I know, historically I’ve done a Weekend World-Changer Homework bit on Fridays, so we can all cruise into the weekend full of love and light and the joy of making the world a better place. But today I’m not feelin’ it. Today I’m having a tantrum. And before we get started, I need to make a couple of things abundantly clear:
1. There will be swear words in this one, because I cannot bring myself to self-censor on this topic.
2. This is a safe space. We have a little dog who likes to bark at everything; that’s fine, because he’s a dog and that’s how dogs roll. However, periodically he gets a little extra riled up and turns into a snarling hell beast, and that’s when we squirt him with the water bottle. The same holds true here: you are always, always, always welcome to express dissenting viewpoints; however, snarling hell beasts get sprayed in the face.
Are we clear? Ok, let’s rock this.
Here’s the thing. Today I was poking around the interwebs (I was on Pinterest, if we want to be specific), and I ran across a pin from someone who is opposed to gay marriage. And I get it: this is a hot-button topic for a lot of people, and people’s opinions are frequently diametrically opposed. That’s ok; arguably, being able to express diametrically opposed opinions is half the fun. And I understand that, in much the same way people don’t want boys joining the Girl Scouts, a lot of folks don’t want gay people joining the Married People’s Club. I don’t necessarily agree, but I get it.
And I am totally down with people speaking their truths. If you are opposed to gay marriage, you have every right–particularly here in the good ol’ U. S. of A.–to say so. For example, you might say “My religion prohibits gay marriage, so I do not believe it should be legalized”. Or maybe “Gay marriage makes me uncomfortable in ways I don’t entirely understand, so I would just as soon not have to think about it”. These are totally ok. Got it? Totally ok. Not everyone is going to agree on every point, and that’s really, very, totally ok.
As you may have picked up from previous posts, I draw the line at bullying. It is never ok to be a bully–say it with me, folks: It is never ok to be a bully–and I am so. goddamned. tired. of watching people cross that line. In a lot of cases, I don’t think they even realize they’ve gone there; I suspect they feel that they’re just speaking their truths, but are forgetting to consider the effects of their words and actions on other people. The pin in question had the comment “Gays BURN IN HELL FOREVER!!”, and if you’re not clear on why I see that as bullying, then perhaps it’s time for a little example/counterexample.
So let’s review briefly, shall we?
Statement of opinion: “I do not believe gay marriage should be legalized.”
Bullying asshattery: “Gays shouldn’t get the same rights normal people get.”
Think it through: Do you really want to play the “X is normal, Y is a deviation, and therefore Y does not get the same rights” game? You might recall that this argument was used to justify racism for a long, long time. Ditto for sexism. What’s next–people above 6’0″ are abnormal? People below 5’4″ are abnormal? How about people with brown hair? People with blue eyes? People who make less than $45,000/year? This is a slippery slope, people, and you do not want to start down it.
Statement of opinion: “My religion is opposed to homosexuality.”
Bullying douchebaggery: “Gays are an abomination.”
Think it through: Pick an example randomly from the above list. I’ve arbitrarily selected “being taller than 6’0″”. Now suppose that your child (or anyone else you love) was told that being taller than 6’0″ is an abomination–not just “unfortunate” or “unusual”, but a full-on abomination–and that therefore they were subhuman and doomed to burn forever in a lake of fire, etc, etc. Moon Man is 6’4″. You do not want to go there with me. Sure, he’s weird in some fun and exciting and periodically rather trying ways, but he is not an abomination, and I will eat the heart of anyone who says otherwise.
Statement of opinion: “I am uncomfortable with homosexuality, and would prefer that my child never be exposed to any gay people or told that homosexuality is acceptable.”
Bullying dickweaselhood: “Gay people prey on children, raping them and/or converting them to the gay lifestyle.”
Think it through: …Sorry, I’m having a hard time articulating this one, because I am literally angry with rage. No, gay people are not going to prey on your children, in the same way that Catholic people are not going to steal your babies so they can increase the number of Catholics in the world. You’re probably not going to be able to keep your child from ever being exposed to gay folks, or from hearing about gay folks, or from interacting with gay folks, and you know what? They are probably still going to be every bit as safe as they would’ve been otherwise. I say “probably” here only because every group has its deviations, so I’m sure that there probably are gay pedophiles roaming around somewhere; but for that matter, there are plenty of straight pedophiles, and probably some bisexual pedophiles, and y’know what, I don’t want to type the word “pedophiles” anymore. Bottom line: Gay people are not going to rape your babies, either physically or mentally. Are you friggin’ kidding me?
So here’s what it all boils down to for me: Please, by all means, speak your truths. Even if we disagree. But please, for the love of all that is holy, take a second to contemplate the line between “expressing your opinion” and “being a bully”…and if you think you’ve crossed that line, then back the hell up. I don’t care if you’re speaking from behind a pulpit or spray-painting someone’s locker; if you’re using language to abuse another person, you are being a bully, and that is unacceptable behavior. Own your shit, apologize, and try again in a less hateful way. Because I’ve gotta tell ya, I tune bullies right the hell out. Your message falls on completely deaf ears when it gets to me, and all you accomplish by using hateful language is getting yourself put on my Short List of People Who, When I Am President of the Universe, Will Be Spending a Lot of Time Writing Apology Notes to Everyone They Have Hurt.
You may want to start sharpening your pencils now.