Last year the website Knowthyneighbor.org rolled out, publicizing the names and addresses of people who signed the anti-gay-marriage amendment petition. At the time, I said it was a terrible idea; that it would lead to reciprocating hostility against one’s neighbors, a lousy, counterproductive strategy. (I can acknowledge one good use for the site, which is as a check against signature fraud.)
Well, guess what? People are using the site to attack their neighbors:
One St. Peter’s parishioner, Yvonne Cabral, was verbally accosted last Friday by Provincetown Magazine publisher Rick Hines after Hines learned that Cabral signed the petition, according to police.
Police Chief Ted Meyer plans to seek charges of disorderly conduct against Hines, who saw Cabral shopping and loudly called her a “bigot,” according to both Hines and Meyer. Other people who signed the petition — and subsequently had their names posted on the same website — said manure has been spread on their properties in recent months, Meyer added.
Mr. Hines, do you imagine that you’re helping your cause by acting like a child? What if you had gone up to Ms. Cabral and said, “I know you signed the petition, and I really hope you’ll reconsider. We’re human beings, too.” Don’t you think you might have gotten into her head a little more effectively that way? And spreading shit on one’s neighbors’ lawns is just beneath contempt.
Being right on an issue does not give one license to act like a jerk. Fight hate with love; ignorance with understanding; callousness with empathy. That’s how supporters of same-sex marriage will win this thing. If we expect people to have civilized attitudes towards gay marriage, we’ve got to be civilized ourselves.