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Blogging Prejudice: Aren’t We Past This Yet?

Blog writing tips and articlesBlogger A blogged something offensive to Blogger B. Blogger B responded with “that’s not being a good Christian”. Huh?

I can assume that Blogger B is a Christian, though the type and style of practice is not known. Does that automatically imply that Blogger A is a Christian?

What difference in the world does this kind of comment make? Does it add to the conversation? Is it important? What does he mean?

Does his statement mean that all Christians are good and only obey a good, well-mannered, and rule abiding lifestyle? I know a lot of Christians who are murders. One killed his wife. Another his whole family. I know a lot of Christians who are thieves, scam artists, and downright liars. Not a very Christian way of living, is it?

I know a lot of very moral and upright standing citizens who are Muslim, Buddhists, Hindus, and even Atheist. In fact, I would say that most of the Atheists I know are more moral and law abiding than most of the religious folks I know. I also know a lot of nasty people who represent a lot of religions that have a moral and ethic code of honor they don’t practice, but they still participate in the religious traditions in spite of their lifestyle.

Does this make one religion better than another? Does being of one religion make one better than another?

Aren’t we past this yet?

Growing up in the state of Washington, USA, we had “us” and “them”. The “them” in our case were the local Native American Indians. We had a great deal of respect for Indian tribes outside of our area, like Cherokee and Navajo, tribal names that meant business in the storybooks of our lives. And we didn’t mind the Mexican immigrants who worked the fields and farms, but the local Indians were considered the lowest denominator in the neighborhood, so our parents told us. Didn’t stop our parents and grandparents, or even ourselves when we got older, from visiting their new casinos and bingo halls and giving them all their money. Still, they were “them” and we were “us”, the better folks.

Living in and out of the southern United States over the years, I’ve found a wide variety of prejudice. I discovered blatant prejudice against blacks. They were the “them” and it was open and everyone talked about it. In the northern United States, I’ve heard complaints by blacks about the hidden racism. Where racism is rampant but no one talks about it. They’ve told me they like the open racism in the south. Huh?

In the other parts of the southern and southeastern US, the “them” were white trash, but had different names like “hill folks”, “islanders”, and the “other side of the tracks” folks, though in another southern area, those who lived on the “other side of the tracks” were the wealthy rich as they lived on the beach side of the tracks.

In Israel, I met a new kind of prejudice. Generational. Not generations as in grandparents, but generations as in the waves of immigrants. When you arrived and how long you had been in the country could “put you in your place” rather than the color of your skin or religion. In the past decade or so, this is now mixed up with new prejudice, but people continue to be classified by their immigration date.

Watching online journaling become blogging over the years, it’s exciting to see the development of the freedom to blog whoever and whatever you are. It doesn’t matter if you are religious, ethnic, or proud to be whatever you are, unless that is what your blog is about. People don’t care if you are male, female, 12 years old or 95, have cultural or religious issues with hair or clothing, or covered with nose rings and tattoos. If you have the information we need, and it’s delivered in a professional and respectful way, we’ll take it. Don’t you?

Do you only visit Christian-indicated sites? Or restrict yourself to only Muslim blogs? Do you stick with only the fundamental versions of these religions and their bloggers or open yourself up to the more reformist or open thinking bloggers? Or do you limit yourself to only blogs by bloggers in a specific country? Or do you only read blogs that think the way you do?

I doubt it.

Then why do you blog that way?

Are you blogging from a narrow perspective and vision of the blogosphere? Have you forgotten that your readers represent the entire planet’s religions, cultures, and traditions?

Blogger B should have responded with something more neutral like “I don’t agree with Blogger B” or even accuse Blogger B of being disrespectful instead of bringing up a religious characterization which may or may not be true. In fact, it could be more disrespectful if Blogger A is is Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, or something else. Being called a Christian could be worse than calling him an ass or something even more childish.

Consider what you say when you blog and how you say it, especially if you are being accusing and name calling.

There are no moral or religious codes in the world yet that can make a group of people behave in a specific way. There will always be those who will claim one thing and do another just because they can.

As a self-publishing blogger with no one standing over your shoulder to make you reconsider your words before the world reads them, take care with your own prejudice and where you aim it. I vote for thinking of your audience on a global scale, not narrow judgments and assumptions.

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16 Comments

  1. Posted June 8, 2007 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    This isn’t something we only see in blogs, it’s throughout the world. As long as there is religion, there will be views and statements similar to what you describe here. The basis of individual religion (at least as it is practiced, even if not the intention at its root) is one that denounces those not following the rules set forth by it, even if they are “moral” or “good”.

  2. Posted June 8, 2007 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    It’s all over the world. People are bias and when they are confronted with something different from the reality that they live in, they lash out in prejudice. The online world of blogs is no different. In fact, it’s worse because people hide behind the belief of anonymity and actions without consequences.

    It’s hard to be past something we still struggle with everyday. Unless of course we rewrite the way we think and the very essence of what it means to be human beings. Scared of the dark and the unknown and always looking for a way to destroy that which we can’t control.

  3. Posted June 8, 2007 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    I am living in a country where things like religion, race, skin color are sensitive issues. Oh yes, we aren’t past this yet. Nice posting, mam.

  4. alicemercer
    Posted June 8, 2007 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Just a thought, perhaps Blogger A had identified themselves as “Christian” and Blogger B was saying that to point out hypocrisy, as in “Mr. Falwell, you claim to be a Christian, but that was not a very Christian thing you said about…” Context in this scenario could mean everything. That being said, the scenario you envision would be very disturbing and probably the more likely one.

    More generally in response to your query, I don’t think we’re at the point of prejudice yet, but I’ll be blogging on some personal experience with this myself soon. Nothing like doing a field trip with a class that includes a number of African American students to remind one of this.

  5. Posted June 8, 2007 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I have never been poisoned from eating chance-found mushrooms. I have heard about how difficult it is to tell the edible from the harmful, and only eat mainstream store-bought mushrooms, which I enjoy. That is, I have a prejudice about mushrooms.

    When a young person dresses like a thug, expresses arrogance and violence in expression and demeanor, possibly associates with others reveling in apparent bullying and threats, I am going to be cautious in dealing with this person. I am going to refuse this person my respect or trust. I will do my best to keep this person away from me, my affairs, and my loved ones. I got bullied enough in grade school. If someone wants to be mistaken for a bully, I will do just that. Now suppose the person is black. Oops! Now, I am not just discriminating based on appearance, expression, and demeanor — I am prejudiced against blacks! But I don’t think I am prejudiced about blacks.

    It seems you stumbled onto name-calling. Exaggerated word-pictures, intended to be hurtful in order to express great angst, emotion, and/or frustration. I cannot call name-calling childish, our kids learn it from us. It is an attack, bullying, manipulative, disrespectful. Terrorizing. And makes future interactions difficult. I recall a snippet from Junior High, ‘hard words, like jack boots, cannot be recalled’ (or something like that). I would need to see a pattern of abuse of Christians, before thinking a single bout was Christian-wide, and not a ghastly name-calling.

    Seth Godin may have seen the same interchange. His piece today on ‘coachable’ (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/06/coachable.html) points out the ways someone with issues about accepting coaching (advice) may strike out, rather than respond to coaching (preferably, should hear the advice, consider it, take whatever action seems appropriate).

  6. Posted June 8, 2007 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Great post. If you had been commenting on a blog that was aimed only at Christians then maybe that comment would be acceptable. But that doesn’t sound like it was the case. Most times when someone throws out an insult it is to divert the actual topic of conversation because that person doesn’t have a valid argument to offer, only an insult.

    As for blogging prejudice, the blogosphere is a part of society so it also takes on the social ills that meet us in the physical world. That’s a sad fact.

  7. Posted June 8, 2007 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Great post Lorelle – I just touched on this subject last week as I was wondering how my readers dealt with racism in business. For the most part, they all said they hadn’t really experienced prejudice in the blogosphere like they had in ‘real life’. But I can say that I see sexism a lot – just one more group pitted against another.

    In the end, it’s really about scarcity thinking – people pointing to any other group based on fears of not having or being enough in their own group. If we could shift our thinking to ‘there’s more than enough for everyone’ then I would bet this would be a far different conversation than the one we are having right now. :)

  8. Posted June 8, 2007 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    If you *really* want to see vitrol in action, just take a quick glance at many of the political bloggers. It’s rife with groupthink, libelous statements and mean-spirited ad hominems. By comparison, this incident you’re describing is a “yo momma” joke. ;)

    I think that as this “wild west” mentality of the Internet as a whole continues to be reigned in (yes, it’s still the prevailing attitude), we’ll see more of that poor behavior being confined and contained by way of the crowd. I don’t doubt that we’re on the cusp of wide-spread reputation systems that will reign in the roving gangs and make them less relevant, kind of like Slashdot karma.

  9. Posted June 8, 2007 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Calm down a bit people, most obvisouly the Blogger was germanophone, since it’s a saying over here in Europe. It’s usally said, when you do something that’s insulting/condescending/hurtful etc. to the group you are yourself part of (ie Bloggers) and it really is now completely separated from any Christian perspective. As long as we don’t have a direct reference to the article in question, it’s anyones guess what the person meant by that…

    As for all of you who “know” these prejudices L. talks about so well, or are experts in the “bias” she refers to: all I can see here is the same smuggness as the numberless bloggers that don’t know how to behave themselves within the margins of the internet. So let’s pat ourselves on our respective backs for knowing how to be better and let’s get back to business… Sheesh. /Rant over

    No offense Lorelle, but I just had to get it out. Still, great article with good points on social interaction and the ever revolving nature of blogging within the web 2.0 phenomenon.

  10. Posted June 8, 2007 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Actually, my example did not come from a germanophone. That was just the start of a horrid rant on the unchristian behavior expressed by the other blogger, with name calling and religious ranting. And I knew the other blogger involved was not a Christian, but I wasn’t going to go that far. ;-)

    Still, tossing around saying like that is still offensive to others who live outside the realm where that kind of thing is “normal”. That’s why it’s important that we start thinking global and change our word choices accordingly.

  11. Anonymous
    Posted June 8, 2007 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    >>I think that as this “wild west” mentality of the Internet as >>a whole continues to be reigned in (yes, it’s still the >>prevailing attitude), we’ll see more of that poor behavior >>being confined and contained by way of the crowd. I don’t >>doubt that we’re on the cusp of wide-spread reputation >>systems that will reign in the roving gangs and make them >>less relevant, kind of like Slashdot karma.

    But then wouldn’t you be bumping up against another kind of prejudice?

    Who’s to say what’s right and wrong? If we confine ourselves to only comfortable, squeaky-clean blogs that reflect only our limited perspectives, how will we ever learn? How will we ever be subjected to the crucible of truth so necessary to forge our minds and our spirits?

    Some of the greatest learning experiences I’ve ever had online have been on forums where my opinion was not only disagreed with; it was vehemently opposed with swearing, dire threats and insinuations as to my questionable parentage. From these attacks (for that is what I perceived them to be) I learned patience and the ability to see the motivations behind the words. I learned to accept the fact that not everyone is like me; indeed, I learned to cherish this very thing.

    Those who rely upon man-made constructs such as “religion” or “morality” are binding themselves to all the weaknesses and foibles that Mankind is party to. A person who is truly “good” knows what to do without being told, just as a person acting “badly” knows, deep down, that what they’re doing isn’t the proper way to accomplish things. But but sides get caught up in the carnival of expectations brought about by their peers and leaders, and so we have the eternal struggle of, as Lorelle so aptly put it, “them” and “us”.

  12. Posted June 8, 2007 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Sorry – didn’t mean to post that anonymously. ;>P

  13. Posted June 10, 2007 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately I do not think this will change, It has been like this for all of human race. A lot has to do with brain washing of the ‘older/ wiser’ generation to younger generation…

    I can think of a few reasons why this is caused.
    Hatred passed on by previous generations.
    uneducated
    religions
    fear of one race dominating
    afraid of change
    culture
    and also that your (grand)kids wont look like you

  14. Posted June 14, 2007 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle,

    I really enjoyed reading this post, Lorelle and I completely agree with you on all counts. I’d also like to point out that although the internet is somewhat anonymous, there are still ways to find out who people are. So people really need to think about their reputations when they post as well. People’s views change over time, but their comments from three years ago will still be sitting on a blog somewhere.

    I’m not saying people shouldn’t share their opinions, that would be boring. I just think that before people write anything negative they ought to ask themselves three questions:

    1. Would I say this to this person if I was talking to them in person?
    2. How would I react if someone said something like this to me?
    3. If I read this six months (or a year, or five years) from now will I feel stupid and ashamed?

    The internet creates a sense of distanct from one’s actions and some people find this an easy way to be mean to other people without having to be help accountable.

    Thanks for the great read!

    Sara

  15. Posted June 16, 2007 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Hey Lorelle…that’s not a very Christ-like post!

    Okay, I’m kidding. I hope that humor traverses the written format.

    Yeah, just like there were the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day always willing to point a holy finger and look down their hypocritical noses at people they felt weren’t being “good” enough — such the same exist in the cyberworld today.

    Thank the GOOD LORD above for showing me the evil of my own ways and when to examine the thumb pointing back at me and all the faults He continues to help me thru…

    Paula

  16. Posted June 17, 2007 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the nice comment on my blog relating to this. I know you had trepidation about this post because it’s not your usual subject, but isn’t that what good blogging is about — talking about the pertinent (and the topic was germane to blogging), even if it seems like it’s off the beaten path? You don’t have to make it a month long theme, but doing a post like this every now and again will keep things real I think.


5 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] think this wouldn’t be an issue, given the diversity of the internets. However, Lorelle VanFossen points out that there are still bloggers out there who set a criteria based on race, sex, or [...]

  2. [...] read this good thought provoking article by Lorelle on WordPress about Blogging Prejudice – are we past this yet? While reading this several conversations and sermons were brought up in my memory in regards to the [...]

  3. [...] my article, Blogging Prejudice: Aren’t We Past This Yet?, I chastised some bloggers who were making religious attacks at each other via their blogs, and [...]

  4. […] Blogging Prejudice: Aren’t We Past This Yet? […]

  5. […] Lessons from The Planet Blog, Are You Blogging Your Passion or Blogging to Blog?, and Blogging Prejudice: Aren’t We Past This Yet? all deal with the issue of prejudice. How we judge others, consciously or unconsciously, blaming […]

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