Troy N. Diggs
October 16, 1998
There are some people out there who just don't get it.
The day Matthew Shepard died, a column appeared in the ASU Herald (http://comm.astate.edu) written by myself denouncing the horrible way in which Matthew died. On the back page of the Herald was an ad taken out by a group consisting of 4 local churches, the American Family Associations of Arkansas and Craighead County, and "other anonymous and caring individuals."
The ad featured a picture of Reggie White and made wildly inaccurate and false accusations about the gay community. Here's a sample:
-- "(gay) activists have misused AIDS funding to promote homosexuality in elementary-age kids..."
-- "homosexual activists routinely use the tactics of intimidation, blackmail, and deception...."
There's more, but I think you got the point.
The Herald staff was beyond "not happy"; they were extraordinarily pissed, and with good reason. The advertising department took the ad without consulting those responsible for the content first. The Friday edition stomped all over the people placing the ad (with a staff editorial, a column, and a letter to the editor, all denouncing the ad), but to me, the damage is done.
You see, whether or not the people placing the ad knew about Matthew Shepard or not, the folks responsible sent out the message that "hey, it's OK to hate gays", and what's worse is that they veiled it under the desire to "promote an open discussion on homosexual behavior." Uh huh. Obviously, some of the religious folks out there still don't get it; after all, people protested at Matthew's funeral... and, you know, apart from the sexuality issue, there is nothing in my mind that is more sickening than to think that there are so-called Christian people who had the gall to protest at a person's fucking funeral. That's not only shameful, but it's sick. We've all heard the expression "dancing on one's grave"; what, do you want to do that too?
I really don't want to get into the religious aspect of this debate, because it does nothing but waste space and time (as was evidenced on Larry King Live, which had Elizabeth Birch vs. Jerry Falwell in a grudge match to the death), and really gets nowhere. I also don't wish to detract from the free speech rights that those on the religious right have, because they can say what they like. If I said that they couldn't say what they do, I wouldn't be able to say what I do.
HOWEVER... having said that, I wish the religious folks out there would leave the subject alone and move on. We think one thing, you think another, cope and deal. The two sides will never ever agree, and I feel that the religious folks save a lot of time and trouble if they shut up, let us have the rights we ask for, and keep their criticisms to themselves. Sure, you may not agree with it, but there are a hell of a lot of things that our government does that nobody agrees with. Face the facts: ya'll are in a losing battle and it's time to concede defeat and move on. That way, you aren't supporting hate crimes and flaunting what total jackasses you really are.
eMail is good! TDiggs@aztec.astate.edu, or visit my Web page at http://www.geocities.com/~tdiggs/