Midland Daily News staffer Chris Stevens is distressed that ESPN announcer Chris Broussard received angry replies to his comments regarding Jason Collins’ recent announcement that he is gay (“Who’s showing more courage – Broussard or Collins?” MDN, 5/1/2013). Stevens calls on us to air our opinions freely without the fear of being mocked, ridiculed, belittled or intimidated into silence.
I applaud this call to civility. This will certainly be a welcome change from, say, the last 2,000 years of human history. GLBT folk have been burned at the stake, herded into death camps, beaten and bullied by the millions. Gays, lesbians and their allies will welcome a conversation where they do not need to fear being mocked, ridiculed, belittled or intimidated into silence.
Perhaps appropriately, this call from a sports writer will challenge our fortitude and our conditioning. When people express scientific opinions that run counter to nearly every piece of available scientific information, it is hard not to mock or ridicule such an opinion. Few of us would respect someone who argued, for instance, that the earth was flat or that our planet resides at the center of the universe. And to date, the overwhelming preponderance of scientific research indicates that homosexuality is not a “lifestyle” choice, as Stevens labels it.
Unfortunately, opinions such as Mr Stevens’ and Mr. Broussard’s have dominated the conversation for centuries, resulting in countless deaths and endless misery. Religious “opinions” based on biblical interpretations enslaved millions of Africans, abused and objectified every generation of women, started dozens of wars of conquest and colonization, and facilitated the widespread genocide of the world’s indigenous populations. The Broussard statements simply reflect one more example. Citing a handful of highly debatable Bible verses taken out of context and never intended to describe healthy, loving gay relationships hardly defends the expression of hurtful and oppressive opinions.
Stevens should spare us his righteous indignation when people point out the implications of these statements. When he uses his public forum to decry the “opinions” of the Westboro Baptist Church — who carry their vile and degrading signs everywhere they peddle their message of hate — then perhaps GLBT folk and their allies will respect his opinion more.
It is not intolerant to point out when someone is being intolerant. Refusing to tolerate intolerant judgments, such as those expressed by Chris Broussard, is a right and the duty of all religious people. For the Bible also says in Romans 2, “you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.”