Wednesday, August 25, 2004

 

Boycott for Equality

Okay, so I'm driving home from an appointment today and NPR does this story on the "boycott for equality." This is a national boycott attempting to garner support by the homosexual community consisting of three parts; no work, no purchases, no cell phones.

Now I'm totally confused by this. First of all, a one day boycott is inconsequential no matter how vast reaching it is. If people do the work they didn't on the day they were out on the next day and purchase the stuff they didn't on the next day and make the calls they didn't on the next day...how is anyone hurt other than the homosexual population which becomes inconvenienced for one day (more if it takes them weeks to get caught up on the work that they were supposed to do on that day)? Also, let's say every homosexual does engage in the boycott and lets say it did have an economic impact. Then why would you chose to harm all companies equally? Are all companies anti-homosexual? I understand boycotting a specific product or company, but why in the hell would you boycott a country (and to what effect)? Further, if you are going to boycott a country...Boycott the country damnit...Have everyone go to Mexico or Canada for a day. (I understand that logistically there are problems for people in the central states to make this trek without undue burden, but having just the people in the Border states engage in a "walk-out" would surely have a much greater impact than what this organization is attempting to do.)

I also must point out, that a true national boycott is likely to be incredibly dull and boring for those participating. The site doesn't even realize how impossible it is to have a true national boycott without leaving the country. If you eat food you bought in this country (even on some other day) you are essentially just shifting the purchase pattern but not changing the revenue the companies receive. If you watch TV you are purchasing a good through paying the advertisers by watching commercials. The same would apply if you listen to the radio. If you read a book, that makes one more book you will need to buy at some other date to fill your reading time. Basically, the only way to have a true national boycott without leaving the country is to lay in bed doing nothing, fasting, in the dark (lest you consume electricity) for the entire day. Some people will argue that I am just taking things to an absurd conclusion, and this is true, but my argument is that they have no choice but to either take it to the absurd conclusion if they want it to work, or they have to simply understand that it isn't going to work.

I might also add that small business owners, many of whom are homosexual, have a hard enough time keeping their businesses afloat without ceasing operations for a day and sacrificing potential customers to their competitors as this movement would have homosexual store owners do.

The entire notion seems so ill conceived to me that I feel I must be missing something. There has to be some fraction of a way that this makes sense that has completely escaped me. But then it wouldn't be the first time...

I remember not too long ago that many homosexual groups and organizations were outing homosexuals who were supporting the constitutional amendment against gay marriage. Now I have to mention before I continue that I believe that as long as the state is involved in marriage at all, homosexuals should be able to get married and enjoy all of the same rights and protections. So as you might expect, I disagree with the homosexuals who were for this amendment, as well as the heterosexuals. This movement toward outing them caught me off guard though. It made no sense. To begin with, and this is a minor point compared with the rest of the argument but, they were not hypocrites as was often touted. A hypocrite is someone who puts on a false appearance of virtue or someone who proclaims one thing for society and another for themselves. Neither of these was the case. These people were not secretly getting married and telling others that they couldn't. Nor could you believe that they were putting on a false appearance of virtue unless you believed that being homosexual was non-virtuous. (Sorry, couldn't figure out what word to use there). So that charge just strikes me as odd. To analogize just a bit, we wouldn't consider a priest who states that priests should not be allowed to marry a hypocrite would we? Of course not. Nor would it somehow discredit him if we were to find out that he were a priest. This leads me to the larger point about the whole outing business. What did these organizations think they were accomplishing by outing these people? Clearly it wasn't helping their case. Outing them only allowed those against homosexual marriage to point and say, "look, there are even gays and lesbians who don't think they should be allowed to be married." Sadly, the entire affair was clearly just a means at coercing people into silence. The outing was a means of threatening people who disagreed with their point of view and saying "if you disagree with us and you are gay then we are going to come after you so watch out." To me it was incredibly depressing and sad. The saddest part about it was that the arguments for gay marriage are so much stronger than those against it (I can't even understand the arguments against it myself) and yet some of these groups still felt the need to engage in such malicious behavior.

I hope I didn't offend anyone with this long rant, but as I said above, I just don't get it. I don't understand it, and maybe it is me...Maybe I'm missing something, but it all seems so self defeating.

Comments:
Two things: One, your quote: "[S]ome of these groups still felt the need to engage in such malicious behavior." I fundamentally disagree that outing is malicious, because it is predicated on the assumption that being out is somehow more dangerous or less healthy than not being out. Research shows that the opposite is true. Additionally, one of the disadvantages of being a public figure means that your private life is open to public view. If it's OK to impeach the President when he gets a blowjob, then it's OK to out someone. See Michaelango Signorile's book Outing Yourself for more.

Second: We "homosexuals" like to use the words "gay" and "lesbian" to describe ourselves and "same-sex" to describe our unions. The word "homosexual" is somewhat offensive, as it has developed a overly clinical connotation over the years. (Think about other words like "Oriental" or "Negro," which are also out of popular usage because of their connotations.)

Have a good day, sweetie.

Matt
 
I agree that the boycott will largely be ineffective as a economic “stick” (just like the gas boycott idea that gets forwarded around every so often). However, the goals of the organizers may also be as a way to bring up this issue to the public (such as the Day of Silence http://www.dayofsilence.org). It is an exercise in free speech more than anything. It is no so much what you do, but why you’re doing it. Is the boycott, like the day of silence, likely to change anyone's opinion one way or another? I doubt it, personally. But what is does do is provide an outlet for anger and frustration. More importantly, as a minority that doesn’t look different, it is away of reminding people that we do indeed exist. In addition, I think it is a way to build community among gays and lesbians by bringing people together to act in concert.

In terms of the outing issue... I have to ditto Matt’s comments to your blog. All I have to add is a quote by Audre Lorde: “Your silence will not protect you.” Meaning, they can cooperate on these issues in trade from some status or money, but when it comes down to it, they’re hurting themselves. They’re hurting my family. They’re hurting many of my friends. They’re hurting me. Being outed is away to say that no, you can’t take all the benefits that the gay community offers and then turn around and reap all the benefits of pretending to be straight. Think of it as the gay community’s way of dealing with the free riders problem… if you’re going to come to the party, you’ve got to pay the cover.

Again, outing is typically just done in cases where the gay person is actually using their skills/influence to hurt the gay rights movement. It is typically not used in interpersonal cases or viewed positively when it is done.

And ditto on the terminology.
 
I appreciate both of your comments on this issue. First, I would like to mention that I am perfectly willing to change my language and did not mean it an offensive manner (using the term homosexual). This was done primarly because it seemed simpler than saying "gay and lesbian" repeatedly. I'm not sure I agree that it should be considered offensive (I know a lesbian couple that refers to me as "hetero boy" but I understand that it is not the same thing) but if it is then it is and that is enough for me.

Second point, on the outing. The reason I believe it is malicious is not because it is a bad thing to be out. The reason I think it is malicious is because it is a private matter that is not relevant to the argument. Outing is directed at the person, not their argument. I don't think you want to make the Clinton analogy because I doubt you actually agreed that he should have been impeached (maybe I am wrong). It is similar to Clinton in that many people brought up his private sex life in completely unrelated issues (such as his ability to deal with a crisis). Also, I think the very fact that outing people in a personal context is frowned upon is evidence that outing public figures is meant to be an attack. You wouldn't out a friend to her parents and I think most of us would consider someone who did to be a trouble maker who had behaved immorally by sharing a secret that they did not wish divulged. I'm not sure why we suddenly take a different view when it is a public figure. Many people frown on the papparzzi going around and invading peoples lives for good reason. To me, this is very similar.

I would like to ask though...what are the benefits of being gay? Maybe this sounds stupid, but if you are in the closet then what types of benefits could you possibly enjoy from being gay? The benefits of being out are that you can have an open relationship with a person you love...it seems to me that people in the closet have much more in the way of costs in not being able to have a fully formed relationship than they do benefits.

Finally, if this boycott is just a feel good activity then that is all well and good--but I am adamant that those that wish to affect change must be rational about it. What are your thoughts on a "walk-out" as I suggested?

By the way...was the "sweetie" directed at me or Jason?
 
Josh says:

“I appreciate both of your comments on this issue. First, I would like to mention that I am perfectly willing to change my language and did not mean it an offensive manner (using the term homosexual). This was done primarily because it seemed simpler than saying "gay and lesbian" repeatedly. I'm not sure I agree that it should be considered offensive (I know a lesbian couple that refers to me as "hetero boy" but I understand that it is not the same thing) but if it is then it is and that is enough for me.”

>>>re homosexual – it’s not offensive per se, just not used as much anymore. It’s used by gay people for variety, but it often used exclusively by less than pro-queer groups. Matt and I both view it has having aconnotation of being offensive. Of course, neither of us can speak for the whole gay community!


”Second point, on the outing. The reason I believe it is malicious is not because it is a bad thing to be out. The reason I think it is malicious is because it is a private matter that is not relevant to the argument. Outing is directed at the person, not their argument. “

>>> I won’t disagree with that. It is not about refuting a logical argument. It’s about confronting those people on the fact they are hurting their community and confronting them on that basis. The debating is done elsewhere.

“Also, I think the very fact that outing people in a personal context is frowned upon is evidence that outing public figures is meant to be an attack. You wouldn't out a friend to her parents and I think most of us would consider someone who did to be a trouble maker who had behaved immorally by sharing a secret that they did not wish divulged. I'm not sure why we suddenly take a different view when it is a public figure.”


>>>>>Power – that’s the difference. It’s one thing to respect someone’s comfort level in terms of coming out. It’s another to confront that person on the fact they are betraying themselves and their loved ones. Is the tactic an attack? Yes, I suppose it is. Do I think it is unjustified? If you talked to me a few years ago, I might have answered this differently. My current answer is that it is justified.

Frankly, I do think gays and lesbian who work against gay marriage are practicing hypocrisy as defined by dictionary.com: “1 .The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness. 2. An act or instance of such falseness”

Granted, the underlying idea behind this is that I really do believe that gays and lesbians are for the legalization of marriage. Are there debates about this issue within the community? Yes. Do gay people generally work to surpass gay marriage? Not generally. I can’t speak for all gay people, obviously.

More importantly, working against gay marriage is generally part of an overall larger anti-queer rights agenda…something again, I can’t imagine queer people believing sincerely – not without some serious self-hatred anyway.

“Many people frown on the papparzzi going around and invading peoples lives for good reason. To me, this is very similar.”

>>>It seems very different to me – the difference being the tatic (I doubt the outers chases these people down) and the difference being the reason – it’s not about selling papers, it’s about confronting people on their hypocrisy.

”I would like to ask though...what are the benefits of being gay? Maybe this sounds stupid, but if you are in the closet then what types of benefits could you possibly enjoy from being gay? The benefits of being out are that you can have an open relationship with a person you love...it seems to me that people in the closet have much more in the way of costs in not being able to have a fully formed relationship than they do benefits.”

>>> Well, if some one knows that you’re gay…how closeted are you really? No one knows you’re gay unless you participate in gay culture. These outed people were dating and otherwise participating in the gay culture. There are different levels of the closet…I would guess that these people were mostly just closeted in their careers than anything else. To link this up to my point above, these people were trying to preserve status in their culture…not because they are currently uncomfortable owning their sexual and romantic orientation.

Of course, do I think that there are intrinsic benefits to being gay…I’m not sure. Gay people are more better than straight people in all regards, but I’m trying to work out the causation (genetic or socialization). ;-)


“Finally, if this boycott is just a feel good activity then that is all well and good--but I am adamant that those that wish to affect change must be rational about it. What are your thoughts on a "walk-out" as I suggested?”
Like I said in my original post, I don’t think it will be effective in terms of hurt the economy. But check out this clip I pulled from their website:

“I can't see how this will work. . .
We can only have an impact if we get the word out and participate. Imagine the discussions that will occur if there is a significant amount of press leading up to those two days. Imagine if Broadway shut down for the day. Imagine if brides could not find florists for their weddings for those days. Imagine if people could not get appointments to get their hair cut that day. Imagine law enforcement officers not on their normal patrols. Imagine the conversations in classrooms at schools across America if teachers and principals didn't show up to work that Friday. Imagine the discussions in Board Rooms and at the water coolers in corporations all over the country if major players don't show up. Imagine the power that gays and lesbians who, for personal reasons, have chosen to stay in the closet will feel by quietly participating in this boycott."

The site isn’t suggesting the economy will be crippled, but rather this is an action to raise awareness and to empower gays and lesbians.

Am I for it? Well, you’ll know if I am if I don’t show up for work on 10/8! :-)

Jay
 
Re: Homosexual

I stand firm that the term is offensive. I know "gay and lesbian" (or even more inclusive, GLBT people) is more tedious to type that "homosexual," but the GLBT community is not the business of making life easier for straight folks. Grin and bear it. Oh, and don't even think of using the word "Queer." That's our word.

Re: Outing

I again, stand firm. My Bill Clinton analogy is faulty, but not for the reason you pointed out. I realized that Clinton was outed for a behavior, not for an identity. A better example of publicly exposing someone's identity would be disclosing that John Kerry is Catholic. (In fact, that is a less serious topic, because being Catholic is a choice, while being gay is not. Perhaps it would be more like saying that John Kerry is Caucasian.)

Re: Sweetie

It was directed at you. I like to use familiar, affectionate terms when debating, Darling.

Enjoy your day.

Matt
 
How about this analogy: Outing someone as Jewish in an antisemetic environment? Also, let me cut you off at the pass and deal with an expected retort...if the Jewish person in question were helping to persecute other Jews then would it be okay? Let's say that the Jewish person were supporting an amendment to make marriage only between Christians. To me, outing this person would be completely unrelated to the stupidity of the amendment. It would only end up supporting those who were for the amendment (by giving them the argument stated before that "even Jewish people don't think they should be allowed to get married." Outing this person is completely useless and just because this person has a different point of view (one that can only be assumed to be based on some idiotic reasoning) is not a reason to out them. Let me take it one step further...the reasoning for the amendment is so ill conceived that we could almost assume that you would have to suffer from some mental handicap to support it. Going back to the gay and lesbian issue, let us suppose that someone suffers from such a mental handicap and is also gay or lesbian. Wouldn't that make it cruel to out them based upon the fact that they are incapable of understanding the argument? As an extension, since it doesn't do any good to out the person (in terms of combatting the argument), let us say that they suffer from psychological or emotional problems that cause them to be self-hating...isn't it just an attempt to make their lives even more difficult and in that sense isn't it just being vindictive?

I have to get back to work, but I thought I would throw that out for thought...feel free to laugh at it as maybe I'm too mentally feeble to see the folly in my argument too, but anyway...hope you have a good day today too darling.
 
“Let's say that the Jewish person were supporting an amendment to make marriage only between Christians. To me, outing this person would be completely unrelated to the stupidity of the amendment.”

Josh, I don’t know if this is addressed just at Matt or not, but, like I said earlier, you’re right about this. It’s not logical rebuttal, it’s a confrontation of hypocrisy. The logical debate is done elsewhere.

“It would only end up supporting those who were for the amendment (by giving them the argument stated before that ‘even Jewish people don't think they should be allowed to get married.’”

No doubt people will say this. But again, you’re confusing outing with a logical rebuttal. It’s not. People say a lot of things. Besides, by your own standards, this is illogical. I mean, this doesn't address the reasoning on the other day anyway.


“Outing this person is completely useless and just because this person has a different point of view (one that can only be assumed to be based on some idiotic reasoning) is not a reason to out them.”

We’re not talking about differences of opinion, we’re talking about confronting people who are working to deny the 5,000+ federal benefits marriage provides to my people. Those are real tangible things those people are robbing themselves, their loved ones (assuming they have any friends) and their community of.

“Let me take it one step further...the reasoning for the amendment is so ill conceived that we could almost assume that you would have to suffer from some mental handicap to support it. Going back to the gay and lesbian issue, let us suppose that someone suffers from such a mental handicap and is also gay or lesbian. Wouldn't that make it cruel to out them based upon the fact that they are incapable of understanding the argument?”

No, I wouldn’t out these people. But my argument has (thus far) been limited to why people with political power who are actively hurting the community should be fair game for outing.

“As an extension, since it doesn't do any good to out the person (in terms of combatting the argument), let us say that they suffer from psychological or emotional problems that cause them to be self-hating...isn't it just an attempt to make their lives even more difficult and in that sense isn't it just being vindictive?”

Josh, a lot of gay and lesbian people work through their internalized negative attitudes about what being gay means. For many people working through that is a life long process. But those people should be in therapy, not screwing up my life. To answer your charge – like I said above, I acknowledge this can be construed as an attack. It could be construed as being vindictive. Despite that, I don’t really think it’s a bad idea to confront people in power.

Jay
 
Jason, the analogy that I was bringing up was directed primarily at providing a more accurate analogy (in my mind) than the ones that were being listed by Matt.

I still disagree even based on the definitions that you listed that a gay or lesbian person for such an amendment would be a hypocrite. They would be illogical in my opinion, but as long as they are not secretly getting married and telling others they can't then they are not being a hypocrite. In some cases, some of these people might be saying that it is wrong to be gay or lesbian and then you might have an argument that they are being a hypocrite (although even in that case if they believe that it the "wrongness" of it applies equally to them and they chose to remain celibate then I don't think you could argue that they are being a hypocrite either).

But, at least we agree that it is not a logical debate over the issue. You mentioned that I was being inconsistent in bringing up those for the amendment using it to their advantage even though it is unrelated to the issue. I do not believe they should do that either, but if one is going to argue for outing these people then we need to ask what is the effect and the purpose. The effect is clearly not to help the argument and if anything to hurt the argument. Some people may be indifferent to the outing issue (since it is unrelated to the act
 
Ugh...hit the wrong button...

unrelated to the actual argument about the amendment) but placed in perspective as to how it will be used they might decide it is not worth it. That is why I raise that point.

In your comment you had this to say:
We’re not talking about differences of opinion, we’re talking about confronting people who are working to deny the 5,000+ federal benefits marriage provides to my people. Those are real tangible things those people are robbing themselves, their loved ones (assuming they have any friends) and their community of.

I don't disagree...but I would argue that people who argue for more social programs and want to take my money in the form of taxes to pay for it are stealing my money in a very real and tangible way as well. The prohibition amendment was a very real assault on liberty. There are many laws passed every day, some of which you would probably agree with, that are an assault on the tangible benefits of everyone. Granted, these other laws are more minimal on an individual basis than the broad sweep of a single act like prohibiting gay and lesbian marriages, but they are still an assault. The real reason that I say "differnt point of view" is because I oppose state protections, sanctioning, and benefits that come from marriage for everyone, straight or gay or lesbian. This point of view, which I have signed petitions for, would also deprive gay and lesbians and straights of the simple method of gaining all those countless rights, namely marriage...maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think that makes me an evil person (there are many other reasons that I'm evil).

"No, I wouldn’t out these people. But my argument has (thus far) been limited to why people with political power who are actively hurting the community should be fair game for outing."

Isn't it possible that people of political power can be mentally deficient? I know I believe it is. That is once again why I prefer to see arguments attacked, not people.

Finally, I do think it is a good idea to confront people in power, but mainly I think it should be their ideas that get attacked. We shouldn't roll over, but we should deal with the issues.
 
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?