Nothing Special, Really

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That...

For those of you who don't follow the sports world, you may or may have not heard about this, but recently a former NBA player, John Amaechi, publicly announced that he's been gay this whole time. He wrote about it in a book recently, which I might end up reading because I'm fascinated with the behind-the-scenes world of the NBA. I just have to finish reading my book on the Phoenix Suns from last year first.

Anyways, without getting bogged down by too many details, former NBA player and member of Run TMC, Tim Hardaway has publicly announced that he hates people like Amaechi because they're gay, going as far as to admit that he's a homophobe.

For what it's worth, my personal stance is this; I honestly couldn't care less if Tim Hardaway hates gay people. I regard his opinion on social matters as much as I regard the opinion of the Starbucks barista across the street or the CEO of the company I work for - that is, I don't. I do, however, think his opinion is wrong. There's a strong difference between disagreeing with but accepting someone else for their characteristics, especially when their actions don't harm you in anyway, and purposefully hating a whole group of people who share the same characteristics when, yet again, THEY DON'T AFFECT YOU.

In my opinion, one of the main problems in this country is a lack of tolerance. Tolerance doesn't mean that you have to accept someone else's viewpoint, nor do you have to admit that their viewpoint is "right". Nor does tolerance mean that you have to accept behavior that is potentially harmful - it's certainly beyond the notion of tolerance to be accepting of child molestors, serial killers, and thieves. However, for some reason I can't comprehend why, we are a country that is so obsessed with being right, so uncomfortable with conflicting viewpoints, that we often choose to hate someone because they have an appearance or behave in a way that we don't approve of. We take whatever moral direction that we've come to accept, modify it so that it is convenient for us, and then refuse to accept anyone who disagrees. That doesn't completely apply to everyone, but it certainly can apply to many people to a large degree.

We express disgust at someone who wears sports apparel and flashy jewelry and decry them as being a "ghetto ass thug". We see someone walking down a metropolitan street wearing a cowboy hat, and we automatically assume that he's a redneck. If someone comes to us asking for directions in broken English, how many people act harshly towards that person, writing them off as some immigrant who can't speak "our" language? How many people have taken cabs, seen that the driver is white, and breath a sigh of relief that we're not being driven by a Middle Eastern wearing a turban?

It's absolutely appalling the lack of tolerance so many people in this country have. We allow ourselves to become affected by groups of different people, including people who have no discernable impact on our lives, to the point that we hate certain people because of some characteristic. Furthermore, we allow ourselves to become impacted by these people that we hate simply because we hate them. We yell at slow drivers when we can just go around them. We become rude to homeless people who ask for money when we can just say "Sorry, I don't have anything." We roll our eyes when we see two males holding hands and talking with a lisp. We put our hands in our pockets or cover our purse if we see a young black man with a baseball cap walking toward us. We hear religious fanatics preaching on the street corner and think to ourselves how much we hate them and wish they would just shut the hell up. We've become so caught up in our own notion of what is right that we act negatively towards anyone who doesn't have the same notion.

Tim Hardaway wasn't wrong in voicing his opinion. Tim Hardaway wasn't wrong in not being comfortable with homosexuality. But Tim Hardaway IS wrong in hating homosexuals, just as someone would be wrong for hating smokers or blacks or people who drive Hummers. There's no reason, there's no good accomplished by wasting so much effort on hating someone. This doesn't mean we can't be annoyed or uncomfortable, but I will never understand why it's so hard for people to just brush these notions of hate aside and concentrate on living their own lives. When did everyone become a moral policeman? Why are so many people uncomfortable with just living their life as they believe and letting others do the same? As long as those morals don't pose any harm, why should either side really care?

For an example of what I'm talking about, please read this excellent column by another one of ESPN's columnists.

And please take some time to just read some of the comments about the Tim Hardaway article. It'll really open your eyes to the level of intolerance in this society.


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