‘Hippie’ not a slur to be taken lightly
For the second time in recent months, a person openly, and to my face, hatefully called me a “hippie,” inferring that I was somehow lesser of a human being due to my long hair and beard. Most recently it happened at Snowmass ski area.Let’s be honest with ourselves. When spoken with hatred, this type of slur is bigotry, prejudice, equal to calling a person a Jew, nigger, spic, etc. And let us not delude ourselves about our advancement of social moral integrity, or rather a lack there of. It was only 80 years ago women gained the right to vote, 50 years ago that blacks gained equal rights as American citizens, and 60 years ago that eight million Jews, Romas, Poles, and homosexuals were systemically murdered in the holocaust. With no lesser importance I will refrain from mentioning the other significant genocides that occurred since that time; except for the one in Iraq where we have “collaterally damaged” to death hundreds of thousands of dark skinned people with no concern for their equality of humanity.If you have seen Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat,” you know that extreme racism still exists today in the United States. The protections of our rights and liberties as equal persons is more fragile that we realize or admit.Beyond the serious issue of bigotry, here are a few necessary words on “hippies,” for they earn far more respect than they get. Hippies have proven an effective and valuable force in America over the past 45 years. Like few other groups, subcultures, or minorities, they have exercised basic human and constitutional rights to protest unnecessary and unjust military incursions and abuses against civil liberties, courageously utilizing civil disobedience to present a unique moral perspective contrary to the mainstream. They opened America to a freedom of sexuality, which was and is so oppressed by residual Puritanical restrictions of right and wrong.They have successfully fought to protect the rights of animals, encouraging vegetarianism, thereby uplifting the protections of human rights to a near guarantee. And those “tree huggers” (a slur) have defended the earth against obscene violations of the natural ecosystems essential for life on earth, which we now know are in serious jeopardy of complete destruction. They are responsible for demonstrating the religious freedom to practice spirituality in unconventional ways, bringing a vital check and balance to the religious fundamentalism and intolerance so prevalent around this country and the world. They are almost single-handedly responsible for the awakening consciousness towards natural foods, holistic health, and the environmental importance of organic farming practices.They have advocated peace, nonviolence, and chosen to live in ways counter culture to the mainstream, providing a richness of diversity to the American experience. Who cares if they do drugs and don’t want to work in the conventional model? Whatever it is that they do, regardless if it upsets our sensibilities, has provided them with a self awareness and consciousness of a high and rational moral center, and an ethical motive to action few religions or governments have ever succeeded to inspire.Hippies are the sages of this country who have defended and upheld the basic human rights and freedoms all you “haters” out there take for granted.When will we learn to have true respect for other human beings? Maybe that day will come when we learn nonviolence towards other creatures (of all species). Did I mention animal rights already?Christopher Brod is a resident of Snowmass. Editor’s note: Soapbox runs weekly on the Sunday opinion page. This spot is a forum for valley residents to comment on local topics. If you’d like to contribute, contact Naomi Havlen at The Aspen Times at 925-3414, extension 17624 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.
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