They say that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from the Moon. I’ll tell you below how this is related to the ongoing movement to protest against education on queer issues in Icelandic schools.
It started out as a simple and beautiful step of progress, made by the Samtökin ‚78, The National Queer Organization, and the local government of Hafnarfjörður, a town on the outskirts of Iceland‘s capital Reykjavik.
The plan was to add queer issues to the curriculum to educate the young people of the town, abolish prejudice and help those in need to come to terms with themselves.
Why? Because even though Iceland may score high in most tolerance surveys, queerophobia still exists and creates social separation and anxiety and, in the worst cases, drives people to take their own lives.
Naturally, one would then think this kind of forward-thinking would be celebrated amongst the “cool and hip” Icelanders, and it appears that it did just so, except … not by everyone.
Protect the children!
Not long after the news had gone public a Facebook group was formed, called “Verndum börnin” (Protect the children). The purpose was to object to queer education in Hafnarfjörður, as it would “clearly” aim to recruit innocent youths to army of gays, permanently scar children with graphic images of non-heterosexual sex and give child abusers full access to every child in said schools.
Or that‘s what some of the founders and followers of the group say, anyway.
I will not go into who created the group, or who have been supporting it, as that is not the main issue. The main issue is that in 2015 there are still groups of people trying to oppress other groups of people, based only on ignorance.
The problem with everyone having a voice is that if they choose to use that voice, they can no longer seem smart by keeping quiet. The creators of the Internet were clearly geniuses. The people who fill it with their thoughts and comments … well, let’s just say it’s a mixed group (said the woman, posting her thoughts on the Internet, wink wink!).
We want you as a new recruit!
Here’s what it boils down to: In reality, the education on queer issues can be described something like this: Explaining to students that however they were born is completely natural, and that they should respect that other people may be slightly different and have slightly different preferences then they. In short, everyone is fine, just the way they are.
What the “Protect the children” followers are claiming will happen is more like this: Gangs of queer people will use persuasion (and/or hypnotism) to get young kids to give queer sex a go. Preferably on the spot. With them. They often call this “gay recruiting” and it‘s completely beyond me how they can play that scene through in their minds, without seeing the faults of the theory.
And you want to know what amazes me even more? Every time a queerophobe gets to think about queer people, they jump straight to sex. And not just any, everyday, good-ol’ love-making. Oh, no! It’s straight to some hardcore, violent, out of this world, leather-clad, stripper-heeled, perverted imagery. Interestingly made up by their own imagination, although maybe with a little help from an old hetero porno they saw as children.
When queer people meet “straight” people, they don’t go directly to: “Oh, my god! You must really like having someone put something of his body into your body and then go on and on until you’re both blue in the face! Gross!”
99 times out of a 100, they simply don’t give it a second thought. Of course not! Because sexual orientation isn’t about what kind of nasty sex you prefer, if at all. It‘s about who you want to spend your life with. Make memories with, start a family with, watch a movie with, eat ice-cream with, do the dishes with. It’s about who you want by your side to enrich both of your lives.
And teaching young people that it doesn’t matter if that person is different from you, or the same as you, is not a bad thing. If you think that – I hope you’re not a parent.
The wall that can or can not be seen
So, back to the Great Wall of China. The claim that is the only man-made object visible from the Moon dates back all the way to the year 1754. Yes, that‘s right – 207 years before Yuri Gagarin was the first human to actually get into space. It seems the statement was little more than a presumption, a close relative of prejudice.
Today we know that the Great Wall of China is NOT visible with the naked eye from the moon. Not even from the low Earth orbit, where the International Space Station hangs in the air, unless the conditions are perfect and you use a zoom lens. In fact, your vision would need to be seventeen thousand times better than it is, to see the wall from the Moon.
When this became known, a lot of geography books (including the Chinese ones) needed to be changed. Just like Aristotle’s claim that women had fewer teeth than men, this myth could be debunked by acquiring knowledge. (One might think Aristotle had a lot easier job checking teeth then it is to send people to the Moon, but he didn’t bother to, none the less.)
You see, just claiming something is so and so, doesn’t make it true. No matter how often you tell a lie (or a misconception), it doesn’t get any more true or right. You may get people to believe it in the end … but it still doesn‘t change the fact that it’s utter bullshit, made up by people who thought the world would adjust to their own whimsical ideas.
No – the Great Wall of China is not visible from the Moon.
No – women do not have fewer teeth than men.
No – there will be no orgy-lecturing, sex-propaganda or gay-recruiting in Hafnarfjörður.
(If I hadn’t been raised by good people, I would now add: “So shut up and stop being so goddamn stupid!” … but I was, so I won’t.)
Back to the issue at hand. The interesting turn of events is that those in favor of the new education program have started to use the name of the queerophobic group as a hashtag to support the project. Search for “#verndumbörnin” and “#hinseginleikinn” (“protect the children” and “being queer”) and you’ll find dozens and dozens of tweets and posts, stating that the only thing children need to be protected from is prejudice and intolerance.
I realise that we will not eliminate queerophobia in my lifetime. But I welcome every step taken in that direction. Being a queer child or teenager is not easy, and I can think of nothing more helpful than for someone to come along and say: “You know what, you’re not the only one. There are people like you and many of them are doing just fine.”
And obviously the last thing a struggling teen needs is to hear that they have been damaged, they are unnatural or broken. We all just want to fit in and be happy. Not to run around and “tag” others to join the queer club.
And now what?
I don’t think I need to worry too much about how this thing plays out. The voices of prejudice are outnumbered by voices from all walks of life, saying the same thing: “Stop being silly and get on the acceptance-train with us!”
What I worry about is that we may need to step up our game. One town is a good start, and so is teaching about one minority. But queers aren’t the only ones in Iceland, and certainly not in the world, to suffer from prejudice and discrimination.
Why not make it a part of our educational system to get to know more about people of different religion? Or people with disabilities? Or people from other countries? Or gender equality? Or poverty?
Why not have it as a part of our school system to end prejudice and discrimination against … all other people? I know for a fact that if 10 year olds ruled the world – there would be no wars. There would be no poverty or discrimination. They don‘t see the point in it. They are willing to accept that we are all equal.
Why on earth are some people not willing to teach it?