Why Your Point is Pointless

Are you someone who has said something like the tweets below, in the media, on social media or just to friends?

You probably thought you were gosh-darned clever, and caught these guys red-handed being hypocrites!

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the point you’re making doesn’t actually exist. You’re really making a terrible analogy. Continue reading

To Boycott or Not to Boycott

boycott

With the recent passage of some pretty crappy laws in North Carolina and Mississippi, I’ve seen calls to boycott the states.

But is boycotting the right thing to do? Boycotts have mixed results in bringing about change. The reality is they don’t often substantially impact the target’s bottom line, but instead focus media attention and harm the target’s image, according to Northwestern University’s Brayden King. How much financial impact could individuals have boycotting a state? Even if you add in the various governments that have banned travel, how many of their state and municipal employees are really traveling to MS and NC on “non-essential” business anyway?

King notes that the study has one ironic conclusion: “Companies with poor reputations to begin with are less vulnerable to boycotts, because they have less to lose.”

Extend that to states, and I think North Carolina has more to lose than Mississippi, so a boycott may be more effective there. Indeed, we’ve seen NC getting more media attention, despite the belief of many (including myself) that MS passed a worse law.

Things start to heat up when companies and celebrities get involved. I’m not talking about releasing some empty statement about how they are “disappointed” with the law. I’m talking about PayPal canceling plans to open a new facility (which would have brought 400+ jobs) and Bruce Springsteen canceling a show in North Carolina. These are attention-grabbing headlines. Continue reading

Hate in the States

msprotest
Protest in Mississippi

As I type this, hundreds are gathered in Jackson, the capitol of Mississippi, protesting the state’s HB 1523, the preposterously-named “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act” and urging the governor to veto it. The fallout from North Carolina’s HB 2 (pdf) is still coming down. What the heck is going on?

While the recent successes for LGBT rights in the U.S.–particularly the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling–have caused many to let their guards down and celebrate victory, others have been urging us to stay vigilant. In his book “It’s Not Over“, author, activist  and radio host Michelangelo Signorile predicted a backlash, and warned us against “victory blindness”. It turns out, he was right.

We have seen a rash of anti-LGBT laws sweep the country, mostly at the state level and often under the guise of “religious freedom”. Let’s take a look at a few of the worst of them. Continue reading

Marriage Over The Rainbow

White House lit in rainbow colors Well, I guess I should say something about what happened last Friday. I’m speaking–of course–of the Obergefell v Hodges Supreme Court ruling that states could not prevent same-sex couples from marrying.

It’s hard to overstate how significant this was. Many people correctly point out that marriage equality is not the end-all of LGBT equality, that there is still much to be done. There is, it’s true. But to many of us, until recently this was unthinkable. Most of us grew up, came of age and started dating without any hope of being able to marry some day. I didn’t think I’d see it in my lifetime! And yet, thanks to 5 Justices, it’s here today.

The announcement came around 10am Friday, and I was totally useless at work for the rest of the day. I tried to concentrate on my tasks, but couldn’t. I followed the love and joy on Twitter, and I found myself tearing up at various times throughout the day. While I normally spend a fair amount of my Twitter time keeping an eye on the opponents of equality–and refuting their lies and distortions–I decided to take the weekend off, and to just be happy. So I hid those lists, and surrounded myself in love and happiness, and it was great!

Now it’s Monday, the weekend is over and it’s time to get back to the real world. There are still a few battles to be fought for marriage, and much more work to do for true, full equality. But those fights all look a bit more winnable in the multicolored afterglow of such a momentous victory. I’m invigorated to keep fighting the good fight, and not just on LGBT issues. Cops, guns, racism… as long as people are mistreated, oppressed or getting killed for no reason, there is more work to be done.

P.S. Seeing the White House lit up in rainbow colors, not to mention all the other shows of support from the executive branch of our government would have been hard to imagine a decade ago.

Sure, it’s just symbolic and to some it may seem small, but it’s not. It means the world.

Scum of the Earth

Tea Party Group Founder Calls For Class Action Suit Against Homosexuality

It is for people like this that the phrase “scum of the earth” was coined. You’d be hard pressed to find worse people who openly extol their wretchedness and who aren’t already behind bars or on a “Most Wanted” list.

“Peter,” Scarborough said, “the whole issue of a class action lawsuit, you and I have talked about this a little bit. I just wonder if you’ve explored that, talked to anyone about it. Obviously, statistically now even the Centers for Disease Control verifies that homosexuality much more likely leads to AIDS than smoking leads to cancer. And yet the entire nation has rejected smoking, billions of dollars are put into a trust fund to help cancer victims and the tobacco industry was held accountable for that. Any thoughts on that kind of an approach?”

OK, I am legitimately curious as to who this lawsuit would be against? Of course, Peter [LaBarbera] likes the idea, responding “Yeah I think that’s great. I would love to see it.”

And then:

LaBarbera went on to say, “We always wanted to see one of the kids in high school who was counseled by the official school counselor to just be gay, then he comes down with HIV.”

Yeah, he said they “always wanted to see” a high school kid get HIV. I mean, really? These people profess to be Christian? Disgusting.

Chicken and Free Speech

I am pissed off. At whom, you ask? Well I’m about to tell you. I’m pissed off at the mayors of Chicago, San Francisco and Boston. It’s not because they support equal rights for LGBT citizens; obviously, I do as well. It’s because they opened their mouths and finally gave those gay-fearing right winger so-called Christians a legitimate complaint! Saying that Chick-fil-A is unwelcome in their cities and/or should be banned sounds like a clear violation of free speech to me (and to Jon Stewart).

I’ve been telling people about Chick-fil-A’s issues with gays for a long time, well before Dan Cathy opened his mouth and confirmed his bigotry. I won’t patronize them. I never have and likely never will, unless something big changes. It’s not because of the opinion of the founders/owners, it’s because they put their money where their mouth (finally) is. According to Equality Matters, WinShape Foundation–a charity funded mostly by profits from Chick-fil-A–donated “$1.1M to anti-gay groups from 2003-2008, the last year for which public records are available”. There have also been allegations of employment discrimination against unmarried employees or those who engage in “sinful behavior”.

Needless to say, I don’t much like Chick-fil-A, or the Cathy family. However, for an elected official to say that Mr. Cathy’s statements are grounds for banning the restaurant is completely inappropriate. For once, the anti-equality crowd saying their free speech is being infringed upon have a leg to stand on. And I hate that.

Let’s take a moment to talk about what free speech, in the U.S., is and is not. Many people–on the left and the right–get this wrong. What the First Amendment tells us, in essence, is this: the government shall not prevent someone from expressing an opinion or punish someone for expressing an opinion. It does not say you can shout “FIRE!” in a crowded theater when there is no fire. It does not say you can knowingly make false negative statements about someone else (see “defamation“) or make false claims about a product or service, or lie under oath. It also does not guarantee freedom from repercussions or criticism based on your speech. It doesn’t apply to non-government entities. This is where most of the confusion seems to come in.

If Bob goes on TV and says “I think widgets are terrible and should not be used for anything!” and then widget lovers criticize Bob, the widget haters may decry that Bob’s free speech is somehow being threatened by the widget lovers. But it’s not. In fact, both sides are exercising free speech, and the system is working as intended. Suppose that Bob works for ACME Widgets, Inc., a company that manufactures widgets (duh) who finds out about Bob’s statement. Bob’s boss pulls him aside and says “Hey, Bob, we can’t have a representative of ACME saying things like that. If you do that again, we’re going to have to let you go.” Now are his free speech rights being violated? Nope. ACME is a company, not the government. Without taking possible employment laws into account (that’s another whole can of worms), ACME could let him go on the spot. From a First Amendment standpoint, they’d be free and clear. If Bob owned…oh, let’s say a restaurant (Bob’s Burgers), and widget lovers called for a boycott of Bob’s, they would also not be violating Bob’s First Amendment rights. I’ll say it again: freedom of speech does not mean freedom from repercussions. Such regulation would be ridiculous, not to mention impossible to enforce. What if the mayor of Bob’s town (or the governor of his state) was pro-widget and tried to get Bob’s Burgers shut down because of his statements? Now we have a First Amendment issue! Not until the government gets involved does it become a threat to free speech.

And that’s what happened, in a limited but real way, with Chick-fil-A. Those mayors would have been free to express their own opinions, that Cathy was wrong and marriage equality is important. But to try to impose legal restrictions against the chain is going too far. Note that the thousands of private citizens criticizing Mr. Cathy and Chick-fil-A are not in any way violating anyone’s free speech rights; they are in fact, merely exercising their own.

Now the people who “flocked” (in the words of the New York Post) on their so-called “Appreciation Day” are being called “free speech supporters” by the Post and the HBIC (Head Bigot In Charge) of the movement, Mike Huckabee. And I’d love to believe that’s what they are. I’d love to believe those people are just–like me–pissed at the Mayors Three who overstepped their bounds. But come on, I’m not an idiot. Even if we assume most of those people don’t really understand free speech (and I’m pretty sure Huckabee at least does, he’s actually a pretty smart guy) I just know that many of them went because they heard “Gays shouldn’t be getting married!” and thought “AMEN!” And that makes me sad. But as Jon Stewart said, we’re going to win in the end. It’s inevitable that we will eventually get gay marriage, and they will “get Type II diabetes”.

I have more to say on this topic, but I’ll save it for another post another day in the near future. In the meantime, happy Friday and enjoy your weekend.

Amendment One

An Open Letter to the People of North Carolina

Dear North Carolinians,

I realize there are hundreds of thousands of you that voted against Amendment 1 this week, and many who campaigned or donated it against it. I’ll start by addressing you, and saying thank you! You’re probably hearing a lot of negative stuff about your state, lumping everyone together. Please understand that most of us are pissed off and hurt and just letting off steam. Don’t take this stuff personally; we know there are some good people in your state. While you didn’t succeed, we appreciate your support. The deck was stacked against you anyway. Rest assured that you, not your opponents, will be on the right side of history on this.

And now on to those opponents. It’s time for me to address you (or should I say “y’all”?). Shame. On. You. What were you thinking?! Do you subscribe to the Pat Robertson philosophy that two dudes (or chicks, but let’s face it you’re more worried about dudes) getting it on pisses God off so much that he punishes everyone around for it? If that’s the case, I can kind of understand. I mean, I think you’re an idiot for buying into that claptrap, but at least there’s a dollop of good in your motives. But I hope you realize this isn’t going to stop gay people from having sex. Not a one (nor two, which would be the minimum required number). So what have you really accomplished here?

But the rest of you Yes voters, what’s your excuse? Don’t tell me, I’ve heard them all and they’re all nonsense. Complete garbage. How does it in any way hurt any hetero marriages if two guys or girls get married in the eyes of the law? We’re talking civil marriage here, folks. No one (except maybe a very small number on the fringe) is talking about forcing your precious Church, whatever it may be, to perform or recognize same-sex marriages. We don’t care about that. We want equal rights (and protection) under the law. And if marriage wasn’t bad enough, your nefarious amendment had to go and include civil unions and domestic partnerships, too.  Why? What possible interest does that serve? Nothing good, that’s for sure.  Let go of the hate and fear! I promise, you’ll feel better.

I am not religious but I hope there is a God. I almost wish I could be there to see the expressions on your  faces, you self-righteous so-called “Christians”, when you die and go to Hell. Meanwhile, those of us–gay or straight–who lived our lives according to the Golden Rule, helping our fellow man and generally minding our own business as long as no one was getting hurt, zip through the Pearly Gates into Heaven. I can’t believe hate and oppression will put anyone on the path to Paradise. No god worth worshiping would allow that to happen. You know, it’s not too late to change.

Finally, for those who didn’t vote at all. I’m glad you didn’t vote FOR it, but why sit on the sidelines? When there’s an injustice you can fight just by taking a trip to the voting booth, why not do it? Are you conflicted? I get it. I do. But remember we’re talking about some pretty basic rights here. You don’t have to to like (or even be comfortable with) gays to give us the rights we deserve.

In closing, North Carolina, thank you, fuck you, and come on!

Regards,

Josh