I was standing in the security line at Orlando International Airport recently when my wife nudged me to look at the shirt of the young lady in front of us. It was a plain blue t-shirt with the word “equALLity” spread across the front. As I rolled my eyes as far as they could go, Jenny laughed and said, “I knew you’d love it.”
It’s not that I have any problem with equality per se, it’s that I am beyond annoyed by the meaningless, inconsistent, and hypocritical virtue signaling of those who make this thoroughly-pliable word their personal brand. I get that everyone has to have a cause to champion, but is intellectual honesty really that much to request?
Here’s what I mean. I’d say there’s somewhere between a 95-99% chance that “equALLity” shirt was in reference to the LGBT political crusade. Assuming that the creator and wearer of the shirt were not ignorant of the statistical realities demonstrating that LGBT individuals have higher median incomes, education levels, and job placement rates than non-LGBT, we can conclude the advertised grievance is lamenting the fact that there are those who morally disapprove of LGBT romantic and sexual relationships. That is what rubs these apparel activists the wrong way. “You will be made to care,” and all that.
But here’s the hypocrisy that really frosts me. The person who created or wears that shirt doesn’t believe in “equALLity” themselves. Not how they define it themselves, anyway. Their definition suggests that having moral boundaries for what we deem “appropriate” romantic and sexual relationships is bigoted and the vile source of inequality. But they themselves have moral boundaries for what they deem “appropriate” romantic and sexual relationships!
They don’t believe, for instance, that pedophilic relationships should be equally respected. Nor do they believe that inter-species relationships deserve our respect. In fact, they will become repulsed that you could even mention it, and accuse you of heinously trying to equate bestiality or pedophilia with homosexual relationships. Of course, that’s not what you’re doing at all.
You’re pointing out that they too have moral boundaries that they set up for what they believe are appropriate romantic and sexual relationships.
Their boundaries may be different than say a Biblical Christian’s boundaries. They may say that appropriate relationships must be based on consent. But then when you ask them about consenting incestuous adults or consenting polyamorous couples, you’ll find they are even LESS interested in equALLity than before. In fact, what you’ll find is that these people who abhor your intolerant drawing of moral boundaries are pretty fond of drawing their own.
And pay attention to their rationale. They believe THOSE people who do THOSE things (incest, polyamory, orgies, pedophilia, bestiality, necrophilia) are gross, sick, perverts, and criminals. Those are MORAL condemnations they are making – the very thing that they pretend is the hallmark of close-minded, right-wing creeps.
This is why I get annoyed. Can’t we all just be honest? We all draw moral boundaries for what we consider legitimate, appropriate, permissible romantic and sexual relationships. Any sane society will. So, how about we:
- Stop pretending it’s only bigots who draw moral boundaries.
- Stop 'othering' and demeaning people because their boundaries may be different than our own.
- Start talking about how and why we draw the boundaries where we do.
- Start talking about what makes something “moral” or “good” in the first place.
- Start talking about what boundaries are most likely to promote a happy, healthy, safe society for all of us.
But we aren’t likely to do that. Because pretending those who feel differently than you are evil, or that they are discriminating monsters feeds our pride as we strut around airports signaling our virtue to anyone willing to look. T-shirt activism is easier than critical thinking, after all.