I don't get angry easily. I have a very broad view of how people should live their lives and very few hard beliefs of my own. I find it very easy to see both sides of an argument. I like arguing, don't get me wrong, but I can do it from either side of most of the big controversial issues of our day without inconvenience. Arguing, for me, is like playing tennis with a friend. You don't keep score, you don't really care, and you do it until you feel like doing something else.
That is not the case when it comes to the rights of the people of my country.
Today I tweeted my frustration about New York State's inability to pass legislation that would make it legal for same-sex couples to marry. I then noticed a significant downtick in my followers. Putting two and two together, there were a bunch of people who saw my frustration of intolerance as a personal attack. I immediately (in anger, I might add) asked everyone who did not believe that all loving, monogamous couples should be able to get married to unfollow me.
This, of course, stirred up a flurry of re-tweets as well as a good bit of intelligent and non-hostile debate, for which I am extremely thankful. Since twitter isn't exactly a fantastic place to hold a debate (especially when you like to be verbose) I decided to post a bit here at nerdfighters.com.
There were a lot of different comments. I'm going to start with what I see as the most legitimate and them move to the more preposterous points.
1. Hank, by asking these people to unfollow, you're essentially shutting down the lines of communication. Do you think that's wise?
You're right, it's extremely unwise, and I am sorry. I'm angry. Angry people often do unwise things. I have no other excuse.
2. The people you're dealing with might be very young and not have had a chance to truly consider the beliefs they've been instilled with.
Another excellent point. Again, I pleed anger as my defense. It was stupid.
3. "Isn't it kind of intolerant to be angry at people for standing by their beliefs/religion?"
If there's anything I'm OK being intolerant of, it's intolerance. I'm not a pacifist, my tolerance isn't unlimited. I don't think there's nothing worth fighting for. The rights and equality of the people of my country is where I put my foot down. And I don't care where the intolerance springs from. If your relgion has a problem with 10% of the population of my country, then I have a problem with your religion and maybe you should examine your position as well. If you don't think you can discard a part of your religion because your religion is infallable, then you have not studied the history of your religion. Every religion is filled with examples the religion realizing it is wrong, and changing as a result. If you don't agree with your religion, don't think there's no room for change. The most loving, kind and tolerant people I know are Christians.
4. Believing that gays shouldn't marry isn't the same as being intolerant of gays.
Actually, I think it's exactly the same thing. You're saying that you don't have a problem with them, but that they shouldn't have access to the same institutions as you because they're different. You're saying that you don't hate them, but that they don't deserve the same rights that the rest of us have. People said the same thing about segregation and even slavery. Take a deeper look at your feelings, or the feelings of the people who have created this controversy. Do you really think that it comes from a place of love? Or does it come from a place of fear?
In conclusion, I think that marriage is fantastic. I think it is SO fantastic. I think it's a powerful and worthy institution. ANd I think it's disgusting that we are not allowing a huge portion of our population to participate in that institution. It makes me angry, it makes me sad, and it makes me ashamed. I'm sorry for cutting people out, I want this to be a conversation, but I don't want to portray this as a political disagreement that we need to debate. That's not what it is. This is, fundamentally, the denial of rights to a section of our population because of who they are. Calling it anything else, to my ears, is just playing pretend.