When I was in college, I bought a book at the bookstore that was titled "hate hurts"... how children learn and unlearn prejudice. And even though I never really took the time to read the book, I did pick it up from time to time and have kept some of the notes in my mind.
I always think of how true and apparent (if not evident) it is that; we learn hate in any form, at a very young age. I mean think about it: when you are child of about 3 or younger and you're in preschool or at the local playground.. You'll play with anyone there. You don't know OR care at that point in your life that the girl or boy you're playing with is poor and her house is barely a home to be lived in and it doesn't occur to you that she isn't nicely groomed. And it doesn't matter much that he/she is black or white and you're just the opposite. All you know at that point is that she is another little girl like you or another little boy like you. Just another human being. And you have found a friend. The knowledge to judge people is slowly instilled through learning! It's when we get older that we have been taught to judge, and discriminate. Down the road, you see that same girl or boy who was your best friend while you still had an open mind..but now you're about 12 or 13 and aware of his/her circumstances or race or sexuality and NOW you know that you don't want to be his/her friend. It's probably unacceptable.
Well this all came about because I picked up a copy of TIME at work today and ended up turning to a page where the article talked about an Iraq soldier's funeral where members of a church in Illinois were picketing. And why? Because the fallen Marine was gay. The story itself is enough to make you sick. But the worse part of all was the picture in the lower left hand corner that shows the picketers. The picture shows a boy of no more than 12 and I think he may be younger but not older than that...and he is holding a sign that reads: Semper Fi - Semper Fags.
Now I ask you- is this something he would have learned on his own?? No. He has been taught to hate like this. It struck me to see such a young child portraying such a character. I can't tell if he truly feels that what he is doing is right..but as far as he knows it is. I tend to think that it's children who are brought up like this who commit hate crimes..because it has been chiseled into their impressionable minds; what's acceptable and what's not. It's sad to think that already at this point in his life, he is not able to make his own assumptions about people or situations. What he already "knows" is that it's wrong to be homosexual. But yet it's acceptable to be such a hateful person? I can't imagine that it feels good to live that way. Who knows what else he has "learned"?? It's so saddening to see this going on in our world. I know that people raise their children the way that they want and they're entitled to do so but this is morally wrong in my eyes..and I'm entitled to my opinion .