By Lena Fields-Arnold
The Yahoo Headline read “Kim Burrell Will Not Appear on Show.”
Apparently she was booted off a scheduled appearance on Ellen for preaching an “anti-gay” sermon the weekend prior at her church.
According to yahoo news “the singer faced a backlash after a YouTube video posted on Dec. 30 showed Burrell delivering a sermon at the Love & Liberty Fellowship Church in Houston, where she is a senior pastor. In the clip, Burrell condemns homosexuality as “perverted” and an “embarrassment.”
After a “flood of tweets and a Change.org petition that garnered more than 5000 supporters,” denouncing Burrell’s comments Ellen Rescinded her invitation. In effect practicing the same type of social exclusion she claims to be against.
Dr. Rebecca Fraser-Thill, in her article “Understanding and Coping with Social Exclusion” explains that “when it is intentional, social exclusion is considered to be a form of relational aggression or social aggression.” It can take the form of intentionally ignoring or overlooking someone, overt shunning such as not talking to someone, or as Thrill states “may be more subtle, such as by spreading rumors about a person so that he/she gradually becomes rejected.” In Ellen’s case it took the form of public shame and a rescinded invitation.
It’s her show and technically she has that right, but I wonder if by doing so she hasn’t sent the wrong message about what tolerance and inclusion is really all about; especially when you consider the fact that a critical component of inclusion is an effort to ensure equal opportunities for all. It is an intentional process of creating conditions designed to enable all members of society have full access to participate in the civic, social, economic, and political activities, of life.
I love the 1970’s show All in the Family. As a child I did not understand why my black parents would watch and laugh at what I thought was a racist show. I was too young then to understand the deep complexity of the writing. Archie Bunker believed in the WASP way. He believed in separation of the races and all that crap about the white race being the right race. Archie Bunker had strong opinions about what he thought was right and he was often challenged on those opinions by his liberal son-in-law. They argued and fought like cats and dogs, but this could only happen because Archie tolerated Mike’s opinions. Despite their differences, he allowed Mike to live with him and Edith, even though in doing so it meant Archie would have to be uncomfortable-A LOT!
Yet, it was the pull and push between them that made the show so interesting. As the show progressed we witnessed both Mike and Archie grow, and change, and become MORE accepting of each others opinions and beliefs. Did they come to agreement on everything-absolutely not?! But they did learn to respect each other’s boundaries and more importantly-they began to love one another.
Isn’t this what we want the end result of true tolerance to be about? Can that even happen in today’s era of political correctness?
Carol M. Swain in her article for the American Dissident wonders the same thing.
Any statement that makes a member of a “favored” group feel uneasy is quickly branded as hate speech or bigotry without any real effort to consider the validity of the statement. When issues are addressed, it is usually in a forum of like-minded individuals, where speakers preach to the fawning choir. This is unfortunate. Little effort is expended on bringing real balance to conversations about significant issues. (Swain 2015 p 1)
“Avoidance is not deliverance.” -Horace Arnold
So what I am saying is this. Yes Ellen had the right to cancel Burrell’s appearance, but my question is why waste an opportunity to cross a divide and show the world what true tolerance and inclusiveness looks like? I fear that when a person preaches tolerance and inclusion, then fails to act upon that belief simply because of pressure from another group of people-then they have become no better than that which they claim to rail against.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think if the invitation had been a personal invitation to Ellen’s place of residence it would have been totally appropriate to rescind the invitation if she felt that strongly. I’ll be honest; I would not knowingly invite a bonified hooded Klansman into my home. But her show is not a private residence. It is transmitted over public airwaves, paid for through sponsors, and viewed by a wide segment of the population-a population that deserves to have a show that reflects the various segments of society who watch the program. Yes, there are Christians who think homosexuality is wrong, who watch Ellen’s show. Why? Because they like the show and they think Ellen is a gifted comedian. Keeping the invitation open, despite personal feelings would have been a grander gesture and promoted the true culture of tolerance and inclusion we should always strive for.
Marion Witcher, author of Sowing my Tears Reaping His Joy and founder of New Hope for Special Needs has agreed to guest blog a counterpoint to the above post. As a journalist I strive t0 be fair and balanced in my writing so when a follower post thoughtful and engaging commentary that presents another view I will invite them to guest blog in more elaborate detail. In my conversation with Marion, she agreed with the general ideas presented by the post, however she felt in this particular situation Ellen made the right call. I look forward to reading Marion’s full post and I also invite anyone else who has another way of looking at this incident to contact me as well.
Fraser-Thill, Rebecca. “Understanding and Coping with Social Exclusion .” Verywell. August 31, 2016. Accessed January 05, 2017. https://www.verywell.com/what-is-social exclusion-3288013.
Swain, Carol M. “Tolerance, diversity, and inclusion doesn’t include you!” The American Dissident, Spring-Summer 2015, 11+. General OneFile (accessed January 5, 2017). http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do p=ITOF&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA432807567&sid=summon