“God hates fags.”

“All nations should follow God in requiring the death penalty for sodomy.”

“I could not find the term ‘homosexuality,’ but I did find numerous places where the Lord condemned such a practice with such vigor that even the death penalty was assessed.”

Civility (n):  courtesy; politeness

Today’s social and political climate, especially in Utah, is seemingly obsessed with civility in public discourse. Most people wouldn’t hesitate to condemn the above first statement, but fewer are willing to condemn the second, and even fewer, the third.

Why is this? Is it somehow nicer to state that someone’s god would require homosexuals be put to death by using nice language rather than to say their god hates homosexuals by using a derogatory slur?

The first statement’s source is pretty easy to identify. It’s from the Westboro Baptist Church website, as is the second comment.  The third, however, comes from a much closer-to-home source: Former LDS President Spencer Kimball.

Can someone — anyone — please explain why it’s acceptable to suggest that people be put to death for the “crime” of loving someone of the same gender when it’s  in the name of an imaginary sky-fairy?

I have, on numerous occasions, experienced repercussions for using the term “bigot,” in reference to LDS leaders such as Dallin Oaks and Boyd Packer, though their words and actions over the past several decades have provided ample evidence to their bigotry. Apparently naming these people as bigots, even when they act as such, is considered uncivil in our society.

Well, here’s how I see it. To hell with false civility. Free speech is more important than someone else being comfortable by my choice of words. If we’re ever going to make real progress, we have to willingly drag uncomfortable conversations into the open, however they may come.

If we’re going to change minds, it’s not going to come from pandering and playing nice. The next steps will build from increasing pressure on those who would oppress. They will build from calling out injustice and fighting against it. They will come from boldly standing on the right side of history, bending that moral arc toward justice, not waiting for it to bend on its own.

The atmosphere of enforced false civility only serves to dampen the debate. It mitigates the raw emotional power of the oppressed and pushes it onto the logic of a policy discussion. Equality isn’t a policy discussion; it isn’t a negotiation. Civil rights aren’t something that can or will be granted to people by an oppressor, they are something to which we are all equally entitled and what we must fight to protect.

There is nothing civil about the argument that someone’s god wants LGBT people put to death. There is even less civility in the argument that a religious person or organization should be allowed to discriminate against someone because “their god told them to.” It’s still bigotry and oppression, even if it’s wrapped in religion and bedded in flowery prose.

The time is ripe to push this debate into the light of day, to shake the comfort levels of those who would sit by and tacitly allow their government and their religious institutions to oppress. Howard Zinn stated: “On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth.” It’s time to stop watering down that truth in the name of civility and to fight for what we all deserve:  Equality.

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About the Author

Bob Henline

Bob Henline

Bob Henline is the Assistant Editor of QSalt Lake Magazine, as well as a columnist and social/political activist and amateur chef.

Comments

  1. Gary Ellis
    December 25, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Fuck you!

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