Being biased against people without valid reason is wrong.
Still some people cling to the practice, so much so that if they lose the right to be horrible to one group, they keep plugging adjectives in, seeing if they can somehow get away with it when dealing with someone else. How about being biased against black people? Also bad? Okay, how about being biased against Muslim people? That good? Nope, still wrong. How about being biased against handicapped people? Better? What? Still wrong? Even if you find them unsettling? No? Not a valid reason?
Hmm...how about: being biased against gay people? That has to be okay. What? Also wrong? But what if your religion says it's okay? That must be okay, right?
That used to work. True. But it doesn't work so well anymore. Times change. More Americans now see it as morally wrong now. They finally get that there is no non-religious reason to be biased against gay people. None whatsoever. And what a refreshing miracle that is, to see the intake of breath in revulsion as Indiana passed a small-minded bill designed to afford small businesses legal protection should they decide that being a place of public accommodation doesn't apply to gays because, well, God hates them.
Fearful revanchists decided to cast this fight as a struggle for their "religious freedom," in their mistaken notion that if they put a positive-sounding name on their moral lapse, and frame the question so it focuses on their supposed rights to harm people and not the people being harmed, that it would work.
Which made for a very interesting week last week, particularly after my Wednesday column "We're not on the savannah anymore" pointing out the long decline of tribalism, being replaced by the modern world, thought not so much in Indiana.
I don't usually get into discussions with wrong-headed readers. I'm not the Idiot Police. Too many of them, not enough of me. Usually I brush off obvious haters with Samuel Johnson's wonderful line, "Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding."
But this past week I found myself drawn in, sparing with people, well, because their insular worldview is so maddening. You just want to crack that stuck window open and let some fresh air, finally, into that stale mind of theirs.
I'll share a single exchange—this with one Robert Chernik, which kept me engaged, because it was such a queasy-making glimpse under the rock of bigoted thinking, I kept toeing at the mess, rapt. I'm including the entire email exchange, from April 1 to April 3, when I shrugged, bored, and gave up. Re-reading it, I assume you'll get tired and drop off much sooner, and there is no shame in that. But if can get through, notice his intense focus on self: me, me, fuckin' me. My remarks aren't polished legal arguments either—I'm firing them off, on the fly. But I think I make the case in a way I'm not too embarrassed to share. It might be easy to sneer at a guy like this, but remember: lots of people agree with him, which is another reason his thoughts deserve dissemination. Sunlight is a disinfectant.
Robert: You liberal nuts never cease to amaze. Have you even read the Indiana religious bill? Apparently not, because that's too much work for libatards. This bill is in essence the same bill signed by President Clinton while he was in office, if you morons just tried to do some research you would have known that! The bill simply reaffirms religious freedom guaranteed in the first amendment of our constitution, nothing more. But as usual facts just escape you people when the truth doesn't fit into your ridiculous agenda!
Me: As a matter of fact, yes, I did. Just one of your many mistaken assumptions. Time doesn't permit me to list them all. But just one observation that seems to have flown past you: from what you said, Bill Clinton seems to have become your moral compass. That's a new development, is it not? When did that start? I should also point out, it's not 1993 anymore. Or 1953. I'm sorry if I'm the one to tell you. Thanks for writing.
Robert: Clinton was never a moral compass for me, but having our rights protected is!
Our rights under our constitution can not be compromised to satisfy a few or of any group. If a business does not wish to meet your needs then go on to another that will. It's called shopping, probably a concept you haven't heard of! People should not lose their lively hood adhering to their religious doctrine. Talking about intolerance and hate, just who is being discriminated against here?
Me: Gay people are. Do you really not see it?
So if God tells me not to rent my hotel to black people, the Constitution protects that? Really? There is no religious doctrine that says you can't bake a cake for a gay wedding. The whole thing is an artificial dilemma constructed by haters to trumpet their hate. I'm not sure why. Why do you do it? Myself, I would be ashamed. Perhaps it's the sexual aspect that you find compelling. That must be it. Thanks for writing.
Robert: I didn't realize you were gay!
Why are you bringing blacks into this conversation? You have to bring up the race card comparing gays to blacks?? You can't make your point so go off target on to another subject and bring race into it.
The media has turned into a Circus, not reporting the news but creating the news. Just like the lie of Ferguson Mo. "Hands up don't shoot", you ignore the facts and report lies and innuendos! You all knew you were reporting misinformation on Ferguson after all the evidence was in but continued with the lies to stir that racial pot!
This bill does not discriminate or encourage people to. Your hero Clinton signed the exact bill and it wasn't in the 50s or 80s it was in the nineties but where was you indignation then??
Me: Just trying to use a simple metaphor you might understand. I'm not arguing with Bill Clinton fans -- you guys think you can smooth talk your way out of anything. Thanks for writing.
Robert: I'm not a Clinton fan!!!
But hey, let me put it to you this way
I walk into a kosher Jewish deli and order a pork roast and a pound of bacon
But the counter man tells me it's a kosher Jewish deli and they don't carry those products, but I demand he supply me with my order order. Finally a Rabbi comes in and says it's contrary to the Jewish faith to carry and sell pork products and asks me to try another non Jewish deli to fill my needs.
I go to my attorney and file a discrimination suit and demand the deli be closed and the owners pay a hefty fine and lose their lively hood.
Do you understand this?
Robert II (I lingered responding, and he must have so admired the beauty of this metaphor he rephrased it a second time): Not and never have been a Clinton fan!
Let me try simplifying this for you
I walk into a kosher Jewish deli and tell the counterman I wMt a pork roast and a pound of bacon, the counterman explains they are a kosher Jewish deli and don't carry pork products due to their religious beliefs and suggest I try. Non-Jewish deli for my request
I go directly to my attorney and file a discrimination law suit demanding a hefty fine and that the deli be closed for refusing me service!
Do you understand now????
Me: Sure, I understand you can't tell the difference between trying to order something that a place of business doesn't sell and that store not serving you because they hate you.
Thanks for writing.
Robert: Not wanting to cater a gay wedding because of ones religious belief is NOT hate! Why should ones beliefs be compromised to satisfy someone else? By Doing do you are in essence violating their first amendments rights of freedom of religion
That being the case then, just go to another business that will satisfy your needs, it's called shopping!!!!
You said you read the Indiana bill (which I doubt you did) show me the section if the bill that allows hate
or racism as a deciding factor!!
Illinois also passed the same law and your hero obama actually voted for its passage!
Me: Maybe you should be talking to all the Indiana businesses complaining, all the states banning travel to Indiana. They seem confused by what is clear to you. Though you are saying that if my sincere religious beliefs dictate that black people can't use my lunch counter, then the First Amendment protects that, which of course is just wrong. See, your argument is based on the idea that gay people are a shunned class of sinners, and that isn't true anymore. If, like the Amish, your religious dictates require you to withdraw from society, than that of course is always an option in a free country. But you can't pretend to be a place of public accommodation while dismissing those who don't meet your constantly shifting religious tests. No need to write back, as I really don't expect you to understand. But yout kids will. This is in many ways a generational issue. Though if you wondered who would show up at a school and scream at black kids trying to enroll, look in the mirror. It's you.
Robert: Again talking about blacks and not using a lunch counter. Go off subject because you can't make your point, typical liberal!
The states so called boycott of Indiana probably don't do business in Indiana any way plus it's not that large of a segment of the population, you liberal media guys do that, blow everything out of proportion to meet your agenda, what ever that is!
Just what are you libs hiding that your jumping up and down about a law that is already part of many states, including Illinois and the federal government?
Could it be the nuclear deal with Iran??? Because it's sure something you're all trying to divert our attention from!
I asked you what part of Indiana's law calls for racial and homosexual discrimination and you couldn't pin point it, just the usual lies and innuendos, admit it, you didn't read the legislation, you just jumped on the misinformed liberal band wagon and commented on something you didn't read or understand'
You should be removed as a reporter, talk about abuse of the first amendment! Freedom of the press does not give you free reign to lie!!
You are an mature
Me: One last time. Blacks aren't "off subject." The subject is your inability to view gays as human beings. I'm assuming that you are familiar with that view being used toward blacks, and you no longer feel that way. Maybe you don't understand that either. It's not my job to hold your hand while you try to understand common human decency. Goodbye.
Robert: How dare you assume to even know one iota about me and my family
Standing up for and defending our constitution is not anti-American, hateful or racist
You and your liberal ilk are what is destroying our American freedoms and our way of life!
This particular legislation just affirms all of our rights and really didn't need to be enacted except for the liberal attack on Christianity.
You should be ashamed but we all know your too ignorant for that.
Comparing the black struggle for equality to that of homosexuals is demeaning and shameful.
No One cares what one does in their bedroom and I certainly don't want to know, except for people like you, apparently ones sexual preference is what defines an individual in your eyes! Apparently you have never taken the oath to defend and protect out constitution but you're ready to destroy at the drop of a hat!
You disgust me!! And that's my constitutional right as well!!
Me: Thank you for writing. Happy Easter
Robert sounds like an ultra right wing conservative. Don't paint all Christians with his brush please. There are some moderates who may vote Republican at times that wouldn't agree with him either. How silly of him to compare that to a place not selling certain products.ReplyDelete
Some could say they don't understand or appreciate gays and that wouldn't be hating them though, but yes, one must serve them if they can pay.
Hope he gave you permission to use his name in a public forum. Wouldn't want you to get in trouble for his embarrassment and he is embarrassing.Delete
Neil, I'm not asking this to be cocky, I don't agree with that Robert person but might ultra orthodox Jews not agree with gays or maybe not make something for them you think, or no? genuine question, same with some conserve Muslims but I figured you migt know a bit more about the former. I know the reformed branch is accepting. Yes, I know the Jews don't try to change laws, though they did on public bus services in Brooklyn.
Don't you ever get silly emails from female readers that you can't call Sir? lolDelete
Another question or comment-Do you think the black community does find it offensive to equate this with their struggles. The couple of Afr. Amer. I know seem to think their cause was harder and more just. What have you heard in general?Delete
And some Asians don't seem to be too keen on gay rights, though I cant say I did a scientific polling.Delete
Finally, where is that pic on the top with the gate and statue from?Delete
African-Americans are, statistically, even more opposed to gay rights than white people, a reminder that you can be black and bigoted. And a reminder that human rights are seldom won through voting. The interesting thing is to see how suddenly previously scorned groups become the moral pole star to people dedicated to continuing their prejudice. They're clinging to Bill Clinton because of his 1993 law as if he were John the Baptist.Delete
Afr. Amer can also be bigoted against whites. I can see that years back, not today when they shoot themselves in the foot.Delete
You were too kind to him, Neil. Should have told him to F off, but at least by explaining, maybe he'll get it someday.Delete
It was all the African-Americans that went to the polls in California in 2008 to vote for Obama that also voted for Proposition 8, which put it over the top.Delete
Oh, and the photo is from the Virginia Military Academy, which we visited this summer, while looking at colleges for my younger son.ReplyDelete
As far as permission, he wrote to me. You write abusive letters to a newspaper, there's not an expectation of privacy.ReplyDelete
that's funny how the gate sign says don't enter unless emerg. but it's wide openReplyDelete
Since you didn't answer my question on what the conserve. Jews feel I went to the site below , perhaps you or others have a better site, I wasn't doing deep research.ReplyDelete
The rebbe , whatever that is, seem to be against it or it says it's against the Torah or that some rabbis think it's social conditioning. Again, it depends on the Jewish sect, same as Christianity, but as you say, Jews don't affect mainstream laws as much. I like when you teach us more about Jewish practices, even if you aren't a big believer.
Sometimes people bring up various Jewish lapses, as if I'm an apologist for the Jews, which I'm not. Ultra-Orthodox Judaism is based on sexism, like all extreme forms of a religion, and nobody needs me to point out that a social order where women shave their heads and stay home and raise their 12 children is not cast in the modern fashion. If my view confuses, I'll boil it down: I'm for voluntary religion. It should not be compulsory. It should not carry the force of law. If your religion demands that you do things against the law -- say forbid certain loathed minorities from your place of public accommodation -- then you should not be in a business supposedly serving people.Delete
I learned something about the diversity of Jews by meeting many, first in Chicago and then in London. Including the fact that, like everybody else, Jews can subscribe to the same familiar negative stereotypes. In a London party where I was the only gentile present, I struck up a conversation with a girl and answered her question about which Temple I attended by confessing to being a Presbyterian from Chicago. She said she said she could tell I was American but had wondered why I hadn't seemed like one of those pushy New York Jews.Delete
Well said, Tom and so true.Delete
Yes, how hypocritical of those who legislated against blacks and Clinton, to suddenly embrace them when convenient.ReplyDelete
The lesson learned is you don't have to respect someone's actions or agree, but you have to carry out their civil rights.
It's worth noting that Indiana law was not at all the same as the Indiana law. (http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/03/31/media-misleadingly-compare-anti-lgbt-indiana-la/203105)ReplyDelete
Yes Yes Yes -- it's a HUGE difference - private parties v governmental entitiesDelete
Here is a not so bad cultural piece/ Les Miserables play version called Macabees, done Passover style.ReplyDelete
I wonder what a Pesach is.
I'm amazed you tried to engage with this guy in the first place. The foaming-at-the-mouth rabid crowd using religion to justify their bigotry can't understand where they're wrong if you used mile high print. Must be their own spittle flying in their eyes blinds them. The exaggerated twists in their reasoning to justify their case is frightening, fanatical in nature. It is amusing that he uses the ultimate liberal to back his information. Is he trying to remind us we liberals once agreed with him?ReplyDelete
Is their an equivalent insult that people on left use like those on the right use 'libtard?" Conversation stopper for me, but I suppose those that use that word aren't interested in a conversationReplyDelete
for me the use of "democrat party" is an automatic signal that i can tune out anything and everything that follows. "libtard" runs a close second.Delete
Yes, that learned that word with out ending the ic at the end from Rush blowhard.Delete
I think its good Neil used his points and took time with this guy, something may sink in sometime, with time.
Neil, I think you wasted precious time on a bonehead.ReplyDelete
I don't understand how you an deal with some of these people, including the right-wingers who also condemn us for being Democrats aching for a tolerant society.ReplyDelete
I'm a moderate Democrat, rarely agree with Repubs, and vote Dem, yet I've had pals on both sides get peeved with me, saying I wasn't liberal enough or to others, not conserve. enough.ReplyDelete
When will people learn, moderation is the key ? What happened to more moderate repubs or dems, These days it's either almost blatant revolutionary left wingers or right wing rel. neo Nazi nuts. What happened to an Ike style Repub ?
I had an excellent but super lib, Jewish hist. teacher in a public high school in the suburbs. When I grad. from college or also went to grad school, I still kept in touch and later when I taught myself and asked her for tips, she was disappointed with me cause I wouldn't join NOW. Im all for women's rights but some people she introduced me too for a local meeting, though she was married , were like man haters. No thanks. Yes, I know there's a run on in here but typing fast.ReplyDelete
That teacher was from Skokie. She told the class how she was somewhat resentful that though she was oldest, her younger brother was deemed as more important. No wonder she joined NOW and was either reformed at best or secular later. The irony is she later got a divorce when after having 3 girls, her hub moved to a younger lady who could still have a child so he could try for a boy. He wasn't a conservative Jew either and was an attorney.Delete
Like I was anti pushy gay until Neil said, you have to respect their civil rights. Suddenly, the light went off.ReplyDelete
I think it helps to put this in a continuum. When I first started at the newspaper, 30 years ago, it was a big deal to be gay and employed. We'd have stories like: "He's a gay postman!" Gradually, gays won the right to hold a job. Then AIDS came, and they convinced society to care about a disease that was killing them, which took doing. Marriage seemed a bridge too far, at first--why weren't "civil unions' adequate? (The metaphor I used is, imagine instead of voting rights, blacks were offered an "electoral choice," so that the holy concept of voting wasn't sullied by their participation). But the facts behind the situation—gays don't make worse spouses, parents, children, etc.--just overwhelmed the old status quo. But fanatics always move the goal line--the abortion debate used to be birth control used to be masturbation. Having lost marriage, they have decided that serving weddings is "condoning" them, which is just insane. If a gas station owner insisted he wouldn't fill the cars of someone going somewhere he didn't approve of, he'd never get any support, and go out of business anyway. Hmmm....I smell a "Visit to the Steinberg Gas Station" on the horizon. This is why I reply to people, or try to. It sparks thoughts.ReplyDelete
Unfort. some think the gay parents are a bad influence, especially on a boy, but that's not logical.ReplyDelete
It's also unfair, even were it true. Finish the thought..."as opposed to straight parents, who are always good influences..." It's condemning someone on a standard you don't use to measure yourself.Delete
The subject is almost exhausted, but, beyond having a number of gay friends and finding them entirely normal in all important aspects, I've been struck by the waste of human capital such discrimination has engendered. From the Alan Hodges biography of Alan Turing (not the recent entertaining but almost entirely fictional movie!) I noted an extreme example. In the middle of WW II Reichsfuhrer Himmler rebuked a German doctor for suggesting that talented homosexuals might be treated for their "malady" and prove useful in the war effort. Himmler wrote "I grant you that the British have found some promising material for their purposes here, but there must be no question of a remission of the prosecution of homosexuals...in view of the risk of homosexual vice rampaging unpunished among the Volk." So German queers kept getting one-way tickets to the camps, while Turing was busy in Hut Eight of Bletchley Park breaking the German naval code and shaving a few years off the war.ReplyDelete
It is a massive irony that if the Germans hadn't murdered or driven away many of their most gifted (and patriotic) citizens they might have won the war.
Although. If the Germans hadn't been inclined to kill or drive those people away, they might not have started the war in the first place.Delete
"beyond having a number of gay friends and finding them entirely normal in all important aspects"ReplyDelete
I'm sure your gay friends are relieved you've come to this conclusion/snark.
Yes, I see "normal" was a poor word to use. For which I apologize. How about "just like me in all important respects."ReplyDelete
However, I thought I was making a useful contribution to the conversation, and would hope that your hang-up with one word has not caused you to overlook the main point.
I agree, TE, Wendy is too hung up over a word.ReplyDelete
When I was in college in California, the state had a completely hateful proposition on the ballot that would have forbidden gays from teaching in public schools.ReplyDelete
Our journalism professor arranged a debate for our class between an opponent and a proponent. The opponent laid out her case in a calm, reasonable manner. The proponent launched on a shrill speech about "homosexuals recruiting our children in the schools," her voice getting higher and more hysterical by the second, until she rounded on the opponent and demanded, "Did I understand you to say you're homosexual?"
The poor woman blinked and said, "No. My husband would be very surprised."
Afterward, our prof apologized for having invited the loon.
Isn't it amazing how this side of the debate consistently draws a certain type of person?
(P.S. The proposition lost.)