In My Opinion
Acts of Discrimination are Not A Matter of Opinion
There has been a lot of debating as of late over issues that many refer to as a right to free speech and as matters of opinion. Most argue that we have a right to these and should be able to express them freely, without remorse or concern for consequences. Other such as myself argue that regardless of our rights, we have a greater responsibility to how our words and actions affect our community and society as a whole.
Do we truly have the right to speak freely and express opinions that serve to incent hostility and hate crimes? We teach our children - at least most of us do - that our words and actions can lead to consequences that we might not have intended. We teach our children - at least most of us do - to take care in what they say, speak wisely, for words have power that can be used to both empower and tear down.
Lately, there have been many whose opinions and words have done nothing but tear down and promote hate and ignorance. Though they personally may not have held the guns or casted the votes that have led to discrimination and murder – their words and ideologies have served to support and encourage those willing and able to commit the crimes.
Personal opinions become dangerous when these are then turned into actions that serve to discriminate, harm, and exclude others. It is when “opinions” become something worth boycotting and protesting against.
Here are a few examples of opinions turned to actions that have been recently felt in our society and have led to pain and hurt for many of us:
- The First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, in Jackson, Mississippi, where a couple were forced to relocate churches the day before their wedding because some church members expressed their opinion that they were uncomfortable in having a black couple married there.
- At the heals of the outspoken and intolerant opinion of Muslims from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and four other House Republicans, an ex-Army soldier entered a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee and killed six people and critically injured three others.
- Two young women were shot, their bodies found among tall grass near a park overlook in Portland, TX. Mollie Judith Olgin, a 19 year old student at Texas A&M and Mary Christine Chapa, 18 were in a romantic relationship with each other. Mollie was found dead on the scene, Mary was taken to a nearby hospital where remains in serious but stable condition. Killer hasn’t been found, but it is clear what his/her opinion of gays is.
It matters little if one’s opinions are rooted in their religious (or non-religious) beliefs, when hate is given a platform, we have a responsibility to protest against it. The KKK has a platform, just as Sarah Palin has a platform, just as Dan Cathy and Michele Bachman have a platform. There are times when freedom of expression needs to be questioned, and yes, even fought against because they become more than just words and turn into actions that serve to hurt, discriminate, ban, and strip others of their own freedoms, sense of inclusion and safety.
People who hide their racism and homophobia and other hateful opinions and beliefs behind their god or bible or false sense of morality need to be held accountable. One need not hold the gun to be responsible for hate crimes. You just need to speak the words to encourage and support those willing to commit the crimes.
And for this reason, me and others like me will loudly protest and strongly stand against them every time because acts of discrimination are not a matter of opinion that deserves anyone’s respect.