The Not So Silent Majority

Practical Applications of Civility in Matters Of Conflict

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Far from being a unified nation, America is a collection of self interested special interest groups, each of which occasionally will run afoul of the institutional majority which governs our

Brother Theo

people. We have grown accustomed to thinking of minorities as social categories such as black Americans, women, blind, deaf, or mute people, the homeless, lovers of polka music or gays. The painful truth though, is that there is no truly ascendant majority in America; so much so that we squabble and quibble with one another to such an extent that we cannot stop one tenth of one percent of our citizens from robbing us blind and planting the seeds of future generations of our enemies in our country the way some wasps paralyze their victims and then lay their eggs in them so as to provide a meal for their offspring as they eat their way out after hatching.

The obvious reason for this is that in the absence of a majority of like minds, the institutions become a defacto majority, and they are controlled by a tiny minority of the American citizenry. As we know to our regret, this is not a plan at all; still, this is what has happened, and there seems to be no end in sight. I know of nothing I can say that will deter us from what seems to be the go to move for America since Vietnam, which appears to be a pig headed belief that we can muddle our way through. Nonetheless I feel compelled to point out a few things I learned in kindergarten.

But first, a story. Several years ago during my career in social work I was asked to present at a symposium on gay issues taking place in Tyler Texas. I didn’t know that I was the umpteenth person asked to provide CEU credit learning at this seminar, but knowing such I probably would have done so anyway. I love a challenge, and I had to teach a certain amount of CEU education to maintain my own certification. I felt fortunate that mine would be the first presentation, as mine was a program dealing with the scientific issues associated with the etiology and progress of homosexuality, and I thought that to be a fine place to start. However, my hopes that the myriad social and emotional issues surrounding alternative lifestyles would not intrude on my presentation were not to be realized. As I began to run through my PowerPoint presentation a disturbance rippled through the assembled group as the sound of several voices rose, I turned off my presentation and had the lights turned on. Of the hundred or so persons in the audience, a small minority were on their feet moving toward one another and forming a separate group.

The people were obviously quite angry with me, and my first thought was that I would now have to deal with a group of Christian fundamentalists, many of whom had recently been raising hell in the country, challenging scientific data as wrong, and promoting homosexuality as a lifestyle purely of choice. As if anyone would choose to be queer in a country where people were regularly marginalized and even killed for even acting gay. I was therefore completely stonkered as I learned that there is more than one kind of fundamentalism.

Unbelievably, the nine people, now shouting and screaming epithets at me were gays who believed that I was attacking them! Since the rest of the audience remained in their seats, I decided to apply a few basic principles of civility in an attempt to rescue my presentation. I calculated the time left for my presentation and found I had about four hours left. I then invited each of the dissidents to give a ten minute talk to the group. To be perfectly honest, they mostly ranted angrily against their families, teachers, employers and the world in general for mistreating them and depriving them of their freedom to be openly gay.

Nonetheless they managed to educate me in the facts that these people believed that being queer was a product of choice alone, and that to even hint at the idea that it was influenced by biology was an unbearable insult. After all nine had spoken every one of them protested that ten minutes was insufficient time, and demanded that I turn the presentation to them. I then took a vote as to whether or not to give up my time to this group. I was in for a second shock.

First, every other member of the audience wanted me to continue, and second, everyone in the auditorium was gay. I’m somewhat ashamed to say that it took me many years to realize the most important lesson of that day. The lesson, of course, is that in an assemblage made up entirely of a minority, a small extremely vocal minority was able to disrupt the forward progress of the larger group through sheer disruptive and obnoxious behavior. But through civility and accepted group behavior the majority was given a voice by means of the oldest form of democracy: a vote.

On Thursday of last week The Amazing Doc Greene Show was disrupted by a small, but extremely vocal minority. Callers to the show displayed the more distasteful side of human nature by spewing hatred at the host, and impugned him in the ugliest ways they could. Rather than allowing a dialogue to develop where some small hope of mutual respect to develop, the callers subjected the show to the equivalent of a radio talk show drive by.

I now call upon the gay community of Houston to repair this by arranging another show where such a dialogue can be developed. It is not my opinion that the majority of gays would agree with such tactics, nor would any reasonable LBGTQTV person wish to leave things as the now lay. As to the vocal minority I ask them “what did you change by acting that way?” By my lights nothing. You’re still gay, and Doc is still the shows host. You’ve had your say, but Doc still has the microphone. To paraphrase Nicolas Janovsky, Love has no gender, compassion has no religion, and character has no race.

The Butcher Shop

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