Thoughtcrime, 27 October 2010

2010/10/27

I know I may catch some flak if anybody reads this, [1] but what the hell…something about this story [2] irks me just a little. Basically, what I’m trying to understand here is the perceived harm. Granted, to a great many folks these days, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with homosexuality, [3] so for naturally, such individuals would be a bit taken aback when someone expresses a contrary opinion in such a tasteless manner. Still, what harm has the man inflicted? The comment was posted on his personal Facebook page, not (so far as I can tell) on anything affiliated with the school board (apart from any affiliation inherent in his listing it under his “employment” section – if he did). And how does this “naturally” correlate to bullying behavior, as the various respondents in the article imply? [4]

The problem I’m having isn’t that folks are offended by what he said and how he said it – his comments were offensive; but to suggest that he should be penalized for having an opinion seems a bit…disturbing. Our justice system, for example, imposes specific punishments for injuries inflicted on others – but not for wanting to injure someone or thinking about injuring someone. Hell, if it did that, damn near everyone in the country would be in jail. What worries me about the sort of punitive reaction some folks seem to think is warranted by this situation is that such punishment does not arise from any actual “crime,” but from the fact that, thus far, Mr. McCance has indicated that his opinions on the matter of homosexuality do not conform to “acceptable” points of view. Show me a causal link between his comments / opinions and actual injury inflicted on someone else, and I’ll gladly support appropriate sanctions against him. [5] Until then, though, he has committed no crime, save expressing his beliefs – and last time I checked, that isn’t a crime in our Republic.

Sadly, these overblown reactions actually bother me more than Mr. McCance’s comments. I don’t agree with his statements in any way, but I have to (grudgingly) accept that he has the right to entertain whatever opinions he chooses to have…just as I have the right to believe that he is ignorant pond scum. What I do not have the right to demand, however, is that he be punished for having opinions that differ from mine, no matter how right I may feel about my own opinions. So long as he can separate his personal views from the performance of his duties as an authority within the school system, can it truly be said that he is doing anything wrong? Or is the argument that merely being near someone who has such abhorrent opinions is enough to contaminate the schoolchildren? Because I’m fair sure I know how supporters of homosexual equality would react if heterosexual parents were to remove their own children from a particular school because they were worried about said children becoming “contaminated” by being around them damn, dirty gays.

Tolerance ain’t simple, folks. It’s easy to be tolerant of differing opinions when they’re warm and fuzzy and safe; the real challenge comes when the differing opinion is one that is downright offensive to everything you hold dear. Because that bigot holding the “Fags Burn In Hell” sign has every right to express that opinion. Just as you have every right to tell him to shove that sign up his…well, you get the picture. 

Notes:

[1]: Thankfully, I think there’s only about a dozen of y’all, so I’m not too worried.

[2]: CNN Article, 27 October 2010

[3]: For the record, the only thing “wrong” I find about homosexuality is that it is not my natural inclination. This is not a moral judgment, folks – just my nature. If you are more fond of members of the same sex, hey…by all means. Have fun. Just don’t expect me to join the team. I much prefer members of the opposite sex, thank you.

[4]: Hell…check the URL; it’s in the damn address! I must admit, this part really seems to have come out of left field…or the writer of the article was trying to make a point, but kinda missed. That being said, kids can be absolute monsters when it comes to bullying behavior – even without any overt or implied encouragement from adults. It’s really not entirely their fault – humans are naturally inclined to gravitate towards those with perceived similarities (hence, our early tribal nature), and kids are notoriously lacking in a rational understanding of civilized behavior. Mind you, I’m not trying to excuse bullying, just pointing out that it isn’t entirely avoidable.

[5]: One of my favorite statements regarding the notion of tolerance is (perhaps not surprisingly) from Thomas Jefferson – it is on the subject of religious belief, but one could extend this sentiment to other forms of belief / opinion, as well: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”Notes on the State of Virginia

[*]: For those of y’all who aren’t familiar with the title of this post, er…read Orwell. Seriously. You should know this already.

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2 Responses to “Thoughtcrime, 27 October 2010”

  1. greysqrl Says:

    In th UK, free speech isn’t as free as it user to be. We now have incitement laws to deal with people that preach hatred. If it’s ‘thought’ that they are preaching hate in order to stir up trouble, they can be prosecuted now. Having said that, we can’t even kick out I people that come to England from overseas who plan to commit acts of terrorism because of their (the terrorists) human rights!

    • seeker312 Says:

      Yeah, actually, we have similar “incitement” laws here, too. In general, one can “preach” hatred and even advocate for violence, so long as it’s only mentioned in general terms – i.e., say I hate dogs (I don’t, arguendo, let’s say that I do), and I openly advocate for wholesale slaughter of all canines everywhere; strictly speaking, this is protected speech, and I cannot be prosecuted for it, no matter how heinous it may sound. If, however, I say that my neighbor’s dog should be killed, I can be prosecuted if someone who heard me decided to kill the poor dog and says that it was my words that convinced him to do the deed. Thus it is that our local neo-Nazi group can still advocate for the extermination of all Jews, and the local white supremecists can openly preach that colored folks are inherently inferior to whites and should be subjugated, etc., etc., etc.

      And having witnessed my own government’s rather convoluted meanderings regarding terrorists and their civil / human rights, yeah. I’m getting sick and tired of hearing about their rights…what about the rights of those (our own citizens – or citizens of other *civilized* nations) they intend to maim and/or kill? Just whose rights take precedence here? *Sigh* I’m fair sure the whole world has gone completely batty.


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