Ryan T. Anderson has a helpful OP-ED in The Kansas City Star about gay marriage and civility. Among other things, he writes this:
The principal strategy of the forces that have worked for 20 years to redefine marriage to include same-sex unions has been cultural intimidation – bullying others by threatening the stigma of being “haters” and “bigots.”
Marriage re-definers don’t tend to say what many opponents have said, that this is a difficult question on which reasonable people of goodwill can disagree. No, they’ve said anyone who disagrees with them is the equivalent of a racist. They’ve sent a clear message: If you stand up for marriage, we will, with the help of our friends in the media, demonize and marginalize you.
This kind of grotesque incivility is toxic for any democratic community. And the fact that it has found its way into a majority opinion of the Supreme Court is not only outrageous but frightening.
The column ends with some constructive advice for both sides of the debate. Read the rest here.
(HT: Eric Metaxas)
Anderson considers it bullying to call someone a bigot. That’s only true if the person’s views aren’t bigoted, right? Which, in this case, seems to be the source of much disagreement.
According to my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, a bigot is someone “obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his own church, party, belief, or opinion.” Seems that anyone who holds a strong conviction about anything–including a belief in the absolute necessity of redefining marriage–could be called a bigot. The problem, and the source of the incivility matter, is that “bigot” has become a verbal sledgehammer, a rhetorical device used to delegitimize, stigmatize, and shut down persons of differing opinion.
You don’t like being called a bigot; it’s a gross incivility. What about calling a person a pervert? What about telling the world you want to vomit when you see a person? What about denying them life, employment, housing, equal legal standing and even flowers and cake?
Which are the grosser incivilities by which civil people should be outraged?
Nathan, I do not label homosexuals perverts, nor does the sight of homosexual persons induce nausea in me, nor do I deny them life, employment, housing, equal legal standing, or even flowers or cake. In my time in medicine I have had occasion to provide care to any number of persons who are or were homosexuals; they have received exactly the same standard of care and compassion I offer to any of my patients regardless of sexual preference, although there are subtle differences in specifics of care due to variables of disease risk. But if, in doing all that, I affirm steadfastly what I believe to be God’s standard for not only marriage but for sexual behavior and practice, am I to be labelled a bigot?
It’s not just that you affirm God’s standard for marriage that earns accusations of bigotry; it’s that you wish to see it imposed on those who hold to a different standard.
Curious. If I support a law that requires the use of accurate weights and measures in commerce, am I not wishing imposition of a standard upon those who would like to use inaccurate weights and measures that they might profit unfairly? If I support the principle that private property ought to be respected and theft punished, am I not imposing a standard upon thieves with which they will disagree? I foresee getting picketed by a Thieves Association for my blatant bigotry…
Yes, of course. It’s the motivation that matters. I don’t support laws that criminalize theft of property because “Thou Shalt Not Steal”; I support them because stealing represents the infringement of an individual’s right to property and the state exists to mitigate against such infringements.
In the case of theft it’s possible to support laws that prohibit it on the grounds that they protect someone from direct harm; that case is more difficult to make in the case of same-sex marriage. So, then, when someone vehemently opposes same-sex marriage, it seems as he’s doing so for some reason other than preventing direct harm. Possibly because he wishes to enshrine in the civil code his particular religiously informed understanding of right and wrong.
Based on that rationale, those who would ban polygamous marriages and incestuous marriages are also bigots.
Ken, I agree. The whole movement is really just a war of words.
You are employing a common tactic. That is, you are trying to rationalize away what is clearly wrong by saying, “they did it first!” You have missed the point. Though others have done wrong, their wrong does not undo the wrong that is being pointed out here by Ryan Anderson. It still is profoundly wrong to ‘drown out’ voices by labeling them bigots. We owe one another the respect of listening to each other.
“We owe one another the respect of listening to each other.” Uh, mostly, no.
IMHO, better would be, “We ow one another the respect of being civil.” Which includes not calling each other names, particularly irrelevant names. I really have no interest whatsoever in listening to the other side. Totally disinterested. As Ken said, they will receive civility and normal everyday service just as everyone else, but no I don’t want to waste my time listening.
It’s sort of like someone telling me that I need to listen to Mr. Gosnell to understand his side or Mr. Tsarnaev to his side. Nope. Not interested at all.
How does you’re being totally disinterested in the other side promote civility?
Civility means that I never drop a “Q” or a “F” word (as it’s wrong to do so) to describe a group of people that are twisting the “natural function” (phusikan][xrasin] (Romans 1:26-Greek) that God created. The same is not true when I’m called a bigot for merely holding that view, let alone expressing it when asked my opinion/thought on it.
This article is an example of confirmation bias.
I think Anderson undermines his very point by including the example of President Obama in his op-ed. His “evolution” proved itself to be a cultural shift as it led many to re-examine previously held views. Maybe its more important to ask people who changed their minds about gay marriage whether they were guilty of bigotry or not.
Many pro-life advocates use “culture of death” and “pro-death” to stigmatize their opponents as supporters of infanticide or even genocide. There are elements of truth in that just as there is in claims of “bigotry” or being labeled a “bigot”. It is natural and typical in our society to cast your opponent as wrong, evil, or on the wrong side of history. I suppose that’s what more jarring. Being a bigot and right.
Two wrongs don’t make a right & I agree that this incivility is a problem–for both sides, full stop.
Anderson would have more credibility on the subject, however, if he had been telling his side of the fence to stop their own incivility. If he’s only complaining now b/cs the pro-gay marriage side appears ascendant then he runs the risk of being called hypocritical. The goose complaining of the gander as they say.
Well, the Supreme Court refused to delay the nullification of Prop 8 because, from what I could tell (and please correct me if I’m wrong) the complainants in this case failed to prove that they had suffered any loss of rights or status if the statue is lifted. Essentially, in saying this and in refusing to delay the ruling, the SCOTUS was saying that, indeed, the loss of rights suffered by religious conservatives through the diminution of their marriages is only metaphoric. Legalization of gay marriages may cause a metaphoric harm in the minds of those who disagree with the practice strongly, but the justices were unable to discern any quantifiable, calculable losses.
I guess it comes down this question, when you say that gay marriage is cheapening conventional or “Biblical” marriage, what do you mean? Ryan Anderson’s team has done a better argument at arguing against gay marriage than anyone else–mainly because the team has avoided any reference to religion, unlike anyone else–but the team still has not shown a literal, legally verifiable evidence that marriage as an institution will be worth less. It is all still fuzzy metaphors.
Only time will really tell, but by then it will be too late. I wonder if the SCOTUS would have justified no fault divorce by the same screwy logic.