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    May 06, 2007

    Dandy Dan redux

    Posted by: Chris

    Well Dandy Dan Riehl couldn't resist, and offered up his tit for my tat, or something like that. If you're curious how we got here, a quick background is in the jump to this post. But I'll skip that, along with the temptation to respond to his (sometimes amusing) personal insults to get to the substance of what he wrote — since there actually was some this time.

    In a post titled "My Crain Headaches," Riehl writes:

    As straight-forwardly as I can be, here is my point [about hate crime laws]. You and [Andrew] Sullivan rail against the source of moral instruction as, for who knows why, you've come to view it as the primary source of societal division. I strongly disagree, believing that contemporary, as opposed to classical, liberalism is the source of such divide because of its unending addiction to grouped-ness.

    It's whole point of existence is to tear societies apart. It prefers people in these myopic little groups with special needs, then promises legislation to serve those needs and it uses that offer as its lever to power - its actual ultimate goal. If we aren't going to tear down all hate crimes legislation, adding one, or another, or any group to it simply broadens our divide by further legitimizing today's prevailing liberal doctrine.

    What really amazes me about Riehl's world view is how breathtakingly inaccurate it is historically. Does he remember the 1960s?  The liberal focus on "myopic little groups" like blacks and other racial minorities did, as he says, result in "legislation to serve those needs," namely civil rights laws.  Does Riehl claim that legislation tore us apart? 

    Those laws caused substantial push-back and divisiveness in the short term, from conservatives who resisted the idea of equality based on race.  But survey after survey shows Americans view those of a different race with much greater tolerance and acceptance than they did before.  Does Riehl think this happened in spite of liberals and civil rights laws?  Which side exactly were conservative Christians on in those battles? The side of dividing or uniting?

    It wouldn't be fair to saddle contemporary conservative Christians with the racist beliefs of their predecessors.  But at the same time, the current crop should hardly be heard to complain that a liberal focus on minority rights drives wedges in society!

    The fact is that civil rights laws — whether based on race or sexual orientation — not only constrain reprehensible conduct like hate crimes and workplace discrimination.  They also make plain that ours is a society that treats difference with respect , not disdain.  That doesn't drive a wedge, except among a certain percentage of conservatives who are, generation after generation, are forever in fear that their "way of life" is being challenged by progress.

    OK, as promised, here's how we got here:

    First Andrew Sullivan argued conservative Christians, whom he calls Christianists, oppose hate crimes in part because they think it's more OK to beat up gays than blacks, religious minorities, etc.

    Then Dan Riehl responded on his blog that the example Andrew cited, my own gay bashing in Amsterdam, was an example of radical Islamists, not Christianists.

    Then I piped in, pointing out that my boyfriend and I had been pummelled at 2 a.m. by ethnic Moroccan street thugs, not radical Islamists.  But nonetheless, I argued, conservative Christian and Muslim clerics who preach intolerance foster the culture from which rednecks here and abroad act out with their fists — an indirect responsibility, but a responsibility nonetheless.

    That really riled Riehl, who felt "gay bashed" because I called him a "Christianist."  I didn't, and don't even use the term, but he took umbrage nonetheless, and argued he is in fact a recently religious conservative Christian.  Fine by me.  So having said I made wrong assumptions about him, he goes on to make a slew of bass-ackward assumptions about me, that I grew up with no exposure to religion and hate Christianity.

    I took his bait, and responded yesterday with the truth about my own background and trying to make again my point that conservative Christians and Muslims contribute to a climate of intolerance and prejudice toward gay people. And even if Riehl doesn't buy that hypothesis, there's no way he can argue that conservative Christianity is "part of the solution."



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    1. North Dallas Thirty on May 6, 2007 5:47:24 PM:

      Do you honestly believe, Chris, that the situation of gays in the United States today is anywhere NEAR what black Americans faced under segregation laws?

      Again, as I have said before, "hate crimes" laws are necessary only to those who believe that local law enforcement, judges, and juries are so underfunded, incompetent, and bigoted against everyone that they cannot render judgments completely.

      However, rather than think of the obvious -- that if they are that bigoted, NO one is getting justice -- gays and Democrats only seem to care when it involves minority groups. Hence, only certain people get justice; the rest apparently can just go to hell.


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