The Shame of Silence

AM Shame

I’m ashamed today.

Odds are you have seen it by now. The video of fraternity brothers in Oklahoma singing a racist song to the tune of “If You’re Happy And You Know It.” Certainly, the words they use are despicable. They chant racial slurs and reference lynching in such a nonchalant way that you might think they were singing about a school carnival. But far worse than the words are the intent behind them. These kids from my home state created an entire song to proclaim that African Americans were beneath them. Less than. Worthless. As an Okie myself, it’s hard to watch.

But our shared geography is not the reason for my shame.

Over the past several months the topic of race has been front and center. The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. The choking of Eric Garner in New York City. The shooting of Tamir Rice, a twelve-year-old boy in Cleveland who was killed for brandishing a toy gun in a park.   These incidents lit a fuse leading to demonstrations, protests and riots.

This whole time, I have sat silently on the sidelines trying to wrap my head around the news reports. What happened in those fateful moments between Michael Brown and the officer who took his life? Why does a community believe that rioting is the best way to bring attention to a crisis? What might cause a police officer to fear an unarmed man? How on earth could Garner lose his life for selling unpackaged cigarettes? How could two seconds end a child’s life? How could any of this happen? And who is to blame?

In my quest for answers, I have listened to interviews and read numerous articles, and several things are now clear to me.

I understand why Michael Brown and other black men are so distrusting of police.

I understand how officer Wilson might have felt threatened enough to pull the trigger and take the man’s life.

I understand why a community of voiceless people would riot.

I understand the arguments of those who say the riots did more harm than good.

I understand why a police officer in Staten Island might have felt the need to subdue a man who was resisting arrest.

I understand that Garner died of asphyxiation caused by a police-administered choke hold.

I understand how police might feel endangered if dispatchers did not inform them that Rice’s gun was a toy.

I understand how Tamir’s parents would feel outraged at an official report saying it was their son’s fault that a police officer shot him in the torso two seconds after arriving on the scene.

Yes. I understand.

I hoped all of this understanding would make me feel better about the whole situation.

But it doesn’t. And that’s why I’m ashamed.

I have been settling for understanding. I have convinced myself that my quest for facts and a balanced perspective has accomplished something. I argue it has helped me to remain level-headed in debate and assures no one gets too riled up.

But all of my understanding has accomplished absolutely nothing.

Yesterday, I sat in an airport terminal as CNN blasted the video of the frat boys singing their song. Talking heads on screen expressed outrage. Meanwhile, a big, boisterous fella’ sat across from me. He was a giant of a man. As he sat holding his newborn baby, his wife was arguing with him about how they should have packed more diapers. Half-listening, his gaze was fixed on the TV screen when he said,

“Sheesh. Here they go again. Last I checked, this country allows free speech.”

I winced.

His wife, embarrassed, immediately said, “Shhhhh!”

Even though she wasn’t talking to me, I complied. Slowly filling with shame.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a huge conversation in my head. I labeled him a racist. I wondered what might make him so insensitive. I tried to understand his perspective. I reasoned that his parents were probably raised in the Jim Crow south. I assumed he probably had no black friends, so he was ignorant of the double-standard.

But I still said nothing. And neither did anyone sitting at the gate. We didn’t want to ruffle feathers or cause a scene. So we all just sat in silence. Most of us praying we wouldn’t have to sit next to this man on the plane. Our shared responsibility became a shared excuse to do nothing. So we let it slide.




And this is the problem with systemic prejudice. When everyone is responsible for fixing the problem, no one is responsible. I have been safely hiding behind the language of “We need to” and “They should stop”, completely ignoring my role. Owning my shame, yet offloading the blame.

And it has to stop.

For me, it starts with moving past understanding and moving toward action. For understanding alone is unacceptable.

I can understand that 27% of African Americans live below the poverty line, nearly four times the rate of whites.

But I cannot accept it.

I can understand that schools enrolling 90% students of color receive over $700 less per pupil than schools with 90% white students.

But I cannot accept it.

I can understand that blacks are incarcerated for drug offenses at a rate nearly ten times that of whites even though the rate of drug usage is fairly consistent among all races.

But I cannot accept it.

What I must accept is the fact that I am part of a broken system. An unfair system that I cannot change by myself. But silence is not the answer.

So I pray I will find ways to speak out against injustice every day. Even if I am unsure of the facts. Even if I do not truly understand. For in the end, the only fact that matters is that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. And allowing anyone to tarnish that image is to deny the God I profess to follow.

So Lord, today I ask for you to give me the strength. Give me the words. Give me the courage to lend my voice to the chorus.

Silent no more.

* Writers note:  Would love to hear suggestions from you Accidental Missionaries out there about the best ways to help.  Especially those directly affected.

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43 responses to “The Shame of Silence

  1. Mary Sexton

    So very true.

    • Anne K Hardin

      Have you heard about NOAH, Nashville Organized for Action and Hope? If not, check it out. A great organization to put your faith, hope and heart into action on behalf of our African American brothers and sisters.

    • Terri

      For us, a small way to battle racism, is to bring a young african american boy into our homes through the Fresh Air Fund ( or a similar program. We started when he was 12 and Chris would come and visit us for 10-14 days each summer. It was a small step, but we learned a lot about his world in Brooklyn & his lack of opportunities, but also the intense love his mom has for him, his family and his neighbors. Now Chris is 18 & he has spent the equivalent of a year in our home, learning a lot of new skills, being exposed to new things and having a lot of fun. We have been privileged to meet his family & friends, spend time in his apartment in Brooklyn, have his mom & little sister visit us up in the country & see them experience new things (farm animals, vegetables growing in the garden, sledding, etc). We have learned how little opportunity there is for a young person of race who is lower income & lives in NYC, how much his mom struggles (financially, transportation, work schedules, child care, etc). It is frustrating how little we can do to help, but I do believe we have helped him & his mom & his youngest sister. He has opened our eyes to many things and exposed our family to another family & it has been very good! The last time his mom visited as we went around the table giving thanks, she looked us all in the eye & said “we thank you God for family”!
      Please open yourselves and your family to others of different backgrounds…it is an amazing, life giving experience!

  2. Nancy Sue

    Oh wow! Lord let me speak up also.

  3. Tiz

    Once I am no longer speechless, I’ll keep speaking up!

  4. Su Bunch

    I so needed to hear this and I join you in your prayer. Lord, give me strength, give me words, give me courage. Thank you Scott.

  5. Tara Tower

    You nailed it brother. So happy that there are people like you in my life that can write with such clarity what I already feel, but don’t have the gift for writing. Thanks, I am in complete agreement and guilty too.
    Tara Tower

  6. Thank you. Even speaking up may end in frustration….speak up anyway! Question the bigotry. Take a stand. Time for change.

  7. linda flickinger

    Accidental missionary…how can mission be accidental?

  8. Chris Strauss

    Wow! Thanks for the message! I am a white South African, living in the wonderfull city of Cape Town and now – 21 years after Mr Mandela led our country into democracy – we are still struggling with the real issue of racial equality and economic freedom (dire poverty).
    Here we have very real racism – comming from both black and white – and I have realised that Understanding, is only the first step – but it is a big one!
    Next comes breaking the silence, and then actions.
    THANK YOU for you wonderfull messages – they spread the message across boundaries (geographical, racial and cultural)

  9. dale

    Division is instigated and promoted by evil people. Racism is a two sided issue not just one. I told a close black colored friend of mine in Atlanta years ago when he tearedly wanted to know what to do about racism. I responded “shoot the media, they are always dividing people.” He and I laughed – it is true.

    Charlatans like Abernathy and Jackson who look for trouble all the time (Abernathy is the best at instigating trouble) are empowered and driven by racism. They would not have a job if they were not paid to do such.

    Obama must create crisis to tear down America – dividing people on race, color, even sexuality – what his New World Order mentor and financier Soros wants (the most evil person I have ever seen, even more evil than Kissinger, also a NWO mentor for Obama).

    A ‘crisis is a terrible thing to waste, you can get so much done in a crisis that you can’t normally do.’ Now, compare that with the NWO agenda to control the world (which means crisis in the world to get them to subjugate their freedoms to the NWO world masters – generating equal slaves of a few masters.

    Obama plays up his race but the way he was raised and all the white, black, etc people he worked with all his life does not identify his ‘blackness’, and should it? Are we that different? Only in the mind and differences in cultures. A good man is a good man in any culture and an evil one is evil likewise. Same blood, same body, different melatonin, different culture. We all should APPRECIATE our differences and recognize God made us different to be different parts of the Body of Christ when we get saved. If a body part does not obey instructions from the head it causes chaos in the body. If a body part rejects another it is not follow the Head (in Jesus Church this is Jesus).

    I have no right to hate you and follow God, likewise in reverse. The sooner we learn to appreciate the differences the sooner the Body of Christ (Christians universal) will heal and be powerful and a powerful representation of Jesus in the earth – not silly pagans calling themselves Christian and living PURPOSEFULLY like the world with no conviction of doing wrong.

    Our nation is in trouble and we can’t follow present leadership in many places, especially government, and turn our nation back on course to civility and respect for each other and God. God has the only glue that can fix things from chaos and Obama and the other NWO agents pursue for the world. The real glue is already in us – love God first, love others as we love ourselves, love self for who God made us, and to sound the trumpets, go on the march, peacefully, and get our leaders to change course or make sure they get out of office and preferably out of our country. The glue is UNITY in God’s love and purpose for us and HATE of evil, not people.

    • dale

      If each of us changes the heart of another we can all change the world. Each one reach one. It takes courage to do what is right and stand strong against evil. If you are worried about others finding out negatives about you – get over it, government knows more about us than we do about ourselves. It is not a matter of being perfect and flawless but of being to admit we have challenges and are doing our best to overcome them and pursue what is right. You can be slaves of the mind manipulators or you can break free. We all are sinners, why Jesus came, but don’t stay there letting Satan and his NWO minions (evil people who want to do wrong) stop you when you want to do what is right.

      If we wait until we are perfect and no one can try to ram things down our face to stop us, we won’t get there. Growth physically and spiritually is ‘one step at a time’ in the right direction. On the wrong path, turn around.

      I can’t emphasize how much every human being on earth is needed to oppose the NWO plans to control the earth, stripping all of freedom and enslaving minds to follow the world masters and their global leader soon arising, the man of perdition, son of Satan- anti-Christ (false Christ). Satan likes to control us and uses people to ‘keep us in our place’. If we unify and stand up for what is right and peacefully, fervently oppose evil it may not be too late. I will ‘fight the good fight’ with plans to win, not lose so when I leave this earth God will be well pleased, not with my imperfections, with my pursuit of Godliness and doing what is right.

      People say,”God bless the USA”. I say, “God help the USA be blessable.”

  10. Rich Williams

    You should run for politic office and stand for equality for all! The longer people sit in silence and do nothing the worse it gets. Nothing will ever change without the action of those who care. The hope was that Obama would make a huge change here but that has not happened. The shame of the situation should be placed on everyone shoulders so that the weight of burden will make them want to do something about it!!

    • Thanks, Rich! Though, I’m not sure my skin is thick enough for politics. 😉

    • Dale

      At 65 I would not get much mileage, besides that would have to be the most boring job in existence and I would not have the patience to listen to the socialist traitor morons who are right no matter what, beyond reasoning. Thank God for Ron and Rand Paul and those who do have guts and patience to put up with so much bureacratic BS by so many that are out of touch with reality and focused on power, money, and self.

  11. jeanamite

    I immediately thought about the 3 young Muslim students who were killed by their neighbor. I wanted to speak up and against what happened to them but was afraid my Christian friends would be offended. 😦

  12. Brenton

    None of us wants to be the a**hole. That said, even at an airport terminal, when someone is speaking to his own family, it may well be our duty to — tactfully as possible, without malice or ego — let others know that freedom of speech is a legal framework, completely separate from the condemnation of higher institutions, the press, and others when encountering ideas the rest of society has left behind.

    Yep, I’m the a**hole that butts in like that. Figure it’s better than letting folks think their ideas are accepted by all around them. Ruined quite a few peaceful moments that way…

  13. Matt

    I don’t know, man. It seems to me that racism is not the problem. Racism is a symptom, along with misogyny, misandry, and any other discriminatory behavior. These are the symptoms of the disease of nihilism. Our founding fathers may not have been Christians as we see Christians, but they clearly understood the necessity (not desire, but NECESSITY) of religion for a civilized society. We (all of us are complicit if we do not speak out against it) have systematically torn down the religious institutions of our country, dissolved the nuclear family, and created the Church of Self. You can see it everywhere. It’s all about me. I want to be a girl, some say, and so they are allowed to use the women’s locker room. Women must be strong, independent, powerful creatures, they say, ignoring that women, by their very definition, are all of these things and don’t need to change. Remove fathers from the equation, worship sex and hedonism, and accuse everyone who disagrees with you of some form of racism or sexism or bigotry.

    These things exist, of course they do, they’re endemic to the human condition. But civilization means getting past that, and our society, in it’s single-minded pursuit of “liberty” (when in reality they mean ‘liberTINE’) has removed all conscience and propriety from itself.

    Racism is not the problem, nihilism, worship of self, and turning our face from God is the problem.

    Unfortunately, with the way mob mentality works, one can’t say anything contrary to the narrative without being a bigot, or backwards, or what have you. I wish I had a solution better than “pray,” and “come together in God,” but at this point, short of rebooting the country, I don’t see one. It is, very literally, in His hands.

    • Hey Matt. I agree. None of us is better off if we make it all about ourselves. God calls us to love our neighbor as ourself, but it doesn’t start with the SELF. It starts with our neighbor.

      As for your point about our Christian founders, I may see it a bit differently. I think our forefathers (who were mostly Christian) drafted the founding documents to guard against letting religion rule the day. That said, the Christian principle that begins the Declaration of Independence “…all men are created equal” implores us to look beyond ourselves and see the image of God in every person, be they male or female, gay or straight, black or white, Jewish, Muslim or Gentile. For that reason, we are also called to speak out when we see someone discriminating against another person who is one the margins. My slight tweak to your response is to say that this is not so much a result of sliding into the Church of Self, but rather, failing to see myself in the soul of the one being marginalized.

      Thanks so much for your insights and adding to the conversation. It’s a big onion to peel, for sure.

    • Dale

      Brilliantly stated. I am a learned man who understands all you stated but for the sake of being understood by all I choose to make my language less academic – more down to earth. For a college thesis well stated peers could be impressed.

      I am not being critical at all, I realize you are not high headed but do encourage toning down or perhaps parenthesizing a quick explanation of words like nihilism and hedonism so all can understand and maybe broaden their repertoire’ rather than missing the main points trying to figure our unusual words.

      Don’t loose that skill for high level communication though, it has its place.

      I am highly excited when I see people like you who think out of the box and see the big picture. Relating that brilliance to all is not a criticism but an encouragement. I am sure that you like to get your message across rather than just impress academics.

      Keep up the good work. I do what I suggested to be clearly understood by all. I am an engineering tech with high tech experience. I worked with a business man who was ignorant of technology yet wanted to promote an invention. I gave him the idea for his invention and added many inventions to the mix that were mine. He learned to identify to technology from me. I had to strip a lot of gears in reducing the super complex to a simple level he could understand. He went on with success, just forgot me. Nevertheless, I learned how to identify the most complex of issues to layman’s language. I am not as prolific at high sounding complex words as I used to be but occasionally slip them in to keep the brain alive. Ha.

      • Matt

        You raise a good point, and I thank you for it. Sometimes I (we, maybe) get locked into certain turns of phrase and forget they may not be all that user friendly. I appreciate the feedback, and don’t beat yourself up about it. The goal is communication, not rhetoric, yes?

      • Dale

        Understand Matt, I appreciate your brilliance and in no way denigrate your honorable estate. If my comments are a blessing and help you be able to adjust and relate to all levels I am glad that I shared. I can talk to intellectuals and very simple people now, but if I am with a high level brilliant communicator I will talk their language to a much higher degree than with someone who would not understand. My finding is this – toning communication down with simpler words almost always clarifies what you intend to relate to others better.

        — Example: My brother was trained by Bell Telephone to program computers. They sent him to Bell Labs. Many folks at the Labs are so narrow in focus and genius in characteristic that they were not like Einstein who could talk to about anybody about practically anything, they were in a focused narrow world and their achievements in their arena were brilliant yet in many ways they would be taken as morons outside of their arena of thought.

        Ray was very intelligent and a genius in ways but otherwise a normal person. He had to convert cobol and fortran into new languages for specific applications. He gave me a complement (I had taught myself basic with some machine language and did some programs for automated test equipment control and calibration procedures for a German company in America named W&G Instruments). He showed me cobol for about 40 minutes and complemented me on catching on to it so quickly and encouraged me to become a programmer. I liked fixing electronic and electromechanical devices too much even though the pay would have been much better.

        What I want to relate is this, Ray pointed out that Cobol had a large set of instructions but he only used about 10. He wrote his own procedures and kept it simple with footnotes in the program so that he could quickly fix the program rather than to attempt to use the whole set and make it so complex that he could not even figure out what he had done and take a long time to troubleshoot/debug. This registered with me and an experience that I had with Carolina Power and Light. If repaired electronic devices, wrote test procedures, wrote programs if needed as a side tool, trained techs, supported the field, designed test rigs, supported engineers and techs, and did a lot of the work, especially troubleshooting complex issues on devices. I took on responsibility for SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) DAS (Distribution automation devices) devices and designed a test rig that could thoroughly troubleshoot and even show any weakness in a minute or two. Westinghouse procedures took about an hour and I did not have to open the devices and attach any thing, just mount in a metrologically designed calibration rig of mine on a 120v or 240v bus- emulating the field in ways.

        My challenge like Ray’s was this. After a year a shift threw my rig about .2db off. I had not documented all that I did and it took me most of a week to figure out how my rig worked again so that I could fix the error. I learned to document myself and to communicate what went on clearly without unneeded terminology. I wanted to understand not impress whoever might read it. — A funny, my boss hired a guy from Westinghouse to aid me. After about a half year he asked if he could do what I did. He responded to my bosses displeasure -maybe in about 5 years. In a way that tickled me but in another I felt that my communication was not clear enough. I finally realized that it was brilliant and very out of the box in thinking and unconventional in nature and not all people can think like that. I never get the big head nor let others denigrate me – want to see everyone on the same plane of potential. I recognize than everyone has areas of life where they are brilliant. I am a natural inventor and analyst – problem solver and I would feel dumb doing what some others can do easily.

        This is why I put so much effort in simplifying the complex in communications if in a mixed crowd or with people not on my skill level in specific arenas. I have found MUCH wisdom in the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Student LOL). What good are words if not comprehended by the hearer. Now, with changes in terminologies in even electronics, if I talked electronics with a current guru professional the person might think me dumb for not knowing his terminologies but with a little patience on the person’s behalf to cue me in on the new terminologies then the person and I would be able to cross talk and inform and educate each other. We all have so much to offer each other if we can cross just a few hurdles and respect each other vs fault find.

        I did not mean to be so detailed in this writing but I suppose I wanted to paint a picture of how practical and flexible our communication can be if we just can simplify things in words as much as possible. — Some people would use basic programming’s whole instruction set of over100 sets when they could use a lot less and do a better job. Some folks, not you, are out to impress others while some just are complex people who have difficult in even keeping up with themselves. So much more is achieved with good communcation – I have to work on improving all the time. The simplest thing is to be misunderstood, the hardest thing is to be understood. The hard is made easy by sometimes toning down words so that analysis is on the message rather than on a few unnecessarily complex words.

        Hope this paints more clearly the needs and reasoning. I won’t explain any more unless specific questions are fielded. Use your brilliance, and you are, use it cleverly and learn to tailor to the audience I hope my experiences enhance your skills. Be blessed!

  14. And I have such a hard time saying what’s on my mind. 😉

    When I was in my mostly-white Christian Brothers high-school, I saw and heard bigotry all around me, but I thought it was mainly due to people being (a) dumb and (b) underexposed to “otherness.” I remember the sad, sad feeling I encountered my first week of college when I walked into the dorm cafeteria and saw all the black kids sitting together on one side and all the white kids sitting on the other. And then later that week I was told by the guys outside the doors of a clearly amazing party, that I “probably didn’t want to go in there” – with a clear implication that it was race that was playing the exclusionary role. And this was in Syracuse, mind you, not the deep south.

    There was a loss of innocence in that week when I realized that intelligence education has so little to do with entrenched bigotry. I’ve actually spoke up a lot less since that first week of college (less for me, anyway). Before I always thought folks would change their view if I could just tell them, show them, convince them how debasing and dehumanizing their bigotry was. I still think speaking out is important, but it needs to be done thoughtfully and with purpose – not simply reactionary. Discussing how we speak out is just as important – perhaps more so – than deciding to speak out. For example – what would have been the best thing to say to that guy in the airport? Of all the things you could have said, which one would have given an encouraging nudge to a movement of liberty, humanism, and acceptance?

    • KB

      Peter, you have made good points. I too struggle with what to say that will not incite a riot. I do not enjoy conflict at all, but want to let people know when there is racism, misogyny and bigotry that I do not agree. I think the example of the man in the airport, I may have said, just because we have the freedom to say what we want doesn’t mean we should say it.
      The other issue is, I’ve found that when I argue a point with someone that 100% of the time, they do not change their position. How do we affect change in the way people think and feel?

      • Love your insights, Pete (and KB) So good! The question is a tough one. (which begs for another blog post). The short answer in trying to get others to listen to our perspective is to first listen to theirs. And start from points of agreement. What the man said was not wrong. He was correct, and his belief in freedom of speech is something I also believe in strongly. And once I can fully articulate his point of view in a way that is accurate from his perspective (not my version, but his), then perhaps my words will land on fertile ground. No guarantee, but it’s a start.

      • Dale

        Let me step in, mankind is riddled with sin. We as Christians or kind people can not allow our convictions to be altered by others insanity. We have our own to deal with to keep balanced ourselves. We have to guard our hearts.

        Prejudging color, education, mental capabilities, how you look, etc is typical of simply indicating judgmental people. I judge sin in my life and others and hate sin. Whereas, I love the sinner who God made in His DNA image and with the capability of reflecting His character and personna. At our best as humans, that is of Adam’s race, we are like the moon reflecting the light of the Sun with much of its Glory. We are to shine like Jesus and reflect His Glory and live in love, peace, power, and harmony with God and in harmony with others as much as possible without violating our love and willing obedience to God. At the least as humans we are totally controlled by Satan/Lucifer and led by our lusts, greed, envy, hate, etc – which God can not have a problem with and thus always be perfect (who could God envy, He loves all He created, He hates all Satan creates/really destroys, He owns all and can’t be greedy, what could He lust for. (Satan created sin because he took focus off God and lusted, envied, grew in defiance to God by wanting to elevate himself above God and sit on the Throne).

        I know how difficult it is to handle people full of false pride, arrogance, and even hate who exalt themselves above others (in their minds) and denigrate others. We live in a fallen world. I suggest this when you confront folks like this:
        1. Smile at and be courteous/kind back – this pours heaps of hot coals on their heads, they don’t feel in control
        2. If they strike back with words like ‘are you laughing at me’ respond ‘no, you may not wish me well but I wish you well’. – Don’t give them ammo, disarm them with kindness.
        3. Start walking away and if the person is brazen enough to contend with you use a good psych trick like Jesus did, respond “I am trying to like you, why do you hate me?” – Just an example – essentially reverse the tables and get to the heart of the matter. A BULLY DOES NOT LIKE TO BE POINTED OUT AS A BULLY so keep fielding questions back and find out why the person hates you. Most will back off and only a few will go on. The person could respond “because of X”. Ask “why?” If you see a legitimate ‘why’ then you may have offended the person accidentally, they perceived offense, or you could have done wrong. IF YOU SCREWED UP or are misunderstood then apologize and show that your intent is good. That enemy likely will become a friend.

        Some folk are offended by confidence and don’t know the difference between confidence and arrogance. They think on worm level and need to step up out of that rut. No Human is superior to another nor inferior but what they do and think can be on a higher or lower level than others and their actions can exalt them or denigrate them. This is humanity and we are all humans. Kindness with self control changes others over time, unless they are totally of reprobate mind, beyond God’s salvation and influence, calling all God’s good and all Satan’s evil as good..

  15. lindafcross

    Thank you.

    Linda Cross Sent from my iPhone


  16. KTW

    I appreciate your honesty and intentions and agree with much of what you are resolving. Regarding the man in the airport: he probably does know the difference between just thinking thoughts and actually uttering them. So we can presume he threw out his ignorant comment with the expectation that it might gain a favorable response from the strangers around him, validating his point of view. All of you who did not respond were not cowards; your silence was what has always passed in civilized American society as an appropriate rebuke delivered mercifully. He probably got the message that his viewpoint was not embraced or validated by anyone around him. He was rebuked by the one person who is in a position to do so: his wife. Now, if he had hit her or verbally/physically harassed someone of a different race, there would be a much clearer call to action from those around him. When people are being jerks in public places, (which they have a right to do in this still-wonderful country) it is tempting to act, but I wonder if we are just wanting to defend our “right” to some peace and quiet….?

  17. Kimberly

    Man-oh-man, but the thoughts that are jumbling in my head after reading your very thoughtful blog post, and the many responses. I can only imagine how I would have responded both internally and externally after hearing a man defend hateful speech on 1st Amendment grounds. I’d like to think that I would have said something like, “Wow! Are you actually defending the disgraceful and hateful actions of these fraternity boys? Is that what you want to teach your children?”

    I have a tendency to research far too much before forming my responses to issues such as these. I hate the thought of sounding uninformed and uneducated when speaking on highly emotional issues . . . sadly, that has prevented me from stepping into the fray far more often than it should – and that indicates a bit of sinful pride on my part, because informed or not, I should step up for what’s right. I have stepped into the fray from time to time, a few times successfully, and more times ending up with serious egg on my face.

    Nevertheless, I did a Google search before posting here, “Is hate speech protected under the 1st Amendment?” It resulted in about 323,000 links. The only one that I read was from The American Bar Association. It discusses a few court cases, and then points out the Libertarian verses the Communitarian perspectives. What we really need is a middle ground between these two approaches.

  18. Nancy Krause

    I agree with you but I believe the reason we don t act or speak is out of fear that we are dealing with a person who would not be rational with their response to our interjection of a comment. I’m not saying that excuses us. I’m outraged by this incident and frustrated that it puts all of us Oklahomans into a false group of racists. Prior to sharing your blog I also shared a post By the president of an OU Greek organization who happens to be black in a mainly white frat who has not experienced racism in his Greek experience and is now conflicted as a result. Labeling groups of people for the actions of a few is also wrong.

    I really enjoy your deeply heartfelt writing. Keep on keeping on!

  19. Thanks, Scott. This reminds me of Howard Zinn’s book, “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train”, which argues that silence most always takes the side of the oppressor. When we are silent on a topic, we allow systematic oppression to take place, which is what you so eloquently wrote about. The real, ethical dilemmas take place on a daily basis.

  20. Charlie Palmgren

    Shame can motivate corrective action and/or drain our courage into cowardice. As Edmund Burke so aptly said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing.” I pray for the wisdom Reinhold Niebuhr advocated, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” I think we all have the wisdom to make this choice. The question is whether we have the courage to act on it.

    • Dale

      Absolutely correct! Guilt and shame is like pain. If the body did not feel pain we could not live. Pain shows the body that something is wrong and directs us to help take care of the pain. We can drug ourselves out so we don’t feel the pain and may ignore and tolerate pain but if something is wrong like a splinter sticking in our foot and we don’t handle it then the pain may go away as it festers and even gets gangrene infection which could require removal of the foot.

      God put a program in all of us called a conscience. When we were born that conscience was programmed to instinctively guide us towards God so that He could help us alleviate the guilt and shame of doing wrong that caused the conscience alarm. Everyone has a conscience and never loses the program. The problem is that it can be ‘reprogrammed’. Sin and wrong doing that we are taught is OK or that we ignore can turn off the alarm so it does not bother us any more. DANGEROUS territory! Then we may flip the program and call what is right as wrong and what is wrong as right. This is a reprobate mind, if the person’s spirit is degenerate and he/she has programmed the mind to reverse the conscience so that it would hate and feel bad about good just as a normal person would feel bad about evil. Demonic spirits control the person by Satan’s thoughts and the persons fleshly and spiritual minds are in willful compliance, delighting in evil doing and hating good.

      Few totally screw up their conscience. Remember this if your mind, will, emotions, and or body are in pain then to ignore the pain causes the problem to go.

      God knows how he designed us. When things hurt in our conscience He wants us to not ignore it nor cover it with drugs, He wants us to recognize the problem and help us to solve it. Only Satan delights in causing our misery and proposing to ‘solve it’ by pushing us further into depravity so that he can ‘keep us down’ . When God convicts a person of wrong then He helps us do better as we listen to Him. Satan does not convict of sin, he is the accuser of mankind and is out to put us down and drive us further from God, each other, personal happiness, and ultimately destroy us. Why? We – flaws, sins, and all – are the objectivity and focus of God’s love, made in His Image. Satan is the MASTER at pretending to be a person’s friend, spreading misery and denigrating the person to animal behavior, then acts like God – not with the intent to help us, just imitates God – then tries to destroy us. DUMB people blame God for their stupidity and the diabolical despotic tricks of Satan. Satan even comes to us in the ‘third person’ tricking us to think a thought is ours rather than his implant – ‘man, look at that babe, how I would like to jump her bones’. You may not normally think that way but he will come across like it is your natural thought just to tempt you or to make you feel guilty for having that thought – which you did not instigate. Satan and his fallen angels are low life scum of the earth whose judgment for what they have done through all the ages will be soon coming.

  21. Hey Scott, is there a good way to reach you? Would love to chat about some ideas.

  22. Reblogged this on iSITandiWONDER and commented:
    Something for us all to consider… Thanks to Scott Dannemiller for sharing this insightful message.

  23. Pingback: Through The Eyes of a Child: Baltimore and Beyond | The Accidental Missionary

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