I don't respect you

Okay folks, I’m pissed off. I’m just gonna warn you in advance.

There have been some conversations lately about the role of religion in, say, the suicide of gay teenagers.

“I don’t believe gay people should get married and I believe gay people are going to be punished by god, but I don’t hate them and I would never be violent against them,” say the religious fuckwits. And they genuinely believe they are not part of the problem.

Well of course they are, but that’s not my point.

Look, let me be unambiguous about this:

If you believe gay people – or indeed any people – are going to hell, then I don’t respect you. I don’t just not respect your beliefs, I don’t respect YOU. As a person. Morally. I feel morally superior to you. I have contempt for you and I think the world will be a better place when you are dead.

I’m not participating in a dialog here. I’m not creating an environment of mutual understanding. I’m not trying to see the world through your eyes. I know what the world looks like through your eyes and it’s a vision that will never, ever become a reality.

The hard part is: am I, with my bitterness and intolerance, any different from the bigots? Am I not myself a bigot? Am I not therefore a hypocrite?


For two reasons:

(1) Having contempt for the culturally dominant narrative is not the same as having contempt for the target narrative. Believing that gay people are going to hell gives a cultural purchase to hatred and violence. Like a little bump on a rock where over years barnacles accumulate, the idea of sex as sin is a foothold for discrimination, bullying, harassment, and violence.

Believing that people who believe that gay people are morally inferior, are morally inferior (complicated predication) is the tide smoothing away that bump on the rock. The minority, target perspective – the “intolerant of intolerance” perspective – is a fundamentally responsive, rather than reactionary, perspective. It’s protective of the minority. It takes the punches of the dominant view. It absorbs and buffers violence, where the dominant view commits violence.

(2) This is the really big one: all opinions are not created equal.

The magic of culture is that we move – slowly, messily, painfully, non-linearly, but inexorably – toward justice. Toward equality. The massive blob of humanity is filled with diverse opinions, but the blob moves in a direction; some opinions will be winnowed out. In the natural selection of morals, ideas of hate and discrimination lose. It’s inevitable.

There is no finish line; peace and justice and equality are never complete, can never be complete. But the cultural process of humans is inherently inclusive. We are moving in that direction and cannot but continue so, at the largest scale of analysis. Over time and space, we grow more just.

Religion has been used as a justification for slavery, for the oppression of women, for genocide. And religion has been used to speak out against each of those. It’s not about religion; it’s about you and your wrong opinions.

You “religious” fuckwads, don’t have to respect me – I don’t ask that you do – and it doesn’t matter if you don’t because you have already lost. And I refuse to respect you because that will slow down the movement; the longer it takes us progressives to put an end to your pernicious bullshit, the more kids die.

Not all opinions are created equal. Your beliefs are not innately respectable; the belief that gay people are going to hell is, indeed, contemptible, and I am at peace feeling contempt for those who possess that belief. I am content because I know not simply which way the wind is blowing, but what force causes the wind to blow in one direction or another.

And justice shall roll down like waters, doncha know, and righteousness like ever-flowing stream.

I should probably re-read this before I post it, tone it down; I should probably add caveats about how this is just my opinion etc. But dammit I’m fucking ANGRY. And sometimes righteous anger is the only appropriate feeling.