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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Fun With Forms: Donny Wildmon Takes On The Governor of Maryland; Success Improbable

Donald Wildmon is kind of thick. Until he starts developing a different line, the ways he tries to encourage fair-minded people to be more discriminatory and intolerant are going to continue to be met with laughter and a "this dude is really kind of thick."

In today's missive to his sheeple, Wildmon, who is self-appointed chairman of the self-created American "Family" Association, is up in arms because the governor of Maryland fired someone for publicly expressing views hostile to gays and lesbians.

I don't want anyone to believe I think this is anything less than a sticky episode. I think people should be allowed to express what they believe. It opens a door for more enlightened people to show them where their beliefs are faulty and how they are using their religion as an excuse to remain small-minded. And, the First Amendment allows us the freedom to express ourselves — and it doesn't say we always have to be right. By firing this employee, maybe the governor missed an opportunity to educate him.

On the other hand, the employee serves at the will of the governor in a position in which he determines policy for all citizens. His viewpoints indicates he probably is not motivated to provide service to all his constituents in an equal, fair manner — even those who happen to be gay. It's akin to the current argument well-rooted Americans are making: If your religious views won't allow you to dispense any medications to all your customers, then you shouldn't accept a job being a pharmacist in a place where you'll be expected to do just that (but that's a topic for a different day).

Still, I could potentially see merit in Wildmon's crusade du jour — if he stuck to the point and made it an issue about freedom of expression. But then he sends out an e-mail that mis-states the situation, exaggerates the governor's words and stance and the gravity of his action and, most notably, uses a poor argument to get his point across — and suddenly I'm believing one hundred percent that the governor did the right thing. Way to go, Donny! Way to change hearts and minds!

(Note to anyone who wants to see religion enter into and influence more of our public discussions — a notion I am not entirely against — within reason: If this man has taken up the pulpit to be your most prominent spokesman, I suggest you distance yourself from him A.S.A.P. — or at least force him to take an introductory logic course.)

So, on to the form that Wildmon wrote out for me to click and send:

I'm sorry to learn of your intolerant attitude toward those who hold different views from you concerning homosexuality and homosexual marriage.

I find it strange that you say your administration promotes tolerance, but is intolerant to those who hold different views.

I ask that Mr. Smith be re-instated in his position on the Metro board and be allowed to express his personal views just as you allow those who hold a different view of homosexual behavior to express their views.

And here's what actually went to the governor's office:

Dear Governor Ehrlich,

I'm concerned you might get notes such as the one (above) and mistakenly think they are an actual reflection of what fair-minded, kind Americans believe. In fact, the American Family Association is orchestrating a campaign to bully you into being less tolerant and enlightened than you are.

What concerns me the most is that, to arouse their "members," the AFA sent an e-mail that twists your words around, attributing sentiments to you that are overboard and not an accurate reflection of your stance. It would be one thing to relay the facts and encourage folks to have an opinion about this issue. It's another to lie to and manipulate people in pursuit of some heavy-handed end. Despite the AFA's self-proclaimed virtue, this behavior doesn't seem Christian at all.

Regardless, I applaud your recent action and stand with you in standing firm against those who use their religions as an excuse to be anything less than loving, understanding and compassionate human beings.

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