Why Would You Say That – Really?
When I was a shop steward and a union activist (not so very long ago) I fought for the rights of my co-workers and myself. We had a contract between our Union and the major corporation we worked for – and as shop stewards our purpose was to make sure that the rights of not even of one person were violated under that contract. Another side of that same purpose was to educate and assist our co-workers so that no union members knowingly violated the contract either. More importantly we worked really hard to try to resolve issues before getting to the point of needing to file grievances or other types of legal complaints.
There were dissenters within our membership who felt from time to time that the Union was handling things wrong and they were entitled to their opinion. My fellow stewards and I found that communication and compassion was a very important part of what we did. It was a job I gladly volunteered for and, although it took a significant amount of my own time, I’m still glad I was a part of that.
Saying things about other people when you don’t really know … – now I’m thinking you are likely wondering how in the world I jumped to this topic. Well, it has to do with what I have already mentioned and with what I am about to mention. In the Union activism there were things that were said (by members of management and also by some co-workers) – that were not very nice – and there were whispers and rumors and other unpleasant references. In the matter of the other issue (which I will get into shortly) the notion of saying something without really having first hand knowledge has been and still is a very great problem. Sometimes the right to saying some of these things is protected by law – meaning that the person making the statements is protected by law – under certain circumstances. The laws and the circumstances vary by state, country and province. I may have left out a geographic designation or two in that description but I hope you get the idea.
Making a statement about an individual (or a particular group of people) can be as innocent as saying “(so and so) is as silly as a goose” or as hateful as words and phrases I feel are not appropriate to print in a respectable forum such as this. When somebody makes a statement or accusation about another person (or group of people) and, for example – the statement or accusation is false and damaging to that person (or group) – the law can possibly become involved depending on where this action takes place, etc.
As a shop steward when I was told by some that my actions were foolish or were going to hurt the company or other similar things, I either defended my actions with facts or just did not answer to what was said. Some of the co-workers I represented were told things by their direct supervisors which simply and contractually were not correct – my initial response was to advise the co-worker what the correct information was – then mediate an agreement with the supervisor to resolve the situation. Sounds relatively simple and sometimes it was – but sometimes it grew into the grievance process and sometimes even further than that.
Now I’ve just about come to that other issue (I really am getting there). First though I want to say that I am now a gay activist, and also that I fully believe in the freedom of speech – as protected by the Bill of Rights – and here it is:
Article – the third [Amendment I]:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Yes the law in this country is quite specific. I really do wonder though, why anybody would really want to specifically say anything that would hurt another person – or a specific group of people – in any way. I would like to look at these issues from the following point of view:
- Everybody I have ever met has feelings (emotions) – some people hide those feelings more deeply than others – some people are quite pronounced with their feelings – and many are somewhere in between.
- I don’t understand why one person would want to purposefully hurt the feelings of another person – publicly or privately.
- I don’t understand why one person would want to purposefully hurt the feelings of an entire group of people – publicly or privately.
Then there is this; I don’t understand … how in any way or form of being – one person could claim to know what another person is feeling in terms of attraction toward someone of their own gender or toward someone of the opposite gender.
Now … I think you might know where I’m going with this. Some heterosexual adults (or at least some of the adults publicly claiming to be heterosexual) claim to know exactly what sexual attraction feels like for a homosexual person. I absolutely don’t understand why or how. I mean even if you cut your finger and I cut my finger exactly the same way (accidentally hypothetically and minor injuries only of course) we are going to feel a different amount of pain, the bleeding will take a slightly different amount of time to stop and the healing will be different. Your worry or concerns about the cut and the details of it will be different from mine, you might use a different type of bandage than I do or you might not even use a bandage at all. The list of differences can go on and on and on.
Just looking at an example like that, which doesn’t even deal with heterosexuality or homosexuality, I’m hoping I have made a point here – that you don’t feel absolutely what everybody else feels. Nobody does. Things just don’t happen like that. So – if you are heterosexual and I am homosexual (which I am – a lesbian, in fact) there is really no way that you can accurately tell me who I am attracted to sexually (or in any other way) any more than I can tell you who you are attracted to sexually (or in any other way). So …… why in the world (just using a commonly used saying here) would you insist that homosexuality is a choice? Why in the world would you say that I am really attracted to persons of the opposite sex (and that I am really a heterosexual) but that I have decided I would rather be with somebody of my own/same gender? I mean – free speech laws/rights and all that considered – you have the legal right to say it – but why in the world would you want to say that – really?? To my way of thinking – well it just absolutely makes no sense. I am homosexual and (as a lesbian) I am attracted to ladies.
Well wait a minute, though, using your logic does that really mean that even though you are heterosexual you are really attracted to persons of your same gender but have decided instead to stick with persons of the opposite gender ?????
About the Author: MJ, a/k/a pngwnz, is summarizing LGBT current events each week for jaysays.com. Her work can be found under the LGBT Notable News Happenings. She is an out lesbian with an affinity for the music of Phil Collins and Carole King. She has been an invaluable resource as a reader and idea bouncer-off-er [yeah, that’s the word we are using] and we are pleased to have her as part of the team!