No talk today about the Sequester, the late government shut-down or the delayed argument over the Debt Ceiling. But there are parallels between those constipations and today’s observations: Why do people blindly believe things that allegedly took place over 2,000 years ago, but dismiss out of hand the irrefutable facts that surround them right in plain sight? Take climate change for example, but that’s science, so no one who truly needs to be reached is paying attention. Society is changing and broadminded people have come to understand that human beings are at our best when we embrace diversity as opposed to isolationism and prejudice. That said, inherited prejudice is one of the most potent yet toxic forces known throughout history. It can bring down entire civilizations–just look at what is happening in the Middle East among peoples who worship the same god and follow the same faith–but for reasons no one can remember or articulate, they’re devoted to hating each other.
On occasion I hear variations of the phrase “there are extremists on both the left and the right in this country.” And while I don’t question the existence of extremists on either side of any issue, there’s a fundamental difference in methodology and desired outcome between the extreme left and the extreme right wings in America. The extreme left would like to be extremely left alone to live their lives in peace—whereas the extreme right likes to stick their noses in everyone else’s business–especially if it has anything to do with the other people’s governance over their own genitals. Where the left would like to be left in peace—the right likes to stir up conflagrations in the name of the Prince of Peace–who would most certainly not be on board with the ideologies put forward in His name.
There IS no mention in the New Testament one-way or the other about homosexuality. That however does not prevent right wing Christians from engaging in boisterous—no—make that blatantly obnoxious protests at peaceful gay gatherings. The “Christians” are determined to “save” gay people in spite of having nothing whatsoever to offer that would entice anyone into their fold. Watching a bunch of knuckleheads holding signs that read “God Hates Fags” doesn’t make me want to stop smoking anymore than it makes me want to attend church. Nor does it make me inclined to go against the grain of my own inherent sexual orientation. Why would it?
This past weekend my little Philadelphia neighborhood held our annual OutFest, which is a six square block street fair with food, music, public information booths and vendors. Every year we get either the Westboro Baptist bullies or some other pray-away-the-gay “annoyance group” fully armed with megaphones and offensive signs and literature. They blare their opinions and non-provable mythology at seven thousand decibels above the threshold of pain because they have nothing better to do than perform endless feats of amplified Turrets. I can guarantee you that if were I to gather together a group of LGBT people with megaphones and hateful signs outside of one of their churches to disrupt Sunday services, I’d be tossed in jail along with whoever was with me. At gay rallies, these “Christian” disruptors are assigned plain-clothes bodyguards by the local police department. But no one protects the gay community from those agitators.
When attending gay rallies, what a certain sector of misguided Christians are busy protesting is a lifestyle that has nothing to do with them, and effects them in no way other than their own choice to impose themselves into making judgments about the lives of other people. If LGBT people have sex, hold hands, fall in love, dance together or get matching tattoos and nose rings it in no way effects right wing Christians–nor does it cause our lifestyle to to splash up against anyone else who’s minding their own business. But try telling that to a right wing Christian. Those people aren’t inclined to be receptive to coherent logic–but who needs logic when you’ve got dogma on your side?
For decades dogmatic Christian protestors have become a tiresome staple at gay rights rallies across the nation. Most people try to tune them out as best they can. Other people take photos of the Jesus freaks–often with friends mugging in the foreground. During last weekend’s festivities that’s what a friend of mine did along with his partner. They were taking photos of themselves with Christian apes in the background —but much like standing too close to the apes at the zoo, doing so can be hazardous to your health. Perhaps they got too close to God’s own Troglodytes or someone simply panicked for no reason, but my gentle friends were manhandled, thrown to the ground cuffed and tossed in jail until the following day for simply taking a photograph of Jesus freaks. Philadelphia plainclothes police came to the rescue—but not to the people who had every right to expect to have a good time and be safe at their own gay pride rally—but rather to protect the out-of-place Christian protestors who won no “souls” and accomplished nothing more than strained vocal chords for their trouble. No converts. None. Nun. Nada.
Newsflash to the Christian right: You’re wrong. And pushing forward very confused looking young men at us telling everyone within earshot of your public address system that these poor simpletons are “EX-gays” proves nothing. Well at least you can’t prove it by me, I haven’t slept with any of them, nor would I—they weren’t a particularly attractive bunch of specimens. At one point, the mouthpiece with the megaphone shouted: “Homosexuality is ugly, and God don’t like ugly.” If that is indeed the case, then right wing Christianity is long past due for a massive beauty makeover.
What happened this past weekend is indicative of what is happening across the nation. A noisy, ill-informed bunch of know-nothings, determined to force their will on everyone else (logic and common sense be damned) forge ahead jousting windmills in favor of doing anything constructive. True Christians are gathering food and clothing for the poor–or volunteering time helping to educate underprivileged children–not wasting their time getting bent out of shape over who chooses to love each other. It’s the same dynamic that’s happening with our endless crisis’s in Washington, D.C. and it’s what’s happening to personal liberty. In fact it’s one of my major beefs with the Libertarian movement: Liberty is to be reserved for the people who fall in lockstep with them, and the rest of the world be damned. At my neighborhood gay pride rally the rights of a very noisy few trumped the rights of the majority present for what would otherwise have been a peaceful, unified purpose. Where can people turn to be protected from from toxic religious proselytizers?
I’m all for the right to peaceful protest, but what can be done to prevent the “few” from harassing and holding the “many” as hostage? That question holds true whether the subject is human rights or how we’re governed in the nation’s capitol. Locally, I want to see an ordinance put in place here in Philadelphia forbidding protestors directed against minority groups (of any description) from getting any closer than 100 feet from the outer perimeter of the area legally designated and licensed for the official rally. Sadly, that’s about as likely as administering intellectual aptitude tests to prospective congresspeople. Among other things, our Constitution protects the individual’s right to exercise undiluted stupidity. But when do the rest of us get protections from dimwits? And that includes Philadelphia’s high-handed police force–so many of whom peaked while they were still bullying their way through puberty as high school hall monitors. When as a nation are we going to stop allowing ourselves to be held hostage by a small but noisy gaggle of the most devoutly delusional in society? And why for some peculiar reason do they deserve special protections while the rest of us do not…? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXjlVk9bB-o
– Disassociated Press, 10/16/2013