Apparently, tolerance is a one-way street and if something gets said enough times, it becomes a fact.
American Olympian figure skater Adam Rippon reportedly refused to meet with Vice President Pence at the Olympics recently, though the Vice President has disputed this.
Rippon also made disparaging comments about Vice President Pence, including repeating that he believed Pence supported gay conversion therapy, which involves shock treatment.
The Vice President has denied this claim and there is no evidence to support it. It all comes down to people who dislike the man choosing to interpret his support of funding for “institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior” as being conversion therapy.
The Vice President likely meant those who are promiscuous or who could be steered towards abstinence. But there is nothing credible to suggest he was referring to shock therapy, and he has said as much several times.
However, those with agendas have a narrative to push, so that’s where this story goes.
And that’s exactly why if the Vice President actually did request a meeting with Rippon, the Olympian should have taken it.
And before anybody comes at me, I am a big supporter of the LGBT community and would never wish to see them harmed. As somebody who grew up as a vulnerable minority in a country far less tolerant than the United States, I know what it is like to feel targeted and I would outright refuse to support anybody who engaged in such behavior.
But while Mike Pence may hold traditional values and be against same sex marriage, he has never given me a reason to believe he actively wants to hurt anybody.
And let’s get this out of the way, too: Yes, Rippon has the right to refuse to meet with anybody he wants. I don’t think anybody is suggesting otherwise and if they are, then it is a silly suggestion.
But I believe Rippon should have seen a potential meeting as a chance to hear straight from the source what was meant by “institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior” rather than from those who are simply guessing.
It would also be an opportunity to start a dialogue with a very important person, which is something most people don’t get. Talk out your differences, cast aside any possible misconceptions either person has of the other, and maybe you can learn something and make progress.
Simply refusing a meeting does the exact opposite. It prevents answers, it avoids direct discussion, and it just makes the divide wider. None of that is positive.
As the saying goes, if you refuse to talk to your perceived enemies, they will always remain your perceived enemies. That doesn’t work when it comes to foreign policy and it doesn’t work with human relationships, either.
So, if Vice President Pence wanted to meet with Adam Rippon, the figure skater should have said yes and taken advantage of the chance to try to push the dialogue forward. By doing the opposite, he may have missed a golden opportunity, and that is a real shame.