Category Archives: Liberties – Libertés

Education. Education. Education.

I am being asked, as a “Liberal” – whatever that means, what we should do to protect our values against the ones of the people who don’t think like we do. Especially, when these values are of openness, tolerance and freedom for all.

The answer to just block the ones who don’t believe the same as we do is very “in” these days but I do believe in education and empathy, first. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes in order to understand where they come from so to fathom their thinking and eventually modify it.

I grant you that such a feat is easier for me as a gay man living in a Western society where the religious, no matter how much we order it to shut up, still condemns and calls for the ban of everything they disagree with.

I also lived in many countries where I have experience in shutting up, looking at local beliefs and culture, and try to position myself within it as well as I could without imposing my view.

I would say that’s the first we need to do when immigration is concerned: a French immigrant like me needs to understand that our rejection of monarchy doesn’t mean the rest of the world must behave their monarchs. I disagree with monarchy. It’s everything I stand against: privileges given at birth, social immobility, laziness and the epitome of people who believe they are entitled to living off the state sucking millions up just to look presentable. And they can’t even manage that for some of them.

However, unless specifically asked, I don’t go around Spain, nor did I in England, with a soap box calling Spaniards and Britons idiots and serfs for having a king or a queen and demanding their head on a platter. How Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, the whole of Scandinavia and the UK understand their own state is their own choice and I must respect it or leave it.

Do I mean immigrants who don’t want to abide by our rules should leave or be deported? No and yes. For me, it all depends on the idea of choice and open-mindness. I would say to a Westerner riling against a country they have just moved in that if they are not happy to see two men kissing or women wearing bikinis that they are free to go back to where they come from. With an immigrant from most Middle-Eastern or African countries, I wouldn’t do as such. I would educate first. The double standard is justifiable by the difference in education and environment that leads to two words I used before “choice” and “free”.

Why would I tell off a Westerner? Because I know they had access to a differentiated educational system that has taught them about the freedom of choice. A system that has laid out all the possibilities, has explained the world at great lengths, that has creates endless opportunities and freedoms within a wider democratic system where the key is for citizens to take their destiny in their own hands as much as possible and learn to be responsible.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to their opinion but after seeing, like I did, an American, born-again Christian in the streets of Paris calling for homosexuals to be banned from getting married, I would, as I did, confront them and tell them to fuck off home.School has taught them many ways and they have willingly chosen one. If it’s incompatible with the ones of a country they also chose to live in, why are they here?

To Westerners, yes but to Muslims for instance, no (-ish). Why? Political correctness? For fear of being labelled racist?

No just because I understand where they come from and the need for reeducation. First-generation immigrants in our Western countries are coming from countries where education is not about choice and opportunities, it’s about repeating and maintaining. Their schools don’t teach critical thinking but dos and don’ts in an overall political environment that is violent and intrinsically unfair and unjust.

These people are coming to our countries fleeing hardship, wanting a better life but with mindsets carved deep into themselves, sometimes literally. The answer to this, I often hear, is deculturation. Especially for the first generation so their children can be fully assimilated.

Parents are asked to leave their culture behind, for their own good too, and take on the new one but what is culture? Your language? Your religion? Your dress code? Your eating habits? As a French atheist living in Spain, should I convert to Catholicism and go to church? When I lived in England, should have I become a Anglican and bow to the Queen? Am I refuse to integrate and assimilate by rejecting Catholicism or my subjecting to the Windors? No. It’s more than that, I am said, but no one can define it.

That’s the point of culture: it’s all the untold rules that we grow up with and make us behave a certain way. In Spain, people think it’s weird when I address them using the second person plural but in France, it’s borderline insulting to address someone you don’t know using the second person singular. Yet we are all share the same Latin roots with just a small mountain range between us.

How do we fix the problem? Education. Education. Education. Let’s consider some key questions I heard from good-willing people thinking some immigrants are a danger to our values: How do we make sure Muslims are not antisemitic? How do we ensure Asians are not forcing their girls into marrying older strangers? How do we ensure African girls are not excised? How do we ensure religious immigrants are not homophobic?

We do what they do in Norway, for instance, we educate them. We listen to their thinking, debate with them, show them something different, teach them critical thinking and acceptance for it doesn’t come naturally, it’s always nurtured. And sometimes, often, we play into their weaknesses of bowing to diktats and say: “Because that’s the way things are done here. So think for you have two choices: You stay and accept it or you go back to where you came from.” A hard choice for most of them but it’s a choice at the end, one that will put them in control of their own destiny, often for the first time.

Cynics from the Right will come me a utopist for thinking we can ever reverse mindsets. Why would they think otherwise? They, themselves, think the solution is to go back to a past they have fantasised.

Cynics from the Left will tell me that we can’t even get Western Christians to be gay-friendly and our own society to accept full men/women equality so immigrants…I get where they come from but all the more reasons to keep trying. We cannot stop human progress and we will learn from ourselves.

Some will point out that I’m being very optimistic when talking about our educational system, that, in more and more countries, it’s being privatised so critical thinking is now a danger to the blind acceptance of a evermore unequal, neo-capitalist society in the name of making money.

I agree and I also see that countries resulting in blanket bans and camps are the ones where education is anything but a priority.

 

Advertisements

Taking to the streets for the future

Trump was elected and his targets are taking to the streets and, as well the usual bastards who are just here to break and create mayhem, I see something else the protesters have to deal with: the Trump electorate who are attacking them. They compare the situation to Obama’s (re-)election forgetting something crucial but they are happy to compare the two so let’s do just that.

Like Meghan Tonjes said, Obama was not perfect – no president ever was and none of them ever had a smooth ride. He made mistakes, some of them that undoubtedly endangered the economic security of people, via his support to some trans-border treaties for example. But one cannot deny that Obama was a uniting force and therefore provided a feeling of safety for the people of America as a whole. During his campaigns and presidency, when addressing the country, he addressed the country, all of it, not some part of it, pitting people against one another which is exactly what Trump did.

So when people say:
“-When Obama was reelected, we did not make a fuss. We shut up and sucked it up!”

I reply: Damn right you did!

And by the way, No! You did not shut up and got on with it. You kept going on about questioning his Americanness, from his policies to his very birth, you kept associating him with Bin Ladin because their name were close and even after he personally gave the order to gave him killed, you carried on with your usual spewing of conspiracies about him being an ally to Islamists. I don’t call that “shutting up” and “sucking it up”, I call it constant defamation in order to undermine someone just because you disagree with him and you don’t like him. Beyond disagreement or dislike, why these constant attacks?

Because that’s all you had. Obama never gave you ground to feel your freedom of being yourself, of existing, of living in the US was endangered. Maybe you felt that your freedom of carrying a gun was in danger but he never targeted you as a person. When he was elected, you didn’t feel your future, the ones of your family and friends was at stake.

Had Obama campaigned with declarations the likes of “When I am elected, no matter what institutions say, every person I personally consider a racist, I’ll have them fired, put in prison, deport and make sure they never set foot on the American soil again!”, I would have understood you taking to the streets to show your anger because that would have been a direct threat to some of you, and not just your passions, but your very existence as Americans.

You did not take to the streets because Obama was uniting, he went above all types of differences to reach you, appeal to you, talk to you whoever you were whereas Trump is divisive: he doesn’t look at America as one big ensemble constantly moving and reinventing itself but rather a monolithic heterosexual WASP block-like majority who has to reluctantly make room for change by putting up with and giving up privileges to minorities. I am not saying that his whole message but that’s most of it.

His campaign was to change how America is perceived by chopping through it with an axe, extracting the heterosexual, able WASPs and appeal to them by pitting them against every single other type of people: African Americans, Black Caribbeans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, the LGBTQ community, the disabled, non-Christian religions, and even men v women.

To show the damage it does, I will direct to what Clinton said about you when she made the unforgivable mistake of, once, playing into that rhetoric by targeting Trump’s voters saying that “half of them were deplorable”. All of you Trump supporters went up in arms and lashed out. She made the mistake of once being divisive and a lot of people voted for Trump as a result.

That’s why people are in the streets today. To show  the rest of the world that there is more to America than Trump, his ilks and his rhetoric. To show that he doesn’t represent every American but also because they are genuinely scared for their future as they were targeted, not for their opinions or what they did as a living or who they voted for, but for who they are: the colour of their skin, who their heart has feelings for, the birthplace of their parents or even their own. Trump made it openly and proudly clear that all these aspects of identity no one can change, including heterosexual WASPs, were a problem.

If I take the LGBT community, the anguish goes beyond the fear of the resurgence, normalisation and possible formalisation of bullying, it goes to the heart of the family they have built after we had evolved into better, more tolerant human beings – or so we thought – and so I still hope.

Will their marriage of love remain legal or will they have to live underground again?

Will the children they have adopted, they love, nurture and to whom they are giving a chance to finally be happy remain with loving parents or will the family be woken up on January 1st by the sound of social services kicking their way into their home to the snatch the kids away forever because from now on, family can only be defined by blood affiliation and in a heterosexual marriage?

Lacking empathy, lacking the crucial ability of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, you can mock the LGBTQ community for asking such questions but you cannot stop the fear and the anguish we have because we don’t know what the future holds. And it goes well beyond having a job or owning your own house or gun.

Maybe not the same questions, but the same feelings are running through the Black, Asian and Latino communities. What does the future hold for them? And that’s a question you never had to ask yourself as a consequence of Obama’s being elected. That’s why you did not take to the streets and we are. Looking down on us will not make it go away or will it make you feel better about yourself.

1984

YouTube call to “heroes” to police their website with the promise of ever-greater reward for flagging up undefined, hence subjective, bad behaviour.

Surveillance is everywhere, especially the hands of private companies untamable by the State that called them in in the first place.

Whistle-blowers are trialled as traitors.

We are constantly at war against someone somewhere and these wars are draining public finances and driving up poverty.

Dissidence in all its form is increasingly considered as a danger thus silenced, put under house arrest and imprisoned even in our democracies, some of which that have been using “states of emergency” for months, if not years, in order to give the State and the police infinite power and immunity in the name of protecting the people they see as a constant threat.

Standards in education are going down along with its funding leaving generations in danger of never being able to think for themselves and at the mercy of all demagogues willing to validate their fears born of ignorance by voicing them proudly, all the while stopping short of actually addressing them in the long term.

I am starting to believe that Orwell’s 1984 was not about the year 1984 itself but about the future faced by people born in 1984. Like me…

Ring my bell? Please, do!

There is an old trend that seems to flourish lately and it says that one can only ring its own bell. Chris Thompson, a YouTuber, is one of the best-spoken advocates for gay rights I have ever listened to: clear, straight to the point, genuine, asking the right questions, righteous but not sanctimonious. Yet some gay people seem to have a problem with him defending their rights, going to gay prides, campaigning for equality: he’s not gay.

He basically doesn’t belong to the community as such so their argument is that he’s taking the speech time and the space of someone who is truly gay, who can speak first-hand about the realities of what it means to be gay and actually bring water to the mill instead of a half-glass of lukewarm water. Chris Thompson is straight so he should shut it and let the gays speak for themselves.

Firstly, he says it himself, his advocating and expressing himself doesn’t shush the others into darkness. He’s not taking anyone’s space. It’s 2016 and the age of virtual reality with infinite space to share, not 1850 with a couple of newspapers columns to fight for. If anyone has anything to say, say it. Open a YouTube channel, it’s free, a blog on WordPress or anything and just say what you want to say but don’t blame others for taking your space when you don’t even create it.

Secondly, we need him. We need straight people to also speak for us because they know exactly what to do to convince them: be themselves – tolerant and happy. Having straight people to defend us doesn’t make us any weaker, or more dependent on them. The truth is that we are a minority so we do, somehow, depend on them. As of today, we depend on the people from the majority to also speak for us because there is safety and results in numbers. To call for the community to be the only one to be allowed to speak and defend itself is not going to get us anywhere.

Minorities and everyone who suffer discrimination in any form cannot afford to curl up in an armoured and restricted community that will be the only voice out there. We need people who, because of their gender, sexuality, skin colour, religious beliefs belong unwillingly to what is considered as the dominant group because they will be the first ones to be taken seriously by the said group and they will be role-models their peers will follow.

The first reaction we have in the face of someone else getting what we have is a feeling of self-defence so it’s dangerous to force the precept that we should only fight for our own privilege. It creates division and infighting when so much can be done by their free electrons to unite us under a common goal and make others understand that the fight for equality doesn’t deprive them of anything.

All these men – like me – who everyday explain to other men that women’s rights are not a personal threat to every living male. All these straight people I met at the gay pride who show the world everyday that gay rights are not a personal attack of straight people’s freedom. All these white people who campaign against racism. All these people who campaign for animal rights because they have no voice. History moves forward and our societies improve because people see beyond their own privilege, why stop them?

Where would the women of France be without the man who used his position of power to weather the storms of his sexist peers as he managed to convince them that contraception had nothing to with men but everything to do with women’s freedom to have control over their own body?

In South Africa, it took a white man to stop the Apartheid. Why? Because white people had the power but it doesn’t make Nelson Mandela and his life work irrelevant. De Klerk was a selfless force for good who saw beyond his own privilege and that’s what Mandela needed, what every black person in South Africa needed. People like him is what we all need.

Don’t let anyone restrict you to your own parish. You needn’t be a woman to fight for women’s rights, you needn’t be gay to fight for gay rights, you needn’t be fat to fight against body-shaming, you needn’t be discriminated to fight against discrimination.

If you want to help ring the bells of someone who, you know, is being ignored or discriminated, do it. If, for whatever reasons, the society has put you in a position of power and you want to use it to help others, do it.

Use your position to do good, we need all the help we can get.

Do whatever but don’t force us to care.

In France, the Gay Pride is called “Marche des fiertés” – the Walk of the prides – which prompts someone on Twitter to say that in France, one is allowed to be proud of anything, except being heterosexual. The person is a proud member of the main right-wing party, of course, and belongs to a world chorus whining endlessly about their newly-born victimhood: we forbid their pride.

The fact is: you can be proud of anything you want, no one is stopping you but you can’t blame the rest of the world for not giving a pig’s bottom at you flaunting your privileges in the face of people who are still struggling everyday to be considered as normal citizens. At best! Homosexuality is still punishable by prison, torture and death in the world.

That’s what Pride Month is about and the marches that come with it: raising awareness and show that we are united and ever-ready to peacefully fight, along with millions of straight people, to be all equals.

So you are welcome to get your arse off your chair, to come and to join us. Even with a sign reading “I am proud to be straight” – if your commitment to your pride goes beyond the cheap 140-character Twitter rant, which I highly doubt. I mean, a pride is months of preparation, hours of setting-up, standing and waiting before you can eventually march.

But as I said no one is stopping you.

Poor bigots!

As the US Supreme Court (with or without capital letters) declared same-sex marriage legal under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, the people who thought their outdated views of the world were still dominant in the US have decided to turn themselves into victims.

Their aim is to not focus on the fact that the US have finally entered the 21st century, to just talk about the fact that those who chose to remain in the 19th century are now to become “victims”.

In this article (x), we learn that these 19th century-anchored Americans are facing being called ‘bigots’ for opposing the Court’s decision or believing it is wrong.

“Bigots”…this vile word that is demeaning above all insults, isn’t it?

Well, they might be seen and called that very unmentionable word by ” the government, employers and schools”. They might not even dare speak out for fear of retaliation.

How terrible! I suggest we take a moment to reflect on the dreadful fate that is awaiting them at the corner.

Do I really have to point out how ridiculous that is?

The problem with such privileged people is that they have no idea what it is to be actual victims so their attempt is not just ridiculous but frankly insulting, as per usual, to the real victims: the ones who have been suffering from them for ever.

They are nothing but bullies shouting “That’s unfair, people are going to call me violent now!” after the school has decided to officially render the beating of other students a bad thing – not a punishable offence yet, a just bad thing.

These very people have been branding me and every single other gay man in the whole world paedophiles and zoophiles every time they’ve had a chance and when they did not, they created these chances filling the media with their hatred-infused, insulting and life-threatening speech.

They say that my physical and emotional attraction to other men means I rape children and animals. Rape! And now they fear they are going to be called “bigots”!? Are you fucking kidding me?

They treat lesbians like under-humans and refuse to even acknowledge the fact that women can possibly live a happy and fulfilled life without the presence of a man and his penis at the heart of it. For them, a life of which men are not the centre is a life that doesn’t deserve any attention expect when it comes to the porn they watch behind the back of the wife and the priest.

I don’t even mention the treatment they reserve to anyone tragically stuck between their narrow definition of gender and sexuality: bisexuals, transvestites and transgenders. For these people, they are monsters, freaks, mistakes of God, children of Satan, sinners that should not even deserve to be touched, looked at or even mentioned unless absolute necessity, i.e. to call for their complete extinction either through “treatment” or simply “removal”.

These people have been treating millions of LGBT people like untouchables and rejects of the society. They have been arguing that our rights to be equals are no constitutional matter all the while pushing for a constitutional interdiction for us to be equals.

These people have been naming and shaming us, threatening the life of every single one of us all the way into our very houses.

They have been calling on parents to have teachers fired when they are discovered to be gay because “a gay teacher is a threat to every child”.

They have been supporting in every way possible every company who fires employees solely for being gay.

These people are still lobbying so LGBT remain forbidden from giving their blood, not matter how important and useful it is because we are “AIDS-infested pest”.

These people still have access to wide audiences to which they repeat time and again that we are the worst thing that has ever happened to humanity.

They are still saying that we are a threat to humanity and should therefore be removed.

These people are still calling daily on the repel of laws that define homophobic crimes because they see these crimes as a benefit to society.

All of us have had to be putting up with their violence, their insults and their intolerance. We have been fighting against these people for decades after we have been chased, hunted, stoned, burnt, tortured, exiled by these people for centuries and now that the world is moving forward without them, they try to be turn themselves into the victims.

Let me be clear: bullies like them are and will always remain victims of themselves, of their intolerance, of their unwillingness to be tolerant and open-minded.

The world is round and yes, you are bigots! Embrace it because that’s the nicest thing you will hear coming that very world.

And when it comes to us, the LGBT community, don’t you worry, we won’t call you names. There is no way in Hell we’ll ever go down to your level.