Rhetoric Over Content

When in doubt, sacrifice the queers.   After all, they are the ones who are deviant, different, the ones who won’t follow along, the ones who won’t sign up, the ones who are just asking for it and who probably deserve whatever they get.

I saw that happen in a meeting I went to recently when some suggested that removing protection for gender variant people would help pass a trans rights bill in the state.  After all, they didn’t understand gender variant people and they were trans, so who else would trust giving rights to them?

I know how it feels to be seen as too queer, to be seen as the one who has forfeited the protection of good, decent and upright people by my own choices.  I was in the lobby of the Senate when a bill that protected the rights of gays and lesbians but not of transpeople was passed.   We were just too queer to get that inclusion, but we shouldn’t worry; our day would come soon.   It’s been twelve years; not that soon.

These people just bought into the rhetoric without understanding how it affected people like them.  “Do they want us to throw out the queers?   Fine, we can do that, because no one will see me as too queer!”   Think again, honey.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.


There were other rhetorical flourishes that made my skin crawl.

One person argued that there have been no dangerous incidents in places where transpeople are supported in using gender appropriate bathrooms, but then went on to say that she could be killed if not permitted to use the proper bathroom.

There are no incidents reported of transwomen being killed over bathrooms, either.  If you want to deny the other side the use of fear to get what they want, why are you permitted to invoke fear to get what you want?   Just because you are right and they are wrong?

So many politicians who identify as Christian have no problem attacking opponents in ways that they would hate being attacked.   They seem to justify this violation of The Golden Rule with the argument that their opponent would do the same if they could.

Jesus never said that the ends justify the means, and that someone else playing dirty lifted any moral obligation that you have to follow your professed faith.

In any case, the justification is usually just rationalization around their belief that if their belief is right then it is holy, and any opposition to them is not just wrong, it is evil, and there is no bounds to what the righteous must do to oppose evil.  In the blessed cause, the ends always justify the means.  Just ask any Crusader.

I really believe in The Golden Rule and believe that evil has to end with me.   It is my responsibility to do the right thing, even if others choose to make low blows.   In the end, it is only my actions I can control and only my actions for which I am accountable.

One person in the meeting went off on a lovely rant about the responsibilities of other people.  Her primary target was legislators, but once she got on a roll, she spread out the responsibility to many, being sharp about what other people should do.

While her energy and rhythm were compelling, her content made me cringe.

It was the rant of a preachy preacher, assigning responsibility and blame to others, identifying their failures as the cause of all evil.

This kind of rant is the basis of those separations that so many use to oppress, the separation between normal and too queer people, the separation between good and evil, the separation of the victims and the responsible, the separation between the just and the villains.

It’s fun to preach, but when that preaching becomes about separations, when the rhetoric overcomes the knowledge, it just creeps me out.   Sure, it may seem like fun to fight fire with fire, but in the end, everyone gets burned.  That’s why water is the symbol of baptism, cleaning, calming and connecting all of us.

Even the gal who wanted to share her lgbT diversity curriculum fell into the trap, talking about differences between us.

When the question is who we cut off, who we sacrifice, who we separate, the answer will always be wrong.

It is only when the question is how we all take care of each other, lifting each other up and affirming connection, how we can acknowledge that we are all in this together, that we can find the right answer.