Being nice is important. Being rude and mean is equally important, but not in a good way.
Every day, we all have a choice about how to treat others. We should choose to treat others well, even when we disagree.
The Supreme Court announced its long-awaited decision in the Masterpiece Cake case. Almost everyone has heard about the case. A Colorado baker refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding, and the State of Colorado deemed his act to be a civil rights violation.
Almost everyone has an opinion about same-sex marriage, and almost everyone’s religious and political perspective impacts that view. Facebook is filled with posts from people announcing their opinion of what the court did.
Many people have harsh words to say about those with whom they disagree. Some call names. Many are downright rude.
Public rudeness is the most ironic part of this case. The Supreme Court, in its decision, said that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed “official disapproval of [the baker’s] religious beliefs.”
In fact, the court quoted a member of that commission who called those beliefs “despicable.” The court said that because the commission treated a religious person differently because of his religious beliefs, it violated his rights.
Those rude comments made a big difference.
We are all disappointed by how rude people are. In the past, many people did not discuss politics or religion, because they did not want to argue.
Today, many people intentionally discuss the most controversial aspects of politics and religion, and they do so in the most offensive terms possible. A few people I know post insulting comments about religion on social media almost daily.
A member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission compared the baker’s beliefs to defenses of slavery and the holocaust. He said the baker used his religion to hurt others.
The Supreme Court noticed this hostility toward religion. The Supreme Court also noticed that not one single member of the commission objected to this speech. The other members of the commission, by their silence, agreed.
If you are a person of faith, take this opportunity to reflect upon how you believe God wants you to behave toward those who do not share your faith. The baker in this case has behaved in a humble, respectful manner. When he spoke with the couple who wanted a cake, he was never mean.
He was respectful, even when he declined to do what they wanted.
If you do not have religious faith, take this opportunity to reflect upon how you want to be perceived by others. Do you want to be angry and harsh toward people who sincerely believe in God? How will your treatment of people with whom you disagree change their firmly held beliefs?
Does it really matter to you if another person believes in something in which you do not believe? Will treating that other person in a negative way make your life better somehow?
Every American citizen has the right to speak freely. Free speech includes the right to be rude. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it is a good idea.
If we want people to agree with our opinions, we will not persuade them by saying awful things to them or about them.
Please be polite.
Mike Daugherty is Judge of the Clinton County Municipal Court.