Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spiking the ball...

"your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins"
 - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (March 8, 1841 – March 6, 1935) 

"Where we've already won on same sex marriage, stop spiking the ball."
- GayCynic (Hippie Era-Present)

Look. Once you've won the ball-game, don't be spiking the ball - it merely invites your former opponents to get sufficiently bent out of shape to stage a resurgence, something that we in the LGBT community just plain don't need. The current histrionics over the proposed Arizona Statute look suspiciously like spiking the ball, unless someone can show me a version where it actually bars protests and exercise of free speech employed against religious bigots (or religious objectors, if you prefer).

I'd like to see resistance to same sex marriage drop off a lot more than I'd like to see religiously motivated busi

If some florist, or baker, photographer, venue or faith organization has all kinds of religious issues with same sex marriage - ultimately, we don't need  them. There's more than one of each in the world, and there exists plenty of payback possible, should it come to that - boycotts, picketing, protests, pamphlets and a wide variety of other fun that is particularly effective against the most likely targets - one-off mom'n'pops. For some reason larger businesses range from "don't make me get that all over me" on our issues to actually being supportive.

Yet, as a community, we've had to "go there." Not satisfied with garnering same sex marriage several states (and with recent court cases, I wouldn't bet against nationwide sometime soon) we apparently need to compel people to support those marriages publicly, against their will and in violation of their religious faith.

Let's see the response we're getting from our straight allies.

"You know, I'd be much more likely to believe the demands for "tolerance" and "equality" if it weren't for the fact that people are actually suing others because they won't make them a wedding cake.

Here's fair. If a person does not wish to sell you a wedding cake for your gay marriage, then go somewhere else. If he wants to be that way, let him. If you involve the government to force him to violate his religion, then you're a bigger ass than he could ever be.

Oh, and here's the scary Arizona "NO GAYS ALLOWED!" law."
            - Facebook Post, 2/21/14 from Sean Sorrentino, owner of NC Gun Blog"

As it happens, Sean is an ally in most senses - but fairly even-handed on calling "jerk" on either side of the issue.

Coercive laws that force a small business owner or individual to do business with a person or group they'd rather not do business with do not promote tolerance, equality or diversity in any true sense. Instead they promote shoddy service (do you *REALLY* want someone shooting your wedding, doing the cake or floral arrangements against their will? When it really is that easy to do a shoddy job of any of the above?) and festering resentment.

And what are we when we coerce labor from the unwilling but yet another form of oppressor?

I'd rather go across town or the state to get service from someone supportive that I can trust not to make malicious errors. I'd much rather lead a protest or a negative publicity campaign against a bigoted establishment.

Both approaches result in either corrected behavior or the offending party going bankrupt - and they do not require government coercion. These approaches recognize that a business owner has the right to do business with whom he or she chooses and that *particularly* when matters of faith come into play, they have rights every bit as important as ours - but at the same time, ensure that dollars do not go to support bigotry..

I may utterly despise those of Phelpsian ilk, but they have every right to spew their hatred - just as we have a right to our Pride Parades. I may celebrate a faith of love and acceptance, but others have just as much right to stew in a theological sewage pit filled with narrow-mindedness, hatred and bigotry.

I am not required to like them, refrain from making fun of them, nor to do business with or otherwise associate with them. I am merely required to keep my paws to myself and refrain from spontaneous violence. Is that something we want changed, since it will apply just as much against us as for us?

I don't want to be forced to serve dinner to the Phelps clan or have to do up a wedding cake for the Grand Wizard of the local KKK.  I'd rather not accept a photography and promotional graphic arts commission documenting *and supporting* a Catholic Archbishop promoting anti-gay discrimination and an initiative to repeal a gay marriage law.

None of us with a vague grip on rationality would want to be forced to accept such noxious business deals lest we be imprisoned or sued into bankruptcy. Yet that is what we propose for our opponents...and ultimately, the law is pretty good at playing "what's good for the goose, is good for the gander."

If we look at the Boston St. Paddy's Parade case, it came down to "you cannot make someone endorse or support something contrary or sabotaging to their  own message" in a ruling that the parade organizers could exclude LGBT contingents. Later, at least one Pride Parade used this same case to exclude NAMBLA from their event. Many have theorized that inherent to "freedom of association" guaranteed in the constitution is a twin to an equally valid less celebrated "right not to associate."

The current crop of rights-balancing legislation (AZ, MO, elsewhere) is deeply flawed, most basically in the attempt of many such statutes to force the same standards upon both businesses and governmental agencies/employees. Nothing could be less realistic.

Government must be held to a substantially higher standard of non-discrimination than any other body in our society. At a minimum,  a government agency must provide scrupulously non-discriminatory service to all citizens unless such person has through due process of law been disqualified from receiving such service. (e.g., the rights of children, felons and the mentally incompetent are all limited by law, as are their legitimate interactions with governments).

Similarly, active duty members of the military forfeit a variety of rights for the duration of their term of service - I would argue that limitation extends more broadly to government workers in the sense that by signing on as a government employee you should forfeit your rights to engage in discriminatory behavior while acting as an government employee or while on government premises.

In short, if you cannot provide service as a .gov staffer to the public on a non-discriminatory basis in adherence with relevant law, you have no business as a government employee.

The standard for individual and small business service providers is, of necessity, far lower. As a nation, rights are things we have historically we have enforced (or far too often, failed to enforce) as limitations upon government - not individuals. And a business - particularly a small business or a sole proprietorship - is nothing more than an expression of an individual or group of individuals.

When dealing with individuals or a private entities (non-profits, businesses, etc) we need to stick with the notion of requiring a compelling interest and the utilization of the least intrusive mechanism to accomplish said interest before we allow the dread behemoth of governmental regulation upon the playing field. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tolerance, Firefox & Payback

Over the last several days, various folks have been getting all excited about the notion that members of the LGBT community - who usually call for tolerance in the workplace - were somehow being hypocritical in their expressed hostility towards Mr. Eich. That somehow, if you called for tolerance you gave up your ability to act against individuals who had at some level offended you.

This is a possibly willful misunderstanding of what makes up "tolerance." Tolerance does not mean that an individual somehow gets a pass for their actually harmful actions.

Put simply, intolerance can be described as when a member of the particular group you dislike/distrust/despise comes in the house or office door and you leap up onto the nearest piece of office furniture and scream "IT'S A (scary group identifier here )!! AIEEE!" before actually or metaphorically opening fire.

Tolerance is admitting that the critter that just walked through the door is human and an individual - and worthy of being judged on their own merits rather than being tarred with some one-size-fits-all brush dipped in a stereotype.

Nothing here prevents or deters the operation of a second life reality - "payback is a bitch" - when our example critter walks in the door, rushes up to you, and kicks you in the balls prior to trying to get his/her pet goat to rape everything semi-mobile in the room.

At that point (and several less vivid examples) tolerance stops being a relevant question. This critter has just grossly offended, their very own selves, by various and sundry physical assaults - and any little old bad thing that happens to them during the response to their misconduct belongs almost solely to the offender (brownie points can be lost, rather extensively, for over-enthusiasm in the response).

And so it is with Firefox and Eich.

Eich donated a $1,000 to the pro Prop 8 campaign - a campaign that in television, print media and radio strove to use every vile stereotype of LGBT folks as pedophiles, corrupters of children and neither capable nor worthy of meaningful relationships.

The proponents of Prop 8 gave us a campaign based in hatred, fear and bigotry. One that not only pushed through a constitutional amendment designed to ensure second class status for LGBT folks in California - and as a happy bonus push the cause of civil rights for LGBT folks back by decades.

And, to the best of my knowledge, he has never recanted or criticized the techniques of the Prop 8 promoters.

Dress it up in diplomacy if you want, but why yes - when somebody tries to marginalize an entire community (of which I am a member) and stimulate bigotry against said community - tolerance is no longer relevant to the discussion.

They've kicked down the door and brought the goat...and what follows is the kind of thing that both right then and for years to come will occupy a special and warm place in the hearts of those offended.

The "payback is a bitch" place.

Eich could have, at any point, issued a public mea culpa and likely driven off the fall-out. I don't even think that it would have had to have been for his donation, but for the vile manner in which the pro Prop 8 campaign was conducted.

Instead, I've heard naught but silence - and while I'm not particularly moved to action on this, all things considered, I am not moved to huge sympathy or support for Eichman. I'll keep using Mozilla, thank you.

And just because a community calls for tolerance doesn't mean they have to smile and say thank you when someone rushes up and kicks the right between the forks and gets out the goat.

(Note: Corrections have been made after coffee has been applied to writer. Further corrections may occur after additional caffeine.)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

GunRightsAcrAmerica ‏@GRAAmerica 11h Thoughts? @GayPatriot @Gay_Cynic "@DLoesch: Bill Maher: "There is a gay mafia ..."

The link hauls you over to Real Clear Politics and the original article.

The answer is "Not exactly and it's not that simple."

To understand what some folks call the "gay mafia" you need to both appreciate some of the factors in the psychology and history of the LGBT community, and to realize that the LGBT community couldn't pull off a "mafia" on its best day.

We're just not that organized, and trying to impose organization is not well received.

The modern LGBT community in the United States emerged amidst the Civil Rights Movement - from the ashes of the Stonewall Riots.

Our first successful leaders were folks from the left and the outer edges of society. It wasn't the polite sorts that conformed that broke the ground for equal rights - it was our hippies, drag queens, and leather queens with the occasional social justice warrior (back when social justice was something other than victim herding). We were led by a rowdy crowd of rabid indivualists of a leftist persuasion (you could still do that, then), misfits and rebels - held together by equal portions of hope and fury.

Jumping ahead several chapters, you might recall that the LGBT community - particularly the gay community - suffered a serious epidemic during the 80's and 90's that gut shot an entire generation of potential leaders, forcing the "old warhorses" to remain in harness and folks more than a little green into leadership roles before their time. My take is that this will sort itself out in a couple of more decades, but today we still have an odd combination of "impassioned 70's radical" and "pseudo-occupy" fairly predominant.

Neither has to talk amongst themselves to be grimly unforgiving of those who attack the community. That's a good thing, because unless under direct threat...we don't necessarily play well together at an organizational level.

Let's not forget Prop. 8 in California was not merely an initiative battle - proponents waged a war of vicious slurs and vile implication upon the entire LGBT community. While I don't usually cite Slate as anything other than an online bird cage liner, in this case they get it right in their review of the Prop 8 campaign.

 Just to rub salt in the wound, Prop 8 was launched in response to the much trumpeted ruling by the California Supreme Court holding that barring LGBT marriage violated the constitution...and before the first ad was run, Prop 8 was pissing in the wheaties of a celebratory moment with a message of "I'm sorry, we're going to keep on discriminating against your relationships and families."

Under the best of circumstances, that would not be well received. The campaign tactics of proponents were gasoline upon an already well-stoked fire.

Those of you who know me well have, on occasion, heard me hint that "never, EVER mess with a drag queen" was a really good rule to follow. The same holds true, in spades, for a minority community activist that you've persuaded that you're in support of a return of the Klan or the next best thing.

Things well and truly hit the fan and, frankly, I am forced to say that those who supported Prop 8 largely worked really hard (or allowed those that represented them to do so) to build a large and quite possibly permanently angry fan base amongst the LGBT community. I find it difficult to sympathize with them.

An ill-fitting analogy might be to contemplate the response of other communities were David Duke appointed the CEO of Ford. It seems reasonable to expect that would not go well.

Thus it is with former Brendan Eich and his $1,000 Prop 8 donation. No gay mafia required (I'd rather herd cats cross-bred with scorpions than try to organize such a thing) - just a whole bunch of abidingly angry people with long memories.

More generally? It's been less than 50 years since it was illegal for three gay folks to gather in a NY bar. It's been less than 5 years since the Atlanta Police raided the Atlanta Eagle (from what I understand, the lawsuits are proceeding merrily along). Bashings still happen.

As a community we've learned smiling sweetly and saying thank you when attacked is often an invitation to a swift kick in the teeth. Calling B**s***t and firing up the protestors and waking up the lawyers? Not so much.

Instead, for everyone with three or more neurons to rub together and any sense of history the lesson that making it very clear that harassing LGBT folk is neither a good nor safe choice promotes ones individual and community safety (it's not a BUNCH more fun if it's your friend getting bashed rather than you..).

Your mileage may vary. I calls them like I see them. I can't say I'm thrilled with Mr. Eichs debacle, but neither can I honestly say I'm astonishingly traumatized. Mr. Eichs had every right to make that donation - and the Mozilla staffers had every right to loudly and enthusiastically share their dismay based on that donation. Looks suspiciously like grown-ups playing amongst themselves with the polite masks of PC off.