Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Down with Difference!

Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying. 
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

As much as I seemingly like to argue and get all mouthy spouty on a variety of issues, the truth is, I really just want people to get along. I don’t like confrontation and I don’t like people mad at me. Maybe this is what happens when you grow up bombarded by this kind of marketing:

This is a weakness, I know, because you have to be able to stand up for what you believe in. If you can’t, then maybe you really just don’t believe in that which you think you hold dear.

But what does it mean to stand up for what you believe?

There’ve been so many stories in the news recently about positions that are unpopular with at least a certain portion of the population. The whole Chik-Fil-A debacle comes to mind: The founder of the company gave an interview in which he gave his opinion about “the biblical definition of the family unit.” He believes marriage is between a man and a woman and he said as much to the Christian publication taking the interview.*

Many people’s heads exploded and the media ran with the story during what was apparently a slow news cycle. I can get why the lazy media would run with this issue. They’ve got to write about something. But everyone else? Come on, the last time I checked at least 50% of the population (if not more, my poll wasn’t scientific**) believes the same way the Chik-Fil-A guy does.

Then I read the story about Angela McCaskill, the first deaf African-American woman to earn a doctorate from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., who was hired last year to serve as their Chief Diversity Officer. Apparently she was at church one weekend, off the clock and not in her role as CDO for Guallaudet, and she signed a petition backing a referendum that would put Maryland’s same-sex marriage law to popular vote.***

Someone saw her signature on the petition, questioned whether that interfered with her ability to serve as Gallaudet’s diversity officer, and raised hell. The university then suspended her so that it could “evaluate whether McCaskill’s signing of the petition was appropriate.”

So…I take from these stories that people in positions of power (or otherwise) can no longer have opinions?

Apparently, if they do, they’re going to face what looks to me a lot like bullying.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a post about people like Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn) who advocated a position with the force of the federal government behind him (ala “abortion is wrong and we need to make it illegal”) and then pushed his mistress to get an abortion. And it’s not a post about government or church officials who are anti-gay activists who get caught being gay.

Rather, it’s merely me documenting my confusion with what we’re doing to ourselves, as a country and a people, when it comes to legitimately articulating our differences. It seems as though America has become – the “Right” and the “Left” - the tragically unhappy married couple on the verge of divorce that has taken to wounding each other as deeply as possible, all for the sake of being “RIGHT;” whatever “right” means.

As any marriage counselor could tell us - nobody wins that fight.

A racist person is not going to have a change of heart merely because the government mandates equal rights and protections under the law for people of color. 40ish years after Loving v. Virginia and Brown v. Board of Ed we can still see that to be true in many parts of the country (although, thankfully, we have come a long way, Fisher v. UTA notwithstanding).

Likewise, people who are opposed to gay couples and families like mine are not going to have their own hearts and minds changed because we shame them, bully them, or (knock wood, someday soon) pass laws that actually give us equality.

When I read stories like the ones I reference above, and then reflect on the conversation I had last week with my daughter about Amanda Todd, I can better understand the horrible instances of children bullying other children.

They’re simply following our lead.


To be heard, hear.

To be cared for, care.

To be loved, love.

And even then, you still may not be heard, cared for, or loved.

Do it anyway.


* The company also gives money to organizations that oppose gay marriage. It's his company - isn't that his right? You or I have the same right, don't we? And, at the very least, we can choose not to patronize the business if we don't like that practice.

**Yeah, so, I checked in with my mom. She was eating some waffle fries.

***If you follow me on Twitter or read my haphazardly updated blog, you know how I feel about putting issues of civil right to popular vote.


  1. "families like mine"

    Wait a darn tooting minute! You actually do have a wife? That's sort of a relief, because I was starting to suspect the man I imagined to be your husband was seriously emasculated given the gender pronouns you throw around.

    "So…I take from these stories that people in positions of power (or otherwise) can no longer have opinions?"

    How can I not throw this over to the unauthorized video sequel to your Coke commercial, the pre-Iraq invasion classic (NSFW) We Want Your Soul:

    No hippies, no strays, no drop-outs, no gays
    No lefties, no loonies, no opinions, no way
    No thinkers, no teachers, no facts, no freaks
    No skaters, no tweekers, no truth, no sleep

  2. Thank you @dbs! And @Conan776, this video was so crazy, it gave me nightmares!


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