Working hard to hurt others

I was idly browsing through various blogs and news sites this morning and I was struck by how many stories involve people working very hard at no benefit to themselves in order to hurt other people. Poisoning girls’ schools in Afghanistan, stripping away women’s rights in Egypt, making homosexuality a crime in too many countries to count.

I can understand why the leaders of these things do it, for example Mitt Romney declaring opposition to marriage equality will make him more likely to get elected. What I don’t get is the masses, the individual people who work really hard on these things and don’t seem to get any benefit other than the dubious joy of causing human suffering. Seriously.

The most common explanations for these things are religious, and I still don’t get it. Okay, so your religion says X is a sin, but unless your religion also says you should be cruel to people who commit sin or are sinful by nature, why spend so much of your precious time and energy on it?

Pastor Charles Worley went full-nazi and said that gays should be rounded up and put in concentration camps. Bizarrely, he seems to think after they die of old age there won’t be any more. Not sure if he believes that “recruiting” crap or if he thinks they’re actually a different species. Think of the scale of that project, the cruelty it would impose on tens of millions of people.

When I say tens of millions, that’s not hyperbole. There are at least 9 million gay people in the United States. Maybe as many as 50 million. Plus all the pain you’re causing their loved ones, and anybody who is mistaken for gay and all their loved ones, and anybody else who has a shred of empathy.

What would it accomplish? I suppose there’d be a booming job market for people who are willing to do the work of investigating, capturing, and interning a sizable chunk of the population, but that’s the most positive thing I can think of. They’ll have job security, too, because about a tenth of all babies born will continue to not be heteronormative. Congratulations pastor, you’ve created a thriving new industry in human misery!

When 2,000 people protested outside his church in North Carolina, a small group of counter-protesters drove all the way from Georgia, about five hours, to stand up and support hurting people who are different from them. Why? I can’t make sense of it, why drive all that way and use your time and money to fight for hurting others? What do they get out of it?

The best answers I can come up with is they either think they’re scoring brownie points with God or they genuinely believe they’re doing the right thing. I can’t come up with any way to believe that’s the right thing, it doesn’t make sense no matter how I look at it. I can kind of understand attacking gays because you think God hates them and you’re trying to suck up, repulsive though that is, but I just don’t see how hurting people who are no threat to you is the right thing to do.

The attacks on women are in a way harder and in a way easier for me to understand. On the one hand, you could be in denial about your gay kid, but not your female kid. So it seems just batshit insane to try to make second-class citizens out of them. On the other hand, to many men there’s a definite order to how they expect their families to operate, and widespread empowerment of women will make it difficult for them to find a wife who’ll be submissive in the way he wants. So I can kind of see how they’d be willing fight it, if I squint just right and try to imagine being so outrageously selfish that I’d put my personal comfort over the self-determination of half of humanity, including those closest to me.

It really puzzles me to see people working so hard to be cruel for no gain to anybody. Yet I see it almost every day.

About Leo Tarvi

Mostly fictional.

Posted on May 30, 2012, in Daily Post and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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