Skip to main content
Susan Radtke with Fair Utah joins other local supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment as they rally at the Utah Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, to encourage Utah to ratify the ERA. (Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Susan Radtke with Fair Utah joins other local supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment as they rally at the Utah Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, to encourage Utah to ratify the ERA. (Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune)

[dc]“P[/dc]ick your battles.”

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

“Don’t lose friends over politics.”

When Ellen DeGeneres was called out for joking and laughing with former president George W. Bush as they watched a football game together, she defended her friendship with the man who pushed us into an unjustified war against Iraq. “When I say, ‘Be kind to one another,’ I don’t mean only the people who think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone. Doesn’t matter.”

So would Ellen “be kind” to someone who considers LGBTQ people dangerous criminals who shouldn’t be allowed in the classroom? Would she “be kind” to someone who claims blacks are inferior and should be disenfranchised whenever possible? Would she “be kind” to someone who argues that women should know their place and not be given equal pay?

I remember Lily Tomlin walking off the set when Chad Everett made sexist comments. That sounds far more appropriate to me.

“Everyone” includes a great many people with beliefs and political agendas that are completely unacceptable. It’s disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

When my Mormon family members say they love me but then continue paying over $10,000 a year in tithes supporting a religion which in turn spends millions to oppress LGBTQ folks via secular laws, I don’t feel particularly loved. Is it “quibbling” to point out the LDS Church still opposes the Equal Rights Amendment? Everyone gives others a pass once in a while, but do we keep giving them a pass for fifty years?

As roughly 200 people gathered Tuesday at the state Capitol to encourage Utah to ratify

I dated a former Catholic priest who told me that women who were raped usually brought it on themselves by the clothes they wore. I could have tried to educate him, but I made another choice. I broke up with him.

A friend of mine once said she supported gay rights but thought the idea of gay marriage was ridiculous. “Marriage is for having kids,” she said.

I genuinely liked this friend and decided our friendship was worth a bit of effort. “So you think a middle-aged widow and widower shouldn’t be allowed to marry? That a marriage should be annulled if one spouse is determined to be infertile or sterile? That couples should be refused a marriage license until they’re ready to have kids, that if they don’t reproduce within the first year or two, they’ve broken their contract with the state and their marriage should be dissolved?”

My friend backed down. Of course, I had no way of knowing if she had really changed her position. But I didn’t feel the need to break into her apartment and read her diary, either. As long as she never repeated this particular anti-LGBTQ argument to me again, I was OK with whatever slow pace she might be making toward understanding. If, however, she had mentioned later she’d just donated $200 to support a candidate I knew to promote a homophobic agenda, we’d have had another discussion, and I would have reevaluated our friendship again at the end of that exchange.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

“I feel like I’m always walking on eggshells,” another friend told me.

“You are,” I replied. “And so am I. All of us, at all times, need to make sure we’re not hurting others.” We don’t need to be nasty when calling each other out. In fact, that’s almost certainly counterproductive. But silence is counterproductive, too.

If we clamor for the end of someone’s career because of a mistake they made, either today or fifteen years in the past, we allow no room for growth, for apologies

Cancel Culture is a double-edged sword. If we clamor for the end of someone’s career because of a mistake they made, either today or fifteen years in the past, we allow no room for growth, for apologies, for making amends, for moving forward. Some actions or comments may be unforgiveable, but few of us are completely woke by the age of 18. I have certainly said and done stupid, insensitive, and damaging things over the years. I make fewer inappropriate comments now but can’t guarantee I’ll never make another mistake. I’d like the chance to continue progressing rather than be written off. And Cancel Culture also means that back when “the majority” believed LGBTQ folks were unacceptable, it was OK to fire gay actors. It means that back when “the majority” felt attending a communist meeting even once meant you were committing treason, destroying careers and creating a Hollywood blacklist were justified.

I will not purposely watch another movie starring Tom Selleck, but that doesn’t mean I won’t re-watch Coma or In and Out just because he’s in them. And it doesn’t mean I think he should be banned from all future acting jobs.

Cancel Culture in terms of our personal relationships is also problematic. I was still a Republican when I became engaged to a woman who belonged to the Communist Party in Italy. I didn’t try to change her views and she didn’t try to change mine. Over time, I became a Democrat and then a progressive Democrat and then a Democratic Socialist. My husband, though, is a Trotsky socialist. Should he divorce me because I haven’t moved as far to the left as he has? It took me a while, after all, even to accept I was gay.

Some of my moderate Democrat friends support candidates who endorse fracking, further contributing to a global crisis displacing millions and accelerating a planetwide disaster. So do I dump all my moderate Democrat friends?

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Denying healthcare to thirty million Americans isn’t insignificant. Eliminating EPA guidelines isn’t a minor difference of opinion. Anti-trans legislation isn’t something to be shrugged off. Supporting an agency that separates migrant children from their parents isn’t trivial.

“Don’t lose friends over politics.”

Only someone with privilege, someone who will do just fine no matter which candidate wins, could ever say such a thing.

We don’t want to live in an echo chamber and we certainly don’t want our loved ones to. Yet if a friend or family member doesn’t “actively” hurt us or others but does actively support candidates who do, the transitive property comes into play.

[dc]“P[/dc]ick your battles.”

Johnny Townsend

I do. And one of those battles is with the gaslighting that differences of “opinion” don’t matter. Sometimes, they’re a matter of life or death for the people you claim to love.

Johnny Townsend

Did you find this article useful? Please consider supporting our work by donating or subscribing.