Thursday, November 13, 2008

Does not compute...

The following is a true account of a conversation I had a few years ago. I was in the middle of writing my PhD thesis, and was procrastinating by having coffee with a postdoc from the neighbouring lab. I'd always got on fairly well with "Dr X", although others found her difficult, so her attitude took me completely by surprise.

Me: "How's the job search going?"
Dr X: "Great! I have two offers! Norwich and Brighton!"
Me: "Congratulations, that's great! Which one are you going to take?"
Dr X: "Well, I'm not sure yet. I visited Norwich a few years ago, and it's just really really white, you know? I've found that places like that tend to be kinda racist. I think I might be happier somewhere with a bigger Asian population." (Dr X is a born and bred British citizen whose parents immigrated from Pakistan).
Me: "So, Brighton then?"
Dr X: "Well I'm not sure. It's a nice town, but it's full of poofs".
My first instinct was to laugh - I was sure she was joking. But not only was she most definitely not joking, she didn't even understand why I laughed, or why my amusement gave way to disgust when I realised she was serious.

My reaction to Dr X mirrored how I responded to the passing in California of Proposition 8 - a ban on gay marriage, carried largely by yes votes from visible minorities. How can a person who has been subject to prejudice and discrimination their whole lives, discriminate in turn against others? It seriously does not make ANY sense to me. As a gay Californian said in the linked article, "people do not equate one civil rights struggle with another."

Dr. A had a post on Tuesday that encourages Americans - gay and straight - to come out on Saturday to "Fight the H8". A weekend trip over the border to participate is almost certainly impossible for me, but if you're in the US, please do check out Dr. A's link.

I promise that my next post will mark a return to the usual silliness.


  1. I have been wondering the same thing, and it just doesn't make sense.

    P.S. Your link to Dr.A is broken.

  2. Thanks for the heads up, link is now fixed.

  3. its because many of those ethnic groups have strong religous / family leaning which teach them that homosexuality is wrong. Unfortunate but true.

  4. Figures... I really wish people would keep their religion to themselves and not seek to impose their own restrictive beliefs on others.

    Like I read somewhere recently - you don't like gay marriage? Don't have one! Ditto abortion, birth control, etc etc etc.


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