I've got a number of non-liberal friends and acquaintances through various venues, most of them on my Facebook page. Today, one of them (whose politics I'm not actually sure of) posted a graphic that had this text on it.
I DO NOT HAVE TO
AGREE WITH YOU
TO LIKE YOU
AND RESPECT YOU.
This was overlain on a many-colored peace sign.
Well... okay, I can see the appeal of that. It has a "can't we all just get along?" feeling to it, and it probably makes some folks feel reassured.
I can't agree with it as worded. There are things that I do insist my friends agree with me on, or I will have to consider them not my friends. My partner struggles with the fact that I really don't like people whose opinions are not liberal. He continues to tell me "They have the right to their opinion!"
And yes, they do. They have the right to their opinion. They have the right to express their opinion and they even have the right to act on their opinion.
However, I do have limits. I do have hard limits and I do have deal-breakers. And when someone holds an opinion that says gays are bad, liberals are scum, or atheists are [fill in your nasty thought about atheism here], I do feel that hard-limit bell ringing. And if they indicate that they buy Chick-fil-A food or plan to vote for Romney, that's a deal-breaker for me. Because, you see, I have the right to have an opinion too - both about their opinions, and about the person holding those opinions.
Come past the fleur-de-Kos, if you will.
You see, this past week, I've had one person who is liberal and GLBT-supporting try very hard to create a thought experiment where his purchase of waffle fries and chicken nuggets from CFA did not mean he was responsible for what CFA did with their money afterwards. Another person defended CFA for their humanitarian response when a tornado flattened a down (providing free food). The first person made me angry; the second person is clearly missing the point.
The author Conor Gaughan demonstrates the points I want to make to these two people pretty well in his recent Huffington Post article: We Are Not Arguing Over Chicken. He ties it very well to the violence that has occurred in Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Nebraska (and probably other places) just this past week. It's not about what Chick-fil-A's done with their food, or what their food is, or anything like that. It's about what they do with the proceeds. And some of what they do with the proceeds is, frankly, evil. It harms GLBT people, to the tune of $5 million bucks of harm. That's not minor. That shouldn't be overlooked.
So, no. I don't have to agree with your opinions in order to like you. But I have to qualify that statement, because when your disagreement leads to harming me (through votes for things that take away my rights, like Prop 8, for example), or supporting organizations that harm me (like when you buy chicken sandwiches and waffle fries from Chick-fil-A), I will find it exceedingly difficult to like or respect you any more.
You see, I'm a liberal gay atheist, not a doormat. There are, in fact, times when I have to say "your opinions make me angry, and from what you've said about those opinions, I know you'll act on them, so I can't trust you any more. That means I can't like you any more. And your opinions also make me see you as a bigot, a homophobe, a racist, a sexist, and/or completely ignorant and uninformed about what's really going on. And that means I can't respect you."
And if you insist, while knowing that CFA donated five million dollars to anti-gay causes, that your waffle fries and chicken sandwich are more important than my civil rights, well, then I know that my friendship is not a priority for you. So I'll thank you to understand that your friendship then can't be a priority for me, either.