Item: Naomi Ragen, a 57 year old grandmother and author, was accosted on a public Jerusalem bus in Israel by a man who demanded her seat. (Go to http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?c=JPArticle&cid=1167467807683&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull .)
This took place last summer in Jerusalem on a bus route that is the only service available not only to the Jewish Haredi sect, but also secular bus riders as well. Yes, as a concession to this fundamentalist sect, the state of Israel has sanctioned segregation and second class citizenship for women on 30 bus lines! Ms. Ragen has decided to take the laws allowing this humiliating treatment to court.
Comment: Now this kind of discrimination is not uncommon in that part of the world, but Israel was supposed to be an exception. Unfortunately fundamentalism of any stripe often leads to this kind of degrading of humanity in favor of honoring primitive dogmas that have long outlived any usefulness or justification.
Liberal believers are little help in matters such as this unless they are in denial. Clearly most scripture seems to endorse a paternalistic society – after all, men wrote most scripture as far as anyone can tell, with just a few possible exceptions such as the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles. And what they did write seems to give men a favored position – what a shock!
To deny the overall intent and in fact, the overall acceptance of this intent for many believers through the centuries is to be in denial about what the religion meant to those who created and first practiced the religion. The writers of scripture generally were not feminists, or supporters of equal rights for women, and indeed the women of those times did not have equal rights with men. For a liberal believer to read some kind of feminism into scripture now is less honest than the interpretation by an admitted sexist fundamentalist.
So what are the choices available to a liberal believer? The one reasonable choice is the one they refuse to make; that is the rejection of any divine authorship. By refusing to reject the divinity of scripture, they thereby cede the remaining intellectual argument to fundamentalists who then interpret scripture in the literal manner as it had been interpreted through the centuries.
Item: (Times Online) The NBA season entered its All Star weekend in Las Vegas with the recent revelation by retired British player John Amaechi that he is gay still resonating around the league.
Just as the issue seemed to be dissipating, former All Star guard Tim Hardaway came out with the most vitriolic anti-gay statements yet made on the topic, bringing Amaechi and the subject of gay players in professional sports, very much back to the fore.
"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people," Hardaway said in a radio interview. "I'm homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States.
"First of all, I wouldn't want him on my team. And second of all, if he was on my team, I would, you know, really distance myself from him because, uh, I don't think that is right. I don't think he should be in the locker room while we are in the locker room.
"Something has to give. If you have 12 other ballplayers in your locker room that's upset and can't concentrate and always worried about him in the locker room or on the court or whatever, it's going to be hard for your team-mates to win and accept him as a teammate."
Comment: The incredibly bigoted comments by Tim Hardaway need a closer examination, particularly the following: "You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people… I'm homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States.”
Exactly what does he want? For all homosexuals to be imprisoned or exterminated?
The next thing that comes to mind is “What is the source of this hatred?” At this time, there are no answers.