So far, I’ve exercised restraint in commenting on the marriage amendment debate, but since controlled burns are the best way to prevent raging forest fires, I’ll speak this piece.
People are zealously venting their disappointment and anger over the passing of Amendment One, and one particular word seems to be on the tip of each tongue: ignorant. Their common (albeit the minority) opinion is that nearly 2/3 of NC’s voters cast ballots without any idea as to what they were voting for! In every election there are varying degrees of comprehension on issues and candidates. We’ll certainly never reach a consensus on what constitutes a fully-informed citizen, and thus “benefits of doubts” are sensible before pointing fingers or alleging incompetence. That’s why I am incensed at being labeled a dupe or a moron – repeatedly and irrefutably – simply because I chose to support this amendment! While I do make mistakes, I am generally characterized – by those who observe me in real life – as making wise decisions, giving sound advice, living respectably, and showing compassion to people of all kinds. The name-calling only begins when I present – to those who barely know me – a less-than-trendy view on a polarizing political subject. Yet there must be more justification for calling someone “ignorant” than how that person casts his vote. If my actions consistently reflect kindness, rationality and selflessness, it is an insolent judgment to reduce me to the box I checked on a ballot.
There are also some who hear me say “Christian” or “religion” and are thus further convinced of my idiocy. By way of reminder, the word “ignorant” can reflect a dearth of knowledge as well as a misinformation or lack of understanding. You are welcome to disapprove of both my position and my religion, but unless you know anything else about me, you still possess no evidence to demonstrably prove that I am anything except in disagreement with you. By the same token, I have equal ground to claim that you voted against the amendment based on media propaganda or peer pressure. With sheer dislike or divergence the only burden of proof, we’ll vainly bicker until the cows come home. For that reason, though subjectively fitting in many situations, the word “ignorant” should be reserved for special, verifiable instances. It is impossible to consider the bulk-labeling of a majority of the state such an instance, since none of said labelers know even most of those voters personally, and since a mere not knowing is insufficient logic to conclude that they had no defensible reason.
As to the loud clamor over hatred vs. love, on which side do childish invectives fall? And if voting for the amendment supposedly projected spite and bigotry, what do you espouse by insulting the intelligence and religious beliefs of others? Ultimately – and whatever the explanation – your view didn’t prevail, and your deep-seeded convictions make it painful to excuse anyone who feels otherwise. Hey, there’s no shame in that, and every man will take a few turns in that boat. However, there are things worse than being ignorant: “slanderous” and “hypocritical” spring to mind. Take care lest by harsh, unsubstantiated speech you undermine the noble virtues you desire to promote.
For the name-callers yet unwilling to concede that they spoke brashly out of passionate persuasion (an easily pardonable sin), I offer one closing thought. If you become convinced that you are surrounded by irredeemable hatemongers, bigots and fools – your co-workers, doctors, bankers, your kid’s teachers, your neighbors, and almost 2/3 of the community you interact with daily – are you not doubly ignorant for choosing to remain in their midst? I do not attempt to change anyone’s mind on the issue itself, as I sincerely treasure the freedom to establish personal views and vote based upon them. But please do reconsider your hasty judgments, your choices of words, your generalizations…and if not, perhaps your state of residence.