Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Homosexuality and Religion Followup: The Other End of the Question

Strap on your goggles and get the rubber gloves, Internet, because it's that time of week again. This is a post I didn't think I'd have to write but it's recently become relatively clear that it's probably a thing that should happen. Before we get to that though, some miscellaneous news.

I'm getting a job! Hooray! Finally I can complain slightly less about never having any money! Internet, I can buy things! I can buy a new microphone! If that doesn't get you excited, I don't know what will* Everyone! Do the employment dance!

The employment dance looks a lot like...hating my life.
Also MovieBob did a thing about linking more than 300 television shows into the same continuity's all rather terrifying in a fascinating way. If you've got an extra five minutes, check it out, it's probably more interesting than this anyways.

And, um....huh. That's pretty much it this week, actually. I did have other stuff, but they're going to get mentioned in the proper post so...okay. Let's do this, I guess.

Homosexuality and Religion Followup:
The Other End of the Question

So everyone's all atwitter right now about Chik-fil-a officially coming out of the anti-gay closet. The result of this was basically the exact same thing that happened when Kraft came out with its rainbow oreo, but with the numbers reversed; lots of people shouting about how horrendous and evil it was with a minority supporting the very public and potentially damaging maneuver. Outcry has ranged from hateful letters and facebook comments, threats of boycotting, and even one public facebook event trying to convince everyone to go to their local Chik-fil-a on a preordained day and kiss a same-sex partner in the restaurant which I won't link here because if you really want to find it, go look for it yourself. I'm not a fan of PDA on normal days, I can't say I support it as a method for revenge, political or otherwise.

Last time I covered this topic, I'm pretty sure I made my stance on homosexuality and religion's (Specifically Christianity's) general treatment of it abundantly clear and if I didn't, I'm pretty sure any lingering doubts were assuaged in subsequent posts. That first post on the subject was more or less aimed specifically at members of any such religious group that might harbor some kind of prejudice or malcontent towards homosexuality and try to push them to think more about it for themselves rather parrot whatever arguments they'd been using. I'm sure that anyone who wasn't religious or was gay probably had a good time reading it but really, it was more for the kind of person who hated homosexuals without ever really thinking about why. 

This time, because I love nothing more than playing the Devil's Advocate, it's aimed in the opposite direction; at the LBGT community on behalf of Christians, pro- and anti-gay alike. I can't wait to see how this turns out.

Brace yourself, the indignant comments are coming
I've mentioned before how I don't find being both a Christian and pro-gay to be paradoxical at all; I've very much reconciled the two, personally, and have no troubles supporting them both. Even better; being a member of both parties usually gives me some interesting insight into the mechanics behind either set of arguments; knowing the bible and supporting gay rights means I can defend my beliefs in said gay rights more effectively and likewise, supporting gay rights and knowing the bibles means I can more effectively mitigate anti-religious sentiment without being dismissed as "Just another bigot" Overall, it's a nice place to be. On the flipside of that though, it means I don't really completely mesh with either community. Between my less-than-sunday-best attire and strange opinions, I haven't had a solid church community for years. In truth, I find myself debating with more Christians than communing with them. There are Christians who don't even like to talk with me because they know how...shall we say 'exotic' my interpretations can be as compared to the norm. 

For a while, just a little while, I thought it might be that simple. There's a list of Christians who don't like me and everyone else. On a personal level, this has mostly remained true; I don't have any friends who think less of me for my religion, as far as I'm aware at least, partly because I only make friends with thoughtful, understanding beings, and partly because I don't impose my beliefs on them and that works pretty well for us. It's like a buddy-cop film where one cop is all "Let's do stuff by the book" and the other cop is all "Naw dawg, I'm from the hood, let's do this street style" and then we go off and bust some crime lords or something.

I'll let you decide which is which.
So that said, I'm very rarely the direct recipient of any such hate, anti-religious or anti-gay. I go out of my way, sometimes far out of my way, to be as nonpartisan as possible between the two and so as a result I am, at most, proxy messenger of said hate and really usually only a witness to it. Don't let that fool you though; the witnessing part is hard. I hate seeing the broader representation of my religion demonizing itself for being so obstinate about this and trying to hinder groups of people who generally deserve no such ire. We're not talking about that though, we talked about that last time. This time we're talking about how how hard it is to see members of a group that I defend at every chance I get stop just short of declaring war on a way of life that I have deep, abiding ties to, despite my alienation to the culture. 

Of those very same friends who would never look down on me for my religion, several of them also use religious association as a metric for judging how backwards or ignorant other people are. I've seen them jump on religious posts with snarky comments and baiting words, trying to assert themselves over religion like it was their anti-anti-christ. To refer back to our buddy cop analogy, that's like Jackie Chan saying "You know Chris, you're a nice guy and I feel like our time together has made us grow as people, but I really just cannot stand n&##%rs. Like they drive me nuts and I really kind of hate them. You're cool though, no offense" Chris Rock wouldn't shrug and chuckle and say "Oh, you crazy racist, you." He'd get mad, he'd start a fight. Jackie Chan would find a ladder and kick his ass because he's Jackie Chan, but that's beside the point.

Seriously, dude has a higher proficiency rating with ladders than most people have with their own genitalia.
It gets worse when I move out of my circle of friends into complete strangers on the internet. When it's my friends, when they're close I can talk them down, I can dismiss it as misdirected rage from bad experiences because with most of them I know that's true. When I look at the broad debate though, I see a staggering amount of unadulterated hate. Hate from the very same groups which call for an end to hate. Bullying from the very same groups who want to help make it illegal to bully them in schools. Every time I see this happen I have to wonder "What makes you think you're fighting the good fight here? How can you not see this as anything but a step in the wrong direction?"

The internet and internet culture is a place which is predominately pro-gay and that's great. Fantastic, even. It's a hugely dominant cultural force which, in its own weird way, is more of a democracy than any actual democracy. If you're pro-gay on the internet, you're in good company, if you're anti-gay, prepare for death threats. 

Allow me to qualify for a moment here; I'm not saying it's okay to be anti-gay insofar as that one guy who suggested fencing in all the gays so they could die out alone while not blemishing straight society, no. That's total bullshit and anyone who thinks that of any human being hardly deserves to speak. But what about anyone who is only anti-gay insofar as thinking it's against God's word, but is still perfectly willing to live and coexist with them peacefully? They get lumped in with the rest. What about a person who wants to teach their children that homosexuality isn't right, but that it also doesn't make you any less of a person? Lumped with the rest. What about a person who has no disagreements about homosexuality whatsoever but is simply physically sickened by the idea? Lumped, shouted down, and threatened. 

That, Internet, is a stereotype. It's a harmful, hurtful stereotype that only serves to hinder and wound everyone involved with it, yourself included. You helped make it. Feel bad.

Right now, the question of gay marriage is one of the most divisive in the nation; it's one of those things that you're either for or against; there is no gray area, no matter how much gray area there is. It's easy to argue that things are the way they are because Religion struck first, they're the ones who tried to shame you, tried to make you look sick in the head or less than human so it's only natural they get a little turnabout. But that's not how it works. You don't try to get everyone to all get along by telling anyone who even kind of disagrees with you that they're terrible people. At best, that's going to make the fight bigger, at worse, you're going to lose valuable ground. You could push away people who might have been completely fine either way or else may even have supported you, had you not been so busy telling them how ignorant they were being. 

In cases like these, I find it's best to go back to similar controversies. The abortion debate is only a little further along but shows great promise; people have begun to realize that there's gray areas; that there are ways to be neither gun-ho for nor totally against it. I've heard many well-articulated arguments from people about how even though they don't think they'd ever be able to get one or even really support the idea of getting one, they wouldn't want to stop someone from having access to it if they needed it. I've yet to hear any such arguments about Gay marriage; that even though a person doesn't personally agree with it, a gay couple should be able to be married by the state or within their own religion, should that religion allow it or similarly that even though a person doesn't agree with a gay coupling, they're still a person and should be treated like one. 

I look at the responses to the Chik-fil-a fallout and they bear a chilling reminder of other groups who campaign to have private organizations change their stances on homosexuality; One Million Moms, Focus On the Family, The Family Research Council. Same tone, same ultimatum, same insufferable self-righteousness, different context; join us or lose our support until you do. Let me repeat that in clearer terms; you sound just like, not kind of like but exactly like, the very same people you claim are doing it wrong. That can't be a good sign.

We should really start labeling these things...
I feel similarly in regards to the Boy Scouts Controversy. Again, like Chik-fil-a I don't agree with their decision to exclude gay scouts and scout leaders, I think it's discriminatory and based on a gross misunderstanding of scripture and, indeed, morality on the whole, but they are, in effect, a private organization. They represent private interests and I can definitely see the argument that trying to pressure them into changing their own policy is infringing on their own religious rights. If they were strictly a government organization, if they were a service that America offered to its youth, then yes; I'd be completely against it. I'd be against it and sending letters just like everyone else but they're not. You don't have to join them, you don't have to agree with them, you don't have to have anything to do with them to learn outdoorsmanship, camaraderie with your fellow man, or the meaning of citizenship. I wish they hadn't decided to represent themselves as an exclusively religious organization, but they have and I'm not going to get all in a tizzy about it.

As of this writing, I've seen one response to the BSA that I thought was reasoned, genial, and mature. It was from a scout leader and now former Eagle Scout returning his medal to the organization because he couldn't stand with them in this decision. The letter was thoughtful, the letter was mournful but most of all, the letter was respectful. The message from him wasn't "You don't stand what I stand for, you should change" it was "You don't stand for what you taught me to stand for, I have to leave" It was the action of someone with a vested interest in the group disagreeing with its policies and deciding to no longer stand by it. What's more, this one man's brave statement has lead to several more former scouts to turn in their Eagle Scout awards with similar letters. To put it in equivalent terms, it's the difference between a church being decried and protested from the outside and the church members inside simply getting up and leaving because they're fed up with the pastor. The difference between change from without and change from within. Guess which change holds more meaning?

It's from within. This is not a trick question.
It might seem like I've been picking on the LBGT side of things for this entire post and it's true; I kind of have been. I criticize you because I want to see you grow stronger. More than stronger, I want to see you become more refined, more eloquent, and more accepting of those who do not necessarily accept you. You won't find any arguments from me that the "Family Oriented" groups didn't start it, they've been trying to push you down since the beginning. If that's going to change though, that's going to change with you and it's not going to change because you shouted them down harder or because you forbade them from disagreeing with you, it's going to change because you extended the hand, not the fist. It's going to change because you can be the bigger people and agree to disagree, because you showed them that you don't have to live identically to live peacefully, and that your existence, happiness, and thriving does not mean that theirs has to be left by the wayside.

Fight for equal representation of your beliefs, fight for your right to live happily and marry who you like, fight for your right to pursue success in whatever way makes you happiest, but if you sacrificed the dignity or happiness of even one person to get there, If you told anyone that the way they live their personal life is wrong on the way, then everything you fought for doesn't mean a single thing, no matter what you fought for. 

Thank you, goodnight.


  1. You really need to do some more research before reaching conclusions, the Chick appreciation day provides a good argument that it is not necessarily a minority arguing from the other side, although this happened after your post, it is still notable that you did not really have sufficient reason to believe that to begin with except that it matched the circles you pay the most attention to.
    This same problem applies to the internet, you tend to stick mostly with circles that are this way so you conclude the internet as a whole is like this. I have not found that to be very true it seems like a very close divide.

  2. I actually had to go back through my post and find the thing you said I said because I very much did not mean to imply what you say I said and I think I found the things that made you think I said what you said I said, so let me say some more.

    Near as I can figure, there were probably two parts that sent up that red flag of yours. First, " The result of this was basically the exact same thing that happened when Kraft came out with its rainbow oreo, but with the numbers reversed..." ect ect, which was intended to moreso highlight the fact that we're way more about jumping on other people for perceived wrongs than for supporting those we would agree with. Probably my fault for poor 'splainsmanship.

    The other thing that probably got you was "The internet and internet culture is a place which is predominately pro-gay and that's great." Which pretty much comes right out and said it so yeah, that was probably it. Here, I will admit a few things. Firstly, that yes; that statement and the following paragraph were written based on my personal observations and not, strictly, research. Secondly that, depending on where you stand, that sentence could very well have two different meanings.

    In my posts, I often refer to the Internet directly, as a being, and let me tell you why; because like the Radio before it, the internet has sort of grown this largish culture around itself to the point where said culture, now well and on the moving force behind many cultural machinations, moves and acts independently of the internet itself. That is to say; the Internet has outgrown the internet. Now there are people who use the internet and people who are a part of the Internet.

    My observations come from some of the largest swaths of Internet culture; Youtube, Cheezburger, the blogosphere, and yes, even actual news sites. It'd be a lie if I told you that my picture was complete and it may very well be incorrect; I'm totally open to being wrong, but even most of the online communities I've come across that hold the "Gay People Shouldn't X" position are relatively smaller and less active than their counterparts.

    One thing I should make abundantly clear is that this doesn't mean I think that this Internet disparity, perceived or otherwise, equates to the real world; I believe it to be a phenomenon of demographics. Speaking generally, the Pro-Gay camp is made up of more young people while the Anti-Gay camp is made up of older folk. Even more generally, young people have a tendency to be more connected to the Internet and its communities and therefore also tend to have a stronger presence on the Internet, bringing their opinions with them.

    At the end of the day, this is an opinion piece based upon my own observations but even, no; especially opinions should be based upon fact so I would be loath not to than you for your criticism. In return, let me offer a small sum of mine. I do not know you, mystery person, so cannot guess this myself, but is it not possible that your own perception of the Internet has twisted itself in such a way to make it seem more even than it is? When I really dig down and examine your comment, all you're really doing is questioning my observations with your own observations. I'd be interested to see the kind of comparisons this could bring.

  3. When you give more reason behind your conclusion it does sound more reasonable. I think I was probably harsher than I should have been. The fact that the younger generation is open to the idea can be safely backed up with statistics so you are right in that respect, however middle aged folk are also there still. My main bases would be internet news sites I tend to notice that they can bounce either way in similar numbers, numbers based on up and down clicks on comments related to the issue. However these may just be these news sites in particular.

    This does open up an interesting question of where people tend to congregate the most on the web. Of course we are likely only looking at U.S. sites, likely considerably more liberal on English sites outside the U.S. Web on the whole would be another question still though. I suspect that blogs would tend to me more liberal on the issue however there is not really a clear cut way to determine this very easily.