Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 24, 2013

We need to work on our narrow minds

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Another week has come and gone and once again the crazies on the right have decided it was national “Use Barack Obama as a Pinata Week.”

This week’s highlights of lunacy involved, among other things, whether the president was wrong to allow a marine to shield him with an umbrella and whether the president used HAARP to create the EF 5 Tornado that wiped out Moore, Okla. in order to distract the nation from Benghazi-gate, IRS-gate and Phone Records-gate.

But today I’m going to focus on something that truly set me off the other day. An email. I try not to pay attention to forwarded emails. They tend to be stupid. And usually divorced from reality. But I made the mistake of paying attention to one the other day calling into question President Obama’s congratulations of NBA player Jason Collins.

The president took the time to call the basketball player in late April, shortly after Collins publicly announced he was gay. President Obama wanted to “express his support” and tell Collins that “he was impressed by his courage,” according to a White House official.

This angered some on the right, allegedly because the president doesn’t personally call the families of those who have died in war — in addition to the fact that there’s nothing brave about being gay … so they say. The use of the term “bravery” should be “reserved for heroes in combat (and such) who have made much bolder decisions under the risk of injury and/or death in the service of others.”

I would certainly concur that being gay — in and of itself — requires no more bravery than my being white. Or male.

But being publicly gay does require a certain degree of courage, as made evident by the comments made by ESPN’s Chris Broussard who quickly pointed out that Collins is — in his opinion — a sinner. While Broussard’s comments weren’t vitriolic or mean, they do illustrate a certain attitude that is still prevalent among many people: Gay = bad.

Some take it much much further, going so far as to say that the evils of homosexuality are responsible for the degradation of society. One particular loon said that the Tornado in Oklahoma was indirectly due to Collins.

Fred Phelps Jr., son of Westboro Baptist Church minister Fred Phelps, tweeted the following using the moniker @wbcfredjr: “OK Thunder’s Durant flips God by praising fag Collins. God smashes OK. You do the math. #GodH8sFags #FagsDoomNations #FearGod #GodH8sU”

So in his estimation God took dozens of lives in Oklahoma because someone didn’t hate homosexuality enough. This is the “God” they believe in.

I’m not sure which theory sounds more insane: That President Obama decimated Oklahoma to distract us from the non-controversies that the GOP is trying to stir (as discussed in last week’s column) or that God decimated Oklahoma because he was mad that someone’s gay.

My point — albeit rather roundabout — is that homosexuality still carries a stigma with many people in society. And as such, “coming out” certainly does require a degree of bravery — especially in a high profile job like professional basketball player.

You don’t have to carry a gun or run into a burning building to be brave. Anyone can be a hero. Even a gay basketball player.

Until we learn that the most simple among us hold the same importance in the world as “the few” — until we abolish the idea of some live being more valuable than others, how can we call ourselves enlightened?

After all, it is the meek who are destined to inherit the earth.

Scott Leffler hates tornadoes, hypocrisy and stupidity. But has only love for the meek. Follow him on twitter @scottleffler.

Scott Leffler hates tornadoes, hypocrisy and stupidity. But has only love for the meek. Follow him on twitter @scottleffler.