BullyingDiscriminationFeaturedHomophobia

Yes, I’m Trying to Eliminate Your Way of Thinking

On the ever-martyred Christian right, there is a particularly hilarious and absurd meme that the left and especially LGBT activists are trying to eliminate their opinions from polite speech, marginalize their beliefs and make it socially unacceptable (they often also claim illegal) to “believe that marriage is only between one man and one woman.” Of course, that particular belief is only one part of a whole slew of accompanying beliefs, such as that “sodomy” should still be a crime, as should “crimes against nature” that are used to target queer people. But even if that were the only thing that came with that particular belief, it would still be ridiculous and unsupportable by anything other than stories.

Still, we have people like the odious Matt Barber who love to make Nazi comparisons and are sure that we’re trying to marginalize his way of thinking.

Many Christians have been warning for years that the radical homosexual activist lobby is made up of Christian-hating fascists who are in rebellion against both God and nature, who are hell-bent on criminalizing Christianity and pushing to the fringes anyone who publicly acknowledges natural human sexuality and the age-old, immutable institution of legitimate marriage as created by God.
The even more unhinged Phil Elmore at the Worldnetdaily doesn’t just stop there.
Liberals are never content to hold their own ideas and to coexist with those who may not share them. They do not “tolerate” dissent, and they do not debate those who disagree with them. They simply declare their opponents to be enemies of all that is decent and good in the world, marginalizing conservative thought while declaring illegal (in a de facto sense [KN: See what he did there?], and sometimes explicitly by policy and through legislation[KN: Give one example]) any idea they do not like.
This is not hyperbole…
 
He goes on for quite a while saying very little, until we get to the end.
If you are a liberal, you have rights. If you are a conservative, you don’t. You are, in fact, an evil, hateful person if you believe in traditional morality or, God help you, Christianity. You must therefore be denigrated, punished and silenced – and that’s only because the libs haven’t worked up the courage to murder you.
Yet.
Ok, confession time. While I have no desire to murder anybody, I will confess that Elmore and Barber are right on one point: I do want to marginalize and push their ideologies so far out of the mainstream that they are considered as toxic as support for slavery…er, bad example. Really bad. Ok, as toxic as belief in geocentrism…damn. Fine, fine, as toxic as…you know what? Forget it. It seems like no idea isn’t #upfordebate these days, no matter how idiotic, so let’s just say that I would like to do everything short of violence and legal sanctions to eliminate the social acceptability of these types of beliefs.
No, I won’t debate with you whether I am a full human being deserving of the same rights and considerations as you. No, I don’t think your opinion that the law should reflect your superstitions needs to be treated with respect. Present evidence that I should take your notion that I am a danger to children seriously and I will give it some thought, but I certainly will not pretend that “I read it in a book” is sufficient capital to enter into a discussion about my rights.
The estimable James Croft, in writing about why he no longer feels comfortable debating abortion rights, brings up an excellent point.
What you are willing to debate – what is effectively “up for discussion” – is frequently a reflection of what you think, in principle, you might be willing to give up. What you are able to put on the table of public discourse are the things you don’t feel too threatened to let go of…I was discussing, and discoursing, and debating rights which are not mine to put up for discussion. By opening that debate, even taking the pro-choice side, I was essentially putting women’s right to autonomy on the table in a way I have no business doing. Engaging in abstract philosophical discussion about other people’s rights in a public forum, when those rights are constantly under threat in the current political and social climate, and when the answer to the questions you raise will never affect you directly, is a callous and thoughtless thing to do.
Moreover, while I posted this in Quickies last week, I feel it bears returning to the piece by Libby Anne, in which she points out that just standing up for rights is not sufficient, that we and our allies must be fully supportive for it to be effective the way it needs to be.
I don’t care if you sincerely and truly hold that God condemns homosexuality as a sin. I refuse to give that a pass. I oppose the belief that healing should come through faith rather than through medicine because it results in dead children. In the same way, I oppose the belief that homosexuality is sin because it results in dead children.
So, no, I at least won’t accept with respect the idea that I am to blame for child rapists getting off light, or that a Moonie Times editor thinks my trans* friends endanger women. I don’t much care that Robert Oscar Lopez feels GLADD is being mean by pointing out that he says things like, speaking of lesbian relationships with children, “Your loved ones and neighbors should be intervening in your household to make sure the kids don’t turn out totally screwed up,” and I suspect that he would act horrified if he found out that people like Braulio Valenzuela took him at his word.
Again, I must stress that legal avenues to preventing this type of speech as well as violence and harassment are right out. But do I want to point out that these types of attitudes are dangerous and lead to violence and suicide? Absolutely. Do I want people to think that these opinions, no matter how sincerely held, are no more legitimate than the idea that genocide can be a moral position…oh, fuck it all.
So, yes, I can at least speak for myself and say that the Christian right is correct that I want to push their beliefs as far to the fringes of society as I can get them. They are dangerous and do manifest, scientifically supported harm to real people. I don’t care that being called a homophobe hurts their feelings, it won’t kill them the way their their homophobia leads to countless other deaths. It is ok to stand up against those who would harm others and claim harm themselves, and I will not pretend to tolerate something that should be intolerable.
Previous post

Coming Out Stories: A New Woman

Next post

Collectivism at Duke

Kaoru Negisa

Kaoru Negisa

Kaoru is a Florida boy, born and raised, and currently resides in Orlando, the City Beautiful where he is the proud owner of his own degree in English. When he is not volunteering with the LGBT community or participating in some political action, he is generally fencing, singing folk songs, or playing mandolin. Kinky bisexual atheist feminist geek, and probably a few other things as well. He also posts over at Reasonable Conversation about LGBT issues, politics, and atheism, and at Sequentially Yours about comic books.

5 Comments

  1. April 8, 2014 at 9:22 pm —

    That quote by Aryaan Hirsi Ali is the best thing. Never forget that tacit acceptance is as good (or bad) as the act itself.
    There are some views so toxic that they rightly should be relegated to the dustbin of history – not by force or by censorship, but by being unfailing in criticizing and condemning them and ensuring that everyone sees how vile they are. I hope that one day, homophobia will be put into the same box as slavery and anti-interracial marriage.

    There is one part of this that concerns me a little:

    Engaging in abstract philosophical discussion about other people’s rights in a public forum, when those rights are constantly under threat in the current political and social climate, and when the answer to the questions you raise will never affect you directly, is a callous and thoughtless thing to do.

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding the context here. I’m reading this as “we cannot discuss other people’s rights in an abstract fashion in a public forum unless we have a personal stake.”
    Is science and philosophy not meant to be a public forum in this context? I have never understood abstract philosophy to be something that you needed a vested interest in before it could be approached as a topic.

    I’m probably not understanding the context of this statement, but it bothers me in that it seems to veer somewhat towards advocating censorship (or self-censorship.) I’m also not sure I understand how an abstract or objective discussion cannot be callous in some fashion, as it’s meant to be removed from emotional content.

    If someone could clarify for me what this is saying, I would appreciate it, thanks!

    • April 9, 2014 at 7:44 pm —

      Is science and philosophy not meant to be a public forum in this context? I have never understood abstract philosophy to be something that you needed a vested interest in before it could be approached as a topic

      I think the point that Croft is trying to make is that the assumption that underlies any debate is that, given sufficient evidence, then you will concede a position. However, the problem with that is how do you concede, to use his example, that somebody should not be allowed a legal abortion when you will never have to worry about that? It would be like my betting your house in cards. No matter how good a poker player I am, I may lose and then suffer nothing. If it were a matter of us living in a world where you could have these types of discussions in a purely academic way, that would be wonderful, but engaging in debates is producing a weapon for one side or the other, one that will be disseminated. Worse, we have no idea who that weapon is being made for at the outset. While we cannot stop debating, nor can be stop fighting, we should at least concede that certain actions, like formal debates, should be engaged in by people who have the most direct experience and the most to lose by losing.

      I’m also not sure I understand how an abstract or objective discussion cannot be callous in some fashion, as it’s meant to be removed from emotional content

      Not necessarily. Emotion is a powerful tool and a valid consideration in determining policy, either political or personal. That being said, again I think what Croft is talking about is that it is callous toward the people who you are usurping their right to decide what they are willing to sacrifice for the sake of debate, not that you are approaching the situation objectively. He’s asking that before we agree that we may be wrong about supporting somebody’s rights, we consider that they might not think that their rights are up for debate. I can only imagine, for example, how it must make trans* people feel to have to constantly hear people arguing over whether they will rape people in bathrooms, especially trans* children. How much worse would it be if I, a cis person, agreed to a debate of whether trans* people are dangerous, which automatically concedes that this is a question worth asking instead of absurd on its face?

      At least, that’s how I understand Croft’s message. Hopefully, he’ll see this and respond himself.

      • April 9, 2014 at 7:57 pm —

        So it it’s like how we shouldn’t debate with Creationists because their points are not worthy of standing up against Evolution?

        If so, I definitely agree with that. If Croft could chip in to clarify that would be helpful.

  2. April 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm —

    Hello! I’m happy to clarify. My point is not to advocate censorship (or self-censorship, which seems to me a problematic concept in any case), but to advocate caution and compassion when speaking about things which profoundly affect others but not you. If you are white, I expect you to exercise great caution about how you discuss issues which affect people of color when speaking in public, particularly surrounding issues of fundamental rights. If you are straight, so too with issues that affect queer people. And if you are a man, so too with issues that affect women. This is not censorship but wise self-reflection and the willingness to listen and think before speaking.

    I am not saying that a man cannot express a view on the ethics of abortion – I make that clear in the full post – but rather that he should do so in a considered, measured way in an appropriate context. Talking blithely about issues which affect others profoundly and you not at all is, I think, thoughtless.

Leave a reply