Twitter Hater-Debators (@MarriageMentor)

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One of the interesting phenomena to watch with the whole Prop 8 proceeding is the whole #prop8 proceeding. Without a doubt, #prop8 is the Twitter hashtag of choice for both sides of this epic struggle. So, sometimes the hashtag feed will be full of updates from NCLR, AFER, FDL, Courage Campaign/P8TT, The Advocate, protect mawwiage, and our passionate supporters, and other times it’ll be full of ADF, ProtectMarriage, and their minions of retweeters and demonizers.

Sometimes, I engage some of the Yes on 8 supporters and invite them to my posts. Some I have even had long exchanges with, which usually end with them saying that I don’t “respect” their “belief,” which is of course a farce and a sellout.

Sometimes the filth they spew is frustrating and hurtful. But there are some times when it’s just plain funny (and sad… but funny) what they come up with. Because these exchanges can be interesting (and illuminating), and because they’re public on Twitter anyway, I think I might share them regularly here on the blog. We’ll see if that happens.

For now, I’d like to at least share one little exchange from last night. It’s short and amusing. I’ll first tell you a little about the tweeter I engaged with, then show you the exchange and analyze it a bit.

Meet the Tweeter

My hater-debator was actually a couple of hater-debators who go by “MarriageMentor.” They describe themselves as such:

Marriage mentors helping couples passionately connect w/God & each other. Married for 30+ yrs & thrilled to share what we’ve learned w/others. Christ followers.

They’re based out of New Jersey and Florida and they’re really a cute couple. I’m not crazy about what they do, but I can appreciate a positive intent. I’d personally say that God is not necessary for a loving and committed relationship, and if anything, he can get in the way. But, it’s nice that they’ve committed their lives to helping others be happy.

You’d think they’d want the same for me. But… no. In the interest of painting a fair picture, let me share some of their other tweets (all from 1/20/10).

First, we have some nice reinforcement of patriarchal gender norms (and by “nice” I mean archaic, ill-informed and frustrating):

For most husbands, their greatest needs are to feel honored, respected & appreciated by their wife. #marriage

For most wives, their greatest needs are to feel loved, cherished & heard by their husband. #marriage

True marriage is much more than an emotional union 4 those involved; it benefits children with both male & female role models. #prop8

Then, taking a cue from conservative news outlets and commentators, we see some use of the mocking quotes, with patronizing follow-up:

More fabricated “rights” on the Prop8 front this week…do they think that if they keep assuming these, that they will become real?

I found this tweet particularly ironic:

A self-centered person will tend to confuse God’s will with their own selfish desires. #relationships

(I’d contend that God is just a projection of the internal self and his words are really just the person’s own conscience, so… irony!)

And, respectably, they actually have some reasonable godless advice mixed in there:

“Be the kind of love that’s hard to leave.” J. Murphy #quotes #marriage

You reinforce commitment when u stay thru times when things r the most difficult. #marriage #love

So, the test is always how they respond to challenge. The evidence suggests that they’re pretty anti-gay, but are they the animus- or the non-animus types? Are they capable of cognitive dissonance? Are they sane? Here was my short interaction with them, and I think you’ll get your answer.

The Exchange and Analysis

Them (the link is for the Protect Marriage spin from earlier):

Religion Put on the Stand http://tinyurl.com/ydyh5wp A new low on the Left Coast. #Prop8

Me (I was in the middle of writing that post when I responded, and btw, who says “Left Coast”?):

@MarriageMentor Call a spade a spade… or a religious conspiracy against civil rights a religious conspiracy against civil rights.

Them (Here comes the moment of truth!):

@ZackFord Zack, it’s actually an athiestic, humanistic conspiracy, that is now coming out of the closet.

Me:

@MarriageMentor Haha, as an atheist humanist, I know of no conspiracy, just knowledge that counteracts popular (and discriminating) beliefs.

Now that’s a pretty fair response, I think! I mean, I could have been very snarky if I wanted to, but I wasn’t. I just offered a sincere response. I am, in fact, an atheist and a humanist, and as a proud atheist, humanist, and gay man who advocates quite publicly against Proposition 8, I’d like to think that if there were such a conspiracy, I’d be part of it!

I mean, if anything, I’m more insulted by the fact that there is not such a conspiracy than I am by their accusation that it was responsible for what has been taking place in the proceedings! In fact, if we did have a conspiracy, I’m sure we would be involved, but atheists are pretty damn politically powerless too. We have less visible representation, less organized advocacy, and even some laws that say we’re not allowed to be elected! We’re also the least-trusted group in society. Maybe I should be flattered that they think we atheists and humanists are so powerful as to have a conspiracy. A “herding cats” quote comes to mind though…

There is another possibility, which is that they see the conspiracy as a good thing! It could be that my single comment so shook the foundation of their faith that they suddenly saw things more rationally and realized that an atheist humanist conspiracy is actually a GOOD thing. Maybe they’re even proud of us (let’s just pretend we have the conspiracy so we don’t disappoint them) for finally having the courage to come out! We’re ready to make a difference in this world! Hooray!

Or… they could be paranoid, ill-informed, and eager to portray themselves as powerless victims, as per the malevolent, manipulative tactics of the conservative right and defendants in this case. Which do you think it is?

I was disappointed I got no reply, but this post might be a catalyst for future exchanges, so stay tuned for the sequel!

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