Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hot Topics by Email

I got an email this week that gave me pause. It was from someone in our cub scout pack, urging a long list of families to call in to protest SB 572 which would create a "Harvey Milk Day" (not a "Harvey Milk Gay Day" as the email called it).

Now, I don't mean for this to become a post about Gay Rights, though I don't hide the fact that DH and I are solidly in the PRO column on that topic. I have experienced too much discrimination and prejudice in my life to distinguish the reason for it. Race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, weight, hair color, height, national origin, physical condition, whatever. Discrimination is never acceptable.

What got me thinking was the mixing of audiences. I myself have sent out email blasts requesting support on political issues to friends, and asked them to forward. Usually, these are really black and white, like "more money for public schools" or some such.

Then again, to some folks, homosexuality is black and white. And in scouting, which has a history of anti-gay policy, perhaps she assumed she was among like-minded folks. Maybe she was, and I am the exception. If Harvey Milk Day were to become an official holiday, with requisite discussion in public schools, I can see why some folks would be uncomfortable with that.

Not that that this potential discussion needs to be graphic. Elementary school kids can be taught that some people "love" people of the same gender. There is a LOT of harassment and outright persecution related to homosexuality that happens in schools. I remember the words that were thrown around when we were growing up. I am sure they are still being used to insult and bully kids who are "different," regardless of actual sexual orientation. Our son has seen friends (boys) singled out and ostracized for the cardinal sin of playing with a girl. So a little education on tolerance (or even *gasp* acceptance) does not seem amiss to me.

In living memory, there was a time when the idea of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day would have seemed equally appalling to some people. Once upon a time, interracial marriage was illegal in parts of this country. There is even a word for this: "miscegenation" and this was preached against in some churches as a sin against God. So, while I get that some of those who are extremely agitated about homosexuality believe they are protecting their children from some heinous lifestyle, I must disagree with their premise.

The email situation has made me uncomfortable. I like the woman who sent the thread. I believe she has good intentions, though I also believe they are misguided in this case. I am sure she would say the same of me if she read this blog. Should I just ignore the email thread? Reply All with my opinion on the matter, and brand myself as one of those "flaming Liberals." If I did that, would I just be engaging in the same act that the originator of the email had--shoving my policy in the inbox of people whom I only know marginally? I was tempted to send a pointed email reply, but I don't even know most of the people on the mail list.

When the email thread grew to 5 responses, I did reply all with a simple request to be removed from the thread. Without an explanation, people are free to assume it is due to political views, or a desire for less spam, or simple apathy.

What about Facebook? I am linked there to people from all walks of life...high school, college, family, past jobs, current social groups. The only group I intentionally exclude is people I work with right now--coworkers or customers.

I have posted, and likely will post in the future, some gay-friendly political comment in my FB status. I wonder what impact this future left wing liberal posting will have on my relationship with this woman. With such a diverse audience pool, I am bound to post something sometime that will offend somebody.

Going back a few years, this would probably have never come up, since there is little room for political discussion in that "Hey Neighbor" type of quick recognition we have on the schoolyard playground as we drop off our kids in the morning.

Then again, go back even further, say our parents' generation, and everyone in the school would probably know what church I attend, what political party I vote with, and where I shop for groceries. Social networks grow and contract, and the medium changes with each generation. The back fence and the front porch have been replaced by FB, Twitter, blogs, and email lists.

What's the old saying...never discuss religion or politics? All this social networking makes it challenging--you have to remember how wide your audience is when posting to things like blogs and FB. So, I guess mundane stuff about camping, kids, and daily life will continue to be the main content of what I post to FB. As for this blog, well, now that you know my left-leaning tendencies, you can choose to come read it (or not), so I may take more of a position on things here. Other views are welcome, but bullying or snarkiness will not be tolerated.

I'm not one to back away from a political discussion...but I will choose the time and place for it. Preferably live, so we could have real civil discourse. Email blasts to FaceBook acquaintances is not the forum I would choose.


  1. I think I found a jumping point :)

  2. I would have sent an email to her alone asking not to be sent emails of that nature. But then you said there was a stream of email replies. Really? I guess my policy of slamming anyone who unnecessarily replies to all keeps me out of the loop. (Thankfully!)

    Good for you for asking to be excised out of the chain gang.


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