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Gazette-Mail editorial: Azinger's false equation on morality and prosperity

West Virginia Sen. Mike Azinger, R-Wood, recently wrote in an op-ed published in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel that “Sexual deviancy is going mainstream.”

He was referencing a LGBTQ pride event that took place in Parkersburg and shaming the newspaper, saying it “embraced such tolerance” by not condemning homosexuality. West Virginia GOP Chairwoman Melody Potter praised Azinger for his assessment.

It’s 2019, but there’s been a significant backlash on issues of race, gender and sexual orientation lately, for obvious reasons. Azinger says that maybe society gets to decide what is moral or immoral in their eyes, but the ultimate judge is God, who, according to Azinger (and Leviticus), doesn’t fly a rainbow flag.

“Sexual deviancy” is not only an insulting term to apply to the LGBTQ community, but it also shows that Azinger is passing his own judgment on who fits into that category, just as he accuses society of forcing “tolerance” upon him. The fallback position here for Azinger will be the Bible, but you can go into Leviticus or numerous other texts and find that eating shrimp and wearing a poly-blend shirt are also sins. This line of argument also tends to ignore other clauses, like “judge not” and most of the New Testament.

Also troubling is Azinger’s assessment that America was better when God made the rules, which was actually never (see First Amendment). But, fair enough, there are more white Christians in America than a lot of other groups, and they made and still make a lot of the rules. Back in Azinger’s vague golden era, America was a Christian nation and, therefore, lacked the political strife and societal upheaval the country is seeing today.

This is one of the greatest fallacies of modern societal debate — that at some, unspecific time, Americans knew nothing but total peace and prosperity because the nation adhered to Christian doctrine.

What period is Azinger thinking of, here? Was it in the 1950s and ’60s, when the courts had to force schools to integrate, while blacks were beaten by police, sprayed with fire hoses and lynched for wanting equal rights? Was it from the period of the American Revolution up to the Civil War, when America subjugated the indigenous population and kept African-Americans as slaves? Was it when the country feared the mass immigration of the Irish and their dangerous Catholicism?

Was it in the age of Jim Crow? Was it in the latter half of the 20th Century, when homosexuals were discriminated against or beaten to death because someone found out they were gay?

Azinger probably didn’t have to witness much civic unrest personally, because white communities kept minorities out through discrimination and kept LGBTQ individuals firmly in the closet through fear. It’s either that, or Azinger is remembering “The Andy Griffith Show” as if it were actual history (not an uncommon mistake, as mythical Mayberry has a strong allure to some, even if the sheriff never carried a firearm like a real American).

But perhaps the most insulting part of Azinger’s piece is the way in which he argues that he and others like him, have been complacent in their “tolerance.” Indeed, tolerance is the main sin here, according to Azinger. It’s as if society should apologize to Azinger for making him hold his tongue for so long, and award him a medal for being a good sport up until now.

What the LGBTQ community is fighting for is not tolerance, but equality. Azinger would never know what being truly treated as unequal feels like. He’s likely never been kicked out of a restaurant or chased by a mob because of his race, religion or sexual orientation. It’s easy to whine, “What is this world coming to?” when you’ve never been in the shoes of those who have been systematically repressed for generations. Azinger should brush up on his history.

If he were more knowledgeable, he’d realize those who have been viewed as less than equal for so long deserve a whole lot more than his reluctant politeness.

Funerals for Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Adkins, Denvil - 11 a.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.

Armstrong, Lola - 3 p.m., Old Pine Grove Cemetery, Sumerco.

Cottrell, H. Harvey - 2 p.m., Allen Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Hager, Doran - 1 p.m., Highland Memory Gardens, Godby.

Hedrick, Phyllis - Noon, Taylor-Vandale Funeral Home, Spencer.

Lane, Mary - 11 a.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Ludwig, Michael - 1 p.m., Epworth United Methodist Church, Ripley.

Morton, Laura - 1 p.m., Ida Baptist Church, Bentree.

Sodder, Elsie - Noon, St. Anthony’s Shrine Catholic Church, Boomer.

Stump, Ruth - 1 p.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation Inc., Grantsville.