Thursday, January 20

Samuel Luiz, our George Floyd | Ideas

Spontaneous altar placed in the place where Samuel Luiz received the fatal beating.
Spontaneous altar placed in the place where Samuel Luiz received the fatal beating.îSCAR CORRAL

Perhaps the beast is “just us.” These are the words of Simon, the vulnerable and “rare” child, in the eyes of his shipwrecked companions, of the fabulous and monstrous Lord of the Flies. It will be he, the one who lucidly points out the true identity of the beast that the other children have believed to see, who is finally mistaken for it and beaten to death by his companions in the suffocating darkness of the night. Irrational prejudice, fear of the unknown, fear, drives of desire and aversion, everything that is in us and can only be tamed by reason and education will be what ends up causing chaos and barbarism in dystopia. insular by William Golding.

These days we have seen how the brutal and deadly collective aggression that ended the life of the young Samuel in A Coruña, beaten up by a herd shouting “fag!” . Apparently it would all come down to an irrational force that we cannot cope with when we act as a tribe, as if belonging to the animal kingdom were an excuse to kill in a group. Fortunately, people are more complex and we grow and live in society. In the Hobbesian state described by Golding, the reader is at least comforted knowing that the story takes place on an island where there is no civilization, although the fine balance that sustains the dialectic between barbarism and democracy is embodied by its characters. But, when jumping from fiction to the chronicles of the investigations on the Samuel case, I wonder what is wrong when we need to resort to animals to justify our savagery. It is as if humans are not characterized by having a reason that we educate to guide our decisions and actions in the best direction. Our reasonableness allows us to decide which desires are more prone to yielding, which atrophy us and encourage violence, and which others amplify our capacities to relate to our fellow human beings. An example would be empathy, the old Kantian notion that tells us about imagination, the categorical imperative, expanded thinking. They come to mean the same thing: our intelligence allows us to put ourselves in the place of the other to discover something new in that person, but also in ourselves. We are beings full of creativity and sophistication: we know how to speak, we cook our food. Why do we compare ourselves with animals to understand such a crime?

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The strange thing about going to chimpanzees to explain gregarious behavior is that great apes don’t kill with the cry of “fag!” So we stopped talking about why the nameless fagot is a universal scapegoat, an infamous war cry that is still free to utter. And also why it is not necessary for the identification of the victim’s sexual orientation to be known. Samuel was doubly victimized: for being identified as gay and publicly labeled with the epithet of “fag.” This means, first, that he is homosexual and second, that there is permission to harm him because he is a subhuman. It is possible that with that beating someone will score points on the obtuse scale of toxic masculinity, something we did not talk about either. Insulting someone in this way is part of the development of a male identity that unfortunately remains hegemonic. They already know: Boys Will Be Boys. Because there is that masculinity that punishes those who reject the path of the construction of their gender under its narrow molds, as also happens to women trans who openly adhere to femininity. And yes, it must be said without fear: it is called homophobia, a systematic form of violence that operates through stigma. It is not an isolated event, it is “an atmosphere, a toxicity that invades the air,” Judith Butler tells us. She is moved by fear or what Iris Marion Young calls “border anxiety”, because “the border between attraction to people of the other sex and to those of the same sex is unstable.”

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Perhaps to understand something like this it is easier to think about ourselves, about the panic we experience when something external destabilizes the solid pillars of our self. The fear of difference always comes from there, from making us permeable and placing ourselves in a place where we do not recognize ourselves, which shakes our own image. We lose that tranquility: our ordered identity. When I have an older person in front of me, for example, I cannot help thinking with disgust that I will be like this, that I will grow old like her. The dynamics of aversion arises when I realize that the different one before me is someone like me, that the border between the gay person and the heterosexual person is that porous. Iris Marion Young describes it well: “Anyone can become gay, especially me; therefore, the only way to defend my identity is to turn around with irrational disgust ”. Our society was built from a monolithic definition of genders, avoiding its ambiguity: a man is a man and a woman is a woman. It’s called “gender order.” Homosexuality dislocates that order and reminds us of our impossible desire to maintain a unified identity, and that is why we expel what could violate it. The fear of coming out of the closet is the fear of suffering stigma, rejection, violence, the ambiguous feeling of being invisible while being marked as different.

To avoid talking about all this is to avoid making ourselves responsible as a society for what happened with Samuel, that is, to politicize him. His father asked for it, but Samuel is nobody’s. Because it was surprising the number of voices that spoke out denouncing precisely this, that the pain over his death was shared collectively. As if we had not already done it with the victims of the covid, or with those of ETA. To politicize Samuel’s death is to encourage a discussion where we deliberately subject our often unconscious drives to try to change them. This idea of ​​”becoming aware” was used by women during the sixties to share those problems that, as Betty Friedan said, “had no name” and shared without knowing it. In our society, there are too many patterns conforming “that toxicity that invades the air” without us often noticing them. For a boy to hide his sexual orientation at home is a problem, and it is systemic because it is part of that social atmosphere that some people, like George Floyd, ended up preventing from breathing. Sexism, homophobia, racism, are only confronted through knowledge, reading, public discussion, the cultivation of humanity that provides a liberal education based on civic values ​​in the face of the inane media consumption of emotions to which we are so accustomed . To explain Samuel’s crime with chimpanzees is to underestimate the importance of our education. Or of its lack.

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