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My Three Rules on Race, Religion, Politics, Sex and Bigotry

DiversityThe news on Imus this week has really provoked a lot of conversation and I’ve enjoyed sharing my opinions with my friends and family. Being a father, I’m especially careful of how I educate my children. It’s absolutely true that racism and bigotry are passed from parents to their children.

My Three Rules:

  1. I will never understand. As a man, I’ll never understand what it’s like to be a woman. As a white, I’ll never understand what it’s like to be a minority. As a straight man, I’ll never understand what it’s like to be a homosexual. As a Christian, I’ll never understand what it’s like to be any other religion. I have accepted that it will never be possible for me to ever understand; so instead, I simply try to respect those that I do not understand.
  2. Everyone is different and it’s our differences that make us unique and a gift from God. I love the differences in cultures, race, religions, sexes, wealth… everything about them. Perhaps it’s one of the reasons I love food so much… the flavors of different cultures (Indian, Chinese, Taiwanese, Italian, Soul Food, Polish, Ukrainian… mmm) are amazing. My music tastes are much the same… you can find me listening to Notorious B.I.G., the Three Tenors, Mudvayne or Babes in Toyland… and everything in between. (Though I have to admit that I have no taste for country).
  3. Double standards are a part of life. Income tax rates, S.A.T. scores, handicapped parking… you name it and there’s a double standard for it. Double standards are not a bad thing… everyone is different and different standards should apply. I’ve heard and seen some people wanting to now apply the same guidelines that got Imus fired and apply it to hip-hop or comedians.

    IMHO, there is a huge gap between targeting racial remarks to a specific group of people to joking or generalizing about many. Make a joke about fat people and I’ll probably be the first to laugh and tell the joke to someone else… but make a fat joke meant to hurt me and that’s different (although I still might laugh and tell someone else). I’ve heard jokes about Conservatives, Liberals, Jews, Christians, Blacks, Whites, Asians, Arabs, etc. that are hilarious… they humorously exaggerate a stereotype but they do not spread the stereotype in a hurtful manner.

The difference is whether the goal is to hurt or help our understanding of one another. Sometimes that is a matter of perception, but that’s exactly what we have to be aware of. There’s no line in the sand. Something can be funny to one person and hurtful to the next.

That said, “Have I ever gone over the line?”. Yes, absolutely… and I immediately regretted it and was sorry for it. I don’t believe I was ever a bigot, but I was young and ignorant of others. These three rules are what I’ve worked on to give my kids more of a head start than I had.

If people learned to recognize our differences, respect and embrace them, I honestly feel like this world would be a much easier place to live.

Thanks to JD for inspiring me to write this.

8 Comments

  1. 1

    Your first point is something that I wish everyone could understand. The best way of getting an understanding of a group of people, a religion, or anything different than yourself is keeping an open mind, respecting their beliefs and not forcing your methods upon them. Great post.

  2. 2

    We should celebrate our differences. There is so much we have to offer each other. Travel is one of the most eye opening things to do. As an American, I was shocked when I traveled to different countries and found that much of the world is developed. We have an attitude that the USA is the one and only,but there is so much more to see. It is the same with food and Race. There is a lot of good. I enjoy talking to racists and getting to know them. I engage people whom I have little in common. Respectful debate is good, hate is not. Nice job Doug

  3. 3

    A lot of people following the Imus situation are waving the flag of Free Speech, saying that his firing was un-American.

    I think too often we forget that Imus’ speech was protected. He is not having his limbs removed, or sitting in a jail cell because of what he said. That is all the constitution provides.

    There is a difference between protected speech and the consequences of saying unpopular things using protected speech.

    No one has to employ Imus if they don’t want to. No one needs to talk to him, listen to him, or anything else. He is paying the consequences (fair or not) for the remarks he made using his protected speech.

  4. 4

    How very idealistic of you Mr. Karr. I say you stick to what you are good at. These are the type of rudimentary “Kumbaya” archaisms that I take issue with, and what I attribute much of our societal issues on.

    Open letter to Mr. Karr

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