Friday, June 8, 2007

People's Court of Dumb Remarks

I got a cc of an email sent to Judge Marilyn Milian of the TV show The People's Court. I reprint it here with permission.

The Honorable Judge Marilyn Milian
The People's Court
401 Fifth Avenue
7th floor
New York, NY 10016

Dear Judge Milian:

I appreciate the way you don't let litigants off the hook when they reveal attitudes which are racist, anti-Hispanic, what-have-you. It is always good to reinforce the notion that prejudice should not and will not be tolerated.

However, I was very surprised by a comment you made on a program while adjudicating a dispute between an ex-husband and wife over the charges for a teenager's sweet sixteen party.
You said: “I don't know a man who does souvenirs and centerpieces [for parties] -- who's straight.”

First of all, although I'm a gay man, I have no idea how to do centerpieces, yet I have a straight male friend who is a florist and who, I presume, does centerpieces every day, including for his children's parties. Sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with it.

I am in no way suggesting that you are homophobic, but I did want to remind you that making generalizations about any group of people is, in essence, stereotyping, and stereotyping people is one of the roots of prejudice. You certainly would not – and should not – like it if people made sweeping generalizations about Hispanics or women.

For the record, how did you even know the ex-husband was necessarily straight? You don't know why they got divorced, and let me tell you that there are a great many “Jim McGreeveys” around even today, married men who are secretly gay [and no, they're not all florists]. (Let me make it clear that I don't know the man in question and have no idea of his sexual orientation.) And along with hairdressers and interior decorators – many of whom are actually straight – gays occupy numerous professions from soldiers to cops to firefighters that aren't generally considered “gay” – again due to stereotyping.

Otherwise, I enjoy your program. Keep up the good work!

The letter writer never received an answer. This is proof that even gay-friendly people can make dumb remarks.

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