Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bigotry, Ignorance, and Evil

Sometimes it becomes very difficult to tell the difference between these three characteristics.  They result in many of the same outward manifestations, and to be honest a lot of times trying to figure out which one you're seeing only causes you more pain, more hurt.  It only does more damage to decipher if the comment you just heard was born out of simple ignorance (they don't know better), bigotry (far worse), pure evil (obviously the biggest concern), or some combination of the three.  The things I hear on a day to day basis would literally make your blood curdle.  Speaking to fishy but respected businessman several months ago, he  just casually dropped the following pearl of wisdom:

"I don't really like basketball.  It's just a bunch of monkeys running around"

He wasn't making a joke.  He didn't pause for me to laugh or turn white and then punch me in the arm and say "I gotcha!" or anything like that.  He didn't even have the slightest inclination that what he said could possibly have been construed as anything other than a commonly accepted fact!  The conversation continued on, with me virtually unable to continue holding up my end because I mean really, are you fucking kidding me?  This guy is in his late 20s.  He's an immigrant himself.  He runs a successful business.  It's America, and it's 2013, and he just casually dropped that knowledge on me like it was fucking nothing.  Maybe I took it too seriously, but honestly I'd have been less shocked if he'd simply fired off the N-word.  Is this man evil?  I don't think so;  I have a fair bit of evidence suggesting he's not.  But it can't simply be ignorance, right?  I don't think so.  He's a bigot, plain and simple.  Why does it matter?  I guess it doesn't, but the force of his statement just struck me, almost physically so, and I haven't been able to let it go since.  It eats at me, it is wrong, and when I see things that are wrong they bother me.  Is it my place to worry about it?  No.  But every time I let something like this go, every time I turn a blind eye to a "human" treating another human poorly like this, or making a statement like this, I lose a part of myself, a part of my decency, a part of what makes me worth keeping alive.

Today another one happened.  The South African was just joking around, egging on the the fish who got me barred, and eventually got him to declare:

"No way!  No gays go to heaven.  And no lawyers.  If you want to go to heaven, you better not become a lawyer or a gay!"

I mean, the man is 84 years old and basically a dottering idiot.  As an aside, I just remembered that the two men here actually arm wrestled for $50 last week, surveillance footage I'd consider committing some lesser misdemeanors to get my hands on.  Anyway, he's a senile idiot, but I don't really think his comment is simply ignorance.  It's bigotry, too;  has to be.  And again, why do I care?  He's 84 years old, he'll be dead soon (not soon enough, but soon) and when he kicks off the world will be a (slightly) better and more enlightened place.  Why should I worry about him bumbling around for the next decade or so?  I just don't have an answer for this question, but I do.  I do care.  Seeing him continue to take in precious oxygen and use it to make statements like that, in 2013, in America, just makes me feel so awful inside.  If comments like these can happen here in California in the present day, how awful has it been for so many countless millions of people throughout the last two thousand years?  And what am I doing to make it better?  Nothing.  Every day I am presented with countless situations where I am forced to choose (often subconsciously, but far too often actively and these are the decisions that haunt me, the ones I realize are happening and make passively, make without causing conflict, the wrongs I allow to continue to live, those are the ones that hurt me, that stay with me, that lay down to sleep with me at night) simply, do I say something or let it slide?  Every time I say something I end up in a conflict.  I end up barred, or angry, or in general at least unfocused.  But when I don't say something, when I let it slide, when I let the idiot or the bigot or the evil just be it costs me something, too.  The cost is small, but over thousands of days and tens of thousands of interactions the damage adds up.  A scratch here, a dent there, a nick there and all of a sudden my armor just isn't up to code.

That's all I got. Sorry if you were expecting me to talk about poker.


bellatrix78 said...

While the second commented is clearly bigoted, I fail to see the immediate connection "monkey --> n-word" in the first comment. For example, LHE players are called "showdown monkeys", am I supposed to feel offended by that statement? What if he said "it's just a bunch of [donkeys, clowns, morons] running around"?

Also, I don't understand why you get so worked up about it. If somebody insulted you to your face ("honey, it is clear that women are intellectually inferior to men and you would economically served much better if you would come home with me" <- actual statement said to my face at a poker table), I could understand ire. But to make a mountain out of a molehole of some idiotic statements or opinions, is just setting yourself up for disappointment. Take it like arguing strategy with a fish, who doesn't actually want to learn strategy. Why bother? It's chatter, it's noise and then it's gone.

UGAN Bloof said...

How depressing is it to see idiots proclaim their own ignorance to fight against bigotry.I wonder if it is to dissuade others to believe that you are not ignorant.