When we act the way we wish they would
March 21st, 2014
The funny thing about jerks, bigots, blowhards, and idiots is that they truly believe that everybody else is just like them. And if their message is one no one else is saying, they assume that others have been cowed into silence, that the media is hiding the truth, and that the great silent majority is looking to them to speak what everyone really wishes they could say.
They also believe that their tactics are reasonable and ordinary and that their self-chosen enemies would act just the same if given the chance. No matter how atrocious their behavior, it’s justified by a belief that it’s war and you’re just as bad – or worse!
So it’s illuminating that this week we twice seen that assumption challenged.
First was the reported illness, and then death, of Fred Phelps. Although members of the Westboro Baptist Church positioned that the evil homosexuals were celebrating his death, for the most part the gay community was respectful. There have been no calls to picket Phelps’ funeral in retaliation. There have been only scattered declarations of hate and few have celebrated.
Because it wasn’t his politics or beliefs that made Fred so objectionable. It wasn’t that he “opposed homosexuality” that angered “the militant homosexuals”. Rather it was that his behavior of screaming hateful things during a person’s time of grief that is beyond the pale. And we want no part of that.
And the second example is far more amusing.
Bill Donahue, the leader of the Catholic League was one of the most strident (and absurd) voices calling for the exclusion of gay people from the Saint Patrick’s Parades in New York and Boston. And firmly convinced in the accuracy of his own narrative that gay people hate straights and poeple of faith and are “the real bigots”, Donahue set out to prove his point.
He filed a petition with the organizers of the New York Gay Pride Parade requesting that he be allowed to march under a “Straight is Great” banner. He was sure that this was a message that gay people would find offensive. And, being a hate-filled asshat, he assumed that gay people would act with the same animus and exclusion towards him that is Donahue’s standard action towards us.
But, of course, we don’t hate straight people. And we agree, straight actually is great – just like gay and bisexual. And, thought Donahue probably didn’t know it, many many straight people – Catholics, even – happily march in the parade each year to show their support for the community. Heck, some Catholic churches even have delegations.
So the organizers immediately said yes. Sarah Kate Ellis, the head of GLAAD and a fellow Irish New-Yorker, said she’d be happy to march with him.
The irony is, of course, that the last thing Donohue wants to do is march in a gay pride parade. And now, having been greeted with graciousness, he’s looking for a way to weasel out. (Newcivilrightsmovement)
“Their initial response was okay, you have to come to a training session,” Donohue said in an interview yesterday with NewsMax TV. “People have to wear LGBT paraphernalia … Now they are dancing. They are saying, well … we have our own rules and what not,” Donohue is claiming.
None of which is true.
We require all March registrants to have group leaders attend an event operations training. This is for the safety for our participants. The requirement is not unique to Mr. Donohue.
Mr. Donohue sought prior approval on his group’s slogan, “Straight is Great.” We acknowledged his message and said the text was fine. At no point have we instructed Mr. Donohue as to what must be printed on his group’s shirts.
These moments are important.
Despite how ignoble the Phelpses and the Donohues of the world are, they claim we are worse. And, absent any reason to believe otherwise, gullible people may believe them.
So I cherish the moments when given the choice whether to engage in retribution or to live the message we claim, we choose to rise above the temptations to mirror bad behavior and to instead and give kindness where we received cruelty and show graciousness where only animus has been offered.