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Some days, it feels like I’ve been writing here forever, other times it’s like my first post just went up yesterday.

Mostly, it’s the yesterday thing.

So many things have changed in just the short time I’ve been writing, and whatever direction my writing takes next, I want to get this one thing out there.

We can spend so much time championing the things we believe in that it’s easy to lose sight of the world as it is right now. 

When my first post went up, I was considered crazy for including my real name on my website. It just wasn’t done. You hid behind a pseudonym, you don’t put yourself out there bold as brass. There can be repercussions, your work might find out you play games, or talk about things. 

Times have changed. There can still be repercussions. Retribution. People will still attack you for speaking your mind, if they don’t agree with what you’re saying. But I’m no longer thought crazy for doing it, most folks are fine with putting their name to their words.

Everyone has always had a voice, but now you can make that voice heard… or at least put it out there for anyone to find.

Today’s social media reminds me (in a good way) of the old film Pump up the Volume, with the ham radio operator broadcasting his complaints about his high school and having fun playing rap music and being a goofball. He was unique at the beginning because he had the equipment, he had the know-how. He touched a lot of people, and many of those people wanted their OWN voices to be heard. At the end, the credits were overlayed with all these pirate radio stations springing up everywhere, inspired by his example to share their own voice and to listen. To no longer be alone.

I’m not the trailblazer on my blog, not by a long shot; I’m just one of the many people who have raised their voices to be heard, on blogs or podcasts or videos or whatever social media is the flavor of the minute. More people like me join every day, talking about everything and nothing, as we choose. HOW we choose.

Changes.

Everyone has a voice, but does everyone have an audience? No.

Is everything sunshine and daffodils and long walks in the park? Hell no.

Changes keep rolling on, building up all the time.

Things change, and they’re still changing all the time. Nothing stands still. The only certainty in life is shit be changing all the time, yo. Yes, even now.

But the one big change I have seen is how, when someone stands up and speaks their mind, others rise to challenge it, to oppose it, to debate it.

It’s taken for granted and that amazes me. Have people forgotten the past so easily?

Being able to challenge someone in public, to argue with them and have your own voice be heard, your counter-argument, your words of opposition, your reasoning… that is massive.

Yes, I’m saying that it is a good thing. A great thing.

It’s not about challenging someone and winning an argument, or converting them to your point of view, or humiliating them or striking them down or raising up a mob against them.

It is about having another point of view brought up, recognized, talked about, SEEN.

When the challenge is made, when the issues are discussed, when the controversy makes us all talk about it… our children hear. And they get to hear ALL the sides of the debate. The debate exists, and informs, and they learn.

Our children get to see us question authority, question why things are the way they are, why people think they way they think, why we believe what we do and get to hear the reasoning, the justifications, and in some cases get to hear people caught out in lies.

This is what is important. The argument. The discussion.

The world doesn’t end with our generation. We’re not the final form. Our preconceived ideas are not the ultimate end result.

As we fight to change things, as we champion our causes, the next generation is being born and growing up surrounded by the argument. They are having their ideas formed amid freedom of research, sharing of ideas, and some of the most incredible propaganda bullshit I’ve ever seen. But they still have it all right there in their face.

Our children still hear and see racism and misogyny, but they also see it challenged wherever it is visible, and seeing it hidden and concealed in shame is a lesson all on it’s own. 

People stand up and are heard, challenging what we see as hurtful, hateful, oppressive and wrong. That is the miracle to fight for, to keep alive.

We are no longer a people that pretends we didn’t see the wounds. That pretends we didn’t hear the hate. Some do, but the next generation is building on this and taking it for granted. 

This is my point. This. This huge change.

It’s not that shit is all better. It’s that when someone speaks their mind, it gets challenged immediately and everyone EXPECTS IT.

It is now okay and accepted for there to be immediate debate over what people say.

When the debate turns into one side trying to destroy the other emotionally, financially and even with physical pain because they don’t agree, that is where shit goes off the rails. But the argument, the immediate challenge… that is precious.

This is the most incredible victory for our future I could imagine.

This is what our future will be built on. That someone can speak their mind and have it spark a lively debate without fear of being stoned to death. That is where we need to always be heading.

Phil Robertson is asked a question in an interview, he speaks his mind and it sparks a lively debate.

That is a good thing. That is a GREAT thing! Never lose sight of that one fact; it is right and good to challenge people on their beliefs, and have an open discussion. An OPEN MINDED discussion.

Bring it all out, talk about it, get everything out there. Get some thinking going on. Show our kids that we can talk about these things like adults, apply some serious thought to them. Challenge age-old preconceived ideas and test them. Shine the light on our beliefs, ask where they come from, why are they this way.

You may not change minds that are set, that have been raised believing that anything that challenges your blind faith is a test that must be resisted.

But the discussion will be heard by more people than you know. And seeing one person defending calling a type of love evil or a sin, and someone else saying that love comes from God, that Jesus IS love… it can help the open minded to think. Really think, not rely on blind jingoistic rhetoric.

Our greatest task is to encourage the debate, the argument, the discussion without going too far the other way. An open-minded exchange of ideas is what is grand and good.

It does not matter what the subject is, if someone speaks their mind it should be an opportunity to stand up and say, “I do not agree with you, I think this whole other thing here. I’m not saying you’re evil or wrong for thinking your way, but this is what I think, what I see, and I’d love to talk about it.”

I’m not saying that you shut someone else up. You don’t act to silence the voice you don’t agree with. Debate, yes. Challenge, yes. Silence? Why should you be able to silence someone you disagree with? Sure, silence them, but only if we get to silence you when we don’t agree with you, too.

Who decides which voice is allowed to be heard? Those with the power to enforce their decisions on who is permitted to speak.

THINK about it. If you desire the freedom to live your own life in accordance with your faith and belief system, then you MUST allow the free and open exchange of ideas. Give someone the power to silence the people you hate, and sooner or later something you think will add you to the list of the silenced. If not you, then your children.

It is not right to try and hurt someone else for thinking differently that you do. To silence them, to attack them, to gain vengeance upon them. 

There seems to be this idea out there that if someone speaks their mind, and what they think doesn’t meet the proper criteria, then it is an offensive and hateful attack that deserves the ruination of the speaker’s life, driving them to hide in their home, lose their jobs, and be hounded by the media around the clock. Anything is justified in punishing these evil beings, including having their families physically threatened as some kind of ‘justice’.

Try and have perspective. If you’re offended by what someone says, then open your voice and challenge the ideas, win over the hearts and minds through passionate debate and a coherent, well reasoned argument.

Stop with the violence. Do not give in to your own hate, even if hate is what you think you see. Hate is ugly. Even if your cause is wonderful and your passion is real, if you are consumed with hate then you are doing more harm than good. People with open minds will see your hate, and rightfully judge you by it. 

Challenge what you see is wrong and rejoice in having the freedom, the power to do it. Just don’t let the power of the mob make you feel the worm has turned and it’s time to get even, to gain revenge for every wrong, real or imagined, that you think has fallen your way. 

Again, the fight is not to convert the person whose words you challenge. You can’t expect someone to just abandon deeply held convictions because you said so. If you expect someone to respect the depth of your own feelings, then you MUST have the capability of respecting that they may feel theirs just as strongly.

The fight is to present a competing idea, to present more than one point of view, to get everyone seeing that there is not just ONE ‘right’ way that everyone must obey or fear ridicule.

The violence towards those that speak what they believe… that is the danger I see for our future.

There are those who have felt powerless for so long that I think  now that they feel the thrill of being a part of the mob, the taste of blood, that they want more. They want to see the people who think differently from them torn from the herd and thrust into the center of the pack to be ripped to shreds and satiate their lust for vengeance.

Now is the time to recognize the dangers to our freedom. The very act of challenging what you disagree with is already so powerful that it changes how our children see the world. If you unleash hate and violence on anyone that thinks differently, and it’s okay, oh well they aren’t like us… that message will get taught to our children also.

The right to challenge what we see as wrong with reasoned debate… that is so wonderful. It is the very best of freedom of speech. To hear someone say some stupid bigoted crap, and be able to stand up and disagree.

Maybe you don’t see it. I don’t know. Maybe I’m crazy. 

~——————~

That really ends the relevant part of what I wanted to say. The rest of this will be personal stories that directly relate to where my head is at lately. If you read this far, thank you. I hope you have a blessed Christmas, I really do. God bless you.

~——————~

I’m in my mid-forties. I see my son growing up, I talk with him all the time as he plays Minecraft and I play WoW by his side, and it shocks me how different he is from me at that age.

He sees the debates, he hears the arguments and the way people say something and get called on it all over the place. He sees that it is right to make that stand, and to have that discussion. He sees that you don’t ignore it, or pretend it didn’t happen so as not to make a fuss.

What I’m going to say doesn’t prove anything. It’s just what I see in my own life, my small little section of the country. And it gives me hope.

My son is ten years old, and he goes to a private Catholic school. He’s in fifth grade. He’s gone to this same school his whole life.

I’m not Catholic myself, although my wife is. I believe in God, and I have spent an amazing amount of my time really thinking about it, feeling my way through.

What I am, is a guy that grew up in one of the more violent inner city schools in the country, and I wanted what I think most people want; a better life for our children. Wrap that little sucker up in duct tape so he doesn’t get hurt.

So, a Catholic school promised a far lower chance at the kind of gang violence that was normal in my Miami public school. Oh yeah, and it had a very good academic record. Like I care, my grades were horrible. If he gets hooked on learning, he’ll learn whether grades reflect it or not.

It’s been a balancing act.

I don’t want him to be taught hate towards lesbian/gay/bisexual and transgender people, misogynistic ‘the man is the MAN and priests speak the direct word of God’ crap, or intolerance towards other religious faiths. I don’t want it either blatantly being beaten into his head or have it seep into him through constant immersion. I watch for signs of that like a hawk. You have no idea, simply no idea. It is my one greatest fear for him, that he learns prejudice without us seeing or knowing.

I read, understood and thoroughly grok the Illuminati trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson. I am a true believer in freedom of thought, of raw information and analysis. I just don’t think you need drugs of any kind to expand your consciousness. I get high on my own imagination all the time without drugs. Um, except caffeine. LOTS of caffeine.

So I’m nervous, sure… but his school is a place where bullying and violence simply does not exist. Does. Not. Exist. The people there are so square you could use them as a foundation for the pyramids.

When I was the age my son is now, I carried a gun and knives to school on a regular basis. I lived in fear for my life. I will never forget that. It’s probably fair to say that I’ll never get over it. My son, he just… I’m not blind. I know how clueless most parents seem to be, but my son truly does not know how deep that rabbit hole of desperate fear can go.

His only real worry is not getting an A on his report card, his only stress is how much homework the school piles on each day. He doesn’t have that fear for his life, he hasn’t felt what it’s like to be hunted by people in a place you are required by law to attend, and for that I am truly grateful.

Cassie and I have stopped attending the actual church services because of how bad the sermons got about homosexuality. I live in Minnesota and yeah, it’s been pretty bad. But it’s not in the actual classrooms.

Even if he is seeing it, Cassie and I are a competing point of view, and we’re there more than the school and his peers are. SO FAR. I know that will change, but so far, so good.

It’s hard for someone to sell the idea that other people are evil because they love each other, when there is a competing point of view to be shared. Jesus is love, and I can make a pretty good argument that if two mature adults feel true love for each other, then that love must be a gift from God because love is such a fragile, precious thing.

It’s hard for someone to argue against it, at least honestly, without resorting to “but this book said so”. As I said earlier… hate is pretty ugly. So is fear.

For the record, that is what I personally believe. True love between mature, consenting adults is a gift from God. I truly don’t give a shit, in any way, what race, color, creed, biology, whatever. I am not a champion of a cause, I don’t march, it just seems so clear that I don’t get it and I never will. Love between consenting adults is love, period. Acting as though it were evil or a sin is something I don’t think I’ll ever understand or comprehend. And trying to make it illegal? Just, wtf over.

Evil to me is any mature adult trying to take advantage of an innocent child. Children aren’t capable of understanding what they really feel, and look to older authority figures for guidance and direction on what they need to do to be accepted. The abuse of the innocent, especially by those in positions of authority, that is evil.

But again, I’m NOT an activist. It’s like saying I’m an activist for gravity. I’m watching people saying gravity is evil, and I just… how? It’s gravity! How do you deny it exists, or try to say this kind of gravity is okay but that kind is wrong? Just, OMG I’m going insane.

My son, he asked me the other night, all on his own, if we could talk about the dinosaurs and Adam and Eve.

He tells me that for years now he’s known that the school teaches that God created the heavens and the earth and Adam and Eve, but it bothers him. If that is what happened, where did the dinosaurs come from? He’s heard several things, but he’d like to know what I think to help him make up his mind.

That is my hope for the future, right there. An open mind, willing to get a few different points of view and make his own decision on what he believes. And a desire for empirical research. :)

Even with all of this, I face the fact that my son is white, and he’s a guy, and he’s going to a Catholic school. For a lot of prejudiced people of my generation, they will assume and treat him as though he’s a selfish, privileged racist hate-mongering bigoted misogynist, a potential militia member and a probable white sheet wearer to boot. Who would probably own slaves if given half a chance. 

I’ll do my best to raise him so that when he is treated that way, he can calmly challenge that thinking with a clear, coherent and reasoned argument. Not with hatred, or fear, or violence.

I’ll try. Even though I myself think the people who act that way to me are worthless assholes that need to have some sun shining on the mold in their brains. Or a good ass kicking.

Sigh. I guess that whole non-violent thing is kind of an ongoing project for me.

For every person that stands up and challenges what you think is wrong, thank you. You are building the future I want my son to live in. I don’t care what it is you think or believe. What is important to me is that you stand up for what you believe in, and make sure your voice is heard.

Just please, try and temper your passion with a sense of proportion.

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16 Responses to “Massive Soapbox – Impressionable Youth”
  1. El Bearsidente says:

    The way I see it is simple.

    Phil Robertson (whoever that guy is) said X, thus he thinks X, and thus X is his opinion. For me it ends there. It’s his opinion. I don’t have to agree with it, but he can still have it. I don’t care.

    The problem today is that some opinions are “good” and some are “bad” and if you have a “bad” opinion, then you will get harassed, attacked, screamed at, called names, re-educated until you have a “good” opinion.

    Now, the difference between “good” and “bad” opinions is not based on facts or reason, but solely on ideology, propaganda and whatever the media and screaming activists want to sell as “truth”.

    Personally, the concept of Stalinist purges looks better and better with every passing day. I would purge the media, the screaming activists, the Beltway Mafia (plus our equivalent), the WBC, the “freedom from religion” nutters (who’re on the same level as the WBC), basically everyone who disturbs the peace and can’t behave like a civilized human being (and that is an ever growing number of people). Sometimes you gotta crack some eggs to make an omelet.

  2. kirk says:

    El Bearsidente, your last paragraph seems rather jarring in comparison to the rest.

    Bear, fwiw I had a conversation recently on the subject of ‘respectful disagreement’. With a bit of research we came to realize that the name-calling and abuse and all the rest is (sadly) business as usual for at least a couple hundred years. In fact compared to how it was done on some subjects as little as half a century ago, ‘just’ name calling and such is a very nice relief.

  3. Well, there’s a thing. Quite independent of this and you, I pretty much wrote my take on this about ten minutes ago.

    Good on you, Bear.

  4. Beshara says:

    It does feel like we are at a time of trying to cope with so many voices in our society. News shows are now entertainment, pandering to specific demographics. Some days it feels like we are on the right track, that equality is becoming the norm, and sometimes it feels like we are taking steps backwards with torches and pitchforks. I only hope that we can set a good example for our son like you have done. As he grows up I want him to question and form his own opinions, without giving in to pressure to believe something he doesn’t agree with. People always say I am crazy when I tell them I look forward to him being able to talk and ask questions. I look forward to him asking why about everything.

    I have a lot of respect for what you do on your blog. I hope you have a Merry Christmas as well!

  5. urbanmech says:

    Bear, check out St. Joan of Arc church in Minneapolis if you are looking for a Catholic Church that hews a lot more to your views on love and acceptance.

    The problem today is many people are so dogmatic they can’t see past their own beliefs to have an open debate. Reason and logic and fact are ignored.

  6. Theodoxus says:

    I guess I should read what Phil said, as I don’t understand what the whole issue is with what I’ve heard. I don’t understand, that as a professed Christian, he would subset sin. According to the Judeo-Christian belief, everyone is a sinner – not just those enumerated by some arbitrary list generated millennia ago.

    I can understand people being upset at being called a sinner – especially if you don’t follow a faith that supports the idea – but the only wrong I see here is not making a blanket statement.

    And thank you BBB for stating ‘consenting adults’ – too often, one group or another will go off the rails and go slippery slope ‘this will open up bestiality and NAMBA and inanimate object marriage’ – all easily curtailed by the common sense use of ‘consenting adults’. SMDH.

    • bigbearbutt says:

      That
      That’s a good point, and I’m glad you brought that up.

      From everything I’ve heard about Phil and the Duck Dynasty show, these are very good people who live faithful lives, and genuinely don’t hurt anyone. But Phil was specifically asked what he thought was a sin, and he answered, and his answer was paraphrased from the book of Corinthians.

      It’s not that these beliefs come from within his own understanding of the world as a witness, they come from a strong faith in the word of God.

      I respect Phil for answering the question honestly, and I do NOT think he intended to hurt anyone, attack anyone or cause people any kind of pain. He didn’t offer the information on his own as part of some crusade. But he was asked, and to refuse to answer would be to indicate that he was ashamed of what he believes, and what he believes comes directly from what he has been taught is the word of the Lord.

      I, personally, do not believe that the words of the Bible are the direct words of the Lord God, written in lines of fire and copied by man without interference or mistake. I don’t. I believe it is more likely that the Bible and other holy works are inspired by God but understood through the filter of the human mind that received the dream or vision from the Lord, and thus every holy writing is never the direct exact and perfect word of the Lord but instead a translation to the best of our imperfect understanding, and tainted by worldview and prejudices of the person doing the writing.

      I also personally think you should look at the actions of a person more closely than what they say. People say all sorts of shit, both making them look like saints and also like morons. Especially teens, they say some of the stupidest stuff to try and get a reaction.

      From everything I have seen and heard, friends who watch the show… Phil LIVES and acts out a very positive life with his friends and family. That people treat him as some kind of hating evil monster or are glad that he and his family are being jerked around about the future of their show is horrible.

      He spoke his mind, and that should have been cause for people to point out where the basis for his belief came from and discuss it. Not attack him with the fury of a thousand exploding stars.

  7. Langalore says:

    BBB,
    I grew up Catholic. Taught in grade school by Franciscans who are known for loving and communing with nature and for tolerance.
    I went to a Jesuit high school. The pope is a Jesuit and the order has been banned by the church twice in the past (although that was a long time ago now). If you decide to pay for a Catholic high school, I suggest looking for a Jesuit school if it’s not too pretentious and if there are priests teaching there. They believe strongly that debate (REAL debate) is one of the greatest gifts. That it does one of two things – it either strengthens your own beliefs or helps you to empathize with those who do not believe as you do.
    We had a religion class every year in high school. The first year all we learned about were other religions – because the philosophy was that we already probably knew a bit about our own religion and we couldn’t truly appreciate or make a statement about our own beliefs unless we understood the alternatives.
    You’ll notice that my statements aren’t about the Catholic faith but about education and something that every young man and woman should learn – that tolerance and understanding of what you don’t believe in will strengthen and help you understand your own beliefs and bring you closer to your fellow man.

  8. Mannyac says:

    I am a devout believer in the Freedom of Speech. I get tired of listening to people who think that the right to voice our opinions is only right if we agree with what they think.
    Neo-Nazis, fanatically religious people (don’t care which religion), simply a hater, and/or a simple man who (whether I agree with him or not), all are entitled to entitled to voice his/their opinion(s)

    Since the birth of the US almost 3 million military personnel have lost their lives to protect this right.
    BUT no one ever said that you can say whatever you want free of ramifications.

    When anyone with celebrity opens their mouth in a public, they must be aware, because FINancial concerns can be one of those ramifications.
    You’re on TV…You make an unpopular statement…Advertisers don’t like…You may very well lose your job.

    Mel Gibson ranting and raving about Jews. Does that mean that I don’t think had the right to say what he felt? Does it mean that some people (like me) have not watched any of his movies since? I am willing to bet his comments have cost him millions of dollars…there’s those ramifications again.

    Michelle Bachman has made some pretty bat shit crazy comments (imo) Does she have the right to say them, absolutely. Does it cost her votes, yep. Damaged her image around the US, Yep. Ramifications

    Are you protected by the constitution to tell your boss he’s an asshat…sure, Will it you fired? Yep

    Voltaire had it right though: I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

    • bigbearbutt says:

      Yep, that’s exactly right. There are always ramifications. I’m pretty sure I never suggested there shouldn’t or wouldn’t be. I do think expecting people to act without violence and to refrain from passing laws designed to silence dissent is a reasonable request. :)

      If someone wants to say some batshit crazy things, that should be their right, just as it is my right to stand up, say “good lord you’re fucking crazy” and not vote them into public office.

  9. Dahakha says:

    I think there is a very simple way to ensure your fear of hate and violence ruling the debate is prevented. We teach people, especially our children, that the only acceptable target of our attacks are ideas. Opinions. If you separate the idea from the person presenting it, then it is, in my opinion, very very difficult to wander into hate and violence, which are traditionally aimed at people, not ideas.

    I believe that some opinions are wrong. Not every opinion is valid. Not every opinion is valuable, or worthy of consideration. The thing is, each person will have different ideas about which opinions are wrong. So with my teaching idea above, if you challenge the ideas themselves, the opinions themselves, the things that people say rather than the people themselves, then a) you are forced to provide good reasons WHY they are wrong, and b) they are forced to defend those ideas by thinking about them critically.

    As you say, it might be rare for that person to be converted, to have their mind changed, but the simple fact that they are forced into defending their position means that those who see that argument, who may – like your son – not understand why the idea is controversial in the first place, get an insight into the debate that may help them settle into their own opinion, or see why their opinion is flawed (or strong).

    One of the things that frustrates me most about the devolution of debates into personal, hateful attacks is that it gives the opportunity to shift the argument away from the actual idea under debate. When someone is forced to defend themselves from personal attacks, or can simply dismiss a great counterargument because of the personal attacks that accompany it, it undermines the whole process and in the end, all people remember is the hate and violence.

    • Theodoxus says:

      Hear hear! I got into a FB argument over the validity of opinions. I don’t know where the idea that opinions are sacrosanct, and all must be given due respect came from – but it needs to die. Free Speech and blanket acceptance of someone’s opinion are not the same thing.

      If I were to state ‘It is my opinion that the sun revolves around the earth, because I see it move across the sky’ – it is decidedly wrong thanks to what we know about solar physics – and you would be remiss in not explaining that to me. I would then be in the position of defending my opinion or absorbing the new information and reformulating into a correct opinion (one based on fact, rather than conjecture).

      People have lost (or sadly, never been taught) critical thinking skills. We’re becoming more like ComStar – repeating rote phrases without exploring the meaning of such. I can understand, limitedly, why someone would appeal to authority (the Bible) on matters they haven’t really looked in to – but it’s still a fallacy, no matter how pretty it looks. Once someone can formulate an actual, critically thought out reason for a thing, only then does their opinion truly hold any weight.

      The interviewer of Phil Robertson should have followed up with ‘why are these things sins’? Only then can a debate be attempted.

      Personally, I think Paul of Tarsus had a personal hangup with homosexuality. By the time of Christ, with the Law being fulfilled, there wasn’t a need to disparage homosexual love – how exactly, Paul, does such an act separate one from God? (which is the definition of sin). Oh to be a Timelord and ask him directly!

  10. […] The Big Bear Butt: Massive Soapbox – Impressionable Youth […]

  11. Tsudrats says:

    ‘I face the fact that my son is white, and he’s a guy, and he’s going to a Catholic school. For a lot of prejudiced people of my generation, they will assume and treat him as though he’s a selfish, privileged racist hate-mongering bigoted misogynist, a potential militia member and a probable white sheet wearer to boot. Who would probably own slaves if given half a chance. ‘

    Recon he’s going to turn out just fine with the likes of his Mum and Dad as role models. :).

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