The ignorant bliss lived in by many bigots never ceases to amaze me. Starting a comment with the words “I’m not racist, but…” has zero chance of fooling anyone other than the person speaking. The same can be said for the classic “some of my best friends are <fill in the minority>.” While most people who use either phrase do so because outright bigotry is no longer acceptable in modern society, I have run into some who honestly believe it. Cognitive dissonance has taken hold, and they truly believe they are not racist/sexist/homophobic. When called out for their bigotry, they will argue never-ending that they are innocent of the charge. Many will even get offended of the accusation. Take this letter to Dear Abby from today’s paper: (Italics are mine as always.)
Dear Abby: My husband and I relocated to Florida a little over a year ago and were quickly welcomed into our new neighbors’ social whirl. Two couples in the neighborhood are gay. While they are nice enough, my husband and I did not include them when it was our turn to host because we do not approve of their lifestyle choices. Since then, we have been excluded from neighborhood gatherings, and someone even suggested that we are bigots!
Abby, we moved here from a conservative community where people were pretty much the same. If people were “different,” they apparently kept it to themselves. While I understand the phrase “when in Rome,” I don’t feel we should have to compromise our values just to win the approval of our neighbors. But really, who is the true bigot here? Would you like to weigh in? — Unhappy In Tampa
And this is what I mean when I bring up cognitive dissonance. This letter writer has not only cleared herself of any wrong doing in the incident, she has gone so far as to turn the situation around and suggest that the “true bigots” in this case are her new neighbors. Really?
Her and her husband move into the neighborhood. They are immediately welcomed with open arms into the neighborhood social circle. When it comes time for them to host the gathering, they invite the entire social circle, except the two homosexual couples. The reason for the exception is immediately obvious, not just to the two couples who have been excluded, but to everyone else in the neighborhood as well. Sorry, you can not pretend it is a coincidence that you invite everyone but the homosexuals. Then after they had shown their true feelings to the rest of the neighborhood, they get their feelings hurt when the other neighbors start excluding them from the social gatherings.
The writer makes the statement that she doesn’t feel that they should have to compromise their values to win the approval of their neighbors. And she does have a point. Her and her husband are not being forced to “compromise” their values. They are free to live in their house and be just as homophobic as they so desire. Of course, that viewpoint is not going to score her any points in this neighborhood.
How the fuck did she expect the other neighbors to react? Her and her mate were welcomed into the social circle with open arms. They attended neighborhood gatherings and knew that not only were two of the couples homosexual couples, but the homosexual couples were included in the neighborhood gatherings, probably because none of the other neighbors give two shits if they are homosexual or not. When it came time for her and her husband to host a gathering, they had multiple options. They could have said they weren’t comfortable hosting the gathering. They could have invited everyone in the neighborhood and just dealt with it. After all, they were already socializing with these evil homosexuals at other gatherings. No one was asking them to get gay married. Just to welcome them into their home. The same courtesy shown to them by all of their neighbors. Instead they decided to highlight their bigotry by hosting the gathering without the sinful homosexuals.
Honestly? I would have loved to have been at this party, if just to see how they explained the absence of the two homosexual couples to the rest of their neighbors. I mean, these are neighborhood gatherings. I am sure it was noticed that they were not in attendance, and I am sure someone brought it up innocently. “So, couldn’t Alan and Ted make it tonight?” “Oh, I thought for sure Beth and Sue would be here tonight, they haven’t missed one of these in years.” Did they lie? Try to pretend that they were invited and just didn’t show up? Something tells me, from the letter writers tone, that she was quite honest with the answer. “Oh, we didn’t invite them. We don’t want to get AIDS on our drapes, we just had them cleaned. Also, we have a dog, and I didn’t want to have to keep an eye on her around those faggots all night. You know how they will fuck anything.”
An exercise I suggest for the letter writer would be to rewrite her letter exactly except replace the word “gay” with any other minority and read it back to herself. Such as:
Two couples in the neighborhood are
gayblack. While they are nice enough, my husband and I did not include them when it was our turn to host
Two couples in the neighborhood are
gayHispanic. While they are nice enough, my husband and I did not include them when it was our turn to host
Two couples in the neighborhood are
gayinterracial. While they are nice enough, my husband and I did not include them when it was our turn to host
Then she can ask herself the questions she asked Abby. Perhaps she will even realize that if the only backlash her and her husband receive is being excluded from social events and “suggestions” that they may be bigots, she should consider herself lucky. I personally would have called her a homophobic bigot to her face before leaving her gathering the instant I found out why the other couples were not there. No suggestions needed.
Oh, Abby does respond, and calls the letter writer out for her bigotry. You can read it at the above link. Unfortunately, it wasn’t close to the previous Abby’s classic “You could move?” retort. In fact, I think I will close up with that letter, for those of you who don’t know how ahead of her time the original Abby actually was:
About four months ago, the house across the street was sold to a “father and son”—or so we thought.
We later learned it was an older man about 50 and a young fellow about 24.
This was a respectable neighborhood before this “odd couple” moved in. They have all sorts of strange-looking company. Men who look like women, women who look like men, blacks, whites, Indians. Yesterday I even saw two nuns go in there! They must be running some sort of business, or a club. There are motorcycles, expensive sports cars and even bicycles parked in front and on the lawn. They keep their shades drawn so you can’t see what’s going on inside but they must be up to no good, or why the secrecy?
We called the police department and they asked if we wanted to press charges! they said unless the neighbors were breaking some law there was nothing they could do.
Abby, these weirdos are wrecking our property values! How can we improve the quality of this once-respectable neighborhood?
Up in Arms
Dear UP: You could move.