I received this message from my dear friend Toby Roberts this morning:
Hey J. Patrick Redmond, I’m seeing lots of limping today. How about you?
Toby is referring to an Irish Toast he typically posts on St. Patrick’s Day, one we both find relevant this Christmas holiday regarding the “Godly” Duck Dynasty Dude and his family:
May those who love us, love us;
and those who don’t love us,
may God turn their hearts;
and if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
may he turn their ankles
so we’ll know them by their limping.
Toby also posted the lyrics to “This Little Light of Mine.” And that’s precisely what I’m gonna do. Toby too. So must the LGBT community and their/our straight allies!
Why are friends of mine and I so incensed by Duck Dynasty Dude’s comments? Because these folks and their kin are trying to convince us we’re being given a silk purse when really it’s the same old sow’s ear. It’s hate being spewed in the name of the Lord. (Read the GQ interview here.) Duck Dynasty Dude’s comments are based in fear and ignorance.
- It’s the same fear and ignorance that assisted in the suicide of a young 14-year-old Racine Wisconsin teen just this past Sunday. One of thousands of LGBTQ teens who’ve taken their own life because “God Hates Queers” or “Fags don’t go to Heaven” or “Homosexuals will be the ruination of America”
- It’s the same fear and ignorance that allowed an Indiana teacher to announce on WTWO news in February of 2013 that “gays have no purpose.”
- It’s the same fear and ignorance that is torturing the LGBT community in Russia, recording the crimes and posting the horrific videos on YouTube.
- It’s the same fear and ignorance that is killing gay men in Uganda financed by American nonprofit organizations like WinShape (AKA Chic-fil-A) and American evangelicals. (Mmmm, their chicken is good!)
- It’s the same fear and ignorance that murdered Matthew Shepard and that continues to debase his memory.
I also read another post by my friend and straight ally Lori Beth Johnson on why she works tirelessly to advocate for the LGBT community:
What I do or say is very, very minimal in all of this, but I truly am inspired by those who risked so much more to stand up for what they believed in. I think of those who assisted others during the Underground Railroad. I think of those women who snuck out of their houses to meet and who marched for the rights that my gender now take for granted. I think of those courageous individuals who sat firm at the lunch counters and stayed in the front of the buses. And those wonderful kids who walked into their school through a sea of soldiers and hatred just for the sake of education and what was right. All of those people were going against a majority at some point. All of those people were going against what were considered at the time to be “Godly” men. My outrage and armchair activism is so minor when compared to these people, but I truly believe that LGBT rights are the social justice issue of our time.
What worries me the most about this whole DD issue is that there are gay kids in the families of Robertson supporters. There are kids right now, in these living rooms and at kitchen tables, sitting in pews beside their families who are struggling with who they are and their sexuality. If you’re reading this you may not know a kid like this. On the other hand, you may have one in your home or next door to you but you have no idea because this young person is so terrified to tell you. These kids are scared. Often they’re tormented. LGBT youth are FOUR times as likely to commit suicide than their straight counterparts. FOUR times. And one of the main reasons for this, I suspect, is because they fear telling their families. (Obviously bullying is another huge risk factor.) They love you and do not want to be rejected. Also, they don’t want to be told they are abnormal or that God doesn’t love them. They think they are going to hell because of how God made them. Think about that. These kids are killing themselves rather than telling their families. Or they are killing themselves after ridicule and rejection from their families and friends. Or they are being kicked out of their homes because of who they are. This is why I care.
It’s why I care too. It’s why we all should care.
Let’s talk AMENDMENT I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
My response to yet another friend regarding Duck Dynasty Dude’s Freedom of Speech:
But we must remember this man was not censored and arrested for his statements. He was not jailed. His freedoms are in tact. He may continue to speak his mind. There have been no Constitutional violations. However, one must be respectful in terms of one’s employment and employer. If an employer deems an employee’s behavior inside or outside of the employment detrimental to the company then the employer has the right to take action. That is simply what A&E did. If this man disagrees with his employer’s actions he has the right to sue.
In terms of speaking up, I do so in support of LGBT youth whom often do not have the voice or courage to do so. Faith, religion, and the Bible, as you well know, are used by some as weapons. When a platform is given, an opportunity to reach millions of viewers as this man has, like it or not the platform comes with a certain kind of responsibility. This man is very popular. Personally, I worry that his views regarding homosexuals, his popularity, could be used by some as justification to harass and/or harm LGBT folks, teens in particular. I know others worry too. For me, and others like me, it is so much more than a reality television celebrity’s right to express his thoughts. Just because one has the right does not mean one must not be held responsible for what one says. It is not responsible to walk into a crowded theater and scream FIRE and perhaps insight pandemonium and potential injury by those fighting to exit just because one has the right to yell FIRE in a crowded theater. Receiving criticism is the risk for the right to speak freely. And so is the potential to be reprimanded by one’s employer if their brand has been compromised, and certainly if the employee costs the company revenue. This man has the right to seek employment elsewhere. We live in an “at will” employment world. What A&E did is democracy and capitalism at work.
Why not a Bible verse to wrap this up. It seems apropos:
Ezekiel 25:17 – The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children.
Our LGBT teens are lost children but not because they’re LGBT. Because too often adults remain silent and allow them to think they’re damaged, unfit, or an abomination to God because of their sexual orientation. That simply is not true. We all must be finders of lost children, our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and with charity and good will shepherd the weak through this valley of darkness, this bigotry and hate spewed in the name of the Lord.