Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Crusade

Created by
For the couple after reading about the controversy
For anyone who randomly stumbled across this blog and doesn't know me personally, I went on a bit of a crusade this week.

Here is the story (as I posted it on Reddit):

My friend recently tried to purchase from this seller on
She requested a few modifications to the wedding album because she and her partner are two women.

She received this response: Hi XXXXX, Sorry for the late reply! After talking with my pastor and praying about the situation, I decided that I shouldn't design your guestbook for you. Please know that I did take this into much thought though. Because I am a Christian and I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, I feel that designing a customized guestbook for you two will be against my belief and will mean that who I am and my business supports gay marriages. I hope that you understanding. Sorry for staying in contact with you for so long and not giving you a concrete response until now."

Is this against Etsys' policies? And if it's not, then it should be.

And I started a war.

First of all, I will admit. I made a mistake. When I first posted a friend suggested that I include the girl's email address. In my quest for vengeance I did. It was a bad thing. I was told so, multiple times, and quickly saw the error of my ways and removed it.

I was asked for proof which I couldn't initially provide, but my coworker's wife chimed in and offered screen shots of the original conversation.

I want to address why I was upset about this. But first let me set one thing straight: I believe it is everyone's right to have their own beliefs. I believe lots of things other people don't believe. And I don't expect everyone to share my beliefs. I don't eat pork because it's part of my cultural beliefs, but I obviously don't expect everyone else to stop eating pork. (I hear it's delicious.)

What I don't believe is that I can condemn anyone else for eating pork. My boyfriend eats pork. My friends eat pork. They will often tell me it's delicious. But just like I will eat a steak in front of my vegetarian friends without expecting condemnation, I feel the same about their pork eating.

 I was upset that this girl would tell another person: "Because I am a Christian and I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, I feel that designing a customized guestbook for you two will be against my belief and will mean that who I am and my business supports gay marriages."

Many people told me that this is fair. The seller probably did not feel like she was insulting my coworker and her fiance. After all, it was her religious belief. How could that offend someone?

I however felt it was more akin to telling someone that she wouldn't design the album because modifications were requested for an interracial couple or someone requested that the man have kippah drawn on his head. 

Now, if the seller felt that way about any of the above, she could have just refused the request with a simple "no." She could have told a white lie. She could just not respond. Instead she had to give an albeit polite response the result of which was still, "I don't like what you represent, and I am going to remind you that there are people in this world who don't feel you deserve the same rights as everyone else."

Second, I didn't like that she uses another website to make another offering to the public and then when a request for her services is given, refuses based on her own religious beliefs. So I asked if Etsy had an apology. I did not (explicitly, and not implicitly once I removed the email) call for attacks on the seller. 

No, I wasn't happy but I was more looking for a response from Etsy. A change to their policies. Or at least force a seller to disclose if they won't work with certain populations. 
I also wanted to raise awareness that this was happening. 

Of course, it's the internet and effect can be unpredictable.

There were a number of attacks on the girl's facebook page. Posts warning that she wouldn't sell to homosexuals and other's that were a bit nastier. Many she erased, but the couple of times I looked, there were new ones.

Today when I went to see if things had died down (the Reddit thread has grown quiet) I found that her page had been removed. When I checked back on her Etsy site, that was gone as well.

At first, I wondered if the girl knew what was happening. Did she know that across the internet we were talking about her actions? Did she wonder who the people were who had written and how they were finding out? Did she get nasty emails? 
And more importantly, did she really deserve all of it?

I don't know. I think on the internet it is easy to pretend that our actions don't have consequences. Everything is anonymous. But the truth is what we do in public forum matters. We don't live in a vacuum. Just like I'm sure this girl never imagined what a rippling effect her polite email would have. 

I was a bully. Yes, I was fighting for a cause, but does that make my actions just? I can't be sure. 

Do I fear that I have driven her further from every supporting gay rights? Absolutely. 

I might also add that I think I only played a small part in this controversy. The story was picked up by Queerty and then the Huffington Post.

She probably could not have have predicted the results of her actions. Am I glad her Etsy store is gone? Yes, kind of. But do I feel bad knowing the pain that I helped inflict? Yes. 

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