Subscribe via RSS Feed

Bigotry is not all bad things

[ 139 ] March 5, 2014 |

Henry Farrell’s reply to Conor Friedersdorf’s mess of a column this morning. But I want to highlight one particularly clueless passage:

I don’t regard homosexuality as sinful. Unlike my friends in the orthodox Catholic community, I don’t regard sex before marriage or masturbation or the use of contraceptives or failing to attend Sunday Mass as sinful either. Knowing those Catholic friends neither fear me nor treat me with intolerance nor bear hatred toward me, it’s easy for me to see how they could view gay sex or marriage as sinful without hating gays or lesbians.

The difference, of course, is his conservative Catholic friends are not petitioning the state to deny him equal legal status via the denial of basic legal rights and protections, such as the right to marry and found a family, or the protection from discrimination in public accommodations provided by being covered by anti-discrimination law, despite the fact that he openly endorses and/or engages in all manner of activity they find sinful. It turns out that straight white males such as Friedersdorf find themselves being treated as full and equal citizens with relative ease, whereas GLBT struggle a bit in that category for some reason.

Among the many problems with Friedersdorf is his emotional response to, and utter lack of precision regarding the word bigotry. It’s a word with real meaning, not an insult, and petitioning the state to deny the basic rights and protections synonymous with full and equal citizenship is an act of bigotry. Bigotry is not synonymous with animosity. Bigotry is not synonymous with hatred. Bigotry is not synonymous with rudeness. Bigotry doesn’t cease to be bigotry simply because it comes from a place of ‘sincere religious conviction’  (which I doubt Friedersdorf would deny in other contexts–I have no doubt there are a few hundred million Hindus who seek to uphold the sigmas and exclusions of untouchibility due to ‘sincere religious conviction’).

Share with Sociable

Comments (139)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. efgoldman says:

    Bigotry is not synonymous with rudeness. Bigotry doesn’t cease to be bigotry simply because it comes from a place of ‘sincere religious conviction’

    Excellent and true synopsis. Wish I’d said it.

    • ThrottleJockey says:

      So many conservative Christians just don’t get this; so many of them try to hide their bigotry with a smile.

      I do wonder if there’s a middle ground that might be reached on a very narrow conscience clause, of the kind that we have with abortifacients that allow individual pharmacists the right to decline to dispense RU-486 for instance. The reason I’ve always supported gay rights is because I’m a civil libertarian. The right to marry who you love is fundamental, as is I think some narrow right to practice your religion in public. I may be naive but both gay rights and religious rights are very important to me and I’d like to think there’s a way to accommodate both.

      • Hogan says:

        I do wonder if there’s a middle ground that might be reached on a very narrow conscience clause

        With whom do you think that middle ground might be reached? Because I’m not seeing them anywhere in actual US politics, only in some people’s imaginations.

        • ThrottleJockey says:

          I have no fucking clue, Hogan, no fucking clue. The Christian Right is so bigoted they’re going to continue down this maximalist, bigoted position they’ve held since time began. And as I tell conservative Christians all the time they’ve pissed all over LGBT folks for so damn long, and so damn hard that LGBT folks and their allies are in no fucking mood to compromise now that their view is in the ascendancy. Andrew Sullivan is the only personality I’ve known to suggest a middle ground. Theoretically, if the Christian Right pushed for a narrow compromise they retain enough clout to maybe win one, but they’re so wrapped up in hate, they may not want a narrow compromise.

          • STH says:

            Why is it that when people propose a compromise with bigots, it’s always the powerless person who has to give something up? No, you may not take away my right to medical care because somebody else doesn’t like that I have that right. Somebody who cannot serve customers fairly should not have a customer service job. Period.

            • Another Holocene Human says:

              Hear, hear. Most professions’ ethics require them to serve everyone without prejudice, but I guess pharm techs aren’t a ‘profession’ and so ethics is out the door? It’s an absurd “compromise” that denies someone’s rights so that a small-town bigot can get their cruel on.

          • Malaclypse says:

            I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

            • ThrottleJockey says:

              Yup, I hear you, Mal. But don’t paint me as a moderate. I’ve always supported gay rights. I just also happen to think religious liberty is important as well. I don’t even think Christian Scientists should be forced to give blood transfusions to their kids. I believe in maximal civil liberties for everyone.

              • KmCO says:

                I don’t even think Christian Scientists should be forced to give blood transfusions to their kids. I believe in maximal civil liberties for everyone.

                Except for the liberty of children of Christian Scientists to survive?

          • JL says:

            LGBT folks and their allies are in no fucking mood to compromise now that their view is in the ascendancy.

            And why should we? Why should we be satisfied with anything short of full inclusion and equal position to others in society? That’s the only just outcome.

            • Rigby Reardon says:

              Exactly. I never understood why anyone would imagine LGBT people would be even remotely interested in accepting a compromise position on the issue of their own humanity.

              • ThrottleJockey says:

                I just believe in a world where everyone is free to be who they are, even if they’re a hateful bigot, and even if they’re a hateful bigot to me (the very reason I oppose hate speech laws). I believe in freedom of conscience even though bigotry is unconscionable. If someone considers it a sin to attend a gay wedding, I’m not sure the state should have the power to force them, even if the person attending is just a photographer. All rights have limits. There was a white church in MS who last year refused to let a black couple marry there. While I consider it manifestly racist, I nonetheless support their right to decide that.

          • Aimai says:

            I don’t even know how TJ can make this argument–do you not know that in South Africa they used to refuse blood transfusions to black people, and from black to white people? Is there some magic thing about women’s bodies that makes them fair game, to you, for permitting some lunatic to deny them the medical care they need? If a black guy came stumbling into a pharmacy with a prescription for a legal dose of this drug, which counteracts opiate overdoses, do you think the pharmacist should have the right to refuse to sell it because he doesn’t approve of addiction? No antabuse sold to alcholics by tee totalers?

            • ThrottleJockey says:

              Actually, I don’t disagree with what you’ve written here. I just think that there are multiple rights and values in every democratic society. I do think that of these equality is the most important, but I don’t think others–religious liberty, freedom of speech, property rights–are unimportant. Hence, some balancing is required. So, for instance, I don’t support hate speech laws even if I rather hate being called a nigger. I support conscientious objector exemptions to the draft because even though equality is important, people shouldn’t be forced to kill if it violates their religion. Values and rights are sometimes in conflict with one another.

      • efgoldman says:

        the kind that we have with abortifacients that allow individual pharmacists the right to decline to dispense RU-486 for instance.

        This is not “middle ground.” It is a refusal by state-licensed professionals to perform their duties and obligations, to the detriment of the patient – who, BTW, is always a woman.
        You gonna’ allow a Christian Science pharmacist (if such a thing exists] to refuse to dispense antibiotics, say, or blood pressure meds, or insulin?
        Maybe a Catholic religious, who is also a registered pharmacist, in a Catholic hospital pharmacy. Maybe. I’m even leery of that.

        • KmCO says:

          +1

          Pharmacists refusing to do their duties does not constitute any kind of “middle ground.”

        • Gregor Sansa says:

          If you could find an honest non-bigoted pharmacist who had a problem with RU-486 but wasn’t derping about regular contraceptives or plan B, it might be possible to have that dialog. Such a person probably exists, somewhere. But they are not the impetus behind the bigot-laws, because they are outnumbered 1000-to-one by bigoted culture warriors.

          tld̦r: You can’t make deals with unicorns.

      • herr doktor bimler says:

        of the kind that we have with abortifacients that allow individual pharmacists the right to decline to dispense RU-486 for instance

        The fact that RU-486 is not an abortifacient reveals a lot about this alleged right to abuse one’s position as gate-keeper.

  2. MAJeff says:

    I’m so sick of this bullshit.

    If your perspective is that my relationship and my community are evil and shouldn’t exist, you really are incapable of recognizing my humanity. That you are “nice” in day-to-day interactions doesn’t minimize your evil intentions. You may be “friendly,” but you are incapable of being my friend.

    • Aimai says:

      But they would totally sell you cupcakes! Just not a wedding cake. Why are you so whiny?

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      Totally agree.

      When I first read about the Kansas evil, my comment on Facebook was “You do not get a pass on this.” No one does. You can’t support this shit and be part of my society.

      If a relative of mine supports this, then we’re done (or we’re yelling). You Do Not Get A Pass On This.

      • ThrottleJockey says:

        What’s frightening–and appalling–is how many Christian conservatives try to defend the Kansas bill. Some of these guys don’t care that it was bigoted; many think homosexuality should still be criminal. And they have the audacity to complain about being called a bigot, when all they do is act like a bigot!!

      • UserGoogol says:

        Two wrongs don’t make a right. Everyone deserves to be treated with compassion and understanding; you can’t reject anyone from being a part of society. Everyone must be treated equally.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          Where’s my wrong?

          I am absolutely under no obligation to maintain relations with such bigots in my personal life and I do not have to be more than minimally and appropriately professional to them in my professional life.

          I said “my society” in the sense of my social circle not in the sense of exile from the US.

          And no, I do not see that such bigots get a drop of anything from me. If you go you go to this place of evil, you get shit from me, period.

          • Pat says:

            See, here’s where you and I part in consensus.

            I have rabid, evangelical relatives. I visited with them this Christmas. And I brought up gay marriage (now legal in my state) and about meeting a cute pair of older lesbians in a candy store. They were buying presents for their new grandchild!

            The younger relatives smiled, and nodded, and tacitly agreed, “No big deal.” The older ones were shocked at him. But I’ll keep at it, with words about how futile it is to police everyone’s love life, until I get them to back down.

            I will not leave them to hate.

          • UserGoogol says:

            Yeah, I think my post may have just been stupid and wrong: I had just woken up so there’s that. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with vocally judging someone as wrong, and there’s nothing wrong with choosing to not associate with people on an individual level. (Well, I suppose there’s a certain amount of harm in what amounts to shunning, but the harm is pretty minor at the individual scale, the benefit of expressing yourself compensates for it anyway.)

        • jackrabbitslim says:

          Nope. Nope, nope, nope. The government needs to treat everyone equally, public accommodations need to treat everyone equally but societal pressure is a thing that cuts both ways and compassion is not the same as tolerance.

  3. J. Otto Pohl says:

    Unless things have changed radically in the US for the worse since I left and it may very well have then bigotry is in fact constitutionally protected. It is discrimination that is outlawed. But, individuals are 100% in their legal rights to hold odious opinions about people of different sexual orientations, religions, and races. This seems right to me since the fact that certain people have bad ideas does not seem to be a problem. It is only the enactment of some bad ideas such as those denying rights to people that is a bad idea. But, I am sure that my reactionary bad idea that people should not be rounded up in mass and incarcerated for having these opinions will be universally rejected here.

  4. KmCO says:

    I would ironically say “Never change, The Atlantic,” but there actually was a time when it was not the fetid cesspool of idiotarianism it presently is.

  5. Lee Rudolph says:

    One more thing it’s not, courtesy of Wikipedia (where it’s the first full sentence in the article Bigotry):

    Not to be confused with Bigamy.

  6. Nobdy says:

    The difference, of course, is his conservative Catholic friends are not petitioning the state to deny him equal legal status via the denial of basic legal rights and protections

    You don’t know what they get up to!

  7. Erik Loomis says:

    Hopefully when Friedersdorf is being taken seriously in 2016 that progressives should support Rand Paul, this idiocy is remembered.

  8. politicalfootball says:

    Friedersdorf:

    The facts of her case do suggest that she regards marriage as a religious sacrament with a procreative purpose, that her Christian beliefs cause her to reject same-sex marriage, and that her business discriminates against same-sex weddings because she believes wedding photography requires artistic efforts to render the subject captured in a positive light. She believes making that effort would be wrong.

    Portraying gay people in a positive light is against your beliefs, and this fact makes you a non-bigot. As djw says, a mess of a column.

    • efgoldman says:

      As djw says, a mess of a column.

      Also,clearly, a mess of a “thought” process.

    • STH says:

      This “procreative purpose” business pisses me off so much. It’s so fucking dishonest. Where are all the Catholics demonstrating to make marrying an infertile person illegal? What about marrying a post-menopausal woman? Or a man with ED? Shouldn’t that be illegal, too?

      • KmCO says:

        Not to mention, historically speaking, the burden it has always placed on women.

      • djw says:

        And it’s so obvious! No church ever frowned upon lovely widow and widower marrying to spend their golden years together, and everyone knows it.

      • DAS says:

        I think the argument is that God could work a miracle and cause a postmenopausal woman to have a kid (c.f. Sarah having Isaac), but God’s not gonna work a miracle and cause a d00d to get knocked up by another d00d.

      • Pat says:

        It makes me think she must do porn stills on the side. Just to make sure.

      • Bruce Baugh says:

        It also makes one wonder about this in the specific context of wedding photographs. Does she insist on a fertility test for straight-looking couples? Does she refuse to shoot for couples who haven’t already produced at least one child before marriage? How the hell does it work?

      • Hector_St_Clare says:

        You don’t know a lot about marriage, do you?

        The Roman Catholic Church will absolutely deny you a Catholic marriage if you categorically refuse to have children, or if you have ED to the extent that makes the sexual act impossible. And quite a few clerics- Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and Protestant- have gone on record in the last decade or so arguing that voluntarily childless marriages are selfish and immoral.

    • Anonymous says:

      I haven’t followed that closely, and I’m not going to read Friedersdorf’s column, but I wonder if this Christian photographer has ever photographed a Jewish wedding. Or even a Christian wedding that’s not exactly the same strain of Christianity as her own (Catholic, maybe?). Because I’d bet good money she has, even though those weddings would also violate her beliefs. Which would then give away the whole “sincerely held religious beliefs” vs “straight-up bigotry” game.

      • Warren Terra says:

        Or even a Christian wedding that’s not exactly the same strain of Christianity as her own (Catholic, maybe?)

        If Catholic, the wedding of a divorcee …

  9. sharculese says:

    Y’know, a lot of Conor’s work could be translated to “I refuse to consider experiences outside my comfortable, self-satisfied existence” with absolutely zero loss of meaning.

    • DocAmazing says:

      I don’t really know why anyone reads his stuff. He’s the male McMegan.

      • sharculese says:

        Honestly, I don’t think that’s fair to him. Yes, he’s just as clueless, sheltered, and incurious as McMegan, but he’s not vicious about it the way she is.

      • imag says:

        I’ve read a few Friedersdorf columns, and until a few minutes ago I thought that he was okay and wondered why some people complained about him. Now I get it.

        • JL says:

          He’s sometimes okay, but sometimes terrible. I remember liking him better when he was an Andrew Sullivan intern who got to fill in when Sullivan was away, oddly.

          Sullivan’s place produces an odd mix of folks – Friedersdorf’s a former intern there, but so is Zack Beauchamp from ThinkProgress.

          • Anonymous says:

            I remember liking him better when he was an Andrew Sullivan intern who got to fill in when Sullivan was away

            Probably because he wasn’t nearly as awful as Sully’s other young conservative fill-ins, Peter Suderman and Ross Douthat.

      • TribalistMeathead says:

        Still riding his Wave Of The Future cred from the failed Culture11, would be my guess, but I think that should run out fairly soon.

      • Rigby Reardon says:

        He’s the male McMegan.

        I’ve always thought of him in exactly this way, but I figured it was because he came to my attention because she mentioned him in a particularly egregious column or something. Also, because he has guest-blogged for her in the past, and the mouthbreathers who inhabited her comments section didn’t even notice (they kept calling him “Megan” in an apparently sincere manner).

        As for his comparative lack of viciousness, maybe it’s because he doesn’t have to be vicious to advance his career.

  10. Barry Freed says:

    Major props to you, djw. You’ve been really hitting them out of the park of late.

  11. sibusisodan says:

    I’m slowly coming round to the idea that if Paul had been the kind of Christian who makes the news and the lawsuits in the US, the letters which bear his name would have consisted of HALP, HALP, I’M BEING OPPRESSED – and nothing more.

    It’s depressing.

  12. pete says:

    The video embedded in Farrell’s post is completely awesome and wonderful and if you thought you didn’t have ten minutes to spare to watch it, you were wrong.

    • Uncle Ebeneezer says:

      Agreed. Quite moving too.

    • Aimai says:

      I think its hysterical–because of course, as a woman, I’ve had the experience of men catcalling me, or throwing things from moving cars at me, and turning on the television and debating what “women want” and why “women can’t be satisfied” or want “special rights” or whether they can be “good parents” and how children suffer when they only have a female parent. He’s just getting the abuse women have always gotten.

  13. [...] Timber and Lawyers, Guns and Money both go after Conor Friedersdorf’s article that doesn’t identify bigoted behaviour as [...]

  14. [...] by many gay marriage advocates. This very much includes Mark Joseph Stern, Henry Farrell, and others who are cheering them [...]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.