Welcome once again to the Tolerance Vigilantes.
Peter Vadala stands outside his former place of employment -- Brookstone store in Logan Airport -- holding letter of termination.
Hat tip: Mass Resistance
P. S. I just a few minutes ago received an email from Robert Gagnon, associate professor the New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, detailing his experience of tolerance, this time at the supreme "tolerant" Bowdoin College in Maine. His account is here.
How long are we going to acquiesce in the fiction that those driving the homosexual agenda are really interested in tolerance?
Firing someone should only occur when there is a serious reason for it. This altercation does not seems serious enough for termination. Brookstone is out of line as far as I'm concerned.
Even though I believe legally any arrangement between consenting adults should be allowed, I do not want anyone hammering anyone else for their religious beliefs. i hate bullies and this manager appears to be a bully.
Of course this illustrates the At Will work conditions across this nation where you can be terminated for fairly trivial matters. But I'll save that leftist tract for another time. :)
Thanks for passing this along Gil. I don't want to become the thing I hate.
P. S. Accusations of homophobia are everywhere to be heard when, however meekly, someone is found to be uncomfortable with the homosexual agenda. In the vast majority of case, the accusation is nonsense. But here's the thing: those accusing someone of homophobia are perfectly clear that homophobia is a moral wrong. So, it's not as though they are urging that we not feel moral revulsion about certain things, but that we not feel moral revulsion about homosexuality. Feeling moral revulsion about homophobia is perfectly fine.
But then there's this: homophobia -- whatever in the world that word might actually mean -- is a mental attitude, a "value" -- it isn't a act. It isn't something someone necessarily does; it's what someone thinks and feels.
At least someone who has moral reservations about homosexual behavior is concerned with something someone does, not just what someone "is" or "thinks."
Gil, there's a partial transcript of Peter Vadala’s statement at http://partisan.blogs.hopelesslypartisan.com/. (When you reach the site, scroll down to the post entitled “A Double Standard for Gays at Brookstone?”) The site belongs to Ken Berwitz, and here’s his take on the Brookstone incident:
Brookstone should be ashamed of itself. And Peter Vadala should be reinstated.
For his reasoning about this, you can read his full comments.
If Vadala’s account is accurate, then I would agree with Berwitz that the lesbian baited Vadala and that she knew she had the upper hand, at least in the short term. She appears to have been harassing him for his beliefs. But in his closing remarks (on the video), Vadala concludes the following:
Your job is in jeopardy if you work in the state of Massachusetts or any other state where it perceived that homosexual marriage is legal.
This is inaccurate. It would be more accurate to say that some employers do not yet understand state laws about discrimination and harassment very well and may sometimes violate these laws. This is clearly a problem that needs remedy through legal action and education. In this particular instance, had the roles been reversed so that Vadala was in a position of power relative to the lesbian woman, and had he then harassed her about her marriage, then there would have been grounds for firing him. And this is as it should be.
No one should be harassed either for personal beliefs or for sexual orientation.
What is insidious about this video and about your use of it is the conclusion that you and Vidala have drawn. Vidala is young and may plead ignorance, but what about you?
Here’s your conclusion:
How long are we going to acquiesce in the fiction that those driving the homosexual agenda are really interested in tolerance?
You are using this incident, as you used the Richmond gang-rape story, to stir up more fear and loathing of gays. First, you haven’t bothered to check whether Massachusetts law protects bosses who harass their employees for their beliefs (it does not), and second, you have suggested that what happened to Vidala is part of a massive conspiracy on the part of gay people everywhere to install a regime of intolerance. This is nothing more or less than a paranoid delusion. I am sure you and I can easily find gays and lesbians who will side with Brookstone for no other reason than that Vidala believes same-sex marriage is wrong. But there are plenty of others who will side with Vidala because they have a superior understanding of the principles involved. When we use the behavior of individuals to form generalizations about the groups to which they belong, then we are exhibiting prejudice.
My expectation is that Brookstone will have egg on its face after all this and that no Massachusetts court will support their action.
In the meantime, here’s a little exercise to help you understand the problem of generalizations:
Find the statement that is out of place in this list:
1. Southerners are ignorant hicks.
2. The most vocal opponents of gay rights are closeted homosexuals.
3. Priests have a thing for boys.
4. Those driving the homosexual agenda are not interested in tolerance.
5. The recent gang-rape incident in the Richmond, CA schoolyard shows that heterosexuals cannot behave responsibly.
6. Some people from Houston, TX are crazy.
Did you find it? Did you notice the pattern? Good. It’s not really such a difficult concept, is it? (If you didn’t get it, it’s the sentence with the qualifier “some.”)
Which of those statements made you bristle? We can surmise that at least one of them did not. Do you have any idea why?
Gil, you seem unclear about what homophobia is (“homophobia—whatever in the world that word might actually mean—is a mental attitude,” you write) Well, “mental attitude” is a good beginning. But the word “homophobia” is composed of “homo” (here, homosexuality) and “phobia,” which means “fear.” So homophobia is a fear of homosexuality.
Many people are beginning to realize that homophobia is not just a fear but that it is an irrational fear. As a case in point, I am homosexual, and you have absolutely nothing to fear from me. You do realize that, don't you?
You claim that you are only opposed to the “homosexual agenda”—whatever in the world that term might actually mean. Though I have been an activist for many years, I still don’t know what is meant by it. Could you be more specific? Are you talking about same-sex marriage or anti-discrimination laws? If so, then let’s talk about why opposition to those laws may, like homophobia, be irrational.
It seems obvious to me that most opposition to same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws is based in homophobia, and I strongly suspect (but haven’t yet confirmed) that scientific studies will show correlations indicating causality. Like you, I grew up in the South, and I have observed homophobia for a long time. Like racism, it always denies it is fear-based. This is a natural human tendency. No one, least of all the big strong guys, wants to admit being afraid. So homophobia claims legitimacy for itself through any means possible. For many years, there was ample cover to be found in both science and religion. Now, only religion—and only some religion, at that—is holding out. Fifty years ago, one could say, “I don’t like homosexuals because they commit criminal acts and they are social deviants.” Today, we have finally spotted the circularity in that kind of statement, and the best anyone can say is that their “dislike” of or “moral revulsion” toward homosexuals is a matter of religious faith. The appropriate sacred texts will be trotted out to buttress this view.
You may have good reason to fear certain homosexuals, just as I have good reason to fear certain heterosexuals. But you do not need to fear most of us. Remember: If a man is leering at you in the locker room, it is not because he is homosexual. It is because he is an insensitive jerk.
And if you still don’t understand this, then I will change the example slightly: If a man is leering at a woman at the beach, it is not because he is a heterosexual. It is because he is an insensitive jerk.
This is in response to the link in your post.
Robert Gagnon speaks of being confronted with the oppressive atmosphere in a room of homosexuals at a college in Bowdoin, Maine. Of course, the oppressiveness can work in both directions. The assumption that you can debate and argue people out of a sexual identity they were born with by so called rational discussion based on a series of condemnatory biblical exhortations in order to avoid rejection by a God who claims to love you as you are, seems to be missing the entire point. "I love you. Deny yourself, and I'll love you better, even though you will have to sacrifice the essential nature of your humanity and being to do so." One of the ultimate expressions of self sacrifice is sexual self surrender. It's the essence of unselfish human love. You don't deprive it to heterosexuals on the basis of nature; you can't therefore deny it to homosexuals on the basis of sin. Their needs are no less urgent, no less meaningful, no less passionate, and potentially no less life affirming and rewarding then are your own. Without relationship we perish. Stigmatize one relationship over another, and you're going to have pissed off people wondering if Christianity is capable of anything more substantial then looking in people's pants forever to determine both their value to others and their fate to God. Mortification is a hard if not impossible sell in this world, especially when it's directed at others.
My guess is that for every gay activist who acts aggressive, ugly and rude at meetings like this, there are literally hundreds of others at schools around the country who bite their tongue and remain civil even though they despise being singled out for special religious treatment. Doughlas Remy comes to mind as a generous, thoughtful and highly moral example of the later type. He has a strong sense of justice combined with a built in BS detector that forces him by dint of his own experience and knowledge to speak up and challenge the views that are often expressed here. I am amazed that he doesn't get angrier than he does at times. He has enviable self control. I am proud to add my straight voice to his gay one. You can spit out all the liberals-as-whacko cant you want, it will resolve nothing, except to strengthen the resolve of those who reject it.
I would guess that Mr. Gagnon, who apparently soldiered on in spite of ridicule, felt somewhat inhibited, even though, being a true believer, he knows what's best for everyone else because....well, because the Bible says so. You might as well say that black people are inhibiting a white man's freedom of speech when he's ridiculed as a bigot and a hate monger for the use of the word "Nigger" in their company. Educated men and women don't use derogatory and or accusatory language when the culture has largely shunned it as being vile, vindictive, and condescending. It's not just the language, but the associations which it evokes. Niggers are lynched. Denied equality. Treated as second class citizens, abused and murdered for looking at white women. Shown the back door and the "colored" water fountain and the back of the bus. All that historical baggage coelesces along with the word. That verbal abuse digs into the soul of every person it's used against. That's why blacks have taken ownership of the word and can use it among themselves to the chagrin of their white neighbors. Just ask Michael Richards about the penalty of crossing that line if you don't believe me. I like Mr. Richards very much, and empathize with him over the discomfort his remarks caused; he was a humorist working without a safety net. He was embarrassed by his own miscalculation, as we were for him. Yet it was also right that he was called on it. Yet Gagnon thinks he should have "immunity" from public ridicule for doing nothing more then telling people what he thinks Jesus wants them to do and what will happen to them if they don't. So much for the perils of free speech.
But "free" speech also has a caveat: You don't yell fire in a crowded theater of either gays or blacks when there is no fire, unless of course you want one. The "fire" in the case of homosexual identity is to be perpetually maligned by "well meaning Christians" who simply want to insist on their "right" to remind every Gay man or woman that they meet that God condemns and or excludes them for their sexual lives and considers them "intrinsically evil" or "debased" in a way that sane rational people simply know they aren't. That's not "free" speech. That's hate speech yelling fire where you tacitly hope there will be a metaphysical one. He was called on it. It's abusive and belittling and most importantly, it's a scapegoating ritual that favors isolation and discrimination based on a book whose declared and crowning principle is that love and grace trumps law and doctrine every single time. So what does Mr. Gagnon do in response to his feelings of insolvency? Does he become the slightest bit self reflective and learn from the experience? Does he question his own motives or assumptions about what he was doing and decide on a different path? No. He whines about it. We're being oppressed by the nasty gay agenda!
Do homosexuals get mad when they're told they are evil? You bet your sweet ass they do. They have every right to be angry. Why would anyone be surprised by that? You're telling them in effect, "God is not pleased with you. You don't pass muster. You are defective." Try the same tactic on your friends and see if they react any differently. Call them evil while demanding the liberty to practice your "freedom" of speech unhindered, and then make some sly passing reference to how you're just trying to teach people not to touch a hot stove so they wont get burned, when you earn your lively hood doing precisely that every single day to the highly suspect "glory" of God. See how long they remain in your calling circle then. In most cases the language is sidestepped for the historical evocations. Why bother with the word Faggot or Queer or fairy when the object of your abuse is already hell-bound without your resorting to specific and overt references which your "kindness" disdains as being uncharitable?
As for the "Homosexualist's Agenda" I have to ask first, what is a "Homosexualist"? A queer on some straight man's list? And what is the sinister "Agenda" foisted on us browbeaten and wary heteros by less than 2% of the population? To take over the education department? To force you to bunk with other kids in the cub scouts? To seduce your children and turn them gay? To destroy your marriage and all of Western civilization? To interior decorate your house against your will? Arcane diffusions and extrapolations about what Jesus might have meant based on a study of things he never said or alluded to is not only intellectually dishonest, it's spiritually trite and doctrinally deceptive. On the other hand, I'm equally convinced that the Bible condemns homosexuality. It would be dishonest to suggest otherwise. I simply believe and affirm that the assumptions and premises that support that view are totally false and need to be exposed and ultimately dismissed from the conversation. If they're not, Mr. Gagnon and others like him will never find peace. Because it's not really peace they are after.
I find it amazing that the invocation of a hermeneutical process to answer and interpret questions of contemporary sexuality would first look back to the 3rd Century and draw upon St. Augustine without even so much as a hint of irony, as though nothing of any import in reference to human understanding, self knowledge or cultural life has been learned in the intervening sixteen hundred years. Here's a man born before the advent of virtually anything we would recognize in the modern world.
In all of his life, Augustine was never exposed to the philosophical or practical ideas of Barth, Comte, Berkeley, Aquinas, Anselm, Darwin, da Vinci, Freud, Hegel, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Einstein, Galileo, Newton, Capernicus, Kepler, Kierkegaard, Jung, Leibniz, Locke, Machiavelli, Marx, Mill, Moore, Nietzsche, Rousseau, Russell, Santayana, Sartre, Schopenhauer or Voltaire. He never listened to a Bach sonata, a Chopin Waltz, or a Mozart symphony. He never saw Michelangelo’s David or the Cistine Chapel, He never read Boccaccio, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Dante, Chaucer, Rabelais, D.H. Lawrence, William Faulkner, Hart Crane, William Rice Burroughs, Charles Dickens, Jules Verne, Pearl Buck, ee cummings, Harold Robbins, Tennessee Williams, George Orwell, Emily Dickinson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Frost, Earnest Hemingway, Emerson, London, Mailer, Pound, Plath, Kafka, Poe, Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke or Kurt Vonnegut. But he's a perfect foil for invoking the errors of a world he knows less than nothing about.
Why does Catholicism rejoice so much in the unchanging efficacy of perpetual anachronism and long dead saints? Because it's lost in space-time where nothing ever changes. Any acknowledgment of the real must be grounded in the inaccessible. Where God is in his heaven and everything is wrong with the world. Jesus' harshest criticisms were not directed at "sexual sinners" but at those who took pride in the mistaken notion that they were "not like those others" whom they not so secretly despised.
Anyone who would ultimately reject you under the blandishments of a purported love because you don't feel compelled to honor their threats of rejection with love of your own, is not worthy of love but of contempt. I don't worship a tyrant in heaven or treat gays as second class citizens on earth. I'll close with the words of Andrew Sullivan, that rarest of creatures: A gay Catholic over at the Atlantic Monthly:
"The Roman Catholic Church defines Gay people by a sexual act in a way it never defines heterosexual people, and in this, the church is in weird agreement with extreme Gay activists who also want to define homosexuality in terms of its purely sexual content. Whereas being Gay is not about sex as such. Fundamentally, it's about one's core emotional identity. It's about whom one loves, ultimately, and how that can make one whole as a human being ... a single person's moral equilibrium in a whole range of areas can improve with marriage ... because there is a kind of stability and security and rock upon which to build one's moral and emotional life. To deny this to Gay people is not merely incoherent and wrong, from the Christian point of view. It is incredibly destructive of the moral quality of their lives in general.
You can't ask someone to suppress what makes them whole as a human being and then to lead blameless lives. We are human beings, and we need love in our lives in order to love others, in order to be good Christians! What the church is asking Gay people to do is not to be Holy, but actually to be warped ... no wonder people's lives, many Gay lives, are unhappy or distraught or in dysfunction, because there is no guidance at all. Here is a population within the church, and outside the church, desperately seeking spiritual health and values, and the church refuses to come to our aid, refuses to listen to this call."
Gil, you write, “Those accusing someone of homophobia are perfectly clear that homophobia is moral wrong.” Also this is a generalization, it is probably broadly true, and it proves that we who feel such revulsion are not moral relativists. And here I will speak for myself: I feel moral revulsion at injustice, and I believe that gays and lesbians have often been treated unjustly in our society. Furthermore, I feel moral revulsion toward the irrational and unexamined fears that produce such injustices.
Moral revulsion at homosexuality is not justified. It seeks justification in the Bible and elsewhere. But the Bible can be used to justify moral revulsion toward eating shellfish or wearing cotton-polyester shirts, so one must either not seek justification there or give up any claims to moral consistency. Moral revulsion at homosexuality also seeks justification in the Catholic Catechism, but the Catechism makes false claims about homosexuality (i.e., that it is “objectively disordered"), and so it cannot be relied upon. Where, then, are you to find justification for your moral revulsion? Could it be that it is just mimetically induced? (Could it be based on that Shakespearean “nothing” that keeps cropping up in, e.g, King Lear?)
In response to your last point, I will just point out that homosexuality is not about what someone “does.” Surely you could have thought of some obvious examples. They are not hard to find. I myself was homosexual long before I engaged in any homosexual acts. (If that made you feel squeamish, it’s because you’re phobic. But you’ll probably insist your revulsion is on a higher, “moral” plane.) The world is full of homosexuals who are celibate, either by choice or from lack of opportunity.
Neither homosexuality nor heterosexuality is a “behavior.” They are affectional and sexual orientations that may or may not express themselves in behaviors. Moral reservations about these orientations are not justified. Moral reservations about some of the behaviors may be justified. The recent gang-rape at Richmond, CA is an example of morally reprehensible behavior. The behavior of a gay man who leers at you in the locker room is also reprehensible. But private consensual sex between a man and a woman within the context of marriage is not reprehensible, any more than is private consensual sex between two men in the context of marriage or domestic partnership. That’s the bottom line, and we can take up the question of sex outside committed relationships another time.
I am happy to see that you are finally thinking about these matters and not just “channeling.” At least I think you are...thinking. I see some glimmers, I think.
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