Tuesday, June 12, 2007
[Who among us couldn't do with a little less outrage these days?]
I read Don Surber occasionally. When I do, I agree with him more often than I don't, but he can definitely freak out. Take for example this post, entitled 'Marriage is Hate Speech?'
Easier for you to go read it than for me to summarize but, short version: a couple Oakland city employees started a club and put up a flyer stating, in part, that their club "opposed 'all views which seek to redefine the natural family and marriage,' which it defined as 'a union of a man and a woman, according to California state law.'"
A gay employee saw the flyer, complained (to a city attorney - important detail) that it made her feel “targeted” and “excluded,” and a supervisor removed it in deference to anti-discrimination rules. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later backed the supervisor's decision.
To be fair, Surber isn't overreacting to this himself so much as he's just joining in. Enabling others, you might say. [I should probably explain that...] The article he"s quoting, by Julia Dunn, opens with "the words 'natural family,' 'marriage' and 'union of a man and a woman' can be punished as 'hate speech' in government workplaces, according to a lawsuit that is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court."
So these perfectly innocuous words are being lawyered up as 'hate speech,' see? But if that term actually appears in any complaint or court document, neither Surber nor Dunn says so. I assume that Dunn, and then Surber, added that phrase themselves in order to emphasize their message - that this is yet another PC attack against 'marriage' and/or 'traditional values'.
I'd love to get my hands on the person who first thought of using 'hate' as an adjective; it's becoming one of the most-abused terms in modern English. Probably some other languages too. It doesn't even really mean anything any more, it's just a loud glittery bangle for getting attention. And if a word is meaningless when you're making an accusation, it's even moreso when you're accusing someone of making an accusation which, if you think about it, is what's happening here. It's a strange world.
All I'm saying is I see a big difference between the original complaint and an attempt to ban the word 'marriage.' We don't need the extra drama. [Also, 'hatewich' could be a pretty good basis for a new Quizno's ad.]
On the other hand, if I'm gonna complain about their complaining, I ought to at least spend some scrutiny on the complainer they're complaining about. After all they do have a point, even if they don't know what it is.
And that point is: yet another claim that "marriage = 1 man + 1 woman" has hurt yet another set of feelings, and the owner of those feelings has, yet again, gone running to Mommy and Daddy instead of trying to deal with it herself first. And that is exactly the kind of whiny crap that makes me want to smack somebody.
The proper response to disagreeable speech is not to retain a lawyer. Its to add more speech. Don't like what the group stands for? Don't like what it's flyer says? Start your own group. Put up your own flyer. That's free speech. I don't need a court to figure that out for me, and by now nobody else should either.
That's something the attorney and the supervisor and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ought to remember. Here's hoping the SCOTUS does.
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