October 2, 2007

Insensitivity to Humans

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:24 pm by nevavegan

File under: I’m not making this up

Ever get that sinking feeling like you’ll never get through to people? I talk so much about animal issues that sometimes my readers might not realize I talk about other issues too. Sometimes I think it’s going to be really hard to get people to listen to our message about animals when so many people don’t seem to care about other people.

I declare this blog entry a chance to rant on the stupid and insensitive comments people have made to you regarding human issues. We’ll get it all out and hopefully feel a little better realizing that those “I clawed my way to the top of the food chain” type comments are not limited to animal causes. Nope, folks can be pretty heartless when in comes to their fellow homo sapiens as well. Either that or we’ll all sink into a deep depression from which we’ll never emerge. I’m not sure.

As mentioned in a prior entry, the number one completely insensitive heartless comment I get regarding humans is:

When I tell people that I love to eat Ethiopian food, I cannot tell you how many people have responded “I didn’t think they HAD any food! Ha ha! Ha ha ha!” Yeah, that’s right, they are essentially laughing at other people dying of starvation.

Next grossly insensitive comment. I was talking with someone regarding how some African countries are losing an entire generation of people to AIDS, and how this situation is actually made worse by some multinational mining companies who rob these nations of their natural resources, leaving most of the population in poverty and without access to health care of any kind, and forbid families from living in the mining camps but encourage prostitution in the camps (and often that prostitution involves women and young girls forced into prostitution). And the answer I got was “Well, I’m not sure that we should worry too much about AIDS in Africa. They were overpopulated and this is nature’s way of reducing the overpopulation.” OMG.

Talking with a woman about the huge need for education and job training programs in prisons I remarked that one reason for the high recidivism rates on drug crimes (I consider violent crimes a somewhat different problem) was the lack of other options for those fresh out of prison. She remarked that she felt it would be wasting money to invest in education programs for prisons. I replied that from my time doing volunteer teaching in prison not only did I feel many would teach for free if they could get through the red tape, but that also many of the women I taught had been abused as children, had been in abusive relationships as adults, and then wound up in prison. I felt that we owed it to these people to increase their opportunities in life. The person I was speaking with replied “Lots of people have had rough lives without turning to crime. If we reward people in prison by coddling them with classes and training then that punishes the people who’ve also been abused but aren’t in prison.”

In speaking with a self-described Republican about the health care crisis in this country she told me she didn’t want to pay for other people’s health care, especially if these people were lazy free-loaders. I made the point that one reason for better access to health care, no matter how that is achieved, is that we want to safeguard the health of children, who are deserving no matter what their parents may have done. She replied “If people want their kids to have health care, then they should have gone to college and gotten good jobs.” Hmmm, yes, my favorite hobby is also punishing children because their parents didn’t go to college… Never mind that 1) there are people who went to college who find themselves unemployed for reasons they have no control over, 2) some good jobs, like plumbing, require training, but not college, and 3) none of that has anything to do with the kids who lost the parent lottery and were born into impoverished homes, whether those parents are disabled, unemployed, educated or not, abusive or sweet and loving…

Twice in my life now, at different jobs, I’ve had a male co-worker remark that battered women must enjoy being beaten since they so often stay with their abusers. I would have smacked them and asked how they liked that, except I try to not be violent, and besides I had to gather up all the little exploded pieces of my brain off the floor.

Final one, drum roll please, on an internet art board we got into a heated discussion about some anti-death penalty art. As one woman argued that the Bible encouraged the death penalty, I made the good old “what about the wrongfully convicted?” plea. Her answer was that if someone was wrongfully convicted of a murder, she felt they’d have to be a pretty bad person anyway. She claimed that law abiding, god-fearing people who do the right thing are never even accused of a murder they didn’t commit, so to be wrongfully convicted the person must have been doing something pretty bad. At that point I suffered a stroke from massive insensitivity overload and couldn’t even manage to type “thou shalt not kill.”

I need a warm compress for my head at this point.

Please share with me the stunningly insensitive comments others have made to you.

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10 Comments »

  1. bazu said,

    I remember lurking on some conservative/pro-Israeli forums last summer during the Israel/Lebanon conflict, and was blown away at the seriously dehumanizing language used to describe the Lebanese and Arabs in general. Variations of “we will crush them/wipe them out like animals/insects/vermin/viruses/cancer” came up over and over again. This is the kind of rhetoric that fuels all wars and militaries, I suspect.

  2. beforewisdom said,

    Where do you meet these people? 🙂

    The health care comment was flat out ignorant. I heard that 1/3 of Americans are uninsured. It wouldn’t be a matter of that woman paying for other people’s health care, but her own the way things are going.

    When I hear the food chain comment I like to point out that nobody in the current conversation “clawed their way up the food chain during evolution”, it was their ancestors.

    I will then mention that one of the things that helped their ancestors survive long enough to procreate was having an open mind to details and using their brains.

  3. Neva Vegan said,

    Bazu, that’s so typical! People villify another race or culture without even a second thought. It’s scary.

    Steve, I emailed you!

  4. jen said,

    i love how conservatives love israel but hate jews. but don’t get me started on israel or you are going to see some serious insensitivity to humans right here.

    anyway, i don’t hear insensitive comments often because i don’t talk to people much. at least not people who disagree with me on major issues like this. so most of the “insensitive to humans” comments i hear come from my own mouth. (or occasionally my own keyboard, but i try not to put those things in writing for posterity, hence the restraint shown above.)

    the “stupid about humans” comments in the media that i hear most often are the ones about how letting homosexuals marry would destroy the institution of marriage or be bad for straight families or whatever bullshit.

  5. Sean said,

    Yes, and it’s we animal rights activists who don’t care about humans, right?

  6. mary martin said,

    I am on the board of an organization that provides housing and support for 18-year olds who are coming out of foster care. They are often shuttled around to as many as 15 foster homes by the time they reach 18. They haven’t had consistency of care or education. Within 18 months of aging out, the odds they will be incarcerated, institutionalized, pregnant, using, homeless, or even dead, are high.

    I explain all of this to some community members, who then say: “They’re 18, man, they should be able to take care of themselves. I’m not helping them. When I was 18—blah, blah, blah,” AS IF THEY HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE ABANDONED BY YOUR BIOLOGICAL FAMILY, AND THEN AGAIN BY THE SYSTEM THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO PROVIDE YOU WITH A SURROGATE FAMILY!

  7. Canaduck said,

    I hate to say this, but considering how many awful “why don’t you care about peeeeople?” comments I hear, this post actually made me feel better. I was like, “Haha wow, you’re right–these people don’t care about anybody! What a bunch of jerks!” I guarantee you that people who make comments like those you mentioned are the exact same ones who say things like, “Why do you care about animals when there are children starving? Why do you care about animals when there’s waaar?” They’re just horrible all-around.

    Once when I was out doing some AR-related activism, we found out that there was an anti-war protest up the street. One of our activists (quite used to hearing “why don’t you care about war?” comments) went up to talk to them about how they were doing, and found out that they were being heckled quite a bit as well. I guess you can’t please everybody.

  8. Anonymous said,

    I have a friend (a very good and old friend, actually) who insists that the homeless should either stop drinking/doing drugs/being lazy or die, or, if they’re mentally ill, just be confined to mental asylums for the rest of their lives, like prisoners. (Seriously, she said that. If they can’t afford the expensive mental health care necessary to live a normal life, they should just rot in some asylum.) It drives me crazy that she’d say such stupid, heartless things.

    I really try not to discuss these issues with her, for obvious reasons. Even now I am all tense just thinking about it!

  9. Anonymous said,

    I hear you, sister!

    Just the other day I read the following:
    “I know I’m all about nonviolence, and I’m no fan of revenge, but part of me wants to say that every person with any of those injuries deserves them.”

    Can you believe that? This person thinks some people deserve broken legs, broken backs, and amputations.

  10. Neva Vegan said,

    Finally responding to comments, sorry…

    Jen, you’re right. The treatment of the Palestinians in the media and the extreme homophobia that passes as news are both examples of how people really fail to put themselves in “the other person’s shoes.” Astounding.

    Sean, yeah, it’s amazing sometimes, huh?

    Mary, this drives me crazy. People want to make a judgement on someone’s entire life from one moment in time, ie can you be independent at 18. What they so often fail to take into account is everything that brought that person up to this point. If there are areas lacking, then that person needs extra help, regardless of age.

    Thank you, Canaduck. For some reason I had in my mind that there are two different groups, but you’re right. It’s all the same, the people who find ways to not care about animals find excuses not to care about people either.

    Anon 1, that’s just crazy. For one thing, I’ve read news stories where people with mental illness tried to get help, even to get themselves institutionalized to get off the streets, but no services were available. Mainly they were deemed not a threat to others and left to fend for themselves, but the illness kept them from finding or keeping work, etc. Also, when most addicts say they first used drugs at very young ages WITH THEIR PARENTS, then clearly addiction is a much more complex issue than asking someone to have willpower!

    Anon 2, Wow, the insensitivity. I imagine this was in reference to the war. Unbelievable. Even most people who oppose the war want our troops to come home healthy and whole. It’s a terrible situation there and I cry whenever I read aobut our young men and women being hurt for lack of proper equipment or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.


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