I've been following the lead of super-blogger Joe My God in trying to hijack the hashtag #ExtinguishIntolerance. The anti-gay segment of the religious right has been using this hashtag to fan the flames of righteous indignation over the recent firing of Atlanta Fire Chief, Kelvin Cochran.
For those who haven't been following this story, Cochran was put on suspension a month ago for not properly clearing a self-published book – written in his capacity as AFRD Chief – with the city's ethics board. During this suspension, with the investigation ongoing, Cochran was told by his boss, the Mayor, to not discuss the case publicly. Had Cochran complied with this gag order, he'd be back at work leading this city's thousands of fire fighters and this story would be over. Instead he got himself fired.
This case would have been universally cut-and-dry had the book not been about Cochran's Christian faith, including this nonjudgmental tidbit:
“Uncleanness — whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion.”Cue the cries of Christian persecution. (Not religious persecution, mind you. Can you imagine their reaction had he written a book about the glory of Islam and distributed to his employees?)
Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal constitution says it best:
"Claims that Christians are being persecuted in this overwhelmingly Christian country — especially here in Georgia, a state that is more Christian that most — ought to be taken skeptically. When the majority sect cries persecution, it is generally not persecution at all but frustration that its majority status does not translate into the deference that they believe they deserve. There is a very important difference between the two, because that deference to the religious majority comes at the expense of the minority, which undercuts rather than protects religious liberty."
This is what this kerfuffle boils down to. While an ever-growing number see public expressions of anti-gay sentiment as abhorrent and old-fashioned, there's this element of society that can't abide seeing their world-view going the way of the dinosaurs. Hence the push for all these "religious liberty" laws. This is them fighting tooth and nail to preserve an environment where their anti-gay bias is not just tolerated, but legally condoned. They don't just want freedom of speech, they want their freedom of speech to be consequence-free; something the First Amendment was never meant to guarantee.
This is why a case of procedural discipline escalated to willful insubornation then on to full Christian martyrdom. Those now screaming "religious persecution" and "freedom of speech" are hypocrites, ignorant to the facts of this case. What they're really upset about is the light of dawn exposing them for what they are. Plain and simple bigots.