Bigotry and Bullying – Call it out when you see it

Reading the news this morning, I was struck by the convergence of three articles. First, Nicolas Kristof of The New York Times wrote a wonderful editorial regarding Lady Gaga’s Foundation whose purpose is to enlighten people about the effect of bullying and promote more civil behavior. Lady Gaga was bullied throughout her childhood and adolescence both physically and mentally. If you have not seen it, I would encourage you to read the column or learn more about her foundation.

Second, sitting in North Carolina, I read a terrific editorial by a guest writer, who is also a high school English teacher, Kay McSpadden. She wrote about NC’s Amendment One which will be voted on in May and would reiterate the illegality of same-sex marriage. She  is  advocating against the amendment noting it as discriminatory. While not known outside of the Carolinas, she is a terrific editorialist and I highly recommend her writing to others.  Having seen the very positive occurrences in Washington state and Maryland, I am encouraged that we are slowly speaking out against the discriminatory practices against gays and lesbians. NC will be an interesting test case in that it is part of the more evangelical south.

Third, talk show entertainer Rush Limbaugh has made the news in his usual fashion, meaning not in a positive way. His latest effort is  to denigrate a female citizen for testifying in front of Congress advocating for making contraception a part of any health care plan. I must confess, even though I have been a Republican in my past, I have never cared much for the opinions espoused by Mr. Limbaugh and have tended to see him as a provocateur, rather than a reasonable pundit. Yet, his latest “schoolyard name-calling” is adult bullying, just like the kind Lady Gaga is attempting to arrest.

Starting with the premise we are all prejudiced in some way and have all made biased generalizations at some point in our lives, we must aspire to be better. We must call out bigotry and bullying when we see it. We must shine a white spot light on it irrespective of what party, religious affiliation or ethic group you may belong. I will advocate strongly the rights of people to disagree with me and what I believe, as long as they do it in a civil manner. I have told me children, the weaker a person’s argument, the louder they tend to shout. And, when someone resorts to name-calling, the argument becomes even weaker.

Fox News eventually grew weary of Glenn Beck’s schtick and asked him to leave when his ratings dropped. I have always felt he was more dangerous than Mr. Limbaugh since he came across with false sincerity. Mr. Limbaugh is asking people to chill out, yet he deserves the criticism he is getting. It is pretty hard for someone to testify in front of Congress, so rather than calling her a “slut.” he should have applauded her chutzpah to advocate for what she believes, whether he disagreed with her or not.

The bigotry (and sometimes bullying) of gays and lesbians needs to stop as well. When I see otherwise sane religious people speak with the animosity toward gays and lesbians, it bothers me on so many levels. When my mother was espousing what she heard in church against the repeal of the don’t ask, don’t tell military rule, I simply stopped her and said, “Mom, to treat people differently based on their sexual preference is discriminatory.” She listened to my arguments and I convinced her that we should focus on the other parts of the bible which speak of treating others like we want to be treated.

The bigotry and bullying toward gays and lesbians is similar to the terrible treatment of African-Americans dating up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The treatment continued after that year, but has waned considerably. So, we need to shine a white light on the treatment of gays and lesbians to make sure they have the same rights as other citizens. It is the right thing to do. What some of the church leaders do not realize is they continue to drive people away with their exclusionary behavior.  I would ask my fellow NC citizens to stand up to this bigotry and vote down Amendment One. Why? Because it is discriminatory.

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