Friday, December 26, 2008

On Tolerance And Equal Rights

Though I have already explained the reasoning behind my views on Rick Warren and other activist religious leaders, I will attempt to make them even clearer so as to end the confusion several commenters seem to be suffering regarding this issue.

I wrote in my most recent column:
I'm well aware that the U.S. remains a country in which many people are devoutly religious. This is fine with me. Though I think many of such people's beliefs are tragically misguided, they have the right to believe what they want. And, as the president-elect, Obama is free to invite whomever he wants to pray at his own inauguration. I couldn't care less.

Some gay people are far more sensitive than I am regarding the offensive analogies between homosexuality and child molestation offered up by Warren and his ilk. Of course I take umbrage at such perverse comparisons, but I'm secure enough in my identity to brush off such nonsense and then proceed to throw equally strong invective right back at them. This live and let hate situation could continue forever, for all I care.

But what's not appropriate is allowing these fundamentalists' religious precepts to override the equal-protection guarantees of the federal and state constitutions. Contrary to Warren's claims, civil-marriage equality has nothing to do with religion or sectarian morality. Religious conservative don't have to approve of gay marriage, but they shouldn't be able to block it.

Thus, it's quite apparent that I'm not intolerant at all. I'm perfectly willing to tolerate religious lunatics as long as they don't engage in political campaigns to write discrimination against me into the law. I don't like them and I don't expect them to like me. However, I don't attempt to legislate against their equal rights, so I expect the same courtesy from them.

Regarding my use of harsh language in responding to fundamentalists, earlier this year I wrote:
There will always be people who are slow to follow along as society's collective conscience gradually grows more attuned to the rights of minorities. Ridding oneself of long-held prejudices is a difficult process, and it is only fair to sympathize with those who lag a bit behind, particularly older people who formed many of their opinions in a radically different era. The best thing to do is engage with such people and persuade them through experience that gays are, except in the realm of sexuality, fundamentally the same as everyone else - and unquestionably worthy of equal treatment by the government.

The most vocal and proactive opponents of gay rights, as opposed to those who are simply set in their ways, don't warrant such gentle treatment. Truly reactionary, regressive political arguments must be countered with overwhelming rhetorical force. We must fight ferociously in the ongoing ideological struggle to move society further forward in its recognition of and respect for individual rights. And in doing so we have to be far less defensive.

Merely characterizing gay-rights opponents as homophobic or intolerant isn't enough. Doing so cedes too much rhetorical ground, implicitly allowing our adversaries to argue that gays are so inherently scary or repellent as to require one to have a strong stomach merely to put up with us at all. No, we must turn the tables completely.

I decided upon the ideal rhetorical device to attack those who agitate against gay rights in a discussion I had with a straight friend and colleague of mine who writes for a paper in Minnesota. After a long and rugged night filled with drink and debate, my friend and I concluded that right-wing culture warriors are perverts. They doth protest too much against gays, calling us a perverted minority in a desperate attempt to hide their identity as just that.

The perversion at the heart of anti-gay activism is readily apparent: voyeurism. The prospect of right-wing ideologues leering in through people's bedroom windows, straining to see exactly what sort of sexual practices they engage in with other consenting adults is gross and frightening. But that's effectively what these perverts advocate. Having no regard for privacy or basic decency, they obsess over other people's sex lives to the point where they barely seem able to think about anything else.

In order to disguise their depravity, these false moralists generally include feel-good words such as "family" or "Christian" in their fetid organizations' names. Don't be fooled. The preachers and politicians who work tirelessly to make sure gay people remain second-class citizens spend far more time worrying about gay sex than about helping American families.

Some of these sick bastards may even spend more time talking about gay sex than the vast majority of gays do. In fact, they've created an entire industry around their repugnant voyeurism, actually making money ceaselessly ranting about their disapproval of other people's sex lives. It's beyond disgusting: It's deranged. Rational people attempt to distance themselves from circumstances they find unpleasant, not dwell on them.

Opinion polls show decisively that our society is finally reaching a level of maturity in which we realize that people's sex lives are their own business, but we need to remain vigilant in maintaining forward momentum. So the next time you go toe-to-toe with these creeps, don't settle for offering up effete denunciations of their bigotry; instead, go for the jugular and call them out for what they are: pernicious, pathetic, window-peeping perverts.

As long as the likes of Warren continue to preach that granting equal rights to gays is immoral, then I will continue to refer to them as idiotic assholes, corpulent poisonous toads, perverts, and any other slur I deem appropriate. If it's a culture war they want, it's a culture war they'll get. I refuse to be the victim and plead pathetically that the big bullies play nice and stop calling me names. It's much more empowering to fire back with everything I've got.

My invectives are no more aimed at converting undecideds than the fundamentalists' are. The goal is rallying the troops and arming those who agree with me to fight back instead of always playing defense by merely whining about the need for tolerance, as though being gay were some terrible thing that other people need to try really hard just to put up with.

Ultimately, as I've said numerous times, I couldn't care less what these troglodytes think of me. The only real point of contention here is that they keep on lobbying against equal rights for gays and lesbians. So, no, me colorfully expressing my distaste for Warren and his political agenda is not the same thing as what he's doing because I'm not trying to take away his marriage. Anyone who is too stupid to grasp that distinction ought to be sent back to elementary school.

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