Slavery: What’s So Bad About It?

I’ve been thinking about slavery a lot lately and wonder what the big deal is.   I’m certainly not suggesting slavery again for African-Americans. They’ve taken their turn. I think we can find other candidates. How about Mexican workers (and by “Mexican” I mean anybody originating south of Brownsville, TX). They are only about $5.00 an hour away from being slaves already. If you exchange the $5.00 an hour wage for room and board, you’re pretty much there!

Both the original United States Constitution and the Bible plainly approve of slavery.

We as a nation are constantly referencing our founding fathers and what their intentions were while forming this great country and framing the constitution.  As they sat at those long tables and worried over the correct wording of one of the finest documents in history, slaves were carrying in their snacks and beer. Many of our founding fathers owned slaves. Few gave it a second thought. After all, the slaves were of an inferior race not deserving of the rights afforded in the constitution.

A scene from our glorious past. "Hey folks, who wants to buy a PERSON!"

Life liberty and the pursuit of happiness was never meant to apply to slaves.

Article I Section 9 of the US Constitution even levies taxes on the importation of slaves.  “…a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.   The approval of the practice is pretty darn clear if our revered founding fathers were taxing it.

In the interest of full disclosure I will acknowledge that my family owned slaves in the 17th century. This was not in the deep south but in aristocratic Albany, New York.  I personally have never owned a slave.

The Bible supports our founding fathers’ owning of slaves. I’m just guessing here, but I can imagine the conversation at some of the dinner tables of our founding fathers:  “But dear, owning other people is wrong. It’s not civilized”   “Oh, woman, just stick to your sewing and cooking!  This is men’s work.  It’s in the Bible so it’s gotta be right!”  I have to say those guys were right on target. Keep those women cooking, don’t let them vote, and leave the big decisions up to men, who we all know never get anything wrong.

There are many examples of Christianity’s approval of slavery and even some instructions in one of my favorite books of the Bible, Luke 12:47-48:  “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”  

I think we can all learn a lesson from that passage. “If your slave isn’t real bright, don’t beat him too much.”

The more I think about it, the more this “new slavery” plan might just run into some roadblocks. Everybody today is all “Politically Correct”  They are teaching and  preaching a little too much of this equality stuff.  In today’s enlightened society there is no longer an “inferior race not deserving of the rights afforded in the constitution.”

I’m grateful that everyone today has all rights of this great country.

Everyone except, of course, the gay community.

Throughout our history it seems that we Americans really NEED some group to pick on. I think it makes the majority feel a little better about themselves if there is an “inferior group.” Today that lucky bunch appears to be the gay community. They seem to be an acceptable group to be a little less equal. They don’t need the right to get married.  They don’t deserve equal job protection.  All you need to justify that is to refer to the Bible or the Constitution of the United States.

Hey, wait  just a gosh darn minute there Skippy!

Those are the same sources you quoted to justify slavery??

That can’t be right?   I’m all confused!!

Segregation-Mixed marriage gay marriage pickets

Aren't we all embarrassed that scenes like this ever took place in our country. This scene is over 50 years old, but notice how easily one of the signs can change...

Well, I’m kind of confused too. It seems that it takes our country a looooong time to do the right thing. After the Emancipation Proclamation it was many years before African-Americans could vote, or live where they wanted, or marry who they wanted. The truly remarkable thing is that in the worst days of slavery, slaves were counted as 3/5 of a person. When you added two slaves together they came up to a little more than one person. However, in today’s very progressive society, when you try to add two gay or lesbian people in a loving relationship, then one plus one equals zero! Why? because they don’t really exist in the eyes of the law.

It’s not just unfair, it’s plainly stupid.

Let’s be honest and call the ban on gay marriage what it is: Stupid, Narrow-minded, and UN-AMERICAN.

The people and politicians who oppose same-sex marriage are stupid and UN-AMERICAN.

Their religious views are stupid and UN-AMERICAN.

Please feel free to quote me.

I’m really getting tired of ill-informed, stupid Bible thumpers quoting a 3000 year old book to justify discrimination against AMERICAN citizens.

Remember, these were the same people whose STUPID PARENTS said the same thing about black people voting, women voting, and interracial marriage. Interracial marriage was prohibited in half of the US states in the 1950’s and it’s an accurate correlation to gay marriage.

I normally try to write in a fair and even-handed manner. I normally would never stoop to just calling any group of people stupid. However, the gay (LGBT) bashers have wrapped themselves in the flag and erroneous Biblical passages to justify that which cannot be justified. I don’t know about you, but that is simply the definition of STUPID.

By Xxmandyx91xx (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Flag for straight people who very proudly support (LGBT) gay, lesbian, and bisexual rights and issues.


Click on this link to HRC to find more information about where your elected officials stand on federal legislation that affects the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Who am I and what’s my agenda? I’m a middle-aged, married straight guy who believes all Americans deserve the same rights guaranteed in the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Pretty simple.

What can each of us do so the next generation isn’t ashamed of our history?

Click on the Human Rights Campaign link to the right. You don’t have to join or anything crazy. It will take you to a drop down list of your representatives. Make yourself heard.   They also have some TAKE ACTION tips.

Student letters about gay marriage

If you're not sure what to write, take heart, here's a spot with letters from students that can set an example for today's adults. It gives me hope that the next generation may be able to pull of what we obviously are too spineless to do.

The photos depicting segregation from our past are from the Library of Congress. with a little adjustment by Pixelmator.

Another interesting view:   The Gays are All White; How the Christian Right uses white racism to divide white LGBTQ’s & straight African Americans

If this post has given you pause to think, then please take a moment to share it with your friends and colleagues using the email and social networking buttons below. PLEASE  leave a comment below whether you agree or disagree with my opinions. Debate and constructive criticism is welcome.


29 comments on “Slavery: What’s So Bad About It?

  1. Well said!
    But I take issue with your statement “However, in today’s very progressive society, when you try to add two gay or lesbian people in a loving relationship, then one plus one equals zero! Why? because they don’t really exist in the eyes of the law.”
    Actually, they DO exist in the eyes of the law when they are PROHIBITED from adopting children or being foster parents, as I believe they still are in Texas’ illustrious state system. Better to keep a child in an institution than having him live a normal life with “two of THEM”!

  2. Very thoughtful post.

    How can the U.S. be both proud and embarrassed by its past?
    Selective memory.

    History does depend on the winner and those writing about it.

  3. Those gay bashers! I hear them talk, I see their crazy, shiny eyes and those gratuitous smiles of smug self-satisfaction and I see them trapped and riddled with the most complex sexual issues. They are the people in the arseless chinos! Remember the priceless Pastor Ted Haggard?
    As for gay marriage, it has been argued that they have the right to be as miserable as any straight couple!
    Great post!

  4. On a serious note, I just read a very moving book about slavery in the late 1700’s / early 1800’s, which I highly recommend: Someone Knows my Name by Lawrence Hill.

  5. I am 100% behind what you are saying. I teach in a very conservative community, so I can’t be putting these feelings out there for them to see – teachers aren’t supposed to have opinions unless they match those of their parents – but so often I find myself biting my tongue when students try to make arguments that use the Bible. I can still remember one of our priests (Alan, you might remember who, since I don’t), telling our class that only those who were Catholic were going to heaven. I was appalled that my friends who rode the bus with me (those heathens who weren’t Catholic) were not going to heaven. That’s when my liberal juices started to flow. I get angry when others bash gays especially when I know that in my classroom may be as many as 10% or even more who as 8th graders are thinking they may be gay but are too afraid to speak up. I know of former students who are openly gay now but it took a long time for them to say it. Kudos to you Alan for having the courage to speak up. I wish I could do it but I’d lose my job. I always soften my students radical beliefs but I know that isn’t enough.

    • Good points Mary Ann. I don’t remember which priest because they ALL said that. My liberal juices started to flow at 12 or 13 when they changed the “no meat on Friday law” For you non-Catholics: Before that time if a Catholic ate meat on Friday it was a mortal sin and you were condemned to hell for eternity. Same penalty as for murder. Go figure. Then some pope changed the rule. I asked a priest if all the people burning in hell for the grievous mortal sin of eating meat on Friday would be paroled now. He said no. I started to think that maybe there was a teeeny tiny chance that other Biblical teachings might be self-serving balderdash and perhaps not the word of G(g)od. Oh, thanks for the good memories, Mary Ann. Remember, all you need to teach is critical thinking. The kids can do the rest. My favorite questions: Who wrote it? Why did they write it? What do other people have to say about it?
      “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
      …..Buddha …..

  6. Alan-
    Interesting reading, my dear friend. So many issues to ponder…I’ll try, all the same.
    I want to commend you for opening up your own blog…how did you do it? I’d like to do something like this, myself. The risk with this type of communications is that others might not read it…or that they might.

    So, what is the real topic…Slavery bashing, Constitution bashing, church bashing, Bible bashing, Bible thumper bashing or…Gee, Whiz! Let’s all hug a gay person!?

    As for the Constitutional order of things, I think you will find, if you read about them a little more, that the framers of our Constitution recognized the “wrong” in slavery and worked to limit/eradicate it while wrestling with it in the midst of forming a new government and society. I don’t know if any of my ancestors owned slaves, so I guess you have me there.

    As for misuse of scripture, or any other document or study, I must caution you to keep things in the proper perspective. Taking a line or passage out of context is far too easy to do, if it fits your point of view….politicians do it all the time. I don’t think you and I can enjoy that luxury if we are to be taken seriously. For me, the messages that I gleen from Scripture when I read of Isreal’s creation-independence-captivity-right up to its present existence lend themselves to where I place my faith. The GOD of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob wanted the children of Isreal to obey-knowing that they would not. HE gave them opportunity after opportunity to practice obedience. Sometimes they got it right, most times not. That’s alot like you and me. We practice obedience-pick your point of reference…family…work…faith. Sometimes we get it right…sometimes not. I learned a long time ago that man can fail…my GOD doesn’t.

    So, what about the gay and lesbian community? Where does it fit? Why can’t we all just get along? This is your real issue-right? This is so tough because it cuts across so many belief systems. Cultures throughout time have wrestled with this. There is compelling evidence of the root cause of the collapse of culture/society directly related to collapse of the family. Our Judeo-Christian culture condemns homosexuality and denies its right to exist. Is it physical contact that alienates parties or is it the threat to the nuclear family that you and I grew up with? I’m not sure. I do believe that as laws change to accomodate the fringes of society, the fringes of society expand. Where does it stop?

    On another point, you suggest in your post that interracial couples bear the same challenges as homosexual couples. If I were in an interracial relationship-I presume you mean a man and a woman here-I think I would be offended by your comparison. The predjudices that these two couple “types” face are far more profound that you or I could ever imagine. I’ll leave that discussion to your other readers who may educate both of us.

    Finally, on a more personal note, I have friends and family who are gay. I have wept with them and for them as their lives churn in unexpected directions. I pray for them and people they love. I don’t get it. I don’t see the joy in their lives that I experience in my own life-on the contrary I see a lot of pain and anguish. What they seem to lack is the very thing that you, my friend, seem to oppose-a right relationship with GOD-Almighty GOD.

    Because you got some bad advice from an imperfect priest, you choose to dismiss GOD. My hope for us and for our friends who are asking the same questions that you and I are asking is that we find peace and understanding before GOD. Al-men screw up all the time. Don’t dismiss GOD because some guy misquoted scripture or failed to teach about GOD’s mercy.

    • Holy Gumbo Cecil, When did you get so darn erudite! You so need to start a blog. You know that if I can do it, then a one-armed (Creatively Designed) monkey can do it. If you subscribe to my blog so that I can keep indoctrinating you into the ways of evil I’ll make sure they let you have your own blog. Your comment on my post was a post in itself!
      (Full disclosure: Cecil and I have been friends for millennia. We have a few issues where we don’t completely agree. Because he’s wrong.)

      Seriously, I love you so much (in a manly hetero way) and I disagree with almost every point you make. I’m so glad you gave an opposing viewpoint. There are a few points I think you missed. I’m not going to debate the existence of G(g)od. That’s not the point here.

      1) The opening silliness of my post was a satire/parody/exaggeration to get your attention. I succeeded.

      2) Bible verse out of context: Of course it is taken out of context! The entire book is one mish-mash of contradictions. Unfortunately there are too many self-serving selfish christians in power who use selective passages for their own agendas. I just picked one to use for my own agenda. Turnabout is fair play. You personally actually give some thought to how you live your life and treat people. You personally pretty much live by the “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” school of christianity. Keep that up and they’re gonna kick you out!

      3) Gay marriage as a threat to the nuclear family😕 Give me a break. The divorce rate in hetero couples is 50% Could gay couples do much worse? Remember every gay person out there came from 2 straight people having straight sex. I think it’s the straight marriages that are to blame. (Note: Previous line is sarcasm and not to be taken literally… maybe)

      4) Inter-racial couples: You missed that point entirely. I was comparing or trying to, the prejudice of the early 20th century toward race mixing. The same arguments were used. Click on the link at the bottom of the article and re-read. There’s gonna be a quiz.

      5) Bad priest advice: The point of that was that it gave me the first opportunity for critical thinking. I understand faith but it makes me sad. The world we live in is wonderful enough without having to have magical entities responsible for it. I don’t dismiss god. I don’t dismiss Thor, or Woton, or Yaweh, or Zeus either. They are all constructions of men who felt a need to control other men. Remember Cecil, you are an atheist when it comes to all of the hundreds of “GODS” our race has had, you’re just making and exception for a single one of them.

      Now, go have a cigar and do some critical thinking. Start your blog and I’ll comment on it and we can argue so more. This is fun. You’re soooo wrong, but still it’s fun.

    • Despite the fact that Alan responded not only eloquently but probably completely, I do feel the need to chime in.

      “So, what is the real topic…Slavery bashing, Constitution bashing, church bashing, Bible bashing, Bible thumper bashing or…Gee, Whiz! Let’s all hug a gay person!?”

      Yes, Cecil. You missed the point. Judging an entire group by your own experiences is always dangerous, especially in debate. Just because you “know” gay people does not mean you are an authority on people who happen to be gay.

      I believe you used the same argument when chastising Alan for mentioning “an imperfect priest” as a representative for all priests. If that was the intention, why would he use the adjective “imperfect,” then?

      There is no logic in pinning a personality on all for the actions of few. Alan used that reference as a starting place for seeking the truth because that is just how it happened–he was reporting history, not making generalizations. It could have been any person, but it was mentioned to show that blindly following a man-made construct because you believe that our dispositions are part of a game of rule-making and -following (between ourselves and said construct) should always be scrutinized. A great many people do not question anything they are told to “believe.” Humans are quite gullible by nature–without the skills of direct and logical analysis, we may as well believe that “God” causes tornados to destroy our houses because we do not believe in “His” mercy.

      “My god’s better than your god…”
      I do not despise my Catholic upbringing. I don’t embrace it as many others do, but I acknowledge that so many believe deeply. That is a choice that I respect, but certainly, I will not allow myself to listen to nonsense designed to make me follow a set of rules with no basis in reality as it pertains to humanity. I have enjoyed many a sermon from a Catholic priest, but I don’t regularly practice that religion. Does that mean I have no relationships with what I might deem a higher power? No. A rose by any other name…

  7. Wow, what a thread! Where to stop! I grew up feeling so sorry for non-Catholics because of the hell business but what I could never understand was how ordinarily happy my non-Catholic friends, with one or two siblings, and their parents seemed to be! Have to go now but let me tell you that in our family we have Opus Dei members and others who are gay. The twain is not meeting and it hasn’t been pretty . . .

    • Patti,
      I’d love to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner at your place- Opus Dei vs. Gay. Who needs football.

      Indeed we did get way off topic. My whole post could have been summed up in one line. “Gay Americans are Americans and deserve ALL of the rights of Americans.” But then it would have been to short.

  8. I was going to make some profound and insightful comments about the slippery slope of using slavery to make comparisons to today’s challenges (it’s also akin to comparing the Holocaust to modern-day issues), but others have said far more intelligent things than I can ever say. And while I understand the point(s) you are trying to make and (and believe the article was very well written) , I think there is, again, the danger of using slavery as a comparison — you (people in general) tend to accomplish one of two things: 1) Make slavery appear not quite so bad (which I can only imagine it was the worst thing next to hell); or 2) you elevate the inability of same-sex couples to be married to that of slavery (not even a close comparison). I don’t believe that was your intent by any stretch of the imagination, but it still creates the conundrum.

    I do agree with you, however, that people who oppose Gay marriage typically have some unhealthy agenda they are trying to promote. At the end of the day it’s a question of love. If two people love each other (regardless of sexual orientation), why shouldn’t they be allowed marry each other?

    • As usual Andy has very good insights into an issue and will always show the ability to cut through the peripheral issues and look at the big picture.

      However, (you knew there would be a ‘however’) the point I was stumbling toward making was not a comparison of slavery or of mixed marriage to gay marriage. It was a comparison of our attitudes toward any minority group. The caption on the picket photo sums up my point. “Aren’t we all embarrassed that scenes like this ever took place in our country. This scene is over 50 years old, but notice how easily one of the signs can change…”

      Won’t we all feel a little silly when our grandkids look back at history and wonder what the big deal was about gay marriage.

      On that note folks: Please visit Andy’s blog at:
      There you can read his Very Strong Opinions About Random Topics. His topics tend to be random and his opinions are strong. They’re generally not very lucid opinions but they are always strong, very strong. There are always plenty of pictures as he’s just learning to write and I’d like to support new talent. His latest is an in depth look at women’s professional sports. He has come up with some ideas that I just know will fill the stands. He is a true humanitarian.

  9. Cecil wrote “I have friends and family who are gay. … I don’t see the joy in their lives that I experience in my own life-on the contrary I see a lot of pain and anguish. What they seem to lack is the very thing that you, my friend, seem to oppose-a right relationship with GOD-Almighty GOD.”

    My questions here are (1) what is the reason for their anguish? Do you think it has anything to do with the fact that so much of society still comdemns them for their sexual orientation? and (2) are you saying all your gay friends and family members are godless heathens? A number of my gay friends are also christians (albeit in more liberal congregations). And whether religious or not, these folks are happy people who have been fortunate enough to shrug off the baseless condemnations from the homophobes and live full and productive lives.

    Pain and anguish can occur for anyone who doesn’t feel accepted for who they are by friends, family and society. Love and acceptance of a person, regardless of their innate sexual orientation or their belief system will build a better world for everyone involved.

    • Well reasoned Debbie. Here’s a follow-up from me.

      Over generalization of the GLBT population applies the same way as with any large group of people. They’re just people. Some are happy with their life and some are not, and for the same reasons any of us are satisfied or not with our lives.

      It may just be a little harder for their community because they have so many people trying to “fix” them when they aren’t broken.

  10. Nice post… And interesting comments thread too.

    Wasn’t it Orwell who first said “all (animals) are created equal, but some are more equal than the others?”

  11. Very thoughtful commentary. I wish I were as insightful as some of the people that have already responded, but Im just a VERY young middle aged beigy (if you count the middle eastern part) woman with a childhood steeped in religious fear, who thinks we’re all equal, some animals being even more so, should eat plant food and could care less what happens in the bedrooms of any two (or three) people. The Golden Rule is my religion. Nice blog A.

  12. Oh, heavens, no, Alan. Your comment in response was solid and well-written. I am enjoying your blog like a new addiction, except without the chemical dependency.

  13. Wowza, that is some brush, Alan. 😆 I don’t see that the Bible says “Own a slave- it’s good.” There are numerous places where slavery is mentioned- it was the law of the land. Even Jesus says “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” The point for this is while working to change society, ya still gotta play by the rules, more or less.

    And the bit about opposing statements? Yep, you betcha. When you understand what lettes were being written for whom, it makes a bit more sense. And then take it context, of course. A person needs to have a broad perspective, because everyone can take stuff out of context and “justify” their opinions.

    Instead of throwing the whole thing out because of people’s misinterpretation, we might think about picking it up, reading it for ourselves, doing some research (aka: critical thinking), and seeing if there isn’t something we can glean. Throwing rocks proves we aren’t as evolved as we think we are.

    Since you’re not trying to offend anyone, I’ll have to assume that you only consider those who disagree with you on this particular issue to be un-American. I find it interesting that this post reflects a similar stance as the opposing view you cite: “If you don’t agree with me, you are stooopid and __________________.”

    Huh. And here I thought what made this country great was the ability to have (and voice- Gasp! I know!) opposing opinions respectfully- ya know, besides all that other stuff like freedom of religion, yada yada yada. 😆

    • TikkTok, Thanks for the comment, and yes, it’s a very wide brush. You’ve made similar points to those that Cecil made in the other comments and I’ve tried to address those. When I said in the other comments that I try not to be controversial, that was a big sarcastic joke. Sometimes I use sarcasm when I can’t think of anything more intelligent to write about!

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