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We live in a very special time right now. As you read this, countless organisations and individuals are hard at work to ensure equal rights for marginalised groups such as the LGBTQA+ community and promote the rights of women. Better yet, it would seem that their efforts are largely successful. Of course, there are some who are quite upset about this.

This strive towards greater equality has elicited some rather… interesting responses. There is the plain old hate, what I like to call the Westboro Response. These people are easy to identify and are therefore easy to avoid. Then there are the Passive Aggressives, identified by their favourite line of “love the sinner, hate the sin”. The less said about them, the better.

My all time favourite, though has got to be the Martyrs. These people look a the advancement of equal rights and decide that, actually, they’re the ones being persecuted. Whether it’s crying religious discrimination when you’re fired for writing a deeply homophobic column or claiming the rise of feminism is a sinister plot to enslave all men, we’ve all met a Martyr at some point online.

One of the favourite lines of the opponents of equality is that introducing laws forbidding discrimination is actually a form of persecution. No, really. According to this “logic”, preventing individuals or businesses from discriminating against same-sex couples is actually an attempt to discriminate against religion. Please take a moment to let that sink in.

This kind of thinking has led to some pretty serious accusations being levelled at the LGBTQA+ community. One of the most common is the many comparisons made between activists and the Nazi party. Right-wing pundits love releasing statements claiming that the gay community has a sinister “agenda and that the struggle for equal rights is just an excuse to oppress the genuinly (read: fanatical) religious. A lot of this can be traced back to a 1995 book called “The Pink Swastika“.

Now, the first reaction most people have when encountering any of the above groups is to simply shrug and hope that ignoring them will make them go away. Unfortunately, things aren’t that simple. You see, what we have here isn’t just a simple difference of opinions.

These people see the world in black and white, with no room for gray. According to them, their side is the “good” side while everyone else is “evil”. They don’t necessarily want to cause hurt others, it’s just that they really believe they are doing the right thing. These people aren’t some sinister group of cackling bad  guys, they are ordinary people trying to do good, terribly misguided as their attempts may be. Even those who claim that their religion is being discriminated may genuinely believe it, simply because this is the first time in history when religion has had less than total authority over a population.

If we want to truly win them over, we have to keep this in mind when we engage them. Instead of simply trying to out-shout them, we should rather take a more gentle approach. We should engage them like professionals, using calm logic to point out why they are wrong. I’m not saying this will always work, but if we want to maintain the moral high ground then we can’t afford to stoop to their level.

See you all next week (and sorry if this seems a bit rambling. I started out with a different topic in mind and this just kind of grew out of that. I’ll deal with my original topic next week.)