Yay for boo!

Before I muted Rick Warren’s invocation at Barack Obama’s Inauguration, I thought I heard some distant booing. This article seems to indicate that I was right. Apparently George W. Bush was booed as well, but that’s just old and hackneyed at this point.

I am not going to denounce this booing as disrespectful, or even impolite (note that they did not boo during the prayer). I am happy that there was a contingent of people registering their displeasure with having a bigoted religious figure so tied to Obama’s Inauguration.

The homophobe Rick Warren, who famously equated gay marriage with incest, pedophilia, and polygamy (check out this link—the invective begins at 2:10), is not only a bigot, but a liar. He claimed that he never said such things about queers or equal marriage. He claimed that he said “no such thing.” He acted like he was being tried as a witch. The problem is, you’re on tape saying it, Rick!

How utterly stupid do you have to be to lie bold-faced about something you’ve said when you were recorded saying it!?!

People should just stop saying words. They will be recorded, or written down, or taken from your web site’s archives, and they’ll come back to haunt you. Or, simply stop lying about the words you say. Own up to them. Take responsibility.

Perhaps—just maybe—Warren forgot that he said these things. Science has proven that memory is actually notoriously unreliable. Not the stalwart photographer or videographer steadfastly archiving history we thought it was, memory actually works by reconstructing events. Memories are an interpretation of events, not a record of them, and can therefore be distorted. Our reconstructions omit information, and we unconsciously fill in missing information. This process is influenced by our own filters, biases, and expectations of what is probably true. We do this automatically and unconsciously, which is why Ani DiFranco‘s line is so apt: “Nobody’s lying and still the stories don’t line up.”

Okay, so given this, it is possible that Rick Warren wasn’t lying when he said that he never said what he said. But because he said it in the first place, it must be a belief that he holds. Therefore, he was still lying about his beliefs.

A lying bigot. That’s who gave the invocation at Barack Obama’s Inauguration. And so he was rightly booed. And lest the right-wingers start railing against this, imagine for a moment that the Right Reverend Gene Robinson, the first openly gay (and non-celibate) Episcopal bishop, were giving the invocation at John McCain’s Inauguration. (Okay, we all know that would never have happened, but for the sake of this hypothetical let’s say it could.) You know that the republicans in attendance would have booed him practically off the stage. If you’re being honest, you will have to admit that this is true.

So what’s the difference? Would it be equally okay for right-wingers to boo Gene Robinson as for lefties to boo Rick Warren? Well, no.

The difference is this: In one scenario, people would be booing acceptance, equality, and humanity; in the other scenario, people would be booing divisiveness, inequality, and bigotry.

And so they did.