I've been noticing this for quite some time, probably ever since the aftermath of the passage of Proposition 8 in California, when so many Mormons seemed to react with shock at the idea that people would actually be angry at them for outlawing their marriages. And just today, through Andrew's post, I'm seeing it again. (Not in Andrew's post, but in posts he links to and in comments.)
Symphonyofdissent is "uncomfortable with the labeling of people of conscience as bigots and homophobes" and "sick of the lack of effort to build consensus on common ground and to efforts to punish and smear those that disagree." SilverRain feels that gay marriage advocates' "aggressive behavior has already done more to hurt [their] cause than help it" and they call people bigoted and homophobic in an "attempt to manipulate through shame, to control another person's behavior." In short, as commenter Scotty Starnes puts it, "the gay community’s intolerance is also a factor when it comes to others accepting their lifestyle."
Let's break down these ideas a little bit. First, I really wonder what is the supposed difference between opposition to gay marriage by "people of conscience" and opposition to gay marriage by "bigots and homophobes." "People of conscience," I suppose, avoid violence and outright name calling, so there is that. But what is the difference if a law forbidding same-sex marriage is passed by people of conscience or passed by "bigots and homophobes"? The end result sure seems the same to me.
Second, what is the difference between a "person of conscience" and a "bigot and homophobe"? Is there one? Symphonyofdissent clearly feels he is the former, not the latter. Yet he writes things like:
Another key empirical question for me is whether legalized Gay Marriage and increased acceptance for homosexuality merely takes already openly Gay People out of a more promiscuous lifestyle and puts them into monogamous and more stable families, or whether this acceptance will lead more people that are marginally attracted to males (Probably true bisexuals) to choose to enter into gay relationships rather than equally fulfilling heterosexual ones. I think that practically if we are dealing with a fixed population of Gay individuals then marriage is a far more ideal state. ... It seems that this is a worthwhile question to be asked.A clear inference here is that homosexual relationships are inferior to heterosexual ones, and legalizing gay marriage is bad if it leads to more of them. Apparently, though, it would be "intolerant" of us take this belief in gay inferiority as evidence of any bigotry or homophobia on the part of symphonyofdissent. Apparently, that would be a "smear."
Am I being overly "aggressive" by pointing that out? Am I attempting to "manipulate through shame"? Does that do more harm than good? No, no, and I don't know.
I don't think there's anything wrong with pointing out a person's clear prejudices, especially when they probably don't seem so clear to that person. I don't think there's anything wrong with pointing out that a person has no claim to being free of "bigotry and homophobia" when he probably doesn't even have a clear conception of what being free of those things would really mean.
Am I trying to manipulate anyone through shame? No. I might be ashamed to have my own biases pointed out. Or I might not. I might change my behavior because of it, or I might not. But those feelings and behaviors would be on me. I would be responsible for them, not the person who called me out. So I reject the idea of "manipulation." I don't have the power to manipulate anyone. I can't make anyone do anything they don't want to do. Not even to think.
Am I doing more harm than good? Maybe. If I say that before one can claim to be free from "bigotry and homophobia," one must accept gay people as just as good (or bad or indifferent) as straight people and gay relationships as just as good (or bad or indifferent) as straight relationships, maybe somebody somewhere will decide that s/he therefore can't support gay marriage. It seems pretty unlikely, but I suppose it's possible. Is that even "more harm than good"? I don't know.
But I do know one thing. I know that this is what people who call GLBT people "intolerant" are really saying:
You should tolerate our belief that your sexual orientation is inferior.
You should tolerate our belief that your relationships are inferior.
If you don't tolerate our belief in your inferiority, you are the intolerant one.
Do I even need to say it? Bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit, and bullshit. No one needs to tolerate those beliefs.
You want common ground for dialog? Start here: gay people are just as good (or bad or indifferent) as straight people; being gay is just as good (or bad or indifferent) as being straight; gay relationships are just as good (or bad or indifferent) as straight relationships.
That's what common ground really looks like. That's what a starting point for dialog really looks like. If you can't go there, for whatever reason, fine. That's your prerogative. But if you can't begin there, don't go calling the other side "intolerant." Because you've got it exactly backwards.
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