Ignorance and stupidity: A worldwide tragedy affecting gays

14 Aug

The gay community struggles with ignorance and stupidity on a daily basis at every turn. It’s true, and even if you aren’t gay you can easily believe that. Heck all groups of society deal with ignorance and stupidity, none of us are immune as they are present everywhere. It’s not solely a gay problem and I am certainly not so naive as to believe or say that, however that is the community I will be discussing in regards to how ignorance and stupidity can effect us all.

As defined, ignorance is lacking knowledge, education or awareness. Being ignorant is for some people not their fault really because they haven’t had the exposure necessary to be presented with the facts on a topic to form an informed decision. We are all ignorant in regards to any host of things, which is why sayings like “learning is a never ending process” are so true. There is not one among us that knows everything, it would just be impossible. Ignorance I personally can accept because ignorance can be easily overcome with education.

Being stupid is defined as, given to unintelligent decisions or acts, acting in an unintelligent or careless manner. Do you see the difference in the meaning of the words? Ignorance is a state of lacking proper knowledge while stupidity is a state of having the proper knowledge and still doing the wrong thing. When this concept was first explained to me by a teacher many years ago I posed the question asking if one could choose to be ignorant to avoid being stupid. My teacher gave me an answer that from an academic standpoint I could grasp easily, but that in practical life took much longer to truly understand. She said that a person could choose to be ignorant, however that would not make the person immune from being considered stupid as choosing to be ignorant is inherently stupid.

In regards to the homosexual community ignorance is something we encounter everyday, largely from the heterosexual community. This happens because they are not homosexual, and they perhaps do not have many gay friends with whom to they are comfortable broaching the topic with. The vast majority of straight people I do know whom are ignorant of homosexuality will ask a slew of questions regarding it given a source they feel comfortable engaging and then take the time to re-evaluate their positions on the topic. Nobody could ask for more than that. Sometimes their opinion changes and sometimes it doesn’t but they have at least taken time to gather the facts. That is something to be respected and applauded.

On the other hand there are people who choose to ignore the facts. They may have a source to find the truth but disregard it. I, and all of us at times, have encountered people that would rather accept the opinion of a person who is not a part of the gay community as their own without looking into the issues at all. I equate this to what it would be like to ask dog what being a cat is like. Why not ask the cat as it is better to go to the source?

The manner in which stupidity poses such a threat to the gay community, as it does to all communities, is because when people do not know the facts by their own choice they will often make choices which pose a real danger to everyone. That may seem like a reach but it is a true statement as we are all intertwined. The way this most commonly poses a threat is that people communicate. When people communicate verbally, through writing, or any such manner, they convey their position. If they are communicating in an unintelligent or careless manner they are acting irresponsibly in that they will in some cases spread that flawed thinking to others who will accept what they accept as truth. That person may then spread it to another person that may accept it as truth. Much like the old shampoo commercial they may tell two friends and so on and so on until many people accept something false as truth.

If many people begin accepting the wrong information as truth then we all suffer. Take for instance an adult with a good education who is generally respected as being an intelligent person whose knowledge is respected. They speak on any number of topics from a basis of truth, but perhaps when it comes to homosexuality they lack proper knowledge of the facts but dispense their opinion as fact anyway. When they do this many people may accept their opinion as fact as well as they reason this is a smart person whose knowledge is respected on other topics.

Suppose this person was to say AIDS is a gay problem which homosexual men spread through filthy disgusting behavior that sometimes infects “normal” people (Normal in this persons mind being heterosexual). Now someone may say this is an opinion but if the person asserts this as fact or speaks from a position of knowledge they have put people at risk. How many people who believed AIDS was a disease that was solely the domain of gay men died from AIDS that were heterosexual because they believed as heterosexuals they were safe from it? How many more were infected with HIV due to this same thinking but did not die? How many heterosexuals believing they couldn’t have HIV spread it to others believing they couldn’t contract it before they learned they were infected? The answer is millions. The reason is stupidity.

Now certainly a person at this point in history that is capable of rational thought and has read newspapers or watched the news knows HIV is a nondiscriminatory disease. It can strike anyone in any number of ways. Adults for the most part know and accept this as fact, but what about younger more impressionable minds that would accept a statement like that from a person they perceive as an intelligent authority? How long before they learn the truth of the matter? A few months or years? Maybe they never accept the truth of it as the hold so dearly to a belief they formed young and held so long. Sadly for some of them that may lead to them learning the truth in an all too personal manner.

A possible (And at times actual) offshoot of that is that it creates fear and through fear we often find anger. Sometimes we act out on that anger in socially unacceptable ways like violence. Simple logic tells us that when people resort to violence it is aimed at those they are angry at and we have established already that anger can stem from fear. The target of that fear may just end up being some random innocent homosexual or even perceived homosexual who takes the brunt of that anger. Why? Because someone chose to be ignorant which we now know is stupidity? It can happen because they accepted the opinion of another person that was presented persuasively and authoritatively as truth.

What if this person that was attacked died due to the attack? Consider the ripple effect. A family and friends have a person that has done nothing wrong to prepare a memorial for. Another family has a person they must prepare to see go to jail or perhaps even pay for this action with their very own life at the decision of a jury of their peers. Two families lose. Countless people are effected. The person that first instilled the seed, that seed of false information, creating the anger which lead to violence resulting in the death has their own conscience to live with, and possibly their own defense to prepare. Their family and friends feel the effect also. The local community as a whole feels the effect of the violence. The gay community feels the effect of the violence. The straight community feels the effect. We are all intertwined after all remember? All this happens because someone was stupid, not ignorant and unaware of the truth, but stupid because they chose to ignore it.

As odd as it may seem for a homosexual person to say, I wish this was a phenomena limited to the gay community but it isn’t. At least then we would only have to educate people on one well defined area to reduce so much needless pain. Unfortunately people think this way in regards to race, religion, even the way people dress and talk. It permeates absolutely everything.

How do we end this you may wonder. I do too. At it’s base I think we begin by being open minded and taking the initiative to challenge information presented to us. Even this article should be challenged and not accepted as truth without investigation. In that way we learn for ourselves what is the truth rather than accepting everything we see, hear or read as such. Even if a person then chooses to ignore the facts they at least cannot claim ignorance and everyone will know they at least in some cases base their stance on stupidity and won’t be taken so seriously possibly avoiding the spread of false knowledge as truth. The cycle has to end sometime, why not today?

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