I noticed something funny in Los Angeles this past Election Day. Quite a few people were holding up signs on the side of the road. “Yes” on this, “No” on that. They wore shirts that advertised their favorite candidate for president, though ironically some of their signs didn’t match the platform of their displayed candidates. They yelled political gibberish, trying to be heard over the roar of passing traffic. Unfortunately, this is a town where most people have their windows rolled up, their air conditioners on, and their I-Pods blaring, stoically gazing straight ahead as if in an unemotional trance.
Now don’t get me wrong… I am the first to applaud even the most uninformed and misguided citizens with the courage to get out in public and support something they believe in. It takes courage to stand up for anything, whether in support or dissent. In fact, I believe that if everyone in the country simply stood up at once, we’d have no more war. We’d have honest politicians with transparent budgets and policies and even fair accountable elections… But alas, this is America. We are free to be free of such trivial pursuits, and often take for granted the freedoms our forefathers fought for. And so it is that only a brave few see and recognize the downward spiral and corruption of our government and the unbelievably wealthy elite who pull its strings. Virtually unnoticed, these few patriots will continue to represent the unwitting masses against corporatism in its powerful yet seemingly insignificant grass roots struggle. For the rest of the sheep-like media worshiping masses: the unfortunate majority whose eyes are somehow shut, there will continue to be this docile group acceptance of propositions and laws which pass against all reason, and continue to strip away at our individual and group rights. The worse part is that we are doing it to ourselves.
However, I am here to talk to those afore mentioned brave few – the ones who hold up the signs, who hand out the flyers and pamphlets, and who bravely talk to people door to door. Again, I applaud your efforts and thank you for looking out for me and mine. I thank you for breaking out of the mold and peacefully representing those who aren’t strong enough to represent themselves.
But, I would like to offer some constructive criticism, if I may…
To those folks I saw holding up signs saying ‘Vote No On Prop 8’, I must say it is truly inspiring to see the citizenry picketing the general public. I’m sure many people noticed as they drove by that there was a person on the side of the road, holding up a sign that said ‘vote no on prop 8’… that is, if they took the time to read the sign.
The problem, as I see it, is that you are preaching to the choir. You are holding up a sign in the heart of West Hollywood… For Gay Marriage… In West Hollywood! If the irony here is lost on you, please let me explain. West Hollywood is as gay as gay gets. Most of its residents are in fact gay. If they aren’t, they are likely gay friendly. It would be difficult to live there and not in fact be gay or gay friendly. Gays do a lot of business in this town. Therefore, it is extremely supportive of gay rights. So, is the irony slowly coming clear here? While I thank you for your voluntary work, I would make a logic based estimation that for the most part, your efforts went either virtually unnoticed, since everyone was already supporting your cause in the area, or that you were looked at by passers through as one of those crazy gays out there in West Hollywood.
“What’s wrong with that?” you ask.
Well, nothing… if you don’t mind that your efforts were as fruitless (no pun intended) as could possibly be. You see, to support an unpopular cause or to dissent against the established norm is as honorable in my eyes as honorable can be, and again I want to make sure that you know I applaud your efforts. But to dissent inside of your own comfort zone (in this case an almost 100% gay and gay friendly town where only the people who already support your cause will see your efforts)… doesn’t that in fact no longer qualify as dissent, but rather seem a lot more like a loose type of conformity? A get-together? An afternoon tea?
Do I think it did any good?
Oh yes. It made you feel good. It made you feel like you were doing something. It makes you feel good to hold up a sign declaring your feelings and your views. It also made others in the same comfort zone feel good. They probably honked and waved while you giggled at their support. We all like to be around people who feel the same way that we do.
It’s the very foundation of a city like West Hollywood, to live within your “tribe”. It is the same reason there are African-American or Hispanic neighborhoods, family oriented neighborhoods, retirement communities, and gated communities. It is comforting and we have something in common between us; a cause that binds us together, be it for security or solidarity.
But then… for the most part, they were going to vote ‘NO’ anyway, don’t you think?
Now imagine if you were holding up that sign and handing out pamphlets to regular folks. You know… the ones you see walking around the Wall-Mart in Bakersfield; wild-eyed consumers who might not have realized that voting ‘yes’ on Prop 8 against gay rights was essentially a vote to take away everyone’s human rights, slowly chipping away at the Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution until nothing will be left but a corner display piece in some obscure post-United States, pre-North American Union museum. It wasn’t a vote against gay people. It wasn’t a vote to keep the sanctity of marriage intact. It wasn’t even a vote to protect the children, of whom the special interests used with such careless abandon in their smear campaigns, lying to the general public about how gay marriage will be taught and promoted in schools.
But it was a vote against freedom.
And how about the black community? Did you know that the voting demographic of black women voted overwhelmingly to pass this ballot initiative? I’ve heard numbers like 90% of all black women voters voted yes. To put this into perspective, one of the most discriminated against minority groups in history has almost completely voted yes to strip away the rights of another equally discriminated against minority group. One has to ask oneself who it was that convinced this small but significant minority to lash out at another small but significant minority.
One also must realize that many small minorities who come together equal one great and loud majority.
And so I have to ask… Where were the activists in Compton? Who held signs up in Thousand Oaks? In South Lake Tahoe? Banning? Placerville? These are the places where the vote was lost: a bunch of small, uninformed predominately white conservative, or minority cities that, in the end add up to a majority of voters. These minorities became the majority as they band and voted together. Get the picture?
This was a vote for malice. It was a vote against ourselves, as a supposedly free society. It is a precedent with unfathomable ramifications for the future of basic human rights, not just gay-marriage.
I don’t like lipstick, but I’m not at all interested in forcibly removing the option of wearing it from the women of California. I don’t believe in abortion, but I also don’t believe I should take that or any other right away from anyone else. You see, my belief system is my own. Is it better than yours? Well… Yes, to me. But I don’t think it is so great as to disqualify your system as invalid. And I find that my way gets even better as new ways of looking at things, influenced by the people around me with differing views and ideals come into my life.
So what in God’s name makes you – you who voted yes – you who have been discriminated against at some point in your life, you who live in a supposedly free country… what makes you believe that taking away anyone’s right to marry who they want and to get all the benefits that are afforded to you as a result of your “normal” heterosexual marriage is the moral and just thing to do?
The frightening thing is, I think I know the answer to this question…
And so on this final note, I am actually a bit confused. You see, though I am not a religious man (organized religion, anyway), I find myself asking a very intriguing theological question. I keep thinking about that old interpersonal inquiry which guides good Christians through the more difficult decisions in life. “What would Jesus do?” Or in this case, “How would Jesus vote”… on a subject hardly even mentioned in the New Testament. Since the vast majority of the funding involved to support this Proposition was donated by out-of-state religious organizations (Mormon and Christian not-for-profit God-corporations) I can only come to the conclusion that in the eyes of the righteous people who supported this proposition and voted yes… Jesus must have been a bigot, or at least the Son of One. At the very least he was just extremely misinformed. And now, I’m beginning to understand how much power a modern day false-prophet (the television) really has over its mindlessly obedient, believing masses. (Pun intended)
Clint Richardson (realitybloger.wordpress.com)