Thursday, July 22, 2010

Homosexuality, Bigotry, and False Victimization

Take a moment and ponder the last century of human history. It will be remarkable if you can get five minutes into it without being utterly overwhelmed by the achievements of our humble species. Seriously, just think of how far we have come in the last one hundred years. Automobiles, aviation, relativity theory, wireless transmission, vacuum tubes, antibiotics, vaccines, space flight, microchips, computers, the internet, cell phones, bone marrow harvesting, respirators, microwaves, satellites, digital cameras, birth control, ipods, films, GPS devices, etc. In the last one hundred years we have doubled the life expectancy of a human being, significantly increased the infant morality rate, set a historical precedent for free enterprise, and fundamentally eroded equality barriers for women and black people. This is truly remarkable and I am proud to be alive and thriving in such a wonderful age of technological and social advancement.

Lest we congratulate ourselves too much it’s also important to thoughtfully consider and criticize the ways that we are not only stunted, but also morally retarded. It is amazing to me that in the age of reason we still haven’t made up our minds in our social discourse about whether or not homosexuals should have equal rights. Let’s consider some facts and some opinions.

Although the American Psychological Association makes it clear that the longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental professions is that homosexuality is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation, some people still seem to think that it is a mental disorder. Although homosexuality can be observed in nature (lions, pigeons, giraffes, bison, elephants, gulls, bonobos, dragonflies, sheep, dolphin, just to name a few) some people still consider it a dysfunctional CHOICE. Although study after study continues to show that there is an equal level of commitment and relationship satisfaction amongst both gay and straight couples, some people still think that homosexuals are incapable of having healthy and lasting relationships. Although studies show that children raised by same-sex couples are just as mentally healthy as other children, some people still think that homosexuals are not fit parents. Although studies show no correlation between homosexuality and child molestation, some people still consider homosexuals a threat and a danger to children.

Are we seeing a pattern of bigotry here, folks? Two years ago in the California state elections Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment seeking to restrict the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples, actually PASSED effectively retarding the social progress of basic human rights to everyone that was ALREADY IN PLACE. In re Marriage Cases (passed in May 2008) held that “California legislative and initiative measures limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violate the state constitutional rights of same-sex couples and may not be used to preclude same-sex couples from marrying.” This is a travesty and a huge setback for moral progress.

Update (8/11/10) Proposition 8 has been over turned. Moral progress FOR THE WIN.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is a non profit organization that seeks to prevent the legal recognition and acceptance of same-sex marriage. Their stated mission is to, "protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it." Maggie Gallagher, the group's founder and original president, has stated that the LGBT community, and specifically gay men, are not capable of commiting to the "heteronormative" constraints of a monogamous relationship. Her bigotry is exposed when the above survey data indicates that between 40% - 60% of gay men are in romantic relationships and 18% - 28% of gay couples have lived together for over ten years.

NOM recently posted this video on youtube. It's from a marriage rally in Albany, NY on July 17, 2010. This video claims that gay marriage protestors "bullied and intimidated" the mother and her kids at a peaceful marriage rally. Watch the video and then let's talk for a minute about reality and false victimization.

1. So, let me get this straight. Protesters simply stood silently in front of this woman and her family with rainbow colored flags and signs "about their agenda." They participated in non-violent, perfectly constitutional protest. This is bullying and intimidation? Of course the cops were called. But after speaking briefly with the organizer of the pro-gay marriage protest they let them stay. Why? Because they have every fucking right to. You cannot call someone a bully for disagreeing with your bigotry. Got it?

2. Using her children in a ploy for false victimization is disgusting. Her kids have no idea why they are there and will, unfortunately, have to be TAUGHT to dehumanize homosexuals by their mother and her ilk.

3. She then asked the protesters to turn around so she could publicly expose her breasts. When some of them refused she actually believed that this made her a victim. She goes into the public square and demands that everyone else give her privacy so she can expose herself? Stellar logic.

4. She claims that their goal was to intimidate her children. This is false. The goal was to constitutionally protest a meeting that propagates bigotry and the subversion of basic human rights. It's funny because when I think about intimidation and bullying I tend to think about, oh I don't know, the bible saying that homosexuals should be stoned to death. Maybe we just have subjective differences in our definition of bullying. I wonder if Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, the eleven year old boy who hung himself last year because of anti-gay harassment, would agree that standing quietly with rainbow umbrellas rises to the same level of intimidation as what led him to his death.

5. Here is the most frustrating thing for me. This woman is at a NOM rally which is all about protecting what? Oh, that's right. Traditional marriage and family values. I'm no expert on nationality but it seems pretty clear to me that this woman has Latino heritage. Two of her children look black and her husband is literally as white as they come. This is hardly a traditional family, wouldn't you say? I mean. Go back just FIFTY YEARS and consider the implication of interracial marriage and interracial children. Just think about that for a second. By dehumanizing homosexuals this woman is putting herself at odds with the very progress of human rights and dignity that allow her the freedom to have her obviously nontraditional family.

This is not progress. We are moving backwards on this issue. We cannot allow people like this to create a culture of false victimization. This is not an isolated issue. Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, the federal court challenge to Proposition 8, implemented a block broadcast of the trial. Why? Because the publicity could potentially lead to the harassment of proponents of Proposition 8 by those who don't agree with them. Michael Hefflinger sarcastically notes:

Because, let’s face it: the straight folks who worked so hard and gave so much money to see Prop. 8 passed — and not gay and lesbian Californians — were the real victims during the campaign. It’s the straights who have suffered greatly since Prop. 8’s passage, and they are the ones who should be spared any further grief.

We can stop this madness. Bigotry will not survive in the marketplace of ideas, friends. Here's to standing together for human dignity and the freedom and pursuit of happiness for all human beings.

In reason,

Clint Wells


Jawan said...

I'm a little scared to leave a comment. Why am I scared? I'm actually too scared to admit why I'm scared. All that to say, even though I'm not floating around in that particular woman's head reading her thoughts, more than anything I think the protestors, albeit calm and still, were simply being rude.

Yes, I agree...they have a right to stand there but their agenda was more important that allowing the woman to participate in her own choice of how to spend her day, whether alone or with her family.

Also, when I saw the video of the family of different colors and ethnicity, I am thankful that life exists and that adoption MIGHT have been a choice in bringing members to a family unit. If not adoption, one parent is very loving and accepting of the other's offspring.

Why am I scared? I hope to be gentle yet firm in my beliefs and to be received that way. Not to mention that I've already stated once about how commenting on people's blogs that I don't know is somewhat worthless.

Nonetheless, until you really tick me off, I'm still a subscriber. Are you laughing?

Anonymous said...

Feelings about gay marriage completely aside, nursing your baby in public is not "exposing yourself." You make it sound like she was doing some kind of exotic dance or something. This video was slanted, no doubt, but still they were pretty darn close.

And don't fool yourself, our society is absolutely as sexist as it was at the turn of the century. Honestly, maybe more so. Andrea Dworkin wasn't all wrong. Crazy, maybe.

(Like a fox.)


Clint Wells said...

Jawan - Whether or not the protestors were rude is debatable. In my opinion silently standing there is on the mild end of the rudeness spectrum compared to other alternatives of protest.

What is not debatable is this: They were in no way disallowing this woman to participate in her own choice of how to spend her day, as you put it. She was entirely free to move to another vantage point and, for that matter, to move to a more secluded and appropriate place for breast feeding.

I'm not totally sure I understand your point about adoption but I am definitely thankful for adoption and I fully support the universal freedom for all people of gender, race, and sexual orientation to build their own families.

Thanks for the comment.

SB - I'm not making it sound any other way than it actually is. I provided the video so my readers could judge for themselves. Depending on the person I suppose, breast feeding does in fact involve exposing one's breast(s). Why else would she ask them to turn around? The point is that you are not warranted in claiming to be a victim because people refuse to grant you privacy when, by your own free choice, you are in the public square.

Every bit as sexist? You don't consider women's right to vote a moral improvment for gender equality? By no means do I think we're done pursuing equality for women but how can we truly move forward when blatant progress is explicitly ignored?

Anonymous said...

A moral improvement for gender equality? Theoretically. I think those suffragettes would be so disappointed with what women have done with their voting rights. We've made abortion-on-demand profitable to the point of making "clinics" like dirty dangerous factories. If you took a few minutes just to read about the clinics that closed last year it would blow your mind. We've made dangerous birth control drugs widely and hastily available without providing women with ANY information about what can happen to them after long-term use. We've made our economy such that very few women can really make the choice to stay home with their children. (Yet, the biological potential to have children makes employers justified in maintaining an unequal wage structure.) At the same time, no fault divorce and unenforceable child-support rulings make sure men don't necessarily have to contribute to their children's raising.

Severing the tie between female sexuality and the potential for parenthood hasn't liberated women. It's put them in bondage like never before. Partly because it just isn't possible. (And that's where Dworkin has a good point.)

But women can vote, right? But, as you know, you can't legislate away biology any more than you can legislate morality.

I know this wasn't really your point, so I'll just say this. I personally would have felt intimidated by those protesters. And, of course, there is always that potential when you live on planet earth. I also will say that I loathe the false dichotomy that both sides of this issue cling to. "If you love your partner, it cheapens my relationship. If you are good parents, I can't be." See what I mean? It's stupid. We could do a better job at just being human to each other. Both sides.

I can't prove it, but I bet those protesters were being hostile on purpose. And they probably got a whole lot of hostility too.

Clint Wells said...

SB - I'm not going to get into a women's equality debate with you because I don't know enough about it yet and frankly, your views seem pretty extreme.

As far as the protestors being hostile, there is no evidence to suggest this. In fact all of the evidence, including the testimony of the "victim" indicates that they were really just standing there. They didn't verbally assault her. They weren't violent. They merely stood there with signs and umbrellas. Oh and a handful of them refused to look away when the "victim" wanted to take her breasts out in public.

Meanwhile you seem to ignore the fact that the meeting they were protesting was a meeting of bigotry with the sole purpose of denying homosexual their unalienable rights to marry one another.

Why are you perpetrating the sham of this womans false victimization?

Anonymous said...

Ok, let me be frank. If you are going to nurse in public and not be modest about it, you can't make people stop looking. I get that.

My views ARE kind of extreme and I'm sorting through it myself. I'm pretty heavily influenced by JP II. So, right there, we're going to disagree. But, he might be worth your read. So, Dworkin and the Pope. Pretty damn extreme, actually!

I don't think that marriage is an unalienable right, either. Not mine, yours or theirs. That being said, I don't really have an opinion on gay marriage. But maybe I should.

I don't know that I would call the woman in the video a VICTIM, unless I am a victim of the rude woman at Whole Foods this afternoon. To me, it's kind of the same level of "victimhood." Does that make sense? But, I felt intimidated at Whole Foods and I'd feel intimidated if I were that woman in the video.


Clint Wells said...

SB - You don't believe that the right to choose your marital spouse is unalienable? This is getting stranger and stranger. Am I misunderstanding you?

Thank you for admitting that this woman is not the victim that she and NOM are claiming that she is.

Clint Wells said...

Whether you want your own opinion about gay marriage is, of course, your prerogative. Although I am not gay myself, I find it extremely important to the progress of humanity to consistently fight for equal rights for any gender, race, or sexual orientation.

I can't imagine learning anything of substance from a pope that I would be unable to learn from someone who didn't have the unfounded presumption of being the infallible vicar of Christ.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a human's right to have a homosexual relationship. I believe it is your right to have whomever you choose inherit your money and visit you in the hospital and make decisions for you should you become incapacitated. I don't think its your right necessarily to have the State recognize your union as a marriage.

I was married in the Church. It's a religious thing for me. I'm also legally married, but that was just a few signatures on a piece of paper. Legal marriage for heterosexual couples doesn't do anything that a few legal documents couldn't do for a homosexual couple. (Am I mistaken?) And from what I understand, you can get an uncontested divorce quickly and cheaply. That kind of cheapens legal marriage to me.

I don't think that the Pope is the infallible vicar of Christ, either, but that particular Holy Father had some wisdom on this particular issue.

Is that so strange?

Is it my views on abortion that seem so strange? I guess my basic assertion is that abortion isn't good for you and the clinics that provide it are looking for big money real fast at the expense of their patients. Terrible, terrible things happen every day to women who have abortions. That's pretty much it.


Brian T. Murphy said...

the children of the current generation will view homosexual rights the same way our generation views civil rights. I firmly believe that. the change is inevitable, and happening, and its good. but the fear of the conservatives is never ending. the truest victims are the people who believe they are victims, when they aren't.

Clint Wells said...

SB - You said:

"I don't think its your right necessarily to have the State recognize your union as a marriage."

In the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire it is, without a doubt, a homosexuals right to have the State recognize their union as a marriage because it is clearly written into their state constitutions.

The Alabama state constitution has this to say about the equality of man and the people's source of power:

1. ...all men are equally free and independent; they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

2. ...all political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit; and that, therefore, they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to change their form of government in such manner as they may deem expedient.

In other words, people like you and I can fight for the equal rights for people of all race, gender, and sexual orientation. You don't have to "think" there is or is no state rights. Now you "know" that these rights are possible and within reach. If you believe there is nothing wrong with homosexual relationships then you should logically have no issue with the State recognizing their marriage.

Clint Wells said...

SB - You brought up two issues that have nothing to do with the post (as you did before with women's lib). I will address them anyway.

1. Uncontested Divorce. You think that having a simple, inexpensive option for divorce cheapens a marriage? Wow. Frankly, this is spoken like someone who has never been divorced. As someone who has, allow me to share some thoughts from my experience.

The strength of a marriage has nothing to do with how complicated or uncomplicated it is to get a divorce. The responsibility of a healthy marriage rests firmly on the shoulders of each spouse. If anyone is not pursuing a divorce simply because they cannot afford it then, in my opinion, THAT will cheapen the marriage. Further, since you claim your marriage was a religious one, if a couple remains married only because of fear of god's punishment...and not because they still love and believe in EACH OTHER, that cheapens marriage.

I am not saying you are doing this, to be clear. These are just my thoughts. The fact is that, religious or secular, about half of all marriages end in divorce. It is an AWFUL process. In a divorce the State's goal is to get each individual as prepared as possible to be a functioning citizen again. You know, so they aren't going bankrupt just to have the state undo a "few signatures on paper" as you put it. Uncontested divorce provides this very important resource.

Lastly, just because I got an uncontested divorce this is HARDLY to say that it did not cost me a lot. Both emotionally and financially. My "uncontested divorce" lasted several months and was easily the most difficult thing I have ever endured. And, even if you don't believe me or not, my divorce was predicated on a belief and admiration for the institution of marriage. I know several couples who remain married, not because they value marriage, but because they are either stubborn or afraid. THAT is what cheapens marriage.

Clint Wells said...

even if you believe me or not*

Clint Wells said...

2. Abortion.

You said:

Is it my views on abortion that seem so strange? I guess my basic assertion is that abortion isn't good for you and the clinics that provide it are looking for big money real fast at the expense of their patients. Terrible, terrible things happen every day to women who have abortions. That's pretty much it.

Yes, your views on abortion are strange. Maybe strange is a bad word. They're just unbelievably black and white.

You claim across the board that abortion isn't good for the mother. FALSE. First of all, over half of all pregnancies spontaneously abort. This tells us that there is a natural mechanism in place that sometimes protects the life of the mother over the life of the fetus. Secondly, some pregnancies actually pose a lethal threat to the mother. Aborting those pregnancies obviously benefits the mother.

Terrible things happen to some women who get abortions? Sure they do. But this can hardly be said for all of them. I know several woman who have had abortions who are perfectly healthy. They are sad about their choices but none of them regret their decisions. The American Psychological Association has concluded that there is no correlation between decreased mental health and abortion.

Approximately the same number of abortions happen whether or not access to safe abortion procedures are restricted. Think about that. 42 million abortions happen a year and roughly half of them are unsafe. Unsafe abortions result in roughly 70,000 deaths and 5 million disabilities a year.

Given all of this information it seems obvious that if abortion does not deteriorate mental health, has the same number of occurrences despite access to good doctors, and has a higher percentage of killing or damaging the life of a mother...that the solution is more education, more resources, and certainly more legality for abortion.

TO BE CLEAR, I am not pro-abortion. I am pro-freedom. In the event of an abortion, the freedom to choose the safest method possible in a reputable clinic without the shame and scorn of ignorant and merciless society.

Anonymous said...

Well, you make some interesting points and I don't know that I can speak to anything you wrote about marriage. I haven't changed my feelings, but I appreciate and draw perspective from yours.

About abortion, (these issues are all related to me and I appreciate your comments) I have two things to add that I think may give persepective: First, I think it's important to note that most women who have abortions to preserve their own health are doing so because they've chosen to undergo medical treatments that may harm their unborn babies but can't safely be delayed. (ie chemotherapy) The vast majority of pregnancies in and of themselves don't cause mortal danger to the mother. I don't put a moral judgement on this decision, but I do think it's an important distinction.

Secondly, it's important to understand that the APA can only speak to disorders or PTSD that can be measured and quantified. That doesn't mean that the mental stress following abortion (even spontaneous abortion)is negligible. You said that your friends have some regrets and I think that's entirely normal, even among women who are pro-choice.

Finally, complications resulting from abortion can be exremely serious and even life threatening. And they aren't as rare as you might expect. For example, out of three abortion providers in my city (a Southeastern city with a metro population of about a million) one has been permanently closed for gross violations and one has been cited for serious violations that could potentially threaten a client's life. This record isn't all that unusual either. My point here, is that abortion = money for the provider and that's what's important in this industry. To be honest, I've seen both of these clinics from the inside and I must say, I wouldn't go to such a gross place to have my teeth cleaned much less to undergo a serious medical procedure.

I don't judge women who have abortions. I am well acquainted with unexpected pregnancy and the sheer terror that can come with it. I just think (to rip-off Feminists for Life) that women deserve better.

Thank you, Clint. I feel that you're often kind of punchy with your readers and their comments, but you've been very game here.