There's this thought - rising in popularity in several circles, notably aging liberals - that the world, despite the deafening clangor of the media fear-machine, is getting safer, kinder and more empathetic. Sure, there's wars, but there's not WARS. Sure, there's crime, but less of it is violent, year on year for more than a generation now. Whatever horrors we may see in high definition in our living rooms, the real world, it seems, is bending toward a future of peaceful acceptance.
It's an idea that has a hard time sinking in. Is it conditioning? Is it pessimism? Is it propaganda? The data doesn't flinch, but that feeling - that this is a rough, mean world full of people just waiting for an opportunity to do wrong - is so much a part of the zeitgeist that it's hard to discredit. I mean, can everyone be wrong?
Then things happen like happened on Sunday on the Internet, and it's just possible that - sighting just the right way, squinting to block the glare - one can see the slow bend toward justice happening, in real life, in real time.
So, backstory: Mike Magee missed a penalty kick. We all remember that part. A Union supporter with the handle @aaronfox72 decided that a little post-game smack-talk was necessary (as one does) and fired off a tweet to Magee with the message, "great penalty faggot, GO UNION."
Magee responded as follows:
LOVE IS LOUDER "@aaronfox72: @magee9 great penalty faggot, GO UNION" pic.twitter.com/pd4B9Iw7eL— Mike Magee (@magee9) April 7, 2014
That's not all. The Sons of Ben, the Union's supporters group, issued a statement condemning the homophobic slur, again using the tagline 'Love is Louder.'
It's not hard to remember a time when homophobia was a baseline assumption in America. I grew up in Indiana in the 1980s, and gay-hating was so woven into the culture as to seem inextricable. As a straight guy, I didn't understand that homosexuality actually existed (as opposed to being just an evocation of The Other) until I went to college - that's how in the closet the whole thing was.
Today it's different, and in a fantastic way. The rules we all write (wordlessly, socially) are reforming themselves into shapes of tolerance and inclusion, of hope and peace and joy, rather than fear and power and exclusion. Love is louder, indeed.
[EDIT: A fantastic point from a Fire supporter in Twitter-land, and one I meant to include -
@Wyn_McTwitch great article! I think though that the guy's apology could be included as further proof that this kind of ugliness is dying.— Chicago Fire WUFC (@FireWUFC) April 10, 2014
A brisk trip around the intertubes finds this, which I should've found earlier:
@magee9 I apologize for my ignorance and have a lot of respect for what you do. I have respect for what you do and regret what i said. Sorry— ⒶⒶⓇⓄⓃ (@aaronfox__) April 7, 2014
Bending, ever so slightly, toward justice, eh?]