Social Question

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

When mocking goes to extremes (see details), does it reveal something about groupthink?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38857 points ) May 5th, 2011

My sweet Nullo turned me on to this article, detailing a day when thousands of Christians gathered to mock gay people and stereotypes associated with gay people through dressing up or (clearly!) being nude and performing on stage. So I read through it and saw the pictures and wondered about the hundreds in the crowds who are actually LGBT and miserable for being in the closet and participating in this kind of pathetic activity. And I thought that when this kind of mocking is done to the extreme and in such large numbers, all it really reveals is the innermost desires of the people participating. Seems to me, that guy in a thong and his buddies are simply loving this. What do you think?

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40 Answers

Judi's avatar

Just have to say that this activity is no more “Christian” than Osama bin Laden blowing up the towers was Muslim. Jesus would say, “I don’t even know you, get out of my sight,”
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.” Matthew 25 41–43

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Judi Perhaps, in your opinion, it’s not and of course there are many Christians who find this as deplorable as I do. Nonetheless, Easter was chosen as the time and the thousands of people involved self-identify as Christians. What if they looked your way and said you were the one that’s wrong? What if you, with all your tolerance, have been steered by Satan?

augustlan's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I think you need to read a bit further down… “As you’ve undoubtedly noticed by now, everything in the report above is the exact opposite of true. Yes, there really was a huge public event in San Francisco on Easter Sunday involving Christians, gays, mockery and humiliation. But it was gays mocking Christians and it involved thousands of people laughing at the Christian “hero,” Jesus.”

aprilsimnel's avatar

Those are the 2012 and 2011 hunky Jesus contests from The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Not Christians mocking gay people.

Judi's avatar

Believe me, I have friends who worry that I am “being led astray” because I choose to love liberally like I think Jesus intended. I look at them with sadness knowing that THEY are the ones being led astray. The Bible says “even the elite will be deceived” and I see a lot of deception going on amongst the Christian elite. It breaks my heart. I think it breaks Jesus’ heart too.

Hibernate's avatar

Read the article more like @augustlan said.

THIS HAS BEEN A TEST OF THE
EMERGENCY DOUBLE-STANDARD SYSTEM

If this had been an actual case of Christians mocking gays, you would have heard about it in the mainstream media.

As you’ve undoubtedly noticed by now, everything in the report above is the exact opposite of true. Yes, there really was a huge public event in San Francisco on Easter Sunday involving Christians, gays, mockery and humiliation. But it was gays mocking Christians and it involved thousands of people laughing at the Christian “hero,” Jesus.

But even so It’s sort of pathetic.

But still
GALATIANS 6: 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

FutureMemory's avatar

Haha, awesome.

Jude's avatar

Well, I guess that is the end of that..

optimisticpessimist's avatar

I think the entire article reveals a lot about group think. However, now that you know that it was gays mocking Christians, do you still think it reveals the innermost desires of those participating?

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bob_'s avatar

OH SNAP!

FutureMemory's avatar

I hope Christians everywhere aren’t emotionally scarred from this event =/

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Everyone, I did read the article and I do know that mocking went in the direction nobody would expect (hence no specific mention in the question part of who is doing what) and I wanted to write a detail section that would be expected of ‘someone like me’ according to people’s assumptions. I knew that whatever Nullo sends me would never cast Christians in a negative light. But the fact that it was the other way around was really unfortunate for me to read about. I wanted to give flutherites an hour to respond and to see if people would answer according to knee-jerk reactions (as we’re often accused of here, of being liberals so blinded and anti-christian) and people didn’t, for the most part. This is proof that we’re capable of discerning prejudice regardless of where it comes from.

This is a sad day for the queer community, a sad representation, perhaps a reaction to years of torment, etc. Regardless, since in my own personal life, I’ve been fighting within my own organization to make people aware of their biases towards straight or white people, this article seemed like a good springboard to explore societal expectations of which way intolerance runs. Yet, it runs whatever which way.

I also want to talk about what the mainstream gay community has to do with some of us who don’t identify with it and how, in some ways, that is the same as @Judi not identifying with what other people think Christians are all about.

Haleth's avatar

“If this had been an actual case of Christians mocking gays, you would have heard about it in the mainstream media.”

Apples and oranges. The Christian mocking of gays we hear about in the news is all about a majority acting to persecute a minority. We have Westboro baptist church protesting with “God hates fags” signs or high-schoolers bullying their classmates until they commit suicide.

Here’s how the article described this event:

The event in question is known as the “Hunky Jesus” competition, a semi-serious annual male beauty contest seeking to crown the “hunkiest” — i.e. most sexually appealing — gay (preferably half-nude) Jesus lookalike in San Francisco. Actually, Hunky Jesus is only part of the story; it’s the culmination of a day-long Easter Sunday festival in the city’s Mission Dolores Park. The massive public party/picnic is the closest thing San Francisco has to a municipal Easter celebration, and features several events including an Easter egg hunt for kids, burlesque shows, a campy Easter bonnet contest, musical groups and so on, with Hunky Jesus as the headlining final performance.”

There’s a difference between mocking and irreverence. Mocking uses scorn and derision and often singles out the minority for exclusion. Irreverence has fun with things that are generally taken seriously, in a fun, lighthearted manner. This is at the end of a fun community festival and a Jesus beauty contest would probably shock some people, but there’s a big difference between making fun of Jesus, a religious figure, and making fun of individual people. I scrolled through to look at the pictures and it looks like there are were all kinds of different people in the crowd. The day was about inclusiveness and fun.

bob_'s avatar

Suuuuuure…

wundayatta's avatar

Seems to me that it reveals the rampant cynicism that is engendered in a minority subculture that has been severely discriminated against for much of history in the US. I think minorities often develop cynicism into an art form as a way of coping with discrimination. With cynicism comes mockery and the art of mockery, which, it seems to me, is pointed at themselves as much as it may be pointed at Christianity.

Where, I wonder, is the proverbial chill pill? People can take this stuff so seriously. Hasn’t anyone ever been at a roast? People poke fun at themselves as well as at the hard-ass humorless critics they see just about every day.

But it is different if a majority does it. Minorities have reason to be cynical because there are often discriminated against. Majorities perpetuate that discrimination by making fun of the minority. The minority, almost by definition, can’t do that (unless they have the guns).

We do not have a double standard here. It’s that people are looking at the wrong standard. It’s not an issue of free speech (although Christians have the right to do something like this), it is an issue of power. When the majority acts this way, it is bullying. When the minority acts this way it is protest.

In this country, I think our understanding of the concept of “fairness” is more nuanced than the pundits and blogsters might say. It is all right to protest discrimination, but it is not all right to perpetuate it. Fairness, in this case, must be adjusted for power. With protected minorities (and even unprotected ones), we want them to play on a level playing field. Hence the differential treatment.

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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bob_ Believe what you want, my friend. I guess, that’s what it all comes down to, at the end of the day. Instead of reading, we often jump to conclusions. I circulated this on my facebook wall as well and I figured, among my friends, we’d be like ‘yeah, we can believe that happened’ because we’re so used to it. I just find this entire situation evocative. And it’s bothering me, because there is a lot to tease out here and people defending this in nuanced ways and I’m still working through it.

Haleth's avatar

@noelleptc Well, not necessarily innocent. Obviously the hunky Jesus contest was pretty sexual and there was a message. But lighthearted and playful? Definitely. Looking over my post, I massively overused the word ‘fun.’ Repetitive language much?

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Well… I see a lot of “groupthink” crap going on HERE every time there’s a congregation of jellies mocking Christians and carnivores and users of homeopathy. What that reveals is this: people bitch and moan about “Why can’t we just accept people for who they are and stop being so judgemental”, yet those are usually the people who are the most judgemental of others who don’t fall into their way of thinking.

Examples I’ve seen on this site:
1. You’re a Christian? You’re a delusional, pathetic waste of space.
2. Oh, you eat meat? You’re an abusive, animal killing asshole!
3. You use homeopathy? Pffft, you’re a horrible parent for giving your kids sugar pellet placebos and your kids should be taken away from you!

And you know what? That “groupthink” garbage that I just mentioned comes from the same people who, on other threads, say “Why are you so judgemental? Why can’t you just accept everyone as they are?”

I consider myself to be a very laid back Christian, who believes in God, but always admits that I’m far from perfect. I was raised as a Southern Baptist, but look at me- I drink, I dance, I cuss, I smoke, I watch porn with my husband, and I’d love to have sex with a woman one time. But at least I admit that I’m a judgemental hypocrite, unlike all the closet hypocrites.

This will never end, as long as we all keep pointing our fingers at other “groups”, saying “They’re to blame”. Everyone is at fault, and everyone judges, whether they want to admit it or not. Groupthink comes about when the closet hypocrites who whine “I’m so sick of being judged” start judging other people, to feel better about themselves. But no one wants to look at themselves close enough to realize that they are part of the problem.

Mocking goes to extremes on Fluther itself, all the time, only most are too chicken shit to admit it. That reveals that everyone is guilty of groupthink, no matter how high their horse is.

tinyfaery's avatar

This is an odd thread. I have no idea how to answer this question.

I wish I could have seen it for myself. Then, and only then, could I even begin to make a judgment.

Jude's avatar

Odd is right. I still don’t believe that the OP read the article all of the way through.

janbb's avatar

It’s making my brain ache.

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bob_'s avatar

@Jude Believe what you want, buddy XD

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@noelleptc Thank you very much ma’am. And I’d rather not start a church, as I’m mad at “the church” right now. Can we start a coffee shop instead?”

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WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Sweet. I’ll create my own special: The Sinner- double shot of chocolate liqueur mixed with chocolate milk, topped with chocolate whipped cream and mini chocolate chips, served with a hollow chocolate straw.

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snowberry's avatar

I am a Christian. This behavior does not sound like any Christian behavior I have ever seen. And NO true Christian ever would parade around nude (I didn’t read the article because it looks like garbage).

It is possible these people were posing as Christians in order to slam the reputation of the real Christians. I seriously question the source of your article.

Edit: And now that I have read the comments by the above flutherites. I think it’s pretty stupid.

bob_'s avatar

@noelleptc You mean you could be a good Cuban dictator?

snowberry's avatar

I also totally agree with @WillWorkForChocolate‘s assessment of the political climate here. There is an establishment here. If you don’t swim with them, they will try to cut you to pieces. If they can’t do that, they’ll do their best to discredit you and make fun of you.

Shilolo was especially good at that, but he appears to be on sabbatical.

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Nullo's avatar

Whoa, whoa whoa! Read all the way through the article!

bob_'s avatar

But @Nullo, this is, like, a trick question and stuff! Yep, that’s the ticket.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Sigh. Sorry you guys. Bad exersize. Thought it was a cool idea.
@Nullo I did.

bob_'s avatar

Oh, it was a cool thread, alright.

iamthemob's avatar

There are a lot of issues to unpack here. I’m going to talk about what I think is the most important, in most likely a cursory fashion, and hope this conversation keeps going.

@wundayatta, @WillWorkForChocolate, and @Haleth all have some great and insightful comments here – and personally, I think @wundayatta deserves particular note where it talks about fairness as a nuanced concept.

I think that this article reveals, indeed, a profoundly upsetting double standard. I don’t think that there’s so much an issue of “groupthink” here as there is the central issue of who bears the responsibility for the image of a community. We can all in a personal and smaller scale end up agreeing that no Christian is the same as another, and that Christianity represents a diverse set of people and beliefs. We can say the same about Muslims. We can say the same about LGBTs.

The double standard comes into play, though, on the larger scale. In the U.S., the vast majority of people identify as Christians. Where someone, for whatever reason, speaks out about Christians generally, or talks about an example of Christians behaving badly, I see Christians stating, as they rightfully should, that such-and-such doesn’t represent all Christians. I also see, less rightfully, claims that whatever the bad example is is “not a true Christian.” It is, however, the job of the non-Christian to understand that, and not the job of the Christian to stand up and prove it, when it really comes down to it.

When we have the same situation above where there is a bad act by a Muslim, it seems further proof of uniformity. If the moderate Muslim community doesn’t immediately speak out, and constantly do so, and do so in exactly the way that the majority wants them too, then it seems Muslims should expect that people think about them as terrorists, because they are not doing enough to prove that they’re not. It’s so important, in fact, that we actually have Congressional hearings on whether the Muslim community is doing enough to police itself.

But trying to speak out every time someone who shares your religion does something wrong in order to have it accepted you’re not the same person they are, and not being allowed to step out of line in any way, or be silent at any time, is exhausting.

With the LGBT community, where there are bad acts, it’s again proof of uniformity. Where accusations are levied at the community, it seems the responsibility of that community to respond with profound proof that the accusation is false…even if it’s the same accusation that’s always been made, based on data that is decades old (the same data that has been used since the accusations began). If we don’t speak loundly, calmly, and with enough respect, all of us, then it must be true.

But again…that is exhausting.

This is what I see as the real double standard. Christians always seem to get to use the “no true scotsman” defense…and the rest of us don’t.

What’s upsetting is that, as the majority, in a religion that is about acceptance, tolerance, and peace, it really should be the Christian community’s responsibility to call itself to task for what is said in the name of its community. But they are not. Because we should understand that where Christians preach radical hate, they are not true Christians. And that is all the argument required.

Let me then say this: The people discussed in that article, who are being disrespectful, are not true members of hte LGBT community.

If that sounds odd…perhaps you see the double standard too. ;-)

optimisticpessimist's avatar

I think @iamthemob did a very good job of pointing out there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people in any group and the whole group should not be judged or condemned because of the actions of a few. It is also the job of the group to police itself. This does become easier when there is not ‘mob mentality’. Say a church teaches hate and intolerance, it is the responsibility of other churches to denounce such teachings and make it known this is not the beliefs of any church which carries the same name (denomination or religion.) This does become more difficult with the fact there are so many denominations of Christians out there. Example: Baptists assume everyone should know their beliefs are similar but not the same as Lutherans or Catholics. Even Baptist churches vary in their teachings so it behooves the individual churches to condemn the acts that are in violation of the core beliefs of Christianity or they run the risk of guilt by association.

Mob mentality is different as it implies these are not necessarily the beliefs or normal actions of the group associated with the mob. The problem I had with this particular ‘mob’ (as taken from the article) was they accepted and even cheered on behavior which would not normally be tolerated in public and even in some instances private. It disturbed me the ‘Jesus effing Christ’ was cheered on and even won the competition not because of the imagery or the ‘blasphemy’ involved but because he mimicked sex with a ‘doll’ in front of young children. I do not know any parent who would cheer on or even accept such behavior as appropriate in front of their young kids in normal circumstances. This also goes for the fondling of ‘The Hunky Jesus’ on stage. But I do not know who should hold more responsibility, the people who actually performed the questionable acts or the parents who did nothing.

Jeruba's avatar

The San Francisco institution Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who sponsored this event (according to the article—and indeed you can see Sisters in several of the photos), are justly famous for various kinds of public naughtiness. Irreverence is their style and their banner. They are also a very serious community service organization.

To me there is no such thing as a group of people that has only one dimension.

I don’t believe this event had anything to do with groupthink unless it was to challenge it.

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