Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: Greetings from the “hate state”

By Dennis Hinkamp

Boycotts are the capitalist version of jihad.
by Dennis Hinkamp
We’re supposed to hate the sin and love the sinner but we need nametags these days to discern which is which. Try to justify righteous hate all you want but it’s like trying to follow bad directions: "You can’t get there from here." Hate is hate. A knee-jerk reaction against a jerk makes you a jerk, too.

I’ve always had a good time yucking it up about the peculiarities of Utah, but now that we’re known throughout the country as the hate state, I find myself in the apologist’s role. Hey! Utah is no crazier or hateful than, say, Arizona, Arkansas or the rest of the alphabet. Yet we are the objects of a boycott and criminal attacks because some of our residents supported Califor_nia’s proposition 8, which effectively bans gay marriage.

Boycotts are the Western capitalist equivalent of Jihad: Someone, somewhere calls for a boycott and everyone who is gay or a gay supporter is supposed to follow.

Since when did disagreeing or losing a vote become elevated to a hate issue? People might be wrong or misinformed but that does not necessarily mean they embody hate. In fact, most people who disagree with you on any issue are just convinced that they are doing the right things.

It’s easy to hate people across borders and continents and oceans; not so easy across the fence. It’s hard to hate the pejorative "them" in your neighborhood. Really, take a look at your coworkers, neighbors and the merchants you deal with. Are you really sure they are gay, straight, Mormon, Catholic, Republican, or any other popular category? Do you really care outside of the voting booth? Personally, I just want my burrito hot, my tires not to leak and my check deposited on time.

Marriage has become such the stuff of tabloids and sit-coms that I think it has taken everyone by surprise that there is a segment of the population just begging to join the club. I’ve been to ones in big churches, mountaintops, city halls presided over by priests, ship captains and people who sent $20 to some advertisement in the back of Rolling Stone Magazine. The only unifying trait is that half of them got divorced.

If gay couples want to be accepted, all they have to do is become neighbors. After a few incidents of not raking your leaves, tending your dandelions of disputes over water rights, nobody will care what your sexual orientation is. I don’t think the heterosexual lifestyle should be judged by a Friday night at a strip club any more than the gay lifestyle should be judged by mincing minstrels in a San Francisco Pride parade. Your worth as a couple clearly lies in lawn maintenance, van pooling and snow removal.

Of course this all depends if you think that marriage is a civil, moral or religious right. You can’t quote the Bible to solve this one because not everyone believes in the Bible. The constitution is a little squiggly because that was written at a time when women couldn’t vote and black people were slaves. Marriage is an indefinable union resembling a gilded cage with everyone on the outside wanting in and everyone on the inside wanting out.

I’m not without prejudice myself; so let me state them up front. Anybody who has been to Park City knows that there aren’t any Mormons there. The whole place is run by Californians with second homes. Go ahead and boycott Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon, because you tourists are ruining it anyway. It would be just fine with me if people in California would stop buying electricity from Utah; especially our coal-fired plants. Please don’t cancel the Sundance Film Festival because I have already purchased tickets. Skiing? Well, I don’t ski because it is an elitist white rich persons’ sport so do whatever you have to do.

Maybe the gay rights activists should ask for a bailout. That would make them instantly mainstream.

Dennis Hinkamp limits his true hate to deadlines, middle management and editors. His editor wonders if she should leave that line in.

This article was originally published on December 1, 2008.