While reading Warren Hagey's letter ("Yes I am a homophobe." July 12, Imprint), I was reminded of a fact about "moral" debates: a strong opinion doesn't necessarily imply a dogmatic personality, and people with strongly opposed views CAN have rational discussions. This is something we often forget because we rarely see it happen in practice. Appealing to the Bible as "the source of ultimate truth" may to seem dogmatic and irrational to some, but as a friend of Warren's, I know that he puts into practice the oft-forgotten "hate the sin and not the sinner."
As both a bisexual and a libertarian, I believe that many, if not ALL, of Warren's opinions are wrong at best, and dangerous at worst. Still, we have been able to talk about the issue without once using the words "hellfire" or "fascist," something fanatics on both sides are often unable to do.
Warren's position is a MORAL stance (right or wrong), and as such he BELIEVES that it is right for everyone. Trying to convince as many people as possible of its truth is only natural. This shouldn't be confused with an unreasonable, dogmatic APPROACH to such convincing, again, all too prevalent on both sides. For meaningful discussion, whether on homosexuality or any other controversial issue, if more people who can separate strong moral beliefs from a militant, and usually annoying, STRATEGY. People like Warren Hagey.
The main benefit of this is a willingness to listen, and possibly to be convinced by what one hears. Although my beliefs are (obviously) what I believe today, I may yet change my mind about some of them. But anyone who's unwilling to hear what I have to say about them and think about it, isn't likely to convince me of anything. For the same reason, I respect Warren's beliefs, even though they seem to me, today, to be dangerously misguided.
Regardless of what I think of Warren's beliefs, I also have to respect the fact that he stands by, and lives by, a difficult moral code. My own seemingly simple libertarian ethics involve the liberty of everyone to do as they please, respecting everyone else's right to do the same. The difficulty of actually adhering to this has only become clear to me after several failures (most small, one distressingly large). The relatively fundamentalist Christian code Warren lives by is much harder. Defending, and even popularizing, such a strict code in an unreceptive society without becoming preachy is far from easy. Fanatics, the unfortunate result of this pressure, might do well to take a lesson from Warren Hagey.
Having defended Warren from some inevitable attacks, I optimistically leave it to those same attacks to explain why I think he's wrong.--Jeff Morton
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