Bigot Wants Civil and Respectful Dialogue With People He Demonizes

Larry Tomczak is the Christian bigot who wrote an article blaming Ellen Degeneres for corrupting young girls with her “celebrations” of lesbianism, prompting her to make a hilarious response on her TV show. Now he’s written a ridiculously tone deaf open letter to her in which he demands a civil and respectful dialogue with the people he routinely demonizes.

Ellen, hasn’t the time arrived for everyone involved in this dialogue on gay-related issues to lower our voices and approach one another with respect and civility though we have our differences? I know there’s a lot of shouting and accusation and name calling on all sides of the gay debate, but how about you and I model something positive?

Actually, she did that. Here’s her video response:

httpv://youtu.be/cy4tV15p8-o

But see, you don’t get to demand that other people treat you with civility and respect if you refuse to do the same to them. If you spend your time demonizing them, as you do, they certainly don’t owe you civility. If you claim that being gay is “indecent,” “shameful,” “unnatural” and a “perversion,” why should they try to engage in a respectful conversation with you? If you accuse them of trying to corrupt children merely by being open about who they are, why should they be civil toward you? They shouldn’t. So fuck you.

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  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    If you claim that being gay is “indecent,” “shameful,” “unnatural” and a “perversion,” why should they try to engage in a respectful conversation with you? If you accuse them of trying to corrupt children merely by being open about who they are, why should they be civil toward you? They shouldn’t.

    I generally find that more speech is essential. Even with those people who take positions reasonable people find to be disgusting.

    Instead I think we should draw the line on those that lie, including defamation. These are the people we generally need to expose and condemn rather than engage on the merits. Their dishonesty disqualifies them from having any credibility.

    So here Larry Tomczak thinks unrepentant out homosexuals are ‘indecent’, ‘shameful’, ‘perverts’; i.e., all value judgments. I think we should engage others that advocate for these conclusions.

    Such engagements can be educative where non-bigots have vastly superior arguments to the bigots. Such engagements can quickly break down when one-side is allowed to depend on false premises – that’s why it’s so important we ostracize liars.

    Mr. Tomczak does deserve Ed’s ‘fuck you’ because of his lies regarding Ellen Degeneres’ motivation for being an out TV personality and having Taylor Swift as a periodic guest on her show. That and Tomczak’s lie that homosexuality is unnatural.

    Even if Mr. Tomczak hadn’t lied about Ms. DeGeneres, that alone doesn’t create a moral responsibility by DeGeneres to engage with Tomczak. She’s earned her bully pulpit and has no duty to a bigot to offer hers up so he can promote his agenda. Instead I’m pointing out that Tomczak’s making value judgements that we disagree with is generally not sufficiently prudent grounds to advocate we stifle speech.

  • John Pieret

    … hasn’t the time arrived for everyone involved in this dialogue on gay-related issues to lower our voices and approach one another with respect and civility

    What was disrespectful or uncivil about what Ellen said? She didn’t call you a bigot, which she would have been justified in doing. She didn’t call you a moron … ditto. She made fun of your premise, which you have still not supported with anything remotely like evidence. As Ed pointed out, that unevidence premise was what was disrespectful and uncivil.

    If Tomczak wants respect and civility, he should take Ellen’s lead and talk about how to be kinder and more compassionate towards others.

  • Doc Bill

    This is a very typical “argument” presented by creationists, too. Call it the Tone Card or the Civility Card, it comes out all too often.

    Apparently, in the creationist mind, intellectual dishonesty or just plain old dishonesty is both toneful and civil, and they wonder why rational people get a bit short with them.

  • RickR

    There is nothing “kind” or “compassionate” about wanting to deny civil rights and legal equality to a group of citizens, and calling for “respect” and “civility” from those you want treated as second class citizens is disingenuous to the extreme. It’s the bigots who should be ashamed.

  • Rowan vet-tech

    ” Instead I’m pointing out that Tomczak’s making value judgements that we disagree with is generally not sufficiently prudent grounds to advocate we stifle speech.”

    Who said anything about *stifling* speech? He can continue being an outspoken bigoted asshole all he wants. What he is NOT entitled to is an audience, or gentle rebuttals from those he is being an asshole towards. What he is showing is rank hypocrisy, entitlement and privilege and he thinks things would go so much better if that uppity lesbian would just be nice, and demure, and submissive in her responses like how society trains women to be.

  • tvoyumat

    Oh good, another Tone argument. Tomczak, you can go fuck yourself, and *everyone* that doesn’t like it that I’m angry about being abused, discriminated against, and told I belong in hell, can also go fuck themselves.

  • Michael Heath

    Rowan vet-tech ask me:

    Who said anything about *stifling* speech?

    Ed did, not involuntarily stifling speech but voluntarily in his case with his concluding statement. The context I was writing about is the same context Ed was writing about, i.e., whether we should engage with certain people or not. Ed finished his speech with ‘not’, i.e. less speech, given Ed’s finishing statement:

    why should [targets of bigotry] try to engage in a respectful conversation with [Larry Tomczak, bigots in general]? If you accuse [targets of bigotry] of trying to corrupt children merely by being open about who they are, why should they be civil toward you? They shouldn’t. So fuck you.

    [Heath bolded]

    My criticism here was Ed defectively conflating arguments regarding values with untrue factual assertions, and then arguing not to engage on the merits of what was said but instead ending with ‘fuck you’. Speech is voluntarily stifled in regards to the limited response of those who condemn bigots.

    I instead argue we should generally engage people with more speech rather than telling them, “fuck you”, i.e., less speech; when their arguments are about values.

  • tvoyumat

    I see what you’re saying about “more speech” vs. “less speech”. My gut response though, is that being “civil”, “nice”, and “kind” for all these years has gotten me nothing but more abuse.

    What do you recommend I say to those that think MtF’s and Bis are an abomination? To the people that say I deserve to be beheaded and to burn in hell? I’m not trying to sound snarky, if you or anyone has any recommendations about a better way, I’d like to hear them, and I will consider them.

  • Michael Heath

    tvoyumat,

    I think the protection of GBLT rights is proceeding at an astonishingly fast rate from an historical perspective, though of course that rate remains far too slow for those that suffer discrimination such as yourself and those that will in the future. But I think a major reason we’re seeing such a sea change is the lessons of history in regards to civil rights coupled to today’s discriminated groups being increasingly willing to publicly stand-up for themselves – to engage.

    “Being present” is a lesson in work, voting, and the cause for equality. I don’t think there’s any special rhetoric that fits all contexts. I do think it’s far easier to defame a persecuted group when that group is not out in a public on a daily basis, revealing that such demonization efforts are absurdly untrue.

    I point this out at a group level and not an individual level. I’ve seen the abuse some individuals have suffered, one from the mid-1970s haunts me to this day. Therefore I would never make a sweeping argument that all people should come out of the closet or all individuals should always engage with bigots. That’s why I use the limiting word “generally” in my advocacy in my prior posts.

    Ellen DeGeneres is an influential illustration for good, which is exactly why she drives some of the most hateful bigots nuts. Her daily behavior as seen by millions disproves the bigots’ false claims about the attributes of non-heterosexuals.

  • anubisprime

    Michael Heath @ 7

    I instead argue we should generally engage people with more speech rather than telling them, “fuck you”

    I am sure that reasonable tactic works extremely well as it has been doing for over 2000 yrs and once satisfied as to each others points of view everyone on both sides will understand the word ‘civility’ then no such demonizing of teh ghey will ever happen again…it does work so well after all!

    Hint…for a conversation to take place in a coherent fashion then one of the participants requires a modicum of a functioning IQ, a good general knowledge based in reality, and behave a little older then an 8 yr old having a tantrum in the school playground.

    But unfortunately the bigots do not do self education, and there is no cure for a brain atrophy, and they have a fondness for lying…about everything!…

    just sayin’

  • tvoyumat

    So, if I’m a “nice Tranny”, I’ll earn the tolerance of bigots? I know that’s not what you said, but that’s what I *heard*.

  • tvoyumat

    OK, I took a few breaths – let me ask again, when the bigots say that I *deserve* to be killed, I *deserve* to suffer eternal torment, I’m supposed to match their slurs and attacks with civil, reasoned responses?

    Isn’t that granting my enemy the battlefield, the choice of weapons, *and* the initiative?

    My idea, is simply to match their insults with insults from me. Perhaps it wont work, but being “nice” certainly hasn’t worked.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    …hasn’t the time arrived for everyone involved in this dialogue on gay-related issues to lower our voices and approach one another with respect and civility though we have our differences?

    That’s what extremists and con-artists normally say when they start to realize that they’re losing the argument, or that their standard manipulative bullshit-points aren’t working. So I guess we can take this as a good sign, that at least one bigot is starting to realize he has to change his tune. And props to Ellen for putting him on the defensive.

  • Michael Heath

    tvoyumat writes:

    So, if I’m a “nice Tranny”, I’ll earn the tolerance of bigots? I know that’s not what you said, but that’s what I *heard*.

    That’s correct; that’s not what I wrote, or intended to mean.

    It’s also ironic you’d think I was intending such given that no one in meat-world, or in this forum that knows me, would describe me as “nice” when I defend equality. I’m an aggresive debator who absolutely loves taking bigots on.

    Me @ 7:

    Michael Heath @ 7:
    I instead argue we should generally engage people with more speech rather than telling them, “fuck you”

    anubisprime responds:

    I am sure that reasonable tactic works extremely well as it has been doing for over 2000 yrs and once satisfied as to each others points of view everyone on both sides will understand the word ‘civility’ then no such demonizing of teh ghey will ever happen again…it does work so well after all!

    My prior comment posts in no way argue for the way you are [mis-]defining ‘civility’ here. I didn’t even frame my point in that context. I instead argued for engagement, not for the type of weak-ass servility you appear to describe here.

    Also, the fight for equal protections for GBLTs is advancing at a tremendously fast pace, contra your concluding snarkish claim. Part of that reason is that young people are increasingly exposed to GBLTs and are increasingly considering equality arguments, and therefore rejecting their parents’ and church’s bigoted positions.

    No, we will not convert all or even most bigots, especially those who are older and not exposed to GBLT people and/or are devout fundamentalists from any of the Abrahamic religions. Instead our engagements with them will reduce their influence while we enjoy watching them die out while failing to supplant the same number of bigots that were around when they became young adults.

  • John Pieret

    Finally, and this will probably be your biggest test with what I share, you obviously disagreed with the fact that I referred to your “marriage” in quotation marks. I am not trying to be offensive, yet appeal that you recognize truth can offend sensibilities of those choosing to reject it.

    Heh! So you will agree that I’m not trying to be offensive when I refer to to your “God” in scare quotes, and the truth he/she/it doesn’t exist, is acceptable offense to the sensibilities of people like you who chose to reject it?

    Actually, I’m fine with that. And, if you take “offense” at this (especially if you can muster a modicum of the humor of Ellen), I’ll take it as respectful and civil.

  • Michael Heath

    When it comes to my promotion of engagement, some readers are forgetting my advocacy on who we shouldn’t engage with as I noted @ 1:

    I generally find that more speech is essential. Even with those people who take positions reasonable people find to be disgusting.

    Instead I think we should draw the line on those that lie, including defamation. These are the people we generally need to expose and condemn rather than engage on the merits. Their dishonesty disqualifies them from having any credibility.

    [Heath bolds here only]

    How many conservative Christians, who make up the bulk of American bigots, are honest? So while I advocate engagement, I do so only when advocates are honest. That right there disqualifies most conservative Christians from being worthy of honest people’s engagement. Instead I suggest focusing on exposing liars’ lies and advocate we ostracize liars because they lie.

    If the liars want a response from those with whom they disagree, they’d then need to stop lying. That would benefit us all.

  • John Pieret

    Michael:

    While I understand what you are trying to say and generally agree, it has to be context appropriate. What Ellen did, without a single “fuck you,” was appropriate, as can be seen by the stung reaction of Tomczak (if not his commentariat). Here, neither Ed nor the rest of us need be so restrained. This isn’t a place where speech is engaging other speech. Neither Tomczak, nor the people who agree with him, are likely to notice what happens here and Ed and tvoyumat have every right, here, and elsewhere, to offer Tomczak and his ilk a hearty middle finger. What may not be appropriate for a court brief or formal debate does not and should not govern here.

  • anubisprime

    Michael Heath @ 14

    My prior comment posts in no way argue for the way you are [mis-]defining ‘civility’ here. I didn’t even frame my point in that context.

    How did I [mis-]define ‘civility?

    # 10

    “once satisfied as to each others points of view everyone on both sides will understand the word ‘civility’”

    Which is a valid comment seeing as it seems that two sides of this argument have two very different meanings in mind when discussing the term ‘civility!

    I am not the one [mis-]defining ‘civility’ here I am the one that is suggesting a common ground be defined…and there… right there… is the elephant in the room because with the best will in the world one side refers to the common dictionary definition and the other seems adamant that ‘civility’ means shutting the fuck up and never questioning their actions or rhetoric.

    I instead argued for engagement, not for the type of weak-ass servility you appear to describe here.

    How do you ‘engage’ in discussion of any meaningful content when one side repeatedly moves the goal posts depending on how that conversation develops?

    Yet it is precisely that type of weak-ass servility which is employed in every major media outlet on the planet…from global online to national newspapers to national TV.

    I question, as presumably do you, that it actually works in any degree to lessen the toxic.

    Also, the fight for equal protections for GBLTs is advancing at a tremendously fast pace, contra your concluding snarkish claim.

    Never said that the fight for equality was not advancing in society generally …but it certainly is not advancing in a sub-section of the populace that historically rejects any attempt to discuss the subject in a ‘civilized’ manner.

    I reiterate it is not the rational that needs to learn what the term ‘civility’ actually means, but what is the gain in employing it whatever, apart from some weird satisfaction in retaining the moral high ground!

    And considering morality is a sliding scale in fundyland they do not give a toss how nice spoken was the interviewer or debate opposition behaved.

    They claim repression and intolerance almost as a default anyway whatever the tone.

    Part of that reason is that young people are increasingly exposed to GBLTs and are increasingly considering equality arguments, and therefore rejecting their parents’ and church’s bigoted positions.

    Which has nothing to do with ‘civility’ per se…

    The context of this discussion is focused…more or less…on that breed of Sunday cultists that refuse to engage in actual rational debate not just on the gay equality issue but a dozen other issues from other religious non-believers in their creed to atheism to race. gender. and all points in between.

    That a number of young people reject their parents bigotry is indeed welcomed but just how common is that?

    Not statistically significant I would hazard…although no doubt it occurs but rejecting parental bigotry is one thing rejecting their peers and associates and the society they are raised in begs to consider it is if not rare, certainly unusual.

    No, we will not convert all or even most bigots, especially those who are older and not exposed to GBLT people and/or are devout fundamentalists from any of the Abrahamic religions

    Which unfortunately seems to be the very grouping that are loud and vicious and whose words are carried far and wide by media and public proclamation.

    The same grouping that Tomczak belongs to.

    There might indeed be a piffling few that are so virulent, but they are the most broadcast and reach the most folk.

    They are also the grouping that would benefit from learning what ‘civility’ actually means.

    Are you suggesting that rational civility is a game changer amongst folks that do not recognize its purpose?

    I do accept that civility is the modicum in requirement when engaged with the moderate believer, I do not argue else, but we are not discussing moderates are we?

    Instead our engagements with them will reduce their influence while we enjoy watching them die out while failing to supplant the same number of bigots that were around when they became young adults

    I am not sure how their influence would reduce due to being treated with civility, I rather think the fundy xtian trait of taking advantage of a social ‘nicety’ would encourage them to jack the rhetoric up even further in volume and content.

    Reasoned argument has been tried for several millennia, it has yet to revel any advance in dealing with ‘ignorant fear’…which when all is said and done lies at the basis of all such virulent bigotry and hatred.

  • tvoyumat

    I guess I still don’t understand the point. If we don’t engage with the liars and the ones that defame me, which others am I supposed to engage with?

    I have met folks in the neighborhood that were ignorant of LGBTs, and have come to at least relax around me. But, these people weren’t name-calling (at least not in my presence) and so I talked to them with normal courtesy as well.

    But, to me, the ones that talk about sin, damnation, hell, lifestyle choices, and all that Fairytale stuff, like the Mormon on a comment thread that told me I was damned unless I “stop”, and he was telling me out of love – am I supposed to be civil to that? Because I was not. I told him that he was the worst human being I’ve ever met.

  • Suido

    @ Michael Heath:

    Your first comment seemed to make a distinction without a difference. You say that we shouldn’t draw the line when gays are described as “indecent,” “shameful,” “unnatural” and a “perversion,” but we should draw the line when people are lying?

    Doesn’t describing a natural act as unnatural count as lying? Doesn’t that count as defamation?

    Your choice of where to draw the line on certain verbal abuse seems to not resonate with people who suffer that verbal abuse. Perhaps you should listen more and pontificate less?

  • Michael Heath

    Suido writes:

    You say that we shouldn’t draw the line when gays are described as “indecent,” “shameful,” “unnatural” and a “perversion,” but we should draw the line when people are lying?

    Doesn’t describing a natural act as unnatural count as lying? Doesn’t that count as defamation?

    Reading comprehension failure there Suido. @ 1 wrote:

    Mr. Tomczak does deserve Ed’s ‘fuck you’ because of his lies regarding Ellen Degeneres’ motivation for being an out TV personality and having Taylor Swift as a periodic guest on her show. That and Tomczak’s lie that homosexuality is unnatural.

    [Heath bolded only here]

    Suido to me:

    Your choice of where to draw the line on certain verbal abuse seems to not resonate with people who suffer that verbal abuse. Perhaps you should listen more and pontificate less?

    Wow. Are you really arguing that this thread is representative of the population? Also, I never claimed my motivation for more speech in some contexts was to provide emotional comfort to victims of bigotry. Instead my motivation is to advocate that we reduce bigotry through more speech; speech that engages on arguments regarding values and speech that exposes lies, condemns liars and argues to also ostracize those same liars. As noted earlier, I also don’t argue everyone engage, this is a general approach that I advocate.

  • tvoyumat

    OK, I’d like to give a set of examples, this isn’t intended as against anyone posting here, but to illustrate my point.

    About 2 years ago, I came out as a Bisexual cisMale. I lost all of my friends, and all my family except for my Mom. This past year, I’ve accepted that I am a woman born in a man’s body. Mom knows, and I’ve still got her.

    But i’ve been told by religious folks that I’m a freak, deserving of execution and damnation. Some “nicer” religious people wanted me to “Sit with Them on Sunday”, I guess using me to prove how loving and tolerant they are – accepting me as long as i remain celibate and deny my truest self. I’ve had cisGays and Lesbians tell me I’m not welcome, that I have to justify my existence, that I’m a coward that is too afraid to live “an authentic Gay life”. I’ve had men say to me, “when I said i love chicks with dicks, I meant it as a compliment”.

    And I hear a lot of arguments about my anger, my “Tone”. I say again, being “nice” has gotten me nothing but more abuse. So my serious question to allies is: what is it that I can say to the haters, that will make any damn difference?

  • http://strangesally.wordpress.com/ SallyStrange

    Piss off, Michael Heath. If you’re so keen on talking to bigots, do it yourself. Stop telling other people to do it. If it works, then you can come back and demonstrate that it works and then maybe those of us who are the targets of said bigotry will give you the time of day.

    Of course, even then, there’s a huge difference between talking to a bigot about bigotry when their bigotry targets you and when it doesn’t. So it’s doubtful that your experience would even have any relevance to mine or tvoyumat’s or Suido’s, because we can’t have the same conversations you do, on account of the fact that we are part of the demographic that’s being targeted and discriminated against etc., and you are not. So you might as well just piss off.

  • Michael Heath

    SallyStrange writes @ 23:

    Piss off, Michael Heath. If you’re so keen on talking to bigots, do it yourself. Stop telling other people to do it.

    […]

    . . . . it’s doubtful that your experience would even have any relevance to mine or tvoyumat’s or Suido’s, because we can’t have the same conversations you do, on account of the fact that we are part of the demographic that’s being targeted and discriminated against etc., and you are not. So you might as well just piss off.

    What a distortion of what I actually wrote. Here’s what I stated @ 9:

    I do think it’s far easier to defame a persecuted group when that group is not out in a public on a daily basis, revealing that such demonization efforts are absurdly untrue.

    I point this out at a group level and not an individual level. I’ve seen the abuse some individuals have suffered, one from the mid-1970s haunts me to this day. Therefore I would never make a sweeping argument that all people should come out of the closet or all individuals should always engage with bigots. That’s why I use the limiting word “generally” in my advocacy in my prior posts.

  • http://strangesally.wordpress.com/ SallyStrange

    So basically people should do what they’re doing. Great. Thanks. That was fucking helpful.

  • Michael Heath

    SallyStrange, I assume to me:

    So basically people should do what they’re doing. Great. Thanks. That was fucking helpful.

    It’s always poor form when people misrepresent what others write, as you do now for the second time to me.

  • tvoyumat

    “It’s always poor form when people misrepresent what others write”

    *Another* tone complaint? Do you ever go to the religious assholes and patrol them, chide their writings? Because all you are doing here is policing our tone.

    Seriously, you talk in circles, and complain that people aren’t getting it. If you don’t like what I have to say, or the way I say it, then feel free to not talk with me anymore.

    Once again, for the audience, for the world – being nice never gets me anything but more abuse. No more Nice Girl. I don’t give a damn what people think of my attitude, my tone, or my civility. If I have to be at war with the entire world, so be it. I’ll fight my way, my weapons, and I wont let anyone take the initiative with Tone Trolling. I’m not here to be anyone’s guru, I’m not here to persuade. I’m going to make something of whatever life remains, and I don’t need anyone’s tolerance. For the Allies, thank you. For all others, Fuck you.

  • Michael Heath

    Me to SallyStrange @ 26:

    It’s always poor form when people misrepresent what others write, as you do now for the second time to me.

    tvoyumat @ 27 to me:

    *Another* tone complaint?

    This is not a tone complaint. This is instead pointing out someone lying. There’s an enormous difference between the two.

    tvoyumat @ 27:

    Seriously, you talk in circles, and complain that people aren’t getting it.

    Please quote what I wrote that’s “talking in circles”. Good luck with that. Nuance yes; but circles? Not.