Editor column: I’m proud to be an abnormal American
While watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, a friend of mine showed me a humorous, yet eye-opening graphic from the Internet. It was a pie chart, with five answers to the question: “What will happen if gay marriage is legalized?”
The pie chart was full of just one color, shunning options such as “The terrorists will win” and “Various plagues — locusts, frogs, etc. — will erupt” in favor of a 100 percent response with the first option: “Gay people would get married.”
Yup. That’s what would happen. I’m confident in saying that’s all that would happen, just as confident as I can say there’s not a thing wrong with it.
I say the graphic is “humorous” simply due to how utterly ridiculous the other options were. The other two, by the way, were: “A third World War will break out” and “Schools will begin teaching kids how to have gay sex.”
I’ve had and have gay friends, and I will forever support the concept of gay marriage and domestic partnerships, just as wholeheartedly as I support “straight marriage.” I put that in quotes because, really, what I’m saying here is that I support “marriage.” There shouldn’t even have to be an adjective in front of the word.
I know there are many people in this country who do not support “adjective marriage,” and despite the humor behind that pie chart, a form of those other answers could easily be a response to explain what repercussions would exist if gays could legally marry (depending on who you ask).
Those people, like me, are entitled to their opinion, something else I wholeheartedly support — regardless of how far-fetched, ridiculous or decrepit those views might be, it’s free speech.
So it’s with these thoughts in mind that, ironically, a few minutes after seeing that graphic, Coca-Cola’s “America the Beautiful” ad came on the TV during a Super Bowl commercial break.
I asked my friends as we viewed it, “what’s happening here — sounds like they are singing ‘America the Beautiful’ in other languages?”
After a few moments, it was confirmed. And my reaction was, “OK … moving on.”
It wasn’t until I went to the Internet Sunday night and Monday morning and saw the backlash of reaction from Americans about the commercial spot that I started to put two and two together.
First, if you haven’t seen the ad, do yourself a favor and view it on YouTube or elsewhere. The spot features one of America’s oldest and most-recognized songs being sung in several languages, and we see images of people and families of all colors and races — and sexual orientation, at one point prominently featuring a gay couple.
Love the ad or hate it, it’s worth watching.
With that said, for the spot to be viewed as controversial and for people to demand boycotts of the beverage company and for hate-filled speech to dominate debate shows and the Internet — for the hashtag “#SpeakAmerican” to become mainstream and used as a label — upsets and frustrates me a great deal.
Just a couple examples:
• Among many tweets by Todd Starnes, host of Fox News & Commentary: “Coca Cola is the official soft drink of illegals crossing the border. #americaisbeautiful”
• From a blog by former U.S. Rep. Alan West, R-Fla.: “The last thing any of us should want to see is a balkanized America … it has to be of concern that we have Americans who lack the resolve to take a stand for our borders, language, and culture.”
West went on to write that the ad would have been a success if the song was “sung in English and showed Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen of diverse races, sex, and creed deployed all over the world drinking Coca Cola.”
It’s comments like these that the term “face palm” (or the hashtag version) was invented.
Our country’s foundation was cemented upon the concept of freedom, and that we should accept any and all human beings who want to live here, in this self-proclaimed land of opportunity.
Our official language is not English — in fact, we don’t even have one. “American” is the closest thing we have to a language. And it includes countless dialects — just like our country is populated with people who share different views than “ours,” those who speak differently than “us,” and those who pursue different love interests than what’s “normal.”
I truly feel the only thing normal about America is that it’s abnormal. If more people could realize — and, perhaps, accept — that, then we’d finally begin to understand what can be done to make the world a better place.
I’m quite proud to be an “abnormal” American, and in the end, I couldn’t think of a better adjective to describe myself and everyone around me.
Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspapers; he may be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin1MacMillan.
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