From Jason Marsden, Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation- republished from their website
(Today) will mark 14 years since the day we lost Matt Shepard. I know from the conversations I’ve had with many of you that those terrible days in October 1998 echo in your memories: where you were, how it felt, the fears, the outrage and the questions you were left with.
Why does hatred still stalk our community, you have asked. Why can’t we be left in peace to be who we are? Is it ever going to change?
We have wrestled with those questions for all these years, too. Matt’s mother and father continue to try to answer them as best they can as they travel the country, and now more of the world to speak to LGBT community members and even more importantly, their allies.
Hatred is powerful, and learned. Hatred is not reasonable, and people can seldom be reasoned out of beliefs they weren’t reasoned into in the first place. But social forces can work against hatred just as they have worked in its favor for centuries. And so that’s where we at the Foundation have felt our shoulder fits best to the wheel: creating social momentum that pushes hatred aside in favor of understanding, compassion and acceptance.
Matt means a great deal as a memory, a lesson and a tragedy to millions of people. To a relative handful of us, he means those things too, but also a person missing from our daily lives as a son, or a friend, or a classmate, or a fellow activist.
Some of you have heard my story of how I met Matt at a little birthday party in Casper, Wyoming, a long time ago now all of a sudden. He recognized me as a reporter for the local paper and gave me an earful (I have since learned he enjoyed that) about how we weren’t covering the human rights crisis unfolding in Afghanistan.
Sure, it was a small paper, but surely, Matt argued, we had a responsibility to inform people what the wire services were reporting on the Taliban and its cruel rollbacks of freedom and dignity for women in that largely ignored country.
It was around 1997 or 1998 and Americans weren’t thinking about Afghanistan or the Taliban much then. But in a country where girls could once attend school and women had at least a sliver of individual autonomy, a severe religious law backed by deadly force was eroding that progress on human rights. And Matt was outraged by it.
Our friendship was short because of his senseless murder. But I came to know that concern about human rights, and especially those of women in the developing world, was something that really disturbed Matt and made him itch to do something about it. And we all now know he was wise to worry about the danger the world could face from the zeal and hatred at the heart of these abuses.
When this week rolls around every year, people all over the world remember Matt and the wrong that was done to him out of anti-gay hatred. We look hopefully at improvements in gay rights and the culture of our country and sense at least a grim appreciation for the power this movement has gained to improve our lot.
A few of us also think about Matt the person and what the world lost with the removal from our midst of someone so passionate about human rights and social change and wonder what he might have been able to contribute.
This week I have watched the tragedy and outrage about a senseless crime of hate swell and boil over in Pakistan and cannot help but think of Matt.
Fourteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai is someone that I just know Matt would have thought was boundlessly promising and wonderful. She has been famously outspoken against militants’ attacks on the right of girls to go to school. She blogged about her classmates’ anxieties, and talked about setting up her own school. She won a national peace prize from the prime minister. This is the change Matt wanted for women in her part of the world.
She was cruelly targeted with death on a school bus in Mingora, where the Taliban has stubbornly struggled to project its power at all costs. A gunman asked for her by name and shot her. She’d already been named on a hit list.
At this writing Malala still clings to life, and disgust at this violent effort to snuff out a powerful voice is spreading across the country and the world. We are praying for her and for her country. I hope you will too.
This is what Matt was worried about. This is what happened when Matt was killed. We are the ones left to do the hard work that makes this world a place where this doesn’t have to keep happening. We have to be up to the challenge every day because the hatred clocks in every day as well.
We at the Foundation have a role to play because of all of you who have supported our work with your encouragement, your individual voices, and yes, your donations. We thank you for all you have done to Erase Hate. And if you are in a position to provide additional support for our work, please do so today as we begin another year of remembering Matt and safeguarding his legacy.
It’s not often that a kicker scores a touchdown, but yesterday it happened.
Chris Kluwe, the outspoken (and well-spoken) punter for the Minnesota Vikings, famous for his letter of response to an anti-gay legislator, responded to Minnesota’s Archbishop (and the Pope) on the topics of being gay, being Christian and the separation of church and state in his blog at TwinCities.com.
And he gets to the heart of the matter very quickly:
How can we reconcile our version of the Catholic Church as salvation to the sick, the needy, the poor, when we must also bear witness to the Catholic Church as oppressor, tormentor, and executioner? Where, in all of Jesus’ teachings, did he ever say to deny the humanity of other human beings; where did the Son of God proclaim that mortal Man knew God’s will; where, pray tell, did Jesus ever say to harden your heart against those who may not be exactly the same as you?
I say to you – nowhere. Nowhere does Jesus preach hate, or intolerance, or loathing. Nowhere does Jesus say, “You shall deny the humanity of gay people because it makes you feel uncomfortable”. Nowhere does Jesus say, “And the mortal men of the Church shall be the sole conduits of the Word of God, for they are perfect and infallible.” Nowhere, in all of the recorded teachings of Jesus, does it say anything about discrimination or prejudice.
“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Millions of children grow up raised in the Catholic faith. Some of these children will be gay, through no choice of their own, but because of how God created them. What does it say to those children when the head of their religion in this state, a man who claims to “explain and defend the teaching of the Church because I have been ordained to do so and I believe those teachings with all my heart”, a man acting under the direct auspices of the Pope himself, tells them that they can’t be as worthy as everyone else, even though they believe in the teachings of Jesus? What will these children think, as they suffer the barbed insults of their classmates and teachers; I ask you, sir, what will these children think as they are belittled and tormented due to teachings you espouse? What judgment will be passed on your soul when yet another poor child reaches for the knife or the noose to end his or her earthly torment due to your example? (emphasis mine)
Bravo, Chris Kluwe! Bravo and thank you. You speak for many of us.
And, in related news, Theologian Hans Kung is calling for a “Revolution From Below” to an authoritarian Catholic Church. Well worth a read:
- Chris Kluwe Is His Own Gay Mafia (kissingsuzykolber.uproxx.com)
- Shirtless Chris Kluwe on the cover of Out magazine (outsports.com)
- Why the NFL’s Chris Kluwe will always be @ChrisWarcraft on Twitter (wow.joystiq.com)
- Quote Of The Day – Chris Kluwe (joemygod.blogspot.com)
- NFL Player Matt Birk Makes Anti-Gay Ad for Catholic Church and Equality Advocate Chris Kluwe Responds: VIDEO (towleroad.com)
- Minnesota Vikings Punter Chris Kluwe, Defender of Marriage Equality, Appears on ‘The Ed Show’: VIDEO (towleroad.com)
Calling it an opportunity to support traditional family values the Montana Family Foundation will open a Chick-fil-A drive through in Billings for one day in September. The chicken will be available for one day only in Billings’ west end on Saturday, September 8th from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. This one-day drive-thru event is called Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day 2.0.
For a suggested donation of $20 per person the public is invited to attend this fund-raising event where hot Chick-fil-A chicken, coleslaw and chocolate chip cookies will be available to the first 1000 people.
Jeff Laszloffy, President/CEO of the Montana Family Foundation said, “A majority of the citizens of Montana share the same conservative values as Dan Cathy and solidified them as the law in 2004 when Montana voted to amend its Constitution to define marriage as being exclusively between one man and one woman in this state.”
“Since Chick-fil-A doesn’t yet have locations in our state most Montanan’s were unable to participate in the national event in August. So we created Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day 2.0 on Saturday, September 8th from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and invite the Treasure State to join the celebration and help support the Montana Family Foundation’s efforts.”
Yeah, this completely sucks- and it hurts my heart. But here’s something I love:
“Twenty dollar donation? Why protest across the street when you can be much more effective: they want people to donate twenty dollars to their deplorable organization. They will serve 1,000. Simply get in line, be polite, and pay .01 for the meal.”
Sounds like a plan.
- Chick-fil-A Introduces New Hate Sauce – New Yorker (blog) (newyorker.com)
- Chick-fil-A And The Conservative Appropriation Of Christianity As An Anti-Gay Wedge (thinkprogress.org)
- Is Chick-fil-A Anti-Gay? ‘Guilty As Charged’ Says Its President (patheos.com)
- My Two Cents on Chick-Fil-A (Which I Wouldn’t Give Them) (bilerico.com)
- Christians Say Chick-fil-A Under Siege by Militant Gays (radio.foxnews.com)
- Chick-fil-A and the Ironic Allegation of Bigotry (wellspentjourney.wordpress.com)
A fascinating study, discussed in the New York Times this morning, reveals that, at least in a clinical setting, “very straight” persons often struggle with same-sex feelings:
One theory is that homosexual urges, when repressed out of shame or fear, can be expressed as homophobia. Freud famously called this process a “reaction formation” — the angry battle against the outward symbol of feelings that are inwardly being stifled. Even Mr. Haggard seemed to endorse this idea when, apologizing after his scandal for his anti-gay rhetoric, he said, “I think I was partially so vehement because of my own war.”
It’s a compelling theory — and now there is scientific reason to believe it. In this month’s issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we and our fellow researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire.
Well, as anybody whose been following Glee knows, the bully can often turn out to be the would-be boyfriend. I remember a few of them from my own life- who were the most vehement haters of the gays- and later turned out to be, as one of them told me later “a relieved homosexual.” The authors conclude:
It’s important to stress the obvious: Not all those who campaign against gay men and lesbians secretly feel same-sex attractions. But at least some who oppose homosexuality are likely to be individuals struggling against parts of themselves, having themselves been victims of oppression and lack of acceptance. The costs are great, not only for the targets of anti-gay efforts but also often for the perpetrators. We would do well to remember that all involved deserve our compassion.
- Is homophobia a result of suppressed homosexuality? (feministphilosophers.wordpress.com)
- Survey Says: Homophobic? Hate Gays? Here’s Your Closet (uncommontary.com)
- “Ex-Gay” Reparative Therapy Thoroughly Debunked (dgsmith.org)
Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else?
The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.~Martin Luther King, jr
- Paul Krugman: MLK Would Have Been Disappointed In Today’s America (huffingtonpost.com)
- Obamas Observe Legacy of MLK (abcnews.go.com)
- Happy MLK Day: 10 Interesting And Surprising Facts You May Not Know About Martin Luther King, Jr. (bossip.com)
This is a two-parter, hang with me….
So, I was alerted to the anti-gay bigoted video posted by James Knox on his Facebook page this week- and I decided to post a screenshot:
It’s factually skewed, scientifically dubious and slickly, homophobically, fucked up (and so is that cigar, I might add). Watch it (or as much of it as you can) and then hit “Dislike”. I was feeling pretty upset about it, and the fact that these people will do almost anything to advance their disturbing agenda when I got an alert from one of my friends about another internet site.
I thought “Oh no- not more crap to wade through,” but then I clicked the link and it totally reversed the ennui I was feeling.
In fact it may be one of the greatest, best things of all time.
I don’t know who’s responsible, but I wanted to thank them for one of the most enjoyable 45 minutes I’ve spent in a long time.
Click on the screenshot for the link and have fun!
Bobbette Madonna (I know- I thought she was a drag queen too- but this is serious), she who was “pleased” that advocate of gay murder, Tim Ravndal, was put in charge of the Lewis And Clark Conservative Tea Party, is now running for the Helena Citizen’s Advisory Board.
And there are only two people on the ballot for four open seats. Cowgirl:
Unless Helenans elect three write-in candidates, Madonna will get to walk on to the council.
As of this post, there are two write-in candidates who have stepped up to the plate to run: Matt Oppedahl and Jessica Peterson. If you hear of a third, email the tipline and I’ll post the name here.
Helena citizens would do better to elect a corndog to the Citizens Council than to let this woman on the board.
Wow. Get it in gear, Helena. This can’t happen.
I know you won’t let it.
I almost don’t want to give her the satisfaction, but I think it’s worth bringing to your attention.
My post on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s warning that
A former “staff leader” of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations is threatening to indict members of the Montana Human Rights Network by convening a “citizen grand jury”
seemed to strike a nerve. I’ve never had a white supremacist comment on one of my posts before- and it seemed to violate the rules for commenters- but after consultation, I approved it.
As a warning.
This type of ignorant hatred is here. And they think they’re in the majority, somehow. They think we all want them here.
And they seem to need help with their grammar.
You can read the comment and my response here.
Like so many of you, I watched in horrified fascination as the Twin Towers were maimed and finally toppled, killing and injuring thousands of people and terrifying a nation. I also watched our president, almost ten years later, report that the man responsible for that action had been shot and killed in a raid on a compound outside of Islamabad, Pakistan. The President’s demeanor was appropriately somber and yet had hints of the triumphant. So many cliche`s come to mind:
Serves ‘im right.
An eye for an eye….
You reap what you sow.
Justice is done.
He got what he deserved.
Hooray, Hooray it’s the First of May…etc.
I’m conflicted. As I watched the people gathering in front of the White House last night, I understood the relief they exhibited. I realized I didn’t want to understand the celebration.
On the one hand, the man was a terrorist, a murderer and a complete wacko. On the other hand, he was a human being- with all the dignity and flaws imbued thereof, and completely worth saving. Did he love? Did he show any kindness to another person? Probably.
Could he have repented for his actions? Would he?
We’ll never know.
This is not to impugn the sense of justice felt here- this man was directly responsible for the murder of thousands of fellow human beings. But if I rejoice in his death, if I celebrate it, am I giving up on the goodness of humanity I so profoundly believe in? Am I substituting revenge for justice? Is patriotism predicated on the murder of enemies? Is this the easy way out? Have I become the terrorist who has lost sight of the humanity of the people I kill?
Probably unpopular things to ask, but still, these questions haunt me.
Do they haunt anyone else?