Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Some People Should Just Keep Their Pens Down. Period.

You know, there are two Internet addictions that I am glad I've gotten over. One is a pornography addiction that has been gone, praise God, for several months now. This blog, and the community that I have found through it, helped put it away for good. The other addiction is a little harder to overcome, and that is an addiction to the endless pundits, shock jocks, and other "warriors" of today's repellent "culture war." Does that sound strange? Let me elaborate.

I've talked before about how I like to go to the conservative website, Townhall, and debate other readers there (since I'm more of a moderate conservative and they're all pretty much fire-breathers). Well, let's just say that I used to like it. As one reader here predicted, I got tired of the debates very quickly, and eventually I realized that I was only going to Townhall to fuel anger, not to debate issues. It was "anger porn," in a way. I'd find the same articles by the same authors about the same topics, and then I'd use the same arguments against the same readers. It did not keep me in a Christ-like mindset, so I decided to give it a rest for a while. I still got the e-mail notifications for new articles, but I barely ever checked them. Recently, I did read one good article by Mike Adams, who I wrote about many months ago. I was so impressed that I actually e-mailed him myself, and I got a response back. He's actually a pretty nice guy, though I don't recant what I said about him earlier.

Well, the other day I gave in and checked the website to see if anything interesting had been written. Unfortunately, I found an extremely nasty piece by Matt Barber, of Concerned Women for America (go figure), and I was reminded of why I gave up reading these columnists in the first place. His column was called "'Gays' Don't Want 'Marriage' After All." Putting "gays" and "marriage" in quotation marks was what convinced me to check out the column further. If the title was that disrespectful, I was sure that there was plenty in there for me to get angry about. I definitely wasn't wrong.

The piece is so cliché that nothing in it is worth repeating. Barber uses the same tired arguments, lies, and manipulative language about gays and how destructive they are to society that it ends up reading like a caricature. He pushes every button that can be pushed, and ends up sounding less like a respected writer and more like Fred Phelps. Sure, he does make interesting claims concerning the numbers of gay unions taking place in regions that allow them. They are surprisingly low. However, if the value of marriage is to be determined my numbers, perhaps he needs to be worrying about the 50% divorce rate amongst heterosexual couples.

What gets my blood boiling about Barber's column (and articles like it), is the matter-of-fact tone in which everything is said. No facts are really presented to back up his claims. Gays "yearn for a society created in their own secular humanist image." I should tell all the folks at the Gay Christian Network, or for that matter, the guys at Gay Patriot. "The vast majority of homosexuals don't desire 'marriage.'" I should tell all my friends who love their boyfriends/girlfriends deeply and wish to spend the rest of their lives with them. The gay lifestyle is "disordered and empty, though demonstrably mutable." Demonstrably mutable? Is he kidding? I should tell Warren Throckmorton, DM, Willful Grace, and all the guys at XGW. It would save them all a lot of drama, I'm sure.

It goes on. "'Civil unions' are merely 'gay marriages' by another name." Oh, I get it. It's not enough to deny the wording. You need to deny the actual rights, too. I don't even think Ann Coulter would go that far. Oh, and I shouldn't leave out his claim that homosexuality is "scientifically and objectively proven to be destructive." That may be so, though usually one is expected to present the scientific and objective facts after such a statement. Unless, of course, the "facts" stem from universally-panned kooks like Paul Cameron (and methinks in this case they might), in which case you don't have to drop the name, right?

Ugh. I didn't even check the comments because I was angry enough already. It was probably righteous anger, but it was anger nonetheless. I'm giving it an outlet here. What bothers me is not that this stuff is being written, but that so many people read it and believe exactly what it says. If a gay kid reads an article like this, what is he going to think of himself? What will parents who believe this think of their gay children? Goodness, I'm scared enough to come out to my parents, and they're liberal! I can't imagine what it would be like to be gay and be the son or daughter of a person like Matt Barber.

Words have meaning. They have impact. They can hurt, or they can help. They can tear down, or they can build. The biggest flaw of this "culture war" is that it has turned neighbor against neighbor. There aren't guns or bombs involved, but the words being used can be just as deadly and just as contrary to the spirit of Christ. Both conservatives and liberals are guilty of it, and that's why I hate being in the middle. I hate hearing Christians called hateful bigots and I hate hearing gays called depraved perverts. Yeah, there are creeps and haters on both sides, and unfortunately they're usually the ones with the microphones and the loudest voices. I just hope that people can learn to look at the folks around them and make their own opinions instead of listening to agenda-driven politicians and pundits. In the meantime, I need to find the fine line between getting angry and standing up for what's right.

11 comments:

Brian said...

Hopefully as we begin to stand in the middle ground others will do the same and words will change from ones that wound to ones that heal.

far away, peering in said...

What gets me angry isn't their belief that homosexuality is wrong - it's their condescending and hateful tone.

kurt_t said...

Wow. I read the piece and some of the comments, and I hardly know how to respond. These people sound like they've never met a gay person. Sounds like they have a lot of fears that just aren't based on reality at all.

RikFleming said...

Bro,

I've too have had to get away from "anger porn" (great description, mind if I borrow it?).

During such times I can feel my blood pressure rising and the desire to kick something or someone rises up within me.

For years I participated in all sorts of debates, they were like intellectual martial arts matches. And if I could get in the killing blow - all the better. Unfortunately I am really good at debating, seldom do I find someone who can keep up and truly go toe to toe with me.

Unfortunately I often mistreated friends, colleagues and people who needed Christ in the process. I would win the debate but lose my witness.

Then I asked myself, "Am I really benefiting from this? Am I really furthering the Kingdom of God? Or am I just feeding my ego by demonstrating my knowledge and quick wit? Finally, is this really the best use of my time?

" (Eph. 5:15-16).

Sadly, many people with whom I am in agreement theologically and morally make the biggest asses of themselves when they talk about gay people because they haven't bothered to get to know one as a neighbor.

I am hoping that I can influence them through loving them and win them without a word.

Thanks for the post!

Rik

grace said...

Kurt and Fleming each touched on my thoughts while reading your post....and it's the fact that these "culture warriors" as they like to think of themselves, seem to be the least concerned of all with actually having relationships with those they think they're "saving" by "loving" them with their judgement. Relationships make things get messy...and then their tidy little God boxes where they have it all figured out would get dirtied up....and they might actually stumble onto people and situations that didn't fit in their boxes. It's just way too risky/scary for them to allow God to be God and to literally humble themselves right out of trying to control every situation.

I'm glad you vented here and not there. Good for you. You are growing in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man.

love and grace,
pam

Jay said...

Brian: Thanks for dropping by! I do wish more people would stand in the middle ground with us, though. It seems kinda lonely here sometimes. :)

Far Away: Tone is everything, but if a person believes that homosexuals are perverted, then their tone really won't help. They need to meet some gay people and realize that many are just everyday folks.

Kurt: Yeah, I used to get the same impression. That's why I don't go there anymore. There's only so much I can take.

Rik: Go ahead and use it. I'd love for a phrase I'd coined to spread around the blogosphere. ;)

Thank you for your post and for dropping by the blog. Do you mind if I add you to the blogroll?

Grace: Good analysis as always, Pam. It's really good to hear from you! Thanks for the encouragement.

Robert said...

One thing I have learned in my 42 years on this planet is that there is very little difference in a rabid liberal and a rabid conservative. They both operate high on emotion and low on facts.

Ben said...

"I'm scared enough to come out to my parents, and they're liberal!"

Believe me, your mom already knows.

In what sense will you be "coming out" to them?

Jay said...

Robert: Amen to that!

Ben: I actually think my dad has more of a clue than my mom does. We're closer and he's a bit more intuitive (no offense to Mom, of course!) Either way, I'd be surprised if they didn't have some idea. But in general, "coming out" will just be confirming that yes, I do like men, I don't see marriage guaranteed in my future, and that I'm still happy nonetheless.

Eric said...

Jay,

I enjoy your blog. Don't ask me why, cause I am a thorough conservative, social, moral, and fiscal. But I do enjoy your writing. I know that sounds like a back-handed compliment, but please take it with the best of intentions.

I too have dealt with this "anger porn" as you call it. I use to go to NewsBusters and other conservative websites and join in the bashing of liberals and moderates. But over time, I saw this did nothing to forward the Kingdom of God and instead destroyed any possible Christian witness I may have.

It's almost funny; I would start to write a post that was very pointed and highlighted the logical fallacy in someone's argument and then it would just come over me how pointless it all was. I mean what was the point? To win an argument that in the grand scheme of things mattered not at all? These people knew I was a Christian and what kind of witness was I displaying? Not a good one that's for sure. And I'd start to slowly rephrase the comment until in the end, I would simply delete it as it didn't matter. Eventually, I just quit going.

I have been free of such websites for at least six to seven months. And it has been so very refreshing. I don't discuss politics on my blog and it's been great. I use to discuss politics with my dad for hours on the phone and we don't even do that anymore. He felt the same way I did and our relationship has gotten deeper because of it.

I see it as nothing more than a waste of time practically. The blogosphere is so rampant with vitriolic ad hominem attacks (from both sides). There is no voice of compromise or moderation regardless of people stating they will be so.

I know you've heard Jesus' admonition regarding casting your pearls before swine; well, that's how I see debating politics online. And let me tell you, I've not felt such relaxation and peace in some time.

Now, if I could just deal with my other addictions so easily!

Anyway, keep up the writing Jay.

Jay said...

Eric,

That's very encouraging! The Internet certainly has a way to bring people together for good reasons. I just don't think those sites we're talking about are it (and it's nice to know you agree!)

However, I do love the fact that, through blogging, I can talk to someone like you (a 40-year-old conservative, married, retired soldier), who is pretty different from me (a 19-year-old moderate, gay, English major). In real life, we'd probably never have the chance to communicate and share ideas. The fact that you like my blog despite our differences (and I like yours too!) is something that I really appreciate.

Hope to see you around here again!
Jay