Tuesday, November 18, 2008


In the wake of California’s Proposition 8 vote, the rhetoric against its supporters has grown increasingly strident. In the name of freedom of speech, I presume, letters have been published on the page opposite that blatantly accuse those who oppose same-sex marriage of bigotry.

I doubt that messages exhibiting the same degree of animus toward “No on 8” activists would make it to print (nor should they) given the epithets they might contain. On this issue, and many others, tolerance is a one-way street.

No matter who’s tossing around the slurs, such tactics undermine the essential attitude of respectful disagreement that makes democracy possible. It’s one thing to insult marginal groups whose publications make clear their hostility toward Catholics, Jews, and blacks. It’s something else to employ similar terms to describe people whose views are embraced by a large majority of human beings of earth—views that have been accepted for millennia for reasons as obvious as the complementary biological structure of males and females.

If Prop 8 supporters are bigots, then most Americans and most of the people in the world are bigots. Included in this burgeoning sphere of bigotry are major world religions that have long served to undermine ethnic and racial prejudices and to shape the consciences of men like Martin Luther King Jr. and the great anti-slavery advocate William Wilberforce.

Given the scope of this presumed bigotry, it must also be the case that these same-sex marriage advocates are among the few enlightened individuals who’ve ever lived on the face of the earth—persons whose Hollywood-based insights could only be questioned by rubes whose arguments and votes need not be taken seriously.

Indeed, not only can these adversaries be ignored and vilified, they can also be economically decimated. Developer Doug Manchester was targeted by “No on 8” activists prior to the election. Now like-minded forces have assembled “black-lists” of individuals (several from North County) who contributed sums as little as a thousand dollars to the “Yes on 8” cause.

A Hillcrest businessman whose establishment wrongly appears on one list reported a plethora of hate-messages from individuals who confidently ascribe that trait to their opponents.

In Sacramento the artistic director for the California Musical Theater resigned after his support for Prop 8 was disclosed—a grim but unsurprising reminder of what the term “diversity” really means in the arts community.

Since election day the most convenient target for abuse has been the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But given the number of “bigots” available, Mormons seem to be receiving an inordinate share of opprobrium.

African-Americans constitute an as-yet unchastised class of bigots—a group whose support of Prop 8 (70 to 30% in one poll) clearly showed what they thought about the “homosexuality equals race” argument.

It’s time for reasonable “No on 8” supporters to reject the heavy-handed tactics being employed by its frenzied partisans before these zealots start aiming fire at blacks and that 64% class of bigots known as parents with kids.