I unintentionally got into a furious online debate last night with a fellow activist regarding the recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America regarding the Scout’s decision to retain their current policy of limiting their membership to straight men and boys, which I agree with. My adversary, who was organizing a boycott campaign against the BSA, vehemently disagreed with me, and proceeded to call me a “hater” while spewing forth all sorts of ugly and hateful invectives toward me, both personally and ideologically (and I am “a hater”?)
I found our brief – if furious – debate to be both enlightening and VERY unsettling.
My adversary in this debate, one Dennis Trainor, is a well known activist who leans to the Left of the political spectrum, whereas I lean more toward the Right. Dennis is a very intelligent, passionate, and dedicated activist and what I found disturbing was how quickly his intellect flew out the window the moment someone (in this case, me) stood up for people with whom Dennis (and millions like him) disagreed, simply because these people desire to practice their moral beliefs in a private club unmolested.
He was furious.
I pointed out to him that straight boys need a group where they can hang out with other straight boys and men to do those things straight boys and men like to do. Likewise, I told Dennis, LGBT teens need a group where they can hang out with other LGBT teens and adults to do those things LGBT teens and adults like to do. Both, I said, in America, should be allowed to go unmolested, and both should be allowed to practice their beliefs without being badgered, bullied, or sued because of them.
See: Boy Scouts of America: http://www.scouting.org/
See: Wingspan: http://wingspan.org/
He would have none of this. To Dennis, such people (as those in the BSA) should be publicly shamed, scorned, ridiculed, mocked, harangued, boycotted, and basically intimidated and bullied into submission.
What had him SO furious? I wondered. The Boy Scouts believe in God, and in living a morally upright life; is this really a bad – or evil – thing?
I love all peoples, and I have a special fondness for LGBT folks, the vast majority of whom I have found to be some of the most intelligent, interesting, and fun peoples I have ever had the privilege to call my friends. I also have many friends who are religious and who practice what they and I consider to be upright moral lifestyles, which includes, for them and myself, not engaging in homosex or heterosex outside of marriage. (Not that I have never sinned by having sex outside of marriage, because I have)
What I found enlightening was just how easily a nice, friendly, smart guy like Dennis transmogrified instantaneously into a mean, adversarial, lunkhead the moment I stood up for the BSA and their decision. Scary. I had the feeling that, had I said as much in the midst of a large group of “Dennises” they would have quickly found a rope, a tree, and strung me up. What I found most disturbing was that I know this same instinctive reaction, which I saw in Dennis, resides within me, and within us all, as well.
No doubt, had the above hypothetical lynching scenario actually taken place, those who had strung me up would also have had their cell phones in the air, proudly photographing their smiling faces with my beaten and bloodied body swinging by a rope in the background.
And you know I’m right about that.
We love to find fault with peoples who lived in the past, our historical perspective having now given us the wisdom to realize the errors of their ways (e.g., slavery, lynching) and yet we fail to realize that we are just as blind as they were concerning the issues of our own day (abortion on demand, unjust wars).
Peoples normally humane, who would never lift their hands in anger against another human being – because of ideology and hatred – can become psychologically deranged and filled to overflowing with a hate-filled, vengeful, murderous fury against those with whom they disagree. And none of us are immune from this.
“Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Are the Boy Scouts of America doing something ugly by striving to live upright moral lives? Or are they doing something beautiful? Dennis thinks ugly, and I think beautiful. Dennis has allowed hatred to poison his soul, which causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful; he has confused the true with the false and the false with the true, and he labels others, such as myself, as “haters” although it is he who is filled with hatred instead.
Are you, or I, any better than he? No, we’re not. There but for the grace of God go us all. My fear is that people like Dennis, in America, are legion.
By the way, Dennis and I both admitted fault, remain friends, and apologized to one another. And it is THIS attitude that will lead us all forward: humility, not arrogance and pride. From humility comes forth love and compassion for others; from pride comes forth only anger and the desire for vengeance.
See: The Huffington Post: Boy Scouts’ Dangerous Message to Young Americans: Gay Kids Don’t Measure Up: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelangelo-signorile/boy-scouts-dangerous-mess_b_1682244.html
See: Dennis Trainor’s blog: http://nocureforthat.weebly.com/dennis-trainor-jr.html
VIDEO – Brutal lynching in Libya, including mob with cell phone cameras (2011): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1mw7rbckUA
VIDEO – Dennis Trainor on the Defense of Marriage Act: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvq3xznRctc&feature=relmfu
VIDEO – Early Christian Persecution – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmT1YObicqs
VIDEO – Modern day persecution of Christians: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYyNrgkKf6o&feature=related
ARTICLE – Roman persecution of Christians – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Christians_in_the_Roman_Empire
ARTICLE – Ken Gentry on Christianity being victorious – http://postmillennialism.com/2012/07/persecuted-to-the-end/