Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ollie's Barbecue or Choice

Now when I started thinking about the topic of “choice” this morning, my head was in a different space about a different topic.  And at some point, I really want to get back to my original thoughts and write a post about that.  (And yes, this is one of my infamous shower posts...)

For those of you who might not make it to the end, I'll give you a spoiler alert - our true choice in this and many matters is to choose to respect each other.  Seems like an easy choice to make. 

I tend not to be too political, and I’ve already promised you that you won’t find many political posts on here except that as they may apply to the “human condition”.  (Nice broad vague catch-all, since all politics, at some level, apply to the human condition, or could be interpreted as such).  If you look, though, over there at that my 'tags' you'll see that "politics" is quite small.  But my intent, shall we say, is to bring “political” issues in NOT because they are political hot-button issues, but because the issue has something valuable to observe.  I have written early on, although many of you have yet to read this post (since the stats show only one view as of this posting), that I am neither politically correct nor politically incorrect.  I'm bound to offend someone!  You may want to begin reading that post before you dive into this one (and, no, I'm not just shamefully trying to up my stats - that's just an added bonus! ;) )

Now, if I had titled this just “Choice” as I originally thought to, and once you realized this might be political, your first thought might be that this would be a post about abortion.  And believe me, while not my originating thoughts, it is one area where my thoughts wandered this morning in the shower about what to write and how to compose this message.

And so I’ll spend a moment – a few paragraphs – clarifying my stance on the issue of abortion, and then we can move on.  I am a pro-life pro-choicer.  I believe that woman should be able to make a choice about their own bodies, but I hope that they choose to bring the life into this world.  Although this world *is* heavily over-populated.  What I would like, though, is for there to be more choices for someone who chooses to carry to term.  I’d like there to be less stigma attached to giving up one’s baby given that there are so many wonderful people out there who would like to be parents and who are looking to adopt.  I’d like there to be more options in finding support for raising a baby they choose to raise.  I’d like the anti-abortionists, then, to really reflect on the serenity prayer and put their energy and their money towards creating positive solutions and positive choices.  While we would love every pregnancy to be wanted and the news to be received with joy, this will never happen.  Even many parents who choose to have their children, sadly, don’t necessarily look with joy upon their new arrival.  (That’s a whole other sad scenario). 

Accept the things we cannot change.  It doesn’t mean we can’t take serious preventative measures to lessen the number of those pregnancies (something, by the way, Planned Parenthood works towards), but it also means we need to accept the reality of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies (by the way, in case you were wondering, that’s what the “planned” part of Planned Parenthood refers to…).

Change the things we can.  We can’t changed unplanned, unwanted pregnancies.  And given that abortion has been around since the dawn of time, in one form or another, the reality is that we can’t change whether abortion happens,  although clearly we can make it more difficult, and we can limit them.  What we can change is the following three things: 1) provide education on how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the means by which to do so, 2) provide options for women who do become pregnant to have an effective choice, and ideally a clear choice, to carry the baby to term – to know that doing so won’t affect the rest of her life, that she won’t be a pariah in society for having become an unwed mother, if that’s the circumstance, and that there will be resources out there, for example, if she is still young and in school, to finish school and be able to have a job or a career to support her and her child should she choose that, or to find a loving and caring family who would lovingly take her child into their home as their own.  3) if, nonetheless, a woman still chooses to have an abortion, make it a safe, healthy choice for her so that we don’t lose two lives in the process. 

And frankly, if you look at what Planned Parenthood does, I think it tries to do all three of those things.  And someone who supports Planned Parenthood (as an aside) is not necessarily pro-abortion.  In fact, they are likely not pro-abortion at all, but pro-healthy-woman and healthy families.  Lord knows we have a growing mental health community due to unwanted children being brought into this world and being neglected, abused, and essentially thrown away.  These are real issues that we need to face and deal with as a society.  But that’s another rant.

But abortion was NOT the topic on my mind at all.  But it was raised last night as part of a discussion regarding Chick-Fil-A.   The issue was raised because some people are trying to make the issue black and white.  And some people are trying to lump other people into neat little boxes.  Some people are trying to focus on the right of Cathy to speak and in the process gracefully ignoring what it was that he said. 

Frankly, and I may not when popularity points here, I don’t think what Cathy said was that “offensive”.  I have heard much worse.  He was expressing his views and his opinions, and not only is he entitled to have them, not only are they shared by a lot of people in the country, he is also entitled to express them, and to express them not only with his voice but with his dollars.  I find it sad that he is unable to see or understand that God made me the way that I am, and that I believe God blessed my union, and that, frankly, if the government is going to confer benefits on two people who choose to share their lives together in the form of a family, I should be able to partake in those benefits, too.  As well as the responsibilities.  (The California domestic partnership law is called the "Domestic Partners Rights and Responsibilities Act").

But some people, and understandably so, find his speech to be hate-speech.  I'll be honest, I'm not sure that it rises to that level, but I can understand in this day and age where others who are fighting so hard for equality, and who have determined that their equality will best be won through legalized marriage, how that those words can be hateful.  Essentially, Cathy is declaring that anyone whose lifelong partner is the same sex is a second-class citizen.

Notice, we don't hear a lot of people who have been divorced speaking up or taking note of Cathy's statements about being still married to their first wives.  They are cleverly and wisely hiding behind the gays' outrage at his statements and hoping no-one will notice that they are not amongst the people that Cathy supports either. 

Westboro Baptist Church, as I reminded some folks in last night's conversation, also claim Freedom of Speech when they picket military funerals.  People find it easier - because they aren't simply targeting gay funerals - to find the Westboro Baptist Church's speech as offensive and hateful.  They are actually clearly targeting America (go to their website, this isn't MY conclusion, this is their own declaration!) I guess it might depend on who the speech is used against as to whether or not we might more easily recognize the "hate" involved.

In 1967, the Supreme Court made a fairly radical decision at the time.  It decided that a ban against a man and a woman who loved each other who had actually been legally married was an unconstitutional action on the part of the Commonwealth of Virginia.   Two people had gotten married in the District of Columbia, and then returned home to Virginia.  Two policemen raided their home at night, hoping to catch them in marital relations, but only found them sleeping together.  When the couple pointed to their marriage certificate on the wall, the police found that as evidence to criminally charge them. 

Picture this.  You're in bed with your significant other (who you may or may not have married - let's face it many of us are involved in pre-marital relationships) and the police come in and arrest you for actually SLEEPING together?  WTF? Don't the cops have anything better to do?  And it was a RADICAL decision at the time for the Supreme Court to tell the Commonwealth of Virginia that what they did was wrong. 

By now, I hope, you've figured out that the case I am referring to was Loving v. Virginia, and while each had a partner of the appropriate sex, they did not fall in love with partners of what was then the appropriate race. 

So when supporters of LGBT rights liken this to the 1960s civil rights movement regarding race, this is kinda an example of why.  We fall in love with who we fall in love with.  We should be allowed to choose the people we want to share our lives with.  We were born this way.  God made me this way.  To say that I, a creature of God, is a second class citizen is considered hateful by some. 

Now, I don't think what Cathy did was illegal, nor do I hear anyone suggesting it is.  Free speech is speech free from GOVERNMENT restriction.  The public arena is free to use their own means of expression to quell speech they find offensive.  And some are. 

Someone wrote last night that supporting Chick-Fil-A is not supporting the suppression of rights.  Well, here's the logic that says that it is.  No, Chick-Fil-A, unlike Ollie's Barbecue, is willing to serve and take anyone's money who wants to purchase their chicken and other fare.  BUT, the profit they make may be used to support anti-gay organizations who ARE fighting and making strides in suppressing the rights of all people to marry whom they love, regardless of race, or gender.  And so, some hungry people are choosing not to do so.

(Is anyone still reading at this point? Because here's where some of the humor comes in.. )  So I posted on my Facebook page (yes, my Tweeps, I do still use FB) a link to a picture of a KFC sign.  Again, there, too, I try not to be too political, and I don't think food and politic necessarily belong together, but they have since before I was born, so who am I to fight it?  The sign said "Delicious Chicken Served Without Hate"

Now a friend of mine who is a vegetarian posted a quandary this morning.  She wrote that she's not a fan of homophobes, but frankly the way that KFC treats their chickens isn't particularly humane, either. 

What's a person to do?  As I wrote in the post I first referred you to at the start, I'm not politically correct or incorrect, the best a person can do is to try to be sensitive.  Even if you can't understand why someone might be upset, be respectful that there might be a valid reason, and try to be sensitive to their pain and anguish.  When someone is angry, it is because they are hurt.  Here, people are hurt because they've been told that they are inferior citizens.  Their choice - a very valid choice - is to be angry and not accept being told that.  To let the world - or the U.S. - know that they find that treatment unacceptable.  That they find that behavior to be hateful.  No-one on either side here in the chicken world is proposing or advocating violence.  But still, as I wrote in the original Sticks & Stones, words do hurt.

Even if we don't agree, then, with what someone else is saying, let's at least begin the dialog by acknowledging their right to feel that way.  This means acknowledging Cathy's right to feel that traditional marriage is defined in the Bible as between a man and a woman, even if we disagree.  And acknowledging that this speech can be found to be hateful, even if we don't agree.  Our first choice, then, is to respect each other and try to come to some middle ground.  To respectfully engage each other in a dialog to illustrate our understandings so that maybe we might help the other to understand, too. 

The movement for gay marriage as a right actually started in the late eighties, early nineties.  Most politically active people knew then it was too early to attack that issue and change people's minds.  It may still be.  In my mind, the best choice is to create a civil domestic union, and grandfather in everyone who has been married to date.  From here forward, keep the government out of "marriage" - recognize it as a religious "sacrament" -  and let the churches decide whether to marry or not.  But let everyone have equal access to the responsibilities and the rights involved in becoming life-partners- the right to pay taxes, the right to visit in the hospital, to choose funeral arrangements, to receive social security benefits, health care insurance, etc.  Separate that from "marriage" and I think most people would be more accepting of conferring this status upon same-sex partners.  Just my two cents...

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