Friday, November 21, 2008

Refining the Plea for Tolerance

Thank you, everyone, for your responses to my last post.  I especially appreciate Dave's comment.

Dave said:

So when women were refused the vote - they should have just accepted the rule of law and just shut up? Black people should have been happy with slavery because the law demanded it? Repression leads to protest ... bigotry to outrage ... that TOO is part of the democratic process.

I agree with you that it's a good thing women have the vote, and human rights don't hang on the color of skin.  (Understatement reigns supreme. ;o)  I'm not one to champion the tyrranical nature of democracy in the least.  If memory serves, it was Benjamin Franklin who said "Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner."  Tyrrany of the majority it is, and that's why America began as a republic.

(Btw . . . did I miss something? I don't remember championing bigotry or prejudice . . . if someone would point out how I managed to do that, I'd be happy to edit and revise, as that wasn't my goal.)

I completely agree with Dave's closing comment: protest and outrage have been, and continue to be, a part of the democratic process. They are a normal and often healthy human response to events in the world. I completely accept that as true. I don't accept that vandalism or violence against peaceful people is a necessary part of democracy.

I endeavored to say that I wish the vandalism, intimidation, and hateful screaming by protesters would stop. Those in opposition to Prop 8 have destroyed property, shouted epithets and picked fights with those whom they believed to have supported Prop 8.  I'm sure there have been some of the Prop 8 supporters, as well, who have been less than peaceful . . . but I have yet to hear about more than one . . . and he was covered in spittle with a damaged truck before he finally gave one of the male spitters a bloody nose.  The current legal climate does a good job of keeping them in check (which is a good end to that means, imho).

My cry is simply for decency . . . for respect . . . and for rational behavior. Destruction and anger only leads to more of the same. Peaceful protest is excellent--it raises awareness, and opens the doors for education and dialogue. A number of the protests surrounding the outcome of the Prop 8 vote (those I've seen video and heard accounts of) are a far cry from that.

Add to that the unsettling thought that protests and rallies in history which have used anger and mob politics to fuel their cause have been linked to miserably failed political/economic systems, (USSR, anyone?), and this situation surely gives one pause.

All of the fighting and conflict over this makes one wonder whether or not government should have anything to do with marriage at all.

2 comments:

Shan said...

Here's my opinion. You delicately avoided saying, in your Prop 8 "be nice" post, what your position is on the actual issue. I can appreciate that - I use the same technique sometimes in blog posts, wen I don't want to get into a debate. But the tone of that post suggests that you are against gay marriage. And the tone of the comments suggest that your readers are against gayness, married or not. The post - the 'rational behaviour' remarks - come off sounding smug - as if the vote went the way you wanted it to, so now you fold your hands, cast your eyes to heaven, and say piously 'can't we all just get along?'

So what happened when I read that post (and I haven't gone back to read all the comments yet) was that I wanted to comment in defense of gay marriage - wanted to speak out against the vote itself. No doubt that same feeling motivated Dave in his comment.

Destruction and anger - I see what you are trying to say. But imagine you have been living with Vern for fifteen loving, monogamous years, and all you want is to get married. It looks like it might finally happen, and WITHOUT you having to go to Canada, and then BAM, a bunch of homosexuals write a referendum saying marriage should only be between people of the same gender, and all the homosexuals turn out to vote on it, and now your union is not only unlawful, but unnatural. Don't you think you might want to throw a punch or two?

Annalea said...

Absolutely. I completely and totally see how and why those exhibiting violent and angry behavior could feel that way.

However.

One of the definitions of civilization includes controlling those types of feelings so we can live together without being ruled by fear.

Ugh. I'm so sorry if I sounded smug or pious. That is something I never, ever intended. (Ah, the beauties of modern communication.)

Whether or not the Prop 8 vote went the way I wanted it to, it is (for the moment) settled. And I find it really hard to swallow that it's okay for members of the group who have loudly proclaimed tolerance and equality for all suddenly exhibiting such incredible acts of hatred, intolerance, and prejudice. This behavior will, without doubt, seriously harm the prospects of the equal rights movement in the future, as they're making any opposition all that much stronger.