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Blaser: Shut up, I’m having a dialogue here

Randy Blaser
Randy Blaser

I’ve decided that when people say we need to have a national dialogue on this topic or that topic, they are not really interested.

What they want is for everyone to finally agree with them. Those who think otherwise can just shut up.

My view comes in the wake of the "Duck Dynasty" controversy.

You may have heard of it or seen the popular reality show on the cable network A&E.

It’s kind of “Beverly Hillbillies” come to life show about a clan of backwoods rednecks from Louisiana who strike it rich by inventing a high quality duck caller.

Anyway, the family patriarch, Phil Robertson, recently gave an interview to GQ Magazine, and he gave his opinion, based on his Biblical beliefs, of where homosexuals will end up in the hereafter. And it ain’t paradise.

Of course, his comments in the magazine, whose editors probably thought it would get some good laughs from the country bumpkin, provoked a firestorm, but that’s not all.

Robertson also reminisced about how he worked shoulder-to-shoulder with blacks in the days before Civil Rights and the blacks were “singing and happy” and nary a complaint about white people.

For these remarks, Robertson has been condemned as a racist and a homophobe, and he’s been suspended from his own show.

In other words, he’s been effectively marginalized and silenced. I don’t think that is necessarily a good thing for a society that claims to be free and diverse.

Here’s why.

We need to be very careful when we start labeling people as racist and homophobic.

Those terms are the nuclear warheads of the culture wars, which are meant to silence opposition once and for all. Is Robertson a racist and homophobe? I don’t know enough about the guy to make that judgment. What he said might be, but that doesn’t mean he is.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt before I activate the launch sequence.

To me, people who make those type of statements just need to be educated. I want to go deeper.

I believe Robertson when he says blacks that he saw and knew seemed happy in the pre-Civil Rights days. They seem happy today, but I know those are misinterpretations, a false picture based on the mundane, day-to-day existence and interactions of diverse people who want to get through another day.

People hide the pain of injustice very well.

And Robertson’s interpretation of St. Paul is believed by millions of Americans, probably even the pope, at least on the surface. The problem is in using such sweeping generalizations to condemn a single group of people. Robertson’s opponents did the same by condemning him personally based on a few words in an interview.

A wise Jesuit (not the pope) once told me, when you condemn an entire group as all bad or all good, then you can’t really speak to the good that is in everyone or the evil that is in everyone, too.

Robertson’s comments — if we all chose to be reasonable rather than reactive to dialogue rather than dictate — could open a door to a discussion about the nature of sin and human sexuality, the complex issue of race relations and why what we see on a daily basis may not be reality.

Now that would make one heck of a reality show.

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