16 August 2012

Violence and the Moral High Ground

Yesterday's shooting at the Family Research Council really disturbed me. Of course, we are still learning about the details of the incident and the perpetrator. But it highlights an issue that needs to be addressed in the LGBTQ community: the potential for violence.

FRC, and other organizations of their ilk are our mortal enemies. Of that there is no doubt. They will not rest until LGBTQ people disappear from society. As a former fundamentalist Christian, I understand their thinking. They cannot compromise; to do so is to risk hellfire. To achieve the world they long for, LGBTQ people must die or become straight. We must be wiped off the face of the earth.

Faced with such enemies, I find it easy to give into hate, and to wish the same fate upon them. Throw in a culture saturated with guns and violence, and the mix becomes toxic. I understand the frustration LGBTQ people feel, but we must not let that frustration get the better of us.

So let me be very plain here: we must resist and denounce violence. We must not inflict acts of violence upon our enemies, even if they inflict acts of violence upon us. I'm not saying you should not defend yourself when physically attacked in the streets. I am saying we must not go and shoot at the people who would happily kill us if they could.

Why? Well, for one very obvious reason, it's simply wrong. Just because Christians want to destroy LGBTQ people doesn't mean LGBTQ people ought to do the same. I think we can agree that just because Christians think something is right doesn't make it right. Killing people is wrong. Shooting at people is wrong.

Secondly, if the culture wars turn into shooting wars, we will lose. They outnumber us, and they have most of the guns. In terms of sheer attrition, the religious right can kill more of us.

Third, perpetrating acts of violence on Christians is exactly what they want. They love feeling persecuted, because it makes them feel holier. Using violence against them will not lead them to question their own acts or motives. They already believe they are perfectly right; shooting at them only confirms that belief in their minds.

Finally, we cannot let ourselves descend to their level. The only way we have of surviving the culture wars is to maintain the moral high ground. If the Christians are the only ones behaving odiously, in time the great middle (social, not geographical) of this country will come around to our side. If we descend to their level and end up behaving odiously as well, the rest of the country will not give a damn about our rights. The only way we have of surviving the culture wars is to appeal to the humanity of the rest of society. We cannot do that if our side perpetrates violence.

We have to have higher moral standards than the Christians, especially when it comes to treating our enemies like human beings. I won't say we have to love them, since the word "love" has devolved to signify mere affection. Rather, we have to give them more respect than they give us, to resist their ideas and their influence with rationality and appeals to the hearts of the larger public, and not visit the same harm upon them they would visit on us. We have to be stronger, more patient and better people. That's the only way we'll survive and thrive. Besides, it's the better way.

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