Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Homophibia is your right

I regularly read syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. and also regularly disagree with what he writes. But, he makes interesting and smart arguments that I enjoy trying to rebut. This week Pitts' column makes the argument that Tim Hardaway's blunt declaration that he hates gays will expose the ugliness of homophobia thus setting about a reversal of its acceptance.

Pitts uses the example of Bull Conner who, as a Birmingham Alabama police commissioner in 1963, put attack dogs and high pressure fire hoses on peaceful and unarmed black civil rights marchers. These images surely gave people a sinking feeling in their stomach. I'm sure it did so because this was a physical attack on citizens by police, by fireman, by city workers sworn to protect and serve those citizens...a physical attack that could seriously harm, or even kill, those just exercising their right to assemble and speak their mind.

An ex-NBA player who was fodder for a radio host, a host that clearly baited him into making a "homophobic" statement, is hardly comparable to those sworn to protect and serve deciding to attack a large group of citizens not breaking the law. Hating someones lifestyle is not even on the same planet as the willingness to physically harm someone just because of the color of their skin.

Surely more disturbing to those who may read this is that I don't even think homophobia should go away. Is the argument that I should accept homosexuality as normal? Or just that it's mean to publicly declare my disdain for their lifestyle? As a conservative I don't get that protection from liberals! I suppose some would argue that, like a black, the gay person is born that way, so to even express hate for them is equivalent to racism.

Sorry I don't buy it! I personally don't hate gays, I hate their lifestyle. I hate that they constantly put their agenda, whose goal is to portray gay as "normal", in our faces constantly. I hate bath houses where men have orgies with strangers. I hate that there is apparently far too many gays having unprotected sex. I hate that gays want people to believe a child isn't better off with a mother and a father, as opposed to two fathers or mothers...and so on.

Racism is bad....racism to the point of hurting people is even worse....the idea that homophobia must be wiped out, is bad in my view. I see it as a slippery slope....after all, a pedophile was also born with his sickening desire so is my hatred of that group also misplaced? We either have freedom of thought, and speech, even when you're diametrically opposed to, or even sickened by, it or we are throwing out the bill of rights and we are no longer a republic.

This defines what I see as a fundamental difference between a conservative and a liberal. Aside from the usual differences (less government, personal responsibility, etc.) a conservative believes the whole is more important than the individual. That it's more important to be good than to feel good. That you should approach the big issues with logic and not emotion. That it's not true that if it doesn't harm others, it's OK. That sometimes what is right, isn't fair to everyone.

Does a gay person have hurt feelings if you tell them to their face you hate them? Surely they do, but you wouldn't want the right of a person to express that hate to be stifled would you? Are our freedoms only protected when you agree with ones ideology? And what hurt, or pain, did Hardaway cause anyway? I see political pundits spewing vitriol on conservatives all the time..I'm not hurt, or pained, or calling for liberalism to go the way of racism! Political correctness and accept everyone run amuck!


Anonymous said...

It's funny, but I think you are talking from the other side of the same coin that Pitts is employing. Think about it like this: he's not really saying that homophobia should be outlawed. Racism isn't outlawed, nor should it be. For the most part, judgments of any kind lose all value when they are enforced. If you make someone take your side on every issue (let's say the PC-police types here), then where's the legitimacy of the "love" they hope to engender? It doesn't exist.

That's why it's fairly dumb to force people to not be racist. Racism (and homophobia) have two big enemies in my mind: compassion and efficiency. The latter one might be even more important in a society like ours. I imagine Pitts believes that over time, when people hear Hardaway-esque comments, more will find the need to stigmatize gayness as unnecessary. I'm dubious on the matter. I'm straight and open minded, but I don't know that other straight men will really be accepting. And as you repeatedly point out, why do they HAVE to be? We only need to go as far as what our compasses take us to. If compassion makes you tolerate, but not endorse homosexuality, that's the line. I get the feeling that IS the line for America. (I'm a very liberal person, but that seems like the reality that more people need to accept. At least today.)

That brings me to the bigger deal: efficiency. America is about a lot of things, but from a practical and philosophical stance the main goal is the ability to work individually and/or together on (usually business) projects without impediment by the government or other citizens infringing on our rights. So, racism falls apart in this model if you're dumb enough to not hire the best candidate who happens to be black. If you do that long enough, you will get killed by your competition. I think the gay issue has some parallels. If gay people decide to be out and are marginalized, then their would-be business partners will suffer. When that becomes a reality (and it has in a lot of real industries, advertising to name one) then it becomes impractical to work with that stigma.

So, to the NBA: no one really knows how many gay players are there. But let's hypothesize that there are a lot of gay players (no idea, again but humor me). If they start coming out and are stigmatized and another franchise is welcoming, you open the door for an arbitrage situation: the stigmatized players will seek out franchises that are welcoming, possibly at decreased salaries. It all depends on how hostile the first franchise is, but you have to admit it's conceivable. (If you don't, consider the early days of NCAA, NFL, and MLB play when integration was an issue. The franchises stupid enough to keep people like Jackie Robinson and Jim Brown out suffered greatly. In the long run, the franchise that reduces impediments makes the wise decision.) That means they will seek to lower all barriers for player comfort: racially, in sexuality, and language.

Ultimately, it's not about morals, principles, or kindness. It's about the American goal of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Or moreover, the pursuit of money and common business goals.

Tiny said...

Hi and thanks for commenting!

I wasn't suggesting Pitts, or anybody else, was trying to make being homophobic illegal...just that I don't agree that the momentary exposure of Hardaway's homophobia will spark some movement.

I agree with you that if employers use criteria not associated with a persons ability to do the job, that in many cases, that employer may suffer in the market if it passes on the best people. That to me is the best and most appropriate and natural way of handling these things in my opinion. Say for example McDonald's comes out saying they're anti-gay and won't hire openly gay employees...say then the gay community and others to show unity boycott McDonalds...well, good for both sides...let the chips fall where they may.

However, none of this should be legislated. I should be allowed not to hire an overtly fat person for my McDonald's franchise...or a flaming gay man to work the counter at my choice and not yours.