Bigotry, bigotry, on the wall…

(crossposted from Green Mountain Daily)

“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” – Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia (1782)

A core principle for many if not all of us.

As one blogger writes:

I love this quote. All at once Jefferson is asserting both the vital importance of separation of church and state, as well as the need for religious tolerance. People can believe whatever they want to and worship whatever they want, as long as it doesn’t harm others.

And there’s the rub – twice, stated in two different ways.

“As long as it doesn’t harm others.”

Which another blogger sems to be either missing, or deliberately obfuscating, in her post titled “Bigotry Abounds” that contains this nothing less than staggering statement:

…Vermont is one step closer to silencing Bible-believing Christians and forcing them to violate their religious beliefs – and they are giddy about it.

We’ll look at the classic religious conservative tactic of crying that their religious freedoms are being violated when they are stopped by the legislative process from violating the rights of those who do not share their beliefs, below the fold.

The post that I’m referring to here is an excellent example of why this

I hate this issue.  I wish it would just go away.

doesn’t happen.

She goes on to say:

it would, if the left didn’t want to keep it around to scare people into voting against the scary Republicans.

That, of course, is not only ridiculous on its face, but is an obvious attempt to trivialize the issue into a mere political wedge.

If equal rights for all adult Americans, if demanding adherence to

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

is merely a wedge tactic to “scare people into voting against the scary Republicans” then I grieve for our country.

And the last time I checked, using fear of the scary – whether scary brown people, scary atheists, scary gun-grabbers, scary socialists, or scary gays –  was by far more the province of the right.

But again, this is a typical conservative tactic, which we see on so many levels: accuse the left of what they themselves are doing wholesale.

And those people are a bunch of intolerant bigots, guided by fear, if I could borrow their language for a moment.

See what I mean?

The entire post seems to me to be an effort to elevate the right to discriminate on the basis of religion to the same or to a level above the right of same sex couples to enjoy a status completely equal to that of heterosexual couples.

Clearly, the latter must take precedence.

Even if it takes synthesizing a religion that MANDATES same sex relationships in order to demonstrate the point. Do that, and watch how quickly Christians move to infringe on THEIR religious freedoms.  

I invite any opponent of same sex marriage to demonstrate how a same sex couple marrying a hundred, or fifty, or ten, or even one mile from them, infringes THEIR religious beliefs. I invite them to demonstrate how this compromises their personal belief that same sex marriage transgresses the bounds of their religious beliefs AS THEY THEMSELVES PRACTICE THEM.

I’ve been extending this invitation for years.

And I’ve never gotten an answer that amounts to anything more substantive than, “Eeeeeew. I don’t want to have to look at it.”

The blogger in question cites, as an example of how tolerance for same sex marriage as the basic foundation of a family unit infringes freedom of religion, the fact that Catholic Charities in Boston has ceased to offer adoption services in the face of that state’s laws barring them from discriminating on that basis.

Here’s what she either misses or deliberately ignores: adoption is a legally sanctioned entity, and the state has no business – NONE – doing business in that respect with an agency that practices discrimination, whether they cloak that discrimination with the supposedly sacrosanct vestments of religion, or the sheets and hoods of the Ku Klux Klan.

And that sentiment apparently extends to the policies of non-governmental agencies.

For example:

The United Way of Massachusetts Bay, which provided $1.2 million to Catholic Charities last year and is the largest private funder of the agency, planned to review its funding if the agency discriminated against gays and lesbians in its adoption work.

Oh, United Way! Those HORRIBLE BIGOTS! How DARE they infringe on people’s religious freedom?



I have, in the past, donated (mere pittances) to the United Way.

If I found out that one fucking dime of my money was going to ANY organization that practiced discrimination of this or any other sort, my reaction would be along the lines of:

Frankly, I am pretty pissed about this.

CT goes on to say:

I am sick and tired of the left going on about freedom, when all the while they have no respect for freedom; they just want their way.  But when it comes to someone else’s freedom, they couldn’t care less about protecting it.  In fact, they want to restrict it.

Oh, waa waa waa waa waa.

I reiterate the invitation I extended earlier in this post, the one that has never – NEVER, in years and years of actively engaging this issue not only here in Vermont but in Virginia, the womb of the religious right and the seat of the by-God Confederacy – been adequately, rationally, and logically responded to:

Demonstrate to me, religionists, how same sex marriage picks your pocket or breaks your leg.

It has never been responded to, because their only recourse is to scream, redundantly that their religious freedoms are being violated somehow, and to use

the magical B-word that shuts down all disagreement as invalid

never realizing or daring to openly admit that, as they point a finger out, they point three back at themselves.


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    • dennis on March 28, 2009 at 13:27

    Struck by your piece, I went to read her original and posted a comment this morning, raising a point that floated to the top of my as-yet-uncaffeinated brain. Wonder if she’ll answer…

    • dennis on March 28, 2009 at 17:56

    still banging away at it on her site.

    Oy, as we devout atheists say…

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