North Carolina and Amendment One

I’m not particularly pleased with the outcome of the North Carolina Amendment One vote last night, but neither am I particularly surprised. And as I noted on Twitter last night, my impulse to tut-tut North Carolina voters is well tempered by the fact Ohio’s voters put their own rather odiously bigoted marriage amendment into their constitution a couple of years ago. People living in glass houses need to pull the beams from their own eyes, as they say. Of course, I did vote against Ohio’s marriage amendment when I had the chance, so in that respect my conscience is clear. My point, however, is that people who want to snark off about North Carolina as just another redneck southern state should note it’s not just the south where this is all still in play; remember that four years ago voters in California, where non-Californians often assume sodomy is high school elective, voted anti-same sex marriage bigotry into their own Constitution.

As Ana Marie Cox notes in the Guardian, all of this is a rear-guard action on the part of bigots and the oft-unwitting and well-meaning accomplices of bigots, many of whom who would be appalled and offended at the idea their vote for encoding bigotry into their state constitution constitutes an actual act of bigotry on their own part, because they don’t hate anyone (sorry, guys. It does). But I think pro-same sex marriage folks underestimate how long it will take to tear down all this constitutional nonsense short of a pro-same sex marriage (or at least pro-equal protection under the law) Supreme Court ruling that will affect the entire nation, which I don’t think anyone should count on any time soon, hopeful projections in the direction of Anthony Kennedy notwithstanding. Yes, nationally half of the US now supports same-sex marriage, but remember that half is not evenly distributed and that the majority of the older people who are against same-sex marriage will not die off as quickly as you hope.

Five years from now the majority of Americans will support same-sex marriage; ten years from now the large majority will. But ten years from now it will still be against the Constitution of North Carolina for same sex couples to get married (and Ohio’s, too). I’d like to be wrong, but I doubt I will be. It’s harder to repeal a constitutional amendment than a law. The bigots know this. This is why the bigots do what they do.

It sucks for gays and lesbians that in places like North Carolina, and Ohio, and even California, all that can done at the moment is to assure those of them who would like to marry those they love is to tell them that it will get better. I shouldn’t have to get better. It should be better. But you work with what you have in the real world, and in the real world, what gays and lesbians in places like North Carolina and Ohio and even California have is the future. Let’s get working toward it.

244 thoughts on “North Carolina and Amendment One

  1. Please note the Mallet of Loving Correction is in its warming chamber and will be applied to those who a) do not play well with others in the thread, b) I find rhetorically overheated, c) decide now is a fine time to play the “this is why the government should get out of marriage!” card from their Derailing Libertarian Arguments deck.

  2. With divorce at around 50% in this country, it is very odd that they haven’t attacked that yet. They’re not only being bigoted, but they’re being highly hypocritical, too.

  3. I do not have the citation from the 1960s or 1970s at hand, by a prominent Anthropologist, who stated that the dominant kinship structure in the USA is not marriage, but divorce. Numbers don’t lie, though they are subject to different interpretations.

  4. Meanwhile, in Colorado, our state legislature was prepared to pass a civil unions bill (they had the votes for it) and the House Speaker killed it via procedure . A sad day for equality all the way around.

  5. Never say “rear-guard action” in the same essay that mentions sodomy.

    Unless you want to.

  6. Well, in Colorado we are about to approve Civil Unions, so check one for the good guys. To me this whole issue is like the Civil Rights movement in that it is a losing battle for those apposed to it. The Gay and Lesbian movement has gained so much momentum in the past few years that I don’t think anything will be able to stop them in the long run and eventually everything will come to pass. Anyway, how can you approve or disapprove the will of two consenting adults? The ability to marry and live as one should be automatic, regardless if it is between a man and women or two men or two women, the states nor the voters should have any say in the matter, it should just be, with the same benefits across the board.

  7. I’m tempted to play the libertarian card as it’s a reasonable solution but will be content lamenting majority rule in North Carolina.

  8. @JPR All hope is not dead, Hickenlooper has the power to bring the law makers back for a special session in order to debate the more than 30 initiatives that are still pending, including Civil Unions. That decision should come today.

  9. My feeling is that repeal will only happen when the state’s services starts hurting from its consequences. When companies don’t bring business to the state and people leave positions that are hard to fill in hospitals, schools etc.

  10. Don’t be silly, John. Everybody knows that in California, we teach sodomy in grade school.

    For the people organizing against this nonsense, it’s not a win/lose, either. Closing the gap is important, too. Three steps forward, two steps back.

  11. Thank you for this post. My wife and I, who live in the southern of the two Carolinas, were disappointed that our northern neighbor passed such an amendment. We’ve also been fielding questions by a number of our New England friends who want to know how we can stand to live in such a bigotted place. We pointed out just as you said, it isn’t just the Southeast. Yeah, there is a lot of bigotry here, but packing up and running isn’t going to make that go away. The way we feel about it, one of the best ways to enact change is to stand up for what you believe wherever you are. Face it, let people know you don’t support the bigotry, and work to make it better. It might be slow going, but I think we both hope that we, and others like us, can strive towards lessening the prejudices that often stain this regions, and this country as a whole. Thank you again for your thoughful writing.

  12. State rights vs Federal Government powers. Didn’t we fight a war over this? Could this issue push us into another? Add in wealth disparity, Federal bailouts (where did the money go), Roe vs. Wade, and all the other issues that seem to divide the country in two, and sadly I think we could see the second American civil war. Don’t know that I want to pick up arms to make sure everyone can marry, am sure I know a lot of people who feel very strongly about the issue. Strong enough to fight for it? Sadly, yes to prevent it. Bigots? Not really. They don’t think they are. Would they be fighting to protect the status quo without really benefiting from it, much as the vast majority of Confederate soldiers did not own slaves, and really had no hope of ever attaining the wealth needed for a large plantation?
    My knee jerk reaction is that if you don’t like what the State you live in is doing, leave. Stupid. Then they win. Get more active. Voice your opinion. Vote. It’s your country.

  13. Is it ok to feel all smug about this issue in Canada? We had some court rulings, religious conservatives went “rabble, rabble” for a few months, then most people realized it has no effect on their lives and stopped thinking about it. Though I suppose seeing what happened here may have triggered religious conservatives in the US to come up with the constitutional amendment plan. Sorry about that.

  14. I had one relative who voted against same-sex marriage in California, not because she disliked gays or had even read the amendment, but because the minister of her church had told her it was how she should vote.

    That’s the real stupidity we’re up against: Groupthink.

    Personally, were I a film maker, I would love to film a documentary combining footage from the “it gets better movement” along with footage from gay and lesbian couples–preferably people as ordinary as possible–struggling with routine tasks like raising kids, paying a mortgage, dealing with sick and dying partners, and so forth, along with all the stupidity engendered by these fucking amendments.

    Then I’d like to show it around every seminary and theological school in the country. The title of this work? Oh, something like “Do Unto Others,” or “Turn the Other Cheek.”

    If you like this idea, feel free to take it on. I’m not a film-maker, and I’d like for the people pushing this crap to see the suffering they cause.

  15. Colorado represent!

    As a fellow Coloradan, and as a heterosexual white male (I know, I know, the troika!), I’m all for civil unions, allowing gay marriage, etc. I hope it gets through our legislature intact.

  16. California is not part of the South. Look at a map (literally could not be farther away). Or, read a history book. You are all uninformed about the Amendment — yes, it does away with civil unions between anyone and anyone else. It also weakens protection for women who are victims of domestic violence. It also damages the health insurance coverage or children in a large array of life circumstances. When you get rid of civil unions, a lot falls apart. And, of course, it destroys the notion of marriage equality for LGBT. These are not interpretations. They are facts. And Jardinsky, if you are a member of the human race, it is not okay to feel smug about this.

  17. I’ve never quite understood why you need 2/3 majority and 3/4 ratification for amendments to the U.S. constitution, yet most states only need a simple majority to amend their own constitution. Or why it’s easier to take rights away in California than it is to raise tax revenue. On reflection, it appears there is quite a bit I don’t understand. Time for more cat videos.

  18. I never understood why, if marriage is for the purpose of procreation, straight couples who marry but can’t have kids or choose not to have kids are ok. And lets not even talk about celebrity “marriages” which are apparently ok. Nobody is up in arms to stop celebrity marriages which last, oh, about 2 weeks.

  19. @David Moody: State rights vs Federal Government powers. Didn’t we fight a war over this?

    Not really. The American Civil War is popularly believed to be about state’s rights, but if you read the articles of secession or read the confederacy’s constitution you’ll see that the main state’s right that was being fought over was the right to own slaves. The constitution of the confederacy was a very close copy of the US Constitution. There are plenty of minor differences (President could only serve one six-year term being one) and one major difference (related to the preservation of slavery). Lots of stuff that the state’s righters hate (like the Supremacy Clause) was taken essentially verbatim.

    I’m sure there were plenty of individuals fighting to preserve state’s rights against the mean ol’ Federal Government, but individuals fight for many reasons.

  20. @ David Moody

    “My knee jerk reaction is that if you don’t like what the State you live in is doing, leave. Stupid. Then they win. Get more active. Voice your opinion. Vote. It’s your country.”

    It’s not just about staying and making one’s voice heard, either – just up and moving to a more friendly state isn’t that easy, much less possible for a lot of people. Aside from the very considerable strength of one’s existing social support networks and how hard it can be to leave loved ones, there’s also the reality of how hard it can be to sell one’s home (if you’re a homeowner) and how difficult it might be to find a job in one’s field in a “friendlier state.” Not everyone has the ability to just up and leave, even if they might want to.

    Which is one more reason why marriage equality regardless of state lines matters – it’s already hard enough for the average straight married couple who has to move from one state to another. What if one partner has to take a job in a state that doesn’t recognize same sex marriage? How will that affect their financial planning, custody of any children, etc.? Even if a same-sex couple is in a civil union or domestic partnership, there’s no guarantee those partnerships/unions will be recognized out of their home state, either. These are questions that married heterosexual couples don’t even have to think about because of how marriage is recognized equally across state lines and it’s just one more way that straight marriage is privileged over same-sex couples, whether they are married, in a civil union or another form of domestic partnership. It’s unfair, immoral and just plain unAmerican.

  21. As a North Carolinian who worked to defeat the amendment, thank you for not indulging in cheap shots. It’s been hard this morning to cope with not just my own feelings of anger & sadness, but many of the cool people I follow on Twitter snarking off about how everyone in my entire state is a bigoted idiot. And how can I argue with them? Bigoted idiocy is now part of my state constitution. It still stings.

  22. “Five years from now the majority of Americans will support same-sex marriage; ten years from now the large majority will.”

    The only way for this to happen is through just this kind of crazy nonsense. Gays have been forced to live mostly in secret for thousands of years.

    A war of awareness had to happen in order to change this. Without this kind of public and pitch battle, the vast. uninformed, apathetic, moderate majority would allow the situation to continue. So while battles will be lost, as this one shows, in the long run those battles allow for more frustration, more conversation and more awareness among people who would normally not pay attention. And once you wake up the apathetic but moderate majority, you win the war. Its just a slow process.

  23. To my fellow Coloradans who are hopeful there is still a chance, I say, regretfully, the whole thing was a set up to make it look like the Republicans in the State Assembly were playing along. “See we’re really good guys!” More honestly, they never had any intention of passing this bill. They can now point to the Democrats (who were promised support if they waited until after the Republican state convention) and say, “if you had just brought the bill before the end of the session, we could have passed it”. And, honestly, “civil union” is just another way to say “separate but equal” which we know ain’t true. My partner of 30+ years and I are holding out for the ruling on Prop 8 and getting married in California (where her family is). If that’s a no go, we’ll find a state that will marry us.

  24. I believe this is an issue that could gain momentum faster than you think. Speaking as a conservative, I find myself at odds with my own party on gay marriage, and I am not alone. There are a significant number of us who want to see this law changed for several reasons.

    First and foremost, “all men are created equal” should mean just that. It is a self-evident truth. The Republican position on the issue is fundamentally at odds with the Declaration of Independence, the very foundation of America.

    Also, as I tell my fellow conservatives, just on the basis of political strategy, opposing gay marriage is a huge tactical mistake. Allowing the opposition to own this voting block is just downright stupid. Not only do we alienate fiscal conservatives who happen to be gay, we risk alienating the holy grail of elections, the politically wishy-washy centrists who waffle around in the middle somewhere.

    Obviously, those conservatives who base their voting decisions solely on religion are going to be difficult to sway (although you have to wonder if they aren’t ultimately susceptible to the WWJD argument). The older conservatives, though, are more willing to listen than you might at first think, especially since their adult children are more likely to believe as I do, that the traditional party line on this issue is flat out wrong.

    So, all that said, may I offer some sincere advice? One thing that absolutely does not help the gay marriage cause is confrontational, in your face advocacy. Yelling at old people just pisses them off. Appealing to their humanity works a lot better. Ultimately, it IS a civil rights issue, and the best way to succeed is to follow the example set by Dr. King.

  25. While it no doubt feels good, brandishing the “b” word (bigot) with impunity when discussing the issue is shedding more heat than light. I fully support the move to gay marriage, but we have to appreciate that this is a truly radical and historically novel concept, without any meaningful precedent in our civilization. The pushback in NC is actually far less surprising than the speed of actual progress in other places.

  26. MuleFace:

    “While it no doubt feels good, brandishing the “b” word (bigot) with impunity when discussing the issue is shedding more heat than light.”

    Well, I think there’s a time and place for it, and this entry is the time and place. I do believe the amendment to be bigoted, and I do believe that some who support it (and many who worked to get it on the ballot in the first place) are bigots. I do not believe everyone who voted for it did so out of intentional bigotry, which is an important distinction to make. But as noted, you can do a bigoted thing without the intention of bigotry. I assume a number of people who voted for the amendment will eventually figure this one out. I don’t think it’s inappropriate to make note of it here for those who might not have thought of it that way.

  27. Billy, rather a lot of activists for LGBT rights and marriage equality are, in fact, engaging in civil advocacy, quiet debate and political work. Most, I would say. The media campaigns are not and have never been “Shout Rude Words At Your Granny”. They have been about showing how those seeking to marry are real people with real lives who suffer real harm. Some of those couples are even old people!

    But it wouldn’t matter if every single person in favor of marriage equality, starting right now, turned into a polite, friendly advocate whose manners and demeanor make a Mormon missionary look like a brute; opponents would simply lie; that’s what they’re already doing.

    Dr. King didn’t succeed overnight, either, and his polite, respectful advocacy was met with everything from violence to government oppression. Today’s activists do indeed follow many of the lessons he taught (and many of them were, and are, involved in the civil rights movement, too). The fact that Article 1 passed isn’t proof that gay activists are mouthy jerks who simply need your wise counsel to get back on track. It’s proof that this takes time.

  28. Haven’t looked at the specifics of the law yet, but the impression I get is that it’s going to be one of those things that get into legal casebooks and discussed for generations to come in law schools. I must note, in general, that the laws that get written up in the casebooks are not the sensible, well-written ones…

  29. This is why presidential elections are so important: presidents nominate Supreme Court justices, and realistically it’ll take a SCOTUS decision to grant equality nationwide.

    A vote for Romney or any other Republican is a vote for bigotry, folks, regardless of whether you want to believe it.

  30. Billy Quiets:

    “One thing that absolutely does not help…is confrontational, in your face advocacy.”

    And yet you, sir, are no stranger to this method of advocacy for your positions. I submit that one tends to find directly stated cases in opposition to one’s own position as “in your face advocacy.” But, directly stated cases in support of one’s position are often seen as reasonable, principled defense. It wasn’t exactly an uncommon piece of advice for Dr. King either.

    And if it is a civil rights issue, in the spirit of Dr. King I’d add that a right delayed is a right denied. The inevitability of this cause does not carry any obligation to make others comfortable with their hohum attitude towards bigoted laws. It’s bigotry and people’s lives, not a bridge club. One’s vote to take away another’s right to marriage is one’s vote to impact their life in the most personal way possible.

  31. The problem with easy amendment procedures is that we have 50 state constitutions, each with its own amendment procedures. A few states, back when they were first converted from colonies or territories, understood that amending the constitution should be far more difficult than passing a law, as it is in the federal case. It should be a slow and difficult process, so that much effort and thought are required. Massachusetts is one of those, so when the bigots tried to get a constitutional amendment there to overturn equal marriage, they coudn’t do it. Many other states didn’t understand this (Utah, where I live, being one) so amending the constitution is far too easy. So it’s easy for the bigots to get the amendment on the ballot, then roll their roadshow into the state with their TV commercials full of lies and panic, and mislead otherwise good people into voting to insert bigotry into the constitution. Then the road show, with absolute lack of concern for what collateral damage they have done, goes on to another state and leaves the people to deal with the problems they caused.

  32. //Not only do we alienate fiscal conservatives who happen to be gay, we risk alienating the holy grail of elections, the politically wishy-washy centrists who waffle around in the middle somewhere. //

    Obama’s constant waffling on the issue would seem to indicate that the professional Democratic politicians are not as comfortable with the middle supporting this as you(and quite frankly myself) think they should be.

  33. DG Lewis: The constitutional amendment in question was overturned by SCOTUS in 1967! That’s a long time to wait and I won’t be alive in 92 years. Not permanent? Permanent enough for me.

  34. Other Bill, Advocate however you like. I was just giving you my opinion on what was most likely to work. Calling people names may make you feel better, but it does little to advance your cause.

  35. Here is an honest question:

    As I noted in a previous thread, I don’t share this crowd’s passion for the same-sex marriage issue, but neither am I especially opposed it.

    As John pointed out in his post, there still seems to be wide-spread resistance to the idea of redefining marriage. Even Obama is gun-shy about this issue. Good, bad, or indifferent, it would appear that most Americans still define marriage as “one man + one woman.”

    Rather than tilting at windmills, why not focus on enacting some sort of nationwide civil union legislation–which seems to have far more public support? If there are flaws in the current civil union structure, then focus on modifying them; but still call the arrangement a civil union.

    I work for a large corporate employer in a conservative part of the country, and my company provides insurance inclusion for same-sex partners. This seems to be the trend. I think the big sticking point is the use of the term “marriage.”

    What is fundamentally wrong with the idea that civil unions are for gays, and marriage is for heterosexuals, if they both accomplish more or less the same aims?

    It seems to me that there is a certain element in the gay movement that has made a mission of forcing heterosexual America to explicitly and unequivocally acknowledge that homosexual and heterosexual unions are *exactly the same thing*. In many parts of the country, that is simply not going to happen. So why not redirect efforts toward the more practical outcomes, and punt on the issue of marriage vs. civil unions?

    I realize that this is not a very popular viewpoint in a predominantly gay venue, but I do think that there are many in the heterosexual mainstream who have more or less the same opinion. Why is this an unacceptable idea?

  36. @JJS: I suppose the one saving grace is that it works both ways: an amendment that’s easier to pass is also easier to repeal.

    Iowa is a state with a difficult amendment process. If it were easy, they’d probably have passed one in 2009 or 2010 and undone the court ruling. But they’re probably at or near the point now that it’s unlikely to happen at all; I don’t think a majority of Iowans support same-sex marriage, but some polls do show a plurality in support, and a majority opposed to a constitutional amendment.

  37. Todd, apart from the fact that “marriage” seems to confer a larger package of benefits, both concrete and abstract, than “civil union,” if you take the sentence “What is fundamentally wrong with the idea that civil unions are for gays, and marriage is for heterosexuals, if they both accomplish more or less the same aims?” and rewrite it as, “What is fundamentally wrong with the idea that the back of the bus is for blacks, and the front of the bus is for whites, if they both get to the same destination?” you begin to get the flavor of the issue.

  38. @Todd: First of all, because usually they don’t accomplish the same aims; most civil-union arrangements omit some of the protections and privileges of marriage. (New Jersey’s is probably closest to functional equivalence, and it’s unusual. Note also that it has the features it does because of a court ruling prompted by a push for full legal marriage.)

    Second, because even conceding on the word can have knock-on effects. This isn’t just a vague slippery slope; the existence of explicit discrimination against gays gets used in legal arguments for the legality of other types of discrimination. If gay couples can get married, that’s one less way people can argue that it must be OK to discriminate in employment or adoption or any number of other things.

  39. Billy, if calling people you disagree with names doesn’t advance your case, then why do you do it?

    Todd: OGH already disallowed the “get the government out of marriage” card.

    Dani: yeah, no great surprise that the old Confederacy is in general more bigoted and the Northeast less.

  40. “all of this is a rear-guard action on the part of…” – now that made me chuckle

  41. Todd:
    Why not a law that says black kids go to one school, white kids to another? Or one that says whites sit in the front of the bus and all others in the back? Separate is not equal.

    I am a lesbian. My partner and I have been together longer than most people I know have been married. We have a child together. For a long time, I thought civil unions were just fine. And then I came to the realization that it was just another way to say “back of the bus”. For good or ill, “marriage” has a certain weight to it. It garners a respect that “civil union” does not. Why is my long-term relationship not worthy of respect? How many people do you know who’ve been married for 30 years? And North Carolina proves to us that even civil unions are not acceptable to many people. They just want us to walk. We’re not allowed on the bus at all.

  42. The problem with letting same-sex couples marry but calling it a civil union instead is that it’s still separate. It would be like when interracial marriage was not allowed and saying that we should push not for people of different races to be allowed to marry but that we should push for “racial unions” instead. Almost a marriage, but not quite the same.

  43. Kevin, I always strive to present a reasoned, articulate argument for my position without resorting to name calling. If I have ever done otherwise, I’m sure it didn’t advance my cause.

    Of course, reason doesn’t seem to be working either, but I’ll keep trying.

  44. Billy Quiets: “I was just giving you my opinion on what was most likely to work.”

    So, when you argue in the way you advise against, you’re acutely aware that doing so is to make you feel better and not sway anyone’s opinion?

    But seriously. Look. The amendment is bigoted. And a vote in support of a bigoted amendment is a vote to support bigotry. You voted for the amendment, you voted for bigotry. This is not name calling. This is a logical statement. The problem is folks who didn’t, in full selfawareness, vote for the amendment because they think LGBT are evil read a simple logical statement as a direct attack on their moral character in the most grievous, unfair of ways.

    I’m not interested in the opinions of fence sitters who tend to vote in favor of bigotry because they don’t care to take a moment to really examine the moral impact of their vote on that subject because it isn’t significant to them. Particularly fence sitters who have had no rights taken away from them who want to talk about how hard it is to endure the eternal torture of hearing people make simple logical statements about the nature of their execution of their civic duty.

    So, thanks for the good faith tone check, but I’ll decline.

    My good faith advice to you is that you spend some time seriously examining how you can think that this is both a denial of civil rights to a group of people based on their identity and NOT bigotry.

  45. @Chip, Saruby, etc:

    The metaphor of the “separate but equal” clauses of the Jim Crowe era don’t apply. Under those laws, African-Americans were restricted to a different (i.e., reduced) set of rights.

    *Everyone* has the same rights of marriage under the law: Each one of us is free to marry one person of the opposite sex. There is no discrimination in this regard. Everyone has this right, regardless of race, creed, or national origin.

    The fact that some prefer to marry one person of the same sex, or two people of the opposite sex is undeniable; but it isn’t a “civil rights” issue. If that were the case, then we would have to call the polygamists’ case a civil rights issue as well. (And I haven’t seen anyone make that case here.)

    And what about the 50-year-old, unpaired, socially inept man who claims that *his* sexual needs can only be met by visiting prostitutes? (There was a referendum in California a few years ago on the legalization of prostitution, if you’ll recall.) Prostitution is still illegal in most of the country. Does this violate the civil rights of men who have to pay for sex?

    I personally have no problem with the government legalizing gay marriage, prostitution, marijuana–whatever, as long as no one’s rights are violated and only consenting adults are involved. But I don’t see these as “civil rights” issues, because everyone has the *same* rights. Should some of these laws be changed so that more choices are available? Yes, I would agree with that. But the comparison between these issues and the former regime of racial discrimination in the Jim Crowe American South doesn’t work.

  46. I’d be interested to know just how many of the people supporting these amendments would describe themselves as “libertarian”.

  47. Todd, you do realize that “Each one of us is free to marry one person of the opposite sex” can also be used with exactly the same logic to say “Each one of us is free to marry one person of the same race?” It’s very definitely a civil rights issue, in the same way that the freedom for people of two different races to marry was a civil rights issue a few decades ago. I’m honestly fuzzy on how you can argue that Jim Crow laws reduced the rights of African-Americans and in the same breath argue that banning same-sex marriage does NOT reduce the rights of gays.

  48. @Todd

    What is fundamentally wrong with the idea that civil unions are for gays, and marriage is for heterosexuals, if they both accomplish more or less the same aims?

    Ever heard of “separate but equal”? It turned out only half of that was true — and it wasn’t the “equal” part. What on earth makes you think that “separate but equal” is going to be any more equal this time around?

  49. As Andrew Sullivan also points out, “having more people set down roots and raise families as part of the community” is a fundamentally /conservative/ position. Money quote: “Reforming institutions to keep them in step with reality is Burke’s definition of conservatism”. In this sense, we haven’t had a truly conservative party in the US for decades now.

  50. @Todd

    By that logic, laws in places like Saudi Arabia that establish a national religion are not discriminatory because everyone is free to follow Islam.

  51. The metaphor of the “separate but equal” clauses of the Jim Crowe era don’t apply. Under those laws, African-Americans were restricted to a different (i.e., reduced) set of rights

    You should really be aware of the irony of quoting “separate but equal” to talk about separate and UNequal. Those taking issue with your point have been exactly correct: “Separate but equal” was spoken of as two distinct worlds that treated the races equally. That this did not work out in practice has nothing to do with its justification.

  52. @Todd “But the comparison between these issues and the former regime of racial discrimination in the Jim Crowe American South doesn’t work.”

    No, the regular beatings, maimings, torture and killings of gay people even in the United States can’t compete. Except where it’s worse, because it’s at the hands of the victims own family, because “it’s God’s will”.

  53. @Chip: For the record, I am basically in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. My point is that the metaphor of the African-American civil rights struggle is the wrong one. You and I are both men; we both have the same right to marry a woman. You might arbitrarily redefine yourself as a “gay male” in order to invoke the notion that you are somehow different. But under the law we are both “men”…and we both have the same rights regarding marriage. We can each marry any woman who will agree to marry one of us. Case closed.

    There are many people out there with sexual needs and desires that are outside the mainstream: polygamists, men who visit prostitutes, etc. etc. As a general principle, I personally think that laws should be changed to allow more people to have more choices. So yes, let’s revisit the all of the laws that unreasonably restrict choice and personal freedom.

    But I reject the idea that among these, the cause of same-sex marriage–and only the cause of same-sex marriage– is somehow a “civil rights” issue.

  54. @Mike Williams: That is a huge non sequitur. Denying two men the right to marry is not the same as torturing or beating anyone. And when did I bring in the issue of “God’s will”? Those are your words–not mine.

  55. *Everyone* has the same rights of marriage under the law: Each one of us is free to marry one person of the opposite sex. There is no discrimination in this regard. Everyone has this right, regardless of race, creed, or national origin.

    Except that this wasn’t always true. The last time North Carolina added a resoultion to their State Constitution was to prevent black and white citizens from marrying (to even the third generation or relations). There are practical considerations and legal issues for why polygamy is a much more complicated issue than marriage between two people and not equivalent to same-sex marriage. Pulling polygamy out of the air in these discussions always feels intellectually dishonest to me, not unlike someone like RIck Santorum immediately equating homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia. It’s a false-equivalency and treating it as such is a distraction from the actual argument.

    You’re arguing that everyone has the same rights of marriage…you know, as long as it’s marriage between a man and a woman. I see how you want to re-frame the argument, but that’s not what people are arguing about. Marriage confers a host of benefits that are legally and financially recognized at both the local, state and federal levels. I have not yet seen a compelling argument for why same-sex marriages should be denied those same privileges. I can’t figure out if you’re just arguing about sophistry or actual rights. It sounds more like you’re arguing that ‘sure, they deserve those rights…but the exact grammar involved means they’re not ‘civil’ rights.’

    Which strikes me a weird, but whatever works for you.

  56. To rub it in, 250 a-holes held a mock wedding ceremony:

    “About 250 amendment supporters crowded a ballroom at the Hilton North Raleigh for the celebration that was part standard-issue campaign victory party and part wedding reception.
    There was a cash bar, and music that included love songs. The centerpiece was a seven-tier white wedding cake, capped by a plastic heterosexual couple embracing.”

    http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/05/08/2052643/marriage-amendment-latest-results.html

    Sorry, I don’t know how to make a link on here….

  57. As other have noted, why did they ban same-sex marriage in order to protect marriage but they didn’t ban divorce at the same time?

    Could it be that they knew that that would have prevented the amendment from passing?

  58. Farley, this:
    “Lynne Greene, of Cary, voted for the amendment, at the Fellowship of Christ Presbyterian Church polling site. She said she could support civil unions but not gay marriage.”

    was possibly the most depressing part of that report you linked. (Maybe tied for that slot, as I am pretty depressed by the thought of 250 people celebrating their bigotry with an enormous display of “neener-neener”. But I think I’m more disgusted than depressed by that).

    Here’s a person who is willing to vote for an amendment that is directly against her personal beliefs, on what basis? Confusion? Fear? Did she understand that gay marriage was already banned, and that the amendment was instead banning something she actually supported?

  59. I’m hoping for a Supreme Court win on this. There are a number of equal-rights precedents leading up to a SCOTUS victory for same-sex marriages, which I think even Scalia noted a while back (althought not happily):

    “Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned. ”

    Lawrence vs. Texas (2003)

  60. @Todd

    “Arbitrarily redefine”? Right, like blacks are “arbitrarily redefined” as black? After all, a black man and a white man are both men, right?

    What you to be willfully ignoring is that by defining marriage — and all its attendant legal benefits — as only between a man and a woman, the law is “arbitrarily redefining” everyone — it’s arbitrarily redefining everyone as heterosexual. Which is fine, for the heterosexuals, but not at all fine for those who are not. Denying legal rights to a subset of the population for no other reason than it makes another subset of the population uncomfortable is an issue of civil rights — the exact same issue of civil rights that denying legal rights to blacks because blacks made whites uncomfortable was.

    Comparing same-sex marriage to visiting prostitutes is, besides being extraordinarily offensive, also a derailing tactic, because the issues are completely different: prostitution is illegal because it is considered to cause harm to individuals, namely, prostitutes. Now whether or not it actually does cause harm to prostitutes is something that can be debated (in a different debate), but the justification of the law is the presumption of harm, like the justification of laws against robbery and assault is the presumption of harm. Similarly, the justification for outlawing polygamy is the presumption of harm, based on historical and modern-day evidence that polygynous relationships can be abusive. Again, whether or not such a presumption is valid can be a subject for debate, but it doesn’t change the fact that said presumption is the justification for the law. There is no presumption of harm in same-sex marriage. And no, “gays make me feel icky” is not harm.

  61. Todd:

    “You might arbitrarily redefine yourself as a ‘gay male’…” As you’ve arbitrarily defined yourself “straight male”?

  62. @JB Scalia voting for the legalization of same-sex unions is about as likely as Santorum voting for making the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots a national “Gay Rights” holiday. It doesn’t matter what the legal justifications are, the man is a party animal.

    (…and by “party animal”, I mean, he votes according to party lines, not that he’s chugging jello shots in Georgetown frat houses. Although he might be. I wouldn’t know.)

  63. Kevin Williams writes: “This is why presidential elections are so important: presidents nominate Supreme Court justices, and realistically it’ll take a SCOTUS decision to grant equality nationwide.”

    We still try to make opinions about Roe V. Wade of paramount importance during the Supreme Court confirmation process so apparently we are prepared to rehash abortion as part of every confirmation from now until forever. Ultimately, change such as this is best made by change in culture. People who don’t agree with a Supreme Court decision will always feel like they’ve been robbed by activist judges. Demography is destiny; kids these days are fine with gay marriage. On the other hand, how much correlation is there between religion and demographic groups that have more than 2.1 births / woman? Evangelicals may get to call the shots in the generations to come.

    @Todd What leads you to believe that this is a predominantly gay venue? I’ll concede that I don’t actually know different, but it doesn’t seem so to me.

  64. I realize that this is not a very popular viewpoint in a predominantly gay venue

    Interesting that you think that it must be a “gay venue” for people to argue against bigotry.

  65. @Bess: All fine and good in a gay-friendly forum like this one; but if we were holding this debate in a “family-friendly” venue, you would be required to prove that homosexuality is a matter of nature rather than a matter of choice. You would also have to contend with socially conservative African-Americans who would resent you conflating the Civil Rights struggle with gay marriage.

    My point is that marriage equality will probably have to come about by degrees. That may not be palatable to many here; but it seems like the best course for bringing about a practical improvement in the recognition of gay relationships in the real world.

    I don’t need to tell you that the Whatever isn’t the real world. In the *real* world, the resistance to gay marriage is so intense that states are still passing explicit measures against it.

    National recognition of civil unions seems to me to be a feasible compromise that would get you closer to where you want to go. But the “all-or-nothing” approach of the gay movement will only bring about a more determined conservative backlash.

    Since this group seems so determined to invoke the Civil Rights struggle, it is worth recalling that civil rights, too, were accomplished by degrees. Martin Luther King began with the low-hanging fruit–such as an end to racial discrimination on buses, etc. He didn’t start out by demanding that Harvard University have an affirmative action program.

    It seems to me that Obama and many other prominent politicians *would* support a national provision for civil unions. The fact that Obama *isn’t* lining up behind you on gay marriage (not to mention recent developments in states like N.C.) might be a sign that you don’t yet have the momentum for full marriage equality. So why *not* start with what you *can* accomplish?

  66. The fact that Obama *isn’t* lining up behind you on gay marriage (not to mention recent developments in states like N.C.) might be a sign that you don’t yet have the momentum for full marriage equality

    You have been superseded by events. Obama just came out in favor of it.

    gay-friendly forum

    You’re beginning to creep me out with the repeated mention of this.

  67. Wikipedia defines bigotry: “Bigotry is the state of mind of a “bigot”, a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one who exhibits intolerance or animosity toward members of a group. Bigotry may be based on real or perceived characteristics, including sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, nationality, region, language, religious or spiritual belief, political alignment, age, economic status or disability. Bigotry is sometimes developed into an ideology or world view.”
    I guess we are all bigots. Where can you find any human being alive today who does not hold strongly an animosity toward some subgroup of the human population? I really, really dislike pedophiles and what they do to children to meet their own sexual needs. So I must be a bigot, right? Hmmm. In order not to be a bigot despite the definition, It appears the definition of bigot must have some underlying unwritten assumptions that some groups are better than others and by all means are not to be disliked.

  68. I feel like enough people are arguing with Todd that I would be wasting my breath to repeat their already well-stated arguments.

    So instead I’ll focus on this comment by heteromeles:
    “I had one relative who voted against same-sex marriage in California, not because she disliked gays or had even read the amendment, but because the minister of her church had told her it was how she should vote.”

    This is exactly why religious institutions in this country should be taxed. If they can use the pulpit to influence our government and political landscape, then they damned well ought to contribute to it.

    PS: Go Obama! http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/05/09/481147/obama-marriage-2/

  69. @Bess. I’m not counting on a Scalia vote (the quote was from his dissent, after all), but I think that he is nevertheless right that the logic behind Lawrence and its precedents will lead to same-sex marriages being a constitutionally-protected right. As much as I would like a vote for that outcome to be unanimous, a 5-4 victory would still be a victory.

  70. Todd, your argument about “equality” is not new. In fact, it was made almost forty-five years ago by the State of Virginia in defending laws forbidding interracial marriage:

    Thus, the State contends that, because its miscegenation statutes punish equally both the white and the Negro participants in an interracial marriage, these statutes, despite their reliance on racial classifications, do not constitute an invidious discrimination based upon race.

    Or, more colloquially, perhaps: “Under the law we both have ‘race’….and we both have the same rights regarding marriage. We can each marry one person of our own race who will agree to have us. Case closed.”

    SCOTUS didn’t buy this argument forty-five years ago, either: the justices correctly observed that a law drawing race-based classifications isn’t OK even if it ‘discriminates equally’. Likewise, an argument of “well I can’t marry a man either!” is sophistry; marriage laws that make gender-based classifications, and sexual-orientation-based classifications, are still subject to Constitutional scrutiny even if they apply to everyone.

    (By the way, I am really shocked at your argument about “sexual needs”. I really, really hope that if you were to marry, you would do so because you wanted to make a social and legal commitment to a woman you loved, and not just because it would be a lot faster to meet your “sexual needs” if there was a female on the other side of the bed most of the time.)

    You also seem to confuse incremental progress with “here’s your half a loaf, now shut up”. Getting rid of “don’t ask don’t tell” is incremental progress. Individual states recognizing marriage quality is incremental progress. Civil unions are not incremental progress. They are a deliberate second-class status created to give same-sex couples something well short of marriage with the intent of preventing them from ever getting married; that’s why you hear the argument that they don’t NEED marriage, they’ve got civil unions which are “more or less” the same (i.e, less) and they’re just pushy/greedy/ungrateful.

    Dr. King had a great deal to say about the whole “wait, be patient” stalling game, as well, as you might remember.

  71. @Todd: Please. “arbitrarily redefine yourself as gay male”, “family-friendly forum”? I am gay (albeit female), not by arbitrary redefinition, but by pretty clear factual evidence. I also have a family and support the idea that families should raise children (got one of those, too). What I don’t have is the right to call my relationship a marriage or to have society view it as such. Words have power. Please think before you belittle me again.

  72. With respect to calling people mean names and political strategy:

    If you are trying to change the status quo, the choice can’t really be “Big Change in the Social Order” vs. “Several Folks Being Politely Sad in the Background.” Most folks don’t like change, and most can rationalize away people they don’t know being sad really quick.

    Instead, make the “Change” inevitable, and the choice between “Lots of Angry People Who Have a Just Cause Disrupting Your Life” and “Big Change in the Social Order,” and you get a lot more movement. The “Just Cause” part is important, but so is the disruption.

  73. “‘It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married’, [the] president tells ABC News.”

    you would be required to prove that homosexuality is a matter of nature rather than a matter of choice

    It’s funny, but all the conservatives I know — even those who would vote against same-sex marriage — do admit that homosexuality is a matter of nature rather than a matter of choice. Now, admittedly, all that is anecdotal, but I would hazard a guess that the “family friendly” types who do believe that homosexuality is a matter of choice are going to be unlikely to be convinced by the reams of scientific evidence on the subject, or the repeated failure of “conversion therapy”, or anything else, because they’ve already made up their minds, and have firmly come down on the “gays are icky, so they shouldn’t be allowed to be gay” side of things. Why would I be wasting my time trying to convince them? It’s the “if it doesn’t affect me I’m going to do what my friends do” types in the middle that need convincing, and they generally do believe that sexual orientation is nature rather than choice.

    PS I am also slightly confused by your contention that this is a “gay venue”. I’ve gotten the impression that the majority of posters here are heterosexual (as am I, for the record).

  74. Just a history note, for those confused about “The American South” with respect to the Civil War…

    Having read a journal written about California during the time of the Civil War (Brewer’s Up and Down California), I should point out that there was an active debate within California about whether to join the Confederacy or the Union. There were many Confederate sympathizers within the state. This turned out to be a critical question. When California joined the Union, the gold it sent east helped finance the Union’s victory. Harry Turtledove could probably have some fun writing the story of a US where California joined the confederacy.

    Also, the southern half of the Arizona territory (basically southern Arizona and southern New Mexico) did secede and join the Confederacy, and the westernmost battle of the Civil War was the Battle of Picacho Pass, northwest of Tucson.

    I find it interesting how much the Civil War is still alive and well in our national politics, even today. Personally, I blame air conditioning and cheap electricity, for making southern cities more attractive than they would have been otherwise. Here endeth the lesson.

  75. Todd’s made it pretty clear that he thinks all things having to do with gays are sexually explicit, and that same-sex marriage is, unlike heterosexual marriage, uniquely about the bedroom. Hence “family-friendly”; if I mention I have a husband that’s just conversation, but if I were to say I had a wife, it’s just like saying “Let me tell you about all the hot lesbian sex I’m having.” It’s unfortunate, but that’s the worldview.

  76. John, I hope that you are right when you predict that things will substantially improve in a decade or so. Unfortunately, I suspect that Heteromeles has identified a part of the problem that will result in its perpetuation: as long as same-sex unions of any sort are preached against from the pulpit, there will always be people (of any age) who will dutifully tromp out and vote the way their pastor/priest/rabbi/imam/shaman/hogon/hatałii/etc. tells them to vote.

  77. This kind of thing is what will make it possibe for the “Faith Wars” postulated in Ken Macleod’s “NIght Sessions” (currently reading for review) to occur. The pendulum always swings back and forth striving for equilibrum.

  78. @mythago if I mention I have a husband that’s just conversation, but if I were to say I had a wife, it’s just like saying “Let me tell you about all the hot lesbian sex I’m having.”

    It’s depressing how true that is, isn’t it? I remember reading excerpts of an interview with the makers (producers? writers? I’m not sure) of a Disney TV movie about teenagers. The reporter asked the filmmakers why there weren’t any gay or lesbian characters in the movie. “Because this movie isn’t about sex,” the filmmakers replied. “But the heterosexual characters have boyfriends or girlfriends,” the reporter said. “Yes,” said the filmmakers, “but that’s about relationships, not about sex.”

    People seem to be unaware at how incredibly offensive — and incredibly untrue — that dichotomy is.

  79. 2 Things

    – Obama just endorsed same sex marriage.

    -Log Cabin Republicans slammed him for being “offensive and callous” for doing it after amendment 1 passed.

  80. Todd @ 1:54: “Sexuality, by means of which [spouses] give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a [two people] commit themselves totally to one another until death.” That is my own de-gendered version of a passage from the Roman Catholic catechism. Their objection to same-sex marriage is the same as it is to the marriage of any two people who can’t have sexual intercourse with each other: no sex, no marriage.

    I think this is sound according to our understanding of human psychology, as well. People who are only allowed to marry people they can’t form that bond with are not really allowed to marry. They can have the paper formality, but not the true union.

  81. Josh Jasper:

    Curiously, I’ve seen no statement by the LCRs pointing out the offensive and callous nature of the people who fought to pass Amendment 1. I assume the LCRs at least opposed it, but their targeting seems a bit … off.

  82. In terms of the tiresome more-flies-with-honey arguments … spare me. Yes, there’s a role for the polite approach. But when having a picture of one’s same-sex spouse/partner/whatever on one’s work desk is considered “in your face”, I’m not all that worried about hurting their fee-fees.

    Also, the existence of varied approaches is a feature, not a bug. I doubt Martin Luther King, Jr. et al would have been quite as successful if Malcolm X et al hadn’t been out there as well.

  83. Greetings From the Theocratic Republic of Carolinastan! This Is The Voice of The Resistance…Please Keep Us In Your Thoughts and Don’t Abandon Us.

  84. On the “what’s wrong with just having civil unions” topic: How about the fact there are states (and churches) that allow and celebrate marriages between two people of the same gender, not to mention other countries? It’s not like such marriages are something new. *They exist already.* Any stance that would claim that relationships between two people of the same gender cannot be marriage is simply not based in reality.

  85. Here’s a thought- a religion that supports marriage, regardless of who is getting married. Would this them legalize Gay marriage?

  86. I find it curious that those moved to criticize the gay rights movement for confrontational or in-your-face tactics seem to be entirely unaware of the softer approaches that have been also been tried, both prior to and concurrently.

    There might, perhaps, be a clue there as to why some activists are moved to be confrontational.

  87. Other Bill @3:22
    No, I am not really concerned with formalism or precision. Likely I was too subtle making the point that we don’t throw around the perjorative “bigot” for every stubborn animosity against any group. We seem to be selective in which groups, if disliked make the dislikers bigots. There now seems to be favored sub-populations of humanity for which anyone bearing animosity toward them are automatically roped into the definition of being a bigot. I wonder who gets to decide? Who decides which human sub-populations make bigots of anyone who holds animosity toward the subgroup. Put another way, we seems to have a select group of identified sub-populations who can be the subject of bigotry. Who decided which groups can be the victims of bigotry? I don’t remember getting to vote in that election or being polled for that underlying assumption of the definition.

  88. Wow.

    I’ve seen the “Everyone is free to marry someone of the opposite sex” and “If I’m a bigot, so is everyone else” ploys – two the the absolutely stupidest arguments seen in this topic.

    And yet, no mallet.

    Weird.

  89. Like you, John, I’m not pleased that Amendment One passed, but I’m not particularly surprised. (My 19-year-old son, voting for the first time, was hurt and furious. I’m so proud of him. He voted, and he CARED how the vote turned out.)

    I admit, I didn’t hold out much hope at first. But as opponents started getting the word out about how broadly worded the amendment was and how far-reaching the effects could be, as opponents of gay marriage came out and said that even they thought it was bad legislation, as people who said they were 100% against gay marriage said that they were not in favor of the amendment if it also banned domestic partnerships and civil unions, as the percentage opposed grew and the percentage in favor shrank… I was really starting to think we could defeat this thing. Bah.

    I’m not sure what the next step is, but I know this isn’t the end. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. So, so frustrated today.

  90. @ David Moody:

    As one *current* example: Unitarian Universalists. “The UUA actively encourages member congregations to work for marriage equality in their communities, and leaders continuously advocate for marriage equality on a national level.”. I don’t specifically know of any other national religious organizations who are that emphatic, but I know that many churches/etc of other denominations perform same-sex marriages (whether or not those marriages are legally-recognized).

    It doesn’t matter.

    Marriage laws don’t (and can’t) impinge on whether or not marriages are recognized by churches. Despite the dishonest implications and sometimes outright lies of anti-equality activists, *legal* recognition of same-sex marriages would not force churches to perform same-sex marriages, any more than current discriminatory laws prevent churches from performing same-sex marriages.

  91. Gary Willis: I’m not sure how the history of the usage of the word is relevant to this topic. Prejudice and intolerance against LGBT is easily demonstrable. That your example is to compare your dislike for “pedophiles and what they do to children to meet their own sexual needs” to prejudice against LGBT is ridiculous, at best. At worst, a deliberately offensive derail of a reasonable conversation.

    The amendment in NC is about defining marriage to “protect it” from being made less worthy by a group of people based strictly on their sexual identity. That’s bigotry. To vote to support that is to vote to support bigotry. The word isn’t *actually* tossed around all nimbly bimby for fun.

  92. Anyway, Gary, this is for you:

    Pedophiles, through the deliberate (if compulsive) actions they take, actively harm other people; in particular, people unable to defend themselves.

    Gay people and people of color, by being gay or of color, harm no one.

    Therefore, animosity toward gay people and people of color for being members of that subgroup is bigotry.

    Animosity towards pedophiles is not.

    Feel free to argue in favor of harming children. I could use a good laugh.

  93. @ Doc Rocketscience:

    Per his more recent post, our Fearless Malleter is in transit, so the stupidity is safe from malleting for now. That said, sometimes he does allow the stupidity to fly free, the better to expose it for what it is.

  94. @ Josh Jasper:

    I understand, at least on an intellectual level, that LCRs (1) consider their general economic conservativism to be more of a deciding factor in their political preference than their sexual orientation and (2) believe they are having a positive influence on the attitudes in the Republican Party towards equality.

    That said, their public statements offtimes make me go, “Say what?”. Sometimes it’s as if they’re trying to prove something to their fellow Repubs about how really and truly Republican they are.

    As if they’re being a bit *too* “straight acting and appearing”. If you know what I mean. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  95. @ silby at 3:02 pm: Yes, I don’t understand that either. But there seems to be some substantial sentiment that only gay venues and individuals will advocate for gay issues.

    When I attended a community college here in California a number of years ago, I was a member of one of the honor socieites on campus. In fact, I was on the board of our chapter. At one of our board meetings I expressed the idea that our organization should participate in a Renaissance Faire that was to be held on campus as a fund-raising activity. This met resistance, with some other board members saying, “But isn’t that a gay event?” Well, no. But, at any rate, after the meeting, a couple of other members of the board approached me separately and privately and said that I shouldn’t worry and that they “understood” why I wanted the group to participate, and went on to hint very broadly that it was okay with *them* that I was a lesbian. Which I found interesting, since I happen not to be; I am, in fact,, quite heterosexual. For a split second in each instance, I considered correcting these impressions. But then I thought, why should I. There wouldn’t be anything wrong with it if I were gay, so if they want to think that, let them knock themselves out. In retrospect, perhaps I should have corrected them, if only so that they would know that straight people support gay equality, too.

    But, it still amazes me that people have the idea that the only people who are for equality for the LGBTQ community are themselves gay.

  96. Along with the mechanations of the damned papists and the insane morons who continue to interfere in the lives of folks OUTSIDE their respective churches and CONTINUE to have tax exemptions.

  97. @John
    Thank you so very much for not taking the easy cheap shot at the south. As a southerner, dealing with that old pastime gets really really old. There are so many of us that are not religious zealots, are not racist, and are not intolerant bigots. And all of these things exist in plentiful amounts outside our borders.
    Travel enough, you learn that there is good and bad everywhere.
    also @Todd
    Exactly why is it okay to discriminate based on sexual orientation and not okay to do it based on race? If you are one who answers “Because who you are attracted too is a choice” then I have a lot of friends who will disagree with you. Myself included. I didn’t “choose” to be straight anymore then I chose to be white and male. That is how I turned out. I am very lucky that my rights are pretty in the clear because of that. But a persons rights shouldn’t be about luck of the draw. They should be Equal. That was supposed to be the point of America. I sincerely hope that one day it truly will be.

  98. Mike @ 2:53:
    On the other hand we have Brown v. Board of Education, which is generally lauded today and only opposed by residents of Farthest Libertaria, and was just as much about civil rights as this is. Sometimes a little judicial activism is what’s called for.

  99. Gary: “anyone bearing animosity toward them are automatically roped into the definition of being a bigot”
    Gary: “No, I am not really concerned with formalism or precision.”

    I don’t mean to be pedantic, but…..

    “There now seems to be favored sub-populations of humanity for which anyone bearing animosity toward them are automatically roped into the definition of being a bigot.”

    Holy #^@&!!! “favored sub-populations of humanity”!!! are you #*@&ing kidding me??? favored???? As if gays get preferential treatment in this country????

    You’re playing mighty fast and loose with your scare words there.

    What I have generally found is that for “sub-populations of humanity for which anyone bearing animosity toward them are automatically roped into the definition of being a bigot”, hey, guess what? It’s because its bigotry.

    But enough of these vague outcries of moral injustice done to people holding well-deserved animosity towards as-yet-unnamed subpopulations of humanity.

    By all means, I would love to hear what specific subgroups of humanity earn well deserved animosity, but that animosity is unfairly characterized as bigotry. And please explain why that animosity is so well-deserved while youre at it.

    For example, and to bring it back on topic, please explain: WHY would gay people as a subpopulation of humanity deserve animostiy from anyone?

    Remember, now, Gary, the key word you used here is animosity.

  100. @Shelley at 6:40PM: Along with the mechanations of the damned papists and the insane morons who continue to interfere in the lives of folks OUTSIDE their respective churches and CONTINUE to have tax exemptions

    … Seriously? Speaking as a “damned papist” (now that’s a dog-whistle if ever I’ve heard one), I take umbrage. Certainly there are religious groups in the forefront of the (losing) battle against marriage equality, but recent polls indicate that American Catholics are actually more in favor of marriage equality than the population as a whole. And there are plenty of Mormons who, individually, support marriage equality as well, whatever the church hierarchy says.

    So kindly refrain from the religious intolerance. (I will be surprised if the post I’m replying to survives the re-appearance of the Mallet, actually.)

  101. John wrote: “the majority of the older people who are against same-sex marriage will not die off as quickly as you hope.”

    I’m one of the older people (71). I and everyone over 50 I know is not against same sex marriage. And I’m not gay, I have been happily married to the same women for over 30 years.

    I think the question people who write poll questions should ask is: “Are you for all people being given the same rights as those who are married?” If that were the question, the poll results would likely be different.

  102. Personally I think the best way forward for the US at this point would be some sort of nationwide civil union legislation. Not because I think civil unions are equal to marriage, but because if the people that hate gay marriage can play wedge strategy why can’t the pro faction? The current all or nothing strategy isn’t working, so go for the stepping stone strategy. Throw a bone to the vociferous voice boxes and use civil unions to sneak it in the back door. Once everyone gets all used to how normal civil unions are and feels utterly un-threatened, then the time is right to start playing the “no separate but equal” card and get the full rights (after a few years of civil unions and people introducing their partners as spouses anyway, the ground will be nice and prepared). It’s a long haul strategy, but it’ll probably pay off quicker than always going for all or nothing.

  103. Doc, Greg, don’t be so quick to start verbal fisticuffs. I am reacting to our host’s clear calling out of the large number of folk opposed to the definition of “marriage” being made inclusive of all committed couple relationships as being “bigots.” I do not see anything to be gained by the name-calling, even when done by our host on his own blog site (though, I certainly respect his absolute right to say such things on his own site). Turn it around. All the supporters of the marriage equality movement are certainly bigots as they seem to obstinately bear great animosity to the traditional marriage folk. I screwed up above by taking to much of a read-between-the-lines of the definition approach. I attempted to call attention to the connotations surrounding the denotation of bigotry. So let me say it straight out. If you are on the side of all that is right, good, and true, then all who oppose you must be bigots. Of course, the people who oppose you think themselves to be on the side of the right, good, and true, so in their eyes that makes you bigots. When the war of ideas is over and one side has prevailed, they will write the history (winners write all the histories) and the losers will forever be labeled as bigots. In my view, calling people bigots doesn’t really add anything to the debate at hand and really only serves to reflect badly on the namecaller.

  104. Gary, you’re trying to equivocate, not just falsely, but stupidly. (I mean, honestly – pedophiles? Really?) And you’re doing so because you’re so terribly terribly concerned about the homophobic assholes, and their short-sighted enablers, getting called bigots over their, you know, bigotry. All we need is a few percent more. Just a few of those enablers to go, “Hey wait, I am being a bigot!” Among the many strategies for reaching those people, I’m perfectly OK hurting some of their pwecious wittle fi-fis by calling them names on the internet.

    But your terrible terrible concern is duly noted. Clearly, you’re the most reasonable guy in this room of dirty heathens. Have a cookie.

  105. North Carolina did not uniformly approve the amendment. The 4 counties around Raleigh rejected it: 79% “No” in Orange county for the highest rejection rate. My county! Yay! :-). Mecklenburg county, which contains Charlotte, the largest city, voted 54% “No” as well.
    The highest approval rate, on the other hand, was 86% “Yes”.
    This suggests a considerable urban-rural split.
    http://www.wral.com/news/political/page/10991843/

    But NC has also seen a large influx of people, particularly due to Research Triangle Park (near Raleigh), from the Northeast, from California and other states, because there are well paying jobs in telecom and pharmaceuticals. So instead of, or in addition to, the urban-rural split, it could also be a “new arrivals (20 years)” vs. “longterm residents” split.

    I’m afraid it’s going to take a generation to fix this.

  106. @Gary Willis, since our host has not suggested extending the definition of legal marriage to include “all committed couple relationships”, your comment is disingenuous. It’s a particularly clumsy-but-pretending-to-be-subtle example of the argument that once we let the queers marry, it’ll be Katy bar the door and next thing you know everyone will want to marry their corgis.

    @crypticmirror, because it wouldn’t work. There’s no nationwide marriage legislation, and any civil union legislation would a) get bogged down in legalities and b) be used not as a stepping-stone, but as a block. (“You already HAVE civil unions, greedypants!”) We already have same-sex marriage in some states, which is the way people can get used to the idea. Why propose unworkable half-measures?

  107. Last weekend I was called by a “pollster” and was asked questions about my support of the MN marriage amendment up for a vote in November. As near as I can figure it out, after determining that I am not planning to vote for it, they starting asking me questions along the lines of “if you were told X” would you vote for the amendment, including suggestions that if it failed, clergy and others world be sued for not recognizing gay marriage, and something about kids getting bullied if they had gay parents, and that even if the amendment passed, the legislature would still be able to pass laws enabling gay marriage or some sort of civil commitment equivalent. My conclusion is they’re trying to figure out which arguments will sway people who are ambivalent about the subject to vote for the amendment. I’m curious which arguments were used in NC. I also read that the NC amendment prohibits civil unions, which our amendment does not.

    Several of my siblings live in NC, and they refer to me as the MN liberal, so I wonder how many of them voted for the amendment.

    @cofax: While it may be that American Catholics are more in favor of marriage equality than the population as a whole, the Vatican and the American Catholic Church hierarchy is steadfastly against it. In my state, the diocese sent out a dvd to every member of the church explaining why all good Catholics need to vote for the amendment, as well as directing all priests to speak out in favor of the it. I fully expect the priests will be told to speak out in favor of it repeatedly in their homilies between now and November.

  108. The NC amendment banned civil unions; so the “why can’t they be happy with civil unions” line is kind of beside the point.

    NC is less “backwoodsy” than many Blue states. (And to be fair NC probably has to be considered Purple these days.) Charlotte is one of the financial hubs of the country; Boone is a gay mecca; Asheville is artsy and the Triangle is the Triangle. Plus it’s unfair to say it’s all because “wholesome” carpetbaggers are changing NC’s inherent redneck ways. Since people feel compelled to bring up the Civil War: Western NC as well as Eastern Tennessee and Western Virginia (as it was then) were much more ambiguous about the Seccession issue; funny how those state’s rights issues seem to track with the density of slave ownership demographics.

  109. All the supporters of the marriage equality movement are certainly bigots as they seem to obstinately bear great animosity to the traditional marriage folk.

    “Certainly” and “seem” put your arguments at odds with each other. Is it certain, which means you have hard data to back up your claims that every (or even a majority) of marriage equality supporters bear animosity towards opponents? Or is it what you personally believe is the case and therefore an uninformed opinion? Think carefully, now.

  110. @silbey: Sorry, somehow I missed that one, or I would have referred back to it. But surely you have to admit that I added even more depth, clarification and analysis to your already deep, clear and insightful treatment of the topic. :-)
    What I’m interested in is this: what are the drivers of change for this issue in NC going forward? And can we extrapolate from NC to other southern states?

  111. Gary Willis:

    “In my view, calling people bigots doesn’t really add anything to the debate at hand and really only serves to reflect badly on the namecaller.”

    Oh, bullshit. Sometimes you have to call a bigot a bigot. Sometimes you have to point out to people who may not realize they are being bigoted that they are doing so. Their precious feelings sometimes take a backseat to the fact that they are messing with the civil rights of people who have done nothing wrong and only want to live their lives.

    If people don’t want to be called bigots, they shouldn’t be bigots. If they don’t want it pointed out that they are doing bigoted thing, they shouldn’t do that thing. Sometimes being called a “bigot” is the thing that slaps them out of their incomprehension of their actions. Sometimes calling them a bigot or pointing out a bigoted action illuminates the problem for other.

    If you think not calling people on their bigotry adds anything to the debate, you have an appallingly unsophisticated and naive understanding of the uses of rhetoric.

  112. Gary: “All the supporters of the marriage equality movement are certainly bigots as they seem to obstinately bear great animosity to the traditional marriage folk.”

    You’re playing humpty-dumpty with the word “bigot”.

    You might as well be an anarchist arguing that the power exercised by the state through police to imprison people is morally no different than kidnappers holding someone against their will. Ask the bank robber in prison if he is being held against his will. He’ll say yes. Now try to say that is no different than kidnapping.

    A bigot is someone who doesn’t like some group of people based on some ontological reason, who the in the group ARE, rather than basing it on behavior, what they do.

    I don’t like people whose actions include lying. A bigot doesn’t like people who ARE black. I don’t like people whose actions include stealing. A bigot doesn’t like people who ARE Jewish. I don’t like people whose actions include hurting other people. A bigot doesn’t like people who ARE gay.

    If you want to humpty dumpty the term “bigot” to say that *I* am a bigot because I don’t like car thieves, then you are doing a diservice to everyone who is suffering because of real bigotry. You’re making it impossible for people to identify racists, homophobes, sexists, and antisemites as bigots.

    Either your a bigot yourself and want to downplay bigotry and try to argue that we’re all bigotted so that you feel a little less guilty about your bigotry, or, you’ve really, really mislead yourself to believe that if we can make bigots like us, if we don’t call them bigots, if we don’t make them uncomfortable, if we make them a cup of tea and scones, and ask them to please stop, then they won’t be bigots anymore.

  113. Good analysis Greg. No complaint from me. Bigots dislike a group because of who they are, not what they do. I was merely saying that calling bigots out as the bigots that they are doesn’t really get us anywhere. As early as the sandbox in preschool the adults in my life were teaching me that namecalling was a bad thing to do. Even accurate namecalling, as doing so really reflected back upon the namecaller in a negative way.

  114. But surely you have to admit that I added even more depth, clarification and analysis to your already deep, clear and insightful treatment of the topic. :-)

    All right, I’ll give you a discount. Five cents, please.

    What I’m interested in is this: what are the drivers of change for this issue in NC going forward?

    The I-85 corridor (Raleigh to Charlotte) has seen a massive influx of new residents in the last 30 years, most of them young and trending liberal. That’s offset NC’s long-standing Republican leanings (before 2008, it had gone GOP in presidential elections back to 1976), but only slowly.

  115. Gary Willis: “Even accurate namecalling”

    Your understanding of namecalling and the essence of that preschool lesson is massively flawed.

  116. Other Bill–The adults were quite clear. All perjorative namecalling, accurate or not, was not to be done. Denotatively and connotatively, “bigot” is perjorative. Internalized that lesson, I did. So in my life, at least, I don’t call people bigots, even if they are bigots.

  117. Gary Willis: You might as well just say “Hey, man. These are my people. Be cool, and we might be able to talk them down. If not, you better be cool and not embarass yourself in front of my friends by calling them bigots just because they believe you deserve the same amount of consideration as pedophiles.”

    You’ve spent more words on chiding LGBT supporters because it’s poor form to call out bigotry THAT YOU APPARENTLY AGREE IS BIGOTRY because it’s crude and boorish. You understand that walking around insisting on the right to define words that dramatically impact their lives and not yours is a reflection of unearned privilege, right?

  118. @MaHa Better make the new arrivals 30 yrs when a bunch of us came. My neighborhood, Parkwood was bristling with “Vote against amendment one” signs

  119. Gary Willis: If you’re more concerned about the feelings of those who might be hurt because they and/or their actions are being called out as bigoted, rather than those whose lives are being harmed by said actual bigotry, your priorities are due for some serious evaluation.

  120. Gary: “the adults in my life were teaching me that namecalling was a bad thing to do. Even accurate namecalling, as doing so really reflected back upon the namecaller in a negative way.”

    You either grossly misunderstood the lesson the adults in your life were trying to teach you, or, the adults in your life were idiots.

    Explain to me how calling someone who robbed a bank a “bank robber” is any different than calling a bigot a bigot?

    You need to listen very carefully here: Bigotry is what people do.

    Bigotry is like robbing a bank. it’s an action. Its an active behavior.

    Calling someone “poopyhead” in the sandbox is namecalling because it has nothing to do with anything the person does.

    I’m starting to get the impression that were some kids in the sandbox to start calling William a “bully” because he likes to beat kids up for fun and for their lunch money, you would see the label “bully” as no different than any other schoolground name calling.

    And that is wrong on so many levels I don’t even know where to start with you.

    Bigotry, like bank robbery, and bullying, is something people DO.

  121. Scalzi @9:29 am
    “If you think not calling people on their bigotry adds anything to the debate…”
    I am not suggesting any such thing, only that pejorative name-calling, accurate or not, reflects badly on the namecaller, a lesson I learned in the sandbox from adults whose worldview valued the worth and dignity of all human beings (even the bigots). They taught me that pejorative name-calling was not a mark of good character. I have rarely seen anyone called a bigot, slap their forehead with, “what! I am? crap! what must I do to be saved?” reaction. So, I do not see name-calling adding anything to any debate. But, we two clearly disagree on the point. And I shall drop my name-calling observation for the balance of this thread, which seems to be winding down in any case.

  122. Gary, why is calling a bigot a bigot “pejorative name-calling”? Could you suggest what the appropriate, non-name-calling term is to refer to someone who holds bigoted views?

  123. So, Gary, you have just a couple more shovels full to pitch out, and then you’ll be done? I certainly hope it’s comfortable for you down there. Have another cookie.

    Meanwhile, I for one will be content to demonstrate to bigots and their enablers just how much their shitty behavior reduces their own “worth and dignity”.

  124. Mr. Willis, let me add to your experience. When I was a 20-something, I had an experience that fundamentally changed my world views (as you do at that age). Now I was not brought up to be prejudiced, in fact my parents loved to drill into us the idea that ignorance breeds fear (bigotry) and knowledge breeds understanding. But then came my first known encounter with a gay man. We worked in adjoining areas at an upscale department store. He was openly gay and openly flamboyant. I didn’t know what to do and frankly, his actions were just so incredible to me that I tended to avoid him. I asked my supervisor if I could work a different shift because I didn’t want to work with this guy. He asked me why and I explained that while I didn’t have anything against gay men, the idea of working with one just made me uncomfortable He looked at me and shook his head. He said that he never thought that I would be the bigot in his department.
    I was quite literally gobsmacked by the accusation – I was not a bigot! He gently pointed out that he was gay, was that going to be a problem? I hadn’t known this about him, and so I went home that night a very confused young woman. Someone had called me a bigot and quite frankly there was not a single way I could spin the thing to make my actions anything other than bigoted. I went into the work the next day, apologized to my boss and thanked him for the object lesson. The best part was that when I made an effort to get past my fear and uncomfortableness, the person I had initially shunned turned out to be a great guy and became one of my best friends.
    My boss wasn’t saying I was a bad person or calling me pejorative names; I had acted in a bigoted manner. It wasn’t like he pulled a “Jane you ignorant slut’ on me. He didn’t condemn me or taunt me or shun me. He simply said that what I was doing was bigoted. And he was right. Dance around the words all you want, but when you undertake a bigoted action you are being a bigot.
    And yes, we all carry these bigotries, we are all in some way bigots. It is how we deal with them that speaks to our character. Currently I am bigoted against BMW drivers. But that one I can live with.

  125. As far as I can tell from these comments, no one has noticed that there is a difference in the definition of marriage.

    In many religions, marriage is the joining together of one male and one (or more in some) female.

    In the legal world, which is where my concern lies, marriage means that when (as is likely) my wife succumbs to Alzheimers, I will be able to take care of her affairs as though I were her. Marriage also means when I have a stroke (also likely), my wife will be able to direct the treatment (including disconnecting machines keeping me alive) of that stroke. Unmarried people in committed relationships don’t have those rights. And, that’s simply wrong!

    Debating the meaning of bigot, and calling other debaters bigots does not help with the debate. The debate should be about making marriage legal, so that others can enjoy the same legal rights, which include the right to terminate a spouses life. e.g. My mothers spouse decided to disconnect the machines keeping her alive. He wasn’t charged with murder, assisting in a suicide or any other crime because marriage gave him that right.

  126. Unmarried people in committed relationships can execute powers of attorney granting them those rights. It’s simply not true that they cannot have the power to manage a loved one’s affairs or to make end-of-life decisions. What is true is that married people get those rights as part of being married.

    It doesn’t help the debate to pretend that this is simply a legal issue where everybody is being sensible. There are many, many people who think that if you were talking about “my husband”, that your marriage should be forbidden, ignored, and treated as if you were legally strangers. That is bigotry. Pretending otherwise doesn’t advance the debate.

  127. Marty: “Debating the meaning of bigot, and calling other debaters bigots does not help with the debate.”

    “Oh good, for a moment there I thought we were in trouble.”

  128. Marty, it is indefensible that people are being denied rights. But those rights are being denied due to bigotry, nothing more, nothing less.

    It doesn’t help to debate the meaning of “bigotry”. Doing so is a derailing tactic applied (largely) by bigots.

    Also, you have, perhaps, heard of common law marriage? In many (most?) states, opposite-sex couples in long-term committed relationships acquire all of the rights and privileges of formal legal marriage after a fixed number of years. In a few states, opposite-sex couples can, through common law, declare themselves married at any time. Such an avenue to mariage rights is barred to same-sex couples, so the debate is entirely about same-sex couples.

  129. In the US, common-law marriage can be originated in very few states (I think there are now five) and has very specific requirements – the couple has to hold themselves out as married, for one. It’s true that this is limited only to opposite-sex couples, but it’s very uncommon and it’s not simply that you can shack up for X years and you’re married-ish.

  130. As 2/3 of black voters in North Carolina supported Amendment One, I think it’s fair to say:

    (1) No, this isn’t just some “redneck southern” thing; and

    (2) People’s mental pictures of the bigots supporting the amendment may not completely capture the reality of who the bigots are.

    I don’t include Mr. Scalzi in point 2 — he knows that despite their otherwise progressive leanings, a major element of the anti-gay movement in America is the heavily Catholic African-American and Hispanic communities.

    I’m not so sure that Ana Marie Cox is aware of this though. Her Guardian article describes so-called defense of marriage amendments as “Tiny, splintered and spiteful life-rafts that will most likely sink once the Republicans in the legislatures…lose their majorities”. Trust me, honey — this problem isn’t going away once the Democrats are in charge, no matter how pro-SSM all your urban white Democratic friends are.

  131. Gary: “I have rarely seen anyone called a bigot, slap their forehead with, “what! I am? crap! what must I do to be saved?” reaction. So, I do not see name-calling adding anything to any debate.”

    So, you’re saying you have a long history of converting bigots through kindness? You’ve got names of people who will say you’re Bigot-Conversion-Process(TM) is what got them to see the error of their ways?

    I certainly would like to see this as-yet unseen mountain of overwhelming evidence…

    What’s that?

    Your dog ate it?

    Well, that is problematic, isn’t it?

  132. Trust me, honey

    Wow. You were doing fine (not that I agreed with you, but) until this. Do women get to be real people in your world?

  133. The NC NAACP helped fight against Amendment 1, just as the CA NAACP helped fight Proposition 8. I know the “blacks vs. gays” narrative is good copy, but it’s not true. Are there large numbers of religious black voters who oppose same-sex marriage? Sure, and one of the very valid criticisms of No on 8 was that there was little outreach into traditionally conservative communities. But it’s conservative white Christians who provide the money, manpower and votes to get these things passed.

  134. Mythago – Are you arguing that regardless of the actual numbers of black voters supporting Amendment 1, one can’t say it’s a clash of culture *because* the NAACP is pro gay civil rights?

  135. A “clash of culture”? What now?

    I’m saying that this story keeps getting told as “black voters” – as if they were a monolithic block – vs. white liberal gays. That came up in a very ugly way in the Proposition 8 battle in California, where lots of white LGBT activists were saying that Prop 8 passed because of the black vote, which was horseshit. And Nebuchadnezzar is claiming that they are a “major element” of the anti-gay movement in America, which is just mind-boggling. It’s the predominantly white LDS church that funded Yes on 8, with huge support from a predominantly white Catholic activist community. There’s a very good reason that in those recently-released documents, NOM talks about wanting to find people of color to front them.

    So yes, because of education and religious belief, there is a very strong level of opposition to marriage equality in the black community as a whole, and that is going to take outreach. That is very different from assuming that black = antigay, or that race correlates with religion differently than for whites, and it sets us against our allies. It’s a sleight of hand.

  136. Tangential:

    It seems to me that where potentially incendiary language and word choices are concerned, the question we (collectively) don’t ask ourselves enough is, “Was the purpose of my statement to persuade, or to deride?” I’ve had to do a lot of thinking on this in the last two years, mostly because my words now reach far beyond the limits of my blog or my keyboard.

    I think our natural habit as Americans is to deride. We’re good at it. Probably always have been. It’s the basis of snark, and on the web especially, snark is king. Occasionally snark can be used to make a point — albeit sharply, and only if the person employing the snark is clever. However, I think snark is also an exercise in appealing to like minds. Not changing minds which are different.

    If our (collective) goal is to truly persuade a person to our way of seeing the world, I am becoming less and less convinced that derision or snark — however well applied, however accurate — do much good. I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to being a derider, and 2 times out of 3 I will usually lapse into that mode. Especially when I am defensive or when I am convinced I have a moral or ethical edge. But lately I’ve begun to reconsider the value of this approach, especially since I feel myself evolving away from the cynicism of my 30-something years, and desiring a deeper understanding of not only myself, but the people around me.

    I think in order to be truly persuasive you have to a) convince your audience that you have more in common with them than not, then b) convince them that you have their best interests at heart, and c) you have to convince them that you respect their dignity as individual human beings. You might believe they’re deeply in the wrong, that their thoughts or feelings are incorrect or even harmful, but condemning them outright as untermensch — while emotionally satisfying — breaks the connection that’s necessary for you to have real and long-lasting influence.

    Now, sometimes you can shame a person into taking actions you see as desirable. And shame can be a powerful weapon if your goal is to humiliate someone. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that shame and humiliation are tools the military uses all the time, especially during the induction process. They are emotional responses that can be easily gotten if you know how to push buttons and you know how to find soft spots. Shame cuts past ego and keeps people awake at night, even when they’re slapping on a brave or stubborn face.

    But shame and humiliation are also dangerous. Shame a man honestly, and he might thank you for it eventually. Shame a man to hurt him, or because you think it’s fun, or because you think he’s a lesser person who just needs to be put in his place, and he will remember the moment forever. And not in a nice way. And you will not be remembered in a nice way either. Nor your ideas.

    And yes, sadly, there are plenty of people who could care less what others think of them, and who joyfully roam the intellectual landscape taking pot shots at available targets as they see fit. Our political publications are filled with this kind of attitude. Our political language too. We deride, we deride, and we deride again. Yet how much of this derision serves to solidify the opposition and make him or her entrenched against us?

    Once upon a time I thought it wasn’t worth considering.

    Now, I think it’s very worth considering. And I am trying to change my actions and my words accordingly. Albeit in a rather stumbling fashion.

  137. Mythago – I concur about not talking like the groups are monoliths. For whatever reason the initial comment didn’t quite read the same to me as saying “blacks are not a monolithic block, for example…” Really it read in my head as “The NAACP is involved so just because a lot of blacks support the amendment doesn’t mean it isn’t rich white Christians driving it.” …Which would be an unusual argument for you. And here we are at my question. Never mind me.

  138. Brad? Did you really suggest that calling someone with bigoted views a bigot is calling them untermensch? Do you not understand the associations with that term?

  139. Brad: Fuck that. Bigotry is bigotry. Using that word is absolutely not the same as untermensch. I get your general point about winning people over, but the fact remains this is not applicable here. Bigotry is a choice and a definable mode of action. This isn’t a gleeful free for all game of Internet snark tag. Amendment 1 is certifiable bigotry, denying LGBT equal rights because they are LGBT. You voted for it, you opted to support that.

  140. To clarify: I don’t recall addressing “bigot” anywhere in my post. untermensch essentially means sub-human, and yes, I think this is something we in our society do relentlessly. Especially when it comes to politics.

  141. Brad: No, you’re right. Like fifty comments in a row arguing whether ‘bigot’ is inflammatory and a poor tone to take you weighed in on some other language not previously mentioned. So. You are now indicating that you concur that bigot is not inflammatory burn-bridgey Internet snark, yes?

  142. Brad, indeed you didn’t use that word in your post. You are also intelligent and erudite to allude to something without having to explicitly call it out by name. That is why i asked for clarification: when you said You might believe they’re deeply in the wrong, that their thoughts or feelings are incorrect or even harmful, but condemning them outright as untermensch — while emotionally satisfying — breaks the connection that’s necessary for you to have real and long-lasting influence, was this intended to say that calling someone a bigot is ‘condemning them outright as untermensch“? Given the context of the discussion, that seemed to be what you were implying, but I didn’t want to read in a meaning that was far from your mind.

    Generally, I agree with you that “does this make me feel clever and superior?” is perhaps not the best mode of political discourse – especially given the failure mode of clever. I’ll note, though, that this also depends on whom you hope to persuade. I may never be able to convince A of my views, but what if I don’t want to convince A? What I want to do is convince everybody else that A is a fool. Or, perhaps I am a national pundit and I don’t really expect to convince anyone who doesn’t already agree with me. What I do want is for like-minded folks to think I am clever and snarky. Reasoned discourse will bore their socks off.

    TL;DR, nobody should be allowed out on the Internet without having read The Art of Deception and The Gentle Verbal Art of Self-Defense.

  143. Actually, Bill, because state after state is voting “no” to gay marriage, I do think winning people over is important. Yes, I understand that there is an overwhelming sense of injustice with what’s going on. That this sense of injustice is four-letter-word inducing. But if the real objective is to change hearts and minds (to borrow the old phrase) what’s more effective? I have a hunch — that you get more traction with sugar than with vinegar — and I am trying to act on it with more frequency. There are valid arguments for calling a spade a spade. But because we’re talking about the human mind and heart when we talk about overcoming opposition to gay marriage — or any other politically-charged topic — I think it’s worth considering the effects of the words we use. Even when — or especially when? — we (collectively) are convinced of the moral and ethical propriety of our positions.

  144. Brad: “Shame a man to hurt him, or because you think it’s fun, or because you think he’s a lesser person who just needs to be put in his place, and he will remember the moment forever.”

    Wow. This is first grade bigot-concern-trolling.

    Will no one think of the bigot’s feelings? What if we piss off the bigot? It would be a shame if something happened.

  145. Brad: So we agree, your original comment included bigot.

    I disagree with what you’re saying specifically with regards to that word. In general, I agree it is not practical to berate someone with abusive, insulting language in order to convert them. Yes, of course that.

    But, you know. Using the bigotry word is not doing that. And ‘watch your tone’ arguments in a nuanced debate that ignore the nuance of the debate are not as helpful.

  146. Brad, so it is correct that you meant to say calling someone “bigot” – even if, in one’s view, that person’s beliefs are bigoted – is equivalent to calling them an untermensch?

    You’re also presenting a false dichotomy. It’s not a split between “be respectful of the other’s humanity” (sugar) and “call them every name in the book and condemn them” (vinegar). One can call out another’s bigotry or shameful behavior in a way that isn’t “Hey, asshole, you’re a bigot”. (Many Christian faiths have something called rebuking, where you call out a fellow believer, but are expected to do so in a loving way, correct?) Kathryne @4:14 posted about how her boss calmly and straightforwardly pointed out to her that she was, in fact, acting in a bigoted way, and that this led her to change her thinking. Her boss didn’t pussyfoot around or timidly suggest that maybe she was being a little unfair; he was direct and, yes, used the B-word.

  147. Would that those offering bigoted actions toward gays and lesbians had given those whose civil rights they are curtailing as much sensitive care as we are being urged to give those who have acted in a bigoted manner.

  148. @ Todd

    You might arbitrarily redefine yourself as a “gay male” in order to invoke the notion that you are somehow different. But under the law we are both “men”…and we both have the same rights regarding marriage. We can each marry any woman who will agree to marry one of us. Case closed.

    Under the law, I’m a woman, which means I have the right to marry any man who will agree to marry me. That’s a right that you, as a man, don’t have. You have the right to marry a woman, which is a right that I don’t have. Saying that that isn’t discrimination is like saying that anti-miscegination laws weren’t discriminatory because: A) A “colored” woman had a right to marry any “colored” man who would agree to marry her. That’s a right a white woman didn’t have; and B) A white woman had a right to marry any white man who would agree to marry her. That’s a right a “colored” woman didn’t have.

    That’s actually one of the arguments that the State of Virginia made in its criminal prosecution of an interracial couple in Loving v. Virginia. SCOTUS found that argument to be…less than convincing. In fact, SCOTUS found it downright bigoted.

    On a note not related to Todd’s argument, I find it interesting how many who base objections to same-sex marriage on religious grounds seem to forget that the “God doesn’t like it” argument has been a favored bastion for bigotry. The trial court judge in Loving justified criminalizing interracial marriage this way:

    Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

    Anyway, here’s hoping the arc of history starts more sharply curving towards justice than it seems like it is today.

  149. Mythago: I know the “blacks vs. gays” narrative is good copy, but it’s not true.

    2/3 of black voters supported Amendment One — no doubt forced to do so against their will by the homophobic mind control rays of the LDS. It’s not blacks vs gays, Mythago — it’s bigots vs gays. And there’s no special “get out of bigotry free” card just because someone is black.

    Or maybe there is, what with black bigots being “allies” (whatever that means).

    Silbey: Wow. You were doing fine (not that I agreed with you, but) until this. Do women get to be real people in your world?

    Wow. Mind reading on the basis of one word? You should take that act to Vegas.

  150. Wow. You were doing fine (not that I agreed with you, but) until this. Do women get to be real people in your world?

    Wow. Mind reading on the basis of one word? You should take that act to Vegas.

    “Trust me, honey” is patronizing on so many levels that it invalidates any reasonableness in wht you said before.

    Single words can be powerful that way.

  151. Todd: “There are many people out there with sexual needs and desires that are outside the mainstream: polygamists, men who visit prostitutes, etc. etc”

    You flaming bigot you.

    People don’t need legalized gay marriage to have their sexual needs and desires met. That needs to deal with anti-sodomy laws and such idiocy.

    Gay marriage means that two people can get married and have work benefits like health insurance apply to them, one of them can end up in the hospital and the other can visit them or make decisions for the other in the absence of a living will. If children are part of the relationship and one of the parents dies, the other parent has custodial rights. If the marriage ends in divorce, there are divorce laws which deal with property and will custody and visitation.

    In other words, gay marriage isn’t about getting your gay sex on, gay marriage is about the same thing that marriage is about:

    Committing to love and take care of another human being.

    That bigots would be so adamant about their bigotry as to stand in between two people’s love and commitment to one another, to be an obstruction to love, that they would do so on a national scale, that others would be more worried about how we might hurt bigots’ feelings by calling them bigots rather than worrying about, oh fuck I don’t know real live human beings who are being discriminated against just because of who they love, it… its just assinine.

    The bigotry in this thread alone, the defenders, the concern trolls, the pedants, all the different ways folks are exercising bigotry, putting bigotry into the real world, for whatever intention or excuse or misguided nonsense, puts me on the verge of vomitting.

    I’m sure some bigots are quite proud of the fact that Jane won’t be able to extend her health insurance to cover her wife Alice, I’m sure some bigots are quite proud of their accomplishment of preventing Bob from making end of life decisions for Charlie the man he has lived with and loved for thirty years and who has been in a coma for a year, I am sure some bigots are quite proud of the fact that they’ve managed to prevent Ellen from taking care of Eve’s son after Eve was killed in a car crash, because their love and committment to one another was prevented by bigots from legal recognition.

    But I’ll be damned if I’m going to call that pride anything other than what it is: fucking bigotry.

    As far as the bigotry going on in this thread, the concern trolls, and defenders, the riders of hobby horses, the pedants, have you no shame?

  152. Mind-control rays? Bigot allies? Nebuchadnezzar, I genuinely have no idea what you’re trying to get across here.

    The NC turnout was very low and consisted of older voters; I cannot confirm, but was told by an organizer, that the average voting age was 57. You don’t tell us how the demographic breaks out otherwise by race, but according to you, even under these circumstances a third of black voters were against Amendment 1. And the NC chapter of NAACP worked to defeat it. Certainly, being black doesn’t excuse bigotry, but you seem to be saying it enhances or guarantees bigotry. There are no mind-control rays, but there are political campaigns and deceptive advertising and those are funded almost exclusively by conservative whites.

    By the way, as our host has pointed out, not everyone who votes against marriage equality is a bigot, although certainly their actions support bigotry.

  153. The Log Cabin Republicans are still Republicans. Not like I have nothing in common with them. Like them, I’m ashamed that they’re gay.

    People who believe that being gay is a “choice” are, at this point, in the same category as people who deny evolution. If they’re adults, don’t argue with them; you can’t reason someone out of something they weren’t reasoned INTO. Instead, corrupt their kids! :-)

    There are NO reasonable arguments against civil marriage equality. We live in a country with separation of church and state (in theory); it is not reasonable for any one religion to dictate what the state may do (and MY religion, for one, is perfectly fine with same-sex marriage). There is no state interest in arbitrarily denying the LEGAL (not religious) status of marriage to same-sex couples.

    Oh, wait, there’s the argument that if same-sex people can get married, they’ll pay less in taxes, and that will cost the state money. First, same-sex couples generally INCREASE their tax liability when they get married. Second, if that’s your argument, please throw yourself in front of a bus, because your bigotry is now taking the form of endorsing the economic exploitation of gay people for your own benefit, and you can bite my ass.

    So yeah, my definition of ‘reasonable’ includes “not being willing to economically exploit people because you can divide them from yourself with some arbitrary categorization.

    And no church can ever, ever be forced to perform same-sex marriages if they don’t want to. NO ONE wants that.

    Now, about civil unions: New Jersey has what is probably the best CU law in the nation—and it’s been shown to be inadequate. It has NOT succeeded in conferring the same rights as marriage, which was the mandate to the legislature. The reason it doesn’t work is that out-of-state insurance companies still make a distinction (in-state ones are not permitted to do so), denying benefits to civil unioned spouses that they allow for married spouses.

    See what that means? Nothing but the actual name will do, because real people and real companies are really discriminating based on the name.

    As for Todd? I think he can never be fully trusted, even if he doesn’t have those feeding openings in his palms anymore.

    Kappa:

    Under the law, I’m a woman, which means I have the right to marry any man who will agree to marry me. That’s a right that you, as a man, don’t have. You have the right to marry a woman, which is a right that I don’t have. Saying that that isn’t discrimination is like saying that anti-miscegination laws weren’t discriminatory because: A) A “colored” woman had a right to marry any “colored” man who would agree to marry her. That’s a right a white woman didn’t have; and B) A white woman had a right to marry any white man who would agree to marry her. That’s a right a “colored” woman didn’t have.

    That’s actually one of the arguments that the State of Virginia made in its criminal prosecution of an interracial couple in Loving v. Virginia. SCOTUS found that argument to be…less than convincing. In fact, SCOTUS found it downright bigoted.

    That’s the most succinct, cogent presentation of this argument I’ve seen yet. I may steal it; I certainly will imitate it. Thank you.

  154. What the hell? I swear I didn’t bold the first paragraph of my quote from Kappa and italicize the second one. In fact there was only a </blockquote><blockquote> between them.

  155. I think that was wordpress. It seems to parse paragraph tags within the blockquote tags… oddly.

    p.s. Dear HTML geeks, I may have used the term “parse” incorrectly here. I don’t actually care. :-)

  156. Neb: “2/3 of black voters supported Amendment One”

    60% of the vote statewide voted in favor of the ammendment. So, I could probably say 2/3rds of tuba players supported Ammendment 1.

    And it would be just as meaningless.

  157. Doc: “I may have used the term “parse” incorrectly”

    I know a thing or two about parsers. And I think you got it right.

  158. Other Bill: oh yeah? Well, I also like to refer to things as “subroutines” and “gotos”.
    That’s right! I just want to watch the world burn! MWhahahahahahaaaaa…

  159. Brad, so it is correct that you meant to say calling someone “bigot” — even if, in one’s view, that person’s beliefs are bigoted – is equivalent to calling them an untermensch?

    I’m saying that if you genuinely want to change a person’s ideas, their feelings and thoughts, that there may be more effective ways to do it than labeling, derision and ridicule. The word itself doesn’t matter. There are any dozen words which might be used in the same way. The word is just a tool. And I think the tool can reflect the intent of the user.

    I understand that derision, ridicule, snarky put-downs, labels, et al, are irresistible in many instances. Yet, however apt or accurate they may be, they aren’t necessarily a winning formula — especially if you’re faced with an overwhelming opposition that isn’t going to go away any time soon, and consistently obstructs your (humane) objectives. Until and unless they really do go away, sooner come later, you’re going to have to try to sway them to your side as much as you can. And this potentially requires a different strategy. A harder and more difficult strategy, perhaps. But also more effective in the long term?

    It may feel viscerally proper and just, to call a spade a spade. Along with a lot of other words. And if you believe your objectives can be achieved despite the opposition, I suppose there isn’t any expedient reason to consider the other person’s feelings or viewpoint at all. Your assumption is perhaps that the opponent doesn’t matter and that in the long run your side will win (no matter what?) and that the opponent can go jump off a cliff — because the opponent cannot resist your irresistible inertia? The cosmic rightness of your cause? The karmic propriety of your position?

    I think the great majority of American political discussion now proceeds along these very lines: the other guys don’t matter, they’re just a bunch of (label) anyway, so (curse word) them, we’ll get what we want whether they like it or not and when we win, we’ll laugh at them for being such (label) in the first place.

    No wonder the word “war” gets used 87 billion times in the average 24 hour political news cycle in this country. Because in war, it’s winner take all, and screw the loser. He’ll take whatever we give him, and he’ll like it.

    If you can literally have a war — winner take all — then it’s true. The enemy doesn’t matter, and they’ll take what they’re given after they’ve been vanquished. The winner doesn’t have to care and the losers can go suck eggs.

    But because we’re still a democracy and (in recent times at least) we settle our internal national issues with votes, not mass bloodshed on the field of battle, and because the vote cannot be coerced, perhaps another method of motivation — of swaying minds and souls — is called for? One that doesn’t involve putting thumbs in eyes.

    Yes, the courts are always there — a powerful trump card for activism. But even court rulings aren’t immune to being overturned or made irrelevant. In order for any court ruling to be sustainable I suspect it must enjoy majority support, or the legislatures and/or contra legal precedents will most likely hack-saw it into meaninglessness. Impotent.

    In the specific case of gay marriage and gay acceptance, the host suggests that time and social inertia will do what’s necessary. He might be exactly right. But then again, history is not a straight line trending forever and inexorably towards something. It’s a variable waveform. There are ways to help the waveform do what you want it to do, and there are ways to make the waveform do just the opposite of what you want it to do.

  160. No wonder the word “war” gets used 87 billion times in the average 24 hour political news cycle in this country. Because in war, it’s winner take all, and screw the loser. He’ll take whatever we give him, and he’ll like it.

    In a post about how the power of language distorts discussion, you probably shouldn’t have used the word untermensch, then.

  161. Brad: “there may be more effective ways to do it than labeling, derision and ridicule “… “derision, ridicule, snarky put-downs, labels,” … “It may feel viscerally proper and just” …

    Oh fer the love of god.

    This #&*&!^@ thing you’re doing right now? This thing where you’re making shit up? You are mind reading the intentions of people you disagree with. The fact that you disagree with these people should be a red flag that you might not actually understand their position, that you don’t actually know what’s going on in their minds. And here you are, with a laundry list mental attributes plucked from the aether.

    Homophobia is an objective thing. People take actions against gay people for the sole reason because they’re gay. That is homophobia. And I can say that’s homophobia without labeling, derision, ridicule, snark, putdowns, and labels. That is your strawman of reality. That is you projecting into the minds of people the worst possible motivations you can think of. The other name for it is called demonization, and you’re doing it in spades.

    And I can say this about you without any labeling, derision, ridicule, snark, putdowns, or labels. Because its based solely on what you’re doing. You’re projecting, you’re mind reading, you’re making shit up, you’re strawmanning, and your demonizing. It is what you are doing.

    Now, you might feel uncomfortable being told that you’re demonizing people. And you might try and portray me as being impolite for saying this about you. But hey, guess what? Demonizing people’s intentions is way more impolite than pointing out that you’re demonizing people’s intentions.

    It’s what you’re doing right now, Brad.

    There are bigots. And then there are people who are fighiting bigots. And of those two groups, guess which one you demonized? It just boggles my mind.

    And if you believe your objectives can be achieved despite the opposition, I suppose there isn’t any expedient reason to consider the other person’s feelings or viewpoint at all.

    Let’s assume this nonsense is true for a second. There are still two groups on the playing field.

    [1] There are bigots who want to do physical harm to gays, who want to physically restrict what they can do, who want to make sure gay people do not get a slew of objective benefits that straight people get.

    [2] And then there are people who want gays to have the same equal rights that straight people have. And in achieving that goal they MUST point out when and where those equal rights are not being extended to gays. One cannot move towards equality without identifying where equality is NOT.

    So, lets consider these two groups: the bigots who want to keep gays as second class citizens, and the people who want equal rights for gays. Now heres a quesiton for you: of those two groups, which one is NOT considering the other person’s feelings or viewpoints?

    Do you think bigots are considering the viewpoint of gays? Seriously? Do you think homophobes are actually putting themselves in the shoes of gay people, empathizing with what it’s like to be gay, and then voting to outlaw gay marriage?

    But the people who are fighting for equality? Those are the people you decide to deride? Those are the people you decide to assume their motivations are to label, ridicule, deride, snark and putdowns? Those are the people you decide to attack for failing to have sufficient empathy? The people fighting for equality, those people are the people you decide to label as having insufficient empathy??? Those are the people you decide need to do more to consider the other person’s feelings or viewpoint

    My mind is boggled right now.

  162. Brad, you’re assuming calling something what it is, or labeling, are synonymous with “derision and ridicule”. It can be, but certainly doesn’t have to be, as someone has already pointed out; nor is it the case that labeling is always ineffective and passive language never is.

    I’m a little hesitant to go on, because I’m getting the strong sense that you’re not interested in really engaging in a discussion; you have a set of talking points, which you’ve presented on other occasions, and you’re not so much responding to others as you are simply repeating those talking points in slightly different language. The world is becoming more and more discourteous and politics grow ever more partisan; yes, you’ve said. Repeatedly. Could you, perhaps, consider applying this standard complaint more specifically to the actual conversation? Otherwise, what you’re doing right now is exactly the mode of discourse you claim to despise: ignore what the other guy says, don’t engage, simply repeat yourself, because after all you’re right so what’s the point in doing anything but saying so?

    Also, what silbey said. If you think calling someone who wants to protect the Causasian race a bigot is identical to calling that person untermensch, then the nicest interpretation I can give is that you’re profoundly ignorant of the meaning of that term. The alternative is that you were either trying to shut down discussion or you thought you were doing a super clever job of calling people Nazis, and in the spirit of respecting one’s opponents I’m going to assume that’s not the case.

  163. Brad, I can think of at least one occasion here on Whatever where someone in the comment threads here wasn’t listening to what was being said to him until someone else finally confronted him angrily on his behavior and told him his actions were entirely unacceptable. I believe that words used in that case were that he had just performed “a thoroughly unchristian act,” which in that particular context would have been just as confrontational as, say, telling someone that voting for Amendment One would be a thoroughly bigoted act. I do seem to recall that person, on reflection, decided to own his actions and ask forgiveness (which was, as I recall, readily accepted).

    I am curious why, given the evidence of the power of confrontational words and their ability to reach their targets and change minds — evidence that you are personally familiar with — why you seem to believe that such a tactic can not be useful. Especially when in this very thread, an example has been offered by someone else about how being called a “bigot” helped her change her mind and attitudes.

    These are anecdotal examples, to be sure. On the other hand, they actually happened, whereas what you’re offering is a set of assertions untethered to anything other than your own opinion, an opinion which, I will note, is countered by your own direct experience. Which leaves the question of: If you are making an argument that is counter to your own direct experience and knowledge, is it fundamentally a good argument, and what is your actual purpose for making it?

  164. Greg: 60% of the vote statewide voted in favor of the ammendment. So, I could probably say 2/3rds of tuba players supported Ammendment 1.

    And it would be just as meaningless.

    Hardly. It would mean that Ms. Cox’ assertion that this problem will go away once those mean ol’ white Republicans get beat is not correct. This is not a bigotry that votes straight party line. It is misleading and unhelpful to think that all we have to do to defeat this particular bigotry is vote Democrat and then sit back thinking we’ve done our part and are on the side of the angels. Mythago’s yammering about “allies” (who nevertheless vote against SSM) is unhelpful. But with the NAACP on the job and a laser-like focus on our true opponents, the Mormons, I’m sure all will be well.

    Silbey: “Trust me, honey” is patronizing on so many levels that it invalidates any reasonableness in wht you said before.

    Single words can be powerful that way.

    On the basis of a single word in a brief internet comment, you decided in your original post that I was a misogynist. This suggests the possibility that rather than thinking, you may be operating on a kind of primitive, lower-order stimulus/response mechanism — the kind that e.g. responds powerfully to single words. Your follow-up post appears to confirm this.

    I haven’t a clue what other single words may trigger one of your threat responses, so I think I will just gently disengage from conversation with you. I hope I don’t startle you while doing so, leading to another instinctive strike from your hindbrain.

    Okay? See? No threat here. Everything’s good. Good Silbey.

  165. Nebuchadnezzar:

    You may not have been attempting to express misogyny, but you are intentionally being a bit of asshole right there. Reel it in, please.

  166. This is really interesting. Not the argument about whether marriage should be legal for couples regardless of their respective sex, which it should be: I voted against the NC amendment that won, I am disgusted that it won, and heartbroken at the same time. That other argument though, the argument about whether and when it’s appropriate to call people bigots: that argument is really interesting.

    On the one side, individuals engage to say that demonizing your opponent keeps you from winning them over. I’m convinced by that argument. On the other side, others engage to say first, that calling someone a bigot is not demonization but a statement of fact, and second, that confronting someone with their wrongdoing can lead to a moment of change of heart. I’m convinced by the second part of that – we even had an anecdote, which rang true, and I’ve seen the same myself – and somewhat by the first as well. The question was raised though, does every participant in calling someone a bigot intend it to be an opening of possible change type of confrontation? Or do some of them intend it as demonization after all? That of course got defensive reactions. I see it as an example of what it’s talking about.

    It can be very difficult to get someone to recognize when they’ve done something wrong. Most often we have to expect them to react defensively, as people confronted with their bigotry mostly will do. But sometimes, it cracks the shell. I think we have to keep at it. I also think, though, that it helps if we constantly re-examine our reason for doing so and keep an eye that we don’t start doing, for our own side, what we revile in the other side: reducing human beings to a single dimension of their behavior, perhaps an accurate one, but disregarding of everything else about that person as if it does not matter. So, yes, keep calling out bigotry. And while doing so, focus on the ultimate intent: to eliminate or at least lessen the bigotry and its awful effect on people. As opposed to, making yourself feel superior to the bigots.

    Then again, I wonder if strengthening the cohesion in one’s own side is a superior strategy. Maybe doing what feels like the right thing is a way of weakening my own side and doing the opposite is a strategy to strengthen cohesion and will ultimately make it faster and easier for the right to come out ahead? Can ends justify means that way? Should they? Probably too off topic for the discussion though… it’s a pattern I see a lot in this community show up over and over (and the reason I’m too scared to comment on making light blog anymore)… and if people I generally find far above me in rhetorical and communicative skill so often take this bent, maybe there’s something important they’re doing that I just don’t get. Even though it seems so mean.

  167. Dana A:

    I think you choose your battles based on the ground, i.e., you find the argument you think is going to work best for the particular audience. Sometimes you call a bigot a bigot. Sometimes you try something else first.

    With regard to the original entry here, my calling voting for Amendment One a act of bigotry wasn’t an attempt to reason with those who voted for the Amendment; it was me calling the act what it was, after the fact. Also, I don’t particularly worry that someone will be offended by the observation.

  168. Dana A:

    “As opposed to, making yourself feel superior to bigots.”

    And if that were the case here, I’d agree. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to exhort people to consitently monitor their motivations, aims and strategies while engaging in very personal, passionate rhetorical debate.

    But, using the bigotry word to describe, you know. Bigotry. It isn’t a superiority strategy. And using the word certainly isn’t meant to make me feel better about myself. If it was, I suppose that’d be a pretty low bar for self satisfaction of a job well done, right? Be better than a bigot for a gold star. I don’t see the medal ceremony at the end of Star Wars IV, where I’m Luke getting a medal for successfully identifying bigotry. With a stadium full of LGBT cheering me. ROAR…OTHER BILL!

    I would add that there are those that use concern trolling about feelings of superiority as a way to quietly imply that those identifying bigotry are in fact ivory tower intellectual elitists who don’t actually know anything about the real world. Which is a convenient way to derail a conversation about bigotry. It can also be used as a way to falsely “level the field” of sorts. By saying bigots are bad, you’re making yourself as bad as they are because now you feel superior to someone. It’s a derail. And it isn’t grounded in any objective observation in this thread.

    Do these things really happen elsewhere? Yeah. The Internet can be the 31 flavors of awful petty human behavior. But, I really don’t see how this conversation, in this place, reflects that.

  169. Neb: “rather than thinking, you may be operating on a kind of primitive, lower-order stimulus/response mechanism — the kind that e.g. responds powerfully to single words. Your follow-up post appears to confirm this. I haven’t a clue what other single words may trigger one of your threat responses, so I think I will just gently disengage from conversation with you. I hope I don’t startle you while doing so, leading to another instinctive strike from your hindbrain.”

    I don’t always insult people I disagree with, but when I do, I prefer to reduce them to their hindbrain.

    The most insulting man in the world.

    Stay crassy my friends.

    Dana: “focus on the ultimate intent: to eliminate or at least lessen the bigotry and its awful effect on people. As opposed to, making yourself feel superior to the bigots.”

    Dana, I am quite aware of the awful effect homophobia has on people. I know a lot of people who are gay and some of them are very close to me and I want them to have what I have being straight.

    The thing is, bigotry hurts people. Literally hurts people. And emotionaly hurts people. And logisticaly hurts people. It prevents two people who are in love and committed to one another from taking care of one another the way a straight couple can. It creates all sorts of terrible, tragic problems that I mentioned @173. And all of these are *avoidable* tragedies. All of these tragedies exist for one reason only: because of bigotry.

    I am not calling bigots “bigot” in order to make myself “feel superior to the bigots”. I am calling them bigots because no one should be able to inflict harm (physical, emotional, logistical, medical, economical) on another without that harm being pointed out.

    The bigots will tell you they’re trying to “protect the pillar of marriage”, whatever that means, meanwhile, they’re causing harm to people who love each other and are committed to each other and want the legal capability to take care of one another.

    Most every bigot hides behind some justification that their doing things for the “best” reasons. And yet they’re inflicting harm on real human beings. Calling them “bigot” strips away their smoke screen, and leaves the harm they cause other people exposed bare. And most bigots don’t like that. But it is shining a spotlight on the truth, on the smokescreen, on the real harm their bigotry is causing real people.

    And I don’t know how anyone thinks we can make the world a better place by coming from a place where we can’t speak the truth, where we can’t point out real harm being caused by real people.

    This is an important distinction: If poeple are bigots, but their bigotry doesn’t harm anyone??? Hey! I don’t care! Let them be bigots. The only reason I have an issue with this bigotry is because this bigotry is hurting people. And I think pointing out that hurt, pointing out the *source* of that hurt, pointing out that it is the *bigotry* that is causing harm to poeple, is legitimate. Is even needed.

  170. Dana’s post is an excellent, excellent post in my opinion.

    I would add:

    For the last 20 years I’ve been witness to instances of racism and perceived racist attitudes directed at my spouse, sometimes by people close to me, sometimes by fellow church members, often by total strangers. Such instances generate in me feelings ranging from profound sadness to violent rage. For my wife, it’s about 20 times the magnitude. But regardless of my personal emotions on the matter as her spouse, I am also something of an interlocutor, and it’s been my observation that you can often get understanding and positive action out of someone — especially someone you know — if you don’t approach them with bomb words.

    What is a bomb word? A bomb word is a word that ends civil conversation, and which often seems to be used to divorce the target from the circle of polite dialogue. The word may be 100% accurate and applicable from a logical standpoint. But if the emotional reaction of the intended listener or reader is to close his or her eyes and ears and turn away, because (s)he believes (s)he’s been dehumanized…?

    Any time gay marriage comes up, you see the bomb words come out. Most people who use them don’t really seem to care about their targets — it’s a venting thing. Or an expression of righteous indignation. I think that’s a perfectly natural reaction and I understand it.

    But because there is a profoundly large majority of voters involved and because the pattern is almost iron-clad — 0 for 31 so far — I think it’s perhaps valuable to consider whether the employ of bomb words and confrontational language is doing any good? Sooner or later there has to be an olive branch.

    And yes, I understand that gays and lesbians and gay activists are not necessarily in a cordial mood any time one of these votes goes down. But it’s also been my experience when discussing the issue with gays and lesbians that even some of them worry about the escalation of verbal pugilism by “their side” because they have to live in the real world too, and not every gay or lesbian person wants to see their cause mimic the (poor) behavior of the opponent.

    John:

    Trust me, if you’d used bomb words with me during our exchange last year — specifically if you’d used mocking anti-Mormon or anti-Christian words — I’d have probably written your argument off and not even considered it further. You didn’t use bomb words. You used my own language, and though you were doing it with vigor, I didn’t detect that you were simply in it to insult or demean me. I treated your remonstration as an honest remonstration.

    And I think that’s an important point: how to get the opponent to understand that you don’t want to hurt or insult them, you just think they’re making an error — perhaps a serious one — and you’d like to see change. How can you (collectively) with your words achieve this?

    My suggestion is: avoid bomb words, and be aware of the reaction they create.

    Generally, to all:

    I’ve stated before that I support full protection under the law for all law-abiding citizens. I happen to think the amendment process that’s happening in the states isn’t a good solution: we still have rights disparity and we still have a discriminatory imbalance that is (to my mind) un-American. Traditional marriage supporters have delayed the legal showdown, not cancelled it. But because I walk in a religiously conservative culture that is adamantly opposed to gay marriage, I understand that viewpoint too. And while I try to argue on behalf of gay and lesbian rights where and when I am able, when I see bomb words applied to friends, family, etc, I feel like pointing out to activists that very, very, very few of these marriage-defenders are going to change their minds because someone calls them a bigot. This sort of thing is more probably going to make them dig in their heels and fight harder.

    When the marriage-defense body is the large majority and defeats your objectives in 31 states, without exception, throwing bomb words that might cause them to dig in their heels and fight harder isn’t terrifically productive IMHO.

  171. Brad: I get it. If you’ve got family and friends who passionately, or unpassionately, support amendments like North Carolina’s, you don’t want to walk around every day shouting at them that they’re bigots. And that may make it seem like calling an apple an apple is a ‘bomb word’.

    But, for someone who came in here wanting to argue that words and presentation matter. You know. Man, you dropped the untermensch bomb and then you elided that you were actually responding to the use of the word bigotry with broad language. You openly admit now that bigot is the word you were speaking out against. But, you don’t even mention the part where you tried to deliberately obfuscate that. Your language isn’t outright dishonest, but it’s pretty slippery.

    You want to be an honest broker to both sides. Great. You have to walk a line with friends and family, fight the long fight, as it were, great. I get it. But, I don’t need my tone policed because you think I’m not smart enough to understand the impact of rhetoric. Is that not what you said? Or, you just implied that because if I am smart enough to understand it, then I’m only using bomb words to be an asshole.

    There’s a lot of handwringing on your part about the decline of a political civilization, the end of reasoned discourse. You know what though, that’s bunk. Politcs has always been messy. Ask Julius Caeser. Get a helmet.

  172. Brad: “avoid bomb words”

    Like “faggot”? “Unnatural”? “Against God’s will”? “Abomination”? “Perversion”?

    What’s that?

    The “bomb word” you had in mind was “bigot”?

    Well, now we know where your priorities are.

    “specifically if you’d used mocking anti-Mormon or anti-Christian words”

    Because “bigot” is mocking, and can’t be used any other way.

    “When the marriage-defense body is the large majority”

    So, all of this is survival strategy because you’re outnumbered? Well, that explains a lot.

    make them dig in their heels and fight harder

    This is silly. Bigot is as bigot does. Either the person doesn’t realize they’re being a bigot, and pointing out their bigotry will cause them to correct themselves, or, the bigot knows they’re being a bigot and that’s the point, and nothing you say will cause them to do anything but dig in their heels and fight harder.

    All of this nonsense hinges on a theory of humanity that is fantasy: That bigots can be swayed with kindness. You might as well argue that the entire Civil War could have been avoided if Lincoln would have just asked the South politely enough to please stop enslaving fellow humans.

    When MLK was fighting for civil rights in the south, bigots would argue that they acknowledge that racism was bad, but that it wasn’t the federal govenment’s job to tell states how to fix racism. So, they argued, they had to defend the evil of racism in order to fight the larger evil that was overreaching federal power. Their argument essentially boiled down to, we would stop being racist if you would just stop telling us we’re so bad for being racist.

    It’s all complete and utter bullshit.

    Bigots are bigots because they get something out of being bigots. They’re not going to give it up just because someone asks nicely.

    ” I didn’t detect that you were simply in it to insult or demean me.”

    Listen very carefully: Calling a bigot “bigot”? isn’t done simply to insult or demean. Do you understand that? Can you get this? If you understand, then you would quit this goddamn thing your doing where you strawman and demonize [calling a bigot "bigot"] into this bullshit that is “doing it simply to demean and insult”.

    You’re demonizing and strawmanning me and a whole bunch of people on this thread. Goddamn.

  173. Brad, what are the “bomb words”, specifically, that you feel should be avoided in the context of arguing for marriage equality? I think we can all pretty much agree that words that have no meaning other than insult (like “asshole”) are unlikely to get a helpful reaction – but beyond that, what, specifically, would you caution against?

    A generic ‘avoid bomb words’ lecture isn’t very helpful, you see. As has been pointed out already, there are many words that can shut some minds – but also open them. To you, “unchristian” was not a word that made you turn your back; it made you listen. Kathryne, above, explained how “bigot” made her take a hard look at her actions. These were certainly “bomb words”, in the sense that they blew apart some mistaken mindsets. So if you’re arguing that certain words are powerful, I doubt anyone will disagree with you. But, as our host already pointed out, your argument that “bomb words” are counterproductive is currently zero for two.

    You’re also looking at the current political situation backwards. 31 states with marriage amendments? Those are states reacting to the fact that we have same-sex marriage in the United States, and in other countries around the world. We no longer have “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in the military. The executive is trying to get rid of DOMA, not preserve it. Twenty years ago, the Supreme Court approved of criminalizing homosexuality in Bowers; that decision was thrown out in Lawrence. Public opinion is, and has been, shifting toward marriage equality (yes, even within that monolithic black community that so vexes Nebuchadnezzar.

    Progress is not a straight arc upward, any more than a majority of Americans rushed to embrace interracial couples after Loving v. Virginia. But it is progress. Are you truly arguing that if only equality advocates lowered their voices and used the B-word less, that they’d have marriage everywhere by now? Perhaps you should direct your finger-wagging to anti-equality activists; calling same-sex couples sodomites, anti-family and anti-religious sure seems to be putting a dent in their cause.

    In any case, it’s simply not true that marriage-equality advocates’ efforts consist only of “bomb words”, unless you think “love”, “equality” and “family” are “bomb words”.

  174. Sorry John. I was indeed intentionally being an asshole to Silbey and I will reel it in. Urinating in my host’s punch bowl seemed like a good idea at the time but in hindsight there would have been better ways to make my point…

  175. Brad Torgerson:

    “You didn’t use bomb words.”

    I’m pretty sure you’re engaging in revisionist history here, Brad, since in addition to calling your actions “thoroughly unchristian” — which is not a friendly thing to say to a committed Christian — I also noted your actions were uncharitable, sad, lazy, thoughtless, stupid and wrong and that you should be ashamed of them. Here’s the actual comment again to refresh your memory. I’ll also note that your immediate response was to deny having written anything as offensive as all that, i.e., you, as you say, wrote my argument off; you certainly did consider what I said to you “bomb words” at the time. But to your credit you came back around to them and considered them again.

    Now, it may be that you’re hanging your argument on the fact that I did not call you a “bad Christian” or a “bad Mormon,” or engaged in words that disparaged belief in Christ. But this is a rather slender thread on which to make your argument, since I baldly told you that you were acting in an unchristian manner, which is very much like noting that someone is acting in a bigoted manner, even if one does not call them (or otherwise believe them to be) a bigot. Unless you want to reframe your argument so that only directly calling someone a bigot i(or a bad Christian) is a “bomb word,” as you call it, once again, your own direct experience contradicts your argument. It also still doesn’t sufficiently explain how, as noted earlier in the thread, someone directly being called a “bigot” had a salutatory effect on her behavior.

    You’re also making a very bad logical inference, to wit, because 31 states voted to outlaw same sex marriages, it is therefore a bad idea to call those people who voted against them bigots (or to suggest they had performed bigoted actions). However, you have not shown the logical basis for such an argument. I could equally argue that the reason these folks voted for outlawing same sex marriage is that the bigoted nature of their actions were soft-pedaled to them; they were not made to confront the fundamental bigotry of banning same-sex marriages prior to their votes. In which case, confronting them with the bigotry of their actions may have swayed them against it.

    What your argument boils down to, Brad, is “No one likes to be called a bigot, and it’s not nice to call them one, even if they are.” And the answer to this is, well, of course; very few people like to have their noses rubbed into the fact they are performing an action that demeans and discriminates against a class of people and deprives them of the rights they ought to have, because people like to think of themselves as good and kind. But when you demean and discriminate against a class of people and deprive them of rights they should have, you aren’t being good and kind; you’re acting like a bigot.

    I don’t see the value in lying to these people about what they’re doing, even if it’s not “nice.” On the scale of things that are not “nice,” it ain’t nothing on telling an entire class of people they don’t deserve the same rights other people have. There’s a word for people who believe that. Guess what it is.

    Greg:

    Like “faggot”? “Unnatural”? “Against God’s will”? “Abomination”? “Perversion”?

    What’s that?

    The “bomb word” you had in mind was “bigot”?

    Well, now we know where your priorities are.

    Greg, whether you are aware of it or not, you’ve just strongly implied Brad has used words like “faggot” in the discussions here, which as far as I know he has never once done. This is a rather unfair inference, and Brad doesn’t deserve it. So either your next comment will have an unequivocal apology to Brad for the inference, or you’re going to be off the thread and you’ll earn a month in the moderation queue.

    Do not pass go, do not collect $200: Apologize to Brad or you’re done. Do it. Now.

    And after you’d done that, step away from the thread until you’ve calmed yourself down. You’ve gone way over the line here, and I’m not going to tolerate that a second time. I want to be very clear about that.

    Nebuchaddnezzar:

    Thank you.

  176. Bill, that’s excellent. You’re nailing it.

    Up to this point I’ve purposefully elided criticism of my initial use of the word “untermensch” because I a) deliberately used it and italicized it in order to b) plant the seed of s subtle point. I wanted to wait until I felt I had enough reactions from enough people to talk about why I did that.

    Knowing a bit about this audience and its sensitivities, I *knew* beforehand that untermensch was going to cause a problem. It’s just a word to me. It doesn’t spark warning flags or alarms in my mind. But I knew it would get noticed — in a big way — here. And I wanted people to pay attention to their specific logical and emotional reactions to my use of the word.

    Because it’s quite clear that “untermensch” badly distracted some of you from my main point, and several people got hung up in its usage so much that they began to draw lots of different conclusions about why I used it, why I was not addressing its usage, what conclusions *I* seemed to be making about them with its usage, et cetera, et cetera.

    My case is therefore demonstrated. The bomb word blows up your point, even if it’s well-stated or you’re not deliberately trying to cause controversy and/or ill feeling.

    It doesn’t matter if you think the word is accurate, called for, or justified. If your audience gets hung up on it to the point that they’re not hearing you, what have you accomplished?

  177. Greg: I don’t always insult people I disagree with, but when I do, I prefer to reduce them to their hindbrain.

    To be clear Greg, when the “disagreement” is over whether or not I’m a misogynist, I tend to set phasers to obliterate. Out of deference to our host, I will tone it down and instead suggest that I am not in fact a misogynist, women are very much real people in my world, and “Trust me, honey” is (or at any rate should be) acceptable language on an internet blog.

    If you have any thoughts on whether simply voting straight Democrat will resolve opposition to SSM, or whether bigots who vote against SSM are in fact “allies” just because they’re black, I’d be interested to hear them.

  178. Brad:

    You using “untermensch” poorly and inaccurately does not make the argument that “bigot” is a “bomb word”. It makes the argument that a) you were using the word poorly and inaccurately, which is in fact what you’re being called on; b) a retroactive “I meant to do that” argument for using the wrong word in a poor fashion is not a good play in this particular discussion.

  179. [Deleted because it's probably cross posted to the note I left for Greg above, rather than willful intent to ignore the note. Greg, scroll up to my comment at 2:32 PM -- JS]

  180. Let me ask you this John: when you said I was being unchristian, what did you expect my reaction would be? Also, what was your internal motiviation when you said that? Did you do it because you felt a compassionate need to point out the errors of a Christian — since you yourself claim to admire The Christ as a philosophical figure? Or did you do it to score points off me and make me look bad? Or both? I would honestly like to know.

  181. As a general note, it looks like deep breaths are a good idea for everyone right about now. If you can’t be civil, walk away from the thread.

    Brad:

    As you appear to be making the argument here that a “bomb word” is a “bomb word” regardless of intent, why should that matter in the slightest?

  182. I understand what you are saying Brad, and I respect it; but from a purely communications standpoint, any word said with the right tone or in the right instance is a ‘bomb’ word. Case in point, “Trust me, honey.” Said from spouse to spouse in a variety of contexts, it is a benign phrase; used in debate with a complete stranger? Boom. My boss called me a bigot. He did so because I was being one. He didn’t scream ‘blasphemer!’ at me, he didn’t say it with anger or derision. He did so in a calm and straightforward fashion. He did so in a way that made me think about what I had done and to realize that he was right. Words do indeed have weight, and that weight can be increased or eased depending on how the word is wielded.

    I appreciated what John said in his original post here, that many people may have unwittingly committed an act of bigotry. While yes, those who drafted and actively campaigned for this amendment are bigots; many of those who voted in favor of it probably – like me – were not thinking that what they were doing was bigoted. I thought he was rather gentle and respectful with his words. And I have to fall in with those who scratch their head about all this concern of possibly offending a group of people whose actions are indeed offensive – those who seek to limit the civil rights of a group based solely on the color of their skin, their sexuality, their gender, or any criteria that is pretty much wholly not in the control of the individual being denied that right.

  183. RE: untermesnch, yes, I deliberately used it to layer an example into the argument itself. I’ve been around this blog enough to know when a specific word used in a specific context will make people sit up and start typing. I could perhaps have used a different word, but I wanted something that would really, really stand out. I even italicized it for emphasis so that it would stand out. Perhaps it is not the best way to demonstrate what I am talking about, but it seemed like a good shot at the time.

  184. Brad R. Torgersen:

    “I deliberately used it to layer an example into the argument itself.”

    No one is arguing that you did not use the word intentionally. The argument is that you used it poorly, and that was what people were responding to, not it being “bomb word,” as you describe it.

    Given the course of the conversation, I’m not hugely convinced that you were intending to use it as a “bomb word,” but you saw a chance later to make such an argument. But from what’s come before, I don’t see much to that. Sorry, Brad.

    Edit: Rather than what I wrote above, let me say that if that was your intent, it was not at all obvious, and I would argue poorly executed. Which happens to all of us sometimes.

  185. On the basis of a single word in a brief internet comment, you decided in your original post that I was a misogynist

    Actually, what I did on the basis of a single word was point out that that word was terribly patronizing and undercut the rest of your post. I didn’t actually say anything specifically about you (as opposed to something you had written) but I find it fascinating how quickly and defensively you moved to the idea of misogyny.

  186. John: “Greg, whether you are aware of it or not, you’ve just strongly implied Brad has used words like “faggot” in the discussions here, which as far as I know he has never once done. This is a rather unfair inference, and Brad doesn’t deserve it.”

    Brad, I never meant to imply that you used the term “faggot” (etc) against anyone. Having known you on these forums for some time now, I am clear you’ve never used such language and never would use such language. I was referring to bomb words that bigots have used against people I know.

    I am sorry for any harm I may have caused you. I did not mean to imply you used any such language towards anyone. My apologies.

  187. Brad: I think my response to what you’re saying is that the lesson was not necessary. Respectfully, this is not a teacher student relationship. It was poor form to drop the untermensch word. And, between that and obfuscating your specific interest you crossed a pretty fine line between something like socratic seminar and condescension.

    People do have an emotional reaction to words. And that can disrupt their logic circuits. These are things that are not being questioned. We disagree on whether ‘bigot’ is a so-called bomb word. I expect we will continue to. I give you the benefit of the doubt, from my perspective, in that your day to day situation is such that for you, perhaps it is. And that’s a path your walking deliberately, with eyes open. Please assume the same for me. I don’t mind a conversation on that level.

  188. @Brad: people have in fact responded substantively and at length to the points you raised. You have chosen to ignore virtually all of those responses in order to declare yourself the rhetorical victor because you retconned your use of untermensch into a clever strategy. I was about to drawn an analogy to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast here, but I don’t want to suggest that (unlike the Beast) that you lack intelligence; your decision to seize on one particular response to you, pretend the rest didn’t happen and shout HA I WIN LOLZ seems deliberate, rather than ignorant. Particularly given your earlier coyness about whether or not you were referring to the term “bigot”.

    By the way, the reason people sat up and paid attention is that by using untermensch, you were, in effect, making this analogy: a marriage-equality supporter calling an Amendment 1 supporter a bigot is like a white supremacist calling a Jew or an African-American subhuman. Do you genuinely not understand why this is problematic, and in fact doesn’t make your point, or are you really arguing that getting attention justifies the means?

    @Nebuchadnezzar: Please read my comments more carefully, as I have never said that bigots who vote against marriage equality are “allies”. What I have said is that it’s a mistake to assume that “black voters” as a block are a) bigots and b) unreachable. In an election with all of the demographics other than race against equality, we still had a full third of black voters rejecting Amendment 1, and the state NAACP fighting Amendment 1. Those folks are our allies. The assumption that black voters are either unchangeable in their views or will automagically vote for anything tagged ‘civil rights’ was not helpful in defeating Proposition 8. I don’t understand why you are trying to recast this as race excusing bigotry.

  189. when the “disagreement” is over whether or not I’m a misogynist, I tend to set phasers to obliterate.

    I had a rather more pointed response to this, regarding the wisdom of that choice of setting. But, in deference to Scalzi’s very recent request, I shall rephrase in a more civil tone: despite your assertions, you are not helping your own case that you’re not a misogynist.

    “Trust me, honey” is (or at any rate should be) acceptable language on an internet blog.

    Well, it’s not. It’s deliberately diminutive and marginalizing to women. And I think you meant it as such. So you don’t get to make that call. And no, directing it at a particular woman, rather than women in general, does not get you off the hook. And you certainly do not get to double down when a women tells you to knock that shit off. The first rule of being in a hole is to stop digging. And as has been repeated numerous times in this thread: if you don’t want to be called a bigot misogynist, don’t do bigoted misogynist things. Next time, try simply saying “I’m sorry”, and, if walking it back will hurt your pride, walk away.

    And please, if you understand and/or agree with this, do not thank me for being so reasonable and civil.Because my handle reads as male, and I wanted to rip into your much harder.

  190. I feel like I’ve lost myself down the trail of this thing, and that parts of my argument are now basically me arguing about how I’m not arguing about what others argue is the wrong way I argue when I argue about how we’re arguing about an argument. And if you can make sense of that last sentence, you’re a better person than me. (g) Or you’re a retired sketch writer for Monty Python’s Flying Circus. (g) (g)

    I think I’ll just retire from the thread.

  191. Brad, I retired a long time ago but it was fun watching you try to get your point across.

  192. *sigh* There are a number of points I’d like to have seen Brad respond to, because he seems a nice fellow, he’s achieved acclaim as a writer that I envy, and I really want to understand him.

    Well, that was anti-climactic and disappointing. But, lucrative.

    *marks both “You guys just don’t understand” and “I’m not arguing that with you” on the Flounce Bingo Card.*

  193. Frequent lurker, infrequent commenter. i agree that this discussion has gone in many interesting directions. Two things I want to say:

    Brad, if you have not in fact retired from this thread, I have noticed that when you comment here, you tend to do from a point of view that reads to me as feeling superior and self-righteous. Claiming that you used an inflammatory word as a “teachable moment” implies strongly that you feel us all in need of teaching- by you. This is not in fact the case. I feel that if you start from assuming some sort of parity with the others who comment here, you will come across as someone whose comments actually interest me instead of (in this case) someone who enrages me with their assumption that I just am not sophisticated enough to understand their subtle point without deceptive manipulation. That’s what your last assertion (that you did it all on purpose) came across to me as: someone who feels that being honest about their opinion won’t work as well as if they “play” their audience. I doubt your assertion. And part of the reason that I doubt your assertion, ironically, is that you just told me your entire first argument was based on a manipulative deception. What a horrible way to have a discussion

    And Nebuchadnezzar, I’d just like to ask you: how many folks on the internet do you call “honey” if their handle makes them appear male? If the answer is “none”, then the shoe may fit better than you want to believe. If the answer is “all the time” then I wonder what the use of that appellation is for you. Affectionate?

  194. Silbey: Actually, what I did on the basis of a single word was point out that that word was terribly patronizing and undercut the rest of your post. I didn’t actually say anything specifically about you (as opposed to something you had written) but I find it fascinating how quickly and defensively you moved to the idea of misogyny.

    “Do women get to be real people in your world?”

    Doc Rocketscience: Well, it’s not. It’s deliberately diminutive and marginalizing to women [and so on and so on]…

    Eh.

    Jacqie: And Nebuchadnezzar, I’d just like to ask you: how many folks on the internet do you call “honey” if their handle makes them appear male?

    None. If I disagree with what they’re saying and they seem to be male, I may go with dude, brother, bro, jackass, Francis, Francine or any number of other tags. If they’re female, it’s usually honey, sister, petunia or lady.

    If that makes me a misogynist in the eyes of you or Doc Rocket, then I guess so be it.

  195. Kathryne 2:49 pm
    “…people whose actions are indeed offensive – those who seek to limit the civil rights of a group based solely on the color of their skin, their sexuality, their gender, or any criteria that is pretty much wholly not in the control of the individual being denied that right.”

    I have no research data to support this, only a naked opinion. So please do not demand data, statistics, and facts. I base my opinion on having lived 60 years largely within the mainstream protestant Christian churched community listening to what people say and think in unguarded moments. I daresay that some off the folk who voted for the NC amendment slip outside the boundary of being bigots because they honestly think that sexual orientation to hetero- or homo- or bi- sexuality is in the control of the individual, that it is not an innate characteristi as is gender or race or national origin.

    Greg, above, goes to great length to distinguish between what people ARE and what people DO. Many people of faith who listen to sermons weekly on “sin” see all sexual activity as a matter of choice, what a person DOES. They simply do not agree that being heterosexual or homosexual is “pretty much wholly not in the control of the individual” as Kathryne phrased it. “Nature” versus “nuture.” You may think the debate settled in favor of “nature” fellow thread-members. And in your minds it may well be so settled. But among a lot of people of faith, they still think sexual orientation comes from “nurture.” I for one, think it a bit of both, which seems to me to be the case with most human behaviors. We are an almagmation of our genetics and our socialization in our formative years.

    I do not seek to ignite a debate here over “nature” versus “nature” as that would be a waste of time and good commentary. John in the original post launching this thread noted that some who voted for the NC amendment were “the oft-unwitting and well-meaning accomplices of bigots” in their voting for the amendment. I saw in Kathryn’s comment above a point of disagreement that likely makes some of the NC “aye” voters not so much bigots themselves, but what John said, “the oft-unwitting and well-meaning accomplices of bigots.” Such “aye” voters really do not think they are denying a civil right to anyone. They simply do not see sexual orientation as being of the same kind as gender or race or national origin. They see sexual orientation as a choice, what a person does, not what a person is. Like John, I am not surprised at the NC amendment election result.

  196. Mythago, I don’t think there’s anything in your latest post that I can really disagree with — your read of the situation (in my view) feels similar to mine. My primary purpose on this thread (other than to defend the freedom to say “honey” on the internet), is to highlight the common error made by Ms. Cox: that pro-Democrat = pro-SSM and therefore all one needs to do to overturn the current injustice is throw out the Republicans. That may be necessary, but hardly sufficient.

  197. Gary, I’m not one to demand statistics on such things. As I said in the example of my life experience, I didn’t see myself as a bigot. Indeed, I would have identified myself as being quite the opposite. What I did, however, was bigoted. This, again, is what John was getting at, I think. Voting to deny civil rights to a group because they happen to be something you (and by you I mean the world at large, not you specifically) don’t approve of – i.e., skin color, gender, sexuality, etc. – is a bigoted action. It doesn’t mean that you are necessarily and evil awful person. But it does mean you hold a bigoted view. This where I think everything goes off the rails. The assumption is that by pointing out the bigoted actions, thoughts, beliefs of another you are not immediately condemning them as an awful person. You are just pointing out this one thing. It might open their eyes. It might make them mad. A lot depends on how the message is delivered.

    I just get tired of this idea that there can be no discourse because it might hurt someone’s feelings. I get tired of this notion we have that there are only two speeds – hostile or conciliatory. That any word that might possibly be pejorative is suddenly forbidden. That we worry about hurting the feelings of someone who just undertook an action that oppresses someone else, without much concern for the oppressed.

  198. <GaryGreg, above, goes to great length to distinguish between what people ARE and what people DO.

    Yes, and bigotry includes bigotry against religion. Bigotry against Jews being a big historical example, but bigotry against Muslims since 9/11 being another example. This is not bigotry based on skin color or gender or physical attributes. This is bigotry based on things people do that mark them as followers of one religion or another.

    The thing is, bigots can say they’re not judging people based on who they are, they’re judging people based on what they do, and that sort of bigotry could be applied to victims of religious bigotry just as easily as to victims of homophobia. They pray five times a day facing Mecca. They have… ew… sex. Bigots can try to claim that their bigotry isn’t bigotry because its a function of some action, but thats just smoke and mirror.

    Every single racist stereotype has some behavioural component associated with it. Black people are like this. Mexican people are like that. Japanese people do that. It’s still bigotry even if the bigot says “I don’t hate Black people because they’re black, I hate black people because they’re criminals”. They’re trying to focus on what they DO, but in reality it goes back to what they ARE.

    Homophobes might try to focus on the gay sex as some sort of “doing”, some sort of behaviour that they can measure and say is the problem, but it still comes down to hating gay people for who they *are*.

    They see sexual orientation as a choice

    And thus, they are bigots.

    “blacks… are inferior to the whites in the endowments of both body and mind.” –Thomas Jefferson

    Bigots judge people based on who those people ARE, not what they DO. And yet, EVERY BIGOT will tell you they have legitimate behavioural reasons for their judgements. Every bigot will tell you they’re not a bigot, but rather an astute judge of behaviour.

    The people who voted for bigotry in North Carolina are no different. They think along the lines of Jefferson, they think they’re judging people’s behaviours and actions. But the simple truth is, Jefferson was a flaming racist. And the people you know who voted for this amendment are bigots against gay people.

    And much of the gnashing of teeth in this thread was nothing more than a debate as to whether we should allow bigots the cover for their bigotry. Should we allow a racist to say that they’re not bigoted because they’re judging blacks not by their skin but by the judgement that “blacks… are inferior to the whites in the endowments of both body and mind.”? Should we allow a homophobic bigot cover for their bigotry because they think orientation is a choice?

    Should we call a bigot “bigot”? Because those arguing that we should not call them “bigot” are basically arguing that if we just let bigots hold on to their incorrect assumptions and judgements of behaviour that they use to justify their bigotry, then we wont embarrass them and they won’t dig their heels in.

    But the whole point of calling a bigot “bigot” is to blow the cover off the nonsense behind the bigotry. The nonsense that orientation is a choice and love between two women or two men is a wrong. The nonsense that blacks are inferior in body and mind to whites. The nonsense that women are inferior to men. The nonsense that Muslims are terrorists. The nonsense that the world is flat and witches need to be burned at the stake. The nonsense that the emperor’s new clothes look fabulous.

    Which is what it all comes down to: The emperor’s new clothes.

    The bigots have invested themselves in some way by buying into the bigotry, by buying into the nonsense behind the bigotry, by buying into the lie that the emperor’s new clothes look fabulous. the only reason calling them “bigot” is a problem is because it shines a light on the fact that they’re been subscribing to utter nonsense for some time. ANd the more they have invested, the more they will be offended by calling them bigot. The only reason a bigot would dig their heels in is because they’ve invested something of themselves into some lie about the people they’re bigoted against.

    The only way to get rid of bigotry is to get rid of the nonsense, the lies, the false stories that bigots tell about the groups they are bigoted against, so that the only thing left is their abject bigotry. Some will be so invested in their bigotry that they will cling to it no matter what. But I think most humans will sway to the truth if the truth can be told against a culturally indoctrinated lie. When the entire kingdom is complimenting the emperor on his new clothes, the only way to the truth is to point out that he is in fact naked.

    And so, the people who have voted to outlaw gay marriages are bigots. They may have behavioural excuses for their bigotry, but, so did Thomas Jefferson.

    Anyone saying we should not call a bigot “bigot” would be the kind of character who would lean over to the kid in the Emperor’s New Clothes, and shout “shhhh!”

  199. Silbey: Actually, what I did on the basis of a single word was point out that that word was terribly patronizing and undercut the rest of your post. I didn’t actually say anything specifically about you (as opposed to something you had written) but I find it fascinating how quickly and defensively you moved to the idea of misogyny.

    “Do women get to be real people in your world?”

    You still haven’t answered that question.

    Snark aside, I think it was a misogynist thing to say. Whether you’re a misogynist or not, I don’t know. What you said was. You reacted first with venom, and now with defensiveness. It’d be nice for you to think why so many people in this thread are having such a massive reaction to that single word.

  200. Nebuchadnezzar @ 5:45
    Dude.
    I do not pretend to be able to determine, from your chosen pet names alone, whether you are a misogynist (although I will note that several of your examples could serve as data points if I were inclined to attempt such a thing). However, I can say that your use of the majority of those pet names in response to those with whom you disagree would make me, as a neutral observer of your discussion, less likely to give the content of your argument credence.
    Which, I believe, is the point that Silbey was making. Your analysis of Ms. Cox’s piece might have made me think critically about her piece, and instead I found myself critical of your word choice.

    Note (to bring this comment back on topic and move away from responding to Nez in particular) that I would not be able to make the same observation about the use of the word bigot in Mr. Scalzi’s post- the bigotry inherent in the act of voting to remove rights from any person is the very substance of the point being made, it does not distract from it.

    Now, we could be condescending to a person who voted for the amendment while trying to explain this, we could demonize them through our language, or insult them personally, we could be snarky, viciously angry, or any number of other tones which might affect our success in that explanation. But it is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that we are somehow being mean (or insulting, or dehumanizing, or whatever it is that many commenters seem to be so very concerned we might be coming across as) by using a word that accurately and exactly describes the action taken by those who voted for the amendment.

  201. Silbey: You still haven’t answered that question.

    I did indeed answer that question, in my response to JS.

    It’d be nice for you to think why so many people in this thread are having such a massive reaction to that single word.

    Okay. Upon reflection, I think it’s because they’re hypersensitive and really uptight.

    Sigh: However, I can say that your use of the majority of those pet names in response to those with whom you disagree would make me, as a neutral observer of your discussion, less likely to give the content of your argument credence…Your analysis of Ms. Cox’s piece might have made me think critically about her piece, and instead I found myself critical of your word choice.

    Well shit Sigh, that’s gonna keep me awake tonight.

    More seriously, this is the internet Sigh, not the Oxford Union. Shorthand, pet names, code words, snark, flames, venom, jokes, banning, bacon — it’s all part of the territory. Buckle your seatbelt.

  202. Oh my god, the Internet??? How did I get here, and how do I get out?
    Wait, there’s bacon? Nevermind, I’ll stay for that. And continue, in the grand tradition of everyone else in these here parts, to comment on things I think worthy of comment. Particularly bacon.

  203. Nebuchadnezzar:

    “More seriously, this is the internet Sigh, not the Oxford Union.”

    Well, actually, this is my site, which is not “the internet,” and which in fact has a generally high standard of discourse. This is why people are not letting you slide for a sophomoric bit of rhetorical nonsense, particularly on a thread that has been dominated by issues of rhetoric.

    If you are confused about the standards here, there is a comment policy. Do feel free to avail yourself of it.

    In other words, this is not the Oxford Union, but you’d probably be better off if that was the standard you aimed at.

  204. Quoth Gary Willis at 5:53 PM:

    ” I daresay that some off the folk who voted for the NC amendment slip outside the boundary of being bigots because they honestly think that sexual orientation to hetero- or homo- or bi- sexuality is in the control of the individual, that it is not an innate characteristi as is gender or race or national origin.”

    While Greg has responded to this at great length, I feel a need to chime in: So the hell what?

    Something doesn’t have to be an innate characteristic to be the subject of bigotry. Religion, for example. If I were to claim that “people of faith” or members of “mainstream Protestant Christian churched communities” should be barred from any jobs other than menial labor because they claim to hear voices from the sky that instruct them as to what they should do, and I mobilize millions of others to join me in passing a constitutional amendment to that effect, well, religious affiliation is in the control of the individual; it is not an innate characteristic. I’m not a bigot, right?

    This is a red herring that irritates me to no end.

  205. Fair enough John — it is indeed your site and your rules about which I have no confusion. I’m disappointed that “Trust me, honey” fails your test but I suppose that’s the way the wave breaks.

    Thanks once again for Fuzzy Nation.

  206. aaaaand I need to learn to refresh the page before I type. Sorry, John.

    DGL: not only that, but what Gary is suggesting always seems to avoid the obvious question: Who the hell would choose to be gay in this society? Their unspoken answer: Evil, nasty, dirty, sinful gay people, that’s who. And thus we are back to ARE not DO. And now, the ARE isn’t even true, it’s made up bullshit.

  207. Okay. Upon reflection, I think it’s because they’re hypersensitive and really uptight.

    Now I do think you’re a misogynist, and a bigot.

  208. Doc, DGL, I think what Gary is getting at is that people who believe that certain voluntary acts are wrong will not be in favor of legislation protecting people who do these things voluntarily. He says: “Many people of faith who listen to sermons weekly on “sin” see all sexual activity as a matter of choice, what a person DOES.” That in itself is not saying that who one loves or even is attracted to is a matter of choice, it’s what one does about it. Cf. premarital sexual relations — an engaged couple is presumably in love and probably attracted to each other, and those are not sinful states in and of themselves, but engaging in intercourse without being married to each other would be, in the context Gary was using.

    If I’m right, his argument would be that if the “people of faith” are coming from that direction in voting as they did, their actions are no more coming from bigotry than if they were voting to de-legitimize any hetero relationships that were not marriages but are presumed to include sexual relations — and didn’t the amendment do this? I dunno if it made a difference to any hetero couples, but that’s the vague impression I had. IOW, the people Gary was referring to might well group homosexual “actions” ( = choices) with hetero actions outside of marriage and therefore not be thinking so much in terms of gay vs straight as, well, fornicating vs not.

    Please note that I’m not expressing agreement with any part of this, or any other personal opinion, just jumping in because I think this subtle distinction Gary was trying to make got lost or elided. For the record, even if that last sentence in the previous paragraph is correct, I do note that there’s a significant logic fail in that if gay couples can’t marry then by definition they can’t have sex inside of marriage and therefore the initial premise of the above reasoning — that the salient point is that it’s sex outside of marriage, not sex that isn’t hetero — is false, because all of that would otherwise be a reason to vote in favor of gay marriage so that they can have sex within marriage. So yes, I disagree with the premise that Gary puts forth, but I can see why he put it out there, and how someone could be convinced that they weren’t actually being bigoted against gays in voting for this amendment if they didn’t take that last logical step.

    Gary, if I’m totally misrepresenting your intent, I apologize.

  209. If that makes me a misogynist in the eyes of you or Doc Rocket, then I guess so be it.

    And Xopher. Though ‘misogynist’ isn’t the term I would ordinarily use; I usually employ a two-word phrase beginning with ‘sexist’.

  210. Robin:

    I thought Gary offered a reasonable analysis of how someone might vote for a bigoted amendment without actively being a bigot. But, I wouldn’t say that’s an excuse or justification. Nor is it a reason to not identify the action as supportive of bigotry.

    Xopher:

    And myself. I have nothing to add to John’s response other than a respectful cosign.

  211. For what it’s worth, I’m totally getting the Oxford Union vibe now and can’t imagine how I missed it before.

  212. @Gary, I believe you when you say that some people believe being gay is a chosen behavior. I don’t understand why you think this makes them “slip outside the bounds of bigotry”. Choosing to marry someone of a different race is certainly a chosen behavior; would you argue that someone believes interracial marriage is immoral is not a bigot?

  213. Robin: how someone could be convinced that they weren’t actually being bigoted

    But notice how that can be applied to any bigot. No bigot thinks they’re a bigot judging people because of who they are. All bigots think there are behavioural issues associated with whoever they’re bigoted against.

    As Jefferson would probably say: I’m not a bigot, blacks really are inferior to whites in mind and body.

    Every bigot thinks they’re judging behaviour, when in fact they’re simply being bigots. Which is why they get so offended when you call them “bigot”. It exposes their excuse as bullshit. It exposes them as bigots.

    The vast majority of bigots don’t want to be called “bigot”. Which is why the “don’t call them bigot” people and the bigots themselves are the last people to check in with to decide if they’re being bigots. Of course they’ll say they’re not bigots. Of course their defenders will say the bigots are judging some legitimate behaviour.

  214. For example, calling a woman who you aren’t in a relationship with “honey” is sexist. Saying that’s just how the internet works, is an excuse to cover up the sexism.

    Oh I’m not sexist, that’s just life, and you’re just overly sensitive.

    I don’t think I’ve ever met a bigot who will simply admit he’s a bigot. They always have some nonsense excuse that their bigotry is “true”.

  215. Robin 11:50 pm
    “…all of that would otherwise be a reason to vote in favor of gay marriage so that they can have sex within marriage.”
    You capture well my coments above. An evolving minority viewpoint within mainstream Christianity at present can be summarized thusly. Biblical passages where God is seen condemning homosexual behaviors are really focused on fornication between strangers and promiscuity. The Bible is pretty clear that fornication between any two people is sin. Whereas sex between a married couple is holy, sacred, and spiritual as well as physical. That being the case, Robin, your words above I quote are the solution. Extend gay marriage to same sex couples so they too enjoy sex that is holy, sacred, and spiritual as well as physical. Then continue to condemn fornication (sex outside of marriage) as the sin the Bible calls it no matter what the gender of the participants. Were the issue on a Texas ballot, I would vote “aye” for marriage equality for just the reason you cite.

    Other Bill 12:37 am
    I think that a first. A commentator here saying anything I type here was a “reasonable analysis.” Thanks. And I doagree with you. Not an excuse certainly, but thinking as they do not bigots in and of themselves, but accomplices to bigotry by their votes as John observed in his post that launched this thread. Now Greg, he will not cut them that much slack. If they voted for NC Amendment One that makes them a bigot no matter what.

    Mythago 1:37 am
    I think the people I describe slip outside the bounds of bigotry because in their own minds they are not trying to deny anyone their civil rights. They understand gender, race, national origin as civil rights protected by the equal protection clause, and they do not see sexual orientation on the list of protected civil rights. And last I checked the post civil war amendments did not include sexual orientation in the list. So these people think they have the constitution on their side. Equal protection runs to gender, race, national origin, but not to sexual orientation. Most thread commentators here likely do not agree with this observation, but it seems to me to be how they actually think. So yeah, in their minds their consciouses are clear. Sexual orientation is not a protected civil right, so they can vote “aye” on a NC Amendment One. As to interracial marriage, it is a settled issue, so I go with stare decisis; no, I would not so argue than an opponent of interracial marriage is not a bigot. Sadly, just by looking around we all know that sexual orientation/marriage equality is not yet a settled issue, or we would not be having such animated conversations on threads here at Sir John’s Whatever blog site.

  216. Gary Willis:

    I can’t speak for everyone, but don’t be quick to assume that a challenge to your position is meant as disrespect. Whatever does have a high standard of discourse, but the group here is also solid in their debate skills. I think that’s why most folks here don’t take too kindly to aspersions that this is just a liberal backslap echo chamber where everybody agrees with everybody so hard we all die from smiles and smug. You should be mindful that any position you stake out here will likely need to be defended.

    I think your explanation was a pretty solid description of cognitive dissonance. And that’s part of why I feel very strongly that identifying bigotry is important. These people who might otherwise speak out against bigotry would necessarily be completely oblivious to the consequences of their support. And so they would need to be made directly aware.

    But, people must be expected to take responsibility for their own beliefs. Cognitive dissonance is an explanation for how someone can arrive there. But, they are not free to remain in there without consequences. They have a responsibility to challenge their own thinking in order to get themselves out of that mentality. It isn’t actually the obligation of other people to do this for them. Because, remember, in that mentality they are supporting some fairly heinous things. And the onus does not fall on the victims to encourage self awareness in their aggressors.

    That said, practically speaking, there’s nothing wrong with trying to raise awareness. Hence, bigotry is bigotry. And while I agree that people can unwittingly find themselves in support of a bigoted amendment, this does not necessarily endear them to me.

  217. @Gary Willis: Since you believe that the Constitution protects gender*, then of course you agree that opposite-sex-only marriage is unconstitutional? After all, it discriminates on the basis of gender, not sexual orientation; a gay man and a lesbian can marry one another.

    I do not understand your use of the term stare decisis. That is a legal term referring to precedent; if a higher court has ruled that a law is properly interpreted [thus], we give great deference to that ruling unless it is plainly wrong or things have changed in the interim, instead of starting from scratch every time. Thus, I am confused by your assertion that whether something is bigotry depends on how many others share that view.

    At heart, you appear to be arguing that nice, well-meaning people who are simply wrong cannot be bigots. This is foolish. Certainly not all such people are bigots, or intend to be bigots, but their actions enable and support bigotry.

    * The Fourteenth Amendment does not in fact mention gender. You may remember some fuss about an “Equal Rights Amendment” as a result of this, back in the day.

  218. Gary, I am not sure what ‘slack’ you think should be cut to people or why. Good intentions?

    I keep pointing out that every bigot thinks they are operating with the best intentions. Ever hear of White Man’s Burden? Do you know they quoted the bible to defende and justify the need to enslave Blacks? It would be naive to think everyone else using the bible as justificatiin was using it knowing it was false cover. It would be naive to think that people *today* using the bible as a defense are any different that people using it to defend slavery. Jefferson thought blacks were not as smart as whites, thought they were children, and thought he was doing them a favor by “taking care of them” as slaves.

    Some of histories worst bigotries were defended with the best of intentions and quotes from the bible.

    Should we cut the slavers some ‘slack’ because they had good intentions?.

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