Hate is what you do, not what you feel

AZspot highlights an insightful, helpful post from Danny Coleman in which Coleman argues that toxic theology motivates “Christian” opposition to LGBT people more than personal animus does.

Here’s the core of his point:

[Christians who oppose LGBT equality] do not hate or fear LBGT people. They fear God. They carry a perception of the wrathful Old Testament God who will destroy cities or nations if “sin” is found in the camp. … Attempts to reconcile this ancient God of wrath with the God of love and inclusion that Jesus represented tend to create a sort of congitive and spiritual dissonance. And so, most Christians don’t hate and fear gays — they really want to love them. What they fear is God’s wrath and what they hate is the idea of the destruction God will bring down if LGBT people are accepted — if “sin” is allowed. There is also an earnest desire to be faithful and obedient to what they perceive God’s will to be.

The distinction Coleman makes is accurate, and it can be helpful in shaping how we go about trying to reach such Christians, to persuade them to change, and to liberate them from the toxic theology* they’re trapped in — the one that leads them to behave hatefully toward people “they really want to love.”

The problem with Coleman’s post is that the accurate distinction he makes about the source of these Christians’ opposition to LGBT equality doesn’t mean everything that Coleman wants it to mean. “I do not like it when Christians who oppose LGBT equality are accused of ‘hating’ or being ‘homophobic,’” he begins. “They do not hate or fear LBGT people.”

Well, no. They actually do hate and fear LGBT people. That hate and fear may not be their starting point, but it’s where they end up. I’m not accusing them of hating or being homophobic to annoy you. I’m accusing them of these things because they are guilty of them.

Let’s deal with the fear first. These Christians do, in fact, fear LGBT people. They have to because, as Coleman notes, they believe God requires them to do so. This fear may be an indirect side-effect, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real or that it somehow doesn’t matter.

This fear is the inevitable byproduct of the theology Coleman describes: God will punish me if I allow the human dignity and legal equality of Group X. To be safe, then, from the temptation of allowing such dignity and equality, I must avoid Group X. I must flee Group X.

That’s fear.

The fear of God’s wrath becomes, for these Christians, fear of association with those who might bring such wrath down upon them. And fear of association with such people brings with it fear of those people themselves.

This is much like the dual fear of bystanders in any context of ethnic cleansing. Their first fear is of the mob or the secret police. They understandably are frightened of incurring the lethal wrath that is sure to befall anyone who might appear to be giving aid or sympathy to the minority being targeted. And thus that first fear prevents bystanders from assisting, sheltering or defending the population being persecuted. The bystanders may feel bad about this, but they cannot or will not risk doing otherwise.

And thus bystanders never only fear the mob or the secret police. They also fear the knock at the door. I don’t mean the loud knocking of the mob or the police — they have obediently done nothing to have to dread such an inspection. No, the knock that they fear is the furtive knock of a neighbor in need. They come to dread this more than anything.

And that dread, ultimately, becomes resentment. Guilt always leads to resentment. And so those in need — the minority being targeted by the mob and the secret police — become both feared and hated by the bystanders.

So too, inevitably, these Christians come to fear and hate the people whose equality they oppose, however reluctantly and regrettably at first.

We only sometimes do wrong to those we hate, but we will always come to hate those whom we have wronged.

The core problem, I think, is that Coleman wants to limit hate to a feeling. And hate is not what you feel, it’s what you do.

Think of what the book of James says:

If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill.” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?

Or this, from  1 John:

How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

Consider this hypothetical case of Bob and Ted.

Bob hates Muslims — hates them with a visceral, fiery hatred that burns in the pit of his stomach and keeps him up at night. He feels hatred toward them.

So Bob supported the successful campaign that convinced the county zoning board to reject a local Muslim group’s bid to build an Islamic community center on the same block as two local churches.

Ted, on the other hand, does not feel any such visceral hatred toward Muslims. On the contrary, he says, he loves his Muslim neighbors. It causes him real grief, he says, that they have been deceived by a false religion. Ted thus believes that it would be wrong to allow an Islamic community center to promote this deceptive false religion, endangering and ensnaring the souls of even more of his neighbors. And he fears that America will be punished if it tolerates false religions, just as Israel was punished in the days of Gideon.

So Ted supported the successful campaign that convinced the county zoning board to reject a local Muslim group’s bid to build an Islamic community center on the same block as two local churches.

Now, if “hate” refers only to a feeling in the gut — to a palpable sensation of animosity, abstracted from any deed or action or tangible consequence — then I suppose we could say that Bob “hates” Muslims while Ted does not.

But so what? Their gut feelings may differ, but their actions do not. Only Bob feels hatred, but both of them behave hatefully.

The difference between Bob and Ted is meaningful as far as how we might go about trying to persuade them to change — to repent and be liberated — but it means nothing in terms of the real-world damage and harm that both are doing to their actual neighbors. Ted does not earn bonus points for not feeling animus while acting in a hostile manner. He does not get a cookie as a prize for not “hating” the people whose human dignity and legal equality he opposes.

Is Ted “better” than Bob? I guess, perhaps, maybe — but who cares? Being better than Bob is a dismayingly low standard. Better than Bob can still be a long, long way from being good.

When Christians oppose the equality of LGBT people or of any other minority, I don’t care about their feelings. I care about their opposition to equality.

Hate is what you do, not what you feel.

- – - – - – - – - – - – -

* Just how toxic that theology is becomes clearer if we polish up the parallelism in Coleman’s post. He says these anti-gay Christians shouldn’t be “accused of ‘hating’ or being ‘homophobic’” because “They do not hate or fear LGBT people. They fear God.” Hate & fear, hate & fear. Fear.

Correct the parallelism, balance the equation, and you’ll notice that the logic of Coleman’s distinction shows us that these folks don’t just “fear God.” They hate God.

And of course they do. They resent God for forcing them to strangle their conscience by treating neighbors more poorly than they wish they could. They resent God for requiring them to behave hatefully to those “they really want to love.” They resent this God for making them worse people than the people they might otherwise be.

 

  • Jeff

    If it helps, note that I’m not going for one-to-one correspondence between the two situations (homosexual marriage and school vouchers), but am merely pointing out a situation in which “your” side (a) may have an objection that leads you to oppose something, which (b) causes harm to someone, and (c) may go so far as to deprive them of a right.
    I won’t debate school vouchers, but since you’re against them: does your opposition reflect hatred on your part towards those families that want them and would benefit from them?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Fuck no. It reflects the fact that government programs such as education must be secular (they are not always, which is a major problem), and the people who want school vouchers invariably want them in order to use government money for religious education. The vast majority of those people want it for some flavor of Christian education; hence the shitfits when Muslims try to get in on the school-voucher party.

    What right are you being denied by being unable to use government education money for religious education? What harm does it do you to spend out of pocket for the religious education that you are choosing, that you are not required and are certainly not forced, to provide your child?

    What is your point?

  • aklab

    I just finished The Fall of Hyperion — and read this passage — last night. I really like this interpretation.

  • Gotchaye

    To clarify – Are you trying to get at how opposition to a sort of libertarian “live and let live” policy (where no voter opposing it is directly harmed) doesn’t imply hate and fear of the people who would benefit from the policy?

  • Jeff

    The analogy can be tweaked to accommodate your (unreasonable) objections — maybe my family wants to send our children to a private, non-sectarian school. Or maybe we want to homeschool. (Lots of non-Christians do this, by the way…). Maybe instead of receiving the money /spent/ on my children by the district, a family could at least receive the amount of their school taxes back, to put towards their children’s education. Or maybe they could receive a tax deduction for the educational costs they incur.
    But let’s say for the sake of argument that in my analogy, we are speaking of a family that wants to use a religious private school, but can’t afford to pay both their school tax bill and the school’s tuition. You clearly have no problem with such a state of affairs. Maybe you’d even pay lip service to acknowledging a fundamental right on the part of parents to determine how their own children are educated, but you don’t support them where the rubber meets the road — doesn’t that mean that you “hate” that family?

  • Jeff

    Basically, yes.

  • EllieMurasaki

    No, it means they can send their kids to (always free) public school on weekdays and to (far as I know, always free) church-sponsored Sunday school on Sundays. Or they can get scholarships from the church running the school or from wealthier members of the church community. (I went to Catholic school for a couple years. On scholarship. Woulda been longer–the scholarship money was there–except the Catholic high school sucked.) Church and state stay separate and nobody hates anybody.

  • Gotchaye

    OK, yes, you seem to be clear that that’s what you’re after in your reply to Ellie; I didn’t read closely enough.

    One can explain opposition to school vouchers without having to talk about irrational hostility towards religious people or voucher programs. One can disagree with or weigh differently the reasons or values motivating that opposition, but it is clearly possible for legitimate reasons of the sort appropriate for motivating public policy to be behind that opposition.

    I think a major difference is in what I posted earlier about psychologizing disagreement. I’ve also said that I don’t really like the “hate and fear” language, so I’m not the best person to be arguing for a distinction, but it’s very, very hard to explain opposition to gay marriage without having to talk about irrational hostility towards gay people. It just isn’t believable that someone could believe the things that anti-SSM folks say without that animus being involved somewhere in there. At best one might suppose that the people opposed to gay marriage have no issues with gay people at all but they’ve mistakenly bought into belief in a bigoted God. However, they’d all affirm that God is the source of morality (or is perfectly good, or something like that) such that they’re necessarily endorsing that bigotry, so I don’t think that helps.

    There might be a few people who have never (knowingly) met a LGBT person, are pretty uneducated and incurious, and who have just heard from serious-sounding people that everyone around them seems to trust that science shows how important it is for kids to have a mother and father, and who further don’t worry much about divorce and the like because, again, they trust that if taking on divorce made sense here those same serious-sounding people would be on the case. I’m willing to grant that these people might not be hostile at all. But these are not the people expressing anti-gay views anywhere where they’re in danger of being called out for them.

  • Jeff

    That’s a fair response, but I think you’re getting deeper into the weeds than Fred is (or I am). You’re saying that my analogy fails because you have reasons that you think are legitimate for objecting to vouchers, whereas you don’t believe any such reasons are available for the case of homosexual marriage. But that’s not where Fred draws the line — following his logic, it seems that the motivation for your opposition is largely irrelevant, because the action itself is what is harmful. So, why does that apply in some cases but not others?
    What I think I’m getting at overall is that Fred’s article seems to basically boil down to “I don’t /like/ opposition to gay marriage.” That’s a perfectly fine opinion to hold, but it goes too far to extrapolate from that to say that hatred is the primary motivation for those who take the opposite view. That seems to be the point of Coleman’s article. And it sounds like you agree with this, to some degree at least.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What harm is done to you by saying you cannot use secular-education money for religious education, given that both free-to-you secular education and free-to-you religious education are available?

    As far as I can tell, it’s only that you can’t afford the thing you do want. Well, I want a shiny new black Corvette. I can’t afford a new car of any variety, and my vintage-2001 car gets me to work just fine. Am I harmed by not having that Corvette?

  • Gotchaye

    I think that’s basically correct, taking Fred at face value, but surely he doesn’t actually believe that support for any policy that is actually harmful constitutes acting hatefully. One can make an error in good faith. The problem with Ted is not simply that he is mistaken, but that he is culpably mistaken. He’s making an error that he should not be excused for making (provided he is being honest about what he thinks his motivations are).

  • Jeff

    To be honest, I actually like my analogy better than the Bob/Ted analogy, for this reason: Bob and Ted are clearly in the wrong in Fred’s analogy, because their actions suppress a right that the Muslims /already possess/, explicitly, by the free exercise clause in the 1st Amendment. Whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry is what’s in dispute, and it doesn’t seem to be unambiguous, although perhaps the Supreme Court will settle the question, at least legally speaking.
    Incidentally, I think Fred’s analogy would be a bit more “edgy” and challenging if, instead of an Islamic community center, it was a fundamentalist mosque preaching Jihad. Are Bob and Ted still wrong? Legally? I think so. Morally? Err…I don’t know, that’s a tough one. (Note that I’m certainly not drawing any kind of equivalence between Islamic fundamentalism and homosexual marriage! I just like analogies that make you think, and the Bob/Ted one is kind of a failure in that regard.)
    I have to run for the day, so the last word is yours, but thanks for the discussion.

  • Jeff

    Again, it’s just an analogy, but how many plausible scenarios do you want me to concoct to establish a situation where the lack of available funds to access a non-public school education does actual harm? And is it really your place to say “they’re not actually suffering any harm”?
    Let’s instead springboard off of your example, and imagine that your 2001 car breaks down and you don’t have the money to fix it, leaving you carless and potentially jobless; you write your Congressperson, and, moved with sympathy by your plight, he/she introduces a bill called the “Transportation Access for All Act”, which mandates a cash payment to anyone in your situation. Let’s say someone opposes the bill; does that mean they hate you and want you to be jobless, broke, starving, and dead?
    Anyway, clearly you don’t like my analogy, but that’s ok. You have the last word; thanks for the discussion.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry is what’s in dispute, and it doesn’t seem to be unambiguous

    EVERYONE HAS A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO MARRY. (Subject to a few restrictions, namely age, whether they’re already family with the person they want to marry, and whether they’re already married to someone.)

    THIS IS NOT AMBIGUOUS IN THE SLIGHTEST.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Why would I write to my congressman instead of asking my bank for a loan to help me fix the car or buy a new one? Your analogy fails, Skippy. Again.

  • Foelhe

    If I actively and aggressively attacked any legislation that supported vouchers, then you could absolutely say that I hate… vouchers.

    If the only possible way your family could educate your children is to use vouchers, then yeah, it’d be reasonable to say my hatred of vouchers means I hate your family. Luckily, this theory does not reflect reality in any way, shape, or form. So.

  • Jeff

    Because you have terrible credit, or you’re up to your eyeballs in debt and can’t take on another payment, or the bank manager is mad at you because you TP’d his house as a high schooler, or whatever other thing; you’re nitpicking the details of the analogies, without engaging what they are actually analogies /for/. And don’t call me Skippy!
    Anyway, as promised, the last word is yours (for real this time…)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Has it occurred to you that maybe you’re just shit at analogies? I’m not engaging how they’re analogous because I cannot see how they’re analogous.

  • Foelhe

    “I think Fred’s analogy would be a bit more “edgy” and challenging if, instead of an Islamic community center, it was a fundamentalist mosque preaching Jihad.”

    … Let me try to explain this with small words.

    When you try to stop anything, you try to stop it for a reason. Anything you think is bad, and must be stopped, has an idea it’s based on that you think you should hate. If a mosque is hurting people, and you stop it because it’s hurting people, it doesn’t matter that it’s a mosque. You hate things that hurt people. If a church is hurting people, you should also stop that church from hurting people. If a mosque isn’t hurting people, there’s no need to stop it. See?

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Well, some cities try to have “Transportation Access for All” — they just do it in the form of public buses and subways.

  • Jeff

    Sorry, not where Ellie lives; she is (in our imaginary extrapolation from my analogy) way out in the boondocks, with a 30 mile commute to work each way, and sadly, the commuter rails promised by Obama haven’t materialized for her yet. And she also doesn’t know anyone with whom she can carpool.
    I appreciate that you didn’t call me Skippy, though.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Only ten miles out in the boondocks; ‘course, compared to an actual metro area, this is all boondocks, even downtown. And you’re ignoring buses (though to be fair, I work nights and the buses don’t run nights) and other potential sources of transportation (my parents wouldn’t put up with more than a couple weeks of being my transportation but that would probably be plenty; my credit’s fine, thank you very much, and if it weren’t, my parents’ is excellent; all else fails, I could pay one of my coworkers to be my transportation, though the one who lives nearest to me is also least likely to take my money).

    Your analogy skills need serious work, is what I’m saying.

  • FearlessSon

    Some bigots have to be defeated by forcefully standing up to them, voting them down, fighting them in court, etc. However, converting as many as possible to your side first makes the eventual and inevitable battle that much easier.

    Sometimes I think it would be awesome if life were more like a shōnen manga where when the righteous overcome their foes in combat those foes are often persuaded by the effort to change their mode of thinking and come around to the righteous side.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    There are days I wish I could take your posts and squeeze them for all the juice, load it into a Super Soaker and blast it at people. I’ve spent all day repeatedly explaining how the due process and equal protection clauses of the fourteenth amendment guarantee the right to marry as a civil right inherent to any citizen of the United States, and how the Supreme Court has expressly, specifically upheld this interpretation (most notably in Loving v. Virginia).

    It would be so much easier if I could just come here, wring out one of these posts, load up my quadruple-barrel, high-pressure squirt device and BRAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHKKSSSSSTTTTTTTTTT.

  • EllieMurasaki

    But Loving is different because shut up that’s why.

  • smrnda

    Here’s how I would take it.

    Let’s say you needed textbooks. You should be furnished either with up-to-date books on par with what are available in school or provided some kind of voucher for obtaining them. If you were poor enough that your kids would qualify for some kind of free or reduced rate food in school, you should still get that. If you could not afford them, I’d have no problem with the school providing some sort of computer for your children to use. I’ve heard of similar cases happening, though I don’t know much about official policies.

    In another comparison, let’s say that I am disabled (I am) and that without ADA, I would not be able to work. I don’t believe that a person can oppose ADA without hating me UNLESS they propose a better solution.

  • smrnda

    I’ll be honest, some people want to use ‘vouchers’ to bring the whole public education system down in a way that will leave poor kids without a chance, since no ‘voucher school’ will be required to take difficult students (and can’t afford to, since they can’t risk a low performer making them look bad which can hurt profits.) I might not hate people like that, but I dislike them and believe their main goal is the creation of a permanent underclass just so their kids can get some perks.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    That’s pretty much how NOM responded to it in Illinois today.

    “Despite what the bill’s supporters claim in a dishonest attempt to stigmatize supporters of natural marriage, the retention of sexual complementarity in the legal definition of marriage bears no kinship to bans on interracial marriage. Nor does it signify injustice to those who seek to marry someone of the same sex.”

    It’s different because shut up and this isn’t unjust because you’re all wrong.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’m not clear here. In this analogy, are the gay people supposed to be the parents, the children, or the neighbors whose children’s schools are going to be underfunded? And are the marriages textbooks? Are the gay people asking for a voucher they can use to pay for their weddings? I’m not clear on this analogy at all.

  • arcseconds

    Oh right…

    And here I was wondering whether it had something to do with DSM-IV… :-)

  • Carstonio

    Did you even read Fred’s column? You’re trying to defend opponents of same-sex marriage against a charge that Fred doesn’t make. No matter what opponents feel about same-sex couples, they’re still treating the couples with hate. Their intentions don’t matter.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Baby_Raptor is re-posting the comment she made elseweb.

  • FearlessSon

    The impression that I always got of the Force is that there is an emotion-in/action-out kind of relationship. Like Obi-wan said, the Force controls your actions but also responds to your commands.

    There is this kind of idea that what you put into the Force will affect what the force makes you do. If you are upset, out of balance, and/or filled with hate, the Force will manifest that, and the chaos and destruction will flow around you. After a certain point, you are not so much the one controlling the Force as being controlled by it.

    On the contrary, if you are serene, your emotions stable and in balance, and in control of yourself, you can likewise have more full control over the Force. It is not that you need to have no emotions (you see plenty of emotive Jedi in the films,) it is that you need to be aware of your own emotions and know how to best handle them.

    Down the path of the Dark Side, the only way to become more powerful is to give yourself into your passions, to gradually surrender control so that they might be channeled into greater acts of power. But on the Light Side, the only way to become more powerful is to develop self-discipline, and to better learn to harness what you have.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Your analogy has several flaws.

    In your hypothetical, you have decided that, for whatever arbitrary reason, public schooling is not good enough for what you want your kids taught. You have then decided out of somewhere, no idea where, that you are due tax money for your personal decision that public school doesn’t meet your standards and that you need to educate your children yourself.

    Assuming that I have the hypothetical correct, the flaws are as follows:

    1) You have access to a functional form of educating your child already. It just does not meet your personal standards, be it for religious reasons or whatever. Gays in states without equality, and all gays at the federal level, do not have access to marriage and all its benefits in any way whatsoever. (Yes, civil unions exist in some places, but they are far from equal to an actual marriage.)

    2) Gays are not in any way asking everyone else to help fund their marriages as you are asking everyone else to help fund your childrens’ education.

    3) Gays are not demanding that money that would originally be spent helping everyone else go directly in their pocket, even though they haven’t even really shown need of aid. Your hypothetical is.

    4) Your situation brings up potential Constitutional issues in the form of tax money going to pay for religious education. “I don’t want gays to be able to marry because ick,” the general argument against equality, does not have any Constitutional support. Nor does the secondary “My religion says no.”

    5) Denying you use of tax money does not harm you in any way. Denying LGBTs marriage equality harms us.

    And, yes. For what it’s worth, you’re right. I would oppose such a law. If you choose to not take advantage of the school you have access to for an arbitrary reason (as compared to something like having a special needs child that the school is simply not equipped to handle,) then yes. You should fund it yourself. Your reasons are personal, your funding should be personal. I choose to sleep on Sundays instead of going to church as the majority of the people in my city do because that’s what suits my personal choices the best; should I demand that the city give me tax money for a better bed?

  • Jeff

    Baby Raptor, thank you for engaging my analogy. I’ll push back on a couple of points to see if the analogy holds up.

    “In your hypothetical, you have decided that, for whatever arbitrary reason, public schooling is not good enough for what you want your kids taught. You have then decided out of somewhere, no idea where, that you are due tax money for your personal decision that public school doesn’t meet your standards and that you need to educate your children yourself.”

    Well, again, I don’t want to debate school choice, but I think you could reasonably stipulate to the legitimacy of a family’s desire to opt out of public school — isn’t the President himself on record as acknowledge the existence of “failing schools”? And what I’d be asking for is, instead of public school spending /the money that it already spends on my children anyway, and that I as a taxpayer partially contribute/ on public education, I’d like to have some say over how it’s spent. So, I don’t think you’re off to a great start by trying to make me look unreasonable and random. But let’s move on:

    “Gays in states without equality, and all gays at the federal level, do not have access to marriage and all its benefits in any way whatsoever.”

    They do, actually, although I’ll grant that they don’t have access to /same-sex/ marriage.

    “(Yes, civil unions exist in some places, but they are far from equal to an actual marriage.)”

    Side question — if civil unions were strengthened so that they were equal to an “actual marriage” in every way, but weren’t called “marriage”, would you accept that as a compromise solution?

    “2) Gays are not in any way asking everyone else to help fund their marriages as you are asking everyone else to help fund your childrens’ education.”

    Well, they are asking for (among other things) the tax benefits that married couples conventionally receive; it’s a little different, but it’s not a huge difference.

    “3) Gays are not demanding that money that would originally be spent helping everyone else go directly in their pocket, even though they haven’t even really shown need of aid. Your hypothetical is.”

    See above; advocates of school vouchers would be asking for control over the funds that they’re already receiving anyway. This isn’t a point at which the analogy is strong, but it’s important that you correctly understand what’s being asked for.

    “5) Denying you use of tax money does not harm you in any way. Denying LGBTs marriage equality harms us.”

    Denying vouchers may deprive a family of educational freedom, and that may harm the family and the kids involved. Even if you (bizarrely, in my view) reject the idea that a family should be empowered to control its own educational decisions, I’ll trust that your imagination is sufficient to envision a scenario where remaining in a public school does actual harm to a child by a standard that even you are willing to grant.

    And the bigger question is, who gets to define what constitutes “harm”?

    “And, yes. For what it’s worth, you’re right. I would oppose such a law. ”

    Ok, great. So, shouldn’t I conclude that you “hate” families in this situation?

  • Carstonio

    if civil unions were strengthened so that they were equal to an “actual marriage” in every way, but weren’t called “marriage”, would you accept that as a compromise solution?

    How would that compromise benefit both sides? Why would someone oppose calling such unions marriages?

    It’s really no compromise at all. There’s no valid reason to assign a separate legal status for same-sex couples. We’ve already learned from US history that “separate but equal” doesn’t work. What you propose merely provides an out for court employees and health care workers to discriminate against those couples – “You’re not really married so I don’t have to do anything for you.”

    The analogy you’re pushing doesn’t sense. Are you implying that taxpayers who oppose same-sex marriage are harmed when the state uses tax money to facilitate that type of marriage?

  • dpolicar

    instead of public school spending the money that it already spends on my children anyway, and that I as a taxpayer partially contribute on public education, I’d like to have some say over how it’s spent.

    I agree; you absolutely should have a say over how the funds we collectively allocate to the common wealth are spent. And you do; it’s called a vote. Whether you have children or not, and whether those children go to public school or not, has nothing to do with it.

    If you think you should have more of a say than I do, though, I disagree.

    “Gays [..] do not have access to marriage and all its benefits in any way whatsoever”
    They do, actually, although I’ll grant that they don’t have access to /same-sex/ marriage.

    How important do you consider that distinction? That is, do you think being free to marry someone you aren’t sexually/romanted attracted to and denied the freedom to marry someone with whom you have a mutual desire to marry is pretty much the same as being free to marry someone with whom you have a mutual desire to marry, or radically different from it, or somewhere in between?

    Because it seems pretty clear to me they are radically different, so from my perspective that exchange sounds like “Gays don’t have X”/”Well, they do have Y, though I’ll grant they don’t have X” and just leaves me wondering whether you’re even serious.

    if civil unions were strengthened so that they were equal to an “actual marriage” in every way, but weren’t called “marriage”, would you accept that as a compromise solution?

    The problem, as I see it, has nothing to do with what rights are being granted, or what words we use. It has to do with equality.

    If your family and my family are treated equally, great.
    If your family gets special treatment because your family has a man/woman pair and mine doesn’t, that’s a problem.
    It’s really not that complicated.

    So, sure, if you want to create a robust system of civil unions that replaces marriage and everyone has civil unions instead, I think that’s a silly waste of time and money and effort, but it’s not unjust.

    If you want to create a system of civil unions for families like mine while you use the existing system of marriage, that’s not inherently unjust, but I absolutely don’t trust it, any more than you would trust me if I told you I wanted to stop treating your children as your children and instead create a parallel system of “civil adult/child union” which would, honest, be equal to parentage in every way, just sign on the dotted line here, we’ll work out the details later.

    Well, they are asking for (among other things) the tax benefits that married couples conventionally receive

    Not at all. If we decide not to provide married couples with tax benefits, then same-sex married couples won’t receive tax benefits, and that’s perfectly just.

    What isn’t just is giving families like yours special benefits which my family doesn’t get because your family has a man/woman pair and mine doesn’t.

    Again, the point here is about equality.

    the bigger question is, who gets to define what constitutes “harm”?

    In the U.S. that’s primarily the legislatures, and indirectly the various constituencies that influence those legislatures; secondarily the judiciary.

  • Jeff

    Minor clarification first:

    “I agree; you absolutely should have a say over how the funds we collectively allocate to the common wealth are spent. And you do; it’s called a vote.”
    Well, right, that’s what we’re talking about — a hypothetical law that mandates school vouchers. If you vote against it, is that hateful?
    As to your larger and more cogent point: I’ll acknowledge that my analogy works better if we’re speaking of an emphasis on /rights/, and less well if we’re speaking of an emphasis on /equality/ (because one could argue that denying vouchers doesn’t deny equality). Thanks for calling attention to that distinction. Would you say, based on Fred’s argument, that’s it’s intrinsically hateful to suppress /equality/, no matter the reason, but it’s not intrinsically hateful to suppress /rights/? In other words, would you say that there are sometimes non-hateful reasons to suppress rights, but there’s never a reason to suppress another person’s equality, other than hatred?

    I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, so please correct me if I’ve stated things incorrectly from your view.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You still haven’t established how denying school vouchers harms anyone in any way.

  • dpolicar

    Honestly, I consider the whole “hateful” thing a silly derail.

    If you oppose my equal treatment, I don’t care whether or not you hate me, you are harming me. If you support my equal treatment, I still don’t care whether or not you hate me… I mean, no offense, but I don’t know you and I don’t really care about your feelings very much; that’s really between you, your friends, your therapist, etc.

    I respect the motivations of people who want to define “hate” to not be about feelings at all, as Fred and many commenters do here, but as far as I can tell it simply creates further encouragement for everyone to talk about their feelings rather than talk about justice, so I don’t do it myself.

    Anyway, getting back to your question:

    [is it] intrinsically hateful to suppress /equality/, no matter the reason, but it’s not intrinsically hateful to suppress /rights/?

    I’m not quite sure what it means to “suppress” equality or rights, but I assume you mean here treating people unequally, and failing to respect people’s rights, respectively.

    I don’t think suppressing equality necessarily entails any particular emotional state. For example, it’s possible to treat me unequally out of love for me, or out of hate for me, or out of indifference to me, or out of various other emotional states.

    Similarly, I don’t think suppressing rights necessarily entails any particular emotional state.

    That said, some emotional states correlate better with both than others. For example, within the community of people who want to suppress my rights I’d expect many more of them to hate me than love me. The same goes for people who want to deny me equal treatment.

    Does that answer your question?

  • Jeff

    “Honestly, I consider the whole “hateful” thing a silly derail.”
    Err…hopefully you mean a derail on Fred’s part, not on mine? I’ve been trying to be responsive to the subject of this post specifically, which is a subset of the larger issue, of course.

    “Does that answer your question?”
    It does. Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

  • dpolicar

    I mean the whole topic: your comments, Fred’s post to which you are responding, the various discussions elsewhere to which Fred is responding, the various commenters responding to you, and so forth.

    But, yes, to the extent that you in particular choose to focus your attention on continuing to discuss what deserves the label “hate”, rather than attending to questions of what is and isn’t just, is and isn’t hurtful, etc., I mean on your part in particular.

  • phantomreader42

    Jeff:

    Again, it’s just an analogy

    It’s a shitty analogy. I’ve seen far worse, but those involved things like diseased milkmen and books made of human skin. Maybe you should actually learn how to make your analogies analogous before trying to use them to support arguments that you can’t be bothered to state clearly.
    Jeff again:

    but how many plausible scenarios do you want me to concoct to establish a situation where the lack of available funds to access a non-public school education does actual harm?

    ONE would be nice. Seriously, start with a SINGLE scenario that is actually plausible in the REAL WORLD, without torturing logic and piling on tons of special pleadings. You have utterly failed at that.
    Jeff yet again:

    And is it really your place to say “they’re not actually suffering any harm”?

    Actually, it is YOUR place to demonstrate that the people you claim are suffering harm are, in fact, actually suffering harm, and you have not done so. Your attempt to dodge the burden of proof does not support your case.
    In the case of denying marriage equality, the harm has already been well established, many times, both in actual cases involving actual same-sex couples being denied actual legal benefits and suffering as a result, and in situations involving other principles that are ACTUALLY analagous (Loving v. Virginia, Brown v. Board of Ed, the 14th Amendment in general) and established that “separate but equal” is not, in fact, equal.

  • AmaryllisZ

    Definitely pick up the Endymion series. It gives you a whole new outlook on Jesus.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    They do, actually, although I’ll grant that they don’t have access to /same-sex/ marriage.

    Ooh, I’m sorry. By playing the “Gay guys CAN get married… To women Hurr Durr!” card, you get an automatic disqualification from having your argument taken seriously.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Their god’s aim is *terrible,* though.

    As Stephen Colbert says, apparently God is ok with gays, but hates the gay-adjacent.

  • Nick Gotts

    I don’t see any justification in the text for either the claim that Abraham refused to sacrifice his son, or the claim that God didn’t want Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter. Sure, these interpretations avoid making God appear evil, but there’s plenty else in the Bible that makes it clear he is indeed a pathologically jealous, dishonest, genocidal, psychopathic sadist.

  • dpolicar

    Apparently, we also have different understandings of namecalling, reason, compassion, and hope.

  • alegrenaje

    As a gay guy, I can personally say that I don’t care whether or not someone feels as though they are doing the best for me. Pretty much everyone else has said it better, but -not- hating someone you are hurting is not an excuse for hurting them.


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