Tuesday, June 30, 2015

No, I don't need to respect your opinion

Since the landmark SCOTUS vote for marriage equality there have been a lot of emotional exchanges on social media. Some of it has gotten ugly. I've also seen several pleas for tolerance of differing opinions, and specifically for respecting the deeply held religious beliefs of others.

While I’m all for both tolerance and freedom of expression, I found myself bristling at some of these peacemaking requests.

At its heart, it’s because I’m uncomfortable with the underlying premise that this is merely a debate about personal beliefs.

Let's look at personal belief for a minute.
You may believe in many things, including the power of prayer, abstinence before marriage, snake wrangling, Coke over Pepsi, and homosexuality as a sin. That’s all fine. In that case, you should feel free to pray, abstain from sex, wield snakes, guzzle Coke and marry someone of the opposite gender. In a free society, those are all choices one has. As long as our choices don’t harm another or break the law, we can pretty much knock ourselves out.

However, this does not mean we can require others to drink Coke or marry only people we personally approve of. And it especially doesn’t mean we can withhold basic human rights from another because they are different from us.

That's not a simple opinion. That's tyranny.

We all get to control what we do. We do not get to control what other people do. That’s the basic teaching in How-To-Be-A-Human 101. If you missed the class, go back and take it again.

Look. It would be one thing if publicly proclaiming that homosexuality is a sin and all gay people are going to hell was just a harmless conviction. But it’s not. Negative attitudes toward LGBT people put them at increased risk for experiences with bullying, teasing, harassment and physical assault. It erodes their confidence and makes them feel like it’s not safe to simply be themselves.

Consider this:
  • 9 out of 10 LGBT teens have reported being bullied at school within the past year because of their sexual orientation
  • LGBT students report being 5 times more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe after being bullied due to their sexual orientation
  • About 28 percent feel forced to drop out of school altogether
  • Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average
  • LGB youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide
  • With transgender people, the number is even higher

While espousing a belief that homosexuality is an abomination is a choice you have, it’s one that is actively contributing to an atmosphere which harms others. That’s not just theoretical, it’s statistically proven.

So yes, it’s your choice. It’s just not a very nice one (see aforementioned 101 course).

As if this wasn’t bad enough, these protestations, when met with backlash, are often followed up by cries of persecution. I’m thinking in particular of one person who posted an horrendous anti-gay rant, copped some abuse for it, and then took to her social media page to complain about what she considered to be a mean and horrible backlash.

Intolerance and persecution are bad enough. But when they are delivered in the guise of martyrdom, it really flips my pissy switch.

I think one of the reasons this bothers me so much is because of my work in the field of domestic violence. Let’s talk about the perpetrators of abuse for a moment. One of the hallmarks of the abuser is that he fancies himself a victim. If you see this man in the courtroom he will likely not only proclaim his innocence, but accuse his victim of all manner of injustice against him. It’s a nauseating blend of bullying and cowardice – psychological projection in its most distilled form. I’ve witnessed it countless times and experienced it firsthand.

I see the same thing happening with some of these religious arguments. The intolerant demand tolerance. The persecutors cry persecution.

No go.

You don't get to ask me to respect your beliefs if you beliefs cause harm to others. And you do not get to lob a grenade into a crowd and then proclaim victimhood when people start throwing things back at you. 

Why not just stop throwing grenades altogether?

If you keep that up, you’ll never make it out of that basic How-to-Human class. And I hear there will be one hell of a party once we all pass.


  1. I do agree with so much of this rant.
    'Rights' only go so far in a civilised world. When your religious 'rights' impinge on the BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS of someone else, there is something very, very wrong.
    I am constantly thinking of that fantastic quote, If you don't like gay marriage, don't get gay married!
    I don't understand why certain religious groups (and it's not just Christians) think they OWN marriage. People were getting married long before there was a Baptist Church, or a fancy exclusive mosque to hitch up in.
    We should be most careful about marginalising people, about classifying others in first- and second-class citizens. We have no right to degrade another person or strip them of their dignity.
    This also applies to those we don't agree with, though.
    I feel like there's a difference between those who say "Gays are an abomination and should be {insert hideous punishment}" and those who say "I am uncomfortable with this and don't want to be legally forced to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples."
    Because the first group are bigots, and the second might be too, depending on your point of view, but there's at least hope for them. They might be persuaded, they might change their thinking over time.
    I know this, because I was one of them.
    It was not rude rants (not meaning this post, KB!) or vicious attacks that swayed me. It was exposure, through gentle and often funny memes and knowing people who were directly affected by the inability to marry the person they love, and time.
    I have people very close to me who don't agree that same sex marriage should be a thing. I don't THINK they'd actively vote against it, but I'm not sure of that.
    When we discuss it, and we often do, I am reminded that thy have a right to an opinion. They just shouldn't be an arsehole about it.

  2. Thanks Toni. And I agree that angry rants don't change someone's position. Just reinforces it (I'm basically preaching to the choir here). I also agree that someone shouldn't be forced to perform a wedding ceremony, though I'm not aware that's an issue. If someone represents a certain entity that is required to do so (say Justice of the Peace), then yes. But they always have the choice to step down from their position or not align themselves with a church that requires that of them. You can't agree to hold an office and then decide willy nilly not to perform the duties of that office. Anyway, thanks for reading and lending your voice to the discussion. x

  3. And P.S. I love that funny memes helped change your mind! They are pretty much my gospel.

  4. Well done! Bravo. I've said a lot already but wanted to add one more thing. This behavior we have seen is damaging to brands. I imagine it will decrease the blogger's credibility in working with brands. And if she has/had an employer, the rant would be totally against their code of conduct.

    Thank you for speaking up.

    1. Yes, I think sometimes people spout off and don't think through the possible repercussions of their words. There have been a couple of high profile cases of this on Twitter. While social media can be a real beast in that regard, I do appreciate the transparency it brings. It's hard nowadays to present a facade and have it stand up to scrutiny.

  5. Thank you so much for writing this! You have so eloquently put in to words how I've been feeling about all of this, particularly in regards to the person I believe you might be referring to.
    I think I must be a little naive, as it still shocks me that people actually feel this way, and behave so deplorably under the cover of 'Christianity'. xx

    1. It shocks me too. This is how I feel at each election. I listen to the pundits and realize how out-of-touch I am with many Americans. Makes me want to go back to my bubble!

  6. Replies
    1. You know if you come to the U.S., we can do so legally. :)

  7. So perfect. Thank you Well done. So simple really if your believes are hurting others than it should not be tolerated.

  8. So perfect. Thank you Well done. So simple really if your believes are hurting others than it should not be tolerated.

    1. It really is simple, isn't it? I don't know why we try to complicate it so.

  9. Replies
    1. Thanks. I love your blog name! And your post on rape culture.

  10. It's like you wrote the words in my head down on paper. Brilliant.

  11. Hi Kristin, you have written this so beautifully and compellingly...thankyou.I just had to link it to my FB page in the hope that it might touch many more people. You really are wonderful!

    1. Thank you so much, Pearl. I appreciate your commenting and sharing. x

  12. One argument I hear often from the haters is the misplaced belief that "permissiveness" will lead to the erosion of society. My answer is and always shall be that society is only ever eroded by intolerance, hatred, bigotry, tyranny and violence. This is not based on religious faith or wistful idealism. It's based on reality and observation and history. Those are the cards I bring to the table and I reckon they're unbeatable.

    1. You have such a way of cutting through the BS and stating the core of an issue with clarity. I agree wholeheartedly.

  13. K once again your post resonated with me. Please don't ever stop writing, I enjoy them so!
    We could use more common sense over here. Please move over and run for Prime Minister. Our current one is, well, I was told that if I don't have anything nice to say, I shouldn't say it at all. Let's just say I'm ashamed of the actions of our government and can not wait to vote them out.

    1. Thanks, Aly! I'm more than happy to move over there, but you will never ever ever ever find me running for office. I abhor politics (and most politicians). I'll stick to writing rants!


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