NO MORE POLITENESS
By Mike Moore
February 13, 2012
This article is not about sports or beer. It does not indicate any official stance by this website, nor does it reflect the views of any of the other writers. This is simply me, Mike, using an available public forum to say something that I feel compelled to say, and am posting it here because I’m the Editor-in-Chief and I do what I want.
The gay marriage debate came flooding back into topical conversation last week after the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down California’s Proposition 8, declaring that it “operates with no apparent purpose but to impose on gays and lesbians, through the public law, a majority’s private disapproval.” And with that, all of the same talking points returned from a few months of silence, with proponents of legalizing gay marriage talking about “dignity,” while those who oppose it talk about “sanctity.” So much has been said over and over by both sides that the arguments, frankly, are white noise.
There is one statement, however, that nobody dare say because it would be too inflammatory. When dealing with matters so closely tied to personal beliefs and private lives, there is the assumption that one must only attack the stance and not the person taking it. That, I feel, is incredibly flawed. The person takes the stance because of who they are and what they believe, so trying to separate the two is merely an exercise in political correctness.
What I am getting to is this, and believe me when I say that I choose my words very carefully: anyone who believes that it should be illegal for a gay couple to marry is an asshole. Not “being an asshole,” but categorically and unequivocally an asshole. While it is tempting to make concessions for those with deeply-held religious beliefs, friends or family members who support Proposition 8 or any other such piece of legislation, or to just ignore that detail and instead focus on how nice of a person they are, doing so is simply a way of escaping the truth that anyone who wishes to use the law to, as Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt says, “lessen the status and human dignity” of a person is, without question, an asshole.
This is not a moral argument about whether gay marriage is right or wrong, because that is a personal belief and, as Rhett Butler says, “I don’t give a damn” what your personal beliefs are. And you should not give a damn about the personal beliefs of others because… wait for it… THEY’RE PERSONAL! You can think whatever you want to think and believe whatever you want to believe—that’s cool. But the moment you try to forcefully impose your own personal beliefs on others who may or may not share that belief, especially when it is to the detriment of a group of people, you are an asshole.
Imagine if instead of simply knocking on your door and handing out pamphlets, Jehovah’s Witnesses stormed into your house with a court order declaring that you and your family join their church. Would this not be a major breach of your personal life and an overextension of the law? Would they not be assholes? As described, this would be a group of people who believe that their religion and morality are correct and absolute, and thus should be treated as law. Aside from the theatrics, it is no different than gay marriage opponents enacting legislation that extends into the private lives of their fellow citizens and conforming the law to their beliefs.
I know people who vehemently disagree with me on this point. Most are kind-natured, and all are very polite. They are what you would call “good people,” except that they do not believe gays should be allowed to marry. They would not consider themselves bigots, but rather say that they value the traditional family unit as a necessary aspect of a successful society. They cite hedonistic pursuits and an absence of sexual restraint as aggravating factors in the fall of ancient empires such as Persia and Rome. Some even say that if a gay couple really wanted to get married, they should move to a country that will allow it—no one is stopping them. Underneath all of these arguments, and any other that can be levied in the fight against gay marriage, is just a belief that it is wrong. That is simply no grounds on which to affect other peoples’ lives, and certainly is not substantial support for legislation.
By pursuing these interests, supporters of Proposition 8 and everyone who voted in favor of it considered their own personal views as law and sought to make a victimless crime out of the happiness of others. It really is a big enough act of social aggression to overshadow good deeds, volunteer hours, and charity donations and qualify even the most saintly of us all as an asshole. It takes arrogance to believe that your own moral code is correct and that anyone who disagrees with it is wrong. It takes being an asshole to shove that moral code down someone’s throat, and that is exactly what supporters of Proposition 8 did.
As I type this, I wonder whom of my friends and family have I just lambasted from the safety of my keyboard? If they read this and confront me about it, what will I say? Ideally, I will have the fiber to stand my ground and tell them, without polite concession, that the law is not a tool to promote a specific morality, and that by doing so they are causing real people incredible amounts of undue pain. I will tell them that their goal has no purpose. I will tell them that in thirty years, people will mock their belief and joke about how archaic it sounds, that they will in a short time become a punch line. I hope that I have it in me to look them in the eye and say, with the upmost sincerity and with no hesitation, “You are an asshole.”
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