Monday, 23 December 2013

Here Comes the Judge

There's an awful lot of hate mongering going on... and not just from the hate mongers.

Case in point, this Phil Robertson thing. I read the article in GQ... twice... and made sure I understood what was being said rather than dissect one line or paragraph and go off like a projectile with a homing pigeon at the wheel. I was the same with Rob Ford. Would I vote for the guy? I wouldn't have the first time so why would I now?

Does that mean I hate either one of them? Unequivocally... no. I have opinions and make judgements for which I am certain others wouldn't particularly care. Hopefully they are rare and relatively uncontentious, yet I make those judgements every day.

But, Ed... you shouldn't be judgemental! Judging people is wrong.” 

I disagree wholeheartedly. Every time I come to a street corner and think “left or right” or look at a menu in a restaurant or turn my nose up at some food I have never tried before or decide not to deal with a particular person, I am making a decision based on judgement. I have to turn to that little jury in my gut that has been influenced by the entirety of my life events and skewed insights and ask, what's the verdict on this or that or them?

And that jury always has an answer... even when I try to quiet them.

We, as a society, judge people and things and places constantly. It's how we have survived. Do I run from the charging tiger or try to reason with him with my spectacularly superior intellect? Personally, I'm running considering the tiger has judged me to be a viable source of protein.

We do the same with people. We turn our noses up at what they say or do because our internal jury has decided they are a threat to the way we live our life or they way we think or they way we feel. Over time, I've come to realise it is far more important to make a judgement about someone (which is going to happen anyway despite my best efforts) and determine whether I want to spend time with them or not. Do I want to spend time with this person? Are they a fit in my life? Do they believe the same things I do? Do they care enough about me to respect my thoughts? Do they show up? What I have found most important to me is not the judgement itself, it is the manner in which I handle that judgement. 

Anyone who doesn't believe we all make judgements has never dated. Judgements when we're on a date fly around like a yellow-green, sun-blocking cloud of locusts in a windstorm. They're constantly slapping you in the face! 

While I believe people have the right to believe or say whatever they wish, it must also be noted I have the right to judge whether I wish to be a participant in what they say or do. 

So... what to do when someone says or does something we believe is morally wrong? If they commit a crime, we take away their platform by incarcerating them so their freedom to interact with others is limited. If they say something I don't believe in, I take away their platform by not participating in the audience. If they are disagreeable as a person to me, I simply don't hang out with them.

In the case of Rob Ford, the city is kind of stuck with him for another year. That because of a judgement made about three years back. In the next election, I have little doubt there will be a lot of judging going on.

In the case of Phil Robertson, he absolutely has the right to speak whatever he chooses (whether I think it's drivel or not). As an audience member, I have a judgement to make whether I will listen to him or not. I have a choice to make whether I tune in to his station and watch or not. And, in the case of A&E, an awful lot of folks are up in arms because they have decided to remove Mr Robertson's platform. What those people seem to forget is... that's their choice. They have not revoked Mr Robertson's first amendment right. What they have invoked is their own right to choose whether to provide a platform or not. They chose not.

For me, it comes down to this regarding the two characters mentioned... my internal jury has already made the judgement that neither of these people are fit to hang out with me in my life. The gavel has already dropped. I just wouldn't bother. The tree falling in the forest makes a sound... and if there is no-one listening, it's unlikely anyone will care.

I don't for a moment believe I am beyond scrutiny. 

In the end, I will judge whether someone or something or some place is right for me. It just happens. If you believe that being gay is a sin or that black folks are happier being poor and abused or it's okay to make decisions while under the influence of mind altering drugs, by all means go nuts. You're just not likely to be someone I'm going to choose to hang out with. I will choose to not watch the show or not vote for you. Pretty simple.

But then, that's my judgement.