Gay Coffee, Straight Chicken, and Ducks

If you're aware of the recent controversy regarding Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, then you probably have an opinion about his comments on homosexuality. Which, I think, puts me and my wife in a minority: we don't care about Phil Robertson. Or his views.

I remember feeling the same way when Starbucks' CEO, Howard Schultz, announced his support of gay marriage (good for you, get me my coffee). Not long after that, Chick-Fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, announced his support of traditional marriage (again, good for you, get me my chicken). I don't care where those organizations stand on marriage because I don't patronize them for their anthropological views.

Lots of people feel the need to publicize their opinions (yours truly not excluded). Which is fine. In America, we have freedom of speech. But as my wife astutely pointed out, we don't have freedom from consequence.

There's a consequence for everything we do. If you rob a bank, you'll get arrested. If you step on a cricket, it will die. If you make fun of New Jersey, you'll get punched in the face. By me. It's just physics, really--action, reaction. Not an unfamiliar concept, just one not often applied to relationships.

Maybe it's because we too easily forget that every human interchange constitutes a relationship of some sort. I may not ever have a direct conversation with every single person who's read my blog, but a relationship has still been built between author and reader. That doesn't mean it's the same as what I have with my wife, it just recognizes that a relationship is any interaction of thought and feeling.

Which means there's no such thing as an inconsequential statement. If every thought or feeling we share represents a relationship on some level, it means that everything we say (or write) will influence someone else, positively or negatively. It will have a consequence.

Thus, regardless of how you feel about Phil Robertson, his words have consequences. Whether you're on the side of human rights or speech rights, we can all agree on that.

photo credit: ViaMoi via photopin cc
We should also agree that if we actually care about others, we would be more willing to measure our words.

That's not to say that we should avoid conflict. We just have to realize that agreeing to disagree never meant that no one would get hurt. All of us have beliefs which means someone out there has beliefs that, if true, would invalidate ours. And those beliefs are held just as tightly as we hold ours. We have no monopoly on conviction. And truly caring people will lay down their liberty of speech for the sake of another.

So drink your gay coffee, eat your straight chicken, and watch that dumb reality show about ducks. Just remember: someone out there is offended that I called Duck Dynasty dumb. Not because I'm not allowed an opinion, but because voicing mine so callously will make someone feel that their opinion is less.

My apologies.