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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Proposition Eight Backlash:

I want to make it absolutely clear, as I have before on this blog, that I feel gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people should have the same rights and privileges afforded to all other people. That includes the same caveat I include for all others: As long as they harm none, and do not engage in incest or other criminally deviant manners that cause the harm of others, especially children. Examples of what I consider "criminally deviant" includes bestiality and some other acts that I am probably better off not knowing or even thinking about.

First, I saw a video on Yahoo that pointed me to a disturbingly new neo-McCarthyist reaction to the passage of Proposition 8 in California. The website is, and I find this deeply inappropriate on multiple levels. This is a nation of free speech and expression, and I find the actions of the creators of this website are engaging in the same type of hate-mongering for which Senator Joe McCarthy became infamous. Also, they are endangering the welfare and livelihoods of others why? Because they disagree with what they did and said? If they cannot understand the depth of the wrongness of what they did in creating this website, I don't know how to communicate it to them. This is a nation of laws, of reasoned debate, and of peaceful protest, but this goes well over that line into straight vigilantism, and that's wrong. That's damned wrong, and this should not go unchallenged in the courts. Furthermore, what if someone is on that list who did not contribute, or who has a name similar or identical to another individual on that list? Spreading the seeds of hate is WRONG, whether that individual be straight or gay, white or black, male or female, and that is PRECISELY what this website does by design and as a nature of its very existence.

Second, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) have taken an undue amount of criticism over this issue. This is a matter that is very close to my heart, given my background. First, let's look at the numbers: The Mormon church has just over 13 million adherents, more than half of whom live outside of Utah. Can I get a show of hands of who actually believes that 6,068,393 Mormons live in California AND agreed with the premise of Proposition 8? This is a church whose main ideological divide is between conservatives and libertarians, with a few liberals in the mix. Second, who honestly believes that, of those, a significant number were African-Americans, a demographic that supported the measure by a ratio of 2 to 1, were also Mormon or influenced by the ads? Look at the exit polling. What of the initiative in Arkansas that passed and denied homosexuals the right to adopt, this a Southern "Bible Belt" state? Or the anti-gay marriage initiative that passed with just over 60% of the vote in Florida or another one in Arizona? Why aren't Rosie O'Donut and Whoopi Goldberg protesting the black churches and Hispanic Catholic churches in California, who voted for the measure by as much as 70%? Why aren't they protesting the largest demographics of support for Proposition 8? Well, because they feel they can get away with it. The Southern Baptists and other conservative evangelicals, and conservative Catholics, who are every bit as culpable as a sect as the Mormons, don't care for Mormons all that much, and besides, they're too big a group to risk alienating. Also, the Mormon church has a clear hierarchy and one leader, like the Catholics. Ask a Southern Baptist to tell you who the leader of their faith is. They'll rant about "my pastor" while not knowing the answer, because there is none. Ask a Mormon to tell you who the leader of their faith is. We'll tell you Thomas S. Monson, and that his immediate predecessor was Gordon B. Hinckley. Some of us may know the entire list of them, going back to Joseph Smith, Jr. As for me, I know a few, but I would really need Wikipedia or the LDS website to read off the names.

Now that we know how and why the various responses have been inappropriate, the question is simple: Where do we go from here? Court challenges seem to be the appropriate response, and maybe some civil disobedience akin to what that San Francisco mayor did by marrying same-sex couples before the court case that briefly legalized gay marriage. Vigilantism and targeting those not nearly as responsible for the passage of Proposition 8 are not the answer.

The deeper cause of this problem is an idea that was first expressed in Plato's Republic, and later given additional form by Alexis de Tocqueville. I refer, of course, to the tyranny of the majority. As long as none are being harmed by the objectionable action/inherent nature of an individual, it is absolutely wrong for people to have the ability to vote on the basic civil rights of the minority. Imagine if the civil rights era had, instead of being decided in the courts, been placed before the vote of the several states in the South. Looking at the 1960 Census data, page 26 of that file, 20,491,443 Americans were non-white, and 158,831,732 Americans were white. If you strip away those under 24, since the voting age was not lowered to 18 until July 1, 1971, you have 9,849,260 non-white people of voting age and 89,667,738 white people of voting age, give or take, for a non-white percentage of just under 10% people of voting age. For the effects of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, KS, decision, the Rosa Parks case, and any of a number of other instances too numerous to mention to have occurred, 100% of all non-white Americans and roughly 45% of white Americans would have had to vote for the ratification of what we now, rightfully, consider basic human rights, and we would have been stuck with a hodgepodge of laws varying by state. I would not want to accuse 45% of all white Americans in 1960 of racism, but I am as aware as you are of the power of the status quo. People usually don't like change, even when it's good for them. If I were a betting person, I would not have liked the chances of 45% of people voting in favor of the greater good.

Frankly, I'm appalled that the African-American community, by and large, choose not to see that others are facing the same problems that their ancestors or they themselves have faced over the years. One would think that they, above all, should have a special sympathy for them, instead of voting against others' rights by a 2 to 1 margin. This is wrong, and moreover, they above all others should KNOW it's wrong. I'm not blaming the passage of Proposition 8 on any one group, but if it's good for Whoopi to make an ass out of herself in public by making sweeping generalizations about a large group of people, the least I can do is improve on her tainted example by at least acknowledging that not all members of another group are culpable.

This song isn't quite related to this topic, but it's close enough for my purposes. Enjoy.

1 comment:

Snave said...

The de Tocqueville things is right on. Peoples' civil rights ought not be something put up to a vote. And you are right, as long as nobody is hurting anyone why try to hold them down?

It does seem to me that one group which has been oppressed might be able to understand oppression when they see it happening to other groups.

And stuff like the blacklist nearly makes me ill. Why do people hate so much? What are they so afraid of?