Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Some things are just wrong

Me, as a purely political observer, I don't care about gay marriage. Politics is the art of the possible, and on a national level it's not possible (preventing it from being banned, on the other hand, is possible, and I make a distinction). To get there, it's the responsibility of progressive activism, not politics (I make another distinction), to get their **** together and prevent things like, say, the passage of Prop 8 from happening in a blue state like CALIFORNIA. Did Obama not teach you anything about grassroots organization?

Until then, I've never been a hardcore social liberal. I'm not a social conservative either, I just care about the environment, education and the economy more than I do about other issues. Just convince me that your social issue is movable to the left, and I'll get on board. In any case, I'll always vote leftwards, but I just can't get worked up like others about social issues until I can back a progressive winner.


That said...some things are just wrong.
"SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A woman in the San Francisco Bay area was jumped by four men, taunted for being a lesbian, repeatedly raped and left naked outside an abandoned apartment building, authorities said Monday."
Put away your feigned surprise; I can completely see something like this happening in America. At times, we as a people are that depraved and that soulless. If not more. Before hearing of this, I would have needed to be convinced that it could happen in San Francisco, but I would have never deemed it unfathomable.

There's a point where it's not about politics. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was all about taskmasters making as much money with as little labor compensation as possible. The depravity continued in the aftermath; no punishment was dealt to the factory owners because there had been no crime (what labor laws?). Even when Al Smith did his barnstorming all over New York, factory owners were DESPERATE to keep at putting the proverbial whip to their workers, all the while trying to hide it from Smith and the Assembly. Laws were passed. Unions were allowed to form. A turning point in reversing the balance between laborer and entrepreneur had revealed itself.

Here's the irony: I'm going to venture a guess and say that the fire was the ultimate catalyst for change. Maybe Al Smith followed suit, and the Assembly followed after him, but before then, Tammany Hall didn't do enough, if anything, to prevent the bodies from falling just outside Washington Square Park.

I, for one, don't think these sorts of issues are solved in the political realm. My thinking is that, if you need to, come the crucial moment, change politicians' minds, you've already lost.

It's the same thing we've said about Iraq: win their hearts and minds. Gay marriage, like unionization and labor standards a century earlier, is the social issue that politics cannot cure until we know for sure it's viable. The battle has to be fought in the streets, not on Capitol Hill or in front of the White House.

People should be downright livid that something like anti-LGBT gang rape could happen in America. These are the things that are truly, completely, horribly wrong that need more attention in the activist realm than the debate on pure principles and ideology.

This is exactly why I don't care that Obama is having Rick Warren perform the invocation. Because when we talk about it, it's mostly about why gay rights are good or why they're bad. Yeah, you sold me, but tell me the same thing in tangible, practical terms.

For the most part, the issue of gay marriage, from both sides of the debate, has been waged more on principle than on example and anecdote. It has allowed the side issues of the role of religion and the rights of states and freedom of speech to take up the collective, brain brain power of all the parties involved. Only a fire had the power to direct the political debate towards real results.

So, I go back to the beginning to tell the activist movement to clean up their act, talk about why intolerance towards difference is not only harmful, but has already, at a most basic level, proven to be harmful, poisonous and needs to be ended, like yesterday.

And if those in progressive activism need any pointers on where to start redirecting the debate, there's a woman in San Francisco who has become a victim of one of the 1,500-or-so sexual orientation-based hate crimes just this year.



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