Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Right, Wrong, or Just Different?

As my Facebook page is awash with the newest internet craze I find myself face to face with a very interesting phenomenon.


This little red box has become quite the internet celebrity. It stands for equality. To be more specific it stands for marriage equality. It stands as a silent vote in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States. As the Supreme Court hears arguments for both sides of this issue, Facebook profile pictures across the U.S. are being changed to this little box, as a vote in favor of the legalization of same-sex marriage.

This morning I posted a somewhat incendiary comment that was just ambiguous enough to light some fires, but was in reality in reference to a completely different social issue. I may or may not have been feeling feisty and was or was not possibly fishing for a good debate. Either way, my original post was as follows: 

"Sometimes I am just shocked at the outright bigotry and racism that still exist. And I'm not talking about people who don't support gay marriage. There's a huge difference in my opinion between disagreeing based on morals and hating based on skin color."  

 Let's attempt to dissect this statement, without regard to the current social environment. To me, key phrases such as "bigotry and racism" and "hating based on skin color" seem to denote the subject of the post. However, apparently those phrases were overlooked and the phrase "don't support gay marriage" was pulled to the forefront. Another phrase of note from somewhere in the middle of the statement is "IN MY OPINION". Fancy that. I even acknowledged that I was just stating an opinion. However, it appears that phrase was overlooked as well. Hmm. 

In truth I really was just expressing my dismay that in 2013 I heard a smart, educated woman make a racial slur based entirely on an internet photo. I really thought Americans as a whole had moved past that kind of hate. But the responses to my above post have cemented my belief that as a society we have not budged a single inch over the past hundred years, despite the pain and turmoil we suffered during that century. 

But based on the responses to my original post, I see that in reality while advocates for same-sex marriage boast that they are 'tolerant' and 'accepting of differences' really they mean 'tolerant of what I think is right' and 'accepting of certain differences'. 

See for yourself...

Comments on the post included the following:
  1. Comment: "Bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices. Turns out morals have nothing to do with it."
  2.  My response: "Perhaps not in denotation. And in my opinion the keywords are 'disagree' and 'hate'. I may disagree with legalizing gay marriage but that doesn't mean I hate gay people. Nor does it mean I judge an individual solely based on their sexual orientation. (I realize many people do behave that way, but that's a whole other issue) What shocked me was that in 2013 someone openly judged a person based solely on their skin color."
  3. Comment: " How can it be anything less than hate to believe that a fellow American citizen should not have the same civil and human rights that you enjoy? Marriage is a civil institution that is awarded rights and privileges by the state. "Holy matrimony" might be considered a religious phrase but the legal state of being married should not.
    How in 2013 can anyone still, in good conscience, promote "separate but equal" and ignore the Establishment and Full Faith and Credit clauses of the Constitution?"
  4. My response: "I never said gay marriage shouldn't be legal. I also never said how I personally feel on the matter one way or another. I simply said I make a distinction between disagreeing with some idea/action and blindly hating. But thank you Facebook friends for exemplifying how quick most Americans are to pound home their own beliefs regardless of the author's original intention (which in my case was to express disgust at the flagrant racist behavior I recently observed)"
  5. Comment: I think Comment 3 was referring to this statement that you made: "I may disagree with legalizing gay marriage but that doesn't mean I hate gay people". It's pretty clear from that statement that you said gay marriage shouldn't be legal. Also, separation of church and state means that your beliefs (based on "religion" or "morals") should be unrelated to the legality of marriage. If you find it immoral, you don't need to marry a gay person."
  6. My final response: " I really meant the statement as "I may disagree with legalizing gay marriage..." as a rhetorical example. At the time it didn't serve me to keep typing the second half which would be "Or I may not disagree with it at all". I would like to rephrase my original post as follows, for clarification: A PERSON may disagree with legalizing gay marriage but that doesn't mean THE PERSON hates gay people. Nor does it mean THE PERSON judges an individual solely based on their sexual orientation. Also for clarification the term disagree is not synonymous with shouldn't."
As I was reading and responding to these comments it occurred to me: The social atmosphere of Facebook, with the marriage equality movement, had completely overshadowed my original comment. I originally posted that I was specifically NOT referring to gay marriage. However, every single comment that was posted was in reference to how ignorant and close-minded I was because I am not in favor of legalizing gay marriage. Only my original post was not about my views on same-sex marriage. It is amazing to me, that I'm ignorant and close-minded for thinking Americans had finally outgrown hate and racism. 

I have observed that proponents of freedoms such as equality of marriage advocate claims such as tolerance, and yet are highly intolerant of people who disagree with them, and have no problem mud slinging in order to defend their beliefs. They say things like 'How can disagreement be anything other than hate". How about it can be different because hate and disagreement are not the same thing?  I disagree with the legalization of same-sex marriage. That is a statement. Moreover it is a statement of opinion. Did you, O Defender of Gay Rights, stop to ask me why I disagree with it? Did you consider that perhaps I don't think it needs to be legalized because I don't think it is inherently illegal? No. You judged me based on that one statement. And not only did you judge me, but you attributed all kinds of evils to me as well. You decided that I cannot be accepting of same-sex couples. You assumed that I hate gays. That may be true, but it may also be false. You don't know because you hated me before you bothered to find out. You are just as much a bigot as you THINK I am. The only difference: I don't hate gays. I don't think any of those things you have attributed to me. But you, your stripes show clear as day.

Rick Warren, a well known Christian pastor and author once said "Our culture has accepted two great lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle you must hate or fear them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate." This statement is not inherently meant for only Christians. I do not expect anyone who has strong convictions to simply lay them down to accommodate my convictions. However, I also do not expect my own views to be trounced and/or assigned to a category simply because they are different. 

When people can learn that the differences between us are what make America balanced, and dynamic and wonderful maybe we will advance to the place where we are not constantly arguing about who is right.

My views are not right. Your views are not wrong. We are just different.  

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