Civil rights should be an obsolete issue

Yunchang Kwak

After all the teaching they do in school to tell you about the history of American prejudice, to think that there are still civil rights issues today seems disappointing.

What caught my attention to this matter were two things: first, the gay marriage issue that’s still going on today, especially with California’s Proposition 8 being ruled unconstitutional; and second, Time’s “History of Intolerance” special on their website.

For those caught out of the loop, the California Superior Court overturned Proposition 8 which states that, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The overturning, however, was temporarily suspended pending an appeal.

Keeping in mind that there is still intolerance about, let’s focus on what you usually learn in the American classroom.

Now the education stuff I can surely quote comes from a certain high school in Kansas. My education may lean a little toward liberal because where I lived was in a very liberal area of Kansas. Your mileage may vary. Regardless if these topics were covered in school for you or not, some of these you may have heard about.

Those boring classroom topics serve a purpose: to teach the history of intolerance that has occurred in the past and the consequences of such forms of intolerance.

Several examples of intolerance are the Rodney King incident, the black civil rights movement in the 1960s, the Chinese Exclusion Act, Manifest Destiny and the U.S. Civil War. Interestingly though, I don’t think I’ve ever heard about the homosexual rights movement in school.

And this brings me to my point. The year is now 2010 and you would think that intolerance would be a thing of the past in the United States. Haven’t we all reaped the benefits of acceptance? I still don’t get for the life of me why people would think they are superior to others just because they are different.

Even though it’s not my taste, I don’t feel particularly inclined to label off homosexual people and say gay marriage should be banned. After all, this is the land of the free, is it not? What makes me better than anyone else to tell them that they should do something and can’t do others? I feel that as long as something doesn’t harm a particular group of people, why should I care about it?

Apparently some people care a lot. Take for example the Yes on 8 organization in California that is trying to rally support for Proposition 8. Or take for example, a pair of Marines who knocked out a gay man who they thought was “winking” at them. Because Georgia does not have laws that specifically address hate crimes toward gays, the case is being treated as an assault case and not a hate crime case, according to Edge Boston. Even in my hometown, which is considered one of the most liberal places in Kansas, there was a recent case where a gay man was beaten up for being gay after being offered a ride.

All the peoples, cultures and economies of the world are becoming integrated with one another, and we have to start accepting people for who they are. The world changes at a rapid pace and so must we adapt our personalities to that rapid change. I believe that when we can rid ourselves of arguing over frivolous matters such as civil rights, which I believe shouldn’t be an issue, we can devote more time and attention to more important matters.