Sometimes I think I must be very naïve. I have this notion that most people are basically reasonable beings. Then I run up against someone who has (to me) a completely whacked perspective and I’m once more baffled to find my assumptions blown away.
This comes to mind now because of a recent exchange on usenet. A fellow was posting to a group with a handle that identified him as gay—in a joking, lightly self-mocking manner. Of course this led a few others to make jabs at his expense, both joking and serious; he responded with humor and obviously didn’t take it too seriously. He’ll do well on usenet.
Then in the middle of one such exchange, another person suddenly erupted in a bitter, snarling attack that was completely unexpected. She was a regular poster whom I’d thought was fairly reasonable; somewhat reactionary, and I didn’t always agree with her opinions, but I could at least respect them. This hateful tirade was so unlike anything she’d ever posted before that I actually compared the headers with her old posts to see if someone might have forged it.
She started off with the opinion that anal sex is disgusting. Well, okay, I can at least understand that point of view—there are sexual practices I think are pretty unsavory, too. To demonstrate an example of my own bias, I think peeing on someone is disgusting. But as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult, I’m happy to leave them to it and go about my business. All I ask is that they keep the door closed and don’t talk to me about it at the water cooler later; some mental images I just don’t need.
So I can accept that some people find the sexual habits of others objectionable. It was the next statement that floored me: she was glad that “they” had created AIDS to “thin the herd” of such people.
I was thunderstruck, and to some degree I still am. Leaving aside for a moment the fact that AIDS does not restrict itself to homosexuals—or even adults—it simply astonishes me that someone feels an appropriate outcome of a practice they don’t happen to like is a lingering death. My mind boggles. Sexual proclivities aside, they’re still people. When they’re not engaging in sex, which I’d wager is the majority of their lives, they’re doing the same things everyone else does. They go to their jobs, they pay their bills, they hang out with their friends. They try to get by in life, just like I do.
Okay, I knew there were people out there who felt this way. I watch the news. But I had this idea, without even realizing I had it, that people who thought anyone gay deserved to die were violent, unthinking mob-fodder. I didn’t expect such beliefs to come from someone who, in other respects, seems like a normal, reasonable person.
So I guess her post exposed the prejudices of two people.