In May of this year, Dr. Michael Brown brought up the issue of judgment on his radio show, “Line Of Fire.” I listened to that segment recently when I downloaded the episode as a podcast, and I heard him make an argument that I was already familiar with but hadn’t given much thought. For some reason, it struck a chord this time. The argument is that when we call people like him bigots, liars, nazi’s, etc, we are guilty of the same negative judgment. I’ve heard this from others in the religious right, and it’s worth addressing. LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms is one of those things that spurs passionate controversy. Arguments can get very heated, and because I fancy myself an advocate who can maintain a modicum of cool in those situations, I’m working through the question – as a movement, as a group, are we too judgmental?
It pains me to admit that, as a group, we on the left do have a problem with the way we handle things. This is blatantly obvious when our opponents get death threats. I have spoken out against many opponents, including a man who I consider to be the absolute worst kind of human being (Scott Lively), and not once have I suggested he commit suicide, encouraged vigilante justice, the death penalty, castration, or anything of the sort. I never cuss anybody out, and I use adjectives with definitions that fit. I do it this way because I believe that the telling of the truth must be honest, but need not be brutal. After all, the term “brutally honest” is almost always used as a justification to be hurtful, and that is unacceptable. What I’m saying here is this: I’m about to argue that we are not too judgmental, but we do have to recognize our flaws. We’re good, but we should be better. Too many of us allow our emotions to get carried away, and we say things that give anti-equality activists more to demonize us with. We have to stop doing that.
In the interest of keeping a certain objection at bay, I did write an article using the word “terrorist” in regard to anti-equality campaigners and organizations. Some people took offence to that. I wrote a follow-up piece that I won’t re-hash here (it’s all on this site to be read at your leisure), but the gist of it is that I provided a logically sound argument that, I felt, justified my use of the word. This is what I’m talking about. When you throw words out there – potentially offensive words like “terrorist” – be prepared to explain yourself. If you present a sound argument, I support that. A sound argument will stand on its own, regardless of who disagrees or how much the right attacks it. It’s when we hurl death threats and use intimidation tactics that the line is crossed. That line must never be crossed.
So are we too judgmental? In a word, NO. What you fail to realize, Dr. Brown, is that the word “bigot” has a definition that fits, and nobody called you “nazi’s” until Bryan Fischer, Rush Limbaugh and company started levelling that disgusting word against us. Now, I know an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind, but this is a culture war that was waged by Christians. We didn’t start this. All of it could have been avoided if LGBTQ+ people were just accepted from the beginning, but instead you had to take your 11th commandment and bash society over the head with it. “Thou shalt not be gay” is a gross misreading of the text, and it’s disheartening to see a respected theologian making such weak arguments, not to mention framing arguments for us that we don’t even make, and then tearing them down on his radio show. It’s not too judgmental to call a spade a spade. As long as there is a logical argument supporting our claims, your only objection could be that the truth hurts. I have followed you for a long time. I read your articles, I download podcasted episodes of your show, and I consider you to be an example of intolerance. The judgmental attitude, sir, rests on your shoulders; and it is certainly NOT the righteous judgment that Jesus calls on you to make.
When it comes to right vs left, religion vs the secular world, one can’t help but notice the ever-present noose being toted around. Our pro-equality activism is a reaction to negative judgment, it didn’t just start on its own. Our evangelical opponents spend a lot of time and energy looking for opportunities to throw that noose over our heads and squeeze. It’s pretty bad when a pastor talks about praying for God to “rip out Caitlyn Jenner’s heart,” but we’re the villains for using the word “bigot.” Bryan Fischer takes to the airwaves ranting about the “pink swastika,” that he made up, and although I choose not to use the term “nazi,” those who do respond with it spur reactions that completely miss the point. “Look at those hateful ‘gay activists’ using our own tactics against us!” Any and every opportunity is seized upon to tighten that noose, and when their plans are thwarted by laws or Supreme Court decisions, the anger grows. “Why won’t you let us oppress you?! Religious liberty!!” It must be tiring to go through life with such anger and paranoia.
At the end of the day, we on the progressive left have nothing to apologize for. Aside from some unfortunate missteps that must be corrected, we are not the ones responsible for negative judgment, nor are we to blame for the social ills that evangelicals created all by themselves. Our cause is reactionary. Without religious bigotry, there would be no fight to be had. Without religious bigotry, the Pride movement would not be necessary. Without religious bigotry, society would be further ahead. Are we too judgmental? No. We are responding out of hurt. The charge of being too judgmental finds its home with those who condemn us.