In the wake of the slaughter of 49 people at an Orlando gay club this last weekend, I read an interesting post today on Facebook by religious activist Paul Raushenbush. Here’s what he had to say:

In the heartfelt post, he articulated exactly the sick shock and hurt that I felt following the Ghomeshi trial. I was done tolerating MRA acquaintances and their casual sexism. I was done pretending that “stop being an SJW” was an acceptable (albeit hypocritical) comeback from people who themselves are extremely PC, perpetuate the status-quo, and are simply overly offended by the mind-boggling notion that women want to be seen as people. I was done indulging rape apologists. I was done being politically correct, polite, and silent while I felt like my soul was dying. I know exactly how Paul Raushenbush feels.

Fuck “love the sinner, hate the sin.” All I hear in these conversations now is death.

Well put, Raushenbush. That phrase always irked me as well. Both homophobes and misogynists are subscribed to this notion that men and women have to be and act a certain way, and when real live humans don’t adhere these boxy social norms, they are met with hatred and disgust. It’s perplexing, but it happens.

As Paul felt “pathetic” that it took the slaughter of 49 people for him to realize that enough is enough, I felt equally pathetic when it took a high-profile case of alleged rape for me to see the unimaginable misogyny rampant in my home country of Canada. A few months before the Ghomeshi trial, I fell into silence when I recounted an assault experience at a club to a man I had once seen as a confidant. He responded with, “but you shouldn’t have been there.” I had no idea what to say. Then again when Ghomeshi was acquitted and this “friend” was silent, I knew which side he was on, and it wasn’t mine. It was like the turning on of a light bulb.

It is in times of deep injustice that we see who our friends are. Sometimes it is shocking when we stand alone.

I don’t want to hear about whether or not LGBT people deserve to use the bathroom. I do not want to debate about what “marriage” should mean. I also don’t want to entertain your thoughts on whether or not there’s a gender gap, or whether animals can feel pain. Before the Civil War, people were even debating whether or not blacks counted as humans. We’ve been having these stupid debates for hundreds of years and it is exhausting. How can people carry on such discussions seriously? It’s an insult to our intelligence that harbours a thin veil for prejudice.

There is no more debate on queer lives. I will love and be loved and my love is not a question mark in your canon. I will not debate at your annual gathering. There is either death, or life. I will choose life.

Thank you for articulating this so clearly, Paul. I am also done debating. There is nothing to discuss. It is black and white. You either support human rights, or you don’t. Human rights are the rights to live life unencumbered. You either choose life or death.

But what about those of us who aren’t human, but are still sentient? There was a time when people of different races were likened to animals to “dehumanize” them, but what if, instead of denigrating people, we started elevating the status of animals? To say that we should “humanize” animals would be a misnomer, but if we stopped talking about human rights and animal rights like they were two different things, but instead invented a new concept, like “soul’s rights”? Ahimsa? Not unnecessarily harming anyone that could feel pain? Not doing anything to anyone that you wouldn’t want done to yourself?

In some ways, “soul’s rights” is a simpler concept than human rights–so simple it’s golden. Animals don’t need the right to work, earn wages, vote, get married, and own property. But they also deserve to live their lives unencumbered. They deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, just as we do. And they deserve our love and care.

I hope to someday live in a world where there is no carnage. Where no living being is discriminated against. Where no community or species knows the pain of slaughter. I choose life for all living entities.

orlando massacre samita sarkar

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