Just in case you haven't seen this yet, here is a link to a lame attempt to make us feel sympathy for somebody who donated to California's Proposition 8.
The editorial is extremely manipulative -- right from the headline."A life thrown into turmoil by $100 donation for Prop. 8" -- it's worded like we're supposed to think, "oh, a hundred dollars, that's so insignificant a thing to throw a poor life into turmoil." Except, a hundred dollars is more money than I gave the Obama campaign, so, actually, in my universe, a hundred dollars is a pretty significant commitment to a cause.
Also, anybody who voted for Prop. 8 is officially on my naughty list.
And anybody who actually donated money, even a dollar for a button, is on my even naughtier list. Now, I don't think naughty people should should get cancer or anything, but I do think they should suffer the natural and inevitable consequences of their naughty actions. So, yeah, I've just read the headline, and I already disagree.
The first paragraph is a description of how upset Margie Christoffersen is during the interview. She's so upset, she's crying! And then a quote from Ms. Christoffersen, "I've almost had a nervous breakdown. It's been the worst thing that's ever happened to me."
So, we're obviously supposed to feel sorry for her, but since I already know she donated to Prop. 8, I'm already thinking "Good. You're upset. Now go in the corner and think about what you've done and maybe you'll achieve some kind of epiphany about why it was naughty."
(And then we get this masterpiece of cheesy manipulative writing, "what calamity had visited this poor woman who's an honest 6 feet tall, with hair as blond as the sun." Good lord.)
What did she do? She donated $100 to Prop. 8, we know that already. Why did it become the worst thing that ever happened to her? Because she was a manager at El Coyote, a formerly popular LA restaurant with a lot of gay customers. And those customers found out, and began staging protests and boycotts.
Now, if you follow the news, you know that socially conservative groups like the Southern Baptists periodically stage boycotts of companies with gay-friendly policies, like Disney, or McDonalds.
(Although, hmm, apparently the Southern Baptists ended their eight-year boycott of Disney in 2005. They claim that it was successful. Because, really, where was Disney during all that time?)
So what's the difference between boycotting a company for being gay-friendly, and boycotting a company for being anti-gay?
I suppose there are differences. Ms. Christoffersen was a manager of the restaurant, and had a prominent role in running it, and is the daughter of the owner, but she did not actually set an official anti-gay policy for the restaurant.
Oh, and, apparently, the boycott of El Coyote has been somewhat successful, probably because there's also a little recession going on. So, layoffs are looming for for the restaurant's 89 employees, which this article helpfully points out includes many gay employees. Ms. Christoffersen is on a voluntary leave of absence.
And now the article makes with the waterworks again, as Ms. Christoffersen whines "It's been so hard," and breaks down.
See, we should feel really sorry for this woman, because she told the reporter "she has no problem with gay people." "I love them like everybody else," she said.
OH YEAH AND OF COURSE THAT MAKES IT ALL BETTER, DOES IT?
You display love through action, Ms. Christoffersen. When a parent beats up on a child and says, "I hit you because I love you," do we believe him? No, we do not. You might tell yourself that you "love" gay people, but obviously you don't. Whether you think of it that way or not, you voted to take away a basic civil right from a persecuted minority group. And more than just voting, you voted with your dollars. You didn't just make a call in a voting booth, you actively worked to take away this civil right.
That is not love. I don't care what you call it.
Now the writer talks about his personal opposition to Prop. 8, before complaining about the "vilification" of individuals who were "voting their conscience." He seems to be trying to make a case that if we were to oppose the bigots boycotting Apple because the computer company donated $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign, that we should oppose El Coyote's customers boycotting that restaurant.
But he's missing the point -- if he just opposes boycotts in principle, he should say so. Any boycott runs the risk of some innocent person losing their job, after all. That's how boycotts work. But I would oppose a bigot boycott of Apple for the same reason I opposed the Southern Baptist boycott of Disney, because of the reason for the boycott. So I'm still just opposing the bigotry. Duh.
Now, you could make a case that it's not exactly fair to boycott a restaurant because of the bigotry of one employee, but the article makes it clear that Ms. Christoffersen was far more than just another employee. In fact, the article plays her important role in the restaurant as a major sympathy card. So I can't help but feel as if the writer is trying to have it both ways. It's wrong to boycott the restaurant -- because she was just an employee. And the boycott is tearing her up inside -- because she was more than just an employee.
Um. No. You have to pick one.
And now the writer gets back to his main point, trying to make us feel sorry for Ms. Christoffersen. She invited some gay customers to a free lunch so they could talk things over, but "she left in tears when asked if she would write a check to the group challenging Prop. 8."
I guess there is no free lunch after all.
At this point, I wonder why the author is bothering to still try to make us feel her pain. He just told us, in no uncertain terms, that she was given a chance to redeem herself, and instead she ran out of the room in tears. What did she think was going to happen, anyway? Did she think she could tell her gay customers, in person, "no, really, you don't understand, I love you?" And did she think they would say, "Oh, Margie, that's okay, we understand," and then there would be fabulous rainbow hugs all around?
Of course not. Her gay customers said, "You love us? Okay, prove it." And she chose not to. So, really, there's nothing more to say.
The author treats Ms. Christofferson's crying as a kind of trump card, as if he's saying to all of us out there who sympathize with the boycotters, "there, look what you did, you made her cry!"
And I say, so what?
People cry when they're emotionally overwhelmed. Some people cry more easily than others. People cry when they're happy, they cry when they're sad, they cry when they're angry. We even sometimes make ourselves cry on purpose by, for example, watching the works of Mr. Joss Whedon. Sometimes we can be made to cry by stupid manipulative movies that we actually hate, like Ghost, which used that song "Unchained Melody" to make me cry and then acted like it was the movie, but it wasn't! You cheaters! You lousy, stinking, manipulative...
Where was I? Oh yeah, crying. Anyway, it doesn't make us right, just because we're the ones crying. It doesn't make us wrong, either. It just proves we're emotional about the topic. Crying has no truth value.
Ms. Christofferson's sobbing sounds to me like it's coming from cognitive dissonance, from her psychological pain as she tries to avoid realizing that there is a fundamental conflict between her religious-themed bigotry (she is a Mormon) and the love she tells herself that she feels for the gay people she knows. She's upset because, I suppose, it never occurred to her that if she acted like a bigot, she would be viewed as a bigot.
She's weeping because the truth hurts. Which... that's too bad, I suppose, but I don't feel sorry for her. The truth is the truth. And sometimes it does hurt. That's truth for you.
The article makes a lame attempt at emotional balance, by saying of Ms. Christofferson that her work has "been her life" and "she can't stand that it's been taken away." Then, "on the other side, thousands of gay people can't stand that their recent marriages could be taken away, and thousands more feel as though their civil rights have been violated."
Oh, yeah, that balances out. One sobbing woman's job versus thousands of people and their families. And her job wasn't "taken away" by some mythical nameless force. She lost it (if she has indeed lost it) as a natural and inevitable consequence of her own actions. She acted in hate against the people in her life and they responded by protesting and that made her sad. Boo-hoo.
And, "feel as though" their civil rights have been violated? Whuh? Under what crazy definition of civil rights is granting, then removing, a civil right not a violation of civil rights?
In the insane troll logic of the right wing church, I suppose, where the civil rights of one group are considered on equal balance with the "right" of a different group to take those rights away. Which sounds suspiciously like a "how dare you claim to be tolerant when you're so intolerant of my intolerance!" sort of argument. Which sounds stupid when ten-year-olds make it, let alone full-grown adult-type people.
And now, the article makes one last-ditch attempt to sway our sympathies, by talking to a couple of gay managers at the restaurant, who defend their co-worker by saying things like "'If she were a bigot or a homophobe, you wouldn't have had all these gay people' working at the restaurant or eating at it."
Except, of course, she obviously is a bigot. Does he think all bigots are loudmouthed Rush Limbaugh types who can't say a single word that isn't hateful and bigoted? Most bigots are more polite than that, and even the ones who aren't terribly polite aren't quite so obsessed as Mr. Limbaugh. Religious bigots in particular are often very nice people, and often very nice even to the people they are bigoted against. (Remember, they tell themselves that they "love" them.)
Also, people are complex. Remember Strom Thurmond's illegitimate black daughter? That guy was a bigot and a half, an infamous bigot, a man who made a career out of being a bigot. But it didn't stop him from sleeping with a black girl. And having a black daughter didn't stop him from conducting the longest filibuster in history against the Civil Rights Act of 1957. But he did pay for his daughter to go to college and stuff. And she claimed that she didn't come forward as his daughter until he died out of love and respect for him.
Respect for this extravagently bigoted man, who worked to deny her full civil rights, even while he was working to get her an education.
Yeah, bigots. They have facets. It doesn't make them not bigots.
The final line of the article is a quote from one of Ms. Christoffersen's gay co-workers. "You can express yourself as a citizen ... Not everyone has to believe the same things."
Which sounds all nice and dandy and balanced, except, honestly, how many times do I have to say this, IT DOESN'T BALANCE.
No, not everyone has to believe the same things. Ms. Christoffersen does not have to believe, in her heart, that gay married people are "really" married. Her church does not have to bless their union, or permit them to be members, or say that what they're doing is right. She doesn't have to have a gay couple over for dinner. If she gets invited to a gay wedding, she doesn't have to go.
But what she did was more than just expressing an opinion, she actively campaigned to take away a civil right that really had nothing to do with her. Except, I guess, its existence offended her because it violated the tenets of her religion. Well, guess what? In a non-theocratic society, THAT'S NOT A GOOD REASON.
There simply is no secular argument to be made against gay marriage. It breaks no-one's leg and picks no-one's pocket (in fact, there's money to be made!) People do all sorts of things every day in this country that violate somebody's deeply held beliefs -- does El Coyote serve pork dishes? Are they open on Sundays? Do they serve meat at all?
Imagine how you would feel if a radical Amish sect took over the government and tried to outlaw electricity, would you buy their argument that electricity was an abomination unto the Lord? More specifically, would you buy the argument that their beliefs about their concept of of their God required you to give up your computer and read by candlelight?
I don't know why the Mormons took this issue so much to heart. Maybe they're still bitter about Utah having to give up polygamy in order to join the United States. But the Mormon Church isn't out there fighting to get rights -- for example, the right of consenting adults numbering more than two to all be able to get married. They are fighting to take away the rights of other, non-Mormon citizens. And this time around they succeeded, because, I guess, people as a whole are still more bigoted than I want them to be.
Ms. Christoffersen worked to take away a right from other people, a right that couldn't possibly apply to her. It must have seemed like an easy choice. It must have seemed like a safe choice. She made a choice to inflict suffering on others, not thinking that she might suffer too. And then it turned out that she was wrong. And she suffers.But still she doesn't wake up.
Ms. Christofferson gets no tears from me.
Until, perhaps, the day when she does wake up, the day when she writes that check to the group challenging Prop. 8 after all. And then it will be tears of joy.