Op-Ed

Because you come from a position of privilege

Alek Weber: “When you ask us to shut up, quiet down and not dare speak out about these issues, you are not asking us to be tolerant, you are asking us to just bow down and accept this abuse.”

An open letter from Alek Weber to Radyo Inquirer 990AM anchor Ira V. Panganiban and those who share this way of thinking regarding the Manny Pacquiao debacle.

SCREENGRAB FROM IRA V. PANGANIBAN’S FACEBOOK ACCOUNT

SCREENGRAB FROM IRA V. PANGANIBAN’S FACEBOOK ACCOUNT

Dear Ira V. Panganiban (and those who share this way of thinking),

I’m afraid to have to break it to you that no, you really do not understand the crux of this issue or the concerns of LGBT people. I can understand it though. You come from a position of privilege that you and most other straight people cannot even begin to perceive exists because it is the norm for you and for those around you. (And in case you’re one of those people who gasps and convulses at the sound of the word ‘privilege’, take a chill pill since having privilege does not mean your life is perfect and oh-so-easy. It just means that in one specific respect, you have an immutable advantage over others.)

The fact that you never have to worry about being denied a job, or housing, or even the most basic services because of an aspect of your personhood that you have no control over is a privilege. The fact that you are far less likely to be discriminated against, attacked or killed because of an aspect of your personhood that you have no control over is a privilege. The fact that you will probably never experience being called evil, dirty or deserving of death, and not just by complete strangers but also your family and friends because of an aspect of your personhood that you have no control over is a privilege you take for granted, and that any LGBT person would die to have.

It is because of this privilege that you do not understand the gravity of Pacquiao’s words. You come from a position of ignorance and security, a luxury LGBT people do not have when it comes to this issue.

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Let’s put things into perspective. There are rights and protections you have under the law that I or other LGBT people do not have. You are also not subjected to the opinion that you are a lesser human being (or not even human at all by some people’s accounts) by a large fraction of society. In that respect, we are not on equal footing.

Manny Pacquiao is seen as a hero by some and as someone who has a lot of clout. He is also an elected official who is in a position of being able to directly affect legislature and policy that will either protect or harm the citizens of this country. He is devoutly religious and has made it very clear that his religiosity greatly influences him even in his policymaking.

So even if it WERE just LGBT people insulting Pacquiao (which is so far removed from the truth; I don’t know what you were thinking bringing that up), it is incomparable to what he has and continues to do.

Calling someone an idiot for CHOOSING to say stupid things (even if prompted) is not the same as calling someone beneath animals for BEING of a different sexual orientation. When celebrities share their opinions, how many people does it reach versus the number of people who would hear the voice of an average private individual? If a lawmaker firmly believes that a minority group of his constituents is not worthy of the same rights as everybody else, he has the power to enact his beliefs into law. What power does the minority group have if not to cry out and speak out against him? People may hurt his feelings, but he threatens our very rights and freedoms.

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Almost everything in your letter hinges on this notion that this is a tit-for-tat scenario and that LGBT people are on the same level of advantage and engage in what you consider hypocrisy. All the while you refuse to acknowledge the disparity of power between the two sides and try to re-frame everything as being on equal footing. I cannot help but wonder if this is out of sincere ignorance or intellectual dishonesty.

I can go into a whole history lesson about how the othering and dehumanization of the despised minority and how that normalizes their oppression. Dehumanization has always been the number one tool of propaganda. Remember, even ‘good’ Germans let the Nazis kill the Jews because they were led to believe the Jews were lower than humans. Even nice, God-fearing white Americans had no problem with the slavery and lynching of Black men and women because the Bible told them it was okay, and that they were brought up to believe they were more monkey than human anyway.

And please, don’t try to play the dictionary game with me; I can do the same:

Defining bigotry

I sincerely hope you can at least, by now, tell the difference between criticism of an opinion or idea versus the condemnation of a person for things they cannot control.

I’m not sure, Mr. Panganiban, if you are aware that the lack of acceptance of a person’s intolerance is NOT prejudice. We do not call people who do not believe women are the property of their husbands bigots. We do not call people who think it it is wrong to stone your disobedient children to death bigots. We do not call people who reject the notion that the ‘little brown indios’ are lesser human beings than their white slave-owners bigots.

We are not bigots for refusing to accept the oppressive narrative of people like Manny Pacquiao who thinks he is just speaking the truth when he quotes Leviticus and says gay men should be stoned to death.

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To be tolerant is not to accept all beliefs without question. When you ask us to shut up, quiet down and not dare speak out about these issues, you are not asking us to be tolerant; you are asking us to just bow down and accept this abuse.

You so proudly proclaim your Christianity as he does, but continue to be selective about what parts of the Bible he and others like him are allowed to strongly advocate. If you claim to be against ‘intolerance’ and cite deeply held religious conviction as an unquestionable belief that people are allowed to have and practice without opposition, then you should have no problem defending parents who kill their children for either speaking out against them or bringing dishonor to their family. After all, there are people who genuinely believe that and it’s stated right in the same section of the Bible that Manny quotes from. If you are ‘not a hypocrite’ or ‘intolerant’, you should have no problem defending that. But you won’t. Because you know it’s wrong. And if you, for one second, put aside your prejudice for LGBT people, maybe, your doublethinking brain can actually acknowledge that homophobia is wrong too.

You might not ‘hate’ gay people, but you’re still on the side of the oppressive attitudes that keep us as second class citizens. I’m hoping you can eventually realize the flaws in your logic and learn to embrace love.

Wishing you the best,

Super hella gay Me

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Anton Mina

    Feb 21, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Well-said!

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