Thursday, August 2, 2012

Responding to a Chick Basher

Ha.  That was stupid of me.

Here I was, fully expecting to surf the 'Net today and find scant reference to Chick-fil-A's appreciation day yesterday.  Anti-gay marriage folks would have made their point, and pro-gay-marriage folks would be hoping the whole thing would just go away.

But it didn't just go away, at least on the various news sites I visited.  Once I realized people still wanted to cheer and gripe and pontificate about gay marriage, I decided, "hey, why not just go whole-hog, and see what Huffington Post has to say?"

Turns out, they had several articles on their home page, all blasting Chick-fil-A and its customers, and comisserating with its employees who are gay.  Like so happens on Huffington Post, as well as some far-right-wing websites, accuracy was the prime victim of prejudiced journalism in all of the articles I bothered to even browse.  But some of the most egregious rhetorical vitriol came from Noah Michelson, editor of HuffPost's gay-themed pages.

In his curiously titled editorial today, "This is Not a First-Amendment Issue", Michelson commits so many journalistic mistakes, it seems he's practically begging for somebody to educate him on this issue.

So I've taken him up on his challenge, and would have e-mailed him a copy of my point-by-point responses to his article, but HuffPost does not give out his e-mail address.  Still, if he's got that nifty web-scanning software that searches for links to his articles, hopefully he'll find this page on my blog and seriously consider the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

His article appears in italics, and my responses are bolded:

If I hear one more person say that he or she is supporting Chick-fil-A because "This is a First Amendment issue," I'm going to jump out of one of the Huffington Post's fifth-floor windows and swan dive into oncoming trafficCome in off the ledge, Noah; you're going to contradict yourself in your second-to-the-last paragraph, so don't bother jumping.

It seems I can't open Twitter or look at Facebook or read a website without hearing that refrain. It was the chant of many of the Chick-fil-A fans who were in attendance yesterday at "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," which was dreamt up by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee to support "freedom of speech" and President and COO Dan Cathy's right to believe that gay people do not deserve to get married (or -- if you want to dress it up -- "shouldn't be able to redefine traditional marriage"). But make no mistake -- this is not about the First Amendment.  When did Cathy say gay people don't "deserve" to get married?  This is not about "deserving" anything; it's about understanding the role of government-sanctioned marriage:  the general perpetuation of society.

I fully support Cathy's right to say whatever he wants (and, in fact, so does the ACLU). But just because someone can say something doesn't mean they should -- or that we should celebrate him or her for doing so, especially when what they're saying is, at its core, promoting a culture of hate against a group of people.  At least you waited until your third paragraph before invoking the gay lobby's "culture of hate" doublespeak.  Isn't "promoting a culture of hate against a group of people" what you're doing?

I have a hard time believing that there would be lines around the block at Burger King if its CEO gave an interview where he or she stated, "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage... black and white people should not be allowed to get married,'" and had also donated millions of dollars to white supremacist organizations.  Where does the Bible teach that people of different races or ethnicities can't be married?

Similarly, if the head of Taco Bell came out and said, "I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about -- women should be the property of their husbands and anything otherwise is against traditional marriage," I don't think we'd see food courts packed with folks rabidly demanding 10-packs of tacos.  Where does the Bible teach that women should be the property of their husbands?  I'm sure Cathy's wife would laugh out loud at this paragraph.

So why is it different when it comes to queer people? For some reason this country still thinks that it's OK to treat us like we are, at best, just not quite as worthy to have all the rights afforded straight or cis-gendered people or, at worst, just plain evil. Many of these statements are bolstered by religious arguments using the Bible as ammunition, but, as it's been pointed out time and again, the Bible demands we do or don't do a lot of things that we no longer do or don't do (like that we should own slaves and we shouldn't eat popcorn shrimp), and Jesus himself never uttered a single word about being queer (and if he wanted us all to be "traditionally married" so badly, you'd think the guy himself would have gotten married).  First, I'm not sure what "cis-gendered people" are, but I'm assuming that's a typo for "cross-gendered," right?  Second, marriage is not a "right," it's a "sacrament."  Third, according to the Bible, we're all evil, you and me both.  Fourth, please provide references for where the Bible says we're supposed to own slaves.  I think you're just trying to be cute with the popcorn shrimp thing.  At least you've finally gotten one thing right:  Jesus never uttered the word "queer."  In fact, the word "queer" is nowhere in the Bible.  But I think you're smart enough to realize that Jesus is one part of the Trinity (also a word not found in the Bible), and the totality of what the Trinity teaches comprises our doctrine.  The reason Christ didn't get married is because the "church" is his "bride."  OK, so that's not a "traditional" marriage, either, but Christ's relationship to the church is modeled by earthly marriage.  That's one reason none of us can tinker with what marriage is.

This is about a lot more than just marriage. It's about the millions of dollars that Chick-fil-A has donated to anti-gay and anti-trans groups who are working tirelessly to ensure that we never receive the same protections and rights that straight and cis-gendered people receive simply for being born non-queer (and who are in some instances endeavoring to "cure" queer people of their sexuality/gender identities).  OK, you have something of a point on this one, because plenty of experts doubt that sexuality/gender identities can be as easily modified as some therapists claim.  To the extent that some of these studies may not be entirely scientific or even theologically-rigorous, dialog over the ways to address these concerns could have merit - if you're respectful and have an open mind.  However, plenty of sin patterns exist from which the Bible never guarantees we'll be able to free ourselves.  I'm fat because I'm a glutton, and I fight food every day.  As far as you not receiving the same protections and rights that heterosexuals get, America already has plenty of laws against discrimination for anybody who wants to exercise them.

When you buy food from Chick-fil-A, you're basically saying, "Here, take this money and see to it that queer people can not only not get married, but that they also can't adopt, can be fired simply for their sexuality and/or gender identity and continue to live in a society where they are regularly terrorized, mutilated, murdered and driven to suicide." Because that is what these groups do.  Um, in what year did you write this paragraph?  Gay couples can adopt.  Gay people cannot be fired for their sexuality and/or gender identity.  If somebody is gay and works for, say, a religious organization that enforces a morality clause in their employee agreements, and that gay person is identified as somebody engaging in homosexual behavior, then the company, depending on how the agreement was implemented, may have the right to fire that employee, just as they would an alcoholic, drug abuser, or somebody who lied on their resume.  Or, indeed, carried on an affair behind their spouse's back.  Or got somebody else pregnant out of wedlock.  To the extent that employers need to have better reasons for why they fire people, then I'll agree with you - equity in both hiring and firing anybody should exist in all workplaces.  As far as anybody being terrorized, mutilated, murdered, and driven to suicide for any reason, that person needs to call 911, and report the crime taking place against them.

I, too, am in love with the First Amendment, and I want everyone to have the right to say whatever they want -- even if it's totally bonkers. But do I have to sit around and take it? Nope. And I sure as hell don't have to give those people my money to use against me. And neither do you.  Tisk, tisk; your language, young man!  When I was growing up, my parents wanted us to say "H-E-double-hockey-sticks."  And no, generally speaking, none of us have to like it when somebody else expresses an opinion contrary to our own.  And if you don't want to spend your money on Chick-fil-A's food, then nobody's forcing you to.  Hey - I don't buy much of their food anymore either.  Remember?  I have a love for food, especially their waffle fries.

So the next time someone says to you, "This is a First Amendment issue," or, "Chick-fil-A isn't anti-gay, it's just pro-traditional marriage," send them a link to one of the heartbreaking stories we feature on Gay Voices on a daily basis. Might I suggest the recent one about the lesbian in Nebraska who had the word "dyke" carved into her skin and her house set on fire? Or maybe they'd prefer to read the story of one of the LGBT teens who have killed themselves because they couldn't take the non-stop abuse inflicted upon them or just didn't see how they could function in a world that is so agonizingly anti-LGBT. Because that is exactly what Chick-fil-A is using its freedom of speech and its customers' dollars to support.  Wow, if you think Chick-fil-A endorses physical torture, arson, or suicide, then please do some more research on your article here.  I don't know any of the executives at Chick-fil-A, but I have a feeling every one of them would say the same thing as me: violence against anybody - whether it's over their sexuality or not - should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.  Don't let those hick preachers in North Carolina, or those felons from Nebraska, speak for the rest of us who have no ill will towards the gay community.

Indeed, many gays like to think those of us who are pro-traditional-marriage are, by default, "anti-gay."  Well, some people who claim to be Christians are just bigots.  Those of us who actually read our Bibles know that yes, homosexuality is a sin, but a lot of things are sinful.  God expects us to know what sin is, but in terms of dealing with it, we're not to tease people who struggle with particular sins, or berate them, or even "hate" them.  Being gay is no greater or lesser a sin than any other sin people commit.  There's only one unpardonable sin, and that's denying what the Holy Spirit (a member of the Trinity) teaches about Christ.

With all due respect, Noah, I'd also like to encourage you, instead of rhetoric and vitriol, to research three topics related to the defense of traditional marriage:

1. the simple reason why civil governments endorse heterosexual, monogamous marriage;
2. why marriage didn't originate in governments, but as a divine ordinance from God,
3. and why people who love Christ are compelled to speak of His truth.

And please remember:  you can't expect the entire evangelical community in America to handle this dialog well, since we're all sinners?  I'm trying to concentrate on protecting the sanctity of marriage, not whatever sins people may be committing on their way to the altar.  Someday, you'll be as accountable to God for how you treat His ordinances, just like I will be.

Of course, you can choose to disagree with me on all of this.  Like you say, we live in America, where we both have the freedom to say whatever we want - "even if it's totally bonkers.

Why is the fact that we may disagree any cause for hatred?
_____

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