Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bigotry Just Ain't What It Used To Be


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The Other McCain helpfully identifies the true culprit in the shooting at the Family Research Council: Rachel Maddow.

"And why not? If you Google her name with Chick-fil-A and Family Research Council, you get more than 450,000 hits."

Stacy McCain isn't seriously accusing Ms. Maddow, and it should go without saying that she bears no responsibility for the actions of a madman (or plain old criminal), whether or not he believed himself to be acting on behalf of a cause she advocates. And that's true even if her blog did imply that responsibility for Rep. Gabby Giffords' shooting lay at least in part with Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle. 

I hope and expect that those of us on the right resist the urge to respond in kind, whether through such odious casting of blame on political opponents, or through what Ann Althouse accurately describes as civility bullshit.

If reports that the shooter was carrying a Chick-Fil-A bag are accurate (HT: The Other McCain) then that may suggest a political motive, coming as it does in the wake of the Great Chicken War of 2012.

With respect to which, I had assumed that we were at the point where just about everything there was to be said had been said, even if everyone had not yet said it. But I'll take this opportunity to lob in my two cents.

Bigotry just ain't what it used to be.

Back in the day, you had to work at it. You had to actively hate other people for attributes over which they had little or no control, and on top of that you had to translate your hatred into concrete action: denying blacks their right to vote, shutting women out of educational and professional opportunities, bashing gays - it was a lot of work.

Now the bar has been lowered so much, anybody can be a bigot without even getting up off the sofa. The Great Chicken War showed that in 2012, all one need do is subscribe to a conventional understanding of Christian teaching, and boom! You're a bigot.

That's a glib treatment of a serious topic, I know, but bear with me.

Twenty years ago - shoot, five years ago - my opinion that gays should be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else marked me as an open-minded person. Suddenly, without my views changing a whit, the goalposts have moved and I am, evidently, a bigot.

I'm not even particularly opposed to gay marriage; I'm fine with it when achieved via the political process, but opposed to having it imposed by judicial fiat. I want my gay friends and relatives to enjoy the same rights as everyone else, but I also want people with religious objections to homosexuality to be treated respectfully, and not run roughshod over their views.

The two goals are in tension and I think compromises must (and can) be reached. For example, if that involves giving gay people the full panoply of inheritance, hospital visitation and other rights, while calling it something other than marriage, then I can live with that.

Yet judging by the rhetoric deployed against Dan Cathy and Chick-Fil-A of late, my hope for some compromise with which most people of good will can live evidently marks me as a bigot.

Well, I don't think it makes me a bigot, and I don't think standing up for Dan Cathy's First Amendment rights can fairly be construed as bigotry. And I think the sort of incontinent accusations of bigotry that characterized the Great Chicken War actually reflects very poorly on those making the accusations.

I don't deny the existence of anti-gay bigotry, but "bigot" is a very powerful word in our time, perhaps similar to the term "communist" in the 1950s; to level the allegation is to create a perception of guilt, and that ought to engender some circumspection in anyone bandying the term about.  


  1. All that you say is true but for those on the other side of this debate (and other similar ones) that type of attitude would require that those throwing the "bigot" label treat those with opposing views as equals. As valid, reasonable people with differing opinions as opposed to being just plain "evil". Life is so much simpler when the position and arguments of the other side can be deemed illegitimate and not worthy of debate because those that hold them are simply evil and not worthy of a reasoned response (especially when you have no reasonable response).

  2. Repeat this over and over
    " Chic-fil-a is not the Woolworth’s lunch counter of the 60′s. Homosexual’s are not being denied service at the counter." As seen on-line.
    Lather, rinse, repeat.

  3. Good point, Lorenzo. Ann Althouse made a similar point here:

  4. You closely reflect my opinions. But, if a vote ever comes up, I will vote against gay marriage just to piss off these hate mongers.

    1. And do I get the same opportunity to vote against your ability to get married? Do I get a say in whether or not your children can get married? Do I get to deny you the right to visit your loved ones in the hospital? Do I get to be there when you are denied benefits when your spouse dies so that I can laugh at you too?

  5. I blame Morris Dees!

  6. Personally I don't think that court rulings invalidating laws against same-sex marriage amount to 'judicial fiat' the way that I think Rowe was (although I support legal abortion). And a majority of voters does not equal a majority of citizens.

    Are you willing to put your rights to free speech or free assembly to the vote? How about the right to legally enjoy a glass of wine. You think a majority of Americans really wanted prohibition? Voters can be and often are wrong and some rights are too important to be left to the tyranny of the majority. Which is why we have a Bill of Rights.

    The Declaration of Independence (which I understand is not the Constitution) lays it out: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

    What right is more fundamental to the pursuit of happiness than the right to choose a life partner? There might be less controversy if our government didn't choose to treat married couples differently than unmarried ones. But it does, from taxes to medical decisions, married is different from committed couple or even a registered 'domestic partnership'.

    Marriage has evolved substantially over the past several hundred years and it is time to recognize that. Churches are (and should) be free to define marriage in whatever way they choose. But from a legal perspective, it is time to stop arguing that the 'traditional' religious based definition should govern.

    1. Unknown - I just wanted to say thanks; yours is the first comment disagreeing with a post on this very young blog, and I'm grateful to have it come in the form of a valid and respectful argument. If your post sets the tone for dialogue on this site than it will have been well worth the effort.

      -Senator Blutarsky

    2. The problem with marriage as a matter of equality under the law is that marriage is and still is and always has been limited arbitrarily in any number of ways.

      When someone says, "Well what about polygamy then?", they get told "that would never happen" or are accused of, well, being a bigot. Yet I know polyamorists who insist that it's an orientation. And no matter what anyone says, the genetic risk of marrying a first cousin is practically zero.

      The bottom line of that is pretty much, if we're going to have any limits on who someone can chose to marry, then exclusions are subject to votes and not to judicial ruling.

      As for there being less controversy if our government didn't treat married couples different from unmarried ones... that's what civil unions was supposed to fix. This is what used to be pro-gay and now identifies a person as a bigot. Civil unions and legal equality is not enough anymore to get you counted as one of the good guys.

    3. While unlike homosexuality, I don't think polyamory is a biological orientation. I agree that my argument applies to plural marriage as well as parent/child (since someone may bring that up).

      My response is that we don't need the government to protect the gene pool and that tax laws can easily be changed to allow only one spouse to be claimed as a dependent.

      Why should the government have a say in the relationships of mentally competent consenting adults?

      D Palmer (I don't know why Google doesn't come up with my name).

  7. He's not saying you can't get married. He, and I, agree that all legal rules and benefits should/could apply equally. [and Marrieds get screwed on taxes, they do not benefit, fyi.]

    He's saying that you can't force your personal wishes, desires, and political POV on 330m Americans at your whim.

    You're attempting to trample on *our* First Amendment rights and beliefs, with nothing to back you up except for, "I want it and I say so."

    Doesn't wash, sorry.

    1. Unless your church is forced to perform and recognize same sex marriages I am not sure how your 1st Amendment rights are trampled.

      D Palmer

    2. Massachusetts passed a law and tried to "force" Boston Catholic Charities to adopt to gay couples, against their religious beliefs. That, right there, is the exact case you mentioned: forcing a church to recognize same-sex marriage. And Catholic adoption services have ceased there because of it.

      It wasn't enough to "live and let live" - to let the Catholics continue practicing adoptive services (as they have done for centuries!) according to their beliefs. If the LGBT community wanted a more open adoption policy, it was free to set up competing adoptive services. They chose instead to shut the Catholics down.

      Yes, our First Amendment rights are being trampled.

    3. The deal was they were accepting public money and funding which is subject to anti-discrimination laws which included the gay community. Thus, if they were getting public funding, they could not bar a qualified gay couple from adopting any children. Now, if they were not accepting public funding, then they would have been free to say that gay adoption is not in our best interests, and turned away the couple. They could also choose not to receive the funding if they did not want gay couples to adopt. Yet, they wanted their cake and eat it too...The deal was perhaps the state could have instituted a religious exemption, but then I guess they feared that other groups would apply for certain other religious exemptions and chaos would ensue...

    4. When it comes to adoption I have a problem putting Same Sex (SS) couples and MF couples being on even levels. I don't think gays are "icky" as someone else said, but or anything like that. I just have a hard time denying some child a mother or a father (which you do with every SS adoption) because it's politically correct. If all the good MF couples have kids, then by all means go to the SS couples. It'll always be better to have a home than grow up in the system. But if all things are equal (stable MF, stable SS couple) I want the kids to go to the MF couple every time.

      My sister and her partner adopted two girls 5 & 9. I love them all, and am close with them all. But I will always hate that my sister and her partner denied those girls a father.

    5. Well unfortunately or not depending on our view, whether our preferences are...they are moot when it comes to the anti-discrimination laws and public funding in the Massachusetts case. I would much rather go through a stable Same-sex couple than a dysfunctional MF couple...I find it telling though that the talking point has to be spread that same-sex couples are unfit as vehemently as it has, especially with the discredited Regnerus study...when study after study has pretty much seen little difference in the outcome.

  8. When you get punched in the face repeatedly, and respond with, I'm sorry I hurt your knuckles, that isn;t a winning strategy in the fight.

    1. Mitch,

      I just wanted to say thanks for disagreeing in a respectful way. As I mentioned to commenter "Unknown" above, if comments like this set the tone for dialogue on this blog then it will have been well worth the effort.


      Senator Blutarsky

  9. Hells satans, your final point invalidates your argument. Your first amendment rights aren't trampled by the adoption of same sex marriage. You're still allowed to be against it, as the law doesn't force you to approve of anything. There is no government interest in denying same sex couples marriage rights, as the prop 8 case has shown. By denying same sex couples marriage they lose equal rights for no reason other than some individuals think it's icky. But by granting same sex couples marriage they gain equality while your first amendment rights are maintained.

  10. IMO, a better way to deal with the gay marriage issue is to get the government out of the business of issuing marriage licenses. Marriage is a religious institution, let the churches deal with it. The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...". If you want a legal agreement with your spouse, get a lawyer and draw up a contract. Currently married couples could be grandfathered into a legal contract that mirrors current law.

  11. The issue with groups like the FRC and the AFA is not merely that they oppose civil gay marriage (note that Focus on the Family did NOT make the SPLC list). The issue concerns the way they distort the results of various psychological studies and even fabricate things to portray a very negative portrait of the gay population as a whole. This is scapegoating and propaganda.

    By the way, Tony Perkins has made at least one appearance before the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white separatist group. He also [allegedly] paid for David Duke's mailing list during a political campaign.

    1. James, the fact that the New Black Panther Party supports gay marriage isn't a de facto reason to reject your arguments. Perkins doesn't represent me anymore than the NBPP represents you.

      With that out of the way, why don't we talk more about these statistics that are supposed to have been distorted. It's a fact that the life expectancy of practicing homosexuals is markedly lower than that of practicing heterosexuals. It's also a fact that homosexuality is a disease vector, and practicing homosexuals are more likely to be infected with sexually transmitted diseases.

      Homosexuals are more promiscuous, particularly male individuals, with a significant minority having scores of sexual partners over the course of their sexual careers. Homosexual relationships are far more unstable. The average "committed" homosexual relationship lasts less than 2 years, if memory serves me. Lesbian relationships are also more likely to be marked by domestic violence than their heterosexual counterparts.

      The practice of homosexuality is an inherently dangerous activity. It's neither my business nor the government's business if someone wants to engage in it, but as a fundamentally destabilizing societal activity, it does not deserve the recognition of the state. The complaints about benefits, inheritance, and all the other financial and legal considerations are easily solved through incorporation, trusts, or even civil partnerships (of which I'm in favor), all of which should be available to all Americans.

      The fact of the matter is that this is about something else. It's partly a grudge match, mommy/daddy issues writ large. But it's also about forcing society to offend reason, to deny the clear, substantive, and qualitative differences between homosexual relationships and heterosexual relationships. They are not a one-to-one equivalent, nor are they of equal value. The former is a luxury. The latter is a necessity.