gay rights

Not All Opinions Are Tolerable

In every election year, the progressive folk start talking about tolerance. Actually, progressive folk talk about tolerance a lot. It’s kind of our thing.

I’m a Unitarian Universalist, which of course ALSO means that I hear a lot of talk about tolerance. One of our seven principles is that every person has inherent worth and dignity. I believe this on a theoretical level. Some days I even believe it on an actual level. In fact, I always believe it enough to be, for example, anti torture. Congratulations Al-Queda, you have enough inherent worth and dignity that you should NOT be waterboarded!

Here’s the thing, though. Tolerance is great. In all seriousness, obviously you need to treat people well. Don’t be an asshole, is what I’m saying. But I feel like tolerance often gets confused with the idea that all opinions are automatically valid, because TOLERANCE!

But…the thing is not all opinions are valid.

The opinion that women should not have agency over their own bodies and should not be able to make decisions about their own reproductive choices is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that gay folks should not have the same rights as straight folks is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that people of color are somehow less than is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that global warming is not happening is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that torture is acceptable is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that “some women rape good” or it’s the victim’s fault if she was drunk or wearing a miniskirt, is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that religion or football or Boy Scouts gives you the right to cover up the systematic sexual abuse of children  is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that religion is an excuse for subjugation of any kind is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that  hitting children is good parenting is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

There are lots of things that reasonable people can argue about. The drinking age. Whether marijuana should be legal. How best to improve our schools. Cloth or disposable diapers. Merit pay for teachers. The most ethical way to eat. Whether to use a clicker or just treats to train your dog. How to die well.  Whether goat cheese or Parmesan is better. The best kind of chocolate. What animals can be in zoos. Etc etc. And then there are things that are not debatable. There are opinions that are just not tolerable. If you hold these beliefs, well–hold them, fine. But my rights end where yours begin, and if you want to hold them, don’t you even think about putting them on anyone else. I’m tired of hearing about how good progressives or good UUs or whatever are tolerant. We can be tolerant in the sense that we do not hurt others, but that does not mean that we have to put up with opinions that are not tolerable. There is a right and a wrong, at least some of the time. It isn’t always absolute and there are lots of grays and nobody is ever all bad–as they say, even Hitler was a vegetarian–but there are still right and wrong. And the far right? They are just wrong. So yeah, that means I’m not going to respect you if you vote for Romney/Ryan. Because it is not ethical. And I can be tolerant and still assert your inherent worth and dignity if you vote for that ticket–but that doesn’t mean you are right, or that your opinions are tolerable.


I Have Run Out Of Reasons To Be Hopeful About The American People

Not you, obviously, because you are pretty and delightful. And not my beautiful, smart, compassionate youth group kids, or indeed many of the people here in my liberal enclave. But the American People, taken as a whole? Oh yeah. We are DONE.

Need evidence?

GOP audience BOOS GAY SOLDIER. If you are planning on voting for any of these people, we are so over.

That should be enough right there. But there’s also Troy Dvis.

And the guy Rick Perry basically murdered.

And–you know what? I’m not looking up any more links for you. Country’s going to hell in a handbasket, that’s all you need to know. If you have conflicting evidence, I will happily examine it.



It is so good, so good, SO GOOD to have good news in this new world order in which the war on women is barely acknowledged, in which a huge number of people are denied basic rights.



Quoth the Gray Lady: BREAKING NEWS10:31 PM ET Gay Marriage Approved by New York Senate.

(MAYBE I got a little teary, there).

33-29, and the crowd went WILD. the Senate pres. kept banging his gavel and there was screaming and clapping and it warmed the cockles of my little heart.

OK, LGBT folks. We all know how this fight will end, and now we are one step closer.



Things That Make Me Feel Marginally Better About The World

1. This. I am trying to spin it into a positive. At least someone wrote a GOOD rape prevention list? There you go.

2. The Red Sox are making an It Gets Better video. If I followed sports, which I don’t, the Sox would probably be my favorite team. Also, I hate the Yankees. Anyway, it’s always good to have sports teams making these vids, because at the very least it ought to give some bullies second thoughts.

3. Now you can review the Abortionplex on yelp! YES. and who says feminists can’t be funny?

4. Veronica Mars. See my post yesterday. I feel awful still–really horrible cold–and I cannot focus on anything serious because I feel like I can barely breathe. But I’ve seen VM and on rewatch it just gets better and better. I’m basically starting the first season over: somehow I don’t want to watch the 3rd season and I’ve only watched some of the 2nd. The Lilly Kane mystery really was the best.

5. Oh, and the existence of dry shampoo. I love that stuff.

6. Some of my favorite neighbors are moving tonight, and I will miss them horribly. However,  I did get to spend time with their delightful 3 year old yesterday. We were both, as she says, “a little bit sick” (well, I was/am a lot sick) but we enjoyed making cookies, snuggling and reading books anyway.


On Being Nice

The other day a student in one of my classes made several homophobic comments. Without revealing too much detail, this student is not a person that, because of some of her own personal learning/social issues, I did not feel I could jump all over–I felt I would destroy her. And I don’t want to. Well, I do, but I also don’t.

This has been making me think. (I hate that!)

The person I want to be is definitely conflicting with the person I actually am. In theory, I would love to be the sort of person who has the patience and big-heartedness to accept everyone’s opinions, to believe that all beliefs are equally valid. I want to be the sort of person that can rise above, not get bogged down with petty concerns (my power point presentation is going to be better!) and sure, there are times when I can do that.

And there are other times–many, many other times–when I want to smack someone’s head in. At least verbally. When I want to use the fact that I am reasonably smart to smack someone down because I find what they are saying hateful and I experience it as bullying, whether or not it is intended that way.

I was combative all day. I could barely look at this person. A friend and I were chatting in the elevator and yes, we used the word fuck, on a college campus. A prof I didn’t recognize informed us that he would “make an issue of it” as long as he teaches at UDC if we don’t find another way to express ourselves or some shit. And I confess,  I would like nothing better than for someone to make an issue of it, because then there would be a clear, easy enemy, someone to fight against.

All of which to say, trying to be tolerant and kind, create safe spaces, etc? It’s really fucking hard.

Wowza: Gymnastics, Religion, and Clusterfucks

So recently I posted an interview with an NCAA gymnast who said that she found the religiosity of her teammates trying at times. Later she was asked to have me take the interview down. I don’t know the whole story, all I know is she was told that she didn’t go through policy. Or something. Anyway, what she had to say has erupted all over the gymnastics internet. There are multi-page threads devoted to this interview. I love Courtney Kupets and Corrie Lothrop but they apparently weren’t as interesting when interviewed!
It’s a fascinating thing. I was tempted to leave the interview up, but I didn’t want repercussions to slam down on this athlete. On the one hand, I feel like she is an adult and I did say I’d be blogging it; however, goodness knows I have said too much occasionally and had to suffer the consequences. I remain really tempted to leave it, as I think it was a very good and very illuminating interview, but I don’t want to hurt this gymnast. Argh. Any advice?
Anyway, the interview really made me think. If I were a gymnast on a team that included several very religious gymnasts, I would have a hard time. I know, I’m a churchgoer, but I’m also a Unitarian Universalist–a bit different than your average hardcore Christian. I don’t always believe in god/God. I almost never believe in an afterlife. I am super socially liberal (ya think?) what with my insistence that all Teh Gays should be allowed to get married and we should, you know, TRUST WOMEN. I know, crazy ideas. I’m obviously going to hell. I get extremely annoyed, to put it mildly, when folks start using the bible/religion to justify hate. Nope, that’s hate, pure and simple.
But I digress.
Suffice to say that if I were a gymnast on a very religious team I too would feel uncomfortable. And apparently, on this team, the toned down version of religion is blessing food and group prayer. Now. That is NOT toned down. Separation of church and state much? If the students who find prayer helpful want to pray before meets, that is most certainly their right, and I’m sure it helps them perform better. (If there is a God, I doubt s/he is super worried about a gymnastics meet, what with earthquakes and poverty and abuse and things like that). But group prayer? No way. Not okay.
So that was interesting.
I know, I know, there’s no requirement for non-religious gymnasts to pray. But it’s a bit like the Pledge of Allegiance (I never say the Under God, do you? See: separation of church and state. See also: FUNDAMENTAL TENETS OF AMERICA). If the entire class is saying the Under God, don’t you think you are going to feel damn awkward not saying it? Don’t you think it might make you a bit of an outcast?
For the record, I don’t have a problem with, say, BYU praying together before a meet. I have a problem with BYU, sometimes, but not their praying, because they are a religious school. Says so on the website.
Also for the record: I don’t have a problem with religious folks. I have a REALLY BIG problem with those religious folks who use their beliefs to oppress others.
Bottom line: there are two sad things about this story. One is that this gymnast apparently didn’t feel especially safe in her beliefs on her team. The other is that saying that and having it acknowledged apparently kicked up some trouble for her. Given that she is an adult and responsible for her own decisions, I find this a bit stunning. I’m sure there is a media policy at this university. She probably didn’t follow it. But as a writer, it makes me really angry that I have to silence myself as well. As you can see, I am referring to this gymnast without using a name or school. If you comment please do the same. It’s a shame. I really don’t want to. I really don’t like censorship.