Tuesday, April 2, 2013

AtheismPlus hates the Human Rights Campaign

It's been a while since we've inspected the "Atheism Plus" forums.

What is new there?

Well, if you aren't already aware, there is a gay rights group in the United States called "Human Rights Campaign". (HRC for short)

Among other things, they advocate for things like gay marriage. Nothing wrong with that, right?


AtheismPlus hates Human Rights Campaign.

Thread titled: "Social Media on Marriage Equality: The Equal Sign"

A little history here: HRC's logo was previously a yellow equal sign on blue background

User "NoGodsNoMasters" writes:
So, has anyone got an opinion on the surge of equal signs on social media the past couple of days?
I first noticed it when George Takei on FB brought it up, changing his profile picture to a pink and red equal sign, to bring attention to the SCOTUS hearings this week.
I have seen many many people copy and spread it around.
My personal opinion:
It's cute. I suppose it means something. I have considered changing my picture to it, but I think it might be something of bandwaggoning or peer pressure. I have been a vocal proponent of marriage equality for a long time, regularly bringing it up to people who wouldn't otherwise have had their beliefs challenged. But this just seems... late? Like it's something the popular kids do.
Also, I'm not going to be dispairaging about the "effort" put in by millions of people all over to show their support. I don't always think that a consciousness raising campaign like this on social media means nothing, sometimes it does, but sometimes it doesn't. I feel like this could really mean something. I certainly have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of people on my friends list who have only just now publically showed their support for equal marriage rights. These are sometimes people who I really thought didn't care, didn't care enough to find out, or maybe were too religious (in believing that it was wrong in some god's eyes), but loads of people have come out in support and I love knowing that.
But... I can't help but feel like if they had been more vocal, more accepting, more active in the first place rather than everyone doing this very little thing now, maybe things would have changed a lot faster. And that's why I haven't changed my profile picture. Because I feel like nothing about me has changed, I am still the same with the same feelings about the issue. I don't think I have to come out to anyone to show my opinion on the matter. It should already be well known if they know me enough to have me friended.
Translation: "I supported gay marriage before it was cool."

This is also in line with other A+ threads. It is the norm on A+ to not so much trade actions or ideas, but opinions.

More HRC "haters" chime in - "Richard_Austin" writes:

I live in California. I know people who voted for Prop 8 who are now putting this up. My emotional response is a mix of "good for you for changing," and "fuck off, this is your fault to begin with" - and, honestly, a bit more the latter than the former.
For most of the people I know, the social or political cost of changing an FB icon to this is very little to nothing at all. Many (most?) of them will never do anything else to ever actively support marriage equality. This, and most "campaigns" like this, seems patronizing. I know that peer pressure and social awareness are big things in advancing social justice, but it still feels like appropriation.
Translation: "Sure, you support gay marriage now, but what have you done for me lately?"

"qmartindale" downplays the campaign:
It's a minor gesture of solidarity.

Can you believe these A+ people? A+ calling the HRC campaign a "minor gesture" is like your local t-ball team criticizing the New York Yankees.

"Kassiane" writes:
Like, solidarity is good. Yay solidarity. Yay not being a bigoted douche.
Except I've heard that the campaign involved throws trans* folks under the bus, and I'm not ok with that.
Wait, what? Where is this "under the bus" coming from? It will soon become clear.

"Mocha" adds:

But...it kinda seems like a lot of people who are doing it are the faux-allies. These are the people who are cookie beggars. I've seen one person who is a friend who is gay put it up, but none of the others (that I know of). And...I feel like that kinda says something. I haven't been following the campaign, which I probably should, and I did hear as well that they're throwing trans* under the bus and that is totally not okay.
Grimalkin writes:
I'm seconding Richard Austin, patronizing is how this feels. A lot of the same people putting it up because it's popular are the same who are casually homophobic and hateful because it's popular. I wouldn't doubt that the same girls who found out that a girl they hugged was a lesbian and went 'ewww' are doing this, and I'll guarantee that there are libertarians and republicans and romney-voters who actively made this happen with them up. 
Support me with actions that matter. Actually speak up when you see hatred. Get out with a picket sign, campaign for our rights, fight the bigots, vote for the non-bigots, all that shit that matters that us gay people can't do (except vote!) because we legitimately have to fear outing and violence if we do so. Don't just put up a little red equals sign and wipe off your hands and call it a day if you want me to consider you an ally, and especially don't do that if you don't even know where it comes from or what it means or if you don't really care. I'd rather have a little bit of genuine support than a ton of faux-backpat-begging-support.


What do we know now?
  1. HRC supporters are apparantely "faux-allies"
  2. Libertarians and Romney supporters might be among those that support gay marriage! How... tragic?
Where are these "under the bus" comments coming from?

This thread is more direct, titled: "Fuck the HRC"

The OP, "Setar", writes:
"Apparently some HRC people told some trans* activists to take down their trans* pride flags at the marriage equality demonstrations.
Fuck you, fuck you, fucking holy fuck fuck you.
If you didn't know trans* people had their own pride flag, now you know. (Was the original rainbow not inclusive enough?)

If you are at all surprised by Setar's use of the f-bomb, you should read about AtheismPlus' favorite word.

"Zeitgueist" shares in the disdain:
I don't have a lot of familiarity with the HRC, but I've definitely gotten the impression that they were not trans-friendly from friends on other social justice boards. Several people I know expressed irritation that their equal sign was being used so prevalently on Facebook.
"Grimalkin" tries to clarify the problem:
I recall the HRC giving Lana Wachowski an award at some celebration they had.
Good to know they're still shit and don't really care about trans people.
Oh, by good I mean, fuck. Fuck those guys. Why, just, why. Why only equality for some people.
Edit: Also, gay marriage is totally a trans issue. What do you do if you have a trans man/cis man or a trans woman/cis woman or trans man/cis woman or cis man/trans woman who want to get married where the state is wishy washy on trans gender if we're still defining marriage by gender? I mean, yes, that issue goes away for the straight couples if trans people were just considered their gender, but then what about two genderqueer people? If marriage is defined as one man and one woman, then genderqueer people either can't be recognized as their gender when they marry, or they straight up can't marry.
What the fuck.
Let's try to follow this logic: Gender of people getting married will no longer matter, however "genderqueer" people will not be able to check a "genderqueer" box of the form that no longer asks the gender question.

Is this really a problem?

"EllieMurasaki" adds:
Let's not forget the people who are validly married in some states because they have different gender markers on their driver's licenses, but unmarried in other states because they have similar reproductive anatomy.
I suspect the people who wish to define marriage as one man and one woman have no concept of 'genderqueer'. I know a lot of them have no concept of 'transgender' as anything other than 'that poor confused girl, thinking she's a guy'.

Ok, some issues with what EllieMuraski says:

  1. How could we forget the issue that HRC is precisely trying to address? It won't matter if one state thinks your marriage is "straight" or "gay" if both statuses are legal.
  2. It's painfully obvious the "marriage = 1 man + 1 woman" people don't understand your position. Those that support Biblical marriage often have a Biblical view of sexual relations. 
Iguananaut tries to add a tiny bit of sense to the thread:
Officially HRC is pro-transgender rights, but their lobbying efforts and their leadership have always been willing to triangulate on it. I'm not ready to throw the whole organization under the bus though--whenever I've gone into the HRC office in DC the people I talk to there are awesome and certainly trans-friendly. I would think that on the whole most people in the organization, and its supporters, are pro-trans* rights. I don't have any idea who these fucksticks were whining about the trans* flags--fuck them obviously.
"Hamilton" also tries to question their strategy:
If you were in the US in 1860 and you were part of an organization that wanted to give complete freedom and equality to African Americans you wont get it, because wont be OK with the "complete equality" part. But if you talk about abolition, and then start moving for rights and freedoms after you get abolition, you'll end up winning. It's about getting people to do the right thing slowly, because if you rush, you wont get anywhere. If you talk about trans* marriage equality along with homosexual marriage equality, the people who are borderline supportive will drop out of supporting. While the issue is in front of the Supreme Court, it is also in front of the court of public opinion (see for example, the abortion issue, decided in the Supreme Court, but still an issue because of public opinion). Sometimes, things need to be done incrementally. 
I'm not saying that this is their logic, or even that it's strictly OK, just that they might have largely noble motives for their actions.
This sounds like a reasonable disagreement!

How does AtheismPlus respond?

A moderator, user "SubMor", did the following things:

  1. Edited Hamilton's response so readers don't even see it unless they expand the comment specifically
  2. Added a comment "see following post" implying the rebuttal to Hamilton was a slam-dunk
  3. SubMor's reason for the edit was "throwing each other under the bus? not cool." which implies that is in fact what Hamilton was arguing for.
AtheismPlus fails to even have a basic discussion about the issue at hand.

The "slam-dunk" that SubMor cited was the following post by  EllieMurasaki:
"Justice delayed is too often justice denied."
No argument, no rationalization, no assessment of where things are at, just some bathroom-reader tagline.

"Sylvia Sybil" adds:
I'm pretty sure this is their logic. The "we'll come back for you" rhetoric is pretty common when it comes to gays getting things that bis infrequently do and trans* folk almost never do.
And I would say that logic isn't okay. Partly because it creates unequal suffering in a community that's supposedly united to end their own suffering. And partly because, well, they rarely do come back for those left behind.
In AtheismPlus' strange reality, once gay marriage is legal, transsexuals will be still left out in the rain and will not benefit whatsoever from HRC's successes.

Is this accurate?

SubMor (the strategist) responds:
Hamilton, it is never okay to tell someone "we can't give you your rights because if we try to give you rights, it'll be harder for us to get our own rights." What you're talking about isn't incremental change. It's accepting the status quo for you because "screw you, I've got to get mine." It's playing right into that "divide and conquer" kyriarchy nonsense.
Why stop at trans rights, SubMor?

It's a wonder why AtheismPlus doesn't also push single payer universal healthcare at the same time.

The rest of the exchange:

Incremental change: 'First we will fight for equal marriage laws for everyone, then we will fight for equal adoption rights for everyone'
Shit HRC is doing 'First we will fight for rights for cisgender people, then we will fight for transgender rights. Maybe.'
Hamilton: (the protagonist of this story):
I'm sorry if I've left my ivory tower often enough to realize that the options are basically "equality for some now, and come back for the rest tomorrow" or "equality for no one".
That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Rights are rights, quit fucking condescending to me about waiting for a better season =/
edit: oh also the TransGriot piece deals with your bullshit. you should probably go read it.
False dichotomy, Hamilton. Nothing says you can't advocate for equality for all.
Furthermore, history shows that "come back for the rest tomorrow" usually doesn't happen. How many white suffragettes campaigned against Jim Crow and literacy tests once they got their right to vote?
That is a really supremely shitty thing to say to the people who have been waiting on their rights this whole time, and are being told they still don't count as human beings as much as these other folks over here, so they're gonna have to wait some more.
Well, I see hamilton has learned nothing...
And of course the thing I keep pointing out is that many trans* people can already get gay-married, which is just kind of ridiculous. But they can't get straight-married. Just legalizing marriage for everyone regardless of their sex or gender will straighten all this nonsense out. So yeah, it's every bit as much a trans* issue as it is a gay issue.
I'm hanging my head in shame pretty hard ATM because back in the 70s, straight cis women like me were pretty happy to throw lesbian rights under the bus if that was a sticking point when 'women's rights' were discussed. You'd think there would be lesbians in the HRC old enough to remember that and recognize it how crappy it is.
My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit. Human rights are for every human being, not just for the ones who can scramble to the top. Advocating human rights for some but not all people is bullshit.
Sylia Sybil:
...you think the trans* people and other people in this thread can only disagree with you if they live in an ivory tower?
I have some really bad news for you: trans* people are at the bottom of the shit heap. The whole protest against the HRC is against the ivory tower mentality that it's okay to focus on the subgroup statistically most well-off and ignore the subgroup statistically least well-off because politics. The idea that it's okay to ignore human suffering now because it'll all work out in the long run is about as isolated from reality as you can get.
Those lesbians were generally busy throwing trans* people under the bus in order to try and get back that very "respectability" =/
That's a wrap.

Thread recap:

  1. Hamilton points out that the AtheismPlus gang is essentially arguing with a straw man they created of him/her and that his/her approach is one based in pragmatism.
  2. Hamilton is told that their input was "bullshit" and a "false dichotomy"
  3. According to one user, slavery would be solved the AtheismPlus way, in which they would both abolish slavery and prevent Jim Crow laws simultaneously.
  4. User "ceepolk" shows up in the thread just to call Hamilton uneducated
  5. User "Iguananaut" admits that legalizing gay marriage does benefit trans* people, yet this realization somehow does not change the tone of the discussion.
  6. Other users paint a tragic tale of the existence of trans* people - they're "the bottom of the shit heap", being thrown "under the bus" and treated in a sub-human manner.
Now, on to the questions.

Questions for the AtheismPlus crowd:

If we fight for gay marriage and trans* rights, are we not throwing the polyamorous under the bus?

When fighting for reform of marriage law, can we not also solve all related family law issues? 

Conservatives often point out how marriage is related to child rearing, so perhaps now is the time to normalize child custody laws across the country. Think of the children.

Please, AtheismPlus, solve all our problems all at once.

1 comment:

  1. Well, historically the LGBT movement has taken trans issues off the table if they in any way hinder getting what they want. The common phrase of "the T is silent" comes up often enough, and long before a+ existed, which alludes to this attitude.

    That being said, they're really blowing the past out of proportion and trying to paint current efforts as doing the same thing with little evidence to show for it.

    Frankly, I feel the whole issue is that trans people aren't in the same boat. It's not about sexual orientation, it's about having the wrong body. Acceptance of fact vs a medical condition. You can't cure gay, but you can cure trans with a few surgeries afterall. The only reason we're lumped in with the rest is because we get the brunt of the prejudices aimed at the others. They don't see a woman, they see a "faggot in a dress trying to trick men". They don't see a man, they see a "butch dyke". They think we're gay, so they hate us for it.

    As soon as the gay/lesbian thing isn't an issue, we won't get the misdirected hostilities of people who hate them aimed at us. The sooner that happens, the sooner we can stop being lumped in with the rest. Screw the T being silent, the T will be able to go on its merry way and be part of a better acronym.

    Now if these a+ idiots could understand that for a moment and stop pretending to be offended at a straw man, we could all move forward.