On Wednesday, March 16, 2016, my hometown newspaper published an editorial titled “Zero Tolerance.” (Rutland Herald [VT], March 16th, 2016, p. A4) The editorial was a denouncement of the sex-enslavement of young girl prisoners by radical Islamic ISIS militants. The editorial board called on Islamic theologians and other theology scholars to “denounce the radical jihadists who reportedly rely on ancient passages in the Koran to justify their enslavement and sexual abuse of women and girls they have captured in their drive to establish a new caliphate in the Middle East.”
…The thing is…it might not seem evident to the hetero-normative community reading the column in horror at the atrocities described, but several imploring passages are the exact same argument that should be used to deplore American fundamentalist and literalist interpretations of the Bible that are used to discriminate, demonize, and incite violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer people.
All one has to do is simply replace a few words, and keep the exact same intent:
“[American] theologians, here and elsewhere, need to loudly denounce the radical [Christian fundamentalists] who reportedly rely on ancient passages in the [Bible] to justify their [discrimination] and [violent abuse] of [LGBT persons]…in their drive to establish a new [Constitutionally-ignorant, hate-tolerant, exclusively Christian fundamentalist paradigm] in the [United States].”
Here’s another original passage from the editorial:
“…to most of us, it may be…obnoxious that these supposedly religious zealots have seized upon ancient interpretation of the Koran to justify almost unbelievably cruel and widespread sexual abuse of women and young girls they have enslaved.”
And here’s the same passage adjusted from the perspective of LGBT people:
“…to most of us, it may be…obnoxious that these supposedly religious zealots have seized upon ancient interpretation of the [Bible] to justify unbelievably cruel and widespread [violence] of [LGBTQ people] they have [demonized as worthy of being wiped off the face of the earth].”
And, of course, hetero-normative accessories to the culture and blindered, culpable individuals will read my re-interpretation of this editorial and think that I’m being a drama queen about it all—that the kind of violence I’m talking about towards LGBT persons doesn’t exist in our contemporary American society.
…and those individuals are wrong.
I don’t belittle the weight of importance that should be focused on the plight of young, female sex slaves among jihadist radical Islamist movements like ISIS—those groups truly are misguided terrorists and epitomize evil incarnate.
But it is sometimes a hard pill to swallow when the media can’t distinguish that the public is willing to condemn radicalist, literalist religious interpretations of historical texts in one egregious instance… and yet be completely complicit and tolerant of it in the closer-hitting realm of our own country. It makes further passages in the editorial laughable to read:
“American theologians—who do not condone the rebel behavior—do acknowledge that in the distant past specific passages in the Bible were used by some to justify the slave trade here in the United States, so our history is not as pure as we’d like it to be. But we long ago moved past tolerating such behavior.”
Really? REALLY??! You “long ago moved past tolerating such behavior?”
How nice it would be if I could really believe that “we” (as Americans) had moved past tolerating xenophobia, or the incarceration of immigrants, or the carpet-bombing of innocents in foreign lands—all of which are proposals from the mouths of our current slate of presidential political candidates.
How nice it would be if I could believe that “we” had moved past racial profiling and discrimination that automatically gets people ejected from political rallies and forums (“You…Are you Mexican? Are you Mexican? You look Mexican. All right…Get her outta here…”) or for getting sucker-punched in the face and threatened with lynching-style execution. (“If we see him again, we might have to kill him!”)
How nice it would be if I could believe that “we” had moved past being able to use “religious freedoms” as the latest excuse for discriminating against gay and lesbian individuals, firing them from school teaching jobs, denying them the right to obtain a marriage license ala Kim Davis, or denying young students access to restrooms for simply trying to express their innate gender. How nice it would be if I could believe that “we” had moved past having to read that there was a “Record Number of Reported LGBT Homicides Last Year in 2015.” (2016 statistics yet to come…)