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Author Topic: Thirteen Years Later
A Rat Named Dog
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So ... I was discussing the dismissal of that BYU-Idaho professor on Facebook, and I was complaining that as a pro-gay-marriage proponent, I was embarrassed by the professor's incoherent rant on the subject, and wanted better champions.

A friend said, "She's only 22. How coherent were YOU on this subject in your early twenties?"

Well, I don't have anything from when I was 22, I don't think ... but I did remember this thread, from when I was 25, and still hadn't come down on a side yet:


Please don't post in it. I don't think resurrecting it is a good idea [Smile]

But I just wanted to say thank you to the Hatrackers who were patient with me, and gave me room to ask questions and explore possibilities, without judging or vilifying me.

Tom Davidson, in particular, has been a voice in my head for a long time, and always found a way to remain firm in his position without letting it break down into demonizing or name-calling. KarlEd has also provided a really helpful perspective throughout the process.

It's sad, though, that I had to abandon this thread, and basically leave Hatrack to complete this process of reconciling (on one hand) my strong sense of duty to the society I was raised in, with (on the other hand) my internal desire to treat other people's perspectives as equivalent to mine, and to support their needs as well as my own.

It was mostly good friends at work (combined with a lot of introspection) whose influence led me to come down on the side of wholehearted support for gay marriage. I realized that supporting it was what really felt right to me, and my fear of damaging the society I grew up in by taking that position wasn't well-founded.

The act of taking that position actually changes my society in a tiny way (amounting to just me) in a direction that I think is valuable. And it also changes the team I'm joining, by adding a person who supports the objective of making gay marriage a fully-accepted part of American society, but who does it without hating and vilifying the people who are still opposed.

I know where they come from, because I was there, and I felt the hate that was constantly pushing me back into a defensive posture, when what I really wanted to do was find a way to come over to the other side.

Should more people overcome that feeling of defensiveness, and change their minds? I think so. But given my experience having human emotions, I'm not at all surprised that many people don't, or that it takes them a long time (or a paradigm-shifting experience in their personal lives) to make the shift.

Anyway. Because I haven't been on Hatrack in forever, I wanted to throw a stake into the ground and update where I am in this debate today. It's one of the major public opinion shifts I've made in my life, and I want it to be on the record [Smile]

[ July 20, 2017, 11:56 AM: Message edited by: A Rat Named Dog ]

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Thanks for your post. [Smile]

The issue of how and why people change their minds on certain issues has been something that has always fascinated me. The debate over gay marriage wasn't something I was particularly involved in (curiously enough, my own embarrassing and only real post on the subject here was written when I was 22), but on other issues, I've generally found empathy is the most effective means of changing minds.

As an example, a few months ago I wrote a paper analyzing the impact of new media (think self-published media like blogs, Youtube, Facebook Live, etc.) and social media based organizations - Black Lives Matter in particular - on the debate over police violence against Black Americans. It's not a new discussion - NWA was rapping about police brutality against Blacks 30 years ago - but it's one that has been mostly ignored by non-Black Americans until recently. What I found was that since Black Lives Matter emerged as a movement in 2013, there has been a huge shift in public perception of, and to a lesser extent official responses to, police violence, which can mostly be attributed to cell phone camera footage of shootings. In Minneapolis, for example, between 2000 and November 2016, 154 people were fatally shot by police officers including at least 22 unarmed individuals, but none of them were so much as indicted for those shootings until Jeronimo Yanez was charged in the shooting of Philandro Castile.

For better or worse, it seems that there's a gap bridged by empathy that often can't be crossed by discussion alone. But I'd like to believe that the two complement each other, at least. The feeling you had of being hated or vilified is distressing, however. It's something I've seen in my White police officer friends who are part of a Facebook group called "Blue Lives Matter", and very earnestly (though, IMO, wrongly) believe that "Black lives matter" means "police lives don't". I've noticed that they often enter conversations like this so defensively that, even if no one in a particular discussion has expressed any hostility, their perception of, or expectation of, hatred is enough to prevent any real conversation from happening. It's a real problem, and not one I really know how to circumvent.

It's really encouraging for me to read about your own change of mind.

[ July 20, 2017, 01:54 PM: Message edited by: Dogbreath ]

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I also changed my mind on this subject. I have always been in favor of gay rights (or anyone's rights for that matter) but was initially opposed to gay marriage because I just don't see marriage as a right. We already have laws prohibiting certain types of marriage so why not gay marriage as well? It just seemed unnecessary to me. But then I began seeing what a struggle it is for gay couples to get other rights that to me should be automatic and unquestioned and my opinion began to change. While I still don't see marriage as a right, allowing and recognizing gay marriage would automatically grant rights that gay people should have had already while trying to address each and every one of those issues individually would just take centuries. If you can't fix it with a screwdriver, try a sledge hammer.

I can't really say it was this forum that changed my mind on the subject but I can say it made me more open to the idea.

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Sean Monahan
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My $0.02: My position was informed by this forum. Originally, I wasn't opposed to the idea of gay marriage, but my naive thoughts were more along the lines of, "why do they want to?" I didn't participate in the discussions here, but I read through all of it, and the conclusion I came to was: they want to for the same reason anyone else wants to. *Why* they would want to is not the issue. That they *can* if they do want to is the issue. My position in favor of gay marriage is a direct result of Hatrack discussion. Thank you for that.
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I have mentioned this to John before, and I will gladly say it again: I am very deeply impressed by people who manage to change what they were brought up to believe. What we have been taught from childhood is incredibly deeply ingrained and as hard to let go of as an addiction. It takes a very slow and sometimes painful weaning. The actual neuronal synapses in our brain need to be reconstructed. It is not easily achieved.

I myself was brought up to be very competitive and (thus) not primarily kind. I was well into my twenties before I even realized this, and from then on I despised that trait in myself, but it still took me another few years to change it.
And I experienced the pain of loosing a long-lingering faith in God and, later, loosing every realistic hope of the existence of an afterlife - with every bit of internal struggle, denial, bargaining and depression that this paradigm shift encompasses. More recently I was very puzzled to suddenly realize that my often proclaimed and deeply believed conviction that animal lives were as valuable to me as human lives was fundamentally and ridiculously wrong and could not possibly withstand reasonable argumentation. It had been one of the core pillows of my innermost being for more than twenty years, and it deeply shook me to realize how naive I had been and how blindly I had trusted in a notion about myself that was formed when I was still a child. Makes me wonder how many other "truths" we take for granted without ever reasonably questioning them...

Now, the topic of gay marriage I thought 'undiscussable'. I thought either you agreed or did not agree, determined by which position you happened to learn first. I thought once chosen, that stance could not be changed. I am very glad to have been proven wrong - again. [Big Grin]

[ July 30, 2017, 02:00 PM: Message edited by: PanaceaSanans ]

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Hi, Panacea! Hi again, Dogbreath!

I am so glad to read something by you, A Rat Named Dog, and that it reflects that this place was good for you. Your presence was always such a positive.

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This website had a great deal to do with me formulating a lot of the opinions I still hold today on a lot of different subjects. It was one of the only places I could find good debates with intelligent people who were on opposing sides of serious issues. It's sad that this place isn't as busy as it used to be but it's hard to overstate the debt I owe this place for helping me become the person I am today.
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I'm glad to be part of this forum [Smile]
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