Yep, It Is Hard to Walk with a Foot in My Mouth

I like to believe that I’m an open-minded person. Which might seem a little contradictory if you are used to me spouting of my opinions with conviction… but it really isn’t. Just because I manage to sound utterly convinced of something doesn’t mean I’m not aware that I might be utterly wrong.

I am also the sort of person who has no issues admitting when I’ve discovered I was utterly wrong. Usually, I admit my error as publicly as possible. Because I always thought I should be as stridently vocal about that part as I was in the place where I erred.

You can see where this is going now, huh?

Last night I was wrong in a big way. One of those big ways that when it hits you makes you say “d’oh!” out loud and wish you could take back almost everything you’ve said and magically erase all evidence of your own stupidity? I know, I know – it’s my crow and I’ll eat it. I just want to salt it a bit first. Makes it more palatable.

The thing is, along with admitting my error, I owe quite a few people thanks for providing the catalyst for me realizing I was wrong.

The whole event occurred on Twitter, of course. I suppose it was just a matter of time before I had one of these episodes to address. I broke a couple of my own cardinal rules about twitter, I was on cold medicine, up later than I should be, and got involved in a conversation about
both politics and religion. I think if there’s a red-flag in all of that, there’s at least a dozen.

Nonetheless, when my dear friend and staunch Obama supporter @QueenofSpain tweeted “and can I just please ask…WTF is WRONG with being MUSLIM???” out of frustration about the false rumors that Senator Obama is one, rather that looking at that statement and saying… ‘yep, not something I should even remotely attempt to discuss in this medium’ I put my fingers to keyboard and fired off a fiery and controversial two-tweet response

@QueenofSpainactually, I wouldn’t vote for a practicing Muslim for any public office. b/c I’ve studied Islam enough to make that call
@QueenofSpainthen again, I’m weird like that, but I won’t vote for anyone who thinks me lesser for being a woman. Male or female.

This, as you can imagine, had the effect on Twitter of dropping baking soda in vinegar

Volcano erupting in 140 characters at a time

If you really want to go see the whole thing, there’s always Tweetscan or Summize or Terraminds out there.

The relevant questions are:
1) What the hell kind of statement is that for me to make? I’m talking about religion and politics and trying to convey a complexity of thinking in 280 characters?
2) I’m making a blanket statement that tars & feathers any and all people who identify with one religeion?
3) Not only that, but I go on to discuss this on multiple fronts with multiple people as if adding more sand into the pond will somehow unmuddy the water

Fortunately, I don’t surround myself with people who necessarily think like me. Because an echo-chamber of “yes! oh that’s it! you’re absolutely right!” isn’t really conducive to learning anything. I surround myself with smart, thinking, articulate people who run the gamut on beliefs, lifestyles, opinions and every other choice you can make. They also tend to be the kind of people who will challenge me when they think I’m full of crap. Sometimes, we have to agree to disagree – because it turns out we’re both full of crap to an extent – and sometimes I have to self-assess and think “now wait a minute – someone whose opinions you respect is challenging you on this… think about it.”

Part of the reason I love hanging out with Erin Kotecki Vest (the aforementioned @QueenofSpain ) is that she’s one of those people. We agree to disagree a lot. But sometimes she makes me realize that I need to rethink my positions… and she usually does it without the aid of a 2×4.

Also in last-night’s group were @Karoli @marywallace @Adriennevh @kingtiger @blogdiva @summerm @MarkRiffey @Dayngr and a few other side-commenters… who were wiser than I and abstained from getting involved for real.

But most fortunately for me, was @CityMama who said the simplest of things to me:

@GeekMommy really? (not trying to be flip)

It’s that one line that sent me into thinking about it non-stop until I got out of bed and typed up the basics of this post quickly. That, and two other subsequent tweets:
@marywallace @GeekMommy I agree, but elected politicians are supposed to be able to decide on their own without consulting their holy books…
@blogdiva @GeekMommy i got that. just saying it’s funny because as someone with a muslim brother, his reg is the last reason why i wouldn’t vote 4 him

Well yeah. Geez.

Clearly from @CityMama‘s reaction, I said something utterly shocking and asinine. Seriously. That should’ve stopped my typing right there – and probably would’ve if I hadn’t been whacked out on Drixoral and apparently ready to fit both feet in my mouth.

Then you’ve got this premise @marywallace brings up. Something that I really, honestly believe in. Now, I also believe there are a lot of folks out there incapable of doing this. But I think there are those who can as well. So I’m saying that just by identifying oneself with a religion that has beliefs I find offensive and believe would negatively impact my life if someone of power tried to wield that power to enforce those values – I’m going to also assume that *this* person cannot look at the beliefs of his/her religion and say “but that does not take precedence over the law”? That seems incredibly stupid, close-minded, and unfair of me.

I mean, there have been politicians, judges, civil servants galore who have come right out and said “my religion comes before the secular government of this land” – and I wouldn’t vote for them for any amount of money. But there have been equally as many who have stood up for the concept of separation of church and state – and I do them a discredit to say “no one can do this!”

Wrapping It Up

Did I say something stupid? Absolutely. Was I wrong? On more than one front – I was wrong to assume that anyone has to fit my own stereotype. I was also wrong to say something that in my heart, I don’t really believe. It’s just a matter of limitations on wording.

I have Catholic friends who go to church every week. They are very dedicated to their faith, their church, and their community. They also use birth control. The Catholic church’s official stance on birth control is that it is not acceptable. That conception is in God’s hands and it is a sin to interfere with that. But there are a lot of Catholics out there who aren’t using the rhythm method, thanks.
The stupid statement I made above makes the assumption that one can’t identify as Muslim and disagree with certain tenets of the faith. I mean c’mon, I know better than that.

But I really appreciate my Twitterfriends for making me think twice about how I really feel about it… and I hope next time, not to be so foolish.

Oh, and a Red Herring

That said, I was wrong about another thing, which I hesitate to bring up – because it’s simply putting out crumbs and hoping the rats don’t show up. But I was also horribly, embarrassingly, factually wrong in one of my tweets. It was a typo – but one that one of my TwitterStalkers (who shall remain unnamed here – because I’m not going to give him even that much attention) jumped right on and started @’ing me about – despite knowing I’ve got him blocked – so that it would show up in my Tweetscan. Yes, yes, there are in fact 5 Pillars of Islam in the conventional faith (unless you are a separatist jihadist Druze) not 7. Mea Culpa… I typoed a number – I misspell things sometimes and often transpose numbers due to a mild dyslexia. Thank heaven for spellcheck… but it won’t tell you that you typed the wrong number.

Final Thoughts

So then… would I vote for a Muslim for President of the United States? The answer is, of course, that would depend entirely on the candidate and whether or not I believed that his/her religious views would negatively impact my way of life if s/he were to become President. The funny part is, the main reason I broke party rank as a Republican eight years ago and voted *against* George Bush was that I believed he was incapable of doing that. History has shown that by my reasoning, I was correct in that estimation.

Anyhoo – there it is.

I love having friends & Twitterpals that can make me re-examine my beliefs and move forward. Even if it is stupid at best to discuss such a complex topic in that format – it’s great to know that I have folks who can push back when I need it. Thank you.

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~ by Lucretia on May 14, 2008.

14 Responses to “Yep, It Is Hard to Walk with a Foot in My Mouth”

  1. Refreshing to see someone being honest about a mistake instead of trying to back pedal. Too bad politicians can’t do that!

    I can honestly say that I would never vote for a fanatical candidate for President.A President needs to make decisions based on their beliefs, background and what they think is best for the country. Their religious background might play into that decision making, but fanaticism of any kind can blur reason.

    Also, amazing how cold medicine can dilate one’s mouth to let both feet fit in. Never happened to me on twitter but it has offline.

  2. Well said. I have many strong willed friends who if you meet them you walk away thinking they are so stuck in their ways. Like you they take in what is said, they mull it over and adjust their course when needed. This is an incredible way to be that I wish more people had. Being able to debate something from your strongest convictions and yet being able to examine what you believe at the same time. Yes, I believe we could probably find an example in all religions that would make us go, UH NO! But people are people and not a religion. Faith takes us down certain paths and certain beliefs, but the humanity in each of us keeps us all independent and separate from religious tenets. Well done Geekmommy!

  3. Hey, you are a brilliant woman, with a lot of knowledge not shared by some people, ie about Islam. I was grateful for your input last night. Thank god, someone can call a spade a spade about the far reaches of craziness in that belief system and its effects on society. If there were a practicing Muslim Imam who got far enough in American society (doubtful, did you see those loony West Virginians saying they’d never vote a black person into office because ‘you know, they’re another race’?), and that Imam put their religious beliefs neck and neck with law, I’d never vote for them. So last night you were a catalyst for conversation, and that is not a bad thing. You are not a racist, you simply voiced a knowledge based opinion. The two men who jumped in at the end, both belittling you and your home life, were trolls, old fashioned trolls who are being squeezed out of power by their mean-spirited life energy. No one wanted to interact with them, many wanted to interact with you. So, no apologies needed. You furthered the conversation. I like what you write, and say, and think its an important variable in the global shift we desperately need. We need to keep touching base with the hopeful, the dream that politicians will actually talk and walk the rules we as a society give them. We can’t do that, unless we speak our fears, and our hopes.

  4. @GeekMommy,

    It kinda reminds me of the struggles that Romney was having last fall. He bristled at the “Mormon question”, as he struggled with it like Kennedy did with “the Catholic question” back in the 60s.

    Kennedy and his team figured out how to deal with it. See the blog post referenced for a link to the recording of his speech in Houston. A brilliant marketing effort on his part.

    Mark

  5. I’d vote for GeekMommy.

    It takes a strong person to admit they are wrong. Not only did you admit you made a mistake, you did it in your usual eloquent manner.

    I have to admit when I saw your tweet I was all ‘hmmm…that does not sound like GeekMommy’. Then I also realized you had been sick, it was late and said to myself ‘ that girlie needs to get some rest and call it a night’…cause it is hard enough discussing topics with a 140 limit when you are well (at least for me), not to mention when you are sick and tired and drugged up.

    So.

    You’re human. You mistated. You apologized. Move forward.

    Feel better, GM :-)

  6. Right after I wrote that, our router blew up and I couldn’t get back on to participate in the discussion! Frustrating! Coincidentally, I picked up the book I rec’d, Nine Parts of Desire, and flipped to the one essay I hadn’t yet read, one about women and politics in the Middle East. How timely. What you said rang through loud and clear–in countries like Saudi Arabia and Tunisia and, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, where government/laws/social mores are based on the absolute strictest (most fundamental?) interpretation of the Koran, yes, it is impossible for beliefs to be separated from governance. I am wracking my brains trying to think of a Muslim elected official in the states…perhaps you discussed that last night. I just think of George Bush and his fundy ways how his beliefs have completely gotten into the way of his governing esp as concern stem cell rsch and choice. I think you have to take into consideration a candidate’s spiritual beliefs, alongside all the other things (record, stance on issues etc.), but I wouldn’t discount someone completely because of it. At least in the US…You made ME think. I’m still thinking about this issue…and that’s not a bad thing at all. :-)

  7. I for one was thrilled with the discussion that went on because of it all. And there is nothing wrong with being honest. Honesty is what gets us all talking. Honesty can be offensive, honesty can sting, honesty can even get us all agreeing on certain things. There are those who won’t see past it and those who will-but the fact that you are honest makes it more important than anything else.

  8. I have a lovely collection of pre-used crow feathers for you. I’m quite adept at eating crow myself. It’s particularly good with mustard and just a touch of dill. ;-)

    Seriously, though…it was a good conversation overall in a set of very uncomfortable topics. And yes, 140 character bursts just aren’t enough to express yourself clearly, which can definitely lead to a tone or statement that’s unintentional.

    And yet, that discussion certainly opened the door to a more thoughtful discussion here on the blog around the question of what role faith plays in politics. I understood your meaning to be centered around how faith might shape an attitude; specifically, an attitude toward women, which would indeed have an impact on how I would vote.

    In that context, I took what you were saying as less of a condemnation of Islam, and more of a general condemnation of any religion that regards women as second-rate, especially when that regard is manifest in lifestyle and attitude.

    But we must have burned through some network lines last night, because when I turned on the computer this morning, my entire network had been fried. I had to rebuild the wireless configuration, the whole nine yards.

    Maybe those crows were really concerned that we would actually eat one. ;-)

    Keep ’em coming,

    Karoli

  9. It is a bit frightening to me to see just HOW much religion influences everyday life and politics in the US.

    We have politicians of ALL religions here…yes a few do have religious based agendas, but that comes to light pretty quickly and people kick up a fuss or make sure they vote against them if they are against those policies.

    Same with people vote buying BECAUSE of religion…we try to not put up with it at all.

    But it really boggles me at how important the CHRISTIANITY of a politician is to the US people.

    Secularism really is just a word and there really is no separation of church and state….people just say it but they obviously don’t mean it.

  10. Thanks everyone for the input…
    I normally address each comment posted, but I’m still woozy with cold medicine and have now lost my voice.
    I do very much appreciate all of the feedback and input tho.
    Religion is always hard to discuss. Race is always hard to discuss. Politics is always hard to discuss. This year, we in America are in the position of needing to have those discussions anyways, no matter how hard they are – because pretending that they aren’t very important in how this country moves forward in the next 4-8 years isn’t going to work.

    But I think I’ll think twice before twittering something so simplified and incorrect in the future. Just remind me that the keyboard and the cold medicine don’t mix well! :)

  11. I miss all the fun. Sherrie and I went to bed a bit early (after editing the show BTW). Hope your trip goes well for you. and I agree with QOS (queen of spain) Honest is what keeps this world on its toes.
    -Nick

  12. @Nick – well, it wasn’t that much fun… lol.
    And it wasn’t even that in depth of a discussion. A few tweets back and forth between me & @QueenofSpain – 1 or 2 each with the other folks… Really, apparently, the fun drama was 2 people I’d blocked spouting off their opinions about me in the hopes I’d notice (I did it showed up in my Tweetscan – but little point in replying) and someone else who used to be on my following list trying to turn it into some sort of drama by posting about it as a “catfight” between us. Still trying to figure out how he perceived me as ‘being in a catfight’ with someone who I wasn’t even talking to – but hey, apparently, someone trying to shout obscenities my way makes it such… lol.

    That said, I think I managed to get my point across. I messed up last night with what I said. Lesson learned. :)

  13. One of your ‘quiet’ followers (SpacedDaisy) here, I saw the whole discussion happening and decided to stay on the sidelines for that one, though I was very curious of the follow-up.

    Thank you for posting this and thank you for giving it so much thought. I was initially taken aback by your statement, especially with some practicing muslims in my near family and as some close friends, who do not follow every letter of their faith literally (and so also not look down on women at all).

    As a woman I do agree with your statement not to vote for someone who thinks women are less than men, whatever their belief system they may follow.

    Thank you for making me think about some of my own views!

  14. Thanks Daisy.
    It’s hard to remember sometimes that just because someone doesn’t step up and say “hey, that’s offensive you idiot” doesn’t mean they don’t think it! I’m lucky that I have a lot of friends who will call me on stuff and risk my being childish and stubborn and defensive in order to get me back to reality – and back to remembering to act like a human being! :)

    Thank you too for reminding me that even tho it was a stupid, ill-worded, biased thing to say – it at least had a small silver lining that it made both me and other people think about how they *really* felt about it.

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