Here’s the thing. At best the bigot is a thief, at worst, his thievery is murder, plain and simple. The bigot is much like the common crook, only worse – so much worse. The common crook steals property. Maybe he’ll use it to buy a loaf of bread or a much needed fix. The bigot, however, steals significantly more than property. The bigot steals human dignity. Once stolen, the bigot has no use for it at all. A purely gratuitous taking.
I’m not talking about hate crimes, for which we have laws. I’m talking about your run-of-the-mill this is America, and I’m free to spew anything I damn well please intolerance, whether it’s directed at a racial, religious or ethnic group, a gender or a sexual orientation. Make no mistake, intolerance is invidious and meant, from the first uttered intolerant word, to bring a person down, to make that person feel less about themselves and to instill fear and shame. At the same time, the bigot gets the benefit of the equal and opposite reaction. The bigot experiences an undeserved high, puffing and strutting, because he has the power to make someone feel small. That power, in and of itself, makes him, by his own standards, better than “those people”.
Bring all of this foolishness into the schoolyard, and the bigot inflicts pain on impressionable children who will carry the scars of intolerance for the rest of their lives. It stands to reason that if a child is told often enough that he is worthless, that child will believe his worthlessness. This is not rocket science. Not many children can withstand the bigot’s ugly “truth”. For why would anyone say such hateful things, except if they were true.
When a gay, lesbian or transgender child can no longer cope in this world, find sanctuary in this world, carve his own place in this world or merely survive in this world, then the bigot has become a murderer, a killer of spirit, if not a killer of life. For that, there ought to be a law.
image curtesy of: http://unshaned.wordpress.com