The Bigotry Epidemic?

A while ago, my husband wrote an open letter to anyone who had left the Mormon church, asking that they rethink their decision and come back. He didn’t write a full-on sermon, just a general “We need you – please come back” statement. Within hours, he had a slough of angry comments about how naive he was, how offensive his letter was, and generally denouncing him as a bigot.

There were some comments that made a good point. One reader, an ex-Mormon, pointed out that Ethan was getting negative feedback because he only addressed a few reasons people had left the church, and many felt he was over-simplifying their difficult decision. You know what? I’ll take that. That was a respectful comment, and a valid point. What bothered me was the tidal wave of hatred from less respectful readers who seemed determined to make sure the world knew that there was no God, but if there was, He would have sent my husband through Hell seven times already by now.

We did a little investigating, and discovered the high hater traffic was due to a link someone posted on an anti-Mormon site. Apparently, someone was so offended by my husband’s post that, instead of ignoring it, they wanted to make sure the entire world knew about it. The funniest part for us was reading the comments on the anti-Mormon site. These comments can be summed up as:

“Wow. Is this guy really this dumb?”

“Yup. I actually know him personally, and he gives free time to the church, volunteers to help those around him, and does good things without expecting a return. It’s going to ruin his life eventually, and he’ll never be able to hold down a relationship.”

No lie. This was the argument. We thought this was hilarious, especially since we were recently married and obviously very happy with our relationship. I fell in love with Ethan primarily because of the selfless way he treats others. I’m sick in bed as I write this, and he’s been taking care of me all night. I don’t see how that’s going to make me want to leave.

But I digress. The real point of my post is not to complain about the negative response of the masses to my husband’s blog post. My concern goes a little deeper than that.

Why are there anti-Mormon sites?

Because there are anti-Mormons, yes, I know. We all have freedom of speech, and it’s not my business whether you want to believe in the LDS faith or not. But I want you to think about this. If I established an anti-gay site, I would be a bigot. If I established an anti-Hispanic site or an anti-Black site, or an anti-abortion site, or an anti-feminist site, I would be a bigot. By definition, I would. a bigot is “a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group).”

So tell me something. Why is it that if I established or frequented an anti-gay site, I would be (rightfully) called a bigot, while if I frequented an anti-Mormon site, I would be considered an informed individual who asks a lot of questions before becoming involved in something? Why is it socially acceptable for people to blame White Christians for society’s problems, but if I have the audacity to suggest that a Black student should study harder for a grade, I’m discriminating against him or her?

Now, let me clarify: I’m not saying that feminists, Blacks, Latinos, gays, or any group of people is trying to spread hatred. Everyone I know personally – with one exception, who thinks our relationship is doomed because my husband is selfless – would shy away from stupid, demeaning commentary. If they felt I was being a bigot, they would approach the topic respectfully, point out my lack of perspective, and possibly even discuss it with me personally over lunch. Which is why I don’t understand the hatred online. I firmly believe that any two people can treat one another respectfully, if they both set out to see the other person’s perspective.

If the internet is to be believed, we have an unmatched bigotry epidemic on our hands. I simply don’t believe that. I think we have an over-sensitivity epidemic on our hands. I believe there is considerably less discrimination now in the U.S. than ever before – we’re not perfect, but you know, we’re trying.  And there is a difference between disagreement and discrimination. While there is still real bigotry alive and well in the States, I think most of the discrimination incidents we hear about are simply disagreements blown out of proportion. I feel like our real problems will be ironed out a lot more quickly and effectively if we can all stop looking to take offense and start looking to share our opinions without attacking our “opponent”: the stranger who had the audacity to disagree with us on social media. ♦

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