Or, How I Learned To Stop Thinking And Talk Louder
Nothing feels so good as being on the right side of an issue. You’re for gay marriage, and you want the whole world to know (in fact, that’s largely the point). That’s cool, friend, you know which way the wind is blowing, and you don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of popular opinion. We understand. We don’t respect it, but we definitely understand.
The problem is how you go about it. You’re trying so hard to show the world that you value freedom and individual liberty and that you despise the tyranny of conformity. Unfortunately, by aping Soviet-era denunciations or McCarthy-esque accusations, you’re really just demonstrating an embarrassing inability to grasp concepts more challenging than a sound bite.
Please stop using the word hate to describe people who don’t agree with you. We’ll talk about what hate IS in just a moment, but for right now, here’s what it’s not: hate is not disagreement. If someone fails to ringingly endorse your lifestyle, it means they disapprove. Hate is when that person wants you removed from society, even as a concept. Having a preference against something is not now, nor has it ever been hate. This can’t be the first time you’ve had that explained to you.
Perhaps this illustration will help. Now, I believe that polygamy should be legal. Do you? It’s all right if you don’t. But for the very many of you who don’t feel this long-standing cultural practice should be legal, let me ask you–do you hate polygamists?¹ It’s seems a stupid question doesn’t it? Of course you don’t–you just don’t support their lifestyle. Why then do you make allegations of hate at people who fail to endorse the gay lifestyle? (It’s because you’re not very smart).
Folks, one of the things about making adult decisions in our own lives is being able to live with the consequences of our actions, whether or not we get approval from our peer group. You say you’re proud of yourself and have nothing to be ashamed of. Why then is it so important that society validate you? Some news about complete and total acceptance: It ain’t coming, buddy–no matter how you choose live your life, not everybody is going to like it. Another part of being an adult is understanding this.
So we’ve established that holding an opinion contrary to that which is politically correct is not, in and of itself, hate. Well, then just what IS hate?
I Know Where I Am, But How Did I Get Here?
We’re so glad you asked. Let’s talk about Uganda, just one of the many countries around the world where gay people have to deal with real hate. You may ask, “So do gays in Uganda also face the horror of potentially hearing disapproval of their lifestyle?” Indeed they do–with the added inconvenience of occasionally being slaughtered for being gay. Now, that’s got to hurt some feelings!
We’d heard similar stories from Iran, but apparently they’re false, as we were informed that no homosexuals exist in Iran. We asked around, and to a man or woman, every individual told us he or she was 110% straight, hated gay people, and wished we would stop asking them these questions and please go away before the religious police saw us talking to them and started to get ideas (which would have been wrong, they were quick to remind us, as Iran is completely free of the gay).
And if America’s 2012 victims of “hate” could somehow be transported to Europe in the Spring and Summer of 1945 as the Nazi camps were liberated, I’m not sure that any of those few surviving individuals from Berlin’s once-thriving gay scene would be quite as moved by the plight of 21st Century gay Americans. Should you ever find yourself in this position, we recommend not telling this recently liberated individual how much Dan Cathy’s hurtful words “burn you up.” That means something entirely different to him.
Hating The Haters: We Hate Their Hate
This issue is personal to me. Now, I support the right for gays to marry (and I tell you this not so you’ll think better of me–your opinions aren’t even your own, so why should I care what your smarter, better-educated friend thinks of me?–but to remove one more intellectual obstacle in the hope–however vain–that you will be able to work yourself through this), but my very conservative grandmother does not. By the standards of your shortcut logic, that means she hates gays.
You should know, however, that for many years my grandmother took a variety of people into her home–teens, bums, single mothers, bachelors–anyone who needed it. I recall that one of them was a young gay man who lived with my grandmother long enough to graduate high school. I won’t speculate on what would have happened to the young man had she not taken him in for a few months, but it’s safe to say she made a great difference in his life and potential future.
Have you done as much as my Bible-thumping grandmother, or is lip-service enough to give you that warm glow of righteousness? Does it disturb you even a little bit that such a bigoted person has been of far more service to “the gays” than you have?
So when you call my grandmother a bigot or a hater, you’re not only demonstrating an inability to think critically about what you say, but also that you’re intolerant. I’ll admit it–it is painful for me to listen to you talk, because in terms of actual reasoning ability, you’re not much more advanced than a grade-schooler (I’m not saying it to be cruel; go back to the polygamist analogy–really, you should have been able to come up with that one on your own). Does that make me better than you? Absolutely it does. But I don’t hate you.
Sadly, there IS hate in America. As hard as it might be to believe, there are people who despise other people simply because of what they believe, who call names and shout epithets, who believe that people with these beliefs should be denied employment. But friends, when you can finally learn to put aside your hate and let people believe what they want to believe, America will be a better place.
So let’s stop misusing hate before we completely strip the word of all its meaning, the way we did long ago with ‘love.’ Instead, why don’t we all worry a little bit less about whether somebody else likes us or approves of the way we live our lives, and just get about the business of living those lives.