To Save Lives, Not To Shame Trolls

Yesterday was GLAAD Spirit Day, and most teams in Major League Baseball participated by tweeting and changing their logos to reflect their support for kids who are being bullied because of their sexuality (or their perceived sexuality):

It was a small act on baseball’s part, but a meaningful one. And given baseball’s traditional leadership role in promoting inclusivity (being the first major sports league to integrate and to recruit international players), it was highly appropriate and welcome. Sports culture can be intimidating for LGBT kids, and baseball sent a message that everyone is welcome at the ballpark.

Sadly, as you’d expect, not everyone was on board with the welcoming message. It didn’t take much looking to find one franchise’s fans singled out. And then another. And another, for vocalizing their objection to baseball’s position. It’s not worth the mental anguish to read through them to find examples, nor do they deserve the attention. If you want to read them, go ahead and click the links above, and do some searches on Twitter and Facebook. My faith in humanity is already too shaken to wade too deeply into that pool.

Their reasons ranged from wanting to keep baseball pure of politics (which is silly, because not only is everything political, but baseball has been particularly politicized over the years), to accusing the league of kowtowing to political correctness, to outright hostility toward the queer communities. It was, at once, entirely predictable and disappointing.

But it’s also pretty universal. Major League Baseball spans a continent, with fans in virtually every corner of it. And every team’s fan base has a healthy share of bigots and intolerants to go with their overwhelming contingent of compassionate, rational, and accepting supporters. The bullying epidemic that has only intensified with the invention and popularization of social media is not a local or regional problem. It’s an international one.

That’s precisely why highlighting the knuckledraggers in one fan base is counterproductive. Sure, there are certainly some regions and fans that are more likely to object to Spirit Day than others. But when we get to point and laugh (or shake our heads disapprovingly) at those “backwards” communities, we are encouraged to feel like we’re setting the curve. That we’re doing well enough. That at least we’re better than those schmucks. Make no mistake, these articles are specifically designed to give us that smug self-satisfaction.

In reality, no community is free from this problem, especially in schools. We shouldn’t get to feel superior while there are still kids suffering down the street from us. GLAAD and Major League Baseball aren’t raising awareness for this problem so that we can say we’re better than Atlanta, or Minnesota, or Arizona, or Boston. They’re doing it to hopefully save lives. Good for them. We should do likewise. Sure, what others say to and about vulnerable children is important, and we should work to stop that. But we still have an even greater responsibility to speak out just like Major League Baseball did in support of these kids.

15 thoughts on “To Save Lives, Not To Shame Trolls

  1. This article illustrates exactly what is wrong with the modern-day “LGBT Tolerance” movement. I have no problem with gay people, but I have a big problem with the use of peer pressure as a form of forced tolerance. It’s hypocritical and does absolutely nothing to foster acceptance.

    Take this article for example. You’ve referred to those who choose not to accept the LGBT message as “knuckledraggers”, as if somehow refusal to accept gay people on moral grounds results in an automatic deduction of 50 IQ points. I know plenty of intelligent, upstanding people who don’t accept gay people. I don’t agree with them, but I don’t judge them negatively either. As long as their point of view doesn’t inflict harm on others, they have the right to believe whatever they like. That’s their choice. Suggesting otherwise is a form of the same bullying that MLB and others are supposedly trying to combat.

    • Hey Adam,

      Full disclosure, I’ve got many friends and family who are gay. I think they’re wonderful, and deserve all of the same rights and respect that I get for being a straight guy with a wife and kids.

      That said, GLAAD Spirit Day, and by extension this article, are not about that. Rather, they are trying to keep kids from being bullied into harming themselves, and to help desperate people to realize that they have love and support. And respectfully, regardless of what you think about gay people, “the gay lifestyle” (or as they like to call it, life), same-sex marriage, or “the LGBT tolerance movement,” I would suggest that if you can’t support the idea of fewer kids killing and hurting themselves, and the rights of all people to not be terrorized and hounded in their homes, at their schools, and on their computers, then you deserve that label, and far worse.

  2. “I know plenty of intelligent, upstanding people who don’t accept gay people.” That may be the biggest contradiction I’ve ever read. How does one not accept gay people? Do they believe they don’t exist? Seems rather unintelligent to me? Do they refuse to let gay people into their homes, businesses, social circles? doesn’t seem too upstanding. In fact that sounds like a lot of pseudo-intellectual bullshit trying to mask homophobia and bigotry.

    As for the actual article, just a quick glance at the MLB Facebook pages for the teams revealed a lot of bigots in every fan base. No one group should feel superior to any other.

    • This is precisely the stance I’m talking about.

      This isn’t my point of view, but I’ll give you an example. I have a straight friend (we’ll call him John) who has a job that requires him to diagnose and repair domestic and international VoIP and long distance calls. John is far from a stupid human being, as his job would suggest. This is not the kind of job most people can do.

      John also attended Catholic school in the 80’s and early 90’s, and in the Catholic school environment homosexuality was pretty well believed and taught as a lifestyle choice and a sin. To this day, that’s what John believes and accepts. It has nothing whatsoever to do with homophobia or bigotry or pseudo-intellectualism on John’s part…it has to do with religious beliefs and that which he was taught. So he doesn’t accept gay people.

      John also knows I have gay friends and relatives, and he understands my point of view as an atheist, and we respect each other. Neither one of us attempts to force our beliefs on one another, and John’s not going to go out and beat the tar out of any gay person he sees. There are other qualities that John has based on his religion that make him a decent human being and friend, and that’s good enough for me.

      This is the big problem with the “pro-gay” movement. There’s nothing wrong with being pro-gay, but to judge against others who may not support it makes those involved with it no better than the bullies and the “thugs”.

      • This is a terrifyingly common, crazily wrong false equivalency: the idea that if you don’t tolerate my right to refuse to acknowledge the basic humanity of another group of people, your intolerance is somehow just as bad as mine.

        That’s not how it works. John doesn’t get to choose which human beings to accept or not. Attempting to do so is, whatever his education and aptitude in other ways, stupid. And it absolutely is, necessarily, bigotry, and no background or set of religious beliefs excuses it. At this point it’s just a basic failure as a person.

      • If you think homosexuality is a sin, that’s homophobia. Plain and simple. Bigotry validated by religion is still bigotry.

  3. “Because of their sexuality (or their perceived sexuality)” A quote from the opening paragraph to the piece above. Since when did humanity get the right to ‘choose’ their sexuality? I guess I always thought that so-called ‘choice’ came from God? Of course, good people can argue about such as this until the cows come home (God made them too;). Ditto for when does life begin? At conception or when an abortion does or doesnt take place? Oh, and last but certainly not least, lets not let the PC police off the hook on this one: the concept of marriage being between only 1 man and 1 woman! Only God can truly forbid such modern, and novel, concepts, no? Thank God for one right we have; that is, we can choose our choices in life but not our consequences, for better or worse, as we reap what we sow…more, later and longer!

    • Did you confuse “perceived” for “preferred”? The line you quote is talking about extending sympathy and support to straight kids who get called fags for liking musical theatre.

      Nice touch with connecting homosexuality to abortion, though. That’s like a 10+ bonus in paranoid wingnut points.

      • Ok, the knuckleheads’ remarks above you dont deserve a response from a right-wing nut…a libertarian, and proud of it, actually! I didnt make the distinction that I was trying to make between GLAAD and the LGBT movement and theres a big difference! My bad…I have no problem at all and wholeheartedly support abuse prevention of gay persons at any age. What I object to, on religious and moral grounds, is the trans-gender sexual revolution and its being compared to the gay and lesbian community. They are two very dis-similar entities in my understanding. Preferring the same sex over the other is personal choice and the consequences are between that person and God, or others if they want to have it that way. But, trying to physiologically change ones sex to the opposite of what one was born as is a much bigger contrast and is in no way a comparison to gay behavior since would then be in the realm of surgery and/or hormonal replacement therapy, etc. Adam noted the difference between GLAAD and LGBT above in his comment stream and even you, Mr. Bates, said the “Nats didnt mention LGBT…” So, thats the only point I was trying to get across, however poorly, and I apologize for any mis-understanding. Your video link introduced the LGBT term but both GLAAD and LGBT were noted more than once in the blog. The merits of my argument remain open for debate: they are two vastly unique concepts and shouldnt be confused at all! In fact, my use of the word ‘perceived’ implies one can consider a sex change as if it were a choice and not something we were all born with. I would, however, stress that the word ‘preferred’ refers simply to what sexual partner in a (hopefully;) monogamous relationship one chooses to have and, in this case, since were talking about GLAAD, that would have to be someone of the same sex…nothing more and nothing less; still, you can infer my preference for Gods design for human relationships from this and my previous post in the thread…thanks!

  4. In 2050, when God has not descended from the heavens to smite us dead for treating our fellow human beings, his creations, with respect and dignity, young adults who are just entering their politically active years, that is, those who will be born 10 years from now or so, will regard these arguments as quaint and puzzling. When the remaining homophobes in America have barricaded themselves in a compound in northern Idaho or are running to be mayor of Vicksburg, the younger generation will see these arguments in the same light as we see Bull Connor enforcing “God’s will” in Birmingham in the 1960s or John C. Calhoun arguing in favor of slavery in Congress before the Civil War. Times are changing, and people are afraid, as they usually are during periods of great change, but this is a change well worth making, and I heartily applaud Major League Baseball for joining in the effort.

  5. The thing that strikes me about this debate is the complete intolerance of those that preach tolerance. In the US today, anyone that holds traditional values informed by their faith in God is demonized and made fun of by the political correctness police. We are called stupid knuckle draggers or worse. I suspect that most of the intolerant left have very few acquaintances that are practicing evangelical Christians. If they did, they would see that most of us spend remarkably little time talking about or worrying about homosexuality. We spend far more time worrying about the general moral decay of the country. We pray for our children and our country on a daily basis. We simply aren’t the haters that we are portrayed. The hate is very one sided in my view.