DISCUSSION STARTER

I received the following comment from Renz (who may or may not mean it - his motives for saying things are not always straightforward):

As a heterosexual married man, I don't believe you can fully speak to what a gay person should or should not do in this circumstance.

On first reading this appears to be a fair comment. However, when you start thinking about the consequences of always applying this commandment it becomes less of a fair comment and more of a recipe for stagnation and even tragedy.

For a start should I apply this ethic to just my friends? Or must I apply it to my enemies as well? If the latter is true that means I cannot criticize someone for being discriminatory against my friends. And, if I always apply it to my friends, should I stand back and say nothing if one of them tells me he is about to commit suicide?

And what about free speech and expression of one's views?

One thing is for certain - I get more advice concerning my personal life from you than I ever dish out to others and, as overall your advice has made my life "better" rather than worse, I would prefer to carry on receiving it (both good and bad) rather than muzzle everyone.

But you may think differently and may even have a logical and fair formula which allows us to criticize those outside our community but not those within it.

This is a serious post.

Comments

DISCUSSION STARTER — 26 Comments

  1. We never completely understand other people’s situation and response, unless we are them, but we can imagine it. As long as you are sensitive to how others may feel and listen when they say, “it’s not like that…”, that is what matters.

  2. Well, we can’t pretend that we don’t have opinions. I think the issue is always how we express them.

    Sometimes simple human generosity and compassion means that we shouldn’t say anything. More often it means we should think about how we say it.

    I think it’s too PC to say a straight person can’t comment on a gay person’s life. Pushed to its limits, that’s not really any different than saying a gay judge can’t rule objectively on a gay issue.

  3. I would disagree with Renz here.

    As a gay partnered man, I can tell you that we aren’t from Mars. Our concerns are normal human concerns. If we can’t be understood enough by straight people to communicate then the efforts at equality are doomed.

    Am I as a gay white male only to see gay white males in my role as a therapist? Can I not understand and help anyone else? Nonsense.

    The sort of theory-driven multicultural approach that says that we can’t comment on the experience of someone of a different race/ class /culture/ sexual orientation / etc. is a recipe for ceasing all communication. We would all move into ghettos of class and gender and race and every other category of human experience. May all our multicultural concerns die a thousand well-deserved deaths before that happens.

    The demand for equality means meet all people as equals. Share one’s views as long as it is informed and well intentioned. And know that the other might ignore it or reject it.

    Yes, I am a gay man, but more importantly, I am a human being with the same hopes and wishes and dreams as any others. Refusing to offer your views because you are a straight male may appear to be multiculturally correct, but it ignores our full humanity. And I think that the same applies to any human interaction.

    What unites us is far greater than what separates us.

  4. Or a highly intelligent, well informed, objective atheist can’t comment on the Christian church 🙂

    Well, yes, but I was too polite to say so! 😉

  5. “What unites us is far greater than what separates us.”

    Always, Dennis, and we would not get ourselves into so many messes if we could keep that in mind.

  6. Of course you are allowed to offer advice and have opinions.

    Whether they are worth anything and/or I will follow them is up to me, and I will be considering the source.

  7. Or a highly intelligent, well informed, objective atheist can’t comment on the Christian church 🙂

    Well, instead of “atheist” I would have said “Nordic polytheistic Heathen” but you get the idea. Hell, I was told that I *should* speak up and say my piece.

    Just because I say something, that doesn’t mean people are going to listen. LOL!

  8. As a heterosexual married man, I’m inclined to agree with Renz. At least I know what he means. He did qualify himself by saying “fully speak” to what a gay person should or should not do in this circumstance.

    But I agree with the Mad One as well. Who of us can “fully speak” to anyone’s circumstances. Therefore we can speak to everyones! Hallelujah!

  9. Yeah, I know – Vikings are kind of like cockroaches. You keep spraying for them, but they keep coming back. ROFL!!

  10. What commandment? What Ethic? What circumstance? These are the points which arise for me. Otherwise simply remove the words ‘heterosexual married’ and ‘gay’ from the premise and you have your ethic. The circumstance and ‘commandment’ (?), are secondary. Sorry to be all Kantian about it but I do not see the question.

  11.      OK, reading back, I understand the context in which it was said.

         The difference I see is one may certainly express one’s opinion about how a problem or a social situation should be addressed, but must hold in tension the command not to judge. This isn’t a gay issue; it’s a human issue.

         I personally believe living one’s life openly is how God meant us to live. It’s healthier in so many ways, and the people who love you deserve to know you. I can express that and tell about my own experience, and yet honor the decisions of others to live their lives in a different manner. It is an extremely personal thing. In my experience, most folks are doing the very best they can with their lives.

        In short, there is a world of difference between saying, “I think this is the best course for folks to follow,” and saying, “You are wrong not to do this.” It leaves very little room for compassion.

  12. Did I mention that andrewdb and I have met IRL? He’s very dapper, just like his avatar.

    And I hope to meet Erika next month as I do a flying business trip through the UK.

    🙂

  13. Dammit! Rick+ is even nicer than me! I hate it when that happens.

    I believe that life allows a discerning empathy to grow in each of us that makes our stories and experiences of some value to others. While a young un may have sympathy for another who is experiencing loss, it is only experiencing loss that allows for empathy.

    I work with school-aged students who stutter, and others with significant learning challenges. Very often they expend a great deal of energy and emotional resources attempting to hide their differences from others. My own experience in letting go of what I wished were true of me and living authentically, I believe, has made me a much more effective and empathetic resource for those with whom I work.

  14. Dammit! Rick+ is even nicer than me!

    Yes. And he has a much neater lawn than you, as well.

    In fact, KJ, I don’t know how you have the cheek to continue calling yourself gay.

  15. Now MP…my comment that you have posted out of context followed a rather snarky snipe you made at Anonymous…that’s hardly friendly advise…

    That said I sometimes can’t help stirring the pot. My apologies. I just left a number of innocuous comments to try and balance the one you have pointed out.

  16. I am sure you are well aware, Renz, that I cannot ban pot stirring at OCICBW… as I would have to ban myself. And that could cause a quantum paradox that might rip apart space/time itself.

    But, seriously, there was no snide intended in the posting of the above. You simply got me thinking and you know what I’m like with philosophical diversions. I was honestly interested in there being a discussion as you can see from the civilised nature of the subsequent debate.

  17. sorry, no snide felt, in fact, I knew that by creating a secondary post you were seriously weighing the thoughts and pondering…no offense taken, despite my tendency to being a belligerent martyr. 😉

  18. “And he has a much neater lawn than you, as well.”

    My honor was been wounded! How dare you sir?

    My brother, and future sister-in-law, whom I had not yet met, stopped by my house once, prior to my coming out. I was not home, but my brother was happy to show her around the yard (I could add descriptive adjectives regarding the yard, but modesty forbids.).

    “Is he gay?” inquired the future SIL. My brother assured her I was not. She, of course, was more than happy to point out his error a couple of months later.

  19. Trying to comment here…I can see both sides of this question, but I feel that it is only in listening to the experiences of others, and attempting to fit ourselves into the shoes of others, do we learn anything worth learning, and enhance our own personal growth.

    Aren’t I just so agreeable? LMAO

    Fluffster

  20. [@KJ: Hee!]

    I cannot ban pot stirring at OCICBW… as I would have to ban myself

    Understatement.Of.The.Year. [You not only stir the pot, Crazy Arse, you then call it “black” (if we’re lucky!)]

    ***

    Didja miss me? Been incommunicado for a few (but in the presence of my bro’s Golden Retriever, Bailey. You’ll understand then, that I’m don’t think being out of touch w/ y’all was too much of a burden!). However, now comes the “Must catch-up w/ the OCICBW crowd” portion of my day…

    [wv, “amiso”. Friend of Soy Bean Paste.]