I am currently in Twitter jail, so I cannot respond to the repeated messages calling me a bigot and a “dumb bitch”.
What happened “this time”?
Well, stupidly enough, I spotted a tweet on the subject of same sex marriage which was hoping to make the point that the Church of England in this country, some of whom are opposing same sex marriage, is apparently undermining it’s very foundation which is based on a redefinition of marriage. That’s a point with which I disagree, being historically inaccurate. Henry VIII did not seek to redefine marriage. On the contrary he was a great believer in it, so much so, that he wished to have his existing one nullified, but the Pope would famously not agree.
If Henry had sought to redefine marriage then he would have introduced laws on polygamy. What he was trying to do was get a ruling on whether or not Catherine of Aragon could in fact be considered his legal wife, given that she had been married to his elder brother Arthur. The case relied upon whether or not her previous marriage had been consummated, the subsequent investigations, caused great personal anguish and humiliation to Catherine.
I corrected a Retweet that was being propagated as a meme which then descended into a general “debate” about same sex marriage. I am so fed up with this perjorative “bigot” label. Just a reminder of what it means from the OED:
having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others
But of course, that’s hiding isn’t it? Hiding behind language apparently. Like Humpty Dumpty, language can only mean what the person using it wants it to mean.
I have repeatedly been called a bigot, friends have weighed in and called me the same, I have been called me a dumb bitch, a moron, someone suggested that my private parts should be filled with cement, my mental health is smeared, I am a hardline zealot who hides underneath the cloak of respectability and reason, it is important to remember that I am not representative of all Catholics, people have been incited to look at my timeline, I am a tragic figure, ignorant, sad and grey, a loud victim Christian, not a normal kind reasonable one, delusional, a nutter with a track record of poor mental health (evidence please), my views are “dressed up as reason and truth”, a bully, a mentalist, a gobshite, on the fringe….
I was tempted to blog the screenshots. I won’t because it makes it even more unduly personal. But not once did I insult or be rude or personal. If I opened this tweeter up to the floor, it was because he had already incited his thousands of followers to weigh in and they have spent the best part of 8 hours attacking.
What caused it? This exchange with Laurence England where he said:
The Church, doesn’t call homosexual orientation a sin but an ‘objective, instrinsic moral disorder’.
It is important the Catechism isn’t ‘spun’ on that point nor that it is overlooked.
It is there for a reason and a good one at that. It isn’t there to demean homosexuals but to state the Truth that the homosexual orientation is a disordered aspect of our human nature.
Laurence – yes I know that homosexual orientation is an intrinsic disorder and I am happy to accept and acknowledge that point.
The problem is, as you know, that many many people misunderstand what this means and find it offensive. Now the truth must not be hidden simply because it is offensive to some BUT when this comes up, I tend to explain that the Catechism is couched in theological and philosophical language as it is a teaching document. What the phrase morally disordered means, as I understand, is applying the principles of natural law, which isn’t as some people understand simply looking at nature (hence we get given examples of homosexual primates) but looking at what our bodies are “ordered towards” and that is not homosexual tendencies.
Not hateful, not intolerant, just stating that I agree with an opinion and accepting that it can be seen as offensive so it’s important to contextualise.
I like Twitter, I enjoy interacting with people, which is why I had considered giving it up for Lent. But if I do give it up, it feels very much like conceding to bullying. Someone has just called me a coward because I don’t want to engage with his insults.
I don’t play the victim. This kind of stuff does really hurt and upset me. Invective and insults tend to do that, I don’t have a thick skin, I wish I did. I don’t want to stop people’s freedom of speech, but I do wish people could stop and think that there is a human being at the end of the computer. One of the things my faith teaches me is that every human being is of equal dignity and worth. That is why I don’t stoop to nastiness, because a lot of the invective de-humanises others, it says “your opinion is not of value because you are not of value”.
And that is why I get so upset, because I know how damaging de-humanising is, both ideologically and when you are on the other end of it. It’s a dangerous path. I don’t treat anyone as though they are worthless no matter how much I may disagree with them. If there is one thing that drives me, one principle that I attempt to zealously stick to its the Golden Rule. Treat others how you would like to be treated. Love one another. An opposition to same sex marriage is not an indication of hatred or born out of fear or spite.
I am defending marriage because I feel passionately about it, not because I wish to do damage to anyone. If people think I am playing the pathetic victim, they ought to feel how they would like it if they were spoken about in such derogatory terms and discussed with acidity behind others’ backs.
I do think it is important to highlight what happens to Christians who dare expound these views in the public square. I do think people should see the ugly kind of bullying which attacks the person and not the argument. What started off as a historical debate, dissolved into personal abuse. And yes, I do consider having my private parts filled with cement an abusive thing to say, I do consider being repeatedly called a bigot without that being qualified abusive, I do consider having my mental health smeared, called names, accused of being unrepresentative of Christians, a coward and ignorant, abusive. It is certainly hurtful. My point about disorder that was thrown about has not been meaningfully engaged with.
I haven’t named the tweeter involved, most people watching will have seen who it is, but I understand that this is a difficult issue for him, hence the passion and at times vicious ferocity.
I have accepted that having a certain number of followers on Twitter incurs a certain responsibility. Hence I try to be aware of what I say about others. If anyone called anyone else a name on my behalf, I apologise. I did not see that happen however.
If you don’t want others to “play the role of persecuted Christian” then there is a simple answer. Engage with the arguments, not the person.
It’s interesting, not once did I play the “persecuted Christian” role, I expressed that I was personally finding a lot of the perjorative name calling hurtful. That’s probably the reason why I elicited the response stating that I was hardline, not like proper Christians and not a victim but pretending. The LGBT lobby don’t like having their victim status taken away from them.
I’m very tempted never to defend marriage again on any forum, on the internet or in public if asked, having yet another experience of what happens when you dare to do so. But then to do so is to let bullies win.
Those who criticise Catholic Voices remember that this is going to be the level of personal abuse and invective that we, as individuals, are going to be subject to if we go on the media. You’ll have to possess skin like rawhide. I don’t know if I’m up to it.