‘Like my pain meant nothing’ — the alarming harshness of tactless anti-gay preaching

CNN’s Richard Allen Greene reports that “Harsh anti-gay preaching alarms gay rights supporters and Christian conservatives alike.”

Christian conservatives, apparently, don’t want their anti-gay preaching to come across as “harsh.” Coming across as harsh can make their anti-gay lobbying more difficult:

Many conservative Christians would agree with pastors such as Worley and Knapp that homosexual behavior is fundamentally wrong, [Ed] Stetzer said.

But that doesn’t mean they support them or their sermons, he added.

Charles Worley was the North Carolina pastor who called for concentration camps for LGBT people in which he hoped they would just die out. Curtis Knapp is the Kansas clergyman who says Worley doesn’t go far enough. Knapp said he wants the government to kill homosexuals.

Most anti-gay Christians don’t support Worley and Knapp because such outlandishly violent preaching makes it more difficult to persuade 50.1 percent of the country to agree to make the anti-gay tenets of their conservative Christianity the established religious law in America.

I discussed this same desire for a less-harsh-seeming anti-gay agenda in a recent post titled, “You can’t deny people their rights and be nice about it.”

That post was largely a response to Halee Gray Scott’s Christianity Today item, “I Am Not Charles Worley: The Plea of a Christian Who Opposes Gay Marriage.”

“I am not Charles Worley,” Scott wrote:

… and I’m tired of others, especially fellow Christians, assuming that because I’m opposed to gay marriage that I’m hateful like him. It’s time to extend a hermeneutic of grace to each other — especially to fellow Christians who still do not favor gay marriage and believe that homosexuality is not God’s intent for human sexuality.

That prompted me to write the 1,400-word essay linked above.

Here (via) is a shorter, more concise response to Scott, courtesy of Cordelia Chase:

(For those who can’t view that, Cordy says: “People who think their problems are so huge craze me. Like this time I sort of ran over this girl on her bike. It was the most traumatizing event of my life and she’s trying to make it about her leg! Like my pain meant nothing.”)

 

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  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Nnnnnyeaaaaaaaah, I think that about sums it up.

    It’s amazing out out of touch the “wannabe nice-type” homophobes try to insist their feelings are a difference of kind, not  a difference of degree.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Sorry. If you refuse to treat me like I’m human, I’m going to call you out for the hateful bigot you are. 

    I (probably, unless you catch me on a bad day) won’t be anywhere near as horrible to you as you are me, but…There won’t be any “grace.” 

    You’re free to believe I’m going to hell. And more power to you. But when you start using that belief to justify treating me horribly…You’re really not any different than them. If that bothers you, stop whining and start THINKING. 

  • Jurgan

    But… there is a matter of degree, isn’t there?  Surely saying “I don’t think gays should have the right to marry” isn’t the same as saying “I think gays should be locked in concentration camps.”  We do agree on that, right?

  • Lori

     

    But… there is a matter of degree, isn’t there?  Surely saying “I don’t
    think gays should have the right to marry” isn’t the same as saying “I
    think gays should be locked in concentration camps.”  We do agree on
    that, right? I mean, even if they aren’t in favor of equal legal
    rights, I’d still prefer conservative pastors to say “these pastors are
    evil and do not represent me.”  

    I think Invisible Nuetrino has it right on this issue. Denying civil rights is a difference in degree from putting people in concentration camps, but not really a difference in kind. Obviously I’m all in favor of people speaking out against concentration camps, but I don’t think there’s any call for anyone to strain something patting themselves on the back over it. Being against concentration camps is bare minimum for claiming to be a civilized human being. I really don’t have a lot of patience left for hearing about the pain of the poor misunderstood people who can’t manage any more than that.

  • Jurgan

    Ah, I see what you’re saying.  It’s not so much that what people like Scott are saying is wrong.  They are different from truly horrible people like Worley.  The problem is the self-congratulation inherent in it.  She seems to want credit for being open-minded and tolerant simply because she doesn’t wish death on people she disagrees with.  It’s another member of the anti-kitten burning coalition Fred has talked about, make themselves feel more moral by comparing to people who are obviously despicable and thus ignoring more serious moral questions.  Yeah, I agree with that.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The point is that a difference of kind would mean the “nice” homophobes are of a completely different category to the “bad” homophobes.

    In reality homophobia is simply points along a continuum. Thus why I assert “difference of degree, not of kind”, in opposition to how they claim it is the other way ’round.

    EDIT: Or what Lori said. :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CE6FTHLHRMXUGOOGCMG3ROXBH4 David

    “these pastors are more evil and do not represent me.”

    Fixed.

  • Lori

    For folks who aren’t familiar with Cordelia Chase, especially those who didn’t watch Angle, it’s worth noting that Cordy did the thing that so many “nice” homophobes never do—she grew up and grew out of thinking that the world revolved around her. (If you pretend that the weird crap toward the end never happened, which I totally do, Cordy actually had a really great character arc. She grew and changed while remaining very much herself.)

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    I thought she had a great character arc, and still regard Angel’s ending as one of the great TV series endings! CC was also a pretty interesting trophy wife on ‘Veronica Mars’, playing up the fact she was barely older than her two stepsons, the older of whom was Veronica’s classmate. 

  • Lori

     

    I thought she had a great character arc, and still regard Angel’s ending as one of the great TV series endings! 

    I loved the ending of Angel. I could have done without some of the season 4 weirdness  though. Possessed or not that whole business with Cordy & Connor squicked me right out. Between Charisma Carpenter’s pregnancy and her falling out with the show’s Powers That Be things got just got odd, which was a shame.

  • Makabit

    There’s also an issue of ability and agency here.

    Charles Worley can’t put gay people in concentration camps. No one is going to give him that power. He can’t attain it, by any means. His is a disgusting fantasy, but it’s a fantasy.

    However, those who don’t want to be associated with the likes of Worley, but “do not favor gay marriage and believe that homosexuality is not God’s intent for human sexuality” will be give real-world opportunities to campaign for, and vote for real-world things like banning same-sex marriage, preventing gay people from adopting children, preventing rights for transsexuals, keeping schools full of bullies and ignorance…the list goes on.

    This, in the real world, not the fantasy of what you would do if given unlimited power, is where this fight takes place. Worley is disgusting. But if your best defense of yourself is ‘people should be nice to me because at least I don’t want to put gay people in concentration camps’, you gotta try some harder.

  • Katie

    Yes, not supporting genocide is a good thing.  But that doesn’t mean that someone gets a pat on the head and a cookie because they ‘merely’ want  QUILTBAG people to live furtive, closeted unhappy lives, unable to fully participate in society.

  • Katie

    Especially when history has given us every reason to believe that if there *were* to be concentration camps set up, the ‘moderate’ homophobes would stand by and do nothing to actually stop genocide.
     

  • Wade

    I heard an interesting comment from a pastor who would likewise dissasociate himself from Charles Worley. He basically said it wasn’t an issue of equality, but one of morality. The comparison held up was that we don’t permit (e.g.) siblings to marry, not out of a desire for inequality, but for moral reasons. 

    It kind of makes the those for and those against appear to be talking past each other. :-/

  • EllieMurasaki

    Uh, no. We do not permit siblings to marry because siblings are by definition already each other’s legal family, and the purpose of marriage is to take people who are not each other’s legal family and make them each other’s legal family. WHY IS THIS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND.

  • Ursula L

    Uh, no. We do not permit siblings to marry because siblings are by definition already each other’s legal family, and the purpose of marriage is to take people who are not each other’s legal family and make them each other’s legal family. WHY IS THIS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND. 

    Except for the problem that the rights and responsibilities that one has with a sibling are different from the rights and responsibilities that one has with a spouse.  There is no single set of rights and responsibilities for “family.”

    For example, for a few years when we were in our 20s, my brother and I lived together.  My brother’s job did not offer health insurance.  My job did offer health insurance, and even a family plan.  But even though my brother is clearly part of my family, and we were sharing a household, I could not get coverage for him under the available family plan.  

    Another woman I knew, single in her 50s, and living with and caring for her elderly mother, could not include her mother in her available family insurance plan, despite both being family and sharing a household.  

    When I was working at group homes for the developmentally disabled, most of the residents I cared for were too old to be covered by their parents’ family insurance plans, and lacked the intellectual development to consent to marriage.  Responsibility for their care fell to their extended family.  Parents, often elderly, adult siblings, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews.  None of whom could use their available family health insurance policies to cover a family member they were legally, morally and socially responsible for caring for.  

    This caused very real anxiety for me and my brother, as he was uninsured, and every illness was a cause for concern.  It caused very real financial hardship for my friend, who had to try to pay for anything her mother needed that wasn’t covered by Medicare.  It created extra work and confusion for the guardians of the residents I cared for, who had to navigate the public assistance system of Medicaid for the disabled as well as their own insurance company for their own needs, rather than having one system for everyone they were responsible for. 

    Marrying someone doesn’t just make them “family.”  It creates a set of legal rights and obligations.  It creates opportunities for caring for and supporting the person in question, in ways that go far beyond the opportunities you have to care for most family members, such as your parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, neblings, etc.  

    People often want to and need to care for family members.  Having social  economic support for caring for family members limited to spouses and minor children is a significant problem.  Setting aside any sexual taboos and genetic risks associated with close blood relatives reproducing together, allowing such family members to legally marry, or something legally equivalent, would allow families to care for each other more effectively. 

    It’s the exact same problem that led to LGB activists a couple of decades ago to propose the idea of “civil unions” long before the idea of same-sex marriage caught on.  Human beings  have family, by blood or by choice, whom they want to care for.  Restricting the opportunities for effective care to a tiny subset of the types of family relationships that exist creates problems for every person in a relationship where they want to provide care but are denied access to the tools and supports that society has developed for helping people to provided care.  

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I would definitely agree that failing the idea of rather ersatz marriages, that laws be amended (or a HHS regulation be made) to require any health insurance company to permit a person to add any documented family member as a ‘partner’ on a health insurance plan.

  • Ursula L

    I would definitely agree that failing the idea of rather ersatz marriages, that laws be amended (or a HHS regulation be made) to require any health insurance company to permit a person to add any documented family member as a ‘partner’ on a health insurance plan. 

    This, of course, leads to all the same problems that led early ideas suggesting a very limited form of civil partnership to grow into explicit arguments for nondiscriminatory legal marriage.

    Who decides who is family?   Just how much of the legal benefits of marriage do two people who are committed to each other but can’t marry need?  Can they share pensions?  Speak for each other at the hospital?  

    And should support for caring for family members be limited to support for caring for one adult?  The friend I mentioned who was caring for her elderly mother actually had two adults she cared for, her mother, and her uncle who was a resident at one of the group homes I worked at.  Should she have to pick which one is really “family”?  What if she married, would that mean loosing the right to claim those two as “family”, and any social support for providing and caring for family members?  

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Good points.

    I have two family members who are financially dependent on me. Neither is my spouse nor my child, so in the eyes of the state we are three random people among whom money changes hands, rather than a family that deserves support. (I use the “deserves support” rhetoric intentionally, because that’s the language used here in reference to the state’s relationship to “traditional families”)

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    Except that’s not why we don’t allow siblings to marry…  I mean originally it may have been due to moral reasons, but there are genuine *biological* reasons why that’s generally not accepted.  Namely inbreeding and birth defects. *Edit* Oh yeah and the whole family thing. I’m dense tonight.

    So the argument this pastor made is kinda ridiculous and not that far removed from the ‘man on dog’ nonsense we sometimes hear.

    Secondly – you can’t legislate based on what one religion says is or is not moral;  it’s unconstitutional and on top of that, just plain bad policy for reasons Fred has hammered dozens of times.

    My point is – it’s not a question of them and us talking past each other – it’s them being obtuse to some very basic facts, and doing so deliberately out of either prejudice or (as Fred has also noted in some recent posts) out of desire for material gain by inflaming the prejudice of others.

    Or the short version:

    It isn’t that they don’t understand – it’s that they’re assholes.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That’s only in the ~20th century. Before then laws against incest were to reinforce certain social taboos, and to guard against the element of coercion that almost invariably comes along with such situations.

  • GDwarf

     

    but there are genuine *biological* reasons why that’s generally not
    accepted.  Namely inbreeding and birth defects. *Edit* Oh yeah and the
    whole family thing. I’m dense tonight.

    Eh, not really. Inbreeding is only a problem over many generations, not one.

    What it probably is is “squick” codified. Multiple studies have shown that, usually, one’s brain designates one’s siblings as off-limits sexually very strongly, but only if you’ve some sort of interaction with that sibling while growing up. If you were separated at birth and then 20 years later find out you’re related the part of you that rates personal attractiveness won’t care.

    So we have an innate tendency to be opposed to sibling marriage, and it’s not hard to see that ending up codified in law, like so many other things we have a gut opposition to, baseless or not.

  • AnonymousSam

    ^

    Otherwise, one has to wonder if sterile incestuous unions would be acceptable.

  • Wade

    I should point out I don’t entirely agree with him, but calling such people names really doesn’t help.

    Don’t get caught up on the comment about sibling marriage. That was the only example he used that I can remember. The whole point of his argument was that his stance *wasn’t* one about denying equality or promoting inequality. 

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

     Yet that’s what it does.

    Intent only matters so much – results are the important thing.

    Here’s an example:

    I don’t intend you any harm, but I run you over in my car because I’m being careless – should I get a free pass on that?  I didn’t mean you any harm… but you’re still injured/dead in the end.  I may feel *awful* about it afterwards… but again you’re still injured/dead, and my feeling awful doesn’t change that.

    This is why I call them assholes – because these folks are attempting to deny rights to LGBT folks, and regardless of their reasoning all it does is hurt said LGBT folks.

    That’s before you even consider things like constitutionality, which means that even if a given religion says “X is bad mkay?” – that religion does not get to establish that as a rule of law unless there’s some non-religious reason for it.

    And in the case of orientation?  There isn’t one – and most of these people know that.

    Now, maybe it’s just me, but I  think trying to codify a religious taboo into law with the explicit purpose of denying rights to people is kind of an asshole thing to do – kind of like carelessly running you over in a car;  it’s not a nice thing to do even if you’ve got no ill intentions towards the person in question.

    That’s what I’m getting at.

  • Tonio

     His stance still equates to the law discriminating against gay couples. That’s true even if he believes otherwise or if his intention isn’t inequality.

    People like Scott and your pastor act like that the entire human race is in their god’s school and that they are their god’s hall monitors. How arrogant.

  • Lori

    I should point out I don’t entirely agree with him, but calling such people names really doesn’t help.  

    This is what’s known as a tone argument. It doesn’t help. That pastor was calling people names. The fact that he was doing it in a “reasonable” tone without using any swears doesn’t make it OK. That’s the entire point of this post and the earlier one Fred did on this subject.

    Also, IMO it’s not true that “name calling” doesn’t help. Naming has power. Up to this point people like that pastor have claimed that power exclusively for themselves. They name-called anyone who isn’t heterosexual “immoral”, and therefor undeserving of having full civil rights. They don’t get to do that any more without being, quite accurately, named as an asshole.

     

    Don’t get caught up on the comment about sibling marriage. That was
    the only example he used that I can remember.   

    The fact that he used the sibling argument  means that I don’t need to know anything else he said to know that he’s full of crap. No one who has thought through the issue in a reasonable way and is arguing in good faith would pull that out. As mistformsquirrel pointed out, that’s about a half a step up for “if we let gay people get married the next thing you know people will be marrying their dogs or their home appliances.” It’s untrue, stupid and used only to slander same sex couples.

    The whole point of his argument was that his stance *wasn’t* one about denying equality or promoting inequality. 

    Of course he claimed that his point wasn’t about denying equality. He’s educated enough to know that denying equality is a bad thing and no one likes to think of themselves doing something bad.

    The thing is, he’s flattering himself. His argument is about denying equality and promoting inequality. Full stop. He can lie to himself and to you and to whoever else all day long, but it’s still true.

  • Tonio

    A question for Scott and your pastor – what’s their justification for wanting to keep same-sex marriage illegal and not seeing to, say, make homosexuality itself illegal? Any argument for SSM being allegedly a threat to society that requires government intervention would inevitably be an argument for treating homosexuality the same way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     Answer: We’ve gotten to the point where actually attempting to criminalize homosexuality is a non-starter, and it would alienate too many people.

    It’s kind of like how a lot of embryonic personhood laws are defeated at the ballot box not because they would interfere with abortion but because they would interfere with things like in vitro fertilization therapy — which is popular even among pro-life people. The most sincere pro-lifers realize that there’s no logical way you can argue that the destruction of embryos is murder and still be in favor of many fertility treatments, but they also realize that if they tried to bar these procedures they would lose the support (and donations) of a lot of people who would otherwise back them in prohibiting abortion.

  • Tonio

     In other words, we really want to criminalize homosexuality but we’re not able to do it. I suspected something like that. So banning SSM is simply their low-hanging fruit politically.

  • Tricksterson

    Or someone in the Jim Crow days who would be against lynching but still thought “Negroes” needed to know their place in the scheme of things and to stay there.

  • J_Enigma32

     “Bigot,” “liar”, and “asshole” are not names for these people. They’re *titles*, and they deserve them because they work so hard to earn them. There are degrees, it’s true, but at the end of the day, a first degree bigoted asshole is the same as a forth degree bigoted asshole in that both are bigoted assholes.

  • Jessica_R

    “We say “bless your heart” before punching you in the face! We’re totally different! *You’re* the real bigots for not tolerating our intolerance!” Folks like this is why I wish the Rapture would happen and wisk them away for real.

  • AnonaMiss

    Speaking of making things all about oneself, the Knapp side of my family is from Kansas. And the profile picture of this horrible man… he shares that side’s distinctive “cowboy eyes.”

    I think I need to take a shower.

  • Tonio

    especially to fellow Christians who still do not favor gay marriage and
    believe that homosexuality is not God’s intent for human sexuality.

    Because people like Scott can’t prove the latter, our marriage laws shouldn’t be based on their belief. I go further and say that it’s inappropriate for them even have that universal belief in the first place. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are both morally neutral from an objective standpoint, meaning that an individual’s orientation neither inherently helps nor harms others. (What constitutes help and harm isn’t necessarily objective, but the principle is.) Because of this, the orientation should be no one else’s business or concern. The Scotts of the world aren’t entitled to disapprove of anyone’s orientation but their own. It would be entirely reasonable, not to mention moral, if they decided that they themselves shouldn’t be gay but took a neutral stance on others’ homosexuality. It’s not their religion that’s the problem, it’s the attitude that they know what’s best for everyone, and that probably explains why they don’t see a distinction between insisting that everyone live according to their dictates and enshrining those dictates into law.

  • sarah

    you are going along with the tired argument that anyone who thinks homosexual marriage is not acceptable within Christianity, is ‘homophobic,’ ‘a skinhead,’ ‘gay-hating.’   you are demonizing anyone who does not agree with your particular stance, and denying that they are making a distinction between following biblical tenets for sexual behavior, and violently acting out toward anyone.    you are ascribing motives to these people based on utilitarian political agendas.   how about they are telling the truth?   how about adding some sanity to this   conversation?   

  • hapax

     

    you are ascribing motives to these people based on utilitarian
    political agendas.   how about they are telling the truth?   how about
    adding some sanity to this   conversation?  

    How about adding some honesty?

    We are ascribing “political” motives because they are acting in a political fashion.  Fred Clark isn’t talking about requiring churches to perform religious rituals to sanctify same-sex marriages.*

    We are talking about legal marriage equality, under secular civil laws.  “Biblical tenets for sexual behavior” are irrelevant and (in this case) discriminatory, bigoted, and hateful, unless you put just as much (or more) energy into outlawing divorce, inter-religious marriage, and sexual relations when one member of the couple is having her menses.

    *I freely confess that I am talking about it, loudly, within my own congregation.  Fortunately, the bishop, the rector, the vestry, and most of the congregation agree with me.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    “[Y]ou are ascribing motives to these people based on utilitarian political agendas.”
     
    I will give you this part, because I think it’s unfair to say that “anti-gay Christians don’t support … outlandishly violent preaching” because it “makes it more difficult to … make the anti-gay tenets of their conservative Christianity the established religious law in America.” I believe that there is cognitive dissonance at work and a genuine failure to see that they exist on the same civil-rights-denying-continuum (and that hate-spewing preachers give them cover to express their own less extreme “political agenda” of forcing “biblical tenets for sexual behavior” on everyone else and making secular law a refelction of what “is not acceptable within Christianity”), but I do accept that anti-gay Christians find the ideas of Whorley et al disgusting in their own right.

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

     you are going along with the tired argument that anyone who thinks
    homosexual marriage is not acceptable within Christianity, is
    ‘homophobic,’ ‘a skinhead,’ ‘gay-hating.’ 

    I would not dream of associating “being a skinhead” with “gay-hating”.

    But yes, I do find that people who think same-sex couples ought not to be allowed to get married “in Christianity” are homophobic. They have absorbed, often unwittingly, the idea that their God does not like gay people. They see no reason why anyone should find this offensive, and they get very annoyed with gay people who do find this offensive and hurtful.

    I am not ascribing this motive based on any “utilitarian political agenda”: I am doing so because I find that after any conversation with a Christian who wants me to know that their God doesn’t like me and their religious duty is to make sure I remain legally unequal, I have to remind myself of the power of love.

  • Beroli

     

    how about adding some sanity to this   conversation?  

    I know, we’re being so mean. It’s like your pain means nothing.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    There have been cultures where sibling marriage not only was legal, it was required. Usually for ruling families, so it didn’t turn out well.

    Today’s Sinfest comic is pretty relevant.

  • sarah

    by saying ‘how about they are telling the truth,’ i mean how about they are being sincere in expressing the distinctions of their beliefs?   to characterize everyone who believes homosexual sex goes against God’s plan as a violent gay-bashing skinhead, is disingenuous and ignorant.   and also covers most  Christian thinkers and writers up until the last ten years or so.  

  • Tonio

     “You miss the point” doesn’t being to cover it. The reasons why someone might oppose same-sex marriage do not matter at all. What matter is that the stance amounts to cruelty toward people based on their orientation. You have no right to believe that homosexuality is wrong for anyone but yourself.

  • phantomreader42

    Well, if your sincere beliefs lead you to fight to deny the rights of others, then your sincere beliefs are a worthless load of bullshit, and so are you. 

  • Kiba

    by saying ‘how about they are telling the truth,’ i mean how about they are being sincere in expressing the distinctions of their beliefs? 

    You know what? I don’t give a damn about their beliefs, sincere or otherwise. They are free to believe whatever damn thing they want. You know what I care about? When they try to enshrine their religious beliefs into law and force others to adhere to them. And let us not forget that these are the same people that would, and do, raise a hue and cry over anyone else trying to do the same thing (the Sharia Law spectre they love to scare themselves with ring any bells?). 

    The fact is my being gay doesn’t affect you at all. If I were to get legally married in the near future my marriage wouldn’t affect you at all. 

    Here’s a novel idea! Why don’t you live your life according to whatever tenets you believe in and leave everyone else alone? Or, in other words, keep your religion to yourself. 

  • Lori

      “You miss the point” doesn’t being to cover it.

    Seriously.

    You have no right to believe that homosexuality is wrong for anyone but yourself. 

    Sure she does. It’s a free country (more or less). She has a right to believe whatever she wants. Within extremely broad parameters she’s also allowed to state those beliefs. What she doesn’t have the right to do is deny civil rights to other people based on those beliefs or to expect everyone to go along with the idea that she’s a terrific person because she’s a polite bigot.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     She has the right to expect whatever she wants, too.
    Of course, that doesn’t mean anyone else (let alone everyone else) is obligated to provide it.

  • Lori

     True.

  • Tonio

     I’m talking about a “moral right,” not a legal one. I’m saying that there’s no moral basis for the belief because, if put into practice, it would constitute cruelty to people based on orientation. It’s not a justified belief. Sort of the distinction between having an opinion and having an informed opinion.

  • Lori

    What moral right to you have to tell her what she can and can’t believe? How do you justify setting yourself up as the arbiter of which beliefs are justified and which are not? This is not like opinion or informed opinion because there are too many factors involved that can’t be proved one way or the other. That’s a perfectly good reason for not using these kinds of beliefs as a basis for civil law, but it doesn’t mean that you get to decide what other people’s beliefs have to be or not be.

  • Tonio

     I don’t have the terms for what I’m trying to describe. I guess I want to see a world where no one attempts to decide what is best for another person, assuming we’re talking about competent adults. A world where the standard for approving or disapproving of someone else’s behavior is whether it helps or harms others. When someone like Sarah has a belief for how other people should live their lives, as opposed to how she lives her own life, it seem to amount to an intrusion of privacy or a violation of boundaries. I don’t see a reason to trust such people not to try to enact their beliefs into civil law. That’s because their beliefs seem to amount to, “If we had the power we would bar gays from getting married ourselves.”

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     So, I sympathize with the underlying sentiment here, but… well, I think the reason you’re having trouble coming up with the terms is because this is a legitimately difficult concept.

    As a starting point: do you consider yourself to be expressing here a belief about how Sarah should live her life? If so, why is that OK on your account (or is it)? If not, can you clarify why not?

  • Tonio

    I don’t see this as a belief about how Sarah should live her life. The distinction at work is how she treats herself versus how she treats other people. If I held a belief that Sarah should not drink, that would be a belief about how she would live her life. I would be acting inappropriately in having that belief because whether she drinks is none of my business. It does become my business if her drinking affects others, such as driving while intoxicated. Granted, holding a belief about how others should live their lives is not the same as taking action aimed at having them live their lives that way, but the principle is the same.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    So it sounds to me like you believe that we should sometimes have beliefs about how people live their lives… for example, if I live my life in such a way as to hurt others, we should believe that’s bad, and if I live my life in such a way as to help others, we should believe that’s good.

    It also sounds to me like you believe that we should sometimes not have such beliefs. For example, if I live my life in such a way as to neither harm nor help others, we should not have a belief one way or the other.

    Is that a fair restatement?

  • hapax

     

    If I held a belief that Sarah should not drink, that would be a belief about how she would live her life.  I would be acting inappropriately in having that belief because whether she drinks is none of my business.

    Tonio, I am not trying to be aggressive here, I’m trying to suss out your understanding of what “affects others” on the simple grounds of our shared humanity.

    W has a couple glasses of wine on Saturday nights — not my business.

    W drives under the influence  — my business. 

    Okay, I’m with you so far.

    W has a bottle of wine every night.

    W has a bottle of wine every night, and gives bad service at work the next day because zie feels hungover.

    W is an alcoholic.

    W is an alcoholic, and becomes unemployed and homeless as a result.

    W develops cirrhosis of the liver.

    W develops cirrhosis of the liver, and cannot pay for health care.

    Are any of these “my business”?  Is it only “my business” to address the effects of W’s drinking, and not the drinking itself?

  • Tonio

     Excellent question. I had something like that in the back of my mind when I wrote my post. While self-destructive behavior can indeed have consequences for others, in and of itself outside the concept of morality. I was using “none of my business” to refer to the refusal to morally condemn behavior that doesn’t harm others.

    It’s worth mentioning that the “ex-gay” movements borrow heavily from the language of substance abuse recovery but in self-serving ways.

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

     “Tonio, I am not trying to be aggressive here, I’m trying to suss out
    your understanding of what “affects others” on the simple grounds of our
    shared humanity.”

    I think what bothers me about this analogy is that it uses the classic homophobic religious analogy of “but homosexuality HURTS YOU, that’s why I want to discriminate against you, because being gay is BAD FOR YOU.”

    It is perfectly humanly acceptable to be supportively worried about someone who is doing something which is bad for them and may lead to them harming others. Drinking too much, smoking tobacco,getting addicted to heroin, living in the closet, going on the down-low, entering marriage with the intent of using your wife as a beard without telling her, pretending to have been “cured” of being gay, telling others that being gay is an illness of which one can be “cured” like being an alcoholic. All of these things are actually harmful.

    Having a glass of wine or beer, or even getting lightly drunk once in a while with friends: being lesbian or gay, having sexual relationships that are safe, sane, and consensual, or being joyfully promiscuous and  having safe sex with hundreds of other men – these things are not harmful.

    When Christians compare “being concerned about your being gay” to “being concerned about your being an alcoholic” it reads not as concern, but as an insulting presumption that being gay is physically bad for you. I am sure this was not your intention, so I mention it for your information. It’s not a good idea to even look like you’re comparing being gay to being an alcoholic.

  • Tonio

     Excellent point. Hapax was justified in bringing up the analogy because it’s a very common one that deserves scrutiny. Beyond its offensiveness, the expressions of concern aren’t sincere. At best, such homophobes seem less interested in helping gays and more interested in scolding them.

    More and more I suspect that the average male homophobe fear the loss of his gender-based privilege and interprets homosexuality as undermining the idea of gender hierarchy. (That’s different from the “professional” homophobe who, given the number of ones who have turned out to be gay, might subconsciously believe that denouncing homosexuality publicly might cure himself of his unwanted desires.)

  • hapax

     

    When Christians compare “being concerned about your being gay” to “being
    concerned about your being an alcoholic” it reads not as concern, but
    as an insulting presumption that being gay is physically bad for you. I am sure this was not your intention, so I mention it for your information.

    Oh, dear.

    Actually, it *was* my intention, but I didn’t  make it clear WHY I was using the analogy.

    *I* don’t believe that either alcohol or any sexual identity outside the narrow cis-hetero privileged position is “bad” for people, physically, mentally, spiritually, or otherwise. 

    But lots of people, Christian or otherwise, do make such assumptions.  And yes, I have heard it in very analogous terms to alcoholism: “Experimenting with your room-mate while you’re in college, that’s fine, that’s normal, everybody does that;  but to make it the center of your life?  That’s SICK!”

    So I was trying to explore how absolute how absolute the right should be to hold beliefs I think are hurtful and WRONG.  Where is the boundary between belief and action?  Is it enough that in someone’s judgment you are “hurting” yourself?  Do you have to “hurt” someone else too?  Must the “hurt” be legal?  Financial?  Physical?

    So I had all this context swirling in the back of my head, but I didn’t bother to put any of it on the page.  And by doing that, I looked like I was supporting the very analogy I reject.

    Tl; dr:  I was careless, and it was harmful, and I’m sorry.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Agreed with all of this.

    That said, I also try to remember that people who agree with all of this can still significantly disagree about how to respond to the behavior of others.

    For one thing, people can agree with all of this and still disagree about what is harmful. Some people believe smoking a few cigarettes a day harms my health, some people don’t believe that, some people believe it doesn’t harm my health. Those three people, even if they completely agree with us about everything you say in this post, are going to have different beliefs about whether it’s acceptable to be “supportively worried” about my smoking. The same goes for people who believe that my marriage harms my prospects for salvation.

    People can also agree with all of this and still disagree about what qualifies as “supportively worried.” If I believe that my friend’s drinking harms him or her, I might express that by saying “I think your drinking harms you” once and then letting the subject drop. I might express it by frowning imperceptibly whenever I see them taking a drink. I might express it by asking them not to do that whenever I see them taking a drink. I might express it by walking away whenever I see them taking a drink. I might express it by taking all the alcohol in their house and pouring it down the drain. I might express it in various other ways. Conversely, I might consider some or all of those acts unjustified.
     

  • Tricksterson

    I suspect that Christians of that stripe are like people who consider anyone who drinks regularly, even if it’s only  a can or two of beer, or a glass of wine, even if that person never drinks to the degree where they get drunk, as an alchoholic.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Hm.

    The thing is, though, that beliefs often have actual, physical, measurable, predictable consequences other than the passing of laws.

    If I believe that members of group X should be summarily put to death, and I express that belief in my community, and it turns out that people raised in communities where that belief is expressed are more likely to discriminate against members of group X, and Sam believes that actions which increase the odds of members of group X being discriminated against are immoral, then Sam is entirely justified in concluding that my expression of that belief is immoral.

    What Sam is entitled to do about that conclusion is a whole different question, but if Sam goes about saying that my expressing my beliefs is immoral, for example, it’s not clear to me that Sam has overstepped any particular bounds.

  • Ursula L

    What moral right to you have to tell her what she can and can’t believe? How do you justify setting yourself up as the arbiter of which beliefs are justified and which are not? This is not like opinion or informed opinion because there are too many factors involved that can’t be proved one way or the other. That’s a perfectly good reason for not using these kinds of beliefs as a basis for civil law, but it doesn’t mean that you get to decide what other people’s beliefs have to be or not be. 

    The moral right to condemn the belief comes from the real-life fact that genuine belief of an idea will be expressed in real-life action.

    One could, theoretically, believe that being homosexual is wrong, a sin deserving eternal damnation, and a condition that is lived with acts of “love” that are actually sinful acts that ought to be legally criminal, but never, ever do anything to harm another person.

    But that requires not only that you do not act on your belief, but you never, ever even mention your belief.  You have to move through the world, believing something to be wrong, evil, sinful, but never, ever give even a hint that this is what you believe.

    You have to be so far into the closet about your belief that homosexuality is wrong that you reach Narnia, more deeply closeted about the belief than anyone who has ever experienced same-sex sexual attraction has ever had to be in order to avoid being harmed by homophobia. 

    Because any expression of homophobia, racism or misogyny, or any other discriminatory belief, does real harm to the people whom you are prejudiced against.  The moment you voice the belief, you run the risk of convincing another person to share and act on the belief, and you attack, insult and harm the people whom you believe are doing wrong.  

    A person who believes homosexuality is wrong but that they should do nothing to harm homosexual people will be, from an external perspective, exactly the same as the most radical and assertive QUILTBAG activist who loudly proclaims that there is nothing wrong wing the being gay, lesbian or anything else.  

    Otherwise, it is completely accurate and morally good to clearly label the prejudice, and to tell the prejudiced person that their behavior is wrong and that they have no right to the belief because any action coming from that belief hurts other people.  

    If any person other than yourself knows that you believe that homosexuality is wrong and therefore you believe that same-sex marriage should be illegal, then you are hurting real people in the world, If you cast a vote or donate money based on your belief then you are doing real harm in the world.  

    If you care about the issue enough to act on the belief then your beliefs on the issue deserve to be condemned.  

    The concept that “you can believe this, but you can’t do anything to harm another person based on the belief” requires the belief to be held so lightly that you effectively don’t believe it at all.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

    This feels like a “If you’re so tolerant, why won’t you tolerate my intolerance!” issue. The answer that I’ve found for questions like that goes like this. 

    If you value tolerance, the important thing is net tolerance, not so much every individual case. Hence, if ceasing to tolerate anti-marriage bigotry allows LGBT folk to marry and have families, net tolerance is increased and that particular intolerance is a tolerant act. It’s based on the idea that my right to an unbroken nose trumps your right to swing your fist. There might be a better answer to that question – if there is, please share it with me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    That’s a good answer, but you shouldn’t need one. “You’re being intolerant of my intolerance” is like saying, “If you’re in favor of imprisoning violent criminals, you should also be OK with kidnapping, since it’s the same thing.” or “If you think that archery should be legal, you should also be OK with armed robbery”.

    There’s a difference between being ‘tolerant’ of something that is good or neutral and being ‘tolerant’ of something that is actively destructive and evil, and I think deep down people who say that “intolerant/tolerant” ‘joke’ know that; they’re just pretending not to, because they’re assholes.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     I don’t know if it’s better, but my own answer is “I’m glad you agree that tolerance of difference is a virtue. As it happens, I do tolerate it. I don’t approve of it, any more than you approve of how I live my life. I won’t allow you to make it mandatory, any more than I would want my own style of life to be mandatory. I reject any theology or moral philosophy that has such intolerance as a necessary component, just as you reject my theology and moral philosophy.”

    Not that it matters much.

  • Emcee, cubed

    @c05252e3f17b5acdcf20a44c381bf5e3:disqus
    : So you’re not a violent skinhead. Okay. But let’s be perfectly clear about what you DO support. You want it to be legal for me to be thrown out of the house I’ve lived in for over 20 years if something happens to my partner, because the house is in his name. You want me to be kept from seeing him in the hospital when he’s injured or sick. You want us to go into crippling debt if something should happen to me, because I am unemployed and can’t get on his health insurance. You want us to spend thousands of dollars trying to get these things (and huge amounts of other things you take for granted as a heterosexual) by other means (such as power of attorney, etc.), which can and have been ignored by hospitals, courts, and other authorities. These are all the real-life things that can and have happened to same-sex couples. And don’t say that you don’t want those things to happen. Intent isn’t magic. It is what can, will and does happen, and your position makes it more likely. So you don’t want to kill me outright, you just want to inflict heavy burdens on my life that hurt me in other, much more long-term ways. Yeah, not seeing a big difference here.

    Or, in other words, this is MY life you are fucking with in the name or your so-called morality. Audit you and the horse you rode in on.

  • AnonymousSam

     With or without prior use of an e-meter? (Sorry.)

  • S TPAOT

    You guys are kind of jerks, you know? Sarah didn’t state any sort of personal belief, yet you attack her personally as if she were some kind of hate-spewing homophobic monster. Her comments, readily viewable and easily read by anyone who wanted to reply to them, have nothing of the sort of intention and anger that has been ascribed to her. Instead they are pointing out how certain commenters in this thread are demonizing an entire set of people who may or may not hold views contrary to those of the commenters for what are obviously politically-motivated reasons. Those same commenters then immediately demonized her for daring to tell them that they’re tarring a pretty wide swath with the brush of evil, hate-filled monstrosity, most of whome have nothing to do with the argument at all.

    I agree with most here that GLBTwhatever people should be allowed to marry who they want (within certain reasonable intelligent species-based limits) and that a secular govornment cannot and should not bow to the dogma of any religion, for pretty much any reason at all. I know that the anti-gay sentiment of certain biblical passages are incompatible with a loving deity and should be expunged, and peace and liberty for all equally, etc, etc. So far as I know, Sarah agrees with each and every point here. She might not, but since she mentions nothing of it in the two comments on this thread, how the hell am I supposed to know? Unless she’s made a reputation of being a gay-hating intolerant bigot apologist, how the hell are YOU supposed to know?

    Address the comments as written, not what you want them to say so you can have an excuse vent your spleen.

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

     We’re not, in Sarah’s words, classifying every anti gay bigot as “head bashing skin heads.” We just classifying them as anti gay bigots. Which Sarah objected to.

    If you can point out where we do classify everyone we disagree with as “head bashing skin heads,” please do so.

    I’ll even hold my breath for you.

  • Tonio

    The stance that gays should not be able to legally marry is most definitely hatred, no matter what the basis for the stance. It’s not up to me or you or anyone else to decide who should and shouldn’t be able to marry.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     FWIW, I know a number of people who take the stance that gays (including me and my husband) ought not be able to legally marry, but who I don’t believe hate us.

    I also know a number of people who used to take that stance, and no longer do, and I don’t believe the transition involved a reduction in how much they hate me, or my husband, or gay people in general, or really much of anything.

    Of course, I could be wrong on both counts… I’m hardly infallible when it comes to recognizing hate, or the absence of hate.

    Then again, before I substitute your judgment on the matter for my own, I’d like to at least know your reasons for believing they are (or were) acting from hate.

  • Tonio

    I didn’t say they were acting from hatred. I’m saying that the position itself is a form of hatred. To paraphrase Emcee, opposition to a group’s civil rights means harm for that group.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Well, I certainly agree that opposing a group’s civil rights means harm for that group.

    I don’t quite understand the relationship you are assuming between hatred and harm. To my mind, while hatred often motivates harm, harm often occurs in the absence of hatred, and hatred sometimes occurs in the absence of harm.

    But, OK. If you’re not saying that opponents of marriage equality are experiencing hate as an emotion, then I agree that my examples aren’t relevant. 

  • Tonio

    I’m saying that opponents of marriage equality are not necessarily experiencing hate as an emotion, but that same-sex couples are still on the receiving end of hate. Someone can step on your foot accidentally or deliberately, but this wouldn’t change the pain from the impact.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    OK. That’s inconsistent with my own understanding of how hate works, but I do understand what you’re saying. Thanks for clarifying.

  • Emcee, cubed

    Please stop calling my life and my 23-year relationship a “politically-motivated reason”. The “wide brush” you claim she is complaining about doesn’t touch anyone it isn’t supposed to. Anyone who is against my civil rights is actively trying to harm me. Just because they are doing it with their vote and not with their fists doesn’t change that.

    Also, we really need to bring in a tin man and a lion to go with the strawman she built. No one ever said anything even remotely resembling “everyone who believes homosexual sex goes against God’s plan is a violent gay-bashing skinhead”. What was said was that people who use that belief to justify denying an entire group of people their civil rights are bad people. They may be less bad than violent gay-bashing skinheads, but not by much, and only by degree, not by kind.

    And theoretically, yes, she could be saying that their are some people with that belief that don’t vote against same-sex marriage or other protections for QUILTBAG people. But if that was the case, I would have expected her to qualify that pretty clearly, as you yourself did. So I think it’s a pretty reasonable assumption that that isn’t the case. It is much more likely that she just doesn’t want to be called a bigot while voting to deny people their civil rights.

  • WingedBeast

    I think we should all also be clear that nobody wants anybody to be denied the right to say that same-sex marriage is immoral.  Nobody wants to deny anybody the right for that declaration to be based upon their personal faith.

    The “rights” that we want to deny people are as follows.

    1.  To enforce their belief through force of law.
    2.  To be free of anybody suggesting their desire to have their religious based bigotries enforced in law makes them similar to other people who want their religious based bigotries enforced in blatantly more violent and oppressive law.

    We’re not calling anybody skinheads.  We’re just saying that if you want laws enforced to oppress homosexuals, you’re on the side of the skinheads.  And, you don’t have the right to be free of us saying that.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I don’t know where I saw it first, but I read once that the law can regulate acts, but not thoughts.

    So acts which harm others should be punished, but the thoughts behind them can’t be punished in and of themselves.

    In THAT vein, same-sex marriage clearly harms no-one, while the act of drinking to over a threshold and then operating a vehicle opens up the potential of harm.

  • Robert Hagedorn

    For something different, a change, but nothing new, Google First Scandal.  It’s relevant.  And it really is all about sex.

  • Jim

    Kinder, gentler homophobes need to explain exactly how their attempts to violate the principle of equality before the law by denying gay people their civil right to marriage is somehow not hateful.  I don’t care if Pastor Potato and Reverend Rutabaga quote Leviticus or imagine that by some miracle unknown to mortals they are qualified to speak for God. I care when they incite civil discord and mob violence against gay people.  I care when these cult leaders command their subjects to vote against the civil rights of gay people. I care when these pseudo-holy men claim that they get to determine what civil rights other people can or cannot enjoy. So gents, explain to me how attacking the human and civil rights of gay people is not hateful.  And while you’re at it, explain how your hate is a better quality hate than that of Charles Worley and his ilk.

  • MadGastronomer

    I’m sure most people by now have heard the expression “love is a verb,” meaning that love isn’t simply an emotion, it’s something you do, actively. Something that’s in your actions. Loving someone means enacting love for, to and with them, or it is not in any practical sense love. Love is a transitive verb, something that must have an effect on the object (grammatically) of that love to truly be love.

    Hate, too, is a verb. It is not just an emotion. It’s something you do, actively, something that has an effect on its subject. And if something — such as denying someone their human or civil rights based on nothing more than whom they enact their love upon — has the same effect as hate, then in what real and practical sense is it different from hate? Those who say openly that they hate me would deny me my civil and human rights. And there are people who deny that they hate me who would also deny me my civil and human rights. If I see who loves me by their actions, by how they enact love upon me, then why should I not be able to see who hates me by their actions?

    I can’t know what’s in someone else’s heart and mind. I can only know what they actually do in the world. And if they enact hate upon me, by denying me my civil and human rights, by treating me as less than human and as less than they are, then why should I not say that they hate me, no matter what they say they feel?

  • Tonio

    That’s exactly what I was saying about hate, except you said it much more eloquently.

  • MadGastronomer

     I thought you said it pretty well, Tonio, but it looked like you could use backup.

  • MadGastronomer

    I have just been reminded that today is the 43rd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, generally considered to be the flashpoint for the gay rights movement. The riots were started by drag queens and trans women refusing to be separate for genital checks — gropings that were often well into sexual assault territory — and who then began to resist police and their brutality. The gay men and the handful of dykes joined in. They penned the cops inside the Stonewall Inn, jammed the door closed with a broken off parking meter, and set the doors on fire. The riots lasted a couple of days, and thousands of people became involved.

    The raid that was planned for the Stonewall Inn that night was standard for the period. Patrons would be arrested if they were “in drag”, many of them were brutalized, lesbians, drag queens, trans women, and “effeminate” gay men were often raped by police. Often, no charges were even brought, and it was all a matter of abuse and harassment.

    People want to go back to the 50s, when queers were in the closet. This is what they want us to go back to. They think of it as lives of quiet desperation, when we just knew our places and stayed out of public view, but for many gay men and lesbians, this was their life. They could expect to be raided once every month or two, and go through this brutality. Their desperation was not actually all that fucking quiet. That’s how Stonewall happened.

    And this is what they want us to go back to. Even the ones who don’t want us in concentration camps, when they say they just don’t want us to flaunt our sexuality, they just want us to sit down and be quiet and not ask for our rights, they are saying they want a return to this. They want a return to fear and hiding — those who could — and brutality, to losing jobs and homes, to suicide, to being turned away from friends’ funerals by families who had disowned their children in life, only to steal their bodies from their chosen families who would mourn them.

    How is that not enacting hate?

    (By the way, Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg is a heartbreaking novel about that period, before and after Stonewall, written by someone who was there. I highly recommend it — but keep tissues handy.)

  • David Starner

     I don’t get Stonewall. I try and put myself in the shoes of the cops, and my most cold-hearted, amoral side wants to know, with the number of open assaults, rapes, robberies, etc., why it’s worth my time to go roust some guys drinking in a bar. The type of moral superiority complex that would justify ignoring crime to go mess with some people peacefully drinking in a bar is beyond me; “don’t go messing with people who aren’t causing problems” is pretty basic.


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