ColumnThe Bachelor’s hateful comments about gay people are just one more example of the power of words—and the danger of hate speech.
You know what I’m not doing right now? Watching “The Bachelor.” As some of you know, I love the terrible franchise and have spent way too many Monday nights gleefully hate-watching “The Bachelorette”, “The Bachelor” and — I cringe just writing this — “Bachelor Pad.”
I thought about giving it up last year, but ABC’s Juan-uary promos combined with Chicago’s polar vortex left me on the couch, ready to commit to season number 18,657 of this wretched shitshow.
Then, last week, a reporter asked our newest Bachelor, Juan Pablo Galavis, what he thought about a gay version of the show.
“I don’t think it’s a good example for kids,” he said, adding that a gay version of the show would be “confusing” and that gay people are “more pervert in a sense.” If you’re dying to hear more Bachelor stupidity, here’s the full interview.
There’s definitely nothing “pervert” about going on a reality show and banging a bunch of women on TV. Or nothing that will instill a sense of the sanctity of marriage in the mind of his own daughter better than seeing her nearly-nude dad take to TV to look for her new mama. It’s a journey, right!?
The Bachelor has since apologized for his homophobic comments (Jaun Pablo’s excuse is a combination of “English is my second language” and “some of my best friends are gay!”) and agreed to meet with GLAAD.
That’s nice and all. But the real problem isn’t simply that one more ignorant person has a platform for his views. The problem isn’t that kids might see gay people on a dating show, it’s that they will hear — over and over — that gay people are perverts.
A far more important story about the power of hate speech was also in the news recently — though fewer people paid attention. Daisy Coleman, one of the Maryville rape survivors, tried to commit suicide for the third time early this year.
Her mom, Melinda Coleman, wrote a moving (and Daisy-approved) piece for xoJane. She writes that Daisy (who is now home from the hospital) went to a party in an attempt to be a normal teenager. She stayed just an hour and, her mom writes, the online bullying started immediately. “She has been called a slut and a liar and told that she deserves to die.”
If you hear something enough, it starts to sound true.
“Daisy wishes that she could write back every single person who has reached out to her, but I have told her to focus on doing what she needs to do so that she is taking care of herself and her life,” writes her mom.
Whether it’s one jerk’s stupid comment about a whole group of people, or a group of bullies terrorizing an individual, hate speech is dangerous.
We can’t, and shouldn’t, try to stop people from speaking their minds. But we can, and should, make sure that the victims of hate speech hear our voices just as loudly. Even though they may not respond, they are listening.
Related on EcoSalon