'Do you think I hate you?' An open reply to one/all Focus on the Family employee(s)
In reaction to this post on the TOMS debacle, the question in this headline was posed to me, in so many words, by one of my Focus on the Family contacts. Since my reply, like most all of my work, applies to the greater fight rather than any one person in particular, I thought it should be posted in that same spirit:
To: [Focus on the Family staffer]
Date: July 10, 2011 7:20:18 PM EDT
Here's what I find interesting: Never once in my post did I claim that anyone "hates" me. Nor do I ever. As you surely know, I don't focus on the individual or the individual motivations, save for a few respectful think pieces where I've used evidence to ponder things like what might have led someone like Maggie Gallagher to be *so* passionate about her one big issue.
I care about the work. The "fight." The orgs, on both sides, who are pushing out content. Etc., etc.
Quite honestly, I just don't *care* if someone like Peter or Matt or Maggie hates me. At all. Like, not even a little bit. I don't get joy out of accusing them of being secretly gay, or embrace any of the...nicknames (notice I never use "Santorum"). I know who I am, I know what I personally believe, and I know how wonderful my family is -- I don't care to spend my time pondering what these strangers think of me. I don't so much care to police intentions, only output. And I've stuck to that outlook almost 100% (even when Peter takes a screencap of my wedding and writes "perverted" on it, [or] Maggie tells me she'd like to legally divorce me if she could, etc).
But you're different, because I do genuinely care about you. You've been nothing but decent with me, and I have no reason but to wish you well. I always wish people well in personal conversation -- even Pete and Matt and Shirley Phelps-Roper -- because that's the kind of person I want to be. I'm a zen, yoga kind of guy. I find that being "better" and taking the high road is always the best route. But with you, it's different: I genuinely do wish you well. So I'm somewhat surprised to hear that you'd think I put personal "hate" onto your heart.
Here's the thing: I find Focus on the Family -- then and now -- completely off the mark and quite reprehensible. I think Focus on the Family has hurt our politics, our unity, and our overall national health. While I know there has certainly been some good, I truly believe that, on balance, Focus on the Family has created a climate that will take decades to repair. If not for Focus on the Family -- and all that has stemmed forth, including [Family Research Council, a Focus spinoff project] and all of the [state Family Policy Councils that Focus created], which are often more vitriolic than the national body (see MFC) -- I think my life would be better, simpler, and focused on actual social issues that truly matter to the world. If not for Focus on the Family, I even think that more people would be in places of worship than they are today, as I believe Focus on the Family and the larger religious right have completely sullied religious faith for countless many. I think if Focus on the Family [had] never existed, there would a lot less resentment. I think that if Focus on the Family did not exist, many of our bodies of intellectual rigor -- science, the judiciary, higher education -- would be far more respected. And so on and so forth.
I know you want people like me to hold Focus in higher esteem. But I traffic in fact. I follow your organization (and, again, its larger outreaches) with the finest of fine-toothed combs. I know what I hear, see, experience. I know what I quite proudly challenge. It's not good, [name redacted]. It's quite hurtful.
I think you are better than it.
Good As You
*UPDATE: And now we have Focus on the Family's official statement on the TOMS matter. They compare selves to Jesus:
Victims, as always. Just ignore the decades of deep animus behind the curtain.
Oh, and by "simply because we hold to biblical beliefs about marriage and family," they actually mean "simply because we do things like make hurtful videos wherein we liken gay equality to the redefinition of the laws of gravity":
Focus video, May 2011
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