Maybe I jinxed myself.
While I was traveling, small parties were randomly seated together at larger tables for breakfast. At about the same time as my post on the temerity of my existence went up, I was eating breakfast with another group that included someone who works for the Christian Broadcasting Network.
When I heard that, I went quiet for a minute, and tried to conceal quite how nervous this fact made me. The CBN was founded by Pat Robertson – you know, “pagans (sic) caused 9/11,” along with feminists and QUILTBAG people – that Pat Robertson. It continues to be a major vehicle for Pat and his particular brand of right-wing religion and politics, including arguing that America is a “Christian nation” and that Christians are an oppressed minority. (Notice the oxymoron there.) See Right Wing Watch for examples.
The CBN doesn’t just accidentally feature people who say nasty things about my religion and people like me. It doesn’t just have a few commenters who express their own opinions that Wicca should be illegal and that I’m a demon-possessed baby-killer, even though the network disagrees. It actively seeks out and actively promotes propaganda and even hate speech against my religion and people like me. CBN and the people who work for it lie, maliciously, aggressively, and work to make it impossible for people like me to exist.
These are the people who are actively spreading fear of the Satanazis.
How do you sit at table and make polite conversation with someone who works for an organization like that?
I managed it, mostly by not saying much. I thought about my previous post, and I wondered what would happen if I “outed” myself. Would I really be able to change their perspective? Or would they simply think how amazing it is that a demon-possessed baby-killer like me was able to “appear” so normal? What would they do?
I feel like this is somehow the flip side of what I wrote about previously. There are some people who simply will not be convinced that I’m a normal person, or that I deserve the same First Amendment rights as everyone else, no matter what I do. That’s discouraging, and it can be frightening when I come face-to-face with it.
Common wisdom likes to assume that all problems can be solved if people of good will would just get together and hash out the issues honestly. In Washington, this results in the “cargo cult of bipartisanship.” In issues of privilege, it leads to endless requirements for the people with less privilege, or whose rights are being denied, to do outreach and education and make efforts for good will, on the assumption that if we just do enough, others will see the truth and be convinced. That we can all “meet in the middle.”
Even more poisonously, it leads to arguments that the less-privileged shouldn’t assume that everyone who is oppressing them is a mean bastard. For example, one person pleaded with QUILTBAG people to recognize that the people who vote against marriage equality aren’t at all the same as that mean pastor who wants to put QUILTBAG people in concentration camps.
But as Fred Clark wrote, you can’t deny someone their rights and be nice about it.
More importantly, you can’t actively participate in malicious defamation, slander, and propaganda and be nice about it.
At the level of people like the CBN, this isn’t about simply learning that the people you oppose are human. It’s definitely not about that for the less-privileged. I already knew that the people who work for the CBN are human; they put their pants on one leg at a time, just like I do, they think they’re nice and polite, they travel and socialize just like I do. But they refuse to admit that I’m human, or that I deserve the same rights as they do.
So while I continue on with the temerity of existing in hopes of making a dent in favor of Pagans, I’m also working against this kind of malice and the mistreatment and discrimination it engenders. They’re two sides of the same coin, but neither can replace the other.