OPINION – They will not be ignored. They gather in public for the sole purpose of drawing attention to themselves and their cause. They demand greater societal acceptance and approval. Many seem to actually enjoy antagonizing people with images or ideas that some find objectionable.
Am I describing marchers in a gay pride parade or Open Carry Texas gun advocates?
Truthfully, both groups are engaged in a furious battle to sway public opinion. Both of them, by their actions, probably do more harm to their cause than good.
The group called Open Carry Texas has gained a lot of notoriety lately by showing up at various businesses armed with long guns. Under Texas law, open carry of handguns is prohibited so they carry what is legally permissible in an attempt to normalize the presence of firearms in public.
The group’s rally at a Chipotle restaurant has sparked a fiery blaze of discussion throughout the country. It also has prompted a handful of other businesses to consider making their property off limits to firearms.
Even the NRA released a statement reminding the open carry group that the kind of attention they were drawing wasn’t exactly of a supportive nature. If the goal of the participants was to win greater understanding and acceptance of the right to keep and bear arms, they don’t appear to be winning many converts.
By the same token, June is officially the month of gay pride. Here in Utah that means a pride festival that includes plenty of festivities intended to draw attention to the cause of gay rights.
In the past, this has included a blatant emphasis on sexuality and overt public displays of simulated sexual acts. Mocking and disparaging religious symbols and ideals has been standard fare for participants intent on expressing their pride as well.
Two years ago, a friend with small children took a wrong turn in downtown Salt Lake City and accidentally stumbled across the gay pride parade. Her kids were excited at the prospect of a parade, but she wasn’t about to expose them to the raunchy behavior that some of the participants were proudly flaunting.
If the stated purpose of the gay pride festival is to foment greater understanding and acceptance of homosexuals, it’s having the exact opposite effect on those they’re trying to influence.
In both cases, we have two contrasting groups that many would consider to be on the fringes of society, seeking to create positive change by demanding respect from others without giving it in return.
It helps to remember that the rifle-toting activists and their overly militant gay counterparts do not represent all gun owners or homosexuals.
The vast majority of gun owners are discreet and respectful about their right to bear arms—regardless of how passionately they feel about that right. In a similar fashion, many homosexuals are inconspicuous in how they live their lives, valuing their personal privacy over making everything into a political statement.
These are the people who will be most successful at actually changing the minds of others around them. They will succeed because the people closest to them will first get to truly know and trust them as individuals.
Once they have gained a degree of trust, they may choose to share the causes they find most compelling. Whether those with whom they share this become supporters of their cause or not, they will have shed a positive light on who they are and what they represent.
Those who have come to know them personally will find it nearly impossible to dismiss them as a mere caricature. This is the power of diplomacy.
I’ve personally seen this work in my own life when individuals who were skeptical about gun ownership became neutral or somewhat supportive after learning that I was a gun owner. Individuals who confided their homosexuality to me long after we had become friends were impossible to see as an enemy despite our differing standards.
Forcing others to confront and accept something they do not wish to is like walking up to a stranger, throwing a bucket of ice water in their face and then expecting them to thank us.
When it comes to convincing others of the worthiness of our cause, volume and shock value convey nothing. Publicly drawing attention to oneself is simply not enough to convince others to take us seriously.
If that were the case, teenage girls would rule the world.
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- St. George company introduces Armstarr, gun-tracking technology for private citizens
- Equality Celebration draws statewide LGBT activists
- Urquhart to reintroduce LGBT antidiscrimination bill
- LGBT activist brings ‘Fagbug’ car, documentary to Dixie State
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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