“Ironically, Allen was the Police Union’s 2007 Lawmaker of the Year. In the last session of the Florida legislature he sponsored a failed bill that would have tightened the state’s prohibition on public sex. He also has been a supporter of amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage and has opposed a bill to curb bullying of gay students.”
[For the full article, see here.]
In my August 4th post entitled, “We’e All In This Thing Together,” I posted on Florida State Representative John Allen who was arrested for trying to solicit an undercover police officer for oral sex in a public bathroom. In an article that appeared yesterday, it states that “In taped statements made by Allen to police following his arrest and released by the force Allen admits to soliciting the male officer but claims that it was the result of being nervous by the high number of black men in the park. ‘I certainly wasn’t there to have sex with anybody and certainly wasn’t there to exchange money for it,’ Allen told officers. Of the arresting officer Allen said in the tape, ‘This was a pretty stocky black guy, and there was nothing but other black guys around in the park.’ He claimed he feared he ‘was about to be a statistic’ [and] would have said anything just to get away.”
So, in effect, what he’s saying is that, “Anyone in my situation, surrounded by black men would be scared enough to even solicit oral sex for money. That’s how dangerous black men are, and how we should understand just how I felt in those fearful circumstances.”
Allen counted on the covert racism that infects all too many people’s hearts and, although I doubt his “excuse” will work this time, it’s instructive to know that it was the first thing he could think of saying to mitigate the consequences of his dilemma. So, we have an overtly homophobic Gay or Bisexual man, opposing same-sex marriage and opposing a Bill to help curb the bullying of Gay students, who is counting on the racism in others that he, undoubtedly, harbors himself. Beyond the facts of the race card being used, the hypocrisy evidenced by Allen, and his being a self-loathing closet case who is counting on the racism of others that he undoubtedly posseses, and who is playing on the stereotypes of black men held by all too many white people, we see the dynamics of hate that infect all too many people in this country.
And this hate isn’t restricted to any one race or class! Rev. Gregory Daniels, speaking before the Family Research Council, said the following that should ring in the ears of every single decent person: “If the KKK was opposing same-sex marriage, I would ride with them.” Clearly, given a professing Christian’s, a clergyperson’s, statement that reflects this depth of hate, and the misogyny and homophobia that are quite significant in such disparate places ranging from churches to some forms of music, it is high time to step back and see what we’re doing to each other and why we are doing it. In this connection, it’s important to note that Rev. Daniels is a Black man who, in a rational world, would be among the first to condemn oppression of any kind, let alone state that he would be willing to “ride with” the KKK, one of his and his ancestors’ worst enemies, in order to prevent the marriage of loving couples of the same gender. Clearly, hating “the other” serves one or more vital functions for the Rev. Daniels’ of the world!
Beyond using negative stereotypes to get a “get out of jail free card,” as Allen has tried to do, condemning Gay sex in the process, hate and the negative stereotypes that go along with it serve three major functions: psychological, social, and material.
The Psychological Functions of hate are that hate is a great energizer that elevates the person’s self-image at the expense of “the other,” and that it gives one a venue to externalize his/her rage, borne of assorted frustrations in his/her life, onto another person or group, thereby, at least in the short-run, defusing some of that rage.
The major Social Function of hate is that by creating “the other,” “the enemy,” “the stranger,” people cement in-group solidarity with other like-minded people, thereby creating an e sprit de corps, a consciousness of kind, that makes them feel a part of a group. It gives them a profound sense of belonging, and a sense of purpose by which to bond together to fight “the enemy” that they have constructed, and reinforce each others’ rationalizations as to why that “other” is a danger, not only to them, but to such seemingly noble values and goals as “saving Western civilization,” “keeping our country free,” “protecting the family,” “saving traditional marriage,” and, of course, “because ‘they’ and what ‘they do’ are going against the will of God.”
Material Gains from hate range from more money gained in the collection plates by clergy and evangelists, and assorted religious organizations, that appeal to “noble values” to counter the threats to those values as represented by “the enemy,” be that “enemy” Gay or Black or immigrants, or whatever minority group de jour that is viewed as a convenient and safe target to persecute. By appealing to the Reptilian Brain, triggering “the fight or flight response,” and constantly emphasizing the danger posed by that “enemy” to “our way of life,” money pours in to the leader and staff of these organizations in order to “fight that good fight” for the sake of our country, for the sake of morality and decent values, and for the sake of “God.” Of course, many politicians materially benefit from such exclusionary thinking, rhetoric, and actions in garnering votes and contributions by appealing to the Reptilian Brains of all too many people who live lives that embody the need for “the other” against whom to vent their individual and collective rage.
Allen is just a small cog, a mere footnote, in this scenario! Yet he and the Ted Haggards and so many other people who count on the hate that reside in so many people’s hearts handsomely profit from that hate, even hating in the name of “love,” at least unless or until they are (pardon the pun) caught with their pants down!
[Also posted on, A Christian Voice For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, And Transgender Rights, August 7th.]