No Quarter

By on October 8, 2011

There was a time in this country when lynching was a public event, when people would look forward to watching a “colored person” be murdered for crimes such as looking at a white woman or not giving up their seat on the bus.

I drive a ’67 Plymouth, and as my car rolled off the assembly line it was publicly acceptable in many places to shout “nigger” at a passerby and, in some communities, this brand of hatred was still acceptable even from the pulpit.

These days, and more so every year, those organizations whose unifying principles revolve around racism or ethnic supremacy have their private meetings and their occasional rallies, but are relegated to the shadows. This is a good thing and our society is tangibly better off for it.

In most states, were one to go to work and publicly state their wish that all “colored people” should go back to Africa, or that lynching and interracial marriage laws should be reversed; his or her job would soon be in jeopardy.

It’s a sad yet telling coincidence that the very reason marriage licenses were initiated in the United States was to ensure that ministers could deny interracial couples the right to marry on religious grounds. How soon we forget. And though there are still communities where, once in a while, we hear of a minister or justice of the peace who refuses to wed an interracial couple on religious grounds, by and large, that form of hatred is no longer acceptable in American culture.

Now the marriage debate has changed course, and once again many (though not all) religious organizations have mounted an offensive to maintain theirĀ acerbicĀ beliefs as public policy, freedom and liberty be damned.

I look forward to the day when bigots and homophobes, while still free to passively hate, must meet in secret and would rarely if ever in polite conversation admit they belong to some sort of anti-gay club. Like being a member of the KKK, homophobes should be free to believe whatever they like, but our society should offer them no quarter.

You shouldn’t be able to bring it up at work. You certainly shouldn’t be an educator if you openly promote hateful views to impressionable students. Surely there are white supremacists who are also teachers in this country, but being openly racist is certainly not classroom appropriate, and for good reason. There are black students and white students, Latino and Asian. And there are gay, straight, transgender and bisexual students as well. Every single one of these people has a right to be educated in a safe, positive, supportive environment. And every American, regardless of whichever of the many categories their life falls into, has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Freedom only works if it’s available to everyone.

You can be a bigot and be a school teacher, a senator, a waiter or a police officer, but you should never allow the two to mix. It’s that simple.

Homophobia is a private belief. While I would never vote to take away someone’s right to hate gays, I believe we, as a society, can and should band together and declare: Enough is enough.

In our schools and universities, hate is not welcome.

In our entertainment and media, hate is not welcome.

In our everyday conversation, in our workplaces, in our police and fire departments, in our military and even in our churches, hate is not welcome.

We will give you no quarter.


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