Monday, August 13, 2007

Acceptable vs. Not

On my recent vacation, I took some time during one day to do the laundry, which meant a trip to the laundromat. And, oddly enough, the television there wasn't showing the Spanish channel. So as I sorted and folded, I found myself watching "Tyra" on daytime tv.

Now, what I saw has been kicking around in my head for almost two weeks, and I think I've finally nailed down what was nagging at me about the segment.

On the show, Tyra was hosting a trio of young women, ages ranging from (I think) 16 to 26. They were sisters, their mother having been on the show previously, and brought back by popular demand, along with her girls. The first part that I saw, a mere snippet, had the sisters on stage, on stools, while Tyra stood in the audience, asking questions of her own, and from audience members. All I could gather, since at the time I wasn't paying so much attention, was that the audience was accusing the sisters of being "horribly narrow minded" and "just like their mother" (which the eldest took as quite a compliment).

After an ad break, the mother came on stage with her daughters, and I found out just what was going on. The mother had been on the show before, and her vilification of anything not conforming to her Christian extremism had angered the audience so much, they brought her back to argue with her again.

I don't encounter Christian extremists very often, and I'm really shocked at the nastiness that this woman projected. She called the audience "sinners," told them that they were all going to hell, etc. And her daughters grouped around her, like a Greek chorus, backing her up. I felt sick to my stomach seeing her lash out at so many people, specifically targeting homosexuals.

At some point, the woman began berating homosexuals, saying that God would take his revenge on them, and she brought up 9/11 as an example of the divine hand of God. Tyra and the audience were outraged about that, and asked, following her logic, "were all the people in the Twin Towers homosexuals?" Of course, the woman replied. They were all "perverts, deviants, gays, people who deserved to die in a fiery ball of destruction."

At this point, Tyra announced the interview was over, and these guest would never appear on her show again.

So what is the take-away that I have finally realized?

It's okay to say on national television that gays are awful people, call them names, denigrate them, deny them, curse them, and say they deserve to die.

But it's not okay to say the same thing about anyone who died in 9/11.

Now I know that 9/11 was horrible, and I don't believe it was the hand of God (since I don't believe in God), and I do believe it was a highly politicized event that happened by the machinations of Al Qaeda, aided and abetted by the Bush Administration. But I don't think that the fact that they were killed in a horrible way makes them saints. I don't think they deserved to die, I do think it shouldn't have happened in the first place. But I think it's horribly unfair that no matter who they were, they are forever considered martyred, sanctified people, untouchable by any criticism, while gays who live good and normal lives, are active in their communities, who have families and loved ones... it is considered OKAY to broadcast anti-gay sentiments, no matter how evil the invective.

Tyra thinks it's okay to do a show that gives voice to hatred of one sort, but hatred toward 9/11 victims gets shut down immediately. I don't care for this selective hate approval.

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