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
@QueenofSpain – actually, I wouldn’t vote for a practicing Muslim for any public office. b/c I’ve studied Islam enough to make that call
@QueenofSpain – then 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
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.
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.