Not a Christian, But

05.17.2012, 9:00 AM
Many feminists who have been active in the movement for even brief periods of time are familiar with the refrain, “I’m not a feminist or anything, but [insert feminist statement].” Feminism has been so maligned, often unfairly in my opinion, over the years that even some people who are feminist are reluctant to self-identify as feminist.

An article by Rachel Held Evans, entitled “How to win a culture war and lose a generation,” has me wondering if younger people will begin echoing a similar refrain with respect to Christianity.

Evans reports some findings:

“When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was ‘antihomosexual.’ For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. (The next most common negative images? : ‘judgmental,’ ‘hypocritical,’ and ‘too involved in politics.’)

In the book that documents these findings, titled unChristian, David Kinnaman writes:
“The gay issue has become the ‘big one, the negative image most likely to be intertwined with Christianity’s reputation. It is also the dimensions that most clearly demonstrates the unchristian faith to young people today, surfacing in a spate of negative perceptions: judgmental, bigoted, sheltered, right-wingers, hypocritical, insincere, and uncaring. Outsiders say [Christian] hostility toward gays…has become virtually synonymous with the Christian faith.”

Later research, documented in [David] Kinnaman’s You Lost Me, reveals that one of the top reasons 59 percent of young adults with a Christian background have left the church is because they perceive the church to be too exclusive, particularly regarding their LGBT friends.  Eight million twenty-somethings have left the church, and this  is one reason why.

Aside from the harms anti-LGBT rhetoric does to LGBT people, does the bigoted, exclusionary, and alienating rhetoric rendered by some Christian leaders and followers of the Christian faith make it embarrassing for some heterosexuals to self-identify as Christian?

Are we going to start hearing, “I’m not a Christian, but I do accept as Jesus as my personal savior?” as people become reluctant to associate themselves with Culture War Christians? Do we hear this already?

As a member of the LGBT community, I know what many Culture War Christians are <i>against</i> (much moreso than what they are “for”) as they wield their religion like a weapon to negate the lives, choices, and dignity of people like myself. Although such people often profess to love their LGBT neighbors, their words, actions, lies, and aggressions repeatedly demonstrate otherwise.

I also know that many LGBT people are Christians, and that a good many heterosexual Christians exist who are accepting, affirming, and loving toward LGBT people.

Personally, I vacillate between thinking that Christianity can and should be redeemed versus thinking that such a thing is impossible, given so many of its followers’ entrenchment in violence, male supremacy, and anti-LGBT bigotry. If it is to be made better, if it can be made better, it will be through the work and reconciliation of LGBT/feminist Christians and allies, rather than through Culture War Christians rendering inflexible, absolute condemnations of other people’s lives from upon high.

And sure, I can already hear some retorts from Culture War Christians: “It’s not us saying these things about homosexuality. It’s God” or “We can’t change God’s law to placate a selfish minority group.”

In which case, they should prepare themselves to lose a generation. And when that happens, they can blame the cruel god they choose to worship for that too.

97 Responses to “Not a Christian, But”

  1. La Lubu says:

    Linus, some points:

    You’ve made another appeal to the age of a religion as being related to its claim of veracity. Whay then do you make of Christians who claim that I am an “unbeliever” because I don’t believe as they do? After all, my faith (as it were) is older than theirs; we call it “La Vecchia Religione” for a reason. Do you think Judaism and Buddhism have a greater claim on the truth than Christianity? Look—not all beliefs are respected *as* beliefs, and that is a problem.

    Further, not all claims to truth are worthy of consideration. The fervency of someone’s belief is no assurance that what they say is worth hearing. At work the other day, there was a guy going on with the most unbelievable racist, sexist and antisemitic b.s. around. He fervently believes this nonsense, and is constantly reading source material that backs up his claims. I swear he’s never met a conspiracy theory he doesn’t like. Nevertheless, I maintain that nothing he had to say along those lines was worth hearing, and I have no shame in writing off all of that garbage as deserving no consideration—by me or anyone else who values human dignity. Had you been present, I daresay you would have felt the same way.

    There are other beliefs of course, that have more “gray areas” than that. At the same time, we are who we are because of a confluence of all our experiences. All along the way, we draw our conclusions from them. So, while you feel that I should give the benefit of the doubt to sincere believers who are only looking out for what they feel are my best interests…..I don’t feel that way. Instead, I’m very offended at their arrogance, that they disrespect my own beliefs and claim to know my best interests better than I, despite not having lived my life.

    There are circles of intimacy. Some are close, some are distant. There are arenas of the public sphere and arenas of the private sphere. I am in favor of same-sex marriage precisely because its prohibition is an intrusion into the private lives of committed couples. Its prohibition offers no benefits nor protections to anyone, while causing active harm to committed same-sex couples and their families. Sexuality and spirituality are both private-sphere arenas—not up for public grabs.

    I understand that is a different worldview from the one many Christians hold. It doesn’t matter. I’m not interested in being preached to, and their belief system does not give them a greater moral authority over me simply because they think it’s better or more true. Objectively, it is not. While there are no means to measure the objective value of one religion over another (just as there are no means to measure the relative strength of love between various human beings)—there are objective means to measure results. A couple thousand years of Christianity hasn’t made Christians any more moral than nonChristians, and some of the greatest atrocities committed by human beings towards one another or towards the planet have not only occurred in the Christian era, but with the support and approval of Christian authorities.

    Tl;dr. Shorter version: work on yourself.

  2. Matthew says:

    Linus, who just earlier had said that it is wrong to force belief on others by the sword, then asks La Luba “can you honestly blame or fault anyone from trying to save your eternal soul if they thought it was in imminent danger and God wanted them to talk with you about it? If they’re right (which they’re convinced they are), you’re in danger, they are trying to save you. You might think they’re crazy or misguided, but you’d recognize they are being consistent to their belief system. You can fault them if they do it badly – or fail to recognize your right to have final say about the way you conduct yourself – but in a conversation about values that is freely entered into they have a right to try to convince you.”

    This, of course, is precisely the justification for burning heretics and others (including homosexuals) during the Inquisition. The lesson is beware people who talk to God and think they have a mission to “save” other people.

  3. La Lubu says:

    Thank you, Matthew. In my day-to-day life, I *don’t* freely enter into those conversations. I can do so now on this blog only because of the distance and anonymity the internet offers. I don’t care if Christians are being true to their belief system. By imposing it on me, they aren’t being true to *my* belief system—which they feel no compunction to respect, as it translates into their system as unbelief.

    Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. All I’m asking is that people stop using the literal “bully pulpit”.

  4. Linus says:

    Matthew –

    Note in my quote that the conversations I was speaking about are “freely entered into”. The Inquisition did not consist of those types of conversations.

    Also know that I am not claiming to speak for all Christians, I have tried to use the term traditional Christians – which I could further specify as traditional Christians with an orthodox view of sexual ethics. If I wasn’t clear, I am sorry. I am not trying to be arrogant, I’ll try to be more specific in the future.

    I understand that others have different assumptions – I’m not trying to force mine on anyone – I originally asked if such a conversation (where assumptions differ) was possible on this issue. I think it is, you seem to suggest it isn’t, and that even attempting to talk about our differences is offensive irregardless of context, intent, or motivation.

  5. Linus says:

    La Luba,

    you feel that I should give the benefit of the doubt to sincere believers who are only looking out for what they feel are my best interests…..I don’t feel that way. Instead, I’m very offended at their arrogance, that they disrespect my own beliefs and claim to know my best interests better than I, despite not having lived my life

    I feel like, if a person really respected you they would endeavor to engage you, get to know you, and create a context for talking about their and your faith systems. The burden is on them to not be arrogant, to listen as much as they talk, and to respect your beliefs even as they disagree with them. A dialoge or conversation assumes active participation from all parties to flourish – that is my goal. And since I know that traditional Christians often fail to consistently do this, I apologize. The goal of a conversation like this is not to make you or any other person feel judged or preached at – it is to develop understanding and respect.

  6. La Lubu says:

    Linus: It’s possible for Christians and Jews to be good neighbors to one another when the “hello, neighbor” overtures consist of compliments on one another’s garden or how well one another’s children are growing up. However, if the Christian neighbor, upon reaching a certain comfort zone, starts talking about Jesus as the Messiah, or “helpfully” puts up some unasked for Christmas lights on the Jewish neighbor’s front porch, or consistently serves pork barbecue for backyard invites……I predict that neighborliness is going to go down in flames.

    (I realize this description may seem unfair to Christians, but I don’t think there’s a counterpart among Jews; Jewish people aren’t known for proselytizing to non-Jews.)

    Doe that comparison make thing any clearer? Certain overtures are a *breach of trust*, and actual relationships don’t tend to survive such a breach of trust.

    Again, some of us, by virtue of who and what we are, are more often seen as salvation projects—-and being objectified places us in a context in which actual relationship (equality, reciprocity) is not possible.

  7. Linus says:

    La Luba,

    I think your example is helpful in that it highlights how the Christian in question is being insensitive and offensive and failing pretty badly at being both a good neighbor and friend.

    I’d counter by posing a modified scenario: a Christian/Jewish neighbor friendship where the families are very close. The kids grow up as playmates and classmates. The Christians are invited to Seder dinners by the Jewish family at passover, the Christians go out of their way to have Turkey Burgers or grilled chicken at BBQ’s where their neighbors are present. They not only compliment each other’s gardens, but also watch each other’s kids in emergencies and houses while the other are on vacation…the type of friendship where there are natural conversations about family values, personal histories, hopes, dreams. I think these families would have a level of trust that could handle a respectful conversation about faith differences.

    In fact, I think most friendships and relationship that rise above the rather low standard of contemporary “neighborliness” can survive if the person engaging that conversation is at all considerate and attempts to be sensitive to the other person’s context.

    Part of being considerate is knowing if a person is afraid they are going to be a “salvation project” and setting them at ease about their status as a person of value, not an object.

    The burden is on the person engaging.

  8. La Lubu says:

    Linus, I feel differently. I feel that true friends do not intrude on one another in that way. My beliefs and practices are my own; they are not up for debate. Sheesh, I’m not even up for debating why my house or its rooms are painted the color they are! It’s mine. See? Boundaries. Circles of intimacy. I’m tired of my smile and general hail-fellow-well-met demeanor (no, really!) being seen as a license to plow through my boundaries.

  9. Schroeder says:

    However, if the Christian neighbor, upon reaching a certain comfort zone, starts However, if the Christian neighbor, upon reaching a certain comfort zone, starts talking about Jesus as the Messiah, or “helpfully” puts up some unasked for Christmas lights on the Jewish neighbor’s front porch, or consistently serves pork barbecue for backyard invites……I predict that neighborliness is going to go down in flames.

    I think you’re conflating two different things here, La Luba. “Talking about Jesus as the Messiah,” provided it is done respectfully, with a close friend, in a spirit of love, friendship, and “acheiving disagreement,” is very different than putting “up some unasked for Christmas lights on the Jewish neighbor’s front porch, or consistently [serving] pork barbecue for backyard invites.” Maybe it’s true that any one of those would destroy the friendship (if so, I think that’s a sad commentary on modern friendship), but they seem clearly different to me: the first is a conversation about deep and personal issues (which it perhaps only apropriate in a close friendship) and the last two are vandalism and extreme rudeness, respectively.

  10. La Lubu says:

    Acck! Posted that before I saw your latest comment. The scenario you just describedoffers respect for one another’s beliefs—with no intrusion upon religion (forcing the other party to justify his or her beliefs).

  11. La Lubu says:

    Schroeder, I respectfully disagree. Engaging your neighbor in a discussion about Jesus as the Messiah, when your neighbor has already declared that he or she does not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, is an intrusion on the level of hanging Christmas tree lights on their porch. Time is valuable—although you are not performing physical damage, you are still wasting your neighbor’s valuable time (nonrecoverable) and insulting/disrespecting your neighbor by not accepting that he or she has beliefs of his or her own that are at odds with yours—silence and maintaining boundaries are virtues.

  12. La Lubu says:

    Conversation on intimate subjects is perfectly suitable *when an explicit invitation to do so is offered*. Otherwise, the proper course of action is to assume that this is a boundary not to be crossed.

    (Note: I know I’m harping on boundaries—but that’s based in my life experience that my boundaries are usually only respected when I am very harsh, blunt, or straight-up mean about it. When I “play nice”, that’s seen as a sign of weakness. I suspect this is because I’m a smaller woman. You may not feel the same pressure to assert your boundaries if your physical presence or social stature automatically assert them for you.)

  13. Linus says:

    Well – not every conversation is a debate (thank goodness), but your point is fair.

    You absolutely have the right to set the boundaries of what you want to discuss and how deeply into your life you let your friends and neighbors, and fellow blog commenters. That frames the conversation in a way that lets whomever you’re talking with endeavor to treat you respectfully.

    Is it fair to say those boundaries are different for each individual? If so, especially in public forums like this, how do we go about establishing proper boundaries that don’t entirely stiffle the question at hand?

  14. Schroeder says:

    La Luba, it sounds like what you’re saying is that it is impossible for two close friends who respect each other’s views to have a conversation about an issue they disagree on, provided that 1.) the issue is very personal, and 2.) both parties believe that their opinion is true, in a robust sense of the word “true.”

    Is this an accurate account of your opinion? If so, I respectfully disagree as well.

    As a non-Catholic with Catholic friends, I can say that I am able to disagree strongly with my Catholic friends (on, say, birth control) but still talk about this issue with them and maintain the friendship.

  15. La Lubu says:

    Good point, Linus. I do think it’s important for those with greater social power to cede power to the extent that they can during these types of conversation. I also think it’s important to recognize cultural differences. I would no more deem it appropriate to have conversations about spirituality with people who do not share my outlook than I would to…..ask them what sexual practices they prefer in the bedroom. I mean, culturally, many people from a WASP background are more open to academic questioning on matters that people from my background regard as more intimate.

  16. La Lubu says:

    Schroeder, where the boundaries are vary from person to person, but they also vary from culture to culture. If you have strong disagreements, but still share the same cultural attitudes about where the boundaries are and have the same cultural modes of expressions and codes of communication, it can be possible. Invariably, I find that when I’m deaaling with someone who has such a differing worldview, I *also* dealing with someone with an entirely different set of boundaries as well as means/modes/codes of communication.

    Too much disparity, and the gulf can’t really be crossed. “You go your way and I’ll go mine” is as good as it gets. I’ve never met a Catholic that doesn’t use birth control, but if I did, I wouldn’t consider that topic up for grabs. That would be an automatic “you go your way and I’ll go mine.” I consider my ability to prevent unwanted pregnancy to be a critical part of my bodily autonomy and human dignity. No one else gets a say in that.

  17. Matthew says:

    The scenarios that are offered here by Linus and Schroeder assume that the neighbors have some interest in religion. Not all people do. Many people, including me, absolutely recoil when anyone other than very close friends talk religion.

    I had a very religious neighbor once. We were starting to become friendly because we had several mutual interests. I knew that he and his wife were religious but as I came to know them better I realized that they were aggressively religious, which made me wary. I also came to realize that they were raising their two children in what seemed to me to be very bad ways (i.e., indoctrinating them). When they began breaching the boundaries that La Luba speaks of, and offered unsolicited comments about how much they admired the “friendship” my partner and I shared but felt compelled to let us know that they disapproved of homosexuality, we became very chilly neighbors indeed.

  18. Bregalad says:

    La Lubu,

    Is it safe to say that you are very protective of your private life? That the walls which guard your privacy are unusually high, uncommonly thick, and uncustomarily reach into areas that other people might find fair-game for discussion?

    Further, would you say you are more sensitive than others to power disparities between individuals?

    I’m also wondering if you think your boundaries ought to be other people’s boundaries as well, or at least approximate your own boundaries? And your sensitivity to power relationships, my own sensitivity?

    Because if your boundaries were my own, I would fear being treated with kid gloves. I would fear that I was making a power play on them by making so many peculiar demands on them.

    I don’t ask you to share my boundaries or my beliefs about them. I respect where you place your personal boundaries, although I think you run the risk of frequently being offended. I just ask you to respect where I and others build our boundaries, because I think you hold very unique, very personal, boundaries.

    I’ve talked with many folks about lgbt issues and faith issues: straights for gay marriage, straights against gay marriage, gays for gay marriage, gays against gay marriage, gays against gay marriage because marriage is a bourgeois institution and should be abolished not perpetuated, polys for gay marriage, polys against gay marriage because marriage shouldn’t be limited to two people, really-really-evangelical orthodox Jews, not-evangelical-at-all-not-even-one-bit reform Jews, Mormons, Jack Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Protestants, Smart Traditionalist Evangelicals (OMG!), etc. etc. etc.

    I don’t want to speak for all of them, but none of them policed their boundaries like you do. I daresay, none of them wanted your boundaries. Maybe they should, you tell me! I guess I just assume they think such boundaries might create a dull, insular existence. That’s at least what I think for myself. Porous “boundaries” are more fulfilling and fun! Again, at least for me.

    NYC is awesome, by the way. The people you meet!

  19. Phil says:

    Look at my first post, you’ll see that to be the case. I NEVER brought up a person being fired for being straight. You made that up in your head, I’m afraid.

    Since it was a hypothetical example, yes, I did make it up out of my head to illustrate the point that I was making. I never said that I was talking about you or your behavior with that example; I was linking my own stream of thought from a point that La Lubu made to a point that I was making. I’m sorry if my writing was so imprecise that it caused you to feel that everything I wrote was meant to convey that you are a terrible person.

    Is it a crime to read “The American Conservative” or simply bad taste? The reason I posted that quote was partially to indict ME. That’s why I said it was “a bit too spot on for comfort.”

    Again, not every word is an attack on you. No one said it’s a crime to read “The American Conservative,” but if I were to quote David Dukes in a blog discussion of discrimination against people of color, would it be unreasonable for someone to point out that I was quoting David Dukes?

    (If your instinct is to point out that I’m now comparing Rod Dreher to a KKK member, I’ll happily admit that I have zero problem with that comparison. I also find that sub-sub-topic to be irrelevant to this discussion.)

    The problem with your defense of your actions (“it was too spot on for comfort” and “I was partially indicting myself”) is: that’s what people who are concern trolling do. I realize that puts you in a semi-catch-22 situation, but if we acknowledge that there is such a phenomenon as concern trolling, then it is reasonable to say 1) there are elements of behavior that occur when someone is concern trolling and 2) you are engaging in many of these behaviors.

    It doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person. It means that this is the Internet, and we’ve seen people do this before. It doesn’t mean you are intentionally trying to mimic those people; just that your behaviors are consistent with a frequently-occurring blog discussion “thing.”

    A comparison would be, in feminist blogs, it is common for someone to join a discussion of a discrimination that women face and bring up how an issue affects men. It may well be that the issue does affect men, but the “men face sex discrimination too!” meme gets brought up over and over, and frequently has the effect of derailing the discussion of discrimination faced by women.

    That was a hypothetical example: I am not accusing you of bringing up the menz in a feminist discussion in order to derail a conversation. But can you see how a person, even if they have good intentions, can engage in a behavior that would cause feminists discussing one particular issue to roll their eyes, because they’ve encountered that behavior so many times before? And, if you can, then can you see how, in the context of a discussion about objectification of LGBT persons by opponents of LGBT rights, bringing up the bizarrely specific counter-example of objectification of LGBT persons by supporters of LGBT rights would elicit an eye-roll?

    No, here is an example of me being completely unfair, and also reasonable, to you in this conversation: if you still want to vehemently disagree with me, it will only make you look more like you are trolling. So, if you really believe you aren’t trolling, it would be wiser for you to ignore this particular facet of the conversation and move on.


    Some claims have very little merit and can be easily dismissed without requiring herculian efforts of intellectual rigour.

    I agree. The claims that I would put in this category are all claims that require a belief in the supernatural, such as Christianity and Jediism.

    I would say the Catholic church was wrong to try and limit access to dissenting views

    Ah, but if the Catholic Church is wrong about one thing, then it is wrong about everything. It is not a part-and-parcel religion. Catholicism, as its written documents establish, is a complete faith system, not a series of options.

    When I was Catholic, I didn’t believe that. So I jettisoned the entire faith, not just the parts I was having trouble with.

    With regard to the discussions about who has the right to proselytize, a few thoughts. (The thread is too long for me to find the exact quotes I’m responding to.):

    1.) When we talk about whether a person has a “right” to proselytize or ask me to follow their religion, I interpret that to mean that we are talking a moral right, or–talking about what is right and wrong to do. I don’t interpret La Lubu as saying that Christians don’t have a _legal_ right to write articles persuading others to their beliefs or tell their neighbors that Jesus is the messiah.

    As such, if we say that a person who holds an extreme belief about what is good for my immortal soul has a right or obligation to proselytize based on the specific nature of their beliefs… I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with that logic. That suggests that extremists have more right to proselytize than others, because of their extremist beliefs. I am more comfortable with the idea that we all have an equal right (moral right) to tell other people that they ought to be following our beliefs.

    I also think it is absolutely wrong for the government, for non-religious social institutions, etc., to tell people what religious beliefs to hold. Thus, when we are crafting laws, or discussing social norms, we ought to consider not just specific existing beliefs, but any possible hypothetical belief that a person could hold. Should a school kowtow to people who don’t think that it is moral to eat pork? Well, would the school kowtow to people who don’t think it’s moral to eat any meat? Would the school kowtow to people who held the belief that it is wrong to eat anything besides chocolate ice cream? Etc. That doesn’t mean that you intentionally try to violate the beliefs of others, just that you don’t go out of your way for one religious belief system because it happens to be held by someone.

    2.) Here’s my analogy with regarding to public and private discussions of sexual morality. I think you have as much right to share with me that you think my sexual behavior is immoral as you do to call me a sex-related nickname, like “Sugartits” or “Penishead.”

    I’m not kidding, either. I think that you have a right to express yourself, and if another person doesn’t like they way you have communicated with them, they can say so. If you call me “Penishead” out of the blue on a public street, and I tell you to stop, and you persist, then you are harassing me. You don’t have a right to harass me. (Note, though, that I acknowledge you have the right to say it once; I think some of my progressive friends my disagree with my stance there, but that’s what I believe.)

    If you call me “Sugartits” at the workplace, it is reasonable for your employer to question your judgment, whether or not I have asked you not to do so. Similarly, if you tell me, at the workplace, that you believe acting on my sexual orientation is immoral, it is reasonable for your employer to question your judgment based on the first instance.

    If we are friends or neighbors, and you know me well enough to know that I would be perfectly fine with you calling me “Sugartits” or “Penishead,” or some other, more obscene term, then you know me well enough to discuss your personal views on sexual morality with me.

    I’m kind of proud of this rule of thumb and plan to bring it up the next time someone discusses their views on sexual morality with me. :)

  20. La Lubu says:

    Bregalad, I think the boundaries I have are very much “standard issue” for working class Sicilian-Americans. I see the same boundaries being set by members of my family who I disagree with on religious and political matters, and among friends of the same background. It’s a cultural thing: our private faces and places have very high boundaries as a resistance against the stress and strife of everyday life. We don’t tend to invite even close friends to our homes very often—-just family. It’s just “our thing”. But I’m by no means unusual when compared to others of my background.

    Likewise, I’m no more sensitive to issues of power disparity than the average working class woman (of any background). As I said above, when your typical experience is having to defend your boundaries against others who won’t/don’t respect them….you tend to be primed for more of the same (especially when encountering people who use the same catchphrases and keywords that others who’ve jumped the proper boundaries do).

    I don’t get easily offended, because being a working class woman, I don’t often come into contact with people who challenge my boundaries (despite having a lot of contact with people I disagree with). There’s an automatic understanding, based on similar (though not the same) cultural references as to what is appropriate, what questions people are likely to be open to.

    I really dig spirited conversation, but only with those with whom I have that same understanding; that same basic level of common ground (meaning: knowing the nonverbal/verbal traffic signals). For example, I look forward to one of my annual family reunions (father’s side) where the conversation follows an ADD-inspired fractal path–it’s fun! But we’re family; we’re not out to hurt one another, and it’s worth mentioning that none of us have a religious viewpoint that involves damnation (most of that set of folks would describe themselves as “recovering Catholics”, if not agnostic. Just mention that because….it’s relevant. There’s no prerogative to convince anyone that there’s wrong. Being wrong is….harmless).

    I think it’s also a midwestern thing…at least in the urban areas. Minding one’s own business is a strong midwestern value.

  21. La Lubu says:

    If we are friends or neighbors, and you know me well enough to know that I would be perfectly fine with you calling me “Sugartits” or “Penishead,” or some other, more obscene term, then you know me well enough to discuss your personal views on sexual morality with me.

    OMG Phil!! You are cracking me UP!! I am stealing that at my earliest opportunity!!

    But seriously…that’s a great analogy for the degree of intimacy such a conversation would require, along with the degree of familiarity and back-and-forth rough-and-tumble that goes along with such a conversation. I’m a union woman; I’ve heard it all, LOL! But…the guys I tolerate it from? There’s reciprocity there. We’re not just “brothers and sisters” in the formal nominative sense that often exists in the labor world; we’ve actually put that amount of time into one another’s lives. Visited each other in the hospital, went to one another’s parent’s funerals and such. Been there for one another when needed, without being asked and again, without doing things the other would regard as intrusive. That’s what real friends are—they have that kind of intimacy. And the kind of intimacy required to get away with calling me “Sugartits” without getting a foot broken off in a painful place….well, that requires positive action on your part, not just lip service.

  22. Comrade Svilova says:

    As a Jewish queer woman, I see someone proselytizing Jesus as the Messiah as deeply offensive, no matter what. Part of that comes from never having a conversation like that that didn’t include liberal doses of both anti-semitism and homophobia. So regarding the example of the Christmas lights, yes, the conversation about Jesus as Messiah is as problematic for me. In general, I feel that the majority of Christians need to ‘cast out the log from their own eye’ before trying to engage in conversations with non Christians about Christianity. Yes, they believe their religion is true, but almost never respect the equally firm and closely held beliefs of others.

  23. fannie says:

    My comment in response to David Lapp’s latest post are also relevant to the commentary in this post, just FYI.


    “I don’t want to speak for all of them, but none of them policed their boundaries like you do.”

    I’m not surprised by your opinion regarding La Lubu’s boundary-setting and privacy preferences. Many people, I daresay most, in the US are not adept at setting boundaries, nor are people adept at respecting the boundaries that other people set. Entire self-defense courses are run that focus solely on communication strategies to set boundaries. It is simply not a skill that is widely taught, valued, or respected.

    That being said, your commentary and passive-aggressive suggestions that La Lubu is hyper-sensitive about boundary-setting is incredibly disrespectful of her stated boundaries, of her choice with respect to her right to set boundaries, and of her personal autonomy.

    She has obliged with a respectful response, but I don’t see the matter as being up for debate, judgment, or peanut-gallery commentary in this comment thread.

    I’m pretty lenient when it comes to comment moderation and generally don’t mind when people veer off topic, but when it gets personal and borderline abusive, I like to set a boundary (see what I did there?) around what comments are welcome following my posts.

  24. fannie says:

    Back to substance, I wanted to respond to one of Bregalad’s previous comments:

    “Frankly, I think whenever someone’s intent is questioned through the use of hostile language, e.g. ‘bigot’ ‘disengenuous’ etc., this sort of miscommunication is bound to happen.”

    I just want to point out that no one in this thread has called anyone a bigot.

    And here we are at the 79th comment, in which people on all sides of the issue are speaking.

    And, despite the charge, which has now been made multiple times within this thread, that people on my side (the pro-equality side) use the word bigot to stifle debate, nor has anyone been banned from this thread.

    So, I’m going to add that not only can it be hostile to call people bigots when they’re not bigots, it can be hostile to accuse LGBT people and our allies of widely possessing the intent to call people bigots as a means to stifle debate.

    And, I’m going to repeat an earlier comment, because it went largely unacknowledged.

    It is not for heterosexuals, especially heterosexuals who are opposed to LGBT rights, to say what is and is not authentic bigotry against LGBT people. It does not surprise me that so many of you Fail To See bigotry that is real and harmful to people who are members of groups that you do not belong to.

    It is not surprising to me that many of you believe we are hyper-sensitive. Easily offended. Just call people bigots to shut you up.

    I am likewise troubled by the scenarios I am regularly presented with. “What about so-and-so, would you say he’s a bigot?” or “What if a person says X, is that bigotry?”

    I don’t know your intent, just as you do not know mine. So all I can tell you is what your words and actions look like, to me.

    Some of you profess to be Christians, but your actions and words demonstrate, to me, that the primary concern within many conversations might be how to have conversations with LGBT people, express potentially-bigoted views, while simultaneously figuring out what you can say out loud while not getting called a bigot. That- as opposed to truly, sincerely, and compassionately trying to understand how and why a statement might be harmful to LGBT people.

    And yet.

    You will notice. I repeat. Not one person here has yet been called a bigot.

    Despite the fact that, if I (and possibly others) were being honest, some…. problematic views about homosexuality, civility, and what sorts of hostility LGBT people are being asked to endure are being expressed. And, not only are these views being expressed, we (LGBT people and allies) have to entertain them respectfully as though they’re legit propositions, because to not entertain them sincerely is to be “disrespectful.” When, in some LGBT safe spaces, those very notions would be considered incredibly hostile and, thus, unwelcome.

    So, to circle back to my point, the dreaded b-word feels hostile and unfair to some of you because, I reckon, (a) as heterosexuals, many of you simply don’t see bigotry against LGBT people because (b) you are not on the receiving end of it.

    Just some “thought food” for ya.

  25. Bregalad says:

    Phil, if you respond to this statement in any way, shape, or form then we can safely assume that you are beating your wife.

    Here’s a completely unfair, and also reasonable suggestion on how to respond: Don’t. Because — OMG! — we can’t help ourselves! We will have to assume that awfull, awfull fact about you because the above statement says we have to. Oh deary, what a pickle you’re in! I’m so glad I’m not in your shoes! I mean, heavens to betsy!, what would I do?!

    If mimicry is the highest form of flattery, then Hallelujah!, Phil, I’m singing your praises!

    Phil, you’re not poisoning the well. I’m not concern trolling. You’re just feisty and stubborn. And so am I.


  26. Bregalad says:

    (a) as heterosexuals, many of you simply don’t see bigotry against LGBT people because (b) you are not on the receiving end of it.

    You don’t know this, Fannie. Stop speaking for me. That’s my boundary. (See what I did there?)

  27. Linus says:

    Bregalad – I think you need to dial it down – your tone is not encouraging a productive conversation.

    Fannie – I did respond to your comment vis-a-vis the “b” word, and I stand by what I said – I still think we all know what hate speech is, and all have a duty to confront it when and where it is happening.

    You are right that no one has been called a bigot, and that for the most part this debate has been heated without turning ugly. However, there has been a general lack of generosity on both sides. I don’t think the traditional religious folk on here are trying to find a way to test out “potentially-bigoted views” (to quote you) or that the LGBT folks are irrationally unwilling to countenance viewpoints they perceive as threats.

    Would it be fair to summarize the traditional argument thus far as: ["Is it possible to have a honest discussion on our beliefs and views with an LGBT person which isn't prima facie hateful?" Yes, such a conversation is possible - but it requires a proper context, respectfulness of other's views, a desire to seek the good, and a willingness to fundamentally disagree without necessarily reaching a resolution. The ultimate goal being that each side has an opportunity to share what they believe to be true and good, while respecting the other's autonomy to accept or reject their views.]

    The LGBT view seems to be: [There are very few possibilities for an honest discussion on beliefs and views with a traditional religious person that will not be perceived as hateful. The context requires a level of intimacy akin to family, and even then the LGBT person's boundaries must always be taken into consideration and respected. There is an acknowledgment that often LGBT persons have had negative experiences with people of traditional faiths which have created a negative context for discussing and considering religious truth claims. There is also a prominent strain of thinking that any position that does not support "equality" or "rights" for LGBT persons is prima-facie hateful.]

    I hope those are both straightforward and accurate. If they are – and currently opportunities for honest discussion are unlikely based on context – what are some steps both sides can take to change the context in such a way that both sides can converse on this difficult subject in the future?

    Also, lets all make a better effort to be generous to each other. The tone doesn’t have to be so punchy.

  28. Schroeder says:

    Matthew, I agree with the vast majority of what you said in your post at 5:34 P.M. I think that what your neighbors said to you was completely inappropriate, and I acknowledge that there are some people who aren’t as interested in talking about religion as I am. I also agree with you and La Luba that it is good to respect the boundaries people set for themselves. These conversations shouldn’t forced. All of my posts about this subject, I’ve tried to make clear, are meant to be read in the context of close friendships, charity, and discretion.

    I’ve found this conversation useful, because I believe that I understand a little bit better where you, La Luba, and Fannie are coming from. So thank you all for challenging me not to create strawmen.

    All that being said, I think that there are subtle differences between what I believe and your views as I understand them. First, I think that pursuing the truth together – even about personal issues where there is disagreement – far from being impossible among friends, is a sine qua non of the deepest kind of friendship. Second, I hope and believe that there are some contexts outside of friendship (such as, hopefully, this blog where everyone is participating in the discussion by their own volition) where we can talk about these things with mutual respect and without hating each other. I think that these contexts can help people avoid ideological insularity (as they have, indeed, helped me).

    I believe that truth exists and that it is important. I put this in a separate paragraph, because I think this is an area where we agree and not a “small difference.” I think that this shared belief is what can make these discussions not a waste of time – as long as there is mutual good faith among all parties.

  29. fannie says:


    You claim that I was “speaking for you” and made a snarky response telling me to stop doing that. Nowhere did I claim to be speaking for you.

    My comment about heterosexuals not being on the receiving end of anti-gay bigotry was directed at heterosexuals. You seem really into “hiding the ball” about your sexual identity in this conversation, but you know what? If you aren’t heterosexual, not only do I not care, my comment didn’t apply to you. It really is that simple.

    Your comments to others, within this thread, have likewise been condescending, passive-aggressive, and, at times, outright aggressive.

    Your continued hostility is unwelcome in this conversation. I’m going to ask that you tone it down. You have one more chance to make a productive, civil contribution within this thread.

  30. fannie says:


    Thank you for your comment.

    “I still think we all know what hate speech is, and all have a duty to confront it when and where it is happening.”

    I’m not sure, though, that “we all” would recognize or agree upon what does and doesn’t count as hate speech. But, I do appreciate the sentiment that we all have a duty to call it out. Just as I know that many religious people who oppose LGBT rights condemn, say, Fred Phelps, I try to condemn hate directed at my political opponents when I encounter it.

    Regarding your summaries of some of the positions stated here in answer to your question, I have not scrutinized the many comments in this thread. So, I can’t honestly say whether your summaries are accurate.

    Might I suggest we move the conversation to David Lapp’s post from today?

    I have responded to your question there and don’t want people to duplicate responses. And, I believe this thread might be closing soon due to comment capacity (?).

  31. Bregalad says:

    Linus (and everyone else), I apologize for my tone. I agree I can be overly snarky at times in a tactless sort of way. I will try to change.

    Fannie, in all seriousness, where have I been outright aggressive? I assume you think in my post to La Lubu when I had questions about her boundaries. To me, again, to me, her boundaries are hyper-sensitive, in that those boundaries would feel that way to me if I adopted them. I don’t question whether she has good reason for her sensitivity — that’s not for me to judge — we all come from different cultures and backgrounds. And if you notice, I never once judged her motives. I said that, to me, her sensitivity if it was mine would be too insular. I stand by those statements. My reason for engaging her on the issue of boundaries is because she was telling me what types of conversations were appropriate and inappropriate to have with others, and I wanted her to think about whether her views on appropriateness and boundaries might be unique; thus, only applying to her and to others who share similar boundaries. What is inappropriate to her might be entirely appropriate for others, and vice versa. What is more aggressive: me saying others have different views on appropriateness and boundaries or this:

    If you haven’t been specifically invited by someone to offer an opinion on how to conduct his or her sex life, it is inappropriate to do so. Period. Exclamation mark. It’s inappropriate. Whether it’s Gonnerman saying that it’s immoral for any unmarried person to have sex, or if it’s a fictional, nonexistant person somewhere elese claiming that all heterosexual, married sex is immoral. In.Appropriate.

    She’s saying that Gonnerman and others like him are engaging in inappropriate behavior. Period. Not just inappropriate to her, but universally inappropriate. Again, who’s being more aggressive? Who’s more hostile?

    The other area where I might be accused of aggressiveness is with Phil in my last comment. Clearly, I was speaking tongue in cheek. He claimed that I was concern trolling, but then said that if I responded to the accusation that I would only confirm his accusation. He admitted it was a catch-22, thus my “have you stopped beating your wife” comment. Who’s being more aggressive? Phil, who is genuinely accusing me of something, but saying I can’t respond lest I confirm his accusation, or me, who jokingly pointed out the absurdity of that?

    I genuinely feel that you are less sensitive to aggressiveness perpetuated by those you more-or-less agree with, especially when that aggressiveness is perpetuated against those you more-or-less disagree with. I genuinely feel that. It doesn’t upset me that much, honestly, because I expect that sort of thing to happen. But it does upset me when only I get called out for hostility when others are behaving similarly. And it upsets me that you’re flashing your admin powers of banning, which surely will be used against me and only me, when others have said things like this:

    Gosh, Bregalad– looks like somebody just finished fulfilling a sophomore-level critical thinking transfer credit, and now they’re eager to put that learnin’ to use… you are naive, and inexperienced in the real world

    And not a peep out of you. But once I question the universality of someone’s boundaries, bam, “you have one more chance…” It brings to mind a quote: “Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I’m being repressed!” Ban me — repress me — and you risk exposing the hidden violence. Who’s hostile again?

    As for you “speaking for me,” on that count I think I chose my words poorly. I should have said, instead, stop assuming things about me and others. Do you know my sexuality or my history? Do you know Linus’s? Then don’t assume.

    Which brings us to your “hiding the ball” accusation. I don’t think I owe you an explanation. If that’s hiding the ball, then, okay, I can live with that.

    Funny, I originally entered the fray merely to defend Gonnerman’s right to speak — because he indeed has moral standing. Ironic, isn’t it?

  32. Phil says:

    when others have said things like this:

    I’ll ignore the other parts of your post. But Bregalad, can you see that you have clearly misquoted me by deleting the introduction to my hypothetical example–which was introduced as an example of a logical fallacy–and also by deleting my explanation of why such a statement would not disprove your arguments?

  33. La Lubu says:

    First, I think that pursuing the truth together – even about personal issues where there is disagreement – far from being impossible among friends, is a sine qua non of the deepest kind of friendship…..

    I believe that truth exists and that it is important. I put this in a separate paragraph, because I think this is an area where we agree and not a “small difference.”

    There are those who believe in One True Way. There are others who believe in many simultaneous, coexisting true ways. There isn’t going to be reconciliation between those ways of looking at the world. I can’t have a mutual pursuit of truth with someone who does not accept that there are many truths, coming from many sources. I don’t think anyone can have a honest search for truth with another person who already rejects the other’s truth.

  34. La Lubu says:

    To me, again, to me, her boundaries are hyper-sensitive, in that those boundaries would feel that way to me if I adopted them.

    Oh, hey….we’re good. I wasn’t offended; I just thought it really odd that you hadn’t encountered my attitude towards boundaries before. It’s the prevailing one where I live by a large margin. (perhaps you haven’t visited the midwestern US? Or dealt with any Sicilian-Americans or any other ethnic group known for its insularity?)

    I have to ask though—are you offended when people don’t push you or pry on personal matters? I mean, do you assume a laid-back approach to interpersonal communication is a sign of “that person doesn’t really like me”?

  35. fannie says:


    I’ve been participating on Internet for many years. You seem to be new to this?

    Well, I don’t have time or interest in conducting kangaroo character court trials about who is behaving worse on Internet in a given comment thread that everyone will have forgotten about in 2 weeks.

    We have different notions about what constitutes hostility. I’m not surprised by this disconnect. It happens in these types of conversations a lot. Especially when people have different ideas about and experience with boundary-setting.

    “As for you ‘speaking for me,’ on that count I think I chose my words poorly. I should have said, instead, stop assuming things about me and others. Do you know my sexuality or my history? Do you know Linus’s? Then don’t assume.”

    Well, you’ve chosen your words poorly again, because I haven’t assumed anything about your orientation.

    “Which brings us to your ‘hiding the ball’ accusation. I don’t think I owe you an explanation. If that’s hiding the ball, then, okay, I can live with that.”

    It wasn’t an accusation, it was an observation.

    Did you read the part where I said I don’t care what your orientation is? I don’t want an explanation. I want you, in fact, to stop making it an issue. You have repeatedly brought up the fact that you won’t reveal your orientation within this conversation. You seem to care more about your unrevealed orientation more than anyone here.

    “Funny, I originally entered the fray merely to defend Gonnerman’s right to speak — because he indeed has moral standing. Ironic, isn’t it?”

    Funny? Ironic?

    I don’t think those words mean….

    Are you suggesting that people here are in favor of censoring you or Gonnerman? We’re 89 comments in. And you’ve far exceeded the 3-comment maximum that commenters are asked to abide by in this blog’s stated civility policy.

  36. La Lubu says:

    Thank you fannie, for your clarification about censorship. I’m not saying that Gonnerman or anyone else professing his views should be arrested or otherwise legally prohibited from expressing those views of sexuality (which is how I understand “censorship”). I’m just saying that his views deserve to be immediately dismissed by anyone who chooses to, as they are crossing proper boundaries. We aren’t obligated to entertain someone else’s opinion on our intimate, private lives.

  37. Bregalad says:


    When I brought up a hypothetical example of a catch-22, I brought up something that is a common trope, i.e. “have you stopped beating your wife,” and one that is clearly not true for you, hence there’s no reason to take my words as a personal attack. When you brought up your hypothetical logical fallacy, you brought up something that was more personal in nature that could reasonably be labeled by outside observers as a personal attack. It’s not fair to essentially say to me “I could imply that your are naive or inexperienced, but I’m not going to” because it really doesn’t seem like “I could imply” or “but I’m not going to” is doing much work in that sentence. I don’t think you should be banned, by the way, for your personal attack.

    La Lubu,

    Great questions. I have experienced folks with more or thicker boundaries, but not as frequently. Maybe I’m just drawn to people with looser boundaries. Although that’s not always the case. I have a friend where we just hung out for years and never got that deep into each others lives. Most of the time, I wouldv’e asked myself “Is this person even interested in me?” but in the case of this friend, I didn’t ponder that for whatever reason.

    Last week, I chatted up the bartender of a pub I infrequent on issues of cohabitation, dating relationships, religion, gay marriage, our parents marital statuses, and our personal sex life. Both of us were laughing and ribbing the other and nobody got too offended I think, although there was one tense moment, I admit. I had met the bartender only once before, but the conversation started with a mutual admission that we like to “mix things up by interacting with different folks” so I thought it safe to proceed.

    So I guess it’s a case by case thing on when I go deep and when I don’t. Also, I find it interesting and cool that we both think we have laid-back approaches. I guess we’re just laid-back in different ways!


    Yeah, I’m relatively new to this. I mean, I read blogs alot, but typically don’t comment. I’m sensitive to whenever someone creates a “chilling effect” on speech. So, if someone is said not to have “moral standing” to give their opinion, or if it is determined that the phrase “gay sex is immoral” is always and everywhere inappropriate, even in a blog where the topic of gay sex is bantied about pretty freely, or if people are frequently accusing the other side of disingenuous remarks, or if one side gets free reign to make “hostile” comments, the other (inappropriate, disingenuous, lacking in moral standing) side being granted a very short leash, then that gets my hackles up.

    For another instance of someone creating a chilling effect on speech, see here:

    It is not for heterosexuals, especially heterosexuals who are opposed to LGBT rights, to say what is and is not authentic bigotry against LGBT people.

    So heterosexuals who are opposed to LGBT rights have no right to make legitimate and fair judgment calls on what is or is not bigotry? None at all? Or do they simply have fewer rights? What about gays who are against gay marriage, what sort of rights do they have? Or what about effeminate heterosexuals who have been teased for being gay yet still oppose gay marriage? Gay catholic priests, what about them? I believe Linus has ably dealt with this issue, but I hope you can see the chilling effect your speech has on your interlocutors.

    Again, I’m the guy who’s for not judging motives. I don’t think you’re trying to stifle speech, but you are.

    You go on to say that you didn’t assume anything about my or others’ orientation. Read this again:

    So, to circle back to my point, the dreaded b-word feels hostile and unfair to some of you because, I reckon, (a) as heterosexuals, many of you simply don’t see bigotry against LGBT people because (b) you are not on the receiving end of it.

    AS heterosexuals”. I guess you lessen the degree of that assumption with your folksy “I reckon.” Maybe you feel it mitigates the assumptive quality and structure of your sentence completely, but you’re making that phrase do a lot of work in that case – especially since the dictionary definition of “reckon” in an informal, folksy setting means literally, “to think or ASSUME.” So, I repeat: Don’t assume things. Or, if you prefer, don’t reckon things.

    Finally, you point out that I’ve far exceeded the 3 comment maximum as stated in the civility policy. Again, I don’t know if this is a threat or not. I don’t know if you are brandishing your admin banning powers again (chilling effect!) or simply making an observation. I’ll assume just a simple observation, and I’ll respond with an observation of my own:

    La Lubu: 28 posts
    Bregalad: 12 posts
    Linus: 11 posts
    Fannie: 10 posts (not including your actual blog entry)
    Matthew: 7 posts
    Phil: 5 posts
    Schroeder: 4 posts
    David Lapp: 2 posts!!! Most civil man here! Six times civiler than me!

  38. La Lubu says:

    Bregalad, are you a guy?

    I ask because I couldn’t imagine having the conversation you had with the bartender, and not just because of our different attitude towards boundaries. Observers have different perceptions of actions based on the actor. Where I live, men have a lot more latitude to bring up topics related to sex. Women who do that, even only in the company of women, are universally regarded as low-class skanks. And trust, I’m not just talking about by people who lean to the prudish side—I’m talking even by people who love dirty jokes. It just isn’t accepted that women have those conversations with strangers (or near-strangers), even if the strangers are other women. Close-friend status is required. On the flipside, it’s expected that men will push those boundaries. As a (very visibly) working-class Sicilian-American woman, I already have to go out of my way to not leave a bad impression (translation: too many people expect the “Jersey Shore” stereotype; I pre-empt that move whenever possible). So….if you are a man, that’s another reason for our different boundaries.

    (And that doesn’t even take into account “mixed company” discussion of sexual topics.)

  39. So heterosexuals who are opposed to LGBT rights have no right to make legitimate and fair judgment calls on what is or is not bigotry? None at all? Or do they simply have fewer rights?

    Can you please explain what the term “rights” means when you use it?

    I think of the term as meaning “the right to free speech,” i.e., the legal right to say something without being arrested or fined by government agents. That’s obviously not how you’re using the term. But I’m not sure what it is you do mean, and I’d appreciate it if you could spell it out. Thanks.

  40. fannie says:


    Many people who run blogs know that comment moderation is truly a thankless task.

    As someone who guest blogs here on a volunteer, very part-time basis, my intent is to be fair and to encourage people to be civil, which I mostly do by trying to be civil myself.

    Am I perfect? Nope. I acknowledge that.

    Yet, your comments, as many newbie comments are wont to do, suggest that you perceive me as spending all day scouring each and every comment, even if there are close to 100, perhaps twirling my mustache, looking to not only pick apart substantive issues but to note, ignore, or reinforce hostility in a manner that evidences a double-standard.

    And furthermore, you opine that I basically suck at treating people (ie- you) fairly.

    You also seem oblivious to the reality that I am one person- one person trying to find enough chunks of minutes in the day to adequately respond to many commenters about a very contentious topic that is very personal to me, and that you are not the only person I am responding to, or even want to respond, to within this comment thread. (Although, do to your numerous accusations, I realize I’ve spent an annoying, disproportionate amount of time responding to you).

    And further, to riff off of Barry’s question to you about how you are (mis)defining rights, your comments regarding my so-called “chilling effect” of speech also demonstrate to me that, perhaps you think that this blog is, like, the Whole Entire World, and that you, say, can’t just go start your own blog to say what it is you so have to say.

    In short, I frankly don’t want to address the substance of your posts or arguments because in our nearly every interaction, you have assumed the worst about my intentions and much of what I’ve said to you, accusing me of “speaking for you,” accusing me of assuming your sexuality, accusing me of silencing people, and accusing me of threatening you and “brandishing” my “banning powers.”

    Your condescending, hostile tone has been pointed out to you many times already, even by those who might be on “your side” of the SSM issue.

    The drama, those over-the-top accusations, that you have been bringing to this conversation is incredibly poor form and does not lend itself well to civil conversation.

    Now, does it “chill” speech that I set boundaries and expect people to be civil?

    Yep. And, I’m okay with that. Because, frankly, I value civility over unrestrained, undisciplined ranting and aggression. If you don’t have similar values, I would like to introduce you to these free websites people use to start their own blogs: Blogger and WordPress.

    I’m not trying to be snarky, but you don’t seem familiar with the concept, as you sit there in judgment of me, with your histrionic talk of “chilling effects” as though I have some magical powers to prevent people from uttering their opinions in, like, all forums everywhere.

    And thus, your repeated implication that you are owed space, on your terms rather than on the terms of the people whose work has gone into building this space, is entitled and rude. I’ve interacted with people like you before, and I’ve become quite adept at recognizing when people are trying to bully bloggers into letting them behave in a hostile manner by waiving around their “free speech/chilling effect” flag.

    So, my request to you (and all who comment here) is for a generous assumption of good faith in what I (and, frankly, the other moderators and bloggers here) am trying to do here. As David B might say, “Good grief,” people. It’s not all about you.

    We don’t have sinister motivations. We’re certainly not perfect, but we’re not trying to hurt you and we’re trying our best. So give us a break with respect to this space that you choose to occupy, use, and interact in.

    It’s incredibly, incredibly, difficult to strike that fine balance between letting people honestly and openly share their views even if they are hurtful views versus fostering an environment where as many people as possible feel safe to participate.

    This blog is rare in that good, civil conversations actually do happen regularly among people with incredibly diverging viewpoints and opinions. But, your critiques, Bregalad, of how I (and others) are doing with respect to moderation are not welcome or appreciated.

    If you (or anyone) feel an undying, irresistible need to tell me how sucky I am at this, it would be better to direct your critiques to me in email. And, if you’re nice about it, you may even get a response.

    Or better yet! Since your so awesome at Not Chilling People’s Speech, you could step up to the plate and, like I said, run your own blog. Build your own audience. Let people come into the space that you put time in to creating and utter whatever the hell they want to utter all in the name of Free Speech And Total Tolerance.

    (Although, one might want to consider how unrestrained expression can and often does have quite a chilling effect of its own).

  41. Bregalad says:


    So, my request to you (and all who comment here) is for a generous assumption of good faith in what I (and, frankly, the other moderators and bloggers here) am trying to do here.

    Bregalad, much earlier:

    I believe that “disingenuous” and “bigoted” are hostile when used in contexts that don’t call for them. Admittedly, determining the correct context can be difficult. I guess I just choose to think charitably about my verbal sparring partners. I don’t think you are evil or stupid. I think you are wrong. You know what it feels like to be wrong? No, not embarrassing or shameful. That’s what it feels like to realize you’re wrong. The way it feels to be wrong is the same way it feels to be right. That’s true for most people, and because of that, we ought to show charity to our interlocutors.

    We appear to agree. I think we just started off on the wrong foot. Given the facts that the original blog entry is off the front page and that this thread has gone long enough, let’s let bygones be bygones. Fair?

  42. JeffreyRO5 says:

    I’ve long predicted, and I’m sure I’m not the first, that the Christian response to this issue, like others before it, is what is putting the nails in the coffin of organized religion. What young person would voluntarily sign up for such a hate-filled program as Christianity? I’m not young and if it’s a huge turn-off to me, it must be especially annoying to young people, who seem to need to hold on to tribalism and its attendant stereotypes less than older folks.