Open Letter To The Woman in Massachusetts

Yesterday, I was in a my hotel room watching BBC World news. I generally have it on in the background when I am alone in hotels; mainly for the company rather than the fact that I am interested in the repetitive cycles of 24-hour news programming.

I looked up from what I was reading when pictures of the first legal US gay weddings in Massachusetts came on. Obviously, this is a topic that I have a personal interest in. My congratulations go out to all who legally wed over the past few days. While I understand that not every gay couple wants to marry I strongly believe in the equality that this decision represents and the dignity it affords all people in the state.

Of course any balanced media coverage had to include those who objected. There were scenes of people praying and some placards but nothing looked like it had turned into mass rioting and I took that to be an encouraging sign. However, the was one female opponent to the legalisation of gay marriage who did frustrate me – perhaps irrationally – more than the others. Her comments to camera went along the lines of. ‘They want to destroy traditional values’.

Despite the whole ridiculousness and stupidity of that comment and the fact that it doesn’t even make sense it angered me more than anything else I heard.

Dear Madam

I saw your comments last night on the television news and how you feel that, through the legalisation of gay marriage, ‘they’ (who I take you mean to be homosexuals in Massachusetts) are trying to destroy traditional values.

I wanted to ask you about your traditional values but you were a vox pop on the international news and I will never get the chance. So I choose to write my thoughts here. Perhaps one day you will read them and think.

A tradition is usually something that has been around of a long time. It has roots and a history. Culturally, traditions are often important and significant but they have not always existed nor have they always been as they are. Traditions develop with human life on earth. They are of their time. Your implication is that traditions are good and anything that changes (or – in your eyes – erodes them) is bad. But, forgive me for my rudeness, this is pure crap.

For centuries we burned people we considered witches. That tradition is gone. Should be fighting to keep it? There was a tradition of denying women the vote, or perhaps I should say that traditionally men voted while women stayed at home. I don’t hear you shouting for that tradition. Can I say there was a tradition of slavery? Perhaps not, but certainly – at one time – reasonable, decent people of the age thought it was acceptable. Quite rightly we deny that tradition now.

Bur regardless of my flippancy here, your comments angered me for they tried to dress your bigotry up. Your tried to hide it by using an argument that says because it has always been one way that is the way it should stay. If I was from your country I may attempt to rationalise this for you by saying you were outside your ‘comfort zone’ and that’s why you react as you do. Fortunately I am not and thus, from a distance of an ocean away, I can see your intolerance for what it is.

So, let me set the record straight. Nobody is trying to destroy tractional values for there really is no such thing. Massachusetts has seen that so-called traditions that uphold prejudice, intolerance and preach inequality must, like witch burning, slavery and dancing around a may-pole, be consigned to a part of human history where peoples of the future can look back and laugh at us.

I wasn’t angered by the prejudice of the religious zealots who were featured in the news. While I believe them to be ill-informed and not speaking for any deity I perceive, I do understand the roots of their opposition. I am angered by your hiding behind reasoning that because something has always been it should always be so. Traditions are often no more than superstition justified by repetition over extended periods of time. So, please, accept the fact that your opposition is rooted in fear (I did want to say prejudice but I hope that your prejudice is caused by fear) and embrace the inclusive new traditions of your state.

One of the facets of a cavilled society is that it strives to be better for all its people. At this moment in history Massachusetts seems to be at the forefront of those striving to improve upon what we have. Perhaps, in the north eastern corner of the US, we are seeing one of the most civilised places on earth emerging. That is a cause for celebration.

You don’t realise how lucky you are to be living in such a place.

Jon

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