Intolerance notes

I used to be very active on a discussion forum sparked by the Chronicles of George; I was one of the very early members of the forum, and the first appointed moderator. I consider many people there to be good friends, and have stayed with, drank with, and gone shooting with a number of them. But I don't visit much lately; my life experiences have taken me in a very different direction since 2001, when I was an underemployed computer nerd, and it's harder and harder for me to relate to the general narrative there. In particular, I got tired of sifting through the pointless digs at President Bush et al to find the interesting discussions.

But I do visit, and there are some good long-running threads that I like to read from time to time. One of them is called Intolerance Notes, and dates back to 11 April 2006. It's a collection of links to stupid people being intolerant, for the most part. Discussion often ensues.

Why post about this now? Because I poked the bear by posting some stories about the virulent counter-reaction to CA's Proposition 8, including one about death threats made against Prop 8 supporters, an alleged assault against two of the same, and the Huffington Post-led effort to prosecute the LDS church for violation of laws governing its tax-exempt status.

As in the commentary on the MVO picture and again in my wife's post-election blog post, Hasufin (one of the current mods on CoG) took me to task, largely by arguing against things I didn't say. I'm sure he would characterize the discussion differently, but they're linked, so you can decide for yourself (but I hope you have a lot of time to read, because we do go on so).

One of his statements (not to me) sticks out as I re-read the thread:

As I've said above, and repeatedly, calling the gay community's reaction to prop 8 as "intolerant" is fundamentally flawed. It is intolerant in the same way you're intolerant of someone breaking in to your home or assaulting your person.

I do not believe that voting for proposition 8 is equivalent in any way, shape, or form to physical assault.

But this is.

Last Friday night (11.14.08) our team of thirteen people, mostly ranging from eighteen to twenty-two years old, left the house around 5:30pm to head to the Castro District as we have done for the majority of Friday nights for the past three years. Over the course of the week we had actually been out in the Castro every night, singing and worshiping in the neighborhood. This night we arrived at Castro and 18th Street, with one guitar to simply worship and bring the presence of God to the Castro District. We understood that since Proposition 8 had passed it would seem instigating to talk with people, so we decided to only play the guitar and sing rather than to engage with anyone on the streets.
. . .

     During the event people lunging through the crowd to get at us hit a couple of our girls in the face.

     Then a man picked up one of our Bibles and started to walk away with it. A girl from our team walked out of the circle after him and said, "Excuse me that is our Bible. Could I have that back please?" He turned to her and said "no" then hit her on the head with the Bible knocking her to the ground, then began kicking her legs.  A man from the crowd pulled him off of her. A police officer then came and detained the man who hit her. One officer asked the girl on our team if she would like to press charges. She said "No. Tell him I forgive him."
. . .

The people in the crowd were shoving us against the wall blowing the whistles in our ears so close that we could feel the spit from the whistles hitting our faces. Around that time we began to sing "Oh the Blood of Jesus."  Things grew more intense and the crowd came in closer around us shoving and pushing us. Some men from the crowd began grabbing a few of the young men on our team inappropriately, sexually assaulting them and trying to take down the pants of one of them. When that began the young men with us quickly pulled all the girls into the middle so that no one could get to them.

     The intensity of the mob around us grew until finally the police had to shove the crowd off of us and they made a wall between the crowd and our group. There was one moment when a man from the crowd around us pointed out Roger, the leader of our team, and said, "I'm going to kill you!" An officer overheard and said to him "What did you say!?" The man said "nothing." And the officer replied, "I heard what you said."

     Then one officer said to Roger "Do you want to leave?" and he replied, "We would like to stay" because we knew we had the freedom to be there. A few minutes later as the crowd was growing quickly the officer said to Roger "I am sorry, but we need to get you out of here because we fear for your life, you no longer have a choice." Roger turned to our team and explained that we were going to honor the police and follow them. The officer came back, asked us where we were parked and told us we would be moving out in five minutes. At that point there was somewhere between 15 and 25 police officers. They surrounded our team and escorted us to 20th and Eureka Street where our van was parked. As they were escorting us to our van the crowd followed our team and continued to scream and threaten us.  They even threatened to follow us all the way home. As we were being escorted out a man with a news camera showed up and began filming us. (Later we found the footage on KTVU, a local news station in the Bay Area) They had reported that we were doing a religious march regarding Proposition 8, when in all actuality we were being escorted out of the Castro.  Realizing the hostility of the people who were still following us, and their threats to "follow us all the way home" we covered our license plate with post-it notes that a guy on our team had in his wallet. We did this so that they could not identify our vehicle later. We then loaded our entire team into the van and drove home. The time when we left was 8:30.

See some video of the event.

Setting aside the wisdom in insisting on your rights once a mob forms up, what were they doing that deserved this kind of response? Is this "understandable" because of the provocation of singing in the street? Is tolerance for other viewpoints, other people's beliefs, only important when it's the Christians who need to be tolerant? Is their right to visit a neighborhood and sing--not as a political action or a counter-protest--abrogated because it infringes on other people's rights not to be offended?

Hasufin has not made that argument, nor do I expect him to. He's a very reasonable guy whose thinking is, in my opinion, clouded by this perception that the Christian world is out to get him. It must have been that time we tried to burn him at the stake when he stayed at our house--oh wait; that didn't happen. He also feels quite passionately about what he sees as a fundamental civil rights injustice, and I can hardly fault him for standing up for that.

But to excuse away threats and alleged violence against Prop 8 supporters as "understandable" is beyond my comprehension. On the 19th of this month, he wrote that I was "implying that there are gay rights mobs attacking people who they think voted for prop 8" but that such things simply weren't happening. I hadn't (to my knowledge) implied any such thing, but it didn't take me five minutes to find it once I started looking--and the events described above had taken place five days earlier.

I thought Michael Medved put Proposition 8 into perspective nicely:

First, Proposition 8 “outlawed” nothing --- it “banned” nothing. The Proposition, echoing a prior decision of the voters of the state in Proposition 22 eight years ago, added 14 simple, unequivocal words to the state Constitution: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

The “previously legal same sex ceremonies” (authorized by four justices of the state supreme court in a divided decision a mere five months ago) have not been “outlawed.” Contrary to the tenor of the report, no jack-booted state troopers will come crashing down doors to bust-up the tender and loving commitment ceremonies of same sex couples. Even before the court decision, civil unions were available with identical rights to marriage, and those civil unions are still available after Proposition 8. The voters cast their ballots to eliminate confusion in the Constitution (confusion introduced by meddling jurists), not to interfere with private behavior of any kind. It’s absurd and dishonest to suggest that the proposition “outlawed” anyone’s relationship or expressions of love.

. . .

The frequently repeated charge that the vote represents a triumph of bigotry amounts to one of the most insipid distortions in recent press history, fomenting rage in the gay community that will only serve to alienate activists even further from the voters in the American mainstream.

Head. Nail. Hammer.

It's not the wacky conservatives who are given over to insane rage. We didn't see any riots when Senator Obama won the presidency--just a lot of bitching and moaning, and the consumption of a fair bit of red wine. But where is the outrage when people are getting attacked in the streets, when small businesses are intimidated into paying off mobs?

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Comments

Addendum

In the ongoing CoG thread, JohnnyCyborg suggests that the group was in Castro to provoke a riot, but provides no substantiation (as of yet). He does link to a site which points out the group's associations with some decidedly intolerant people, but even that page's source admits that locals said the group being harassed was peaceful and harmless. Apparently, their supposed association--which I have a hard time believing the crowd knew anything about--is enough to justify the behavior.

I don't buy it.

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Hmm....

So this is why most NFSN sites are said to bring in under $100 per month. My spirits are lifted.

Hurray!

Sweet! My very own troll!

If the goal of this site had anything to do with income, you might have something resembling a point.

Presupposing a goal existed, of course. 'Form Without Function' is an accurate summary, I thought.

Thanks for playing. Further non-substantive comments will be summarily executed.

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Why is it that the ones who

Why is it that the ones who scream the loudest about tolerance and free speech are intolerant of those who disagee with them and cry out that those who would dare to voice those differing views should be silenced?

I can't help it.

Being Canadian, I come down firmly on both sides of the issue (some days I just wish I could make a decision to hate myself for that... maybe :) ).

I think there's an awful lot of willful misunderstanding of the issues, and peoples feelings about it. There are times when the majority is wrong - and I think this is one of them. In spirit, what a lot of people seem to believe is that it's wrong for two men (or two women) to love each other enough to want to be "married". Ok, I'm perfectly willing to accept that you believe that - and that you may be right. But there are people out there who think that women shouldn't vote, and black people are somehow inferior. At one time, these were both majority opinions, but they are still wrong.

I agree no legal rights were "taken away", but there is still the denial of something that really shouldn't be a political matter at all. As far as taxes and legal rights go - any two people of any race, religion, colour or planetary affiliation should be able to share their lives.

That said, everyone should just fargin' relax about it already - I just don't understand why people get so upset about who other people are sleeping with - whether it's Paris Hilton, or what.

My opinion, I might be wrong, and I'm willing to change my mind in the face of logical argument.