Muslim students, lofty neutrality toward the Other, and the Miley Rule

Ed Brayton is right that Maryland’s Parkdale High School is taking a “weird” approach to religious accommodation.

The school is requiring Muslim students to maintain a certain level of GPA in order to qualify for being excused from classes for daily prayers.

As Brayton writes, “If the accommodation is reasonable under the Free Exercise clause, it’s reasonable for all Muslim students, not just the ones with a certain grade point average.”

He’s also right that there should be some formal correction for the Parkdale teachers upset over any accommodation of the Muslim students’ prayers who told their classes that the public institution was “a Christian school.”

What those teachers likely meant is that the majority of students attending the school are, at least culturally, Christian. That’s probably true. But that doesn’t mean that Christians, because we’re the majority, get to enjoy privileges denied to neighbors of other faiths or of no faith.

For Christians trying to figure out a way to think about these things, let me suggest the Miley Rule — the ethical principle articulated by the great moral philosopher Miley Cyrus: “Just put yourself in that person’s shoes.”

How would the good Christians of Riverdale Park, Md., feel if the free exercise of their religious beliefs were made conditional on maintaining a high GPA? How would it feel to be in their shoes?

Or, as Miley also said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Wait, maybe that last one wasn’t Miley, maybe that was Jesus. Either way, it seems like a good rule.

I attended the public John Greenleaf Whittier elementary school through second grade. Every Wednesday, my Catholic classmates were dismissed early to walk a few blocks over to St. John’s for catechism. If our schools could accommodate that, we can certainly figure out how to accommodate the prayers of our Muslim students as well.

* * * * * * * * *

I think the Miley Rule and that other rule also apply to this story.

In a recent post at Out of Ur, David Fitch defines LGBT people as suffering from “sexual brokenness.”

Apart from the merits or demerits of that particular position, it’s odd that Fitch characterizes this as a demonstration of his “taking a non-position to this question.” His post is titled “Why You Shouldn’t Have a Position on LGBTQs,” and I think he’s quite sincere when he claims “we have no position.”

I think he quite sincerely doesn’t realize that, yes, in fact, he does.

“What does it mean to be privileged?” Jamelle Bouie asked. “It means not having to think about any of this, ever.”

And it means getting to pretend that “we have no position,” even when you clearly do.

And it means that you get to decide what “position” to take toward others, or to loftily take no position at all, while others can never have a “position” on the “question” of you. Unlike them, you’re never a “question.” That’s what privilege means.

That’s not a privilege that everyone gets to enjoy.

Fitch’s title — “You Shouldn’t Have a Position on LGBTQs” — cannot make any sense for the many “yous” reading it who are themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or queer. How can you have “no position” on yourself? I suppose that’s marginally better than being asked or required to have a “position” against yourself, but still, what are LGBT Christians to make of Fitch’s argument?

My advice for Fitch would be, again, listen to Miley: Just put yourself in that person’s shoes.

 

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

    See Fred, the problem here is you’re asking them to think about other people, and that requires effort… something most of these folks appear entirely unwilling to expend on anyone not themselves.

  • Water_Bear

    You know, if this GPA-based Freedom of Religion was around when I was in high school, it would have been so much more fun. 

    Almost all the kids praying around the flagpole every morning or hunched over their desks with steepled fingers before a test, gone. Or at least quiet. And me and my obnoxious friends would have been wearing full pirate regalia and eating big plates of pasta, offering our oblations to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Oh, if only…

  • http://www.registeredrunaway.com/ Registered Runaway

    Thanks for linking to my post Fred, but I’ve actually moved sites now!
    Here’s a link to the same post on the new site:
    http://www.registeredrunaway.com/2013/01/27/i-am-a-scandal-of-the-evangelical-conscience/

    Thanks again sir,
    RR

  • SisterCoyote

    I seem to remember a post on this very blog, some time ago, calling out “Totally Persecuted American Christians” who claimed, erroneously, that they’d been punished for praying in school. ‘Twas a blatant lie, of course, since prayer has always been protected by the First Amendment, as long as the students were quiet and didn’t try to force others along.

    Or as long as they’re not Muslim, apparently.

  • Leum

    What’s especially odious about Fitch’s “no stance” is that he does have a stance: I am a “sexually broken” person because I am attracted to men. The fact that I form sexual-romantic attractions to men is pathological. I am in need of “sexual redemption.” These may not be stances about my political status as a gay man–which, of course, shouldn’t exist because matters of sexual pathology should be private–but they are definitively stances about my social status.

  • ReverendRef

    Miley Cyrus: “Just put yourself in that person’s shoes.”

    Or, as someone else once said, “Don’t be a dick.”

    Either way, good advice.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    sexual brokenness

    For a given value of “sexual” I can see how that might apply to at least one group in “LGBTQ” but reading the article, which never defines its terms at all, I’m pretty sure that’s not the meaning of “sexual” being used.

    The only way I can see it as anything but an extremely negative judgement value, which is very much a position, is if “sexual” is referring to sex as in the phenotype of one’s body as opposed to sex as in the act.  In that case one could probably make the argument that when the body of a person doesn’t match the gender identity of that person there is a brokenness.

    One that we can solve.  (To a degree at least.)

    But somehow I don’t think that Fitch is arguing for greater access to transgender related care.  Could be wrong, but I didn’t get a sense of “Free endocrinology for everyone,” rolling off that article.  (Or anything similar.)

    What I did get a sense of was the assumption that he was thinking about sex the act (in which case what the fuck is “T” doing in there?*) and passing judgement that anyone who isn’t cissexual and straight is broken with respect to the act.  That seems like a position, and a pretty damned strong one, to me.

    -

    *I’m not saying that those who fall under the T don’t have sex, but since its defining characteristic has nothing to do with the act of sex or preference with respect to sexual partners, it seems very odd to include it when your focus is going to be as narrow as things related to the act of sex and nothing else.

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

    In a recent post at Out of Ur, David Fitch defines LGBT people as suffering from “sexual brokenness.”

    Welladay then.

    Bless his heart.

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

     > but they are definitively stances about my social status

    Indeed. Also about our mental health, which has implications beyond the social.

  • Matt in PDX

    Thanks for your comments on the Fitch post, Fred!

    Just in the last couple days we’ve heard the CEO of eHarmony claim that “At its best, [homosexuality has] been a painful way for a lot of people to have to live”, and a teacher in Indiana (who supports an effort by some of her students to hold a private senior prom that excludes LGBT students) claim that gay people have no purpose in life. Now here’s Fitch asserting that LGBT people are “sexually broken”.

    As a gay man, I’m sick and tired of people exercising their straight privilege by making blanket statements about my life and worth as a person. Thank you, Fred, for calling out this form of patronizing bigotry masquerading as magnanimity and concern for others.

  • Albanaeon

    Leaving aside the (garbage) positions Fitch actually has, I don’t think there is a non-position on LGBT issues.  A “neutral” position supports the status-quo, where LGBT’s are less than full citizens.  So you are for them being less-than you.  Which cannot be considered “neutral.”

  • Leum

    What I did get a sense of was the assumption that he was
    thinking about sex the act (in which case what the fuck is “T” doing in
    there?*) and passing judgement that anyone who isn’t cissexual and
    straight is broken with respect to the act.  That seems like a position,
    and a pretty damned strong one, to me.

    I have two theories: either he thinks LGBT just somehow became the catch-all term for gay, lesbian, and bi people and isn’t aware of what the T stands for, or, more likely, he thinks trans people are uber-gay. That isn’t actually an uncommon position, and stems from the idea that being attracted to the same sex is inherently emasculating/whatever the equivalent term for women is.

  • Emcee, cubed

    I’m not at all sure if this will work, but here’s my response to the teacher in Indiana.

  • AnonymousSam

    I can kind of understand the idea behind the prayer exception GPA requirement. If you’re doing well enough, then a short break from the classroom won’t hurt anything. If you’re not doing so well, then you probably don’t need to be missing parts of the lecture. I would one-up it to a blanket rule though– maintain a high enough GPA and you can excuse yourself for any reason, at any time. You’ve demonstrated maturity and the capacity to utilize your time effectively, so if you need a breather, go take one. I’d probably set the minimum grade to a B- equivalent.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Or, as someone else once said, “Don’t be a dick.”

    I think we know how that “someone else” was…

  • Veylon

    While I believe that a case can be made that homosexuality is “unnatural” (and hence, broken in some sense), that doesn’t automatically carry all the way to “wrong”. Especially when we’ve got a society that embraces everything from liposuction to laser eye surgery to artificial light. It’s always struck me as somewhat hypocritical for someone who’s lived their entire life safely enclosed in a constructed world to get all hot and bothered about “natural law”.

  • Leum

     Maybe the case can be made, but I’d rather people not even come close to implying that the fact that I fall in love with men is “broken,” thanks.

  • Emcee, cubed

    While I believe that a case can be made that homosexuality is “unnatural” (and hence, broken in some sense)

    And I believe that case would be a really hard one to make. If you define “unnatural” as “doesn’t occur in nature”, homosexuality occurs frequently in nature. Many other species engage in homosexuality, both in activity and in forming relationships. If you mean “not natural to humans”, I beg to differ. It is certainly natural to me, and many other people. The argument is usually, “It isn’t natural to [the person making the argument], therefore it isn’t natural.” This is akin to saying “I don’t like carrots, therefore liking carrots is unnatural.” (Now, a case can be made that homosexuality is abnormal, if one uses a strict definition of “abnormal” meaning “outside of the norm”. But that is rarely what the average person means when they say that.)

  • Emcee, cubed

    While I believe that a case can be made that homosexuality is “unnatural” (and hence, broken in some sense)

    And I believe that case would be a really hard one to make. If you define “unnatural” as “doesn’t occur in nature”, homosexuality occurs frequently in nature. Many other species engage in homosexuality, both in activity and in forming relationships. If you mean “not natural to humans”, I beg to differ. It is certainly natural to me, and many other people. The argument is usually, “It isn’t natural to [the person making the argument], therefore it isn’t natural.” This is akin to saying “I don’t like carrots, therefore liking carrots is unnatural.” (Now, a case can be made that homosexuality is abnormal, if one uses a strict definition of “abnormal” meaning “outside of the norm”. But that is rarely what the average person means when they say that.)

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

    The thing is, I would make it strictly nondenominational. Say, any student who can maintain a B+ or better can stay out of classes for any reason or no reason.

  • vsm

    That would be something like Freud’s idea of homosexuality, I guess. He thought it was a result of disrupted child development, but didn’t think there was anything inherently wrong about it or that gay people should or even could be “cured”.

  • Carstonio

    “What does it mean to be privileged?” Jamelle Bouie asked. “It means not having to think about any of this, ever.”

    I’m a straight man who’s been married more than a decade, and on Valentine’s Day or any other day, I can hold hands with my wife in public and we can dine together in public and no one gives it a second thought. Same-sex couples should be able to do that and be greeted with the same benign indifference.

    Definitely right that there’s nothing neutral about defining homosexuality as abnormal or unnatural, even while claiming to treat others’ sexual lives as none of one’s business. Like Albanaeon, I doubt there is such a thing as neutrality when it comes to LGBT issues. But if it does exist, I would think it includes the recognition that normality doesn’t belong in a value system because it rationalizes privilege.

  • Fusina

     I guess I’m a romantic at heart, because when I see a committed couple holding hands, each happy to be with the other person, it makes me smile. And that goes whether they are hetero or homo. Two people in love is awesome. So benign observation maybe? But anything that increases the happiness in the world is a good thing. IMO.

    Having friends who are gay may have caused some of this acceptance–I don’t know. But I love seeing other people in love.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    I don’t think there is a non-position on LGBT issues.  A “neutral” position supports the status-quo, where LGBT’s are less than full citizens.  So you are for them being less-than you.  Which cannot be considered “neutral.”

    If this hasn’t already been said (haven’t read all the comments), it needs to be said.

    You’re entirely right.  If the status quo is hurting people then alleged “neutrality” is a position against them.  You’re either with the oppressed, or you’re against them under the guise of neutrality and inaction, or you’re actively against then.

    A lot of the time, “If you’re not with us your against us / If you’re not against us you’re with us,” is utter bullshit.  But “A lot of the time” is not “All of the time.”

  • Water_Bear

    Homosexuality is both heritable and makes up more than 5% of the population. That’s not something likely to happen by coincidence; at some point there was (or still is) a selective or sexual advantage to carrying a gay allele around. We don’t know what, exactly, the benefit of having a portion of the population being gay is, but the more we understand the genetics and neuroscience of homosexuality the more likely it is we’ll stumble onto the answer.

    TL;DR: Homosexuality is natural in humans, possibly even beneficial to the species or individual familial groups, it’s just rare. 

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    The public school system I spent the most time in actually rearranged the bus routes on Wednesdays to take children to CCD classes.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    @Leum
    or, more likely, he thinks trans people are uber-gay.

    While I don’t doubt the accuracy of your statement that the position exists, the counterevidence is massive.  The transperson I know best is a lesbian bisexual but with only lesbian relations to her name, who he would probably define as a sexually broken straight man.

    -

    While I believe that a case can be made that homosexuality is “unnatural” (and hence, broken in some sense),

    It can probably be made, but it would be a very hard case to make due to all of the evidence of non-straightness in nature.  It would be much easier to make the case that it is natural.

    Though I definitely second what came after the comma, unnatural does not in any way mean wrong.  (I say via the internet from inside of a heated building while it’s damn cold outside.)

  • Mountnmon

    The two, TWO great moral philosophers of our times…

    Interestingly enough, I’m not found of either of their earlier works (Mr. Wheaton’s in particular) but they’ve both turned out to be fairly decent people.

  • Fusina

     My kids have not seen his earlier works, but they love Tabletop at Geek and Sundry.

    I saw the Miley cover of Cosmo, and the only thing I have to say about it is, Scott Brown.

    Err, ex-congressman/senator from Massachusetts. Hey, unlike him, Miley is wearing some clothing…

  • Carstonio

     To expand on Walter Bear’s rebuttal, please don’t pretend that “natural” and “unnatural” aren’t value concepts. Homosexuality constitutes brokenness only if one assumes that procreation is inherently good or desirable, or that every being’s intended purpose is to reproduce. (And many same-sex couples do procreate with outside assistance.) This is not to say that procreation is inherently bad or undesirable, but merely that an unnecessary assumption is being made.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Speaking of Fitch’s privilege…

    People in these post-Christendom days in the West

    Emphasis added.

    Anyway, I hope none of you self-described Christians here “believe sex is for self-satisfaction or personal-fulfillment” because Fitch just threw you out of the entire religion. (He can do that, i guess.)

  • Wednesday

    So, here’s the thing. I do believe neutrality is possible… but we need to step outside the immediate context of LGBT issues to figure out what neutrality should mean, and then apply that term to LGBT issues.

    For example, I would consider myself to be neutral about my university’s Pokemon Club.   I really, genuinely don’t care about what they’re doing, I don’t take a position on whether what they’re doing is intrinsically good or bad… but I do believe they should receive equal treatment to other student organizations — ie, they should have the same rights and obey the same rules. (Having specific rules such as “you may not be a pokemon club” are obviously against the philosophy of equal treatment.)

    My support for equal treatment does not make me pro-Pokemon club — that would require I support their specific activities. I could even be personally morally opposed to Pokemon for some reason and still support equal treatment (see, eg, the ACLU taking cases supporting the rights of the KKK), although I wouldn’t be neutral anymore. But if I argued Pokemon club should not be treated the same as other organizations, took a stance against student-group-equality for Pokemon club in a way that gave them fewer rights and more rules, I’d not be neutral anymore — I’d be anti-Pokemon-club.

    I am not neutral about the football team (I think the sport as it is currently played is too dangerous), or the queer students group (I think they serve an important, positive function on campus). I’m not campaigning actively against the football team at this time, but if given the opportunity I’d vote against its continued existence.  This does, indeed, make me anti-football team.

    So I argue that being neutral, having a neutral position, with regards to LGBTs is to support equal treatment under the law. And that means the spirit of equal treatment, none of this “gays and lesbians have the same rights as straight people they can just marry someone of the same sex! lol I’m so smart” bullshit.  Neutrality doesn’t require actively campaigning for equal protection under the law, but it does require favoring it, and if given the opportunity to vote, voting in favor of equality.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    he thinks trans people are uber-gay.

    I’m not sure it’s so much that he sees trans* people as “uber-gay” so much as he just assumes that both non-heterosexual sexual orientations and being trans* are “the same” in that they represent a break from traditional gender roles and gender essentialism.

    In her book, Whipping Girl, Julia Serano talks about how oppositional sexism (of which gender essentialism/complimentarianism is a huge part) influences the various -phobias and -sexisms that plague all the sexual minorities.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    And it means that you get to decide what “position” to take toward
    others, or to loftily take no position at all, while others can never
    have a “position” on the “question” of you. Unlike them, you’re never a “question.” That’s what privilege means.

    This attitude, writ large, pretty much explains the a huge part of my decision to leave Christianity.  LGBTQ stuff was an aspect, but it was so much more pervasive than that.

    I had friends who weren’t Christian and who were doing things like having sex with people to whom they weren’t married.  Heterosexual sex, mind you, but sex.  I knew people who smoked pot.  I knew people who were of other religious belief.  They were all just living their lives amidst varying levels of happiness and fulfillment.

    I was supposed to let them know that the way I was living my life was better than theirs and tell them that they were broken because they didn’t go to church and flagellate themselves for their sin all the time.  If anyone told me I was being a judgmental asshole, though, it was a mark against them for not accepting Jesus like I had, not a mark against me for being a judgmental asshole.  I eventually realized the system was untenable.

    Since I left Evangelical Christianity I’ve become increasingly convinced that everyone should be allowed to be anything they want and the only limit should be harm.  If they’re hurting someone else they should be stopped.  If they’re hurting themselves they should at least get some level of intervention.  Beyond that, though, I see live, let live, and give everyone opportunity to find their own happiness as best they can.  It’s really pretty simple.  And it beats the crap out of tying myself into rhetorical and philosophical knots just to justify looking down on everyone else.

  • Carstonio

    Maybe it would help if our culture stopped assuming that the sexes are  opposites.

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

     

    So I argue that being neutral, having a neutral position, with regards to LGBTs is to support equal treatment under the law. 

    As long as we’re defining terms, we may want to define “support.”

    You seem to have an understanding of “support” wherein standing by quietly while someone is denied equal treatment counts as support, even if I don’t actually do or say anything to stop it, as long as I am prepared to vote for their equal treatment if someone gives me the opportunity.

    Personally, I would say in that case that I endorse their equal treatment, but I wouldn’t say I support it.

    Semantics aside, though, I’m certainly entitled to take that stance with respect to various groups. Indeed, I can’t help but do so. And describing my position in that case — neither harm nor interfere in the harm done by others — as “neutral” seems reasonable enough.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    That’s a central theme of Serano’s argument.  I’m inclined to agree with you both.

  • Carstonio

    Putting the disingenuous argument of Fitch aside, I suggest we define “neutrality” here as equal treatment for all regardless of orientation, with no social norm attached to any orientation. Homophobes falsely accuse equality advocates of seeking to switch the social norm from heterosexuality to homosexuality. I suppose the true opposite to the idea of homosexuality as immoral is the orientation being a moral imperative, with heterosexuality as wrong, but in practice that’s an obvious straw person.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     You seem to have an understanding of “support” wherein standing by
    quietly while someone is denied equal treatment counts as support, even
    if I don’t actually do or say anything to stop it, as long as I am
    prepared to vote for their equal treatment if someone gives me the
    opportunity.

    I’m not Wednesday, but I read that particular argument as a form of a Just World Fallacy.  If LGBTQ folk were equal, then neutrality would be possible.  That’s true, in that right now I, as a guy with green/blue eyes am neutral on the rights of my brown-eyed brethren and sistren.  But no one is openly persecuting brown eyed people, so it doesn’t matter.

    Here we get to the old line from Howard Zinn: you can’t be neutral on a moving train.[1]  To be neutral now is to support a status quo that treats some people as not-actual-people.  To discuss neutrality in a theoretical future world is great and all, but it’s immaterial.  That train is moving right now, so the question is, “What are you going to do about it?”

    -

    [1]Full disclosure: I get the line from Eddie Vedder referencing it on a Pearl Jam bootleg.  So, y’know, that might have been a paraphrase…

  • Hexep

    Oh, it certainly does. It creates a pool of people who, despite contributing normally to society – that is to say, by putting in more than they take out, under ideal circumstances – yet who ideally won’t reproduce and thus won’t expand the group’s population, thus not increasing demand. In primitive societies, this was very important.

    It’s the same effect as elderly people, except that they run the gamut of all ages and thus are less likely to be physically frail (until they become elderly themselves, at which point it’s moot.)

    The effect is still visible today; gay villages throughout the western world are gentrified as all hell, as their occupants tend to have a lot of disposable income because they aren’t as likely to spend it on kids.

    It’s an observable effect; Lawrence Knoop wrote a paper about it.

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

    Geds:

    >That train is moving right now, so the question is, “What are you going to do about it?”

     Well, yes, that’s absolutely right. And if I understood Wednesday correctly, their answer is “I’d vote for equality given the chance, but otherwise nothing much.” That question has been answered; the outstanding question is what label applies to the answer.

    Carstonio:

    > I suggest we define “neutrality” here as equal treatment for all regardless of orientation, with no social norm attached to any orientation.

    OK, I’m down with that.

    Hypothetically, if I as an individual live in a culture that isn’t neutral on that account, and I strive to treat everyone the same regardless of orientation, and I don’t personally assume a social norm of heterosexuality… for example, if when a coworker talks about their spouse or SO I don’t assume a gender, if when I see same-sex pairings I assume they might be romantic, if when I see two guys making out in the park I treat them just as I would treat any other two people of whatever gender making out in the park, etc. etc. etc. … but I take no active steps to interfere with harmful or unjust behavior on the part of other people towards those displaying or experiencing certain sexual orientations, what label would you suggest attaching to my hypothetical position as an individual?

    Because I’m OK with calling that “neutral” as well.

    It’s also worth noting that a neutral position of that sort will often put me in conflict with my social environment, which is to be expected of taking a neutral position in a non-neutral social environment.

  • Wednesday

    I never said (or meant to imply) that neutrality was inherently good.  My point was that that if people want to claim neutrality on LGBTness, the only way this could make sense is if they support (or endorse) LGBT rights. Once consequence (which I didn’t state before but I will state now) is that anything less than support/endorsement of full equality is, by definition, being anti-LGBT and therefore it is a matter of fact (not mean librul accusation opinion) that they are anti-gay bigots.

    As for distinguishing between support/endorsement/active campaigning… I really didn’t want to get into the details there. Because we all have finite resources (time, money, energy), and our spheres of influence vary (it’s easier to effect the same type of change in my own community than in another town three states over).  So even if we are donating to Amnesty International or the HRC or working for legal equality in our own country, we’re still doing nothing about thousands of other injustices and preventable harms around the world. So.. we all do an awful lot of “standing by and doing nothing”. :/

  • Hexep

    How about ‘indifferent?’ As a largely indifferent person, I’m happy to take that label.

  • Carstonio

     

    but I take no active steps to interfere with harmful or unjust behavior
    on the part of other people towards those displaying or experiencing
    certain sexual orientations, what label would you suggest attaching to
    my hypothetical position as an individual?

    Probably “malign indifference.” The hypothetical you might not favor a particular outcome, but your inaction (really just another action) leads to a non-neutral outcome because it doesn’t counteract the social norm. You would be perpetuating a non-neutral social environment. Somewhat like ignoring instances of cheating in a game or sport.

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

    > your inaction (really just another action) leads to a non-neutral outcome because it doesn’t counteract the social norm

    Well, it does, and it doesn’t.

    I mean, every time I refuse to assume my coworker’s spouse is opposite-gendered, I am subverting cultural heteronormativity.

    This doesn’t have a particularly significant effect, granted… but then again, most individual acts of social activism don’t have a particularly significant effect either.

    So, I dunno.

    In any case… I think by this definition I am (non-hypothetically) in a position of malign indifference with respect to well over 90% of the suffering and injustice in the world. I suspect pretty much everyone is. So, Idunno… it seems rather absurdly hypocritical of me to chastise someone else for their malign indifference to the suffering and injustice of a group I happen to be part of.

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

     Yup, absolutely agreed. (See my response to Carstonio below.)

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

    > How about ‘indifferent?’

    For my own part, I would expect a person indifferent to LGBT equality to adopt and reinforce the local conventions (e.g., to assume that all spouses are opposite-gendered, and to treat same-sex PDA differently from opposite-sex PDA), and thereby end up doing more harm than the hypothetical person I was describing.

    Getting to neutrality within an actively hostile culture takes work.

  • Carstonio

    Valid point. I would generally define malign indifference as more personally specific, such as not speaking up if a friend or acquaintance expressed homophobia. Or doing nothing if the person mistreated someone else based on real or perceived orientation. That would probably be my criteria for whether the inaction merited chastising.

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

    (nods) That makes sense, and I think I agree with you with that clarification.

    I certainly endorse encouraging people I know to speak up when they notice people they know are causing harm or injustice (whatever the reason or mechanism), and endorse encouraging people I know to improve their ability to notice.

    That’s not necessarily to say I endorse chastising them when they don’t, since that doesn’t always encourage the behavior I want, but it’s a close enough approximation for our purposes.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    I think it’s important to note that Fitch is not merely encouraging individuals to to take (rather curious) position of neutrality, but churches, other evangelical institutions, and “the whole of evangelical Christianity” as a monolithic entity to take such a position.  This is a problem, because many of those institutions have been a source of anti-LGBT animus and denying LGBT people their rights.  For those institutions to try and claim the kind of “neutrality” — and their neutrality is “We will quit (publicly) arguing over whether being LGBT is a sin” — is simply an attempt to (1) make themselves look superficially less “controversial” and (2) abdicate any responsibility for how their lengthy diatribes against the alleged immorality of being LGBT gave birth and sustenance to the anti-LGBT injustices we experience today and will continue raging on despite Fitch and company’s new-found “neutrality.”  It’s nothing short of irresponsibility.

    As an aside, Fitch posted this same thing (or at least something similar) on his on blog at the end of last month.  Various people challenged him on it, bringing up the issue of civil rights and justice.  I found it very telling (and contradictory to his “neutrality” position) when he talked about “gay and lesbian ‘rights’” in this comment.  I tried leaving a comment for him, asking why he put the word “rights” in quotes in that phrase, as it seemed to me to imply he didnt’ consider them “real rights.”  Sadly, the comment didn’t post(*), so I never got a response.

    (*) I should note that for some reason, my comments often get flagged as spam when I comment on a blog from work for the first time.  I am not implying that Fitch intentionally, moderated or deleted my comment.


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