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  #11  
Unread 10-12-2019, 10:57 AM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Thanks for the link, Jim. Good story and happy to have read it. I'm certainly not saying it's impossible to change minds, even of those indoctrinated at such a young age (or maybe especially of those indoctrinated at such a young age). And I used to share your view, and hope to again someday. But when truth was tossed out the window, well, I put that approach on hold. You can't reason someone out of a position he/she wasn't reasoned into in the first place. Or, at the very least, it makes it a hell of a lot more difficult. (And we're talking, unfortunately, about a hell of a lot of people.) We can agree to disagree on this one. (See, I can do that.) Cheers.
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  #12  
Unread 10-12-2019, 12:28 PM
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Novick View Post
To answer your last question, Mark, no.
To expand a little bit: it is entirely unsurprising that a movement devoted to reviving the religious right's anti-gay rhetoric from the 90s and early 00s, only now applied to trans folk, would be in bed with (and funded by) the religious right.

Hate's hate, even when its proponents call themselves "feminists" for the cultural cachet.
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  #13  
Unread 10-12-2019, 01:00 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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[CAVEAT: The following comments were cross-posted with everything posted during the embarrassingly long time between my clicking "Post Comment" and "Submit." They are not a direct response to any individual post above--just to the thread in general.]

Personally, I feel that people who worship Christ Crucified should not be in the business of crucifying people.

And crucifying non-conservatives is what First Things has always been in the business of doing. It has always been a venue for snark and sneer. Always. The founder's columns were nothing but snark and sneer. It was a selling point. Among religious insiders, there is always at least some market for contempt and a holier-than-thou attitude, and First Things deliberately appeals to that market.

That's why I published this there. I thought readers there might think, ruefully, "Oh, yeah, that's me."

Jesus repeatedly said that it is the religious and comfortable people, not the more obvious sinners, who are most in danger of never entering the kingdom of heaven, because they deny that they have any need to change their hearts and minds and actions.

But these are, to some extent, my own people. I come from that upbringing. I feel compelled to try to help them. They may not always deserve (or even want) my empathy and goodwill, but they've got it anyway.

I will not participate in the shunning and shaming of my friends who continue to publish and associate with First Things. Friendship and love are the only things that have a chance of changing minds and hearts. Threats of public crucifixion won't do it.

Besides which, the current bloodthirsty enthusiasm for the public crucifixions of people deemed deplorable doesn't seem very healthy for anyone.

Again, people (myself included) who preach empathy for the shunned and the shamed and the persecuted should not be saying, "Except for these people. These people deserve to be shunned and shamed."

Isn't that attitude identical to the attitude we're trying to combat?

Yes, I sometimes can't help but ridicule Trump, etc. And I sometimes make people feel attacked when they, ahem, employ a metaphor I dislike. I still succumb to the temptation to crucify people myself, on occasion. But doing so is always hypocritical and wrong and counterproductive.

[Edited to add: Oh, yeah, I certainly piled on in the thread about the Best American Poetry editor's having included his own work, his wife's, his friends', etc., in a way that was made worse when it unintentionally implied that even the other included poets who had had nothing to do with that were in some way tainted. Yeah, I'm not very proud of my participation in that thread.]

In general, I try to be in favor of continuing to talk to, and even respect and have fondness for, people with whom I disagree, even while I disagree with their ideas. Vehemently, at times.

Certain opinions and attitudes must be confronted, because silence implies endorsement of them. But I think it's possible to decry homophobia and transphobia for what they are, in a way that doesn't make those who are promoting those attitudes feel personally attacked, and therefore more entrenched in their positions and more inclined to characterize their discrimination as self-defense.

I might not be able to convert anyone from these attitudes. I may lack the requisite silver tongue. But I still think it's possible. And I will continue to try. And fail. And try again.

Poets, of all people, should try not to lose faith in the power of words to change minds and hearts for the better, in a world abounding in examples of words changing minds and hearts for the worse. We should proclaim words' potential to build and heal, not just destroy.

Words like "Mom and Dad, I'm gay, and I'm still the same person you have loved all these years" or "Hey, you know when you were saying trans people are just attention-seeking sickos whose whims shouldn't be indulged? You're talking about someone I love dearly, and let me tell you why you're wrong" can go either way. I have seen those words drive families and communities apart, but I have seen them bring families and communities together. And I honestly believe that personal testimonies from friends and family are the only words with any potential to turn certain people from attackers to defenders of the vulnerable.

The chances of converting someone's attitude may be slim, but they vanish to zero when someone says, "It's pointless to have a conversation with you about this. Goodbye."

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 10-12-2019 at 03:11 PM. Reason: Caveat added to top
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  #14  
Unread 10-12-2019, 01:11 PM
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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(needlessly antagonistic, nvm)

Last edited by Aaron Novick; 10-12-2019 at 01:14 PM.
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  #15  
Unread 10-12-2019, 01:21 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Maybe shunning was the wrong word, ha. I did go off a bit too much though. I too have friends who are conservative. It can be difficult, and we fight more frequently. My point is that there's not even an argument anymore, the traditional sense of the word. There isn't a foundation for consensus. My response may not sound healthy, and maybe it isn't, but I think that I can argue that it's rational.

*And btw, I don't think the nutty hard-core conservatives who have, at present, taken over a large part of the government are fretting about the lack of dialogue.

*All of the above is hypothetical. As if I were being addressed. I simply wanted to show how the barest threads of dialogue can move us all on to a better place.

Last edited by James Brancheau; 10-12-2019 at 02:55 PM.
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  #16  
Unread 10-12-2019, 02:46 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Sorry, Aaron, my post wasn't actually in response to your comment, although the proximity suggested that. I don't disagree with anything you've said in this thread. [Unless I misunderstood what you meant by "no" to Mark's question. Which is quite possible.]

James, I think part of the problem of disappearing common ground is that disagreements among friends and colleagues tend to be very public now. This respectful argument between Auden and Cerf might not have been as conducive to mutual understanding if the whole thing had taken place in a public forum. (And yes, I am aware of the ironies of my referring in a public forum to a private disagreement that has now been made public.)

It's far easier to come to a consensus between two people than among dozens or hundreds, many of whom feel deeply invested in what they perceive as their own side winning the argument and the other side losing.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 10-12-2019 at 02:54 PM.
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  #17  
Unread 10-12-2019, 02:58 PM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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It doesn't take a lot of effort for one to ignore First Things. It does take some effort to be listed among its contributors.
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  #18  
Unread 10-12-2019, 03:00 PM
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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For my part, I apologize for the misunderstanding and my needless aggression.
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  #19  
Unread 10-12-2019, 03:01 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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I believe that, Sam. How many hate crimes does that require?

Last edited by James Brancheau; 10-12-2019 at 03:08 PM. Reason: Cross-posted with Aaron
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  #20  
Unread 10-12-2019, 04:35 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Women in America often have to drive to another state in order to determine what they want to do with their pregnancy. Over half of the population. And choice is law. We should start there. Anyway, if I've ruffled any feathers of those who thought blocking Garland's nomination was standard political process, or that it's good that this diaper of a magazine makes it easier to hate gays or transgendered folks, go fuck yourself. I'm starting the dialogue, Julie. Don't worry so much.

Last edited by James Brancheau; 10-12-2019 at 04:57 PM.
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