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When did hatred become acceptable? When did teaching our children to hate someone based on some difference – real or perceived – become “family values” and our “moral responsibility”?

For the most part, we don’t accept racial hatred; we condemn as racist those who make slurs of any sort. We don’t accept discrimination, favoritism, or any form of bigotry. We teach a message of love and peace and acceptance.

That is, until the subject of sexuality comes up. Suddenly, it’s an abomination. It’s terrible. These people are sick. These people are corrupting our youth. These people are disgusting. These people shouldn’t be allowed to marry, or have children, or adopt, or have rights as domestic partners, or…

And so, children learn to hate. Not because Mommy and Daddy use the word “hate” directly in relation to “those” people, but because children are smarter than we think, and they pick up the subtleties that adults think go over their little heads.

And so, our children learn it’s “OK” to call someone a “fag”, or to say, “that’s so gay” or to call someone “queer” or “homo” and to mean it all as an insult. And we ignore that. We blow it off. We make light of it.

Would we do the same if our children were saying things like: “that’s so black” or calling someone a racial epithet (sorry, I can’t even bring myself to type them)? No, we would teach them it’s wrong, it’s hateful, it’s not acceptable – we don’t use those words, we don’t say those things.

But it’s OK when it’s about homosexuality. Because… Well… Because those people are sick. Those people are corrupting our youth. Those people are an abomination. Those people are sinning against our God (and our God is right – theirs is not.) So it’s OK to insult them. It’s OK to use derogatory terms referring to their sexuality. It’s OK.

And how large of a step is it from name calling to pushing and shoving? Anyone who has ever been in junior or senior high school knows, it’s not a big leap at all.

How large of a step is it from pushing and shoving to fists?

My daughter recently discovered the song “People Are People” by Depeche Mode. She liked the message in it. Her Dad banned it from his home because it’s “about accepting homosexuality”. I asked her what she thought it was about, and she said, “It’s about not being stupid, not hating people because they are different from you.” I congratulated my kid on being a smart cookie, told her it was likely written about the struggles of being hated because of homosexuality, and that I saw no problem with the song, in fact, I like it. Her final decision? “It’s a song about being accepting, and not being stupid. What difference does it make what inspired it?” Sometimes – I really think kids have it right and we adults need to listen up.

So, for those who have asked: How many people have died because of teaching that homosexuality is wrong?

Well, I don’t have those numbers – but I personally know a few who have died because of some idiot who had been taught that being gay was a sin. Violence is wrong, assault and murder are crimes and at least one of them is also a sin. And the hatred necessary to fuel the violence starts somewhere. It starts with dehumanizing the person, with allowing hatred to creep in.

And with that – I will leave you with the lyrics to that song my kid liked so much:

People Are People – Depeche Mode (copied from Lyrics Freak)

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully
People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

So we’re different colors
And were different creeds
And different people
Have different needs
It’s obvious you hate me
Though I’ve done nothing wrong
I’ve never even met you
So what could I have done
I can’t understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully
People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully
Help me understand
Help me understand

Now you’re punching
And you’re kicking
And you’re shouting at me
And I’m relying on your common decency
So far it hasn’t surfaced
But I’m sure it exists
It just takes a while to travel
From your head to your fist (head to your fists)

I can’t understand what makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand
People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully
People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

I can’t understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand
I can’t understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand
I can’t understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
I can’t understand (people are people)
What makes a man (why should it be)
Hate another man
Help me understand…