What Is WRONG With These People?

It’s spring! Finally!

And if a recent jaunt around the Internet is to be believed, America seems to be growing more bigots than tulips this year.

In Virginia, supporters of “religious freedom” have prevented a group of local Muslims from building a mosque, demonstrating once again that “religious freedom” bills should be labeled “Christian privilege” bills, since they sure aren’t about extending religious liberty to anyone else.

Speaking of Muslims, a student at UC Berkeley who was returning from an academic conference had the bad judgment to call his uncle on his cellphone while he was in his seat waiting for the plane to load. His uncle lives in Iraq, so he spoke to him in Arabic. This evidently was all the evidence of terrorism required by Southwest Air, which removed him from the plane and called police to interrogate him.

Then there’s Mississippi.

I’m not sure who these good “Christians” are gunning for, but according to news reports, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has signed into law something called the Church Protection Act. It allows churches to empower designated members of their congregation as part of a security team with a “shoot to kill” authority equivalent to a police officer but with less government oversight. Who Would Jesus Shoot? (What could possibly go wrong…??)

And of course, in Mississippi, North Carolina and elsewhere, there is the (to me, at least) inexplicable paranoia about bathroom use. Evidently, males are more susceptible to this condition–at least, according to a recent article in Slate:

For many men, taking a piss at the office is apparently a “nightmarish” experience. That’s one of the many fascinating things we learn in Julie Beck’s engrossing essay on the psychological minefield that is the public bathroom, published today in the Atlantic. We all know people who do their best to avoid defecating outside the privacy of home, but the fears and fantasies that Beck explores in her piece are almost Sadeian in detail—paranoia about seeing and being seen, elaborate attempts to construct sonic shields, and most of all, a deep sense that the perils of humiliation and social opprobrium waiting on the other side of the restroom door may very well outweigh the relief of relieving oneself.

If there is one thread connecting these depressingly regular eruptions of insanity, it would seem to be fear–fear of “the other”–fear of people who are perceived as different from “normal” (i.e., from “me.”) People who speak a different language, pray to a different god, love differently, pee differently…

For people who see difference as threatening and dangerous, the world must be a really scary (and uninteresting) place. I’d feel sorry for them, but the incredible stupidity of it all makes sympathy awfully hard to summon up.

I’m going to go water my tulips…..


  1. I would have said fear AND hatred. There was a TED piece on the radio yesterday. The speaker (didn’t catch his name) warned that liberals AND conservatives have to stop spewing hate and distrust for the other side of the aisle before any real progress can occur.

  2. Ken,

    Wonderful solution. If the Jews in Germany had only given up their fear and hatred of the Nazis everything would have been okay. Those dumb German Jews.

  3. I didn’t understand bigots or racists when I was a small child; I will be 79 years old on Wednesday and understand it even less today…and I refuse to accept it as rational…or an American standard. I regret I can do nothing to prevent it from being legalized here or anywhere in this country.

    Our target for bigotry (and outright warranted hatred) should be for the likes of the 23 year-old WHITE man (whose name I have forgotten) for the brutal rape and murder of that beautiful 14 MONTH OLD baby girl Shayna Ammerman and tossing her tiny body on a riverbank. He speaks English, spoke English when he gave his confession, spoke English while spending the night getting drunk with Shayna’s family. No idea what his religion might be or if he has one; it is irrelevant, he is a monster who should be destroyed but our legal system will protect him to the fullest. You must admit he is different and threatening in the full sense of both.

    “For people who see difference as threatening and dangerous, the world must be a really scary (and uninteresting) place. I’d feel sorry for them, but the incredible stupidity of it all makes sympathy awfully hard to summon up.”

    It is the people who commit these atrocities who are different and threatening, we also seem to be growing more of them than tulips; not only here in Indiana but nationally. Our movement should be against them; for some reason the laws protect criminals once they are caught and victims have no rights. The racial, religious, LGBTs who are victims are further victimized by the so-called “Christian” far right-wing lawmakers who uphold racism and bigotry on it’s many ugly levels are the ones who must live in fear. Now this country in too many areas are adding discriminatory laws against where they may relieve themselves, a natural bodily function shared by all humans, or fear those armed congregations in Mississippi – will Pence follow suit and add this “protection” to his inane RFRA law?

  4. IMO Most fears and prejudices are taught in the family setting. They are handed down from generation to generation, reinforced by religion, education and popular art. Unless a person is forced into a circumstance where they have to face these notions, and /or they have a very high IQ with which to understand their own psychology and recognize the hypocrisy of the behaviors that follow such notions, they are not about to change.
    Within our society today there are way too many people living day to day inside bubbles occupied by like minded people. Never forced to face “the other” they can live their delusional lives, armed and ignorant, feeling safe as long as no one pops that bubble. And heaven help anyone who tries to do so.

  5. JoAnn,

    “For people who see difference as threatening and dangerous, the world must be a really scary (and uninteresting) place.”

    Both You and Sheila are right about the above problem. And wouldn’t you be arming yourself too in Mississippi, IF you were praying for the coming Race War?

  6. The joy and security of some people’s ignorance will continue to plague mankind forever, it’s when political or religious interests use it to divide and conquer the populations that bigotry and hatred rooted it fear that starts wars, or insurgencies against others, this is why I left the Republican Party they embraced this strategy to gain voters and burning down the Big Tent some were trying to put up, with a seat for everyone in it.

  7. Trump’s presidential run has opened up the flood gates of bigotry in this country. He has made it possible for those who have been harboring hatred and bigotry towards others to come out of their closet and loudly declare their beliefs in public.

    If we ‘liberals’ were to believe what Ken has stated, then we should not call out those ‘self-rightious so-called Christian bigots’ for the hatred that they are spewing against innocent people who have caused absolutely no harm to them or to others.

    Instead of focusing on positive thoughts and what they can do to make this country and this world a better place to live, the bigots choose to start fights by using their fear of others. Their thoughts, feelings and beliefs are based completely on ignorance.

    Personally, I feel completely entitled to call out bigots for their hatred of others. They have no defense for their actions when they are called out for their despicable behavior.

  8. Of course Debate 101 is nature vs nurture. In what condition are humans born and what do they subsequently learn.

    Babies get by by being, at least most of the time, lovable. They have to, they’re helpless, they require caring for. Clearly nature as nurture hasn’t kicked in yet.

    Not much evidence but maybe a clue that early us are empathetic and as we observe life around us we either stay more or less that way or we learn to put ourselves separate from and above some others. We see the human race not as us extended but others intruding. Of course one explanation is that hate begats hate. If we are victims of any flavor of bullying, even if we win the fights, we learn to consider ourselves separate from our species.

    In my particular case standard issue nurturing was exposure to Christianity which posited that nobody less than the Son of God recommended living humbly as the best way. The people who posited that also seemed to live it.

    I can’t think of an effective segue from there to politics but in real life it happens. We find ourselves surprisingly as adults from which more than teen age whining is expected. We must compete.

    Over that time on my journey one cultural shock was what’s been called the Gospel of Properity. God had apparently changed his mind and was passing out goodies for all his children. He even gave private jets and mansions to his favored.

    Holy smokes (and mirrors).

    So now entitled has replaced humility and Earnest Ainsley, Jesus.

    Who’da thunk?

    I can’t claim much humility but I do claim that some empathy stuck. I just don’t see myself as much different than the other 7B except by the accident of my birth. Being born white, male, Christian, heterosexual, with curiosity hard wired, middle class, small town with parents who fully accepted nurturing as a responsibility did wonders for me.

    I hope that God changes his mind back.

  9. A sweet person just posted this: Satan is on his warpath. Striking out on God’s people more than ever. Good news….. He will NOT win the war! We must never give up on our spiritual battle. Christ WILL return!!
    And then a post stating “God does NOT MAKE MISTAKES! DUH!!!!!” – along with a meme showing a newborn with doctors examining the baby saying “Sorry Folks. I don’t know if it is a boy or girl. We’ll have to wait unit IT decides, said no doctor ever.” I can’t imagine how heartbreaking this meme is to people who are physically born with gender abnormalities, let alone the LGBT community.
    The transgender issue and obsession with bathrooms are being discussed in churches and fueling the fear. There are also too many videos of ministers from different congregations spewing hate online in the name of Jesus. I actually have been taking breaks from Facebook, as the comments are so upsetting and downright scary from people I have known for years. Gun rights, anti abortion with no exceptions, building walls on the Mexican border, immigration, bigotry, bathroom accessibility, union haters, teacher haters, public school haters, Obama haters…. the list keeps growing.
    It is also disheartening when they will spread posts, which are untrue, but jump to re-post because the message aligns with their ideology. Crazy bizarre stuff, and doesn’t anyone Factcheck anymore?
    I love your blog – it gives back my sanity for a few. I am also going to go water my tulips and shut down my computer for the day!

  10. It seems that those states with the political profile Sheila described are also boring. Is stupid and boring something all states should be trying to emulate?

  11. When I am being truthful, I admit to having prejudices. What I have worked for is to act not on my prejudices, but on what I perceive to be rational. I find that the bigots will not accept the fact that they are prejudiced. We can’t end bigotry until we admit to it.

    Fear is primal and it is easy. It is also easy to take advantage of those in the grip of fear. That’s what Trump has been doing. It is just an extension of right wing policy.

  12. When I am being truthful, I admit to having prejudices. What I have worked for is to act not on my prejudices, but on what I perceive to be rational. I find that the bigots will not accept the fact that they are prejudiced. We can’t end bigotry until we admit to it.

    Fear is primal and it is easy. It is also easy to take advantage of those in the grip of fear. That’s what Trump has been doing. It is just an extension of right wing policy.

  13. Good grief.
    Last night, while my husband was sleeping, I went down to the hotel bar to have a cocktail because I wasn’t sleepy yet and he had to get up to go to run a marathon at 5am. While sitting at the bar, all I could hear was the loud Americans laughing it up disrupting the whole restaurant. If only, they spoke the local language but was it was a Hilton so everyone knew what they were saying because English is required to work there.

    The problem with the majority of Americans is that they have never traveled abroad. They have no idea that I can sit on a tram and hear German, Swiss German, French, Italian, Russian, English and whatever else I can’t comprehend. The problem I see is that 80% of Americans don’t have passports or have never left North America, much less been to Canada or Mexico.

    And before we left for the marathon, I watched the BBC broadcast President Obama’s townhall with British students in London and had to witness those embarrassing questions about the bathroom laws in MS and NC. ugh. I wish Americans would travel more.

    BTW, my husband finished the race 20 minutes faster than his last race and clocked in at 3 hr, 50 min. 🙂

  14. Aging girl,

    “And before we left for the marathon, I watched the BBC broadcast President Obama’s townhall with British students in London and had to witness those embarrassing questions about the bathroom laws in MS and NC. ugh.”

    I watched the same broadcast here in the U.S. Unfortunately, President Obama defended the citizens of Mississippi and Alabama. Instead of just a threatening boycott by the British against Donald Trump, I believe the President was afraid of much more: a DEEPER psychological boycott of the U.S. as a whole.

  15. I don’t think it’s paranoid to feel a little vulnerable while using a public restroom. When your pants are open or down, it’s hard to run away from trouble if you need to. I’m not surprised that men would feel more exposed than women, given the lack of privacy at urinals. But men need not worry that a woman in the men’s room will be there to watch them shake the dew off the lily. I take a diuretic medication, so I make my bladder gladder many times a day, and often in a big hurry. In a stall, I am singularly focused on powdering my own nose. If a woman enters the stall next to me and taps a kidney standing up, if will not affect my flow of nature. If the person next to me at the sink has a mustache, I will only be glad that hands are being washed. I cannot understand how these activities threaten me, or anyone else. We’re all in there together, for the same reason.

  16. Peggy, I love your comment because I, too, work on changing that first thought of prejudice to a second and third thought of shared humanity.

  17. AgingGirl, congrats to your husband, nice race.

    In one way you’re lucky the noise in the bar came from Americans. Italians would have been louder.

    I’m a little envious of you living in Europe. I’ve always enjoyed being there.

    They say that you don’t know culture until you have experienced more than one. That’s my experience too.

    I can picture my European friends still shaking their heads over their view of us. I think that all of the good karma we built up by helping to defeat fascism and rebuilding what we destroyed has been used up. They see us now as hapless clowns.

    So, often, do I.

  18. Theresa and Nancy,

    “Within our society today there are way too many people living day to day inside bubbles occupied by like minded people. Never forced to face “the other” they can live their delusional lives, armed and ignorant, feeling safe as long as no one pops that bubble. And heaven help anyone who tries to do so.

    Last week, I promised Nancy that I would complete http://www.KillingtheMessenger.info by the 18th. I apologize, I’ve had some problems with my computer. I’ll go down after lunch to the Jacksonville (Free) Public Library and POP THE BUBBLE. It only takes a”prick.”

    prick (prik) n. [OE prica, a point] l. a tiny puncture made by a sharp point 2. a sharp pain caused as by being pricked
    ~Webster’s New World Dictionary and Thesaurus

    Prayers are much appreciated, but I need more help than just from Heaven.

  19. AgingLGrl; you have so often spoken of the benefits of traveling and living abroad. The vast majority of Americans have not had the benefit (if that is what it really is) of doing so, probably due to economics and/or disinterest. My 2nd husband and I enjoyed Toronto and Montreal, Canada, on more than one lengthy occasion. We didn’t care for Montreal due to unfriendliness of the people; superior attitudes of tradespeople and high cost of everything. Toronto was a different matter; quite cosmopolitan and we too heard many languages. The friendliness of the people and the beauty and cleanliness of the entire city made our trips always enjoyable.

    Have only been across the Mexican border into Nogales; no need to tell you that shopping was interesting but the poverty and street beggars made for an unpleasant experience for my 3rd husband and myself. Giving to the beggars seemed fruitless; our alms could do nothing to ease their poverty.

    He and I spent two driving trips, camping across this country; a three-week trip and a two-week trip. By the way; he was a paraplegic and wheelchair bound. We left interstates and super highways to actually SEE America. We saw parts of this country that belonged in National Geographic; we wondered why so many people choose to travel outside our borders with so much beauty to be seen here. Everywhere, everyone was friendly; seeing our own historical sights was interesting and often enlightening. We happened upon a Wyoming border town overflowing with people, vehicles, huge equipment of all types so spent 2-3 days talking to townspeople, workmen and members of BLM. There had been an oil strike outside of town; never saw anything on the news about it and no idea of the outcome. I regret I can no longer travel; maybe if Americans did so, even weekend trips around their home areas, they would find more to support about this country and learn more about the diversity of people rather than automatically fearing and distrusting others.

  20. I agree that American people need to get out of their provincial little holes and meet people. If we were all dogs, this would be called “socialization” and it must be started when they are puppies. Without socialization, dogs become nervous and fearful and start attacking people and dogs they don’t know. It causes problems in both the family and the neighborhood. Anyone who watches Lucky Dog or Caesar Milan on Saturdays can learn this.

    It also doesn’t help when religion isolates people from the world community and institutionalizes fear. When I was 12, my father worked with a man from India who was in training and invited him and his family to supper. A long time friend of the family, a former neighbor and Baptist minister, invited himself over to “meet” them, but refused to shake hands with my dad’s friend because he was “heathen.” I started thinking about all the billions of people in the world that were supposedly being condemned to hell because they hadn’t “accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior.” It just didn’t seem like something a loving god would do to good people.

  21. I have been on every continent except Antarctica and can testify the our country is the most prejudiced of the lot. I found the Swedes (those sometime Social Democrats) to be especially friendly (or perhaps it’s because nearly all Swedes speak English since they are required to take eight hours of English in school). The Aussies also rank high on the friendly chart. How did they escape the right wing bigotry that infects America? I think one of the reasons is that there are few right wings around the world among the civilized I visited, or maybe it’s because they had no Indians or blacks around to scapegoat for their shortcomings, or whatever. Europe, for instance, is less religious than America. So is that the result of cause or effect? Maybe Europe got enough of religious war during the Thirty Year War ended (finally) by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. Whatever. I don’t really know how Europe got to be what they are; I can only speculate. For that matter, I don’t know for sure how we got to be such a surly right wing lot. Perhaps my fellow contributors can enlighten us.

  22. Gerald, I can offer one man’s opinion: Europe has always been behind us in keeping business separate from life. I worked in Switzerland for awhile and found them to be very hard working at work and completely separate from that when not. They tend to as passionate about recreation as making a living. I remember that here when I was growing up too.

    We’ve allowed ourselves to be sold a bill of goods that life is only work with life tucked in around the edges. Why? So we can buy more stuff.

    I hope that we break free again someday.

  23. I arrive in peace with my white flag held aloft.

    JoAnn, a Happy Birthday in advance. You and my younger son share the same birthday, only a difference of 50 years, and I hope that in 50 years his writing ability approaches your writing ability.

    Now, about those bigots. Yesterday my husband and I attended the Indiana Pacers vs the Toronto Raptors NBA playoff game here in Indy. Let’s say the Toronto fans travel well, and the large group of Toronto fans was very enthusiastic without being ugly. On the other hand, a Pacer season ticket holder who we’ve watched throughout the season behaved like the stereotypical ‘ugly American’, the ‘ugly American’ on steroids and too many beers.

    Evidently there’s a large Toronto community of Indians who follow the Sikh religion, and our ‘ugly American’ tanked on beer, as usual, began pointing, gesturing, and shouting insults directed toward two middle-aged Sikh males wearing the traditional turban. Knowing the price of playoff tickets for 8th-row seats, clearly our ‘ugly American’ was not living anywhere near the poverty level but was living beneath the cut-point for ignorance.

    As we plan to attend the next Pacer/Raptor playoff game on Friday night, I’ll update the group on the ‘ugly American’s’ game night behavior.

  24. Gerald, the Australians had the aborigines and other distinct indigenous peoples. Their numbers were reduced by disease and land grabs, just like our own indigenous people. And you will find that they do face discrimination in Australia. As far as right wing politics, I think theirs is lower because Australia was populated by delinquents and social outcasts, while our country was populated by religious extremists and people looking to make a buck.

  25. Greeting all. As I read some posts(many really) finding fault with this wonderful country and praising other people and other places I will addmy thoughts. I have been a few places and have met a few people and some are nice and some aren’t and some places are beautiful and nice and some are not. I am a veteran of the Korean War and after that I will take my beautiful country over any others. Have a happy day Irvin BAA

  26. We saw open carry at the McDonald’s at New Palestine, Indiana, on a man that appeared to have just come from church. Whom would Jesus shoot?

  27. Just a note to make sure we are clear on some things:

    It is not “liberal” to refuse to spew hatred, bigotry, ignorance and fear. It’s just civilized.

    “Religious freedom” bills giving people the license to be mean-spirited, judgmental and discriminatory are neither “religious”–certainly not Christian–nor do they advocate “freedom”. Calling these things “religious freedom” is simply putting lipstick on a pig.

  28. Look elsewhere than “Internet” piped in at our annual commencement-finals times in tulip and tumult country, greetings Virginia, and farewell Indiana — for summer tours of DC and recruiting tours everywhere. Indianapolis is the CULTURAl (living humans) capital of the whole area now, plenty outside to do on bikes and on foot, as all pedestrians anyway. Between repair stores.

  29. Concerning the mosque, it may of been a zoning issue. In Indianapolis, we have zoning regulations concerning building use. Churches, including meeting houses may not be in a area zoned residential neighborhoods. This is for the protection of the residents.

    That being said, I don’t know why the mosque was denied. Doing a search I could not find a reason, other than based on religion.

    Basing a denial on religious belief is wrong. Basing a denial on zoning, and being consistent with the zoning process, would be appropriate.

    Ronald Rodgers

  30. I love America as much as any place and have visited on my last count, nearly 40 states. Traveling is part of my blood. My father loved to travel and my grandparents were immigrants from Italy. My mother left her home in the south and moved to the northern region of Indiana in the 50s in order to work and prosper. My first trip abroad was to Spain in high school, 1977 with a group of 200 students that had studied Spanish. I wanted to take Italian but it wasn’t offered at my high school. I should have taken Latin because living in a German speaking country that knowledge would have made it easier for me.

    The rest of my family isn’t as well traveled as I am. They don’t ‘get me’ and don’t understand that desire to know what it’s like to live outside your comfort zone. There are very few people that can do that but for once in your life, if you can, try it. It does broaden your view of the world and you will see that we are all humans. We all want a stress free life. We want a job and a roof over our heads. We want a purpose and we want to feel peace and happiness. That’s a human trait. Since I couldn’t have children, I decided long ago that traveling or living abroad would have to replace that normal part of growing old for me. I’m not as lucky as those that had children and were able to be parents to other humans. I’m jealous of all of you that could do that.

  31. Hi! I am from Mississippi and want to address your question about who Jesus would shoot. Obviously no one. That law was passed to help prevent tragedies such as https://goo.gl/TJrqG6

    Prior to the passage of this bill, church security teams could not conceal carry because of MS Code Section 45-9-101(13). That pretty much sums up the passage of that bill.

    Good day!

  32. HappyInMississippi,
    So how many people have been murdered in Mississippi churches in the past year that people should carry guns to worship? Is this some sort of scourge taking place there? Could it be that your politicians are taking advantage of the fears and suspicious nature of some of the people they represent? This certainly saves me from looking for a church to attend in Mississippi when passing through.

  33. Hi Stuart,

    No one yet. That law is a preventive measure. As I mentioned previously it was a reaction to the church massacre in Charleston.

    Also, if guns concern you that much, then odds are you will be very uncomfortable here. We allow both open carry and now constitutional carry (concealed-carry without a permit).

    Be careful not to make broad generalizations about gun owners. (I’m one). We’re not a bunch of gung-ho, shoot anything that moves lot. Guns represent the last line of defense for our properties, self and family. If it weren’t for criminals, we’d have a lot less guns.

    But I don’t want to start a tangent on gun rights. The reason the law was created was because of the church massacre, and the realization that MS law prevented church goes from defending themselves.

  34. You won’t find a lot of support for that in the New Testament, and the law says a whole lot more about the fears of the people than it does about reality. If they wanted a law that truly reflected fears generated by Chaleston, they would have passed a law protecting black people from deluded white people.

  35. Hi Stuart, I’m no biblical scholar. But I suspect you’re right. Jesus did say turn the other cheek, but I doubt he meant to be shot.

    There are already laws that prevent people from being murdered by other people. Murder is a crime in all 50 states. The problem is that criminals, by definition don’t abide by those laws.

    Take care!

  36. In the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus was being arrested, Peter draws a sword and cuts off someone’s ear. At that Jesus said the famous words, “…he who lives by he sword will die by the sword….” Carry guns to church, and that will come back to bite you. Who wants to come to a church where what is preached is different from the behavior of the members? We already have enough hypocrisy. The Church is not afraid, but apparently some the members are. When the church dies, it will be its own hand that does it.

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