Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a certain abuse of the term homophobia. At it’s very core meaning, homophobia would normally refer to someone who has an irrational fear of homosexuals. In common application, it refers to someone who hates homosexuals. In its most popular application, it refers to someone who might even just disagree with homosexuality or same sex marriage. This is what one might call the “homophobia card.”
Perhaps the problem with the term homophobia is the same problem found in the use by some of the term anti-Catholic – that is, it is used in such a broad way that it encompasses several viewpoints while failing to distinguish between them. Therefore, the irrational hatred against homosexuals by groups such as the Westboro Baptist cult is put on the same level as those with more rational arguments, such as Christian apologists James White and Matt Slick. What this permits people to do is, instead of being able to identify the different issues and arguments to prepare a better defense of their position, they rather invent an umbrella term against which they can vent emotional arguments. It’s a borderline straw man argument that most people would probably feel far more comfortable arguing with instead of developing their own position and learning to respond to what the other side has to offer.
Our society is quickly turning into one in which there is no distinction between tolerance and acceptance, or between simply disagreeing and vitriolic hatred. The coming generation is not being trained to understand two differing viewpoints and be able to respond as if you could defend both, but rather are being trained to respond emotionally for their own case, with no other recourse but insults and repeated arguments. If it continues this way, it does not bode well for our society.