Monday, November 17, 2008

Defeating fear.

I know you all are sick of Prop8, but this isn't about Prop8, except as a symptom.

I want us to think about what provokes people into fear. Because I put it to you that the separatist instinct that we are seeing playing out across the country, dividing "us" and "them", is about fear and insecurity.

Item:
The election of America's first black president has triggered more than 200 hate-related incidents, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center – a record in modern presidential elections. Moreover, the white nationalist movement, bemoaning an election that confirmed voters' comfort with a multiracial demography, expects Mr. Obama's election to be a potent recruiting tool – one that watchdog groups warn could give new impetus to a mostly defanged fringe element.
The article goes on to discuss that a sense of disenfranchisement in Southern and other whites leads to a potential for violent response against Obama and people of color. We can't forget that the Oklahoma City bombings were done by people "like us", and not scary foreigners.

Item:
The theologically conservative Diocese of Fort Worth voted Saturday to split from the liberal-leaning Episcopal Church, the fourth traditional diocese to do so in a long-running debate over the Bible, gay relationships and other issues. About 80 percent of clergy and parishioners in the Texas diocese supported the break in a series of votes at a diocesan convention.
I know you know all about this, but really, from where *I* sit, it looks like desperately trying to hold on to the past, where women and gays both knew their places and father figures (always white men) channeled authority.

Item:
In a recent email urging supporters to attack the Governor for his comments, Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council had this to say: "Since Election Day, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has made statements supporting demonstrations against Proposition 8, and urging California 's Supreme Court to block the amendment's enforcement…Condoning street protests and supporting judicial activist scams to overturn a popularly approved state constitutional amendment approaches advocacy of anarchy. Gov. Schwarzenegger is playing a dangerous game, and it needs to stop. Now."
Attempts to suppress peaceful dissent is a major symptom of fear, wouldn't you say? I told you that their next attack would be against free speech.

So, what is it that is so ingrained in the human instinct that some of us need to feel "above" someone else? That people feel threatened by change, or inclusion, sufficient to use acts of violence and words of hate to support their views?

Is it that if someone else is special, we aren't? This sounds like the jealousy of a small child when a new sibling comes home from the hospital--only with the weapons of adulthood.

Some time ago, I wrote here about ambiguity, and argued that fundamentalists respond the way they do because of their discomfort with things ambiguous. Here, I will add that I think fear is also a component.

In these undeniably frightening economic and social times, it is a natural instinct to barricade the doors against what we see as the marauding hoardes. Yet it is precisely now that we need to take the risk to open the door and realize that the "hoardes" are just starving neighbors, and people like us.

With gun sales on the upswing, right wing groups advocating the elimination of free speech, these are indeed perilous times. Now is the true challenge, of living our humane values in the face of fear and violence--not by excluding the fearful, but by trying to reach them.

How do we do this, with the threats of political and social violence?

Updated: Cross posted with some editing at TPM Cafe and Daily kos

30 comments:

David |Dah • veed| said...

It is funny that they are only activist judges when they hand down a decision that is not what the conservatives/fundamentalists want it to be.

Three of the four CA Supreme Court judges deciding in favor of SSM last MAY where appointed by Republican governors and considered to be conservative.

God forbid that they may have been actually doing the job for which they were appointed; determining that the status quo was or was not in line with the CA Constitution, and watching out for the rights of suspect class minorities, over against the dictates of the majority.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Dahveed. Activist judges were also responsible for desegregation of the south, and overturning laws against inter-racial marriage, both very much against the "will of the people"!

IT

Anonymous said...

Here are a couple of blogposts asking what witness Christians supporting Prop 8 have really made for their faith. In the terms of my post, are they fighting fear, or creating it?

How many souls did you save?
and
Weak excuses

IT

Leonardo Ricardo said...

The only way I know to defeat fear is to face fear...my experience is that people run and run and take extreme measures to AVOID facing their own innermost torments and are often willing to deny REALITY unless STARKLY FACED WITH IT...IT WON´T GO AWAY...unfortunately few are willing to volunteer to investigate their beneath the surface demons until they are ¨busted¨ or FORCED to STOP WITH THE DENIAL! Folks don´t STOP avoiding their difficult truths until they are no longer able to CONTROL the self-deceit...for me, it means that LGBT people, our families, our friends may be in for some very uncomfortable, even perhaps dangerous and violent times, as the TRUTH about the sexual REALITIES of human beings runs headlong into bigots and extremist religious zealots.

I think we are near the end of playing PRETEND. I don´t think it´s healthy, for anyone, for LGBT people to opt to hide or ¨pass¨ or ¨pretend¨ we are different from the authentic people that God has made us to be.

Putting forward our TRUTH that was previously buried deep in social/cultural taboo is quite a risk...of course some of us can be/will be shunned, outcasted, abominated, fired, demoted, beaten, defrocked, disinherited, despised and even murdered (again)...BUT, there is no place to hide from the emotionally tormented as they start running smack into the selfdeception they have spent lifetimes building up in order to comfort and protect themselves...they have spent even more time than lifetimes insulating themselves from realizing that twisted emotions, recklessly slandering others, hateful acting out and the general terrorizing OF OTHERS has made them SICK!

Odd as it seems we are the solution...for our sake as well as for their sake...we have been given the opportunity to bravely and meekly reveal ourselves as the everyday loving people that our friends and families know us to be (mostly)...¨just being¨ fully present, front and center, IS what we must do to help ourselves and to help others adjust, gain on their emotional/spiritual wellbeing as they accept REALITY! Anything else is dishonest, self-destructive, selfish, cowardly and insane.

The solution is that we must continue to ¨just be¨...no more lurking in the shadows of OUR own lives.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

speaking of the DEVIL (yes I mean Devil)

A few BRAND NEW cases of demonizing/abuse/persecution/murderand hatecrimes generated against LGBT people:

http://www.365gay.com/news/gay-man-murdered-sitting-in-car/

and

http://www.365gay.com/news/transwoman-beaten-by-cops-shot-to-death/

and

http://www.365gay.com/news/100-vehicles-vandalized-with-homophobic-racial-slurs/

Tell me who the terrorfilled thugs and cowards are? It ain´t us!

Paul M said...

A while back, Nicholas Kinsley+ made an offhand comment on his blog "Entangled States" which explained a lot for me. (I would link to it, but I can't find the post.) He had moved from Bethlehem, PA to become Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral in Phoenix, and he found the change illuminating.

Bethlehem, PA is in the middle of the Eastern rust belt, full of empty factories and unemployed blue collar workers. Phoenix is growing rapidly, and is involved with a lot of newer, high tech industries.

His point was, your attitude to change often depends on your past experience of change. To some, change means factory closings, job losses and a decaying city. To others, change means new opportunities, new jobs and hope for a better life. A rapidly changing, globalizing economy has left some people behind. There should be no surprise that those people yearn for the "good old days", whatever that may mean.

This isn't intended to excuse anyone of bigotry, narrow-minded selfishness or worse. Not all responses to change are rational.

Chris H. said...

"So, what is it that is so ingrained in the human instinct that some of us need to feel "above" someone else?"
Both sides, liberal or conservative, play this game;just as both sides fear the other. Liberals are more intelligent than the "bigotted neanderthals" of conservatism and conservatives are "above" the liberals who have no "morals". Both sides fear each other too. Conservatives fear liberals destroying "right and wrong" creating anarchy and reading the above comments, some here apparently think anyone who disagrees with them is an axe murderer.
No wonder the Anglican church is tearing itself apart: liberals will not be satisfied until all conservatives are liberal and vice versa. Fear and hate live on both sides of the equation. Perhaps separation really is the only answer, because no one seems to be listening on either side.

Cany said...

Well, on the issue of Prop 8, Chris h, it isn't matter of the church. It is a matter of equality--equal treatment and equal protection--under the law.

In regard to the church, well, I am in an EFM group with a pro 8 supporter and while I disagree vehemently with her (she bought Dobson's reasoning hook, line and sinker), I still love her. We couldn't BE more politically or spiritually opposite.

Hate is a pretty strong word to be tossing around. I don't use it all that often and I surely don't feel it very often, either.

JCF said...

reading the above comments, some here apparently think anyone who disagrees with them is an axe murderer.

Oh, come off the hyperbole, Chris H.!

Playing "moral equivalency" is a very fun game (in which the player gets to JUDGE from "above it all"), but it just wastes everyone's time.

Taking rights away, and having them taken away are NOT "two sides of the same coin." If the latter class express strong feelings against the former, they should be able to do so w/o being described as "think[ing] anyone who disagrees with them is an axe murderer".

***

I commend to you all this legal analysis, here.

Quote guaranteed to make your mind boggle: Mary McAlister, a lawyer for the (pro-H8) Campaign for California Families: Prop 8 "does not alter the balance of power between the branches of government, nor does it undermine or eliminate fundamental rights"

Because the right to MARRY ain't "fundamental"???

BS!

David said...

Note that while the Dio. of Fort Worth did vote to separate from TEC, that still isn't any indication of the "mass exodus" of the conservatives' wet dreams.

Fr. Mark Harris notes that even with all of the "gang of four" dioceses accounted for, they're only slightly over 2% of TEC's avg. Sunday attendance (ASA).

Feh. Go in peace, and for your own spiritual health as well as ours, stop yer squawkin'. :P

IT said...

Because gays aren't citizens, JCF and don't deserve rights. I've heard that more than once on the streets over the last few weeks: gays don't have rights.

Chris h. refuses to engage the issue--no one is calling anyone an axe murderer. But to ignore the common thread through my examples is to willfully ignore facts. People ARE afraid. RIght now, the ones who are most afraid are conservative, because they are losing. How do we meaningfully engage in this climate?

Falling back into the same old name-calling is simply adding to the problem, not solving it.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Eye Tee, I put up the rainbow, along with all the other stuff on my sidebar.

I am not sick of Prop 8. The next move is in the courts. I pray it will be thrown out as unconstitutional.

Chris H. said...

Considering the last line of the article and putting all of Leonardo's posts together, I still believe that many here are just waiting for the hoardes of pro8 supporters to come hunting them down and if that isn't hate and fear I don't know what is.

AS for engaging, I don't think it's really possible in this climate. After all, it's perfectly fine for liberals to call names here, but not conservatives. I do apologize for the "axe murderer" remark, I was being sarcastic after reading Leonardo and it wasn't appropriate.

Let's assume the Supreme Court rules SSM legal, the conservatives are still going to split the church because it will be mandatory in TEC.

Anonymous said...

Mimi, thank you. I still can't undetstand how anyone believes they have a right to vote on someone else's marriage...and I am still so deeply, deeply hurt by this, as is my new wife!

I suspect you are right re. the church issue, Chris h, though I must admit I find it confusing that the Conservative faction can "agree to disagree" with regard to women's ordinations, amongst themselves, while gay bishops are a deal-breaker. Go figure.

As for Pro-8 supporters taking to the streets, that has actually been suggested by the Pro-8 leadership who threaten revolution on the streets if the Supreme Court finds for the plaintiffs.

Meanwhile, the anti-8 protests have been remarkably peaceful, given that a fundamental right has been eliminated. At the 25,000-strong protest in San Diego, the only arrest was a counter protester who tried to start a fight to defend his right to discriminate.

IT

Anonymous said...

I have removed a troll. Reminder, this blog does not tolerate the language of hate or violence. Hey, troll, go post on some inflammatory site, we don't do that here.

We can disagree passionately (and do) but if you cross my arbitrary line, you're outta here.


IT

James said...

Good for you, IT. I've removed (banned) several.

dr.primrose said...

Good editorial from today's Los Angeles Times - Healing the gay/black divide:Gay-rights leaders seek to dampen animosity sparked by Prop. 8's passage.:

In a letter addressed to "Dear Community," a high-powered coalition of gay-rights leaders is calling for an end to the scapegoating of African Americans for the passage of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in California. Nine painful, anger-filled and vitriolic days passed before this request for calm appeared, and although the letter is sensible and encouraging, words alone will not undo the damage.

Since an election-day exit poll found that 70% of black voters supported Proposition 8, tensions between gays and blacks have exploded on the airwaves, in newspaper columns and on the Internet. The letter, however, notes that blacks make up a small part of the 52% of California voters who supported Proposition 8. Furthermore, it says, a recent analysis of that exit poll determined that it was too small to "draw any conclusions on the African American vote."

Many in the gay community believed, perhaps naively, that shared minority status would create a sense of sympathy between the two groups, and that casting gay marriage as a benchmark in civil rights history would cement that bond. Yet some African Americans were more offended than impressed by the comparison of the right of homosexuals to marry and the right of blacks to vote or to share public accommodations. Then there is the irony of one civil rights dream fulfilled the same night another was deferred. Much has been made of the possibility that a surge in support for Barack Obama helped pass Proposition 8, but according to political analyst Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, exit polls show that first-time voters, 83% of whom cast ballots for Obama, voted against the measure by 62% to 38%.

This has been a wrenching loss for advocates of same-sex marriage, but it should provide an opportunity to forge allegiances. Black people need to hear how denying gays the right to marry devastates families and diminishes us all. Gays need to know that they will find less "hate" and religious dogma among blacks than they imagine, but also a deep grief over the disintegration of the nuclear black family and fear that gay marriage will further erode it. Efforts are quietly underway in Los Angeles to initiate these conversations. We hope they create a truly broad, communitywide imperative for an end to discrimination and for equal rights for all.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Also Anna Quindlen in Newsweek.

Anonymous said...

From the LA Times:

In 1992, by a 53%-47% split, Coloradans passed an amendment to their state Constitution that repealed laws in Aspen, Boulder and Denver that prohibited discrimination against gays. The amendment barred the state and its political subdivisions from adopting or enforcing any law "whereby homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships" are the basis of a claim of discrimination. Does this sound familiar?

As the proponents of same-sex marriage rights determine the proper response to Proposition 8, it is illuminating to compare Colorado's rejection of "gay rights" with California's repudiation of "gay marriage."

The day after the Nov. 4 election, a coalition of civil rights groups asked the California Supreme Court to declare that Proposition 8 was unlawfully enacted. The essence of their claim is that a constitutional change that rescinds individual rights must first be passed by a supermajority in the Legislature before being submitted to voters. This process-based claim may well have merit, but there exists a more direct means of challenging Proposition 8 based on the U.S. Constitution.

Following the enactment of Colorado's Amendment 2, its opponents filed suit claiming that it unlawfully singled out gays and lesbians as a class to deny them rights that other citizens not only possess but take for granted.....Amendment 2, the opponents argued.... denied gays and lesbians the equal protection of the laws, which is a guarantee of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

To the surprise of many, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed.

Writing for a 6-3 majority in Romer vs. Evans (1996), Justice Anthony M. Kennedy explained that it "is not within our constitutional tradition to enact laws of this sort. Central both to the idea of the rule of law and to our own Constitution's guarantee of equal protection is the principle that government and each of its parts remain open on impartial terms to all who seek its assistance." Laws such as Amendment 2 "raise the inevitable inference that the disadvantage imposed is born of animosity toward the class of persons affected," Kennedy wrote, adding a reference to another 1973 ruling. "If the constitutional conception of 'equal protection of the laws' means anything, it must at the very least mean that a bare ... desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot constitute a legitimate governmental interest."

Proposition 8 suffers these same constitutional flaws. It provides that gays and lesbians -- alone among consenting adult couples -- shall not have the opportunity to enjoy the rights, privileges and social approbation conferred by the status of lawful marriage. And despite their insistence that the initiative was "not an attack on the gay lifestyle," its proponents were remarkably candid about their disapproval of homosexual families. The amendment, they argued in voter guides, "protects our children from being taught in public schools that 'same-sex marriage' is the same as traditional marriage." It protects marriage "as an essential institution of society" because "the best situation for a child is to be raised by a married mother and father."

But as California's chief justice, Ronald M. George, explained in his opinion declaring the state's previous statutory ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples does nothing to protect the interests of children. "An individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend on the individual's sexual orientation." Moreover, "the exclusion of same-sex couples from the designation of marriage clearly is not necessary in order to afford full protection to all of the rights and benefits that currently are enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples."

In other words, the reasons for denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry that served as the "factual" basis for Proposition 8 are but pretexts for discrimination.

JCF said...

Let's assume the Supreme Court rules SSM legal, the conservatives are still going to split the church because it will be mandatory in TEC.

More over-the-top hyperbole, ChrisH.

OPPOSITE-sex marriages aren't "mandatory" in TEC (any priest can say No), so how in the heck do you figure SSMs would be?

But, if you're arguing that conservatives will split (i.e., depart) the church due to their hyperbolic hysteria, then I fear you may be right...

JCF said...

Thanks to Anonymous (IT, is that you?), for suggesting Romer v. Evans (I'd been thinking about it, too)

That was a GREAT decision . . . especially as it was written by the moderately conservative Kennedy: would seem to provide an appropriate precedent for the Cal. SC, to throw out Prop H8.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, yes, that was me IT.

Actually I was quoting the LAtimes.

The problem with using a pseudonym is that I don't leave it logged in so sometimes I forget to sign it.

MarkBrunson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MarkBrunson said...

Well, Chris, I'd have to ask why you think that the fear - and, possibly, it's child, Hate - are present in the pro-gay community? Do you think that fear is baseless? Is there no basis in reality for that fear? What can you do to prove that it is baseless?

You seem to have no problem with the fear and hate from the anti-gay community. Do you feel there is a real base to their fear and hate? Are those fears based in reality? How can we allay them?

If you came to do other than say "You're just as bad!" then you must answer these questions, and be prepared to receive our answers, as well.

David said...

Chris H. suggested, "...the conservatives are still going to split the church because it will be mandatory in TEC."

Uh, yeah. Right. Just like the evil Episcopal Church was forcing dioceses to ordain women.

Oh wait! it didn't actually happen that way! And the Dio. of Fort Worth split, regardless. These "conservatives" will use even their most fearful, fevered imaginings as an excuse to run riot - no matter what the reality of the situation is.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leonardo Ricardo said...

¨I do apologize for the "axe murderer" remark, I was being sarcastic after reading Leonardo and it wasn't appropriate.¨

Don´t qualify your apology by using me as a excuse...I´ve seen the blood and murder first hand and you´ll get no ¨pass¨ from me for attempting to appear balanced and reasonable while defending ignorance, injustice, fear and hatemongering!

It takes REAL courage to live amongst emotionally and spiritually challenged people who would exclude us from EQUALITY (with a selfrighteous smurk on their face or a axe in their soiled hand).

Anonymous said...

It is worth noting for chris h. that Leonardo's partner was murdered.

So you see, chris h, we do have some direct experience of the violence tht results from bigotry and fear.



IT

dr.primrose said...

The California Supreme Court just entered an order agreeing to hear the chalanges to Prop. 8 but denying a stay to its effectiveness.

The full order says this:

The motion for judicial notice filed in S168047 by petitioners on November 5, 2008, is GRANTED.

The requests for a stay of Proposition 8 filed by petitioners in S168047 and in S168066 are DENIED.

Respondent Secretary of State Bowen's request to be dismissed as a respondent in S168066 is GRANTED. (Kevelin v. Jordan (1964) 62 Cal.2d 82.)

The motions to intervene in S168047, S168066, and S168078, filed on November 17, 2008, by Proposition 8 Official Proponents et al. are GRANTED.

The motions to intervene in S168047, S168066, and S168078, filed on November 10, 2008, by Campaign for California Families, are DENIED.

The State of California, the Attorney General, the State Registrar of Vital Statistics, and the Deputy Director of Health Information and Strategic Planning of the California Department of Public Health are ORDERED TO SHOW CAUSE before this court, when the above entitled matters are called on calendar, why the
relief sought by petitioners should not be granted.

The issues to be briefed and argued in these matters are as follows:

(1) Is Proposition 8 invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution? (See Cal. Const., art. XVIII, sections 1-4.)

(2) Does Proposition 8 violate the separation of powers doctrine under the California Constitution?

(3) If Proposition 8 is not unconstitutional, what is its effect, if any, on the marriages of same-sex couples performed before the adoption of Proposition 8?

The return is to be filed by respondents, and a brief may be filed by intervenors, in the San Francisco Office of the Supreme Court on or before Friday, December 19, 2008.

A reply may be filed by petitioners in the San Francisco Office of the Supreme Court on or before Monday, January 5, 2009.

Any application to file an amicus curiae brief, accompanied by the proposed brief, may be filed in the San Francisco Office of the Supreme Court on or before Thursday, January 15, 2009. Any reply to an amicus curiae brief may be filed in the San Francisco Office of the Supreme Court on or before Wednesday, January 21, 2009.

Moreno, J. joins this order except that he would grant the requests to stay the operation of Proposition 8 pending this court's resolution of these matters.
Kennard, J. would deny these petitions without prejudice to the filing in this court of an appropriate action to determine Proposition 8's effect, if any, on the marriages of same-sex couples performed before Proposition 8's adoption.

Votes: George, C.J., Baxter, Werdegar, Chin, Moreno, and Corrigan, JJ.

Anonymous said...

I think that the typical person identifying as "conservative" is motivated more by fear than the typical person identifying as "liberal". It is hardly surprising that the most fearful people may threaten or commit violent acts, after the fashion of cornered animals.*

*(I am not calling conservatives animals, I am pointing out a common mammalian behavior that most people have seen in dogs, cats, other common domestic animals.)

NancyP