Guest Column; Homophobia Cannot Stand

gagged-woman-375x250I’m not a fan of anonymous posts.  One thing about blogging and writing articles in the newspaper and using my real name means either I believe strongly enough about something to submit it, or I leave it on the cutting room floor.  I am accountable for everything I write.  I was recently approached by a woman from the community who was offended by a homophobic attack in the Petoskey News Review.  Ron Bjorkman’s letters to the editor always reflect very poorly on the right as they are filled with hyperbole, personal attacks, and racist and homophobic ramblings.  This woman was upset enough to write the letter below, but, unlike me, she is not able to stand behind her words.  Why?  She has accurately assessed that putting her name on this well-reasoned piece of writing might very well cost her her job.  It doesn’t give me pleasure to air an anonymous letter, but her words are so compelling and so important for all of us to hear, that I’m going to break my own rule and publish it.  It saddens me that anyone’s right to express themselves in a reasonable manner carries with it a threat of unemployment, but these are the times in which we live.   

In a recent letter to the editor, Ron Bjorkman wrote, “We are entitled, as citizens, to live free, to decide what to do with our lives, to vote people into office who will govern according to our constitution, allowing people to live, work, and care for themselves.”

I’ve noticed a consistent ironic theme of “freedom” regarding debates about everything from controversy involving the “homosexual crowd,” as Ron so eloquently put it, to whether or not people are “entitled” to health care or money from the government.

First, it’s pretty difficult to accept Ron’s, or anyone’s, concept of living free while still treating the “gay crowd” as people who are not just as entitled to the exact same freedom as every single person living in this country. Since when does the government decide who can or can’t marry? Since when does anyone get to decide who can drink from a fountain or receive an education? Since when have women had the right to vote? Basic human rights have been abused since this country began, all while those enjoying perfect power were spouting off about “freedom” and “equality.” We have progressed from ignorance to enlightenment little by little, and those who have had the most to lose were forced to fight for freedom because too many people couldn’t accept change, or apparently, equality.

“Start telling your children how things used to be” means telling them how oppressed children were working in factories, how women could not vote, how only white men could serve on a jury, how minorities were refused entrance into schools, how the KKK committed endless murders… and people looked away rfor far too long before finally taking a stand against genuine tyranny.

It is simply the “homesexual crowd’s” turn to be granted the same rights as the rest of society. Whether or not someone is gay has nothing to do with their humanity, and that’s not an opinion. Considering the hypocritical views of people like Ron, who would “choose” to be gay in a world that loves to hate those who are different? And that “small percentage” of gay people who wish to be treated as, you know, people equals over 9 million individuals who would like a little, you know, freedom to live their lives as they choose.

Blaming someone for being gay and wanting the same things as the rest of us “normal” people is sort of like blaming a little kid for being born into poverty and begrudging money that is spent to allow him to have food and clothing. Despite the rumors of lobster and steak and driving Escalades while on welfare, relying on the government for help means you are dismally, terribly poor. Does abuse exist? Sure. However, what are the actual facts involving people in need? It is always interesting to me that those who gripe the most about entitlement have the least amount of knowledge or actual data involving welfare recipients, but they sure love to share rumors. What amazes me even more are the very same people who took some sort of handout themselves from family to the government are always the loudest to squawk about welfare queens and “entitlements.”

Which always makes me wonder a little about the squawking of the “homophobic crowd.”

I can agree with Ron about one thing. We decide who to vote into office, and the people of American decided to maintain the goal of universal health care, which primarily allowed Barack Obama to be voted into office not only once, but twice, despite a still struggling economy. Hate the Affordable Health Care Act all you want, but last time I checked, majority rules. Funny how a small percentage of people accustomed to a tremendous amount of power still think that they can do whatever they want and ignore the vote of the majority of Americans– and even the Supreme Court, for that matter. Hypocrisy at its finest.

Additionally, one of the other best ways to learn how to fix a problem, instead of griping about what is not working, is to look at what is working for other advanced countries who seem to carry on so much better than we do. How long did it take us to join other countries who somehow figured out a long time ago that gay people love their country, too, and want to fight for it? How long have other countries easily agreed to take care of each other? How long have other extraordinarily successful countries supported teachers and public education? Take a long look at Finland. They have (gasp!) unions there, and are ranked #1 in the educational field. How is that possible? Teachers are lazy and leeches on society, isn’t that right?

How many other advanced countries have utilized a universal health care system? If they are achieving greatness and we aren’t, why do people insist on trying to do the same thing over and again, or worse, offer LESS than we already are? Regarding health care alone, for decades “nearly the entire developed world {offers some form of universal health care} from Europe to the Asian powerhouses to South America’s southern cone to the Anglophone states of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The only developed outliers are a few still-troubled Balkan states, the Soviet-style autocracy of Belarus, and the U.S. of A.” Until now – FINALLY.

On the one hand, what an embarrassment we are to ourselves and the rest of the world that we can’t seem to manage to make the slightest bit of progress without fighting it every step of the way.
On the other hand, I am so proud to live in a country where the majority of educated and enlightened folks had enough faith and took enough time to vote for change.

Change is hard to accept. I get that, but for the most part, discomfort leads to the betterment of our lives and those around us. One of the seventeen values our democratic society is called “The Common Good,” one where we look out for each other so that we all may benefit. This kind of goodness is being deplored as “socialism” in the political arena, and it always makes me laugh a little. If you don’t want to share in the common good, don’t drive on the roads. Don’t enjoy public parks. Don’t call 911. Don’t flush your toilets. Let’s return to the old day. Outhouses have such a quaint and beautifully scented charm. Don’t call the police when your house is being robbed. Don’t ask for tax subsidies for your business. The list goes on, but “entitlements” are okay, as long as you need to use it, right? Our lives are fully ingrained with other people who live in this country, and selfishness is not going to change that. You are welcome to leave if you don’t like it. Try the troubled Balkan states or Belarus. You’ll love it there.

Remaining silent means nothing changes, and I continue to have faith that those who fight for goodness, for genuine equality, for individual freedom, will continue to vote, to write, to use their voices to speak out against those who love to hate, who try to use their own sense of entitlement to justify removing rights from those who live here too. “Right has might,” my mom always said. And though I lean to the left, I have to agree.

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3 Comments on “Guest Column; Homophobia Cannot Stand”

  1. so knows November 13, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    “Funny how a small percentage of people accustomed to a tremendous amount of power still think that they can do whatever they want and ignore the vote of the majority of Americans”

    I didn’t know the election was for health care benefits. Are you saying if we voted for the current president, we bought into every single part of his platform? If you are, then you are sorely mistaken. I am now sorry I voted for him.

    This “If you don’t like it, move” theme was old on the last White House leader – and is getting really old with the staunch supporters of the current administration. The generalization of Americans disagreeing with policies and placing them in the same bag as all policies many disagree with is hyperbole.

    I apologize for my “non perfect” grammar ahead of time – it seems to be the next major topic to slam someone who doesn’t totally agree with the extremists on either side of the isle.

    • Mark Pontoni November 13, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

      I’m not going to question your grammar, but I don’t see things as you do. And either apparently does the guest columnist.

      If the election wasn’t totally about health care, it certainly was primarily about that. It’s the one promise the President made from the moment he indicated an interest in the White House. My point was that people had a chance to reject the ACA but chose not to.

      As for the “If you don’t like it, move” comment, I have yet to hear anyone from the administration or from its supporters utter that reprehensible comment. I’d be happy to take a look at any evidence of that. It was, however, the hallmark of Bush supporters who pushed the “Love it or Leave it” mantra in our face every time anyone chose to question the illegal war in Iraq. So, I’m quite open to learning who is saying now. I would be just as hard on them as I was on the idiots who said it before. In the guest column, my guess is the author was just trying to make a comparison of the United States to other countries. I could be wrong and I’ll ask her. I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean it literally…but I will ask.

      Thanks for commenting.


  1. I’m an Elitist:Is that a slam? | The Grumblings - November 11, 2013

    […] A little more than a week ago, a Petoskey resident by the name of Ron Bjorkman submitted a letter to the editor that contained many of the tired rants of a frustrated conservative who just can’t seem to see people that don’t look like him have political parity. His letter was so unremarkable that I chose to ignore it on this blog and in my weekly column. But a friend of mine was not so restrained. She sent me her proposed response to Bjorkman’s tripe and I published it anonymously on this blog. You can read her response and why I published it anonymously here. […]

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