumpkins are considered sacrilegious in the Jibberjabberist religion.  You can no longer have a traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

You go to your Congressperson to complain.  You explain that you respect the fact that the majority of your fellow Americans do not eat pumpkins.  As a religious minority, you expect that it may be difficult to find pumpkins served at restaurants or possibly even at grocery stores.  But  illegal?  “I am not a Jibberjabberist,” you explain.  “Pumpkin does not go against my religious beliefs, and in fact, pumpkin pie is an important part of my family’s Thanksgiving dinner tradition.”

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Stereotypes: Where’s the Line Between Offensive and Multicultural?

Cam Tucker and his daughter Lily from Modern Family

Cam Tucker and his daughter Lily from Modern Family

So when it comes to media representations, where’s the line between (a) humorous glimpses into a multicultural world and (b) offensive, hateful generalizations about marginalized groups? Can humor about a marginalized group actually be a healthy way of promoting diversity?

An offensive, stereotypical  "pickaninny" image of black children, popular in early 20th century ads.

An offensive, stereotypical “picaninny” image of a black child, popular in early 20th century ads.

Clearly, stereotypes can be dangerous because at their worst, they provide “evidence” that a marginalized group of people is inferior, therefore justifying the marginalization. In Nazi Germany, stereotypes about Jews were used as justification for discrimination and eventually for concentration camps. In the United States, D.W. Griffith’s 1915 epic silent film (and Ku Klux Klan propaganda piece) Birth of a Nation promoted stereotypes than African-American men were dangerous, corrupt rapists and thieves. These attitudes fueled the “need” for Jim Crow laws and other forms of racial discrimination.

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