Such a superficial attempt to show one cares

Over at Right Wing Watch, Brian Brian Tashman reports on Tea Partier Selena Owens’s reaction to the Grammy awards.  His post is titled “Prove You’re Not Homophobic By Complimenting Your Lesbian Store Clerk’s Haircut,” which helps draw attention to this part of Owens’s statement:

Sometimes I deliberately go through the checkout line of the lesbian clerk to drop a few words of Jesus’ love in her ear and then compliment her haircut.

There’s just so much that’s wrong with that statement.  Not least of all, I find it telling that her go-to example of “coming into contact with LGBT people” is a situation where she approaches a working class person at her place of employment.1  Owens is approaching someone in a situation where she’s operating from a position of power.  This poor lesbian who’s just there trying to do her job has to put up with whatever conversation Owens may start up2 because, let’s face it, she has a job to do.

Heaven forbid that Owens actually seeks out LGBT people in places where they may be on equal footing to her and be equally comfortable.  Or heck, heaven forbid she step outside her own comfort zones3 to approach LGBT people on their terms.

Then there’s the whole “compliment her hairstyle,” an act that Owens seems to pat herself on the back for.  As if such a superficial pleasantry somehow shows she actually cares about the woman.  You know, as I think of a lesbian working as a cashier in a grocery show, here are the things that cross my mind:

  • How much is she making?  How many hours does she get per week?  Does her schedule and her hourly wage work out to something she and any family she has can live on?
  • Does she have healthcare through her employer?  Can her partner (if she has one) be covered through that her employer’s plan?  Her partner’s kids (if she has any)?
  • What kind of harassment does she have to put up with from some of the customers who come through her line?

Granted, these are not questions I’d ask a random stranger who’s ringing up my groceries.  That would be completely inappropriate.  But knowing those are serious questions with potentially serious ramifications, I also wouldn’t do something as superficial as compliment her on her haircut and pat myself on the back as if I’d become the epitome of compassion.

Owens’s second example is just as awful:

Or I encourage the star-struck 17-year-old to become informed on political issues that will affect her life, then discuss those big hoop earrings she’s sporting.

Why is Owens automatically assuming that this young woman isn’t already informed on political issues that will affect her life?4  And why does she simply encourage the young woman to “become informed” on such a topic and then go on to discuss those big hoop earrings?  Maybe the young woman would rather discuss the political issues that affects her life — those issues that she may well know better than Owens, as it’s her life.

This whole thing reeks of a person who obviously sees herself as superior to others seeking to engage others in situations where her perceived superiority is reinforced by the circumstances, behaving in a manner that makes it clear she feels herself superior, and acting patronizing.  And she thinks this paints her in a positive light?

1And don’t even get me started on the whole “deliberately” doing so thing, as if Owens finds choosing to through a particular checkout lane some major effort or ordeal on her part.

2Let’s face it, I’ve seen what passes for “a few words of Jesus’ love” in some Christians’ minds when it comes to LGBT people.  It ain’t pretty, and most decent people would wonder what definition of that word such Christians are using.

3Assuming she doesn’t think just talking to a lesbian — even in a place where Owens can probably still create problems for her by simply complaining to the store manager — as something terribly uncomfortable.

4Oh, right.  Because Owens is probably assuming that anyone who is really informed on such issues will automatically agree with her.  The condescending smugness of it all is vile.

3 thoughts on “Such a superficial attempt to show one cares”

  1. And let’s not even comment on how ridiculous she makes herself by assuming “lesbian” or ” politically ignorant” based entirely on superficial judgments based on appearance.
    I’d rather not come into contact with her few words of Jesus’ love. I’d probably end up overturning tables.

  2. How exactly does she know that this cashier is a lesbian? Unless the cashier has told her, which is highly unlikely, (I do not recall ever telling someone – especially a total stranger – my orientation) she is making assumptions based on her own world view. What exactly does a lesbian look like anyway? I know several lesbians and they are as diverse in their appearance, actions, and mannerisms as anyone else. I’m all for showing people the love of Jesus, but something tells me that her version of the love of Jesus would be very different than what Jesus would actually do.

  3. As a Christian – I prefer to show Jesus’ love through my actions and not just words because just about anyone can “talk the talk”. I don’t think I have ever been aware of my cashier’s ( or anyone else’s for that matter) sexual orientation based on simple interaction..

    What I also believe is that I live in a HUGE glass house and I am not willing to throw a stone at anyone. One of the failings of Christians in general – legalistic, judgmental attitudes and we convince ourselves we are less of a sinner than someone else because we don’t sin their way. Sin is not like Olympic Diving – there are no degrees of difficulty – a liar is just as sinful as a murderer. I prefer to show love to all and not be judgmental! This Owens person – she proves that the jackass gene is dominant! Great blog post Jarred!

Leave a Reply