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Something Worth Defending

September 13, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

As I get older I get more tolerant of people with views contrary to mine. Yes, it’s true, despite what some of my rants in this blog might tend to indicate. For example, when I heard about the recent controversy involving Kim Davis – the Kentucky clerk who refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples and was sent to prison – I initially admired her commitment to her own moral standards no matter how misinformed they might be.

But I’m afraid I have changed my mind a bit after thinking about it some more and also after a case here in New Zealand where a conservative Christian group called “Family First” caused a young adult book to be banned (the ban is temporary and that was not their direct intention but they were still responsible).

Here’s my point in summary: if a nutty fundamentalist group or individual wants to believe in their absurd religion that is OK, but I really object when they start inflicting their sick pseudo-morality on the rest of us.

So it’s not sufficient to be dedicated to what you view as what is right, or to be committed to your cause, or to be willing to make sacrifices to support your beliefs. No, you also have to be standing up for the right thing. You have to be in touch with reality. And you have to consider other people’s rights and opinions even when they are different from yours.

If commitment alone is worthy of admiration then the ultimate recipients of that admiration might be someone like suicide bombers who give their lives for their cause. I’m sure most people (especially the ones who admire Kim Davis) don’t really want to go there.

And yes, I do realise there is a significant difference between someone who refuses to issue a marriage license and someone who kills other people because of the teaching of their religion, but the principle is the same: making a sacrifice based on a deeply held, but fictitious belief.

So what is the correct approach when you think someone else is wrong and you want to correct them? Well how about my approach: reasoned (I hope) debate and presentation of the facts. Then if the person refuses to accept reality it is their problem.

In the case of Kim Davis I think a rant from her, in the workplace, relating to her personal interpretation of the Bible would probably still be seen as inappropriate however so I guess the discussion should happen in other fora, such as in public political debates. But that has already happened really and acceptance of same-sex marriage seems to be the outcome of that debate.

So it looks like Kim Davis’ options are limited. Her side has already lost the debate and there’s not a lot she can do about it. In that situation her choice of job is probably intrinsically incompatible with her religious beliefs and she probably has no choice but to resign.

Of course she could also either realise that her religion is just silly superstition or at least take a more progressive attitude towards it and look at the higher message of Christianity which is (at least according to some interpretations) acceptance, humility, and forgiveness. Yes, that’s the sort of religious message I can accept. The more hard-core stuff such as that espoused by Kim Davis and Westboro Baptist Church (who ironically hate Davis, and describe as a “delusional adulterous tyrant”) doesn’t work for me at all.

But then, I’m a person who bases my morals on doing the best thing for the majority and not unnecessarily restricting other people’s freedom, and they base theirs on personal and arbitrary interpretations of an old book. I would like to think that I would make sacrifices for standing up for what is right too, just like Kim Davis did, except I would be defending something which is worth defending.

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