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When is it ok to hate?

There have been many reasons given throughout the ages for one group of people to hate, wage war on, or discriminate against another group of people.  Sadly, a great number of these types of aggression have had a religious basis for motivation.  The Crusades and the Inquisition are a very good example.  But there have been many "holy wars" due to people having differing religious beliefs.  Just a few decades ago, people used religious beliefs to be racist.  And, even today, there still are some fringe racist groups--many of which remain hateful because of their religious beliefs.

Of course, I don't mean to make religion seem to be "the bad guy".  There are also those who hate religion and religious people, and that hate is just as real and as unjust as hate from religious people.  Different religious groups of people have been persecuted throughout time for their beliefs, including these modern times.  In America, it is not altogether uncommon for people to discriminate against Muslims, Jews, Mormons, and many other groups.

So, the question is, is any of this hatred or discrimination justified?  There are reasons given for it, and many believe those reasons to be logical.  Some people really do believe that one race is better than another, but at least these days it is not a popular belief.  It is more common to view such a belief as immoral or incorrect.  We are currently seeing this same process happen with homosexual people.  Not many decades ago, gays were persecuted quite severely merely for being gay.  Many hateful things have been said about homosexuals.  Fortunately, the scales of acceptance and understanding are turning.  It is now generally accepted as okay for people to admit that they are homosexual.  I believe that in the near future (a decade or two), gays will be just as universally accepted as people of other races.  (Certainly, there will still be groups of people who discriminate against gays, but they will be like the fringe groups who are racist--being frowned upon by the majority of society.)

One thing that has been bothering me for a while now is one of the arguments given to oppose the legalization of gay marriage.  One thing that people say is "If we allow gays to marry each other, where will it end?  Next, people will want to marry their pets, and pedophiles will want the right to have sex with children."  First of all, I want to say that it is a logical fallacy to say that homosexuality will lead to beastiality or pedophilia.  This illogical argument comes from the misconception that being gay is a choice.  The reasoning goes like this: first, a person wants to have sex with someone of the same sex, then they want to have sex with children (possibly of the same sex), and then with animals.  This is false because gay people did not decide one day to want sex with a same-sex partner, they were simply created that way.  Similarly, people who wish to have sex with pre-18 persons did not choose to have those feelings, they simply found themselves having them--it was not caused by anything they did.  I don't know enough about beastiality to say whether there are people who claim to be intrinsically attracted to animals--that may be a fetish or it may just be the way they are, I don't know, so I will stick to pedophilia.  (I'm using the term "pedophilia" very broadly here.  I know there are more specific definitions.  I'm using to simply mean someone above the age of consent being attracted to--or having relations with--someone under the age of consent, so for example that could mean a 17 year-old dating an 18 year-old.)

I was actually rather disturbed when, several months ago, I posted something pro-gay on my wall and one person replied with the comment "Don't forget that NAMBLA is pushing for recognition as well."  I have to admit, I didn't know what NAMBLA was, so I had to look it up.  (It is the North American Man/Boy Love Association, if any reader is unaware.)  At the time, I was affronted that he would associate homosexuality with that organization, since I perceived it as a group of perverted men wanting to have their way with young children--unfortunately, a rather common misconception about that organization.  I have, since that time, read much of what they say on their website and found this to be a rather inaccurate painting of what the organization is about.

But, I don't want to get too much into whether organizations such as NAMBLA are moral or immoral--whether pedophilia is moral or immoral--I only want to ask the question, is it ok to hate someone simply because of whom they are attracted to?  If a person is truly attracted to younger people, is there a need to discriminate against them?  Is there a need to look down on them, to scorn them, and shut them out of society?  Is there a need to put them on a database and shame them for their entire lives?  Don't mistake me--I'm not talking about people who have actually molested or sexually abused children, I don't mean people who have coerced a child into having relations with them.  I merely mean someone who is attracted to children (again, I'm using the world "child" loosely, to mean anyone under the age of 18) and wishes to peacefully push for change in society to be less harsh on such people.  Is it okay to hate someone simply because we don't understand them?  Are we so closed-minded that we won't even listen to people with views that differ from our own?  What does that say about us as a race, or as a society?

Not to grow too tiresome on the issue of compassion, that I've discussed a lot recently, but I feel like we as a society are in grave need of a much higher level of compassion than what we have.  Instead of discriminating against people who love children, hating them, fearing them, thinking they are immoral, and putting them on lists of sex offenders to shame them their whole lives, why can't we just love them?  Why can't we comfort them?  They are already frustrated because they are unable to be with the person they love, so why can't we appreciate that rather than hate them for it?  Why complicate their own emotional pain by condemning them as immoral?  I'm not advocating that adult-child sex be legalized--that's an issue I'd have to learn much more about before I ever arrived at a conclusion--I'm merely saying that we could do a better job of trying to understand people who are different.

Also, I have no personal motive for promoting awareness of adults who are attracted to children, because I am only attracted to people my own age.  I have no desire to have sex with anyone more than 10 years younger than I am (which would be 18).  My fiancĂ© is 5 years my junior and I would probably not go for a guy much younger than that.  So, I have no selfish interest in this matter.  But I do have love for my dear brothers and sisters who may have romantic feelings for people that they cannot legally enter a relationship with.

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