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OPINION | BRADLEY GITZ: You will be proud

by Bradley Gitz | June 13, 2022 at 5:00 a.m.

The lead story on the CBS Sports website last Monday reported that five players on the Tampa Bay Rays chose to not wear a LGBT+ logo on their uniforms.

The first thought was why anyone thought five baseball players not wearing a political symbol could possibly be national news.

Apparently, the perceived significance came in a decision to not celebrate something (LGBT pride month) which some now expect everyone to celebrate; that having LGBT "pride," or at least publicly signaling that you do, is now something of a requirement, even for the vast majority of the population that isn't LGBT.

Lock-step conformity is now apparently expected when it comes to LGBT issues, in this case a perfunctory symbolism intended to announce to the world the holding of a certain enlightened attitude.

By choosing to not celebrate in the approved fashion, the five ball players therefore ran the risk of being perceived as hostile to the LGBT movement, even if they aren't.

Thus we are reminded that the purpose of virtue signaling in a woke age is not so much to convey what you really think but to acquire immunity from attack by removing suspicion that you might think the wrong (unapproved) things.

Expressing sentiments you don't really share becomes imperative, suppressing the ones you do often equally so. It's no longer enough to be accepting of members of the LGBT community in your daily life, you must also now apparently wear a symbol to prove it, or else.

In a remarkably short period of time we have moved from demands for tolerance and respect to demands for approval and now, finally, something resembling coerced celebration.

Within this context, it isn't just dissent that makes you a potential target but failure to give assent with sufficient gusto.

If "Heather Has Two Mommies" in school libraries was not too long ago considered objectionable, now it is those who object to it who are.

In the late and thoroughly unlamented Soviet Union, people protected themselves by hanging portraits of Marx and Lenin in their apartments, even if they despised everything about the communism that had made their lives so miserable. In America we pen essays expressing our commitment to "diversity, equity, and inclusion" when applying for college jobs and put LGBT symbols on our baseball jerseys in a similar effort to acquire acceptance and deflect suspicion, even if we roll our eyes when doing so.

Finally, the additional thought occurs that the LGBT movement has become increasingly strained and susceptible to failure as more initials get added; that the "T" might at some not too distant point come into conflict with the "L," "G," and "B."

The gay rights movement succeeded, and made America a better place in the process, because it borrowed the template of the earlier civil and women's rights movements, which were built on appeals to justice and equality and fairness and taught that discrimination on the basis of ascription (skin color and sex) was morally wrong.

Even if there were substantive differences between pigmentation on the one hand and sexual preference (and thus behavior based on preference) on the other, it was still persuasive enough to convince a majority of Americans that gay Americans should enjoy the same rights as other Americans, including the right to marry.

It is far from obvious, however, that everyone who supports gay marriage also supports the right of biological men pretending to be women to hang out in women's locker rooms and compete in sporting contests with biological women. Or that anyone who raises concerns on that latter count is a bigot merely for having done so.

Polls tell us that the same majorities that now support gay marriage also oppose the more extreme demands of the transgender movement, to the point where conflating it all under the same LGBT+ moniker could lead to a loss of support outside LGBT ranks and dissension within them.

Indeed, the hunch is that a large chunk of the American population finds the idea of celebrating guys who wear dresses to be even more bizarre than guys wearing dresses.

Americans, contrary to woke narratives, are generally tolerant people who believe in live and let live.

But we also believe in minding our own business first and foremost and are tired of being told that we are morally deficient if we don't enthusiastically celebrate the sexual preferences of other people.

One of the more amusing criticisms of the decision of Tampa Bay ballplayers to not wear the LGBT logos was that it was divisive and undermined team unity, as if the prior decision of a baseball team to express political sentiments that have nothing to do with baseball isn't going to cause division and that the problem lies not with those who made that decision but the few players who refused to fall into line.

It isn't hard to understand that if you don't want politics to divide your team, don't inject politics into it.

Some of us were writing columns supporting gay marriage long before Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden expeditiously came around to the idea and neither we, nor anyone else, need wear a logo to prove we're not bigots.

Freelance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.

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