But then you pick up a newspaper, and the truth hits you in the face like duckshot from Dick Cheney's gun.
Hate and intolerance are alive and thriving, and in fact seem especially pronounced during this high-stakes election campaign season.
We've become accustomed to hearing the hateful outbursts at McCain-Palin rallies. When Barack Obama's name is mentioned, a member of the crowd screams "Kill him!", or "Bomb Obama!". Then there's the Monkey Man and his "Little Hussein". And these things all happened here in Pennsylvania alone -- north of the Mason-Dixon Line!
But a black presidential candidate with a strange name isn't the only thing that has the right-wing extremists in a tizzy. There is also California's Proposition 8 which, if passed, would ban same-sex marriage in that state. In other words, it would write discrimination into California's Constitution. In other words, "all men are created equal" -- except for the gays and the lesbians.
And if they constitutionally take rights away from gays and lesbians today, what group is next?
But I digress, so let's get back to the subject of homophobia.
It's been 10 years since the brutal murder of gay student Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, but society has apparently not grown any more enlightened since then. In fact, according to the FBI, while hate crime incidents in general decreased by 1 percent in 2007 from the previous year, hate crimes linked to prejudice based on sexual orientation had actually increased by about 6 percent!
I believe that hate and intolerance are primarily fueled by ignorance and fear. Therefore, only by addressing the underlying myths and fears that lead to irrational hate and distrust can we hope to progress as a society.
But, sadly, there is no time for all that between now and November 4th. Besides, some people just will not listen, and will not learn.