I’m glad that I take a few moments to think about an article before I just go off and rant about it.
Why, you ask? Because this isn’t JUST about fat-shaming. It’s about a culture of casual cruelty.
It’s not just about the fact that society says it’s OK to shame fat people. It’s about a society that encourages the shaming of assorted different groups, whether those are fat people, or women, or anyone different from you.
It’s about being told that someone has read the assorted religious books of assorted religions, and states their opinion of the religion based on their interpretation of those books. It’s a valid interpretation, as long as they’ve done their research and have checked in with trusted sources of the assorted original languages the books were written in (unless they know the original languages themselves). For example, I do read the Bible often, pretty much any time someone brings up a Biblical quote which their interpretation supports their own opinion of the Bible and what the original writers intended. And, if I can’t track down a reasonable discussion of the original language in that quote (and its context), I turn to people I trust to tell me what the words mean in the original languages (whether that’s Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek – and yes, that includes the Apocrypha, the Nag Hammandi and the Dead Sea Scrolls). I am, at the moment, working my way through translations of the Tanakh, the Torah, and the Quran (all of which are quite lengthy, and will probably take quite a while to read). I’ve read the Bhagavad Gita (but like every other religious book, it requires multiple readings to understand, but have not yet read the other various texts under the heading of the Shruti (Hinduism)) , the Papal Voh (Mayan), AND I have read the Book of Mormon (OMG, was THAT a slog….much harder to read than the Bible), but have not yet read The Pearl of Great Price or The Doctrine and Covenants. Nor have I read the Tripiṭaka and the Dhammapada (Buddhism), the Dao de jing and Chuang Tzu (Taoism), and the I Ching (Taoism and Confucianism), Analects of Confucius (Confucianism), Guru Granth Sahib and the Dasam Granth Sahib (Sikhism), other Islamic texts than the Quaran (the Hadith and the Sunnah). Is it a difficult task that I have set for myself?? Of course it is, but I prefer actually knowing something about a religion than just taking anyone else’s word for what the tenets of that religion are.
It’s about being told that a woman deserves to be raped because she was wearing immodest clothing (however the viewer defines ‘immodest’) and therefore incited lust in her rapist.
It’s about being told that someone who is gay, or bi, or transexual deserves to be raped and beaten because they are sick, depraved animals.
It’s about being told I cannot worship as a Wiccan because it’s devil worship. Or my sister or parents cannot worship in their own way because to be Christian is somehow automatically to live in hatred of everyone who is not Christian. You know the biggest religious issue my sister and I have? When she points out to me that I am being far more judgmental of a non-Christian than someone who lives by the Bible’s tenets. She’s uncomfortable with my activism, mostly because she feels that each person must face the Divine alone in the end – and that we don’t have the right to judge our fellow humans.
It’s about being told that those who are poor deserve to live poor, because they’re just wastes of human DNA anyways.
It’s about getting away with hatred because it’s approved by others. It’s about being cruel simply because you feel superior to someone, and must somehow assert your superiority so that they never forget that you are somehow better than they are.
I’m sorry, that sounds like high school to me. It sounds like children who want to point the blame on anyone and everyone else, so that they can seem to be the “good kid.” It’s judging, fearing and hating someone who is different than you for no other reason than that they are different than you are.
There’s an actual name for it: Anthropophobia. It’s the fear of people. And it’s so much more than just social anxiety. It’s even so much more than xenophobia (the fear of foreigners).
We live, in this world, in a sense of constant fear. It’s not just America, it’s the whole damned world. And, unfortunately, we’re doing it to ourselves. We have allowed the rhetoric of fear to rule our lives. We’ve allowed our governments to encourage fear and hatred of those who are “not like us.” We’ve allowed the extremists in our world to define our world, making it a fearful place to live.
It doesn’t matter WHO the extremists are, or what they believe in. We’ve been down this road before. The Crusades, the Inquisition, the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Huns, both World Wars – these are examples of what happens when fear is allowed to rule the world. The excuse for every single one of these examples is “safety.” Some group stands up and makes it clear to the average person that this straw-man they are holding up is the reason for all of the evil happening to “good people” (however they define “good people”).
And the only way to stop it is to refuse to be afraid, and to stand up to the extremists in our midst.