Tonight I realized something about myself.
I am just as intolerant as those who are opposed to LGBT rights.
I have come to sincerely believe that anyone who does not support 100% of my rights is someone who hates me.
I have come to believe that anyone who does not support 100% of my rights is someone only acting out of prejudice and hatred.
Because of this, I literally have come to stereotype and generalize entire states and countries.
A few months ago when my Mom merely suggested the idea of going to Law School in Idaho I told her:
“I would not feel safe there. I would never go to a place where I would not feel safe.”
Intellectually I know that not everyone in the State of Idaho is someone that hates me or wants to hurt me. Yet those were the first words out of my mouth.
I didn’t always feel this way.
So what happened?
Thinking about it tonight I attribute it to two things. My laser like focus on the 2012 Election and the two Gay Rights cases at the Supreme Court.
To address the Supreme Court Cases first:
I have read all of the opinions in both the Windsor and Hollingsworth case. I have read the district court opinions, and the circuit court opinions. I’ve also read up on previous gay rights Supreme Court Jurisprudence. These include the two cases of Romer v. Evans in 1996 and Lawrence v. Texas in 2003. I have taken the wrong personal message out of all of these rulings and opinions.
They essentially say that any anti gay law is one that is passed out of prejudice. Prejudice is a pretty ugly word right? Reading that in all these opinions I’ve realized that if all those laws are passed out of prejudice, all the people who make those laws must be prejudiced too right? All those people must be passing laws out of hatred and prejudice. After all the Supreme Court says they did. They’ve said that’s their only reason. Therefore the logic follows that every single Oregon voter who voted for Measure 36 in 2004 and every California voter that voted yes on Proposition 8 in 2008 must have been acting out of hate or prejudice.
In reading these words this way, I’ve missed something else entirely. I’ve missed Justice Anthony Kennedy’s own words.
“Prejudice, we are beginning to understand, rises not from malice or hostile animus alone. It may result as well from insensitivity caused by simple want of careful, rational reflection or from some instinctive mechanism to guard against people who appear to be different in some respects from ourselves.”
Simple want of careful rational reflection. I haven’t reflected carefully or rationally on why people are opposed to LGBT rights. If anything I’ve exhibited nothing but hostile animus towards them or the very idea of them.
This also comes from my close attention paid to the 2012 election.
In politics there are winners and losers. There is no gray area.
Ever since President Obama was sworn in to office in 2009 there has been a concerted effort by the GOP to gain any conceivable political advantage against him no matter what the cost.
As a result of that there has been a concerted effort by the Democratic Party to gain any conceivable political advantage over the GOP no matter the cost.
With the GOP decrying Democrats as fascists and socialists coming to spit on the Consitution, the Democrats have been forced to respond by decrying the GOP as right wing religious extremists coming to take away the rights of blacks, Muslims, immigrants, and gays.
You saw all of this on full display in the 2012 election campaign. Even if Barack Obama or Mitt Romney never made these attacks themselves, they had more than enough surrogates to do it for them.
Because of this, during the 2012 campaign. I actually grew to hate Mitt Romney.
I never thought it would be possible to hate someone running for president as much as I hate Mitt Romney. But that’s how I felt. It’s how I still feel.
I grew to hate him because he didn’t support 100% of my rights. And if he didn’t support 100% of my rights then he must be acting out of prejudice or hate himself.
Had he won I would have defriended anyone on my friends list who voted for him.
Because in my logic, anyone who voted for him, voted for someone who hated me. If they voted for someone who hated me and that person won, than by association they hated me. And they would become my enemy.
Now I realize just how toxic that way of thinking is.
It is toxic, self centered and just plain unhealthy. I know I shouldn’t need approval from anyone but myself. But in this polarized climate I can’t stop thinking about other people.
But I need to. Otherwise I am letting those who would seek to drive our national debates with divisions, bigotry and hatred win. When I become no better than those folks, they win. And everyone else loses. When it comes to civil rights there is a right and there is a wrong. But this doesn’t mean it’s ok to generalize or become nasty. As I think about this myself two more things come to mind. One is Martin Luther King’s quote:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
The other is that I need to take a break from the Internet for a while. So at 4:00 pm tomorrow I will quit the Internet until further notice. I need to collect myself. I need to clear my head and focus on the people who are really important.
With all of the polarization in our country today I am reminded of the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction.
The only way to win is not to play.