Letter: 'Othering' has no place in our community

Posted 11/23/22

To the editor:

It’s interesting to watch the range of reactions to the apparently hate-motivated shooting of five at the “Club Q” in Colorado Springs on the eve of the …

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Letter: 'Othering' has no place in our community

Posted

To the editor:

It’s interesting to watch the range of reactions to the apparently hate-motivated shooting of five at the “Club Q” in Colorado Springs on the eve of the “Transgender Day of Remembrance”. Most are shocked and saddened. Loved ones and allies grieve, gun control advocates demand sensible reform.

Even well-known anti-LGBTQIA politicians call the shooting a tragedy and offer thoughts and prayers. On the darker side, extremist social networks praise the shooting and openly express hope for more violence against LGBTQIA.

It may be difficult or nearly impossible to predict the exact path that someone takes to committing such a crime, or praising it openly online. What we do know is that “othering” plays a role in setting people on these paths. In social terms, othering happens when a dominant group marginalizes and denigrates identities of people they do not value.

Othering at the extreme leads to violence and its glorification. When simply normalized nation-wide by a significant minority, othering allows social conservative politicians like Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene to take to Twitter to express dismay at the senseless shooting in Colorado, while openly working against the very people the hate was perpetrated against.

Othering doesn’t just manifest itself in violent news and in Congress. Witness the low-key but very active exclusion efforts at local levels. People will say LGBTQIA people deserve to be loved like everyone else, but shouldn’t be allowed to marry because it somehow makes their own marriage “less sacred.”

They’ll claim to not understand “Pride” (see “Q-Club Shooting” for context) while having no issue with or even celebrating other, more accepted (i.e.religious, ethnic) identities when they hold festivals, etc. Or they will say that little children are being “indoctrinated” or “groomed”, when people are really trying to help children not feel left out because they have two moms (or two dads) or are still figuring out how to express an identity that feels somehow “different” from others.

Proponents of these ridiculous arguments cite “common sense”, “traditional values”, and a desire to regress America to a bygone time that they claim was somehow more virtuous than today. They will, of course, avoid mentioning how that bygone time and those traditional values were anchored in the lie that to be LGBTQIA (or, indeed, to have any identity that doesn’t mirror their own) is to be inferior to, more deeply flawed, more predatory, and less “American” than those who aren’t. They have a very clear and implicit message: “You are less than we are, and you do not belong.”

When we as straight people pretend their arguments are valid, and treat them as equal to the idea that all people deserve equity and inclusion as they are, we do as much harm as saying those things ourselves. When our leaders sit quietly by or, worse yet, amplify this kind of exclusion, we allow harm – to our friends, our children, our loved ones – to become our policy.

Bill Bullard

1292 Hope St.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.