Shunning Someone You Disagree With

ExclusionTo shun is to “persistently avoid, ignore, or reject (someone or something) through antipathy or caution.”1 Shunning is a demonstration of intolerance toward another person, often because of something they said or did. While shunning may be necessary to safeguard one’s physical or mental health, it is usually not justified. Shunning is a way to punish someone you disagree with, can be a sign of hatred and contempt, and leads to contradictory behavior.

Shunning is common behavior among celebrities. On January 24, 2017, Ewan McGregor refused to do an television interview with Piers Morgan because of his comments about the women’s marches against Donald Trump.2 Instead of speaking directly to Morgan, McGregor tweeted, “Won’t go on with him…”3

When a celebrity shuns someone, they may rationalize it as a form of protest. However, if a celebrity wants to “protest” someone’s words or actions, all they have to do is exercise their right to free speech. Shunning is not required.

In reality, shunning is not about protest. It is a form of punishment. Its purpose is two-fold: First, to make the person feel the pain of rejection and social isolation. When you shun someone, you want them to pay a price: to become a social outcast for their words or actions.

The second purpose of shunning is to deter people from similar behavior. If a celebrity shuns another celebrity for their words or actions, it serves as a warning to society: If you speak or act this way, you deserve to be a social outcast too. Thus, shunning is a strategy to control people’s speech and behavior. It puts social pressure on an individual to change and conform.

The problem with shunning someone because of their words or actions is it often results in contradictory behavior. If you shun a person you disagree with, then you become obligated (by your own moral standard) to reject anyone whose words and actions are equally (or more) offensive.

As a case in point, consider Ewan McGregor. He refused to be interviewed by Piers Morgan, yet he made the film The Ghost Writer with Roman Polanski, a director who drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl,4 was found guilty of “unlawful sex”, and fled the U.S. to avoid going to prison.5 In shunning Morgan for his words, but not Polanski for his actions, McGregor is guilty of a double standard: “a rule or principle which is unfairly applied in different ways to different people.”6

Although shunning is usually not a virtue, there are situations where it may be justified. For instance, if a person has threatened you, or physically assaulted you, then you should stay away from them, and if necessary, get a restraining order against them.

It may also be necessary to shun someone who is verbally abusive. No one should have to tolerate a person who continually insults them. Shunning is justified when it is for your own safety: to protect your physical or mental health.

The dark side of shunning is it can be a demonstration of hatred and contempt for another human being. If you shun someone, you may view them as inferior to you, morally or intellectually. In such cases, shunning is evidence of pride and self-righteousness.

When you shun someone you disagree with, you are unable to separate that person from their words or actions. The alternative to shunning is to love people unconditionally, to treat them as you would want to be treated, even if you disagree with what they say or do.

You don’t have to be close friends with a person whose actions or words you find objectionable. But if that person is no danger to you, and is not rude to you, then there is no reason to shun them. Instead, be brave enough to tell them the truth about their behavior. If you speak the right words, you could impact their life.

Notes

  1. Oxford Dictionaries, s.v. “shun,” accessed January 28, 2017, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/shun
  2. Alex Ritman, “Ewan McGregor Cancels Appearance on Piers Morgan’s U.K. TV Show After Women’s March,” Hollywood Reporter, January 24, 2017, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/ewan-mcgregor-cancels-appearance-piers-morgans-uk-tv-show-womens-march-comments-967925
  3. Ibid.
  4. Andy Lewis, “Roman Polanski Rape Victim Unveils Startling, Disturbing Photo for Book Cover,” Hollywood Reporter, July 24, 2013, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/roman-polanski-rape-victim-unveils-591015
  5. “The Slow Burning Polanski Sage,” BBC News, September 28, 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/8278256.stm
  6. Oxford Dictionaries, s.v. “double standard,” accessed January 28, 2017, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/double_standard

What Causes Sexual Orientation: Nature and Nurture

genes-environment-choicesSexual orientation is “an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes.”1 In explaining what causes sexual orientation, it must be emphasized that no one can choose to be gay, bi-sexual, or heterosexual. No one can choose who they feel attracted to. Sexual orientation is determined by two main factors: nature and nurture. Nature refers to genes and biology, while nurture includes environmental and “social influences.”2

One nature factor in sexual orientation is genes. This has been confirmed in scientific studies that measure heritability: the “amount of phenotypic (observable) variation in a population that is attributable to individual genetic differences.”3 For example, if a group of individuals all receive good nutrition (share a similar environment), the differences in height will be due to genetic differences.4 Height is a highly heritable trait.

Heritability is a statistic. It is “expressed as a proportion (such as .60)”, and “the maximum value it can have is 1.00.”5 If heritability is 1.00, “then all variation in a population is due to differences or variation between genotypes.”6 If heritability is 0.00, then “all variation in the population comes from differences in the environments experienced by individuals.”7 Heritability cannot be measured for an individual person, but “only to a particular group living in a particular environment” and “only to variations within a group.”8

Heritability is estimated through twin studies. A 2010 Swedish study, using data from the Swedish Twin Registry, “undertook the largest ever population based twin study to estimate the influence of genetic and environmental effects on same-sex sexual behavior.”9 For the male twins who had “any lifetime same-sex partner”, heritability estimates were 39%.10 For female twins, only “18-19% of same sex sexual behaviors were explained by genetic factors.”11 The study found that genes played a much greater role in same-sex sexual orientation for men than for women.

The second factor in sexual orientation is nurture. The Swedish study found that for male twins, unique environmental factors accounted for 61% of same-sex sexual behavior.12 For female twins, unique environmental factors accounted for 64-66% of same-sex sexual behavior, and 16-17% was due to shared environmental effects.13 For both male and female twins, nurture played a much greater role than nature in determining a person’s sexual orientation.

It is also the consensus of psychiatrists and psychologists that nurture is an important factor in sexual orientation. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, “sexual orientation is determined by a combination of biological and postnatal environmental factors.”14 Similarly, the American Psychological Association states, “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation… No findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles.”15

No one can choose their sexual orientation because no one can choose who they feel attracted to. However, if sexual orientation is determined by nature and nurture, it is also true that no one is born gay, straight, or bi-sexual for a simple and obvious reason: Nurture experiences occur after a person is born.

Notes

  1. “Answers to Your Questions For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality,” American Psychological Association,1, http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf
  2. Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. s.v. “Nature vs nurture.” accessed February 11, 2017, http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Nature+vs+nurture
  3. Encyclopedia Britannica, s.v. “Heritability,” accessed December 12, 2016, https://www.britannica.com/science/heritability
  4. Carol Wade et al., Psychology, 3rd ed. (Toronto: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2010), 95.
  5. Wade, Psychology, 95.
  6. Encyclopedia Britannica, s.v. “Heritability,” accessed December 12, 2016, https://www.britannica.com/science/heritability
  7. Ibid.
  8. Wade, Psychology, 95-96.
  9. Niklas Långström et al., “Genetic and Environmental Effects on Same-sex Sexual Behavior: A Population Study of Twins in Sweden,” Archives of Sexual Behavior 39, no. 1 (February 2010): 76, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/articles/18536986/
  10. Långström, “Genetic and Environmental Effects on Same-sex Sexual Behavior,” 77.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. “Royal College of Psychiatrists’ statement on sexual orientation,” April 2014, 2, http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/PS02_2014.pdf
  15. “Answers to Your Questions For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality,” 2, http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf

Stigmatizing People Through Name Calling

stigma

A stigma is “a strong feeling of disapproval that most people in a society have about something.”1 To stigmatize someone is to “describe or regard [them] as worthy of disgrace or great disapproval.”2 Stigmatization is a means to control human behavior. While certain stigmas are necessary in a healthy society, stigmatizing labels are often wrongly applied to people. If you are going to stigmatize someone, you need to have proof that they are guilty of bad behavior. Otherwise, you may be slandering them.

For good or ill, stigmatization is a means of social control: “the enforcement of conformity by society upon its members, either by law or by social pressure.”3 When a behavior is stigmatized, a person who engages in that behavior may be called a stigmatizing name. This puts pressure on the individual to conform to society’s standards of right and wrong. A stigmatizing name is a mark of shame. The pain of embarrassment can cause a person to change their behavior, at least publicly.

When a behavior is no longer stigmatized, human behavior changes as a result. For example, in previous generations, women were shamed for having children out of wedlock. Today, that stigma has largely been removed, and a much higher percentage of women have children without getting married. In 1940, 3.8% of all births were to unmarried women.4 However, by 2014, the percentage had risen to 40.2%.5 While there are a number of reasons for this social change, the removal of the stigma against out of wedlock births is one important factor. When a behavior is no longer stigmatized, people are more likely to engage in that behavior.

Some stigmas are necessary in a healthy society. One example is Islamophobia, defined as “dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims.”6 If someone expresses hatred or contempt for Muslims, it is fair and accurate to call them an Islamophobe. A social stigma against hatred serves an important function in society: to prevent a nation from tearing itself apart. If public declarations of hatred become widespread, it could lead to violence against innocent people.

While a social stigma against hatred is justified, stigmatizing labels can be wrongly applied to people. For instance, a person can be called Islamophobic if they say anything critical of Islam. Islam is a religion, a set of beliefs and practices, and should not be immune from criticism. To disagree with the teachings of Islam is not the same as hating Muslims. No one should be called an Islamophobe for exercising their right to freedom of speech.

If you are going to call someone a stigmatizing name, you should have proof that they are guilty of wrong behavior. During the 2016 President election, Hillary Clinton labelled millions of people who support Donald Trump as deplorable. She said, “You can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables… Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.”7 Clinton implied that half of Trump supporters hate minorities, immigrants, gays, and Muslims.

Clinton stigmatized Trump supporters without any evidence to prove it. She later apologized for her comment, saying, “I regret saying ‘half’ — that was wrong.”8 However, she still believed that a significant percentage of Trump supporters were deplorable human beings.

When a stigmatizing label is wrongly applied to someone, it is a form of slander: “a false spoken statement about someone that damages their reputation.”9 Unless a person expresses hatred or contempt for a certain group of people, they should not be called racist, homophobic, xenophobic, or Islamophobic. If you call someone a stigmatizing name, you have formed a judgment about that individual. If you are wrong in your judgment, you can do great harm to that individual, damaging their reputation and self-worth.

Stigmatization establishes a “red line” for bad behavior in society. The proper use of a stigmatizing label is to declare the truth about a person’s behavior, not to insult, disparage, or belittle them. When a person is stigmatized, it creates a public perception that they are a bad person. Because of this, no one should be stigmatized unless they do something bad without showing any regret or remorse. The goal of stigmatization should be to make the person face the truth about their behavior, so they stop doing what is wrong.

Notes

  1. Cambridge English Dictionary, s.v. “Stigma,” accessed November 10, 2016,http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/stigma
  2. Oxford Dictionaries, s.v. “Stigmatize,” accessed November 10, 2016, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/stigmatize
  3. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House Inc. s.v. “Social Control,” accessed November 13, 2016, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/stigmatize
  4. Stephanie J. Ventur and Christine A. Bachrach, Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States, 1940–99, National Vital Statistics Reports, October 2000, 17, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr48/nvs48_16.pdf
  5. Brady E. Hamilton, National Vital Statistics Reports, December 2015, 41, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_12.pdf
  6. Oxford Dictionaries, s.v. “Islamophobia,” accessed November 10, 2016, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/islamophobia
  7. Dan Merica and Sophie Tatum, “Clinton expresses regret for saying ‘half’ of Trump supporters are ‘deplorables’,” CNN, September 12, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/09/politics/hillary-clinton-donald-trump-basket-of-deplorables/index.html
  8. Ibid.
  9. Cambridge English Dictionary, s.v. “Slander,” accessed November 14, 2016, http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/slander

Three Traits of Judgmental People

22898573-fake-dictionary-dictionary-definition-of-the-word-judgment-stock-photo

A judgmental person is like a porcupine. If you get too close, you could get hurt. Judgmental people have three common traits: They are overly critical, they show no respect for the person they are critical of, and they justify what they say because they believe it is true. People can become judgmental due to their pride, their hurt and anger at being wronged, and a lack of love for others. Three ways to overcome being judgmental include self-reflection, forgiveness, and seeing the whole person.

Some people will accuse you of being judgmental if you criticize them. However, the word judgmental is defined as “having or displaying an excessively critical point of view.”1 The first trait of a judgmental person is they criticize too much.

No one can handle being criticized all the time. It puts a strain on a relationship because the person being criticized feels unloved. Further, when someone is too critical, it is human nature not to like them. A judgmental person repels others, and will have a hard time forming long-term relationships.

Judgmental people are offensive not only because of their words, but also their tone. They will speak to (or about) a person with hatred, contempt, or disrespect. Instead of speaking calmly and rationally, they can be highly emotional—hurling insults, or using profanity.

A judgmental person will often justify the harsh things they say because they believe it is the truth. However, the truth should not be used as a weapon to hurt someone, or destroy their self-worth.

Every human being has value and worth simply because they are human, not because they are good or bad, a success or a failure. A judgmental person often bases an individual’s worth as a human being on their character traits, or some other criteria. They are unable to separate a person from their actions, to recognize that everyone has equal worth as a human being.

Judgmental people will act like they are superior to you. People who believe they are superior have illusions about themselves. They see themselves as more than they are. In looking down on others, they have an ego problem: a heart filled with pride.

In addition to pride, a person can become judgmental when they are angry at being wronged by someone. Hurt and wounded inside, their heart can grow cold, and they harshly judge the person who mistreated them.

Whatever the root cause, a judgmental person has a heart that lacks love and respect for other people. The danger in being judgmental, is that once you feel hatred, contempt, or disrespect for one human being, it becomes easier to transfer these feelings to another.

One way to stop being judgmental is through self-reflection, by recognizing that we have faults of our own. The more we self-reflect, and realize our own shortcomings, the easier it is to love and accept people as they are.

Another way to stop being judgmental is to forgive the person who wronged us. Forgiveness doesn’t change what the person has done, but it will set us free inside, so we can let go of being hurt, angry, or offended.

A third way to stop being judgmental is to open our eyes and see the whole person. A judgmental person will often hyper-focus on someone’s negative traits, making them blind to their positive qualities. If we can see the whole person, it is much easier to love them.

Instead of being judgmental, we need to be selective in our criticism. When a person does something we believe is wrong, we have two alternatives: say nothing at all, or speak the truth in love. Sometimes it is better to say nothing, to overlook people’s minor flaws and shortcomings. The more you criticize others, the more you will be criticized, and the less likely people will listen to you.

Nonetheless, there are times when we have a duty to speak. For instance, if a person is hurting someone else, it is right and just to speak the truth to make them stop. We may even have to be bold and direct. However, before we correct someone, we should show them love and respect. When a person feels loved and respected, they are more likely to listen to us when we tell them the truth.

Notes

  1. Oxford Dictionaries, s.v. “Judgmental,” accessed October 27, 2016, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/judgmental