Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tilting at Windmills

This week when I drove to the farmers market after work, the proportion of "YES" to "NO" on 8 signs at a big intersection I pass through was way off in favor of yes. I bought my fruits and veggies and squash and my blood continued to boil. Instead of raging silently I decided to go talk to them. The staff at the arts council let me use a marker and a piece of paper to make a "NO H8" sign and tape it to my back.

Then I hied off, parked at the mall, and walked over to the corner and started confronting the haters. For some reason that happened to be really effective, I just walked right up to the kids in a block of maybe 10 people and asked why they were holding signs. "To say Yes to 8". "Why?" "To Protect Marriage." "From What?" Adults interceded. So I asked why they thought it was ok to take kids to a streetcorner to help them profess their hate. To a one they denied having any hate for gays. Uh huh. They just want to protect society from going to hell in a handbasket of perversion.

Well, what they call perversion, I call progress. If people weren't using the exact same arguments against gay marriage that they used against black people marrying white people, they might have a valid point. But as it is, they feel self righteous in denying other people rights they themselves are allowed. Intolerable. So I didn't change any of their minds, but I hope I planted the seed of doubt with the kids. And I was able to discuss with them, without screaming, but generally making enough of a pill of myself that I drove them off the corner. When they asked if prostitution should be legalized too I said yes. "Well obviously you're too far to the left for us to talk to." Uh, sure. And you're too far to the hate for me to like. They were particularly annoyed when I pointed out that laws that discriminate against differences in identity lead directly to things like the 15 year old cross dresser being shot to death in school two towns over a couple months ago, for being a little strange. Granted, when they left the majority of traffic had gone down, but I definitely think I hastened their departure.

Which left a very small handful of "No on H8" people left over. But hey, we were there. One of the more lucid H8ers came back to chat, sans sign. His primary argument, despite having a gay brother whose long term relationship he "tolerates" but does not "celebrate", was that if gay marriage is allowed, suddenly sons and fathers will be marrying. Well, Sons can't currently marry mothers, so why the fear? He also thinks that gay sex is risky for health. ALL sex is risky for health. And straight people can have oral and anal sex too. Oh, and the "it's unnatural" argument? There are twice as many gay people as redheads. Even if there were only one though, by virtue of existing, gays are as natural as any other person.

One person tried to ask me "if a six year old would prefer to live with his natural mom and dad or two dads". Then wouldn't listen if I asked if the natural mom and dad wanted to raise the child, were abusive, etc... saying I wouldn't answer his question as if his question was reasonable. He left when I insisted that there were more answers than just his two. What I should have said is, "If you asked a six year old if he wanted Cheetos for dinner, would he say yes? Should we then legislate that all kids should only have Cheetos for dinner?"

I can't say it helped anyone but me for me to go do that. But I was heartened that a kid coming by on a skateboard stopped to ask the calm h8ter how he thought kids of this generation would judge their parents for promoting intolerance. And another young woman with a rainbow flag came by.

I think that unless something is so dangerous that it causes immediate and lasting or fatal harm to the unwary, we should choose education over legislation for matters of personal choice - alcohol, cigarettes, other low toxicity drugs, and sexual choices. Things that need to be illegal (or extremely hard to get) are those things that cause immediate and lasting harm to the unwary, and behaviors that endanger or take advantage of people who have not or cannot give consent. Anything related to core identity, like sexual orientation or race, should be protected by law because we have shown time and again if differences are not legally protected, people who are different will be marginalized legally and socially. When people are protected legally, they become accepted socially.

And I can't see any downside to tolerating other people choosing what is best for their family, as long as they don't mandate what is best for me and mine.


Anonymous said...

The yes on 8 signs make my blood boil too.If you are not in favor of gay marriage don't marry someone of the same gender!!!

They don't teach about marriage in the schools!! I think anyone who would stand on a street corner for yes on 8 has a wide stance and thinks that screaming their intolerance makes them look more heterosexual. I need to get a no on 8 sign so no haters come to my door for halloween candy.

CrankyOtter said...

Oooh. Great idea!

No H8, but free candy... I'm pretty sure the kids won't care who gives them candy. And since not a single one of the big news events of kids getting "tainted" candy ever turned out to come from a stranger (it was all family and friends - shades of munchausen), their indifference to source shouldn't hurt them.

azteclady said...

I love you and I would wanna have your babies. 'cept I already had two and am done with that.

But seriously, you have courage. One person confronting a group, no matter how calm, it running a risk of provoking mob-like behaviour. I salute your courage.

And you are right, your rational approach, your courage, and your simple presence may have opened avenues of thought for one or more of those kids.

Thank you.

S said...

Good for you for confronting them and getting the kids to think, even if the adults were too closed-minded to listen! Thank you. That really took guts. (Not that there was ever any doubt you had guts, but still.)

I'm a bit confused by the question about who a 6-year-old would prefer to live with. How's this for a response: "Of course a 6-year-old would prefer to live with the Daddy and Papa who have loved him and raised him for years, rather than a biological mother who he probably doesn't know and who never wanted to parent him. And that 6-year-old would also prefer that your kids not tease him at school about having two dads."

Certainly my son would prefer to be raised by me and E, than by me and the sperm donor who we've never met. And if your questioner was talking about the placement of foster kids, and what they'd prefer, then presumably the state has decided the "natural mom and dad" aren't an option anyway, so it's a moot point. But then, homophobes aren't strong on logic....

CrankyOtter said...

Thanks guys! I wasn't sure if I was being a moron or not, but I'll take "courageous"!

s: I was thinking the same thing. Was his point that adoption was universally bad? There wasn't a single bit of logic in his question, and the only answers he would accept were those he threw down. Totally useless.

I actually used your (modified) line of "so you think it's ok for children of non-traditional families to see you out here as they drive by, telling them that their families should be different under the law and it's ok for your kids to hate them. How is that moral?"

Anonymous said...

ok Erika, now I've had a song stuck in my noggin all day because of you. You have to be carefully taught from South Pacific

You've got to be taught to hate and fear
You've got to be taught from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You've got to be carefully taught
You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You have to be carefully taught

QL, who hasn't gotten her no on8 sign yet darnit

Hahn at Home said...

My kids are adopted - and on top of that I'm divorced from both their adoptive father and my former partner. I think they'd tell you that they'd love it if all of us parent-types would just stop making them clean up their rooms.

Kids only want to be loved - they really don't care who does it.

mego said...

Lucky you- you brought the equal marriage fight with you from MA! It's actually one of the few things that I've ever been able to get really into politically, I think because it is (to me) such a straightforward question which requires minimal beaurocracy. It's not something that requires deep policy knowledge, or the attempt to explain and defend detailed policy (like healthcare/ environmental/ tax issues often require). Good luck! And good job on the h8ers!

Up My Mind said...


I am in awe of you...

Way to Go!

CrankyOtter said...

I was a little nervous, but in truth, most of the batch was rather non-confrontational thankfully. But I'm not sure that I'm courageous so much as reckless.

The people I confronted left rather than keep arguing. While I thank you for the props, I still think it feels rather impotent. I feel like I should be doing something more useful and *effective*. As a proud equality supporter from Mass (yeah Mass!), I will feel just horrible if this proposition passes. I've given what money I feel I can give. I've gone to one street corner for an hour. It's not going to be enough.

If I go back to the corner tomorrow and get them to leave... would it be useful without all the weekday traffic? Argh. And I had enough wine to be maudlin, but not enough to be gleeful, hence this bleah comment.