It is time to take the lunatics seriously.
I envision it will go something like this: I am exiting a restaurant with my two vibrant and happy 12-year old sons in tow. A pleasantly dressed young man stops us. “Would you mind signing my petition to get a proposition on the ballot?” he asks.
I am already apprehensive, as I know what is going on in the state, and dismiss him quickly, “No thanks,” and I try to move us on. My sons give me inquisitive glances. They know I am more accessible than this. They know I am usually willing to give even a stranger a minute to hear them out. Why am I now so obstinate?
He blurts out, “Please sir. It is so we will be able to execute the gays and save California from their evil sexual habits!” I have now gone from irritated to irate.
“Get away from my family immediately,” I snarl as I quickly move us out of his range. I see the horrified look on my sons’ faces. They and kids much younger than they would be able to pick up the direct meaning of what had just happened.
“Dad! What did that mean? They are working to make a law so people can just…kill you? Can they do that? Why do they hate you?” my son Jesse will barrage me with at once. My son Jason is much more introspective. While Jesse’s fears will be aired verbally and answered, Jason’s will lie dormant in his mind until I have the opportunity to try to ease them out of him at a later time.
They will not see that the measure is not likely to succeed. They will only see it as something people are “reasonably” discussing on our streets. They will see people using the legal process to humiliate and violate human dignity. They will see our family as so valueless that we will be the targets of this legitimized hatred. It will send the message that the question on whether to dehumanize gay people is actually debatable.
The suggestion that such a conversation is acceptable will be on every street corner, and on our public airwaves. While the messaging will cause pain to grounded self-assured adults, it will send devastating messages to the more vulnerable— our children, at risk LGBT teens, transgender people and more.
It will be with us because we thought an evil man was also stupid, when the truth is, he was one step ahead of us. We will have learned one of the realities of our modern age: that being evil and being smart are not necessarily mutually exclusive propositions.
Months ago, it was announced that a crackpot lawyer in Southern California had paid a $200 filing fee to propose the California “Sodomite Suppression Act” initiative. This proposition, if codified, would make it legal to massacre gay people. The reaction to the filing was shocked bemusement. The man was seen as evil and an idiot. “This thing doesn’t stand a chance,” cavalierly scoffs the New Republic’s Christian Farias. Even an alternate ballot initiative targeting his insensitivity was filed.
Make no mistake about it. The proponent of the “Sodomite Suppression Act” attorney Matthew McLaughlin is evil, but he is not alone. Unfortunately, the more likely scenario is that someone who is both evil and rich employs him.
Farias gloats that McLaughlin has not “done his research” because many of the things proposed have already been declared un-Constitutional. (Really? What gave you your first clue, the proposed shooting of other citizens in the head?) It is unthinkable that someone who knows the ins and outs of the legal process has not already figured out what the ultimate fate of this law, in a publicly passed form, would be.
I would suggest that passing the initiative is not the goal at all.
It is on this point that I don’t think McLaughlin is THAT stupid. As a gay family who lived through the humiliation of the Proposition 8 campaign, I can tell you that in many ways the bigger effect is not about the destination of an initiative, it is about the very public process and journey to get there—win or lose.
I don’t believe the McLaughlin objective is to ever see his proposal become law. I believe that he and those behind him are using the California initiative and justice system to run a legitimized hate campaign against LGBT people and our families. I don’t think the requirement to try to collect 365,000 signatures by the McLaughlin engine is being seen by them as a hassle, that it is exactly in what they want to participate—a legitimized, protected way to hit the streets of California to peddle hate and intimidate gay people.
McLaughlin has responded to Harris’s attempts to derail the signature gathering process by having the initiative go automatically on the ballot. If that occurred, it would save us street confrontations, but the hate machine would then be able to send homophobic violence incitement speech as a political message across the airwaves, one that media would have trouble suppressing.
It was bad enough during proposition 8 when we could see signature gathers asking people to sign up to disavow our family’s existence. It was painful seeing signs during the campaign that outright claimed we were less of a family. This however, would make that experience seem like a joyful walk in the park.
So is this an over blown fear on my part? Is it unthinkable that behaviors like the Nazis enacted at their very beginning might grow into something worse as they did in early 20th century Europe? Is Matthew McLaughlin a sole entity living out his 15 minutes of fame with depravity and zero chance of success?
Here are the things I would suggest considering as you make your mind up on how serious a threat he poses:
- He has not sought the limelight as an attention seeker would. In fact, his public anonymity is masterful in its thoroughness. He was last publicly trackable in 2004 around another initiative campaign to put Bibles in schools. After that, he becomes literally invisible and untrackable. This indicates that another far bigger public impact is planned and pending.
- Journalist friends I have spoken to theorize that he is a paid corporate lawyer since there have been no public legal motions on record from him since the 2004 campaign. This means he is under the employ of a private entity for whom he advises, acts, and has been unseen.
- If he is merely the representative of something larger, the bankroll represented could be substantial. The anti-gay industry spends billions each year and fund raises through designated hate groups like the “Family Research Council” and others. Their most recent summits have engaged strongly in the rhetoric that LGBT people are Nazis and that Christians are America’s version of the persecuted European Jews. This verbiage has all but called for violent action against LGBT people.
- Another evil, but legally informed entity, the Westboro Baptist “Church,” has always been more a group of subversive lawyers than it has been a church. They have given lawyers such as McLaughlin a roadmap on how to twist the US judicial system and use it as a shield to deliver hate speech and create terror and humiliation with the blessing of the legal system.
- Organizing and collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures, even just to be maliciously leveraging the process, requires a plan and a team. Is it a mere coincidence that Scott “Crimes Against Humanity” Lively, the man who worked with Uganda’s Kill-the-Gays intiative, is now moving operations to Riverside California, of all places? To quote Dana Carvey’s Church Lady… “How convenient!” Is it also a coincidence that there he is establishing a “coffee house” series of outposts building a “team of community missionaries to carry on” where he can’t be in California? Can you imagine the collection of kill-the-gays initiative signature gathering happening and Lively NOT being involved if he was here? Nor can I.
- View the film Jesus Camp and contemplate the militia that has been hiding in the shadows in America for years looking for their call to “valor.”
- Gun toting radicals like Steven Anderson are a short drive away from California. What effort do you think they would put into signature gathering once that part of the process hit a green light?
Kamala Harris is working with the courts to try to halt the proposed initiative from moving forward. Her justification is unfortunately weak. She states that the proposal would be unconstitutional and would divide the public. This is where McLaughlin’s knowledge of process would be sound — what controversial proposal to change the constitution WOULD not be at the outset “unconstitutional” and “divisive”?
The situation calls into discussion the very heart of terrorism at its worst. The horrors and atrocities are short-term effects. The worst that terrorism does is force us to bastardize our freedoms and liberties in order to fight it. By guarding ourselves from it, we give up part of our own democracy, which arguable is the ultimate goal of the terrorist, for us to do just that.
We have a process in California that is designed to put law making close to the hands of the people. Some evil people are now twisting the system that supports that to be able to unleash a campaign of threats and humiliation against our LGBT population. The effect will be volatile. People will strike back at a calm request to legalize their annihilation. The more volatile that retaliation is, the more martyred the Right will claim to be — attacked while exercising their due process.
I believe that the governor must ask the federal courts, or the justice department to step in to our system. We need protection that an election process cannot itself inflict civil rights violations and harm. It is an unprecedented move, but then, never in the history of the United States has an initiative to willfully murder a portion of the population been the open question.
Large organized religion, even the progressive sects, must be called upon to condemn and vilify all who support this atrocity in any way. Already, the complete silence is deafening.
At the end of this process, should it move forward as it is set, when the initiative ultimately does fail, as it will, what then? Will those who have roamed our streets and rationally discussed shooting us dead just calmly pick up their duds, call it a day, and head out of town? I doubt it.
For even though they will have been twisting and bastardizing our legal process against us, when it no longer serves them, they will remind us that THEY are not beholden to it. We have seen precedent how the leaders of social conservatism operate. They put out the rhetoric as they did with abortion issues, but when those who listen to them kill people in clinic bombings, they disavow any culpability in the actions of those inspired by their directives. After having conditioned themselves for months that their position is “reasonable’” and the kill-the-gays grass root workers get the news that our law system will not set them up to legally slaughter us, they may not take “no” for an answer.
They will remind us, as they aim their pistols, that theirs is a calling from a whole other mandate.
That is the scariest thing of all.
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Reblogged this on tamarlomidze.
Does not proposing a law that would sanction genocide fall under any incitement laws? I am not usually patriotic, but I am proud to at least be able to say that if any would-be legislator pulled that stunt over here, they could expect to do most of their campaining at Her Majesty’s pleasure…
It is important that we prepare our communities for the real possibility of both a signature drive, and a campaign. If you are asked to sign, sign with the name of a terrorist, like “Dylann Roof”, so that any other signer gets a clear message – the petition is an act of terrorism.
Be prepared to treat any sign, poster, bumper sticker promoting this legislation as a ‘credible death threat’, and call the police. When police departments across California are taking thousands of calls about the terrorist plot to slaughter U.S. citizens, this nasty game will backfire. Charge those who promote this legislation with conspiracy to commit bodily harm.
Long time no see. How have you been? I left Huffpost some time ago, as you no doubt know.
Funny, there was something I wanted to ask you, but I can’t remember what it is! That’s what happens when you get old. I’ll be 65 in a month. How did that happen? Better than the alternative, I suppose.
this is a brilliant idea.
I just remembered what it was– something about a correct translatio0n of Leviticus, and not defiling the bed of the wife of a priest by bringing someone else into it. Do you still have that reference?
I think we have to be careful to not legitimize this sort of insanity by calling it a real threat. At the same time it shouldn’t be ignored. I support free speech no matter what the consequences. It’s obvious to me that LGBT people wouldn’t have gotten where we are without it. I also have faith that 99.999999999999% of the population of California opposes this idea and it has no chance of ever seeing the light of day. This is simply an opportunity to explain to children the realities of the world, part of that reality is that most people are not homicidal bigots, this sort of person is about as popular as Charles Manson.
Though I understand and appreciate your concerns, especially vis-à-vis your family, I have a much different take on this. I’m not saying that your comments aren’t valid, only that there is a different perspective.
For centuries, anti-gay bigotry has relied upon the closet as its enforcement mechanism. As long as no one knew anyone gay, the closet would require us to police ourselves and not disturb anyone’s comfortable assumptions about gay people, heterosexuals, and our respective places in the world.
for the last 50 years, that has all been changing, and at a rapidly increasing rate, But the mindset of the antigay bigots has not. They still think it’s 1915, not 2015. I think that a major contribution to our successes in the last 20 years is that the bigots WON’T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. They are forcing us to talk about it, to come out, to fight for our rights and our families. They are destroying the closet by refusing to respect the rules of the closet. They are forcing people who might not have had much of an opinion on the subject to have one now. I believe most people are decent, kind, and compassionate. And if those people know and love their gay friends and family, there are only so many ways they can go.
I also think that the bigots don’t understand a thing outside of their own little echo chamber. They continue to assume that everyone thinks just like them, believes what they believe, hates whom they hate. I see this every day. They cannot conceive that there is a different perspective. They continue on with their “no true Christian” rants, their fall of rome nonsense, their god’s wrath idiocy.
So, in some ways, I think McLaughlin and his ilk are actually a force for good. In some ways, I wish that he could get his initiative on the ballot. It would be a stunning demonstration of the hate, fear, and animus that drives so many anti-gay bigots. It would be a big answer to the people who claim that such animus doesn’t exist, that they are merely expressing their “sincere religious beliefs.”
The only downsides I see to this are : 1) the NALT Christians. They are overall such nice people. And that is one of the reasons that they are far less effective than they could be. They don’t seem to stand up too much to the hate disguised as sincere religious belief. I’m not saying that they don’t, only that their voices are nowhere near as loud and persistent as the antigay religious bigots, at least in the public sphere. 2) We might be getting to the point where the vast majority of the decent people have left the echo chamber. There may not be that many more people to “convert.” I hope I’m wrong about that,
So again, I do understand your concerns, especially for your sons. But I believe that the US, as regressive and unenlightened as it frequently can be, is still a force for good in the world. I believe that we are fundamentally a good people, who will do the right thing. And yes, there is still a big fight that won’t end if the supreme court decides for us next week. Because there is still, power, money, and dominion for the antigay religious right. And there are still big time grifters, taking advantage of the fear the is the right-wing mindset.
Nevertheless, I have hope.
Ben, I get where you are coming from, but there is collateral damage here that I think is potentially horrific. An example to your point is Westboro who actually galvanized pro-gay sentiment through their actions. However in the process, they made the grief of many families more painful and embarrassed. Here, the confrontations would be more direct, painful and likely in front of impressionable kids, who won’t be made less pro-gay, but scared. It also gives license to their own fringe to violence. Would that make us martyrs, and drive up sympathies in the general public? Sure, But I am not willing to put my family on the line for that. The public will just have to come to love us on their own.
I don’t disagree with you on that, either. The potential for collateral damage is horrific. But that potential is ALWAYS there. You can google attacks on gay affirming churches, attacks on gay bars, and see a nasty history to that effect. But there is absolutely nothing we can do about that, except to keep on keeping on, much as black people had to do 50 years ago. dislodging hate and prejudice, especially when disguised as sincere religious belief, is a long arduous process. I’m old enough to remember when we Jews could be restricted from organizations and neighborhoods with impunity. Anti-Semitic beliefs are still there. As late as 1978, F. Bailey smith, president of the Southern Baptist convention, announced “God almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.”
I’ve been in this fight for over 40 years. We are making progress. All we can do is keep fighting.
“For centuries, anti-gay bigotry has relied upon the closet as its enforcement mechanism.”
That is not accurate. The closet has been the hiding place to escape the enforcement mechanism – which for 13 to 17 centuries has included execution, torture, imprisonment, expulsion and ostracism. Homosexual sex was a capital offense in the U.S. colonies, it was an imprisonable offense until 2003. Brutality and violence have been the traditional tool for suppressing homosexuality and GLBTQ people. Matthew McLaughlin is not advocating something novel, but rather, a return to business as usual, and his legislation has been on the wish-list of conservatives in the U.S. since at least the career of Rushdoony, and remains a vital part of the Christian Reconstruction ideology.
It is not unreasonable to consider that this legislation was designed with multiple levels of goals – that it would at least terrorize GLBTQ people and incite violence against us, that it might provoke a violent response from GLBTQ people that would justify criminalizing homosexuality (start a war), that it might pass and be enforced.
I would like to know why McLaughlin proposal is not being treated as a conspiracy to commit bodily harm. Certainly it would seem that he, and anyone who signs the petitions, would be conspiring to commit a crime.
It’s both, the enforcement mechanism AND the refuge. But inside that refuge, they can still get US to do THEIR dirty work, and enforce their beliefs on ourselves.
“Brutality and violence have been the traditional tool for suppressing homosexuality and GLBTQ people.” That’s true, once we step outside of the closet. Inside it, they get us to do it ourselves.
Exactly Darr. They are bastardizing the system to use it as a cloak of that conspiracy to commit bodily harm. We need some remedial legislation to clarify that flaw in the system… that people do not get to use the process to threaten murder, nor to ultimately make their threats good.
But what is the ultimate goal here? This proposal is so outrageous that it has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding. But what if this is MEANT to be so extreme that it cannot pass but a smaller, lesser or more sinister yet easily ignored ‘compromise’ of a goal DOES succeed? What if that is the real goal all along and what could it be? Perhaps softening us up for the next round? It really does take so very little to dehumanize us or any group of people to the point that the most unspeakable horrors could be unleashed from America’s darkest heart by even the most innocent and well meaning people . I don’t easily fall for conspiracy theories or paranoia but the lessons learned from early 20th century Germany were not that long ago and should not be so quickly forgotten.
The things I am asking people to look at here are not huge leaps of faith, they are all pretty obvious. The ultimate goal? Good question. I would theorize that the people behind this plan to milk each step of the process for as much dehumanization as they can. I think this will send a message to the fringe that even if it is not legally codified, it could have been and “Gods Law” will authorize them to enact violence on gay people. Ultimately, I think they hope that LGBT families will be too scared to not return to their respective closets.
Reblogged this on … but I digress.
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Reblogged this on JerBear's Queer World News, Views & More From The City Different – Santa Fe, NM and commented:
A gay dad takes on the lunatics who support the proposed kill the gays referendum in California…
Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
Matthew McLaughlin, his cohorts & others like him are the scum of this earth. What happened to … “do unto others” & “live & let live”. Discrimination, persecution, hate … will never go away!