When A Stranger Hurls Homophobic Slurs At You In Public

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    Aug 25, 2007 5:11 PM GMT
    Well the thing is...to all those who evoke the word Karma...Karma was upset in this scenario, but not by the old couple who were stealing. Karma was upset by Aero, who made it his business to engage them. Of course the man got angry, and of course he shouted. Lie down with snakes=wake up with fangs in your neck.

    I've spoken up to litterbugs and other minor law breakers the same way, so I am not faulting you, Aero, for speaking up, but I wanted to point out the CAUSE/EFFECT nature of this situation to show that you are not blameless here.

    It is none of our business to assume we know what is going on with these old people's lives. They are perhaps on a fixed income, things are getting more expensive as their income stays the same, etc. Maybe this is how they make ends meet? Maybe this is how lots of folk everywhere make ends meet, and none of us is personally responsible or has much personal power to change it with our day to day behavior.

    To that end, Aero, we have to realize that being a vigilante citizen may result in some wounds ( good that this time it was only homophobic slurs and not a tazer or a knife or gun) when an already disgruntled and poor criminal is distracted from their work. That's why I can't jump on the bangwagon and support you here. I'm sorry--what you did seems dangerous. (I still think you're way hot though.) :-)

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    Aug 25, 2007 5:43 PM GMT

    I'm glad you explained your thoughts further, because now we can make sense of them.

    That being said, however, I can't agree with your conclusions. I understand that your basic premise is that it's possible that this elderly couple does this so they don't starve. Does that make it ethically justifiable to steal from other people to make your own ends meet? That is, in essence, what this elderly couple was doing, because parking meters do go to public services. We don't have to presume anything about the couple to state that cheating others to make your or any other person's situation better isn't an ethically justifiable act.

    While it may be just change, I'm wary of putting a dollar amount on ethics. Regardless of their situation, they are still stealing from other people to change their or someone else's state. Other people are harmed in their act, and if we want to talk about karma (not that I believe in it), then it's just as easy to say, if not moreso, that karma was upset by their harmful act of theft. In that case, Aero could be seen as balancing karma by standing up to prevent harm.

    That's the way I see this situation.
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    Aug 25, 2007 6:00 PM GMT
    Sorry, Tofustud, but from where I sit you seem to be sinking deep into moral relativism. It's true that for the vast majority of strangers, and even many people we know, we don't know all of the reasons behind their actions. However, their actions are what we can observe, and on what we get to judge.

    As Chewy_delt has pointed out, this couple was stealing. They were taking something which belonged to someone else so that they could use it themselves. Maybe it was how they made ends met, but that doesn't change the fact that they are not the victims here--the victims are those who are being stolen from, in this case most likely the local government. Since this is a government, a reduced income due to theft will mean less money available to provide services, both ones which are freely available to all (such as repaving the sidewalks) and those which are targeted to individuals deemed to be deserving of them (such as welfare services).

    There are laws which can be broken to which moral aspects don't attach. Crossing a street not at a crosswalk when there's no traffic present, for instance, is a no brainer example. There are grayer issues higher up the line, where people can debate whether consensual gambling, drug use, prostitution, etc have moral implications. But theft has a victim, even if it's not theft from a specific individual. Steal from the government and there are fewer resources available for the government's mission. Steal from a business and they'll raise prices to cover costs and everyone will end up paying more.

    There may be circumstances that make us feel sympathy for this thieving couple, but sympathy doesn't mean we have to excuse their harmful actions. They are the ones responsible for this situation by choosing to steal; Aero deserves commendation for choosing to stand up for what's right rather than just letting them inflict harm however they see fit.
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    Aug 25, 2007 6:30 PM GMT
    You did the right thing.

    When someone shouts slurs at you, turn the other cheek. The slur doesnt really "hurt" you. If you "turn the other cheek" and let it pass, you should that the name calling is petty and not worth noticing. You show that the other person cannot get control by such petty insults. You are not going to surrender control of yourself for that. When you have shown that, the other person (and anyone else) see that the other person is powerless over you.

    As for the way you confronted the people, maybe it wasn't the best way. The confrontation may have stopped the robbing of the parking meter, but it didnt do anything for the root cause of their actions.

    These are people who are obviously totally beaten down by life. You are not. You could use your strength to get help for these people.

    The robbing of the parking meter could be seen as the least trivial aspect of this encounter. From your position in life, you could have asked what was wrong, why were these people doing this, what did they need done for them.

    At first, you probably would have gotten a similar angry response as you did get. But if you pursued your inquiry so that they saw you were really interested in getting them help for their situation in life, they probably would have stopped, spilled their guts, and accepted help.

    In the end, the meter wouldnt have gotten robbed and you would have shared your strength with some hurting people. Whereas, stopping the robbing of the meter was a good thiing. Helping those people would have been greater.

    If you were in their situation, would you have wanted someone to reach out and try to help you. Of course. Treat others as you would have others treat you.
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    Aug 25, 2007 7:37 PM GMT
    This is dicey territory anyway, because we've got a dual debate going on here. What to do when a Stranger is Hurling Slurs and a Manifesto for Vigilantism--both of which require separate Jerry Springer episodes.

    Thnx for the debate guys. It is fun. :-)
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    Aug 25, 2007 9:16 PM GMT
    Aero, you did exactly the right thing and are to admired. Don't think I would have kept my cool as well as you in the same situation.

    Checked your profile, saw you are 6'1" and 180. This senior citizen wouldn't have given you any sass, for sure. The gay slurs are probably the geezer's standard response to any confrontation, wouldn't think twice about it.

    I had my Sally Field moment the 1st time somebody in a passing car yelled "faggot" at me in Goergetown, DC, in the late '70's. I had just come out, lost weight, was wearing by Levi401s and had my clone mustache. I was delighted. "I look gay!, They think look gay! Whoopee!"
  • MikePhilPerez

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    Aug 26, 2007 9:13 PM GMT
    Caslon makes a very good point here about offering the couple help, but saying that I can not fault you Aero.

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    Aug 27, 2007 7:21 AM GMT
    It hadn't happened to me yet, however, it hurts, once I was at my usual hangout place, and there was a fight, and one of the guys at the bar left, while other started to shout all sort of slurs, and afterwards the rest of the people just laughing and mocking and telling jokes about the guy who left, it hurts because I realized that those people I use to hang out with, make jokes, have drinks and toast together, won't be doing that if I told them I do guys. Is sad.

    You did the right thing btw!! :-)

    If I ever have to face that, and is a man, I will beat the shit out of him.
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    Aug 27, 2007 10:44 PM GMT
    To all of you telling Aero what he should have done or what you would have done do really know what you would do.

    In my opinion, no one knows what they would do until they are actually in that situation.

    Someone suggested going up to them and asking "What's wrong?" Somone even said they were starving.

    Again you can't possibly know what was going on with them. A lot of times, when people resort to those types of crimes, they may be high and trying to get money for their next fix.

    It's always risky when you decide to get involved in that kind of situation. You never know if they're under the influence of something, if they have a gun, knife, whatever.

    Aero, I think still you did the right thing. Congrats.