Since at least 2008 I have participated in a wonderful and moving event at the Renascence Center in Dickson. As part of the world wide recognition of the horror of AIDS they display some sections of the AIDS quilt and my choir Nashville In Harmony performs. Pausing to read the quilts and remember those who have passed is an important part of my Christmas Season. This year we (NIH) have not been invited to perform and it appears from a web search that no event is scheduled for World Aids Day. I had wondered why and then I read in this morning’s paper that the center is now owned by a college affiliated with the Churches of Christ. This denomination in my experience and Wikipedia’s is complete against homosexuality in all cases and consider it a sin against God. While I cannot prove that the two events are related it is hard to imagine that they are not. Furthermore I must say that I am very concerned that a center devoted to Technology/Science/Art is now owned by an institution affiliated with a group which teaches that the earth was created in 7 days, women should be subservient to men and musical instruments are banned from church services. I am hoping that I will be proven wrong but at this point I feel that Science and equality have just suffered a setback.
A blogger whom I respect greatly (PZ Meyers Pharyngula ) asks “Who Deserves Honor” . His piece is so well written I can do no better than to restate his opening line “Today is the day when nations around the world pause to celebrate their most colossal failures, the events that killed the greatest numbers of their citizens, that broke and crippled their men after they’d been intentionally trained to dehumanize other human beings”. Yesterday (11/11) I thanked my father for his sacrifice in WWII and that is truth. Even more true is that the most honor should fall to those who have dedicated their lives to stopping the madness that swallowed up my father’s generation. A popular phrase these days is “American Exceptionalism” . Along with “My Country Right or Wrong” or “America Love it Or Leave it” these memes and the emotional attachments that we (and those in other countries) have to them are at the root of the horrors. Are we exceptional? Yes sometimes, but so are people all around the world and sometimes we are much much worse than average. It is time for us to stop pretending that Patriotism is following whatever path the leaders say is ‘right’ without regard to details and recognize that those who are willing to endue the hate of their fellows in order to demonstrate the truth about wars and the reasons we fight them, those are the real Patriots.
The overriding question is simple. Are there aspects that are so intrinsic to a person’s being (physically or mentally) and irrelevant to their ability to do a job that the fact of such aspects should not be allowed to affect that person’s employment? As a culture we have answered this question yes and established race, age, sex and religion as such. Now the Senate has passed ENDA and determined that sexual orientation and presentation should be included. By all predictions our illustrious House of Representatives does not have the guts to even take a vote on this, why? Either they do not believe in the principle stated above (and thus the current laws) or they are acting just to satisfy their own irrational prejudices or those of their constituents. Since I hear no one calling for repeal of the current laws concerning job discrimination I must deduce that prejudice and it’s accompanying fear are the driving forces behind their actions. While I am certainly not surprised at this , it is extremely disheartening to see how many people continue to act without logic because of their non fact based emotional responses. While some social issues can be complex (abortion) this one is so clear cut that anyone who is against it (again without being against established law) has no reasonable defense and must admit (at least to themselves), their irrationality.