Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Godwin's Gays and Mel Brooks

The first several times I saw Mel Brooks' "To Be or Not to Be", I assumed the homosexual being rounded up by the German occupiers and being compelled to wear a pink triangle was just a gay joke. After all, if Jews wore yellow Stars of David, surely gays would wear a pink emblem, ha ha. I was taught history in school—grade, middle, high and college. We covered WWII several times, and nobody ever taught me that any group besides the Jewish were systematically rounded up and taken to concentration camps.

The last time I watched was the first time it occurred to me to do an internet search to see if there might be any truth to the concept. Holy shit, this was real. Gays were compelled to sew pink triangles into their clothing, and about 10,000 - 15,000 gays were sent to concentration camps. Far fewer, of course, than the 6 million Jews murdered in such camps, but how shocked was I that this part of history was simply omitted from my many years of heterogeneous—and apparently exclusively heterosexual—schooling.

Recall the George Carlin bit about bad words and the differences between "fart" and "fuck"? On TV they could say neither word, but there was much talk and action revolving around fucking, while nobody spoke of farts. Television was a fart-free zone. (Clearly this has changed in the past 20 years; I have to suspect Carlin's observations helped this along.) In school I learned all sorts of nasty history about wars, genocide, oppressive rulers, mass murder and rape, and Republicans. But I had no knowledge of the concept of homosexuality until I was 14, and then I was so naive I thought it was a new thing. Okay, so gay people didn't all come from the United Gay Republic on the continent of Gaydia, with their own skin color and religion, but still, this is a group that has been repeatedly identified, singled out and harassed or oppressed by rulers and governments over the years, but there was nothing about it in my schooling. It makes me wonder what else was left out.

It has actually been a while since I've seen To Be or Not to Be, but I was reminded of the internment of gays by a news radio report. A gay man who was sent to a concentration camp and survived has recently decided to tell his story. I guess part of my brain still thinks homosexuality was invented in 1984, because I was surprised to hear him speak of openly gay clubs and an active gay community in his pre-WWII hometown.

It reminded me of our more paranoid reasons for starting this blog anonymously. Sometimes I get to thinking that it's "okay" to be atheist. But the gays' recent and continuing persecution is a good example of what could happen to us, even in America, even in these modern times. Look how many people are trying, and how hard they're trying, to make/keep gay marriage illegal. Seriously what the fuck do you care? From all the fuss you'd think gays and lesbians are trying to pass laws compelling straight Christian families to bring homosexuals into their living rooms to have exhibitionist gay sex in front of their children. No, they just want the same life partner arrangement that heterosexuals have access to.

What do gay marriage opponents fear? Is it dick-in-asshole? But preventing state-recognized marriage doesn't prevent dick-in-asshole, and allowing state-recognized marriage doesn't bring dicks in assholes any closer to you. I can relate to not liking dicks in assholes, because as open-minded and accepting as I am, I just don't want to see dicks in assholes, I don't want my dick in an asshole, I don't want my dick in a man's mouth or hand, and I want nothing to do with another man's dick. I still have lingering homophobia about those things. But I don't give a flying fuck if other mentally well-balanced, responsible adults mutually consensually do with their dicks, assholes, pussies, mouths and hands at the appropriate venues.

I tend to project my phobias onto other people, and I should really stop doing that, especially with people who behave so differently from me. The more I think about it, the more I think it is about control and conformity. They don't subscribe to "live and let live". They want you to conform to their actions, their beliefs, their thoughts, and they'll be damned if you can be nonconformist and not be punished or at least shunned. So yeah, I think people would try to disallow atheist marriage if they could. And I think many Americans would persecute atheists if given the chance.

Hell, maybe they already are, but that part of history was left out of my text books.

I still can't get over that. A group of people systematically identified and interned by German occupation forces in WWII, and after 17 years of schooling and many years of cable TV history shows I had to learn of it from Mel Brooks, who by the way is a brilliant man. I am in awe of how he attacks the Nazis, racism and other general dickishness with such satirical ferocity and makes it entertaining.

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