I do not understand homosexuality.

I opened with that statement as a courtesy to the perpetually offended.  As we know, context will not be necessary to get started with your hate mail.

My lack of understanding also encompasses several other groups, including but not limited to women, Blacks, Hispanics, townies, hippies, yuppies, long-haul truckers, and people who put clothes on their dogs.

Dogs don’t like wearing clothes.  I’m certain of it.

That being said, I have friends and family who fit each of the aforementioned descriptions.  I’m sure each has been slighted, stereotyped, and discriminated against at some point; and the thought of that is disgusting to me.  But these are intelligent, complex, and resilient folks.  And they understand one fundamental truth that the halfwits in the main-stream media and the perpetually offended have failed to grasp:

Ignorance and prejudice speak only of the ignorant and intolerant. 

I was surprised Thursday morning to find Facebook alive with outrage surrounding statements made by Phil Robertson in a GQ magazine article. Friends were posting on both sides of the debate, with claims that the ‘duck man’ had compared homosexuals to terrorists and inexplicably stated that Blacks were better off under the Jim Crow laws that preceded the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s.  It didn’t make any sense to me. Why would GQ interview Phil Robertson?

I quickly turned on the TV to find representatives from GLAAD and the NAACP condemning his remarks as hateful, bigoted, racist, homophobic lies.  All but certain I should join the melee, I got online and looked up the GQ article for myself - so I might spew a little of my own first-hand outrage.  I was immediately surprised to find that the ‘interview’ in question was not published as an interview at all.  The piece was an ‘article about an interview’ – something very different.  I read it twice, then quietly folded my rainbow flag and put it back in the closet.

I’m sure the good folks at the NAACP and GLAAD are intelligent, well-meaning folks with a multitude of talents – but it appears reading comprehension is not one of them.  In response to a direct question from the author, Mr. Robertson spoke of his Christian belief that homosexuality is indeed a sin.  According to polling, this ‘fundamentalist’ Christian tenet is far from unique – fully half of all Americans agree with his statement. 

Though I understand why GLAAD might take exception to his religious views, Mr. Robertson stopped well short of personally condemning homosexuals and most certainly did not compare them to terrorists.  And to suggest that his statements about Blacks being better off under the Jim Crow laws is not only intellectually dishonest, but slanderous.  Mr. Robertson spoke only of his own experience, hoeing cotton as “white trash”, beside the Blacks for the poor farmers of South.  If anything, his comments held a hint of reverence.  And if they were so egregious; why is it necessary to mischaracterize them?

I’ve heard numerous ‘experts’ suggest that, as a public figure, Mr. Robertson should temper his comments to be sensitive to certain groups.  There is a word for that, too.  It is called ‘pandering’ – and I find that implication far more disturbing than anything the duck man had to say.

Strangely, the statement most seized upon by GLAAD was one in which Mr. Robertson, with some specifics as to the mechanics of homosexuality, professed that he did not understand sexual attraction between men.  Well here’s a newsflash – ninety percent of heterosexual men don’t understand it either.

Let’s face it.  With these rugged good looks, my prospects are pretty good either way.  I’m a snappy dresser.  I’ve got good hair.  And I always know the appropriate koozie to accessorize a cold Lone Star.  But I don’t understand being gay any more than I understand being a woman, being Black, being rich, or carrying a dog in a purse.

Don’t carry a dog in your purse.  They hate that.

What we are lacking is not understanding; it is empathy. And contrary to popular belief, empathy is not a trait exclusive to those with whom we agree politically.  Those who do not possess it have been on proud display in the media lately.  They are quick to accuse and slow to forgive, and they miss one of the most fundamental elements of the human experience.  

In a much less publicized portion of the GQ article, Phil Robertson said simply “Our job is to love each other.”

I agree, Duck Man.  And we when we can’t find understanding, we must do our best to look within our own experience here on the planet Earth - and find a way to empathize.  Just love each other.  Simple enough. 

Oh … and to the hate mongers continuing to stoke this fire: 

Buck-up, Cupcake.  Life is hard.

Jon Koonsman is a local builder and rancher and 6th generation Erath County resident. He is married with two sons, one daughter and resides on his family's ranch near Duffau. He is also a member of the Empire-Tribune's community columnists. He can be reached at jonkoonsman@yahoo.com.