February 14, 2014

Projection by Bigots

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Jos (Nigeria) is complaining that the West forces various things, including homosexuality and condoms "down Africans' throats." The irony here concerns not just the content of what is allegedly being force-fed, but the one making the allegation: whose manner of teaching could fairly be characterized as entailing "requirements" suddenly objecting to the notion of others doing the same... as if they were!

For, of course, the West is not "forcing" homosexuality or condom use on anyone, and definitely not down anyone's throat. We are dealing here with a matter of projection: conservatives such as the Archbishop of Jos really do want everyone to do as they say they ought, and they think everyone is the same as they are with regard to that which they think is good. There is no nuance of "all may, none must, some should," but rather "I've said it, you must do it!" Such folks have no grasp of pluralism, only of mandate, and they project their narrow insistence that all must do as they do upon others who are, instead, content to live and let live. That someone who champions the repressive and regressive Nigerian anti-gay legislation could, with a straight face, complain about people being forced to act in a certain way would be laughable if the laughter didn't stick in, shall I say, one's throat.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


G said...

This came up a few years ago when the Canadian general synod was (as ever) discussing The Issue, and the antis trotted out their model gays (called the Zacchaeus Fellowship, now mercifully defunct) to plead with delegates not to forget them. If synod took action to authorise a local option, they "reasoned," then it would be disrespecting the choice they've made to live celibate lives. So accustomed were they to treating it as a zero-sum game that they seemed almost genuinely unable to conceive of the question in any other terms, or to feel respected in their choice unless it were enforced upon all gay and lesbian Anglicans. The mentality was baffling at the time, but I think you've (as usual) put your finger on it: they had us confused with them and with their tactics!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Good illustration of the principle at work, Geoff.

The deeply intolerant believe that others must be as intolerant as they are. Hence the cries of "persecution" from the "defense of marriage" side -- as if marriage were under assault.

I'm also reminded of a statement attributed to a very much anti-gay bishop at Lambeth 1998: "But I don't want to marry a man!" As if he would have to were anyone else permitted to; that anything not forbidden is compulsory!

Perhaps as well there is some internalized homophobia at work: it is only the illegality of X that keeps me from trying it out. This of course, gets us back to Dodgson's Asparagus Paradox, as I noted in 2012.

JCF said...

"anything not forbidden is compulsory"

Sadly, I think many traditional cultures are like this (ESPECIALLY w/ regards to women---and of course, in the male homophobe mind, to be gay is to be made into a woman).

North American culture is steeped in the concept of personal freedom, for centuries now (the only conflict is getting the defacto to live up to the dejure/ideal).

But for many places, personal freedom is TERRIFYING.

[I may have told the story here before of the VERY enlightening conversation I once had w/ an Oriental Orthodox bishop, back in the late 90s. He told me that, personally, he could find no Scriptural reason to prevent the ordination of women. "But when I think of a woman, I think of my mother. I was her WHOLE WORLD. How could she have cared for ME the way she did, if she had been a priest?" (He actually was a very dear man---struggling to comprehend something his Indian culture had no means of even suggesting. For him, permitting women's ordination meant *his mother* was now a priest, as he was. ;-/)]

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Well observed, JCF. What a terribly narrow world some people inhabit!

Marshall Scott said...

Between Anglicans in other parts of the world, and others who call themselves Christian much closer to home (I live in Missouri half a block east of the state line with Kansas), I keep having this thought: if freedom for your religion requires for you freedom from my religion, we do not yet have freedom of religion.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Marshall, a worthy epigram!