The battle against the culture wars

Three smart people saying smart things about the “culture wars.”

John Aravosis: “Mr. Cantor, your culture war is my life

Brad Dayspring, the former spokesman for the number two Republican in the US House, Eric Cantor, had the following to say about President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage:

“With the economy in stagnation and crippling amounts of debt, the President seeks to further divide America by launching in a culture war.”

Your culture war is my life.

And isn’t that the problem with so much that the modern Republican party stands for. They’ve turned all of our lives into one big culture war.

Access to affordable health care is a culture war. Jobs are a culture war. Protecting the environment is a culture war. Student loans are a culture war. Civil rights are a culture war.

What isn’t a culture war to these people?

Rachel Held Evans: “How to win a culture war and lose a generation

My generation is tired of the culture wars.

We are tired of fighting, tired of vain efforts to advance the Kingdom through politics and power, tired of drawing lines in the sand, tired of being known for what we are against, not what we are for.

And when it comes to homosexuality, we no longer think in the black-at-white categories of the generations before ours. We know too many wonderful people from the LGBT community to consider homosexuality a mere “issue.” These are people, and they are our friends. When they tell us that something hurts them, we listen. And Amendment One hurts like hell.

… Amendments like these needlessly offend gays and lesbians, damage the reputation of Christians, and further alienate young adults — both Christians and non-Christian — from the Church.

So my question for those evangelicals leading the charge in the culture wars is this: Is it worth it?

Is a political “victory” really worth losing millions more young people to cynicism regarding the Church?

Is a political “victory” worth further alienating people who identify as LGBT?

Is a political “victory” worth perpetuating the idea that evangelical Christians are at war with gays and lesbians?

And is a political “victory” worth drowning out that quiet but persistent internal voice that asks—what if we get this wrong?

Too many Christian leaders seem to think the answer to that question is “yes,” and it’s costing them.

Peter Enns: “Speaking of Culture Wars: Evangelicals and the Bible (Again)

Defending a particular way of understanding what the Bible is and how it is to be understood are staples of evangelicalism. Evangelicalism was founded to stay “true” to the Bible, which means contending against the theories of much of biblical scholarship deemed unacceptable to a “high” view of Scripture.

No, I am not condemning all evangelicals, but anyone who is at all active in this subculture can relate without much difficulty. Evangelicals have a long history of protecting the Bible from perceived “attacks,” and they have been remarkably successful in passing down that defensive legacy, and throwing under the bus those who raise serious voices of dissent.

But a growing generation of younger evangelicals has grown suspicious of the tremendous expense of energy needed to sustain the status quo. They live in a world where evolution is true, world religions intermingle, evangelicalism has lost its political and cultural luster, and where biblical scholarship has convincingly offered alternate paradigms for understanding the Bible.

The faith of their evangelical heritage no longer defines their spiritual journeys, and so these evangelicals are ready to deal with the Bible as it is rather than shuffle their feet in embarrassment.



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  • histrogeek

    There are times when I think the only people still living in the 60s and 70s aren’t the fashion-challenged or wanna-be-hippies. It’s conservatives who are living some mega-acid-flashback year after year after year. It’s been the same damned (literally) thing since before I was born. And I’m almost 42!

  • FearlessSon

    They see shows like Mad Men and think, “Ah, those were the days!”  

  • Charity Brighton

     To them, this whole thing is a game. Winners and losers, with no real impact on the lives of real people. It’s a fun game that they can play for as long as they like and then put down and walk away from.

  • Michael Pullmann

    Someone should really tell conservatives that the culture wars are over. (In case you were wondering, money won.)

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Historical note: Pat Buchanan often tries to ret-con what he said as a “culture war”, but he actually said “religious war“.

    Al Franken was one of the first to point that out in a fairly mainstream book, and he was especially concerned because he’s Jewish, and when members of dominant Christian sects start nattering about religious wars that usually means Jews get caught in the crossfire, if not becoming the targets.

  • Jessica_R

    Putting this here, because it ties into culture wars and it most definitely needs a signal boost. Please pass and post this around people,

  • mr_subjunctive

    At the risk of defending Romney (who I don’t intend to vote for, because duh) — I’d think prep school really would count as “youthful indiscretion.” If he were still chasing down presumed homosexuals and cutting off their hair in his mid-30s, it’d say things about his character, but Lord help us all if we’re going to be judged for things we did before our brains were fully developed.

    And anyway, we have much better, much more recent, and much more directly-relevant-to-holding-public-office examples of Romney being callous toward the suffering of other human beings.

  • Lori

    I tend to agree with Merk Kleiman that the problem isn’t so much what Romeny did (I imagine most of us did or said at least one truly crappy thing when we were 15). The problem is Romeny’s reaction to the story now. I’d be far more inclined to write the whole thing off if Romney had reacted in a way that didn’t to a game of “liar or psycho”.

  • VMink

    I have a visceral, gut, knee-jerk reaction to bullies.

    Almost by definition, every bully is a spineless coward who looks for the weakest in the pack and is trying desperately to fit into some mold because of their insecurities.  (If that doesn’t define Romney, I don’t know what does.)

    And every bully I’ve ever known who didn’t have some sort of epiphany about their behavior continued to be a bully throughout their adult life.  They show no remorse, they give no apology, they have no desire for forgiveness.

    I would bemoan the fact that it’s now too late for Romney to apologize, except he seems to have never thought that he needed to apologize.

    But perhaps he isn’t lying. Perhaps he doesn’t recall it. Perhaps for him, it was a Tuesday.

  • Lori


    And every bully I’ve ever known who didn’t have some sort of epiphany
    about their behavior continued to be a bully throughout their adult

    Exactly. The behavior at age 15 isn’t definitive because some people do grow up and do better. His reaction indicates that Mitt is not one of those people.

  • Lorehead

    Putting this as a reply here because people seem to be reading only this far before replying.  I’m afraid you’ve made a mistake in your arithmetic.  According to the article, the assault took place a few days after the end of spring break in 1965.  Mitt Romney was born in March 1947.  1965 minus 1947 is not 15.

  • Michael Pullmann

    Yeah, my problem is more the half-hearted, downplaying non-apology. “Pranks that got out of hand.” That South Park episode with the killer whale is a prank that got out of hand. Jumping a guy, holding him down and cutting his hair is assault and battery.

  • Anonymous

    A human being is good or evil.  I always knew Romney was evil, but I guess know we know where it started.

  • Charity Brighton

    Great, the way you worded that makes me envision Romney putting on a gaudy costume and prowling the night as some kind of  scissors-themed supervillain.

  • Lliira

    This is a man who is running for president of the United States. Not some random person. He wants to be the most important and powerful person in the country. Holding him to a higher standard is what we should do. And this isn’t even a higher standard — I don’t know anyone who physically bullied homosexuals as a teenager. Teens’ brains may not be fully developed, but they aren’t five years old, either. They can tell the difference between right and wrong, they can understand the consequences of their actions, and they are capable of empathy.

    Though in this case, I don’t really know why it matters. We already know Mitt Romney is a complete and utter jerk and bully. Finding out that he did something rotten as a teenager is about as surprising as finding out that a “family values” Republican had a series of affairs.

  • VMink

    To be kind of fair… I didn’t think of Romney as a ‘bully.’  I thought of him as a rather bland, unappetizing politician who was pretty willing to do or say whatever it took to get into office, had a series of social positions I found abhorrent and a series of fiscal-political positions I found debatable (and yet worthy of debate, if only to make people understand the issue better) at best.

    Now, he’s just another bully.

  • Lliira

    I coincidentally thought of Romney as a bully before this because I re-watched Back to the Future a couple weeks ago, so bullying has been in the back of my mind. Romney wants to steal from the poor — who have almost no power — and give to himself and his buddies, who already have too much power. It’s a perfect example of bullying on a massive scale.

  • VMink

    A good point.  I should have thought of it that way.

  • nirrti

     If people can be excused for “youthful indiscretions”, why is it that if a black 15 year-old commits one, it ruins the rest of his life by giving him a criminal record and limiting his future chances for making a living?

    Until those kids get treated with the same consideration, the hell I’m gonna give it to some rich white guys who’ve proven to be hostile toward 15 year-old black kids or black people of any age.

  • Lorehead

    Not to be a broken record, but: it’s even worse than that.  1965 minus 1947 is not 15.  When Romney’s supporters immediately subtracted a few years, making him look less bad, I was sure it had to be intentional, but I’m very surprised to see people repeat such basic misinformation here.

  • Lori


    When Romney’s supporters immediately subtracted a few years, making him look less bad, 

    A move which I’m sure was carried out  by people who complained bitterly about how “manipulative” it was of the press to use a picture of Trayvon Martin that was a few years old.

  • harmfulguy

    I’ve never understood why we don’t use the same “War on Culture” nomenclature we apply to every other pseudo-moral conflict.

  • Lori

    I assume it’s because unlike the various versions of War on X,  it’s (theoretically) not a war to get rid of culture. Or maybe it would be more to the point to say that those waging the culture wars don’t want to come right out and admit that they’re trying to get rid of culture.

  • Jessica_R

    I don’t know, I still think this matters, especially as he made it a habit to be a bully to anyone more vulnerable than him, as here in his actions towars a nearly blind teacher,

  • mr_subjunctive

    Perhaps. I’m just not sure heavily promoting this particular story is actually going to erode his support at all: a good portion of the Republican base, after all, is actively opposing anti-bullying bills as we speak. We shouldn’t be surprised if their nominee for President is and/or was a bully.

  • Lori

    It won’t erode his support among Republicans at all and Democrats weren’t going to vote for him any way and they can’t not vote for him twice. I don’t think that in and of itself it’s going to make any difference to that small group of voters who really could go either way in November. However, along with his persistent lack of clue about the lifestyles of the not rich and famous, it paints a picture of Romney as bland on the outside, but all asshat on the inside.

  • PepperjackCandy

    they can’t not vote for him twice

    I am now officially homesick for Chicago.

  • DrocketX

    If anything, I expect this is going to greatly increase his popularity among the GOP base.  They LOVE bullies. Just look at their support for Bush, who was pretty much a walking, talking caricature of a bully.  Not just when he was young, either – he spent his presidency rubbing bald men’s heads and giving people insulting nicknames.  Asshole through and through, and the base loved him for it.

  • Jessica_R

    That’s just it, had he gone one to have a decent record on gay rights, or speaking out against bullying, or *anything* that suggested that the rich entitled prick who did those things as a teen had grown into a decent man I would drop this. But he hasn’t, because he didn’t, this matters as the bully he was then is just a bully who knows how to slightly better cloak his actions now.  

  • Lliira

    Rachel Held Evans says:
    And if we cannot find that sort of peace within the Church, I fear we will look for it elsewhere.

    Why “fear”? She’s Evangelical, not Catholic. She doesn’t need sacraments given by a hierarchy to legitimize her faith.

    If a group is failing on a moral level, then it is good that it is also failing on a practical level. It deserves to fail. Finding another group is what people should do, rather than propping up a morally bankrupt group with their presence.

  • Lujack

    Probably because people want familiar institutions to do good rather than do evil and then fail?

    I remember when my Catholic school alma mater brought in a rather nasty priest as the new pastor; enrollment went down, families left, and the good teachers there either left or fought the good fight from within.  Had the school closed, I would have been deeply depressed-it was a good place and I wanted it to turn around instead of collapsing.

    Fortunately, they swapped that guy out to somewhere else (a different parish’s loss was our gain, but they didn’t have an elementary school, let alone a high school, so he had less scope to do damage), brought a good priest in who did good work and let the good people do good work, and enrollment went back up.

    People don’t want to see the institutions which were good to them and to other people collapse and become morally bankrupt, they want them to turn around and do good again.  I’m fortunate that I never felt the need to disassociate myself from the school (the given priest was not a child-abuser or a gay-basher; he was simply an unpleasant guy who was mean to people and drove them away, so in the grand calculus I was always of the opinion that the school was there before him and would be there after him, and the good folks were still holding on).

  • Kirala


    If a group is failing on a moral level, then it is good that it is also
    failing on a practical level. It deserves to fail. Finding another group
    is what people should do, rather than propping up a morally bankrupt
    group with their presence.

    Even Evangelicals, for the most part, value the church as an organization. It’s possible to up and switch churches on a whim without any fear of spiritual consequence, but there’s still the consequence of losing old connections and relationships. There are an awful lot of relationships in danger of sundering if the conservatives continue trying to define the church as a morally reprehensible institution.

  • Lliira

    Conservatives aren’t just “trying” to define this church as morally reprehensible — they’ve succeeded. They’ve taken it over. The bad guys won, the good guys lost. 

    So there are two choices. Either kick the bad guys out or make a different church. That’s what the choices are in any organization. Many people say stuff like, “I’m Christian, my church is anti-gay and anti-woman, but there are good people there and you shouldn’t judge us for belonging to that organization.” Which… really? You’re sitting your butt in those pews and adding your money to the collection plate of an organization that does morally reprehensible things with your money, but you don’t want to be judged? 

    There are other organizations — other churches, even — that do good things without being morally bankrupt. Go there instead, and take people with you. Or kick the assholes out of your church, which is probably more difficult, but may do more good in the long run. I’m not saying it will be easy, but since when is doing the right thing easy?

  • MikeJ

    Wenn ich Kultur höre, entsichere ich meinen Browning!

  • hagsrus

    Robert or Elizabeth?

  • Mike Timonin

    Exactly. Kulturkampf is a Bismarkian concept originally – a divide and rule plan used against the Catholics when Bismark transitioned Germany to some semblance of a democracy (with voting and secret ballots and such). And, of course, GWB’s immigration fix relied on Gastarbeiter – don’t the US Right know they are Godwinning themselves?

  • WingedBeast

    On the issue of the highschool bullying issue… I actually believe that Romney doesn’t remember, and not because he must have done it every day.  From my experience, bullies don’t often remember being bullies.  Inside their own heads, they rewrite generally contentious and abusive relationships as just having fun, and rarely consider, in retrospect, that anything wasn’t fun for the abused party.

    Specific incidents either get rewritten in their head as being all in good fun or just get forgotten.  You and I might remember doing such a thing for the guilt that it would cause, but absent that guilt, it’s not like we would go back to that to remember how we assaulted someone.  This even happens when the bullies really have become better people.  It makes more of an impact to get hurt than it does to do the hurting.

    So, when Mitt Romney says he doesn’t remember, I believe him, and while it doesn’t speak particularly well of him that he doesn’t remember doing such a thing to another human being, what really doesn’t speak well of him is his followup characterization as a prank that got out of hand.  What also doesn’t speak well of him is “if anybody was hurt by that or offended, I appologize.”  Neither does him laughing at this.

    Now, none of that necessarily speaks of him being a bully today.  What it speaks to is of someone who isn’t interested in the reality, he’s only interested in this so far as how it pertains to his political career.  He laughingly says “I don’t remember doing that”, where the intention is, I believe, to present the idea that he was like that as a joke, but comes off as “the thought of me harassing, assaulting, or generally making school a hostile enviroment for someone is kind of funny.”  Either way, he comes off as someone who’s concept of anything anybody but he, himself, has had to go through in life is woefully lacking.  He comes off as somebody who doesn’t really understand one of the most important parts of how personal responsibility works, that what you do has consequences upon other people.

  • P J Evans

     Romney may genuinely not remember, but there were other people involved who do, and at least one of them has said he’s ashamed of his behavior.

  • WingedBeast

    That’s just it.  One of the rememberers is ashamed of the behavior.  Shame, guilt, these are forms of pain, and pain helps a memory.  These things call us to go back to the event, replay it, try to figure out what we should have done.  Romney doesn’t show any signs that he ever felt any guilt or shame over the assault or harassment.

  • Ross

    It may be poor taste, but reading this, I now imagine Romney saying “For you, the day the great Romney assaulted you and cut your hair off was the most important day of  your life. For me, it was Tuesday.”

  • WingedBeast

    One of the things we have to keep in mind is that these kinds of acts of assault, harrassment, outright terrorism for fun… they don’t have to be commonplace for the perpetrators to find them forgettable.  It just has to be something that doesn’t make an impact.

    For your average bully, even a particularly brutal and horrific act that is so far out of the bounds of normal that you can’t imagine ever forgetting it can be forgotten just because it was… nothing more than some fun to said bully.  It becomes like that special time the family went to Six Flags when you were 12.  It’s unusual throughout that part of your life, but some years later it’s a vague memory of something that did happen.  Later on you have to be reminded that it happened.

    So, I don’t believe that this is the kind of thing Romney regularly did.  I will say it’s the kind of thing that Romney never the slightest guilt about.  Unless, that is, Romney did feel some guilt about this and doesn’t think that any honesty would help him among the Republican base (which, to give him some credit, in this case it wouldn’t.).  I’m even willing to bet that, should Romney remember it, he’d laugh it off as “something kids do”.

  • Lliira

    Bullies do not only bully sometimes. Bullying is the go-to interaction style for bullies whenever they want anything: to have fun, to shut someone up, to show off, to feel good about themselves, whatever. They have to work to change the way they think about themselves and the world to stop being bullies. 

    Mitt Romney has very obviously not done that. Because when has he had to? He’s a born-rich straight white Christian man who married a woman who thinks exactly like he does, and who has only sons, so he never even had to stop and think, “do I want my daughter to be a second-class citizen?” The entire world is built to prop up men like Mitt and tell them how awesome they are for being them. He’s never had to pay for anything and he never will. 

    He’s such a pathetic person I’d almost feel sorry for him if he didn’t hurt so many people. 

  • LouisDoench


    From my experience, bullies don’t often remember being bullies.

    In my experience bullying was such a normalized behavior that its seemed like just about everyone I knew when I was 15 was in some way a bully. If you were one of those people at the bottom of the totem pole it can seem that way. When I met classmates years later I was shocked at how nice they all were, because of course none of them were horribly scarred by being bullied. So they grew up normal, unhaunted by their behavior towards me and my fellows at all.  Of course some of them remained assholes to this day, and considering that my school, St Xavier in Cincinnati, was a pretty expensive college prep school that means some of them grew up to be Mini-Romneys.

  • James Probis

    You can hardly call it a “war” when only one side has an actual body count.

  • Jen K

    I don’t know anyone who physically bullied homosexuals as a teenager.

    I do.  

    Actually, I knew someone who claimed that he physically attacked a man who made a pass at him in a nightclub.  This was after he lost his temper during a discussion and knocked a seated man to the floor and hold him down.  The general consensus of the people present was that it was an overreaction, but not beyond the pale. 

    I began distancing myself from Mr Violent, and the rest of the group, after that point. 

  • Phoenix_down_9999

    “Your culture war is my life.” Hahaha, I’m tempted to steal that. 

    Seriously though, I think that’s one of the hardest things for people to understand about this. I’ve seen straight people on both sides of the aisle telling us that we all just need to calllmm down about the Amendment One vote (Specifically, I had one friend who I know voted for it who posted we could all find “peace to the turmoil created by this marriage amendment” by reading the Bible and that  “God loves the humble, and I haven’t seen a lot of humility from the vocal minority”, another friend who I know voted against it who posted that she was “shocked by all the name-calling” from the anti-Amendment side, listing insults like “ignorant” and “bigoted”, and another friend who won’t say how he  voted but who is generally pretty pro-gay rights posted things about how we should all be more compromising and how the left just doesn’t understand the Christian right), and it irritates me in a way that I can’t quite define and that I’m not sure is justified or not. It’s just that… we *SHOULD* be angry right now. We have every right to be angry. If it was almost any other political issue, then I would say, sure, let’s be respectful, rational people… but people who got this passed in the first place were being incredibly irrational and disrespectful, and in any case, this issue is too personal for us not to be incredibly angry. Just the fact that it was a direct popular vote as opposed to, say, a legislative vote makes it even more personal; with a legislative vote you can at least tell yourself “Well, that’s just dumb politicians being dumb politicians”, and try not to think about the fact that they’re voting that way because their constituents probably want them to, but with a popular vote, it becomes a case of “Your friends, neighbors, and fellow North Carolinians all got together and voted on whether or not you could get married… and they said ‘No.’ Overwhelmingly.” That’s a huge metaphorical slap in the face, and you can’t DO that to someone and then act shocked, shocked, shocked when they get angry and possibly insult you for it, and then THEY have the gall to act like they’re taking the moral high road with their pretty conciliatory Facebook statuses about humility and compromise. When in reality there’s nothing humble or compromising about voting on how someone else lives their life. There just isn’t. And it’s going to take time before I’m capable of having a non-emotional conversation about the amendment. Because it was personal. It was some vague idea about civil freedoms vs. religious ideologies for other voters, but for me, it was my life.

    On the other hand, part of me does believe in rationally debating things as opposed to blowing up in people’s faces, if only because it’s more productive. So the conclusion that I’ve come to is that it’s okay to rant, but it’s best to try and keep it to myself/liberal friends/blog pages like this that don’t attract a lot of conservatives. I don’t think it’s a good idea to avoid engaging with people who have different political views in general, I think that’s a very bad idea actually, but sometimes… you just have to vent. *sigh*

    I remember the fear of being “found out” in high school. The two best friends who didn’t find out until college because one squealed like a 5-year-old every time she heard the word “gay” and the other thought I was going to Hell already for being a feminist. The older friend I looked up to who decided to pretend she’d never heard my confession because “Well, there’s no such thing as bisexual. You have to choose. You should choose being straight.”  The 60-year old teacher who started randomly asking me about my sexual preferences one day and I told him everything without meaning to because I’m a moron and he tried to blackmail me for sex until he found out I was only 17 so then he successfully blackmailed me for just talking about sex with him and occasionally dressing up in special “outfits” for him in private and I felt like I couldn’t do anything because if I told someone my dad might sue for sexual harassment and then everything I said to the teacher would come out in front of the entire court, and I would look like just some bisexual slut spilling out her secret fantasies to her teacher, because everyone knows teenage bisexual girls are sluts, right?

    What I’m saying is, it’s not just marriage – the whole battle for acceptance is people’s lives. We can’t even pass an anti-gay bullying law without it being some huge political issue, and it’s people’s lives being affected. We’ve got states trying to pass “don’t say gay” bills, and suddenly teachers have to act like this huge part of a certain population’s life just doesn’t exist. It just doesn’t work. 

    Anyway, this is probably all tl;dr, especially at the rate Fred’s been posting new posts lol, but… well, at least it was somewhat cathartic to write. 

  • Trixie_Belden

     so then he successfully blackmailed me for just talking about sex with him and occasionally dressing up in special “outfits” for him in private and I felt like I couldn’t do anything because if I told someone my dad might sue for sexual harassment and then everything I said to the teacher would come out in front of the entire court..

    My God, what a nasty thing to have to go through!  I’m sorry that happened to you.  If something like that had happened to me I think I would’ve had a nervous breakdown.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    O_O Yeah. I just…. whoa. Nobody should be subjected to that :(

  • guest

    That is an awful story, Phoenix, and I’m sorry that happened to you.  It’s disgraceful that people thought it was OK to treat you that way.  ‘Your culture war is my life’ is important.  The chance is slim to none (well actually none, as I’ve moved away from the USA) that marriage laws will affect me.  But that doesn’t matter–they hurt OTHER PEOPLE.  And in my universe what happens to other people actually matters to me, weird as that may sound to some people, apparently.  They hurt people every day, in visible practical ways.  This is not something, once it has been brought to our attention, that it’s appropriate to think ‘oh well, it’s a bad thing but it can wait, it’s not that big a deal and we’ll sort it out in due time.’  Every day someone gets hurt.

    If it was almost any other political issue, then I would say, sure, let’s be respectful, rational people…

    I have to disagree with this, though.  Almost every political issue on the table in the USA is hurting other people.  I’ll never notice if school lunches are cut–but someone else’s kid is going to go hungry.  I’ll never notice if rural postal service is reduced–but someone else’s grandma isn’t going to get her social security check in time to pay her heating bill.  Other people do matter.

  • Phoenix_down_9999

    You do have a point there. But I still think rational debate is important. Maybe the idea is to be rational and reasonable while trying to explain how to people how certain political issues are hurting people more than they’re helping, but then give up on that when/if it becomes clear that the person on the other end just doesn’t seem to care?

  • guest

    I guess what I’m getting at is that it’s easy for people like me, or like Ann in the other thread, to debate any number of political or cultural issues from a position of what we think is right or rational or what coincides with our pre-existing beliefs, without really, truly grasping that these are not abstract issues, they deeply physically affect real people.  It’s no skin off my nose, for example, if cannabis is legal or not.  But that abstract political issue, in my perspective, is the entire life of someone with cancer who is in pain and can’t eat, but whose suffering can be temporarily alleviated with cannabis.  Sure, I can be perfectly rational about debating the issue, but then again I’m not the one who’s suffering.  Given that, I don’t feel that it’s ethical for me to treat any political issue that has that kind of potential to intimately and overwhelmingly affect people’s lives as something that can be debated rationally by disinterested people.

  • guest

     Oh, and I forgot to add that that kind of uncaring is overcome by people like you, who can bravely and honestly say ‘you know that thing youall are talking about?  This is how I’m hurt by it.  Please pay attention.’  So thank you.  If it doesn’t affect me or anyone I know (at least anyone who’s spoken directly to me about it), I need to be made aware by people like you who are willing to risk sharing their stories, showing the rest of us what the consequences of our abstract decisions can be, and trusting us to believe that what happens to you matters to us.

  • Lliira

    Thank you for having the courage to tell your story. You’re not alone.

    You aren’t/weren’t a moron, btw. You did nothing wrong whatsoever — the teacher decided to victimize you, and it was in no way your fault. 

  • Lori


    it irritates me in a way that I can’t quite define and that I’m not sure is justified or not.  </blockquote

    It's totally justified. Your Facebook friends are concern trolling on behalf of bigots with no consideration for the fact that you’re one of those being discriminated against. That’s not OK and you have every reason & right to find it off-putting and to be angry about it.

  • hapax

     Phoenix_down_9999:  I know that I’m coming in late, and I don’t have anything useful to say but “That was HORRIBLE, you didn’t deserve to be treated like that, and I am so sorry” (all of which you already knew)… but ….  thank you so much for being brave enough to tell your story.

    These are important stories to tell.  Last night, hapaxdaughter was watching the news about Romney, and she almost began to cry.  She told me about how her junior high conducted “anti-bullying awareness programs”, and how other students would whine and complain, “I don’t see why we have to do this, I’ve never seen anyone be bullied in our schools” — and many of them would be the same students who were standing by, doing nothing, or even participating, as she was bullied physically and verbally all through elementary school.

    She said that Romney sounded exactly the same.

    It’s IMPORTANT that people tell these stories.  Thank you for the grace of yours.  And thanks for the grace of Romney’s classmates, who had the courage to share theirs.

  • Phoenix_down_9999

    Thank you! It’s *hard* to tell these stories, people here are being supportive (Thanks, guys, really :) but a small part of me still wants to go hide somewhere, and I’m sure it’s hard for hapaxdaughter too, and hard for the student Romney bullied (they say he didn’t even tell his sisters). :( But you’re right; sometimes it’s the only way to get the point across. People tend to see what they want to see, and no one wants to see themselves as a bully or a by-stander even though we all are sometimes, and it takes a lot to make them see otherwise. 

  • Mary Kaye

    It comes back to “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” doesn’t it?

    There is never a convenient time, an acceptable time, an appropriate time to stand up for your rights–not if you ask those who are denying your rights.  There is never an acceptable amount of fuss to make, because *any* fuss risks making them uncomfortable, and they don’t want to be uncomfortable.  Look at how many of the demands made by anti-gay advocates boil down to “Hide yourself so I can deny that you exist.”

    So–sometimes you have to be rude.  You can be rude with grace and dignity so as to minimize collateral damage, but you have to be rude when faced with opposition that wants to not hear you at all–because anything they can hear is de facto rude!

    And sometimes the time is now.  I think there’s ample evidence, and it’s really awesome, that the time for this particular struggle is now.  I am in awe of everyone who’s out there struggling and taking big risks for marriage equality.   As someone in a long-term straight marriage I am just not exposed to those risks, no matter how strident my support, and besides I’m in Washington.  But those of you doing the good work in states like NC–you have my extreme admiration, and I wish I had some money to express it materially.

  • Mike Timonin

    It comes back to “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” doesn’t it?

    Bill Mauldin did a whole series of cartoons on civil rights – I think this one is appropriate.

  • LouisDoench

     Not to over generalize, but that’s the way I feel about people who complain about  “new atheists” being “shrill”.

  • swbarnes2

    “It comes back to “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” doesn’t it?”

    It absolutely does.

    “I felt that we would be supported by the white church.  I felt that the white ministers, priests, and rabbis would be among our strongest allies.  Instead, some have been outright opponents….I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of or cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure…But again I have been disappointed.”
    “I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi, and all the other Southern states.  On sweltering summer days and crips autumn mornings I have looked at the South’s beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward.  I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings.  Over and over I have found myself asking “What kind of people worship here?  Who is their God?  Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification?  Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred?  Where were their voice of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?”

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Appropriate parody of the media’s response to anything Obama does is appropriate.

  • Lorehead

    Sorry to join in the derail; I’m sure there’ll be a more appropriate thread for this in the morning.  But I would like to nip one significant error in the bud.

    According to the story in the Post,  the assault took place a few days after the end of spring break in 1965.  Romney was born in March 1947.  He had just turned eighteen, not fifteen.  I’ve also seen sixteen elsewhere.

  • Lori

    Speaking of why it is not OK to run bigoted, homophobic campaigns to deny people full Civil Rights—-

    As guest pointed out, other people matter even when they’re people we don’t see.

    I’ll put a small plug in for the Ali Forney Center in NYC. They do good work that few other centers are doing.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Even the way taxes are discussed has an inherent bully psychology to it. The bully wants to reinforce his or her position and to the extent that it means keeping what’s “mine, mine, mine!” it’s astonishingly easy to tap into that when it comes to taxes. Ontario elected the Conservatives in 1995, at the time run by a man named Mike Harris. There was something a bit assholish about the way they insisted they were cutting taxes so to the extent that government spending needed to be cut, that was the problem of someone on welfare, not the Finance Minister.

  • Mike Timonin

    Ontario elected the Conservatives in 1995, at the time run by a man named Mike Harris.

    Mom was a teacher in Ottawa during the Harris budget slashing, and the teachers all went on strike. We were out of school for several weeks, as I recall, and the local paper devoted a page to the students, on which we could put anything we wanted – letters, articles, cartoons, all manner of stuff. It was intended to be temporary, but became a regular feature. For many of us teens, I suspect it was our first taste of journalism. The exchange of letters on the page was pleasant, with an air of polite debate not unlike the one here. So, perhaps what I’m saying is that something good came out of the appalling leadership of Mike Harris.

  • Mary Kaye

    Yeah, the case where the billboard just said “Atheists” and gave two web site links–and was banned for being “controversial”–makes the case fairly plain.  “Shrill” can just mean “audible.”  It means that when women are talking, too.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    Here’s the problem:  what happened in North Carolina is not a “culture war” issue.  It is a *religious* issue.  Certain people in that state feel that marital unions between people of the same gender are intrinsically sinful and offensive to God, and therefore should not be allowed in that state.

    This issue doesn’t just affect gay and bi people.  It affects *everybody* in North Carolina whose religious beliefs and practices (or lack thereof) conflict with those held by the majority of the state residents.  If the voters have the right to ban same-sex marriage, what *else* will they decide to ban?

  • Tim Lehnerer

    One of the worst aspects of the American national character is that as a nation, we tend to love a successful bully and abandon a defeated one. Look at the way George W. Bush could do no wrong in the media from about 2002-2005, and then when the Pubs were safely defeated in 2006’s midterm elections it became the standard wisdom to say he was the complete disaster that he’d always been.

    Let’s not give the dog torturer the same eight year long chance to do the same thing.

  • Lori

    Margaret and Helen once again remind me that I want to be them when I grow up.

  • VMink

    …  That’s probably the most wonderful thing I saw all week.

    It may even beat out the modern rendition of Aristophanes’ “Assembly Women” I saw last night… phalloi and all.

  • Lliira

    He never uttered a word about Mitt Romney or the haircut incident to his sisters.

    Big whoop. I don’t know anyone who was bullied who told their family members about it, including me. Even if other family members were the ones doing the bullying. 

  • rizzo

    We’re not the ones that start culture and class wars, those are usually started by the prevailing culture and the classes that are in power.  We’ll damnwell finish them though.