Looking at Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s disturbingly tanned visage this morning, I was reminded once again of why I hate it when people ask me to “consider the other point of view” when it comes to social or political issues. Meaning that I, the cracked-out liberal, should stop and really, deeply consider the socially conservative viewpoint.
What always amuses me about that is, well…y’all do remember that I grew up in the South, right? In a small Southern town right next to a military base, actually.
From the time I was seven until the time I was eighteen—eleven straight years, my friends—I lived in, went to school in, socialized in, and was indoctrinated by a red state.
I got invited to tent revivals during high school. No joke.
Outside one of my many, many elementary schools, someone nailed signs saying “Pray” and “Jesus” to telephone poles. You couldn’t get into the schoolyard without seeing them.
My eleventh-grade English teacher not only had us read “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” as part of the curriculum, she also had us write sermons. And read them in front of class. And one sermon was so good that she had the girl who wrote it read it to both the first period and third period sections of the class. That sermon? “Just happened” to be about accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior or BURNING IN HELL.
This is the same teacher who talked about whether the gift of tongues was true with one of my classmates. IN CLASS.
Now, I don’t mean to stereotype the South, because certainly it is not all like the little town where I grew up. Hell, even within the little town where I grew up, there are places that are not like what I am describing. But the fact remains that my environment as a child and teenager was EXTREMELY conservative. I remember when Bush started talking about going to war with Iraq, one of my journalism classmates was writing an article about reactions to the possible conflict. He came to me for the “extreme liberal” viewpoint. I said that if there was evidence of WMDs, then we should go to war. But no one had presented that evidence yet.
That was the “extreme liberal” viewpoint, people.
The way I see it? I don’t owe the social conservatives shit. I don’t owe any of them “a fair hearing,” because I spent eleven years as a captive audience to them, and in all that time, never once did they say a damn thing that made sense. Also, never once have they said anything that surprised me. After spending the better part of my childhood listening to that crap, I can automatically generate the “conservative view” on any given topic. I don’t need to listen, because I already know. That’s one of the many downsides of spewing the same hateful, ignorant crap for decades: you become mighty predictable.
I’m not saying that I believe there should be no arguments about political or social issues. There are many things we can argue about, y’all: we can argue about the best ways to achieve equality. We can argue about representation and we can argue about intent and we can argue about how we are going to make this thing called “society” work to the benefit of all. But you know what we cannot argue about? Whether a gay person is worth as much as a straight person. Whether a trans person’s life should have the same value as someone who’s cis. Whether women should be equal to men, or whether they should shut the fuck up and stay in the kitchen. Whether black people should just “get over” hundreds of years of oppression.
I am not going to sit down and talk to someone about whether or not all people are of equal worth. I’m not going to do it. Because I am not going to “respect someone else’s beliefs” at the cost of not respecting someone else’s personhood. Period. And never forget–that’s what a social conservative is asking you to do. “Respecting their beliefs” is actually code for “my bullshit opinions are more important than someone else’s LIFE.”
Does that seem fair?
I thought not.
So let’s quit acting like these people have a valid point of view, because the truth is, they don’t. Blind hatred or unspeakable ignorance are not valid political perspectives, folks. Let’s stop pretending that they are.