So, I just read a post from this dude named Matt Walsh. The article’s about the recent Phil Robertson debacle; it’s about why, in Matt’s opinion, A&E shouldn’t have sacked Mr Phil for equating homosexuality to bestiality in a GQ interview. No biggie, hey? Haha.
I started following Matt’s blog a little while ago, cause his writing is, admittedly, beautiful. He’s a gifted wordsmith, there’s no doubt about it. He’s eloquent, he knows how to string a sentence together, and how to tie those sentences to echo perfect paragraphs.
Which makes it all the more difficult for me to understand how he can be so backward in his thinking.
Before I go on though, I wanna make something clear: this post has almost nothing to do with this Matt fellow. I don’t know him. I don’t claim to know him. The only knowledge I have of him stems from my having read a small handful of his writings. Like, three or four posts of his. That’s all. He could (otherwise) be the most delightful, kind-hearted, empathetic person on the planet. I wouldn’t know. Cause, again, to reiterate, I don’t know him. At all.
But holy hell, when people rail against our most basic human levels of empathy, kindness, and understanding, and justify doing so in the name of free speech, my knickers knot.
To set the tone, this is how his article beings:
I read that you are indefinitely suspending Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty after he quoted the Bible and said that the homosexual act is sinful. I get it, guys. I do. You punished the Christian guy for being a Christian because you got some angry emails from a bunch of whiny gay activists who lack the spine and maturity to deal with the fact that there are still people out there who have the guts to articulate opinions that they find disagreeable.
And, cause I think it’s somewhat fitting, this is how the article concludes:
You made your bed. You decided to stand against free speech, against open expression of ideas, against Christians, against the Bible, against the views of a majority of humanity, against the most profitable show in the history of your network, and against almost all of your viewers. But, hey, at least you put a smile on GLAAD’s face. That must make it all worth it, right?
Everyone who isn’t a left wing extremist (AKA your former customer base)
Now, first of all, I don’t know anything about this thing he speaks of. I’m Australian. And I don’t watch television. Two strikes, I’m out. But I do have friends, American friends, American friends who also happen to be homosexual – you know, friends who are men who like men, friends who are women who like women. And so, I can’t help but be at least infinitesimally involved.
But let’s get back to this free speech business this Matt guy speaks of.
Free speech is a beautiful thing. I’m all for free speech. I live by the old adage: “I disapprove of what you’ve said, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” I’m against censorship. Totally. Free speech, like Matt (indirectly) remarks, is important. Extremely important. No matter how hurtful, no matter how ignorant, no matter how absurd, or ludicrous, or downright stupid someone’s thoughts are, they’ve a right – a secular right – to express their thoughts. True. Yes. Let’s all hope it stays this way.
Cause, after all, free speech is effectively what defines the ‘free’ western world as being free. In terms of civil liberties, it’s pretty much all we’ve got left. But the thing about free speech is that it works both ways: we’re free to say stupid things, and, in equal measure, we’re free to call stupidities out when we hear or see them. Or, alternatively, we’re free to placate someone’s speech if we see fit. That’s not un-freedom, that’s a judgment call. If you don’t like it, take your freedom somewhere else. Cause remember, you’re free to do that. And in this case, contrary to what Matt has said, it’s not the left-wing, heathen sinners that are throwing a hissy fit, it’s the people like Matt, whining, whinging, wailing about Phil Robertson’s ‘unfair’ (hooey!) suspension.
As far I know, here’s what happened.
A man, a Christian man, named Phil Robertson – a television star – made some derogatory (hurtful, spiteful, ignorant – equating homosexuality to bestiality) comments, directed at the gay community, and general gayness.
Consequently, he was given ye old heave-ho. He was sacked, or suspended, or whatever, from the network that his show is (was) on. And now people like Matt have started throwing burning invectives at the A&E, accusing them of being anti-free speech, of curtailing one of our most fundamental, human liberties. He’s allowed to express his Christian beliefs, these people say. Why has the A&E suspended him for merely exercising one of his most basic autonomies?
Fuck me. Why isn’t the answer more obvious.
Think of it like this, confused people.
You own a coffee shop. It’s a rather successful coffee shop, and it draws in people from all around the world. You sell croissants and bagels and donuts and even Christmas hampers. Accordingly, you have many employees. They’re made up of all different kinds of people, from all different sorts of backgrounds – different ethnicities, different cultures, different religions.
For the most part, everyone works well together. They’re compliant, they take direction, and they adhere to the standards you’ve set for your coffee shop’s image. But there’s an exception. There’s this one guy, let’s name him Jack. Jack makes a mean arse coffee, but he’s got a loose, sometimes mean arse tongue. He swears a lot. He’ll drop the F-bomb (fuck), willy-nilly. Never, however, does he swear at the customers. His swears are always directed at either himself, or at no one in particular.
But then, one day, Jack wakes up on the wrong side of bed. That day, when a customer complains to Jack, saying that the coffee Jack made for him was burnt and yucky, Jack loses his shit. He doesn’t yell at the customer, he’s perfectly calm and collected. But what he does is he swears at him. He calls him a ‘fag’. He tells him that he needs to get his eyes checked (Jack’s a great barista remember; he’s not a logician). And then he tells the customer to go and fuck himself.
The next day, Jack gets fired.
Jack’s pissed. He sues the café for unlawful dismissal.
Why should he get fired? Jack has a right to speak in the way he wishes. It’s not illegal to tell someone to go and fuck himself. It’s perfectly fine. It’s a café, not the BBC; Jack’s not regulated in that strict sort of way. It’s his right to say those things. His right to free speech.
Now, let me ask you something, reader: Would you have fired Jack?
Would you have said, look, Jack, that’s unacceptable. I could deal with the blatant swearing when it was soft and incognito, but swearing at a customer, that’s not cool, man. It makes us look like arseholes. That’s not the sort of image I want attached to my brand. Sorry, Jack. You’ve got to go.
I think I would have. I know I would have. I swear a lot. I love swearing. But if I were running a café, I’d not have tolerated Jack’s shit. (Unless a customer was being a rude arsehole, and he deserved it. Then, Jack would stay.)
Why, then, was the A&E wrong in their decision to get rid of someone – someone who represents their brand – who said some stupid arse shit, on national television, or in some magazine, or wherever it was?
This Phil fellow represents the A&E. I don’t know how the television industry works, but it seems to me that A&E is somewhat like the café owner, and Phil is something like Jack. He represents the network indirectly. It’s within their “right” (oh how I loathe that word in this context) to sack, suspend, or dance on Jack.
It’s not about free speech – it’s about business. (And hopefully about a business’s desire to keep the hate they indirectly represent to a minimum, even if that means their ratings take a hit as a result.)
But moving on, to the fun stuff.
I understand that gayness is a sin in Christian dogma. It’s in the bible. If you want to get into heaven, you’d better not be gay. And if you are, repress that shit. Shove it all the way down into your colon, and hope that you pee out the Gay Urge the next day. Cause, you know, it’s unnatural, and, if you wish, pray – strong enough, hard enough, with enough credulity – it’ll just wash straight out of you. The Lord, your saviour, will heal your wicked heart.
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.
Please, man, you’ve got to understand that not all people see ‘gayness’ in this same way. Most people, people that have read a book or two, know that being gay is about as natural as a salmon swimming upstream. It’s not a life choice one consciously decides. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s not a form of reckless recalcitrance. Or civil disobedience. It’s not some sort of raging against the machine. Nope. It’s just biology. Pure and simple.
So when you use your bible to justify your beliefs, and then use free speech to justify expressing them, this is what it sounds like to the rest of us:
“I hate certain people because they’re different to me. And, cause my bible tells me to, I’ve to express this hate.”
Hate, man, all forms of hate, isn’t cool. And, from what I know of Jesus, it’s not what he would have wanted. In your minds, you’re doing what’s right. I get that. I think I get it. A little. But, fuck me. Man. Treating gay people as if they’re sinners, wrong, bad, wicked, sub-human – that really isn’t cool. Fuck your stupid beliefs, we’re talking about people here. People with feelings and emotions. People who, unlike beliefs, can hurt. And I know a lot of Christians who’d agree with me.
It’s just bad taste.
In his article, Matt asks the secular, neo-liberal, free-speech hating, left-wing flying, brainwashing thought police, the following:
Just to be doubly clear: you guys hate the Bible and find it to be offensive, right? Or is it just parts of the Bible? Or is it just Christians? Or is it just Christians who have the audacity to believe in the entire Bible, rather than a select few segments that pass the modern PC litmus test?
The answer, to all of the above, is – no. I can’t speak for we guys, but as far as I’m concerned, no, I don’t hate the bible; I don’t even find it offensive; not even those parts that I find barbaric (I just find them amusing). Nope – don’t hate Christians either. Don’t even hate Christians who’ve the audacity to believe in the entire bible. (Actually, I can’t say I’ve met any, personally. Most people, from my experience, enjoy getting haircuts – that’s a no-no in the bible.)
What I hate is hate. It makes me feel funny inside. I hate generalised discrimination. It’s vague, solipsistic, and undiscerning. It’s black and white. Without nuance. It is blind, it is wrathful, and it burns.
When will people like Matt learn that the world is a beautiful, manifold, mysterious place. It consists of all sorts of things and people and stuff. Gayness is just one of those beautiful things. Cause remember, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. There are so many things that separate us as mammals. Religion (not a belief in god) is, as far as I’m concerned, one of the more problematic ones. Why don’t we focus on the stuff that brings us together, instead of the stuff that highlights where we differ?
I’m not outraged by this event. I’m not hurt. I’m not angry or pissed off or even mildly peeved or offended. I’m just sad. That’s all. Just sad. Sad that we can’t all just get along. Sad that we still live in a world where some people believe, without a shadow of doubt, that some book, written by dehydrated desert wanderers thousands of years ago, should dictate how we treat each other, here, in 2013. A book that is, in parts, magnificent, beautiful, wondrous. But in others, backward, regressive, running against the fabric of our expanded, collective intellect. That’s saddening.
Can’t we just move on from this dark age of ignorance and blind barbarism? Can’t we take the good aspects of our history’s wisdom – the parts that draw on the good, the light, the Oneness, the togetherness, the beauty – and leave behind the parts that serve to separate, isolate, judge, scorn, and deride our social worlds?
This isn’t about politics; it ain’t about the left or the right. It’s not about religion, nor is it about beliefs. This is purely, simply, only about being decent human beings. It’s about kindness. Love. It’s about being nice to one another. As individuals, rather than as labels. Stigmas. Preconceived ideas. It’s about getting along.
Can’t we all just get along? Can’t we?