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When “hate” is the right word

When “hate” is the right word

Elizabeth Drescher takes a hard look at the use of words like “hate” and “homophobia” in the wake of the Chick-fil_A controversy, and takes issue with Rick Warren’s attempts to paint himself and his followers as folks who love LGBT people, but simply disagree with those people and their advocates about their place in society. She writes:

So, of course it is not the case that you have to agree with everything an individual person does or says in order to genuinely love her or him as an individual person in the context of a specific interpersonal relationship. However, when you use conservative coded language like “lifestyle” to describe the lives of a particular category or class of people, you are engaging in hate speech, you are perpetuating a rhetoric of fear, even when you surround such rhetoric with words like “love” and “compassion.”

You can think you “love” me personally all you want, and you may enjoy my winning personality endlessly. We can disagree all day long about whether taxing the wealthy is the best way to heal the economy or which direction the toilet paper roll should go and still be the best of friends. But when you speak and act in ways that seek to limit the civil liberties, increase the risk of discrimination and violence, and damage the psychological and spiritual well-being of me and people like me as a group, you are not being loving. You are not being compassionate. And, for what it’s worth, you don’t come off as particularly Christian, either—at least not the kind of Christian that anyone would recognize through a cursory scan of Jesus’ teachings.


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Bill Dilworth

No, JC, I specifically did not include illegal acts (like murder) in my comment. But we don’t limit our legitimate judgment of actions and attitudes to mere legality. We regularly judge that racists and misogynists have attitudes and behaviors inconsistent with Christian morality, for example. These people, no less than us, could use the argument that are our equals, capable of judging their own behavior, and that we should leave them alone to make their own judgments. And they would be wrong.

In making evaluations of our behavior, Rick Warren is well within his rights and responsibilities as a Christian. That he is wrong in his evaluation does not change that. The response from the LGBT community ought to be to show why that evaluation is wrong, not to argue that our lives are not subject to the sort of moral evaluation we regularly make of others.


I may be mistaken but wasn’t Mr. Warren one of the Christians who was involved in the homophobia stirred up in Uganda? I’m with Mr. Dilworth. No moral judgements. Especially after David Kato was murdered.Oh and that bit about “lifestyle”, I don’t think you could convince me that he doesn’t know the truth i.e. we were born this way but it wouldn’t go over well with his church and he’d be out of a job if he said so. Lan Green


I think you’re being tendentious, Bill.

I didn’t say “suspend all moral judgments” or letting ANYONE “do as they please” apart from, y’know, the LAWS of this country.

But when someone says they “disagree w/ my lifestyle”, they’re not restricting their judgments to the kinds of behaviors that ARE (properly) against the law (rape, for example). They’re speaking from a position of (self-proclaimed) moral superiority that says they can judge me in a way I can’t judge them. They can “disagree” w/ my “lifestyle” (in a way that limits my freedom to marry), but I can’t do the same to them (their marriage is “Traditional” after all. They’ll even claim it’s “Biblical”, though that’s dubious AT BEST).

It’s not just Rick Warren…but they DO think I (and you, Bill) are little more than dogs. [Without any redeeming dog-cuteness!]

We needn’t fall for any false moral equivalencies that say “if Rick can’t judge ‘my lifestyle’, I can’t judge the guy who shot up the Sikh temple”. One of these is not like the other.

JC Fisher

Bill Dilworth

JC, I understand what you’re saying (I think) and Rick Warren IS an ass, but the answer can’t be to suspend all moral judgment regarding other people’s behavior. Are we to simply let racists, for example, do as they please on the same grounds that they are adults capable of judging their own moral behavior? If not, why not?

I also disagree with Elizabeth Drescher’s assertion that the use of “lifestyle” is hate speech. Sure, it’s grossly wrong, based on a misapprehension of sexuality, and incredibly ignorant, but that’s not hate. And if we claim it is – if we are going to start claiming that everyone who talks about us other than in terms of which we fully approve is guilty of hate speech – then we are simply too thin skinned by half.


R Warren: “if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle”

I was just struck by what this reminds me of: “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan instructing dog owners to let their dog know (via a physical correction), “I disagree w/ your behavior.”

In short, Rick Warren’s “love” takes this form: Master -> Dog.

I’m not your dog, Rick. You’re not my Pack Leader. I’m your EQUAL, as Imago Dei.

I’m your equal in my God-given ability to make moral judgments—including judging my own nature. And I judge my nature—my orientation—to have been made gay.

Put away your leash, Christianist homophobes. I’m not having it.

JC Fisher

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