Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Unbearable Continuation Of Bigotry

Her name is -- as far as we know -- Taylor. She is -- apparently -- a Girl Scout. She is fourteen-years-old and is apparently concerned by the direction the Girl Scouts of America is taking, specifically with the admission last Autumn of a seven-year-old transgender child to a troop in Colorado. She is calling for a boycott of the sale of Girl Scout cookies, to send a clear message of disapproval over the inclusiveness that the organization is supporting by sanctioning such a move.

She is a bigot.

It's bad enough when adults, who have the benefit of a breadth of education and life experience, decide to treat other members of the human race as somehow misguided or alien or worse, subhuman; it's quite another thing to see such blatant intolerance for others spring up in the bloom of youth. With so much life ahead of them, planting the seeds of anti-social and anti-humanist thought and having them grow in such fertile soil is a bitter harvest waiting, indeed.

Bigotry is not something that springs full blown on its own, like a weed. No, for bigotry to appear in one so young is the work of someone actively sowing the seeds, perhaps reaping several crops. This is not some accidental discovery by a young person; they have been exposed to a constant blatter and bleating of thoughts and ideas that seek to take those who are different and disenfranchise them. Misguided misperception and blind ignorance have been spouted as if they are the word of god (and all too often, it is precisely from a religious source that such ideas stem), and a child has no critical filter by which to sieve the good from the bad.

Perhaps Taylor is in earnest. Maybe she truly believes that a transgender child has no business in the Girl Scouts. If she is adamant, if it offends her sensibilities, that it is her prerogative to have her say and leave the group. We would cluck our tongues and hope that, someday, when she has a greater font of experience to draw from, that her attitude would change. Yet, in making a video to place in the public sphere, calling on other like-minded individuals to attack the venerable institution of the Girl Scouts in the place it hurts them most -- funding -- in order to purvey her twisted idea of normalcy, she seeks to offend us and our human sensibilities. It is not enough for her to salve her conscience by resigning and deporting herself to ignominy; no, she must hurt others. She must try to cripple that which refuses to validate her bigotry.

This is where the actions of a child go from the simple unknowing schema of youth, to the planned and coordinated ignorance spawned by unmitigated fear of the wider world. Those who cannot divest themselves of the need to place others in societal compartments, who look with horror upon those things that break with long-outmoded but still prevalent beliefs, who are wont to deny another human being their inherent and natural rights, they salt the waters of youth to prevent tolerance and understanding from taking root.

A child steeped in bigotry, no matter how subtle and unassuming it would appear from the outside, is destined to suffer a poverty of empathy that will be difficult to enrich. When one has been taught over and over that things are "just so," that we do not question them, that those who say otherwise are simply misguided or lacking in true moral firmness, those layers and layers of farcical and antiquated thinking build up, the sediment of ignorance and intolerance, to be pressed into the firmer stone of distaste and disgust and disharmony. A child so weighted down by this sedimentary rock, cannot hope to break free of it of their own accord, and must somehow tolerate the slow erosion of a human society totally at odds with their backward thought, that it might one day provide the cracks and fissures to allow in the cool, clear flow of reason.

We can only pity this child, in the iron grip of something that is anathema to our humanity. We could certainly unload our ire on her, but that would be unfair and unwise, for it would simply confirm many of the lies perpetrated to convince her that she is in the right. We must make a stand, we must do what we can to counteract this, and we must make it clear that we hold her no malice. By showing her compassion and tolerance, no matter how wrong-headed we know she is, we can teach a more important and powerful lesson than those that seek to turn her into carbon copies of their bigoted selves.

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