Saturday, May 2, 2009

How We Lose, and How We Lose Again

As if letting Janeane Garofalo rant unchallenged about the Tea Party protesters being "racists" and the protests themselves being about nothing more than "hating a black man in the White House," Keith Olbermann actually achieves a new low:

Of course, I am shocked -- shocked! -- to find breast enhancement and cosmetic surgery taking place in the modeling and entertainment industry. I look forward to future bombshell exposes as Mr. Olbermann continues telling truth to power. Maybe he can also uncover the hypocrisy of Christians who donate money to fund pediatric surgeries to repair cleft palates and congenital heart defects, because, as "intellectual titan" and "civil rights leader" Perez Hilton would say, they "don't love the way Jesus made" those children, either.

The only thing dumber than MSNBC allowing a segment like this to even air on a news network is the idea that these two guys actually believe Perez Hilton's tirades -- and segments like this -- are "a real win for this cause." I've already written how tactics like this almost cost the pro-gay marriage side my own vote against Proposition 8, and I'm one of the last people they ever should have had to worry about losing:
I've lived in the gay ghetto of a major city. I've owned a small business with a gay partner. Part of the first date my wife and I had involved her taking me to a fabulous gay coffee shop in West Hollywood as a test of how tolerant I was. (I passed.) I've even kept my cool and gently talked down a drunken homosexual as his fingers tried to do the walking down my pants. (Sloppy drunks come in all sexual persuasions.) And two of the best parents I know are a lesbian couple, and raising a young son who is a joy to behold. So, I give no ground to anyone when it comes to my anti-homophobe street cred.
And still, they almost lost my vote. That takes real talent. Or something else that I'm not sure what to call.

We've reached the point where those of us on my side of the gay marriage issue, if we want to avoid a backlash of our own making, need a remedial primer on how we lose, and how we lose again. I've said most of this before, and so have others, but it obviously needs to be said again. So...

When we let a foul-mouthed caricature like Perez Hilton become the spokesman for our cause, we lose. And when we defend that foul-mouthed caricature for using rhetoric that we would call hate speech if it came from the other side, we lose again.

When we label Miss California Carrie Prejean as a bigot (and worse) for calmly answering a question about gay marriage rather than calmly saying that she's wrong, and here's why, we lose. And when we then say that President Barack Obama, by opposing gay marriage on religious grounds, is somehow actually being inclusive, we show a level of hypocrisy that those Americans we need to win over will see as far worse than any level of hypocrisy we're trying to point out on the part of Miss California. And we lose again.

When we tell the opponents of gay marriage that it won't be taught in schools and then San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom performs a lesbian wedding in front of a first-grade class on a field trip, we lose. When we don't even realize that what Gavin Newsom did was a self-defeating stunt, we lose again.

When we pretend that we're the majority view on this issue, we lose. When we start to believe that we actually are the majority view on this issue, we lose again.

When we tell the opponents of gay marriage that we're not trying to impose our views on their lives and then drive a woman from her job for donating $100 to the "Yes on 8" campaign, we lose. When we don't rebuke -- and rebuke hard -- those on our own side for this kind of harassment, we lose again.

When tell the opponents of gay marriage that they're stereotyping all gays and lesbians and then label everyone on their side, from someone who would beat a 19-year-old to death for looking effeminate to someone who supports civil unions but not marriage, as "haters," we lose. And when that stops being just a self-defeating political tactic and we actually start to believe that anyone who doesn't meet us 100% of the way on this issue really is a "hater," we lose again.

These should be simple things for our side to understand. They're just not as satisfying emotionally as what we need to do if we're actually going to win on this issue:
[D]on’t attack your adversaries. Just make a better case than they do. Respect them as individuals. Don’t mock (or otherwise belittle) their motives. Appreciate that they express their convictions with sincerity. Take the time to understand their arguments and then carefully, rationally refute them.
That was written by B. Daniel Blatt, from the excellent GayPatriot blog. If nothing else, he lets me know I'm not the only supporter of gay marriage who who feels this way:
I still believe I did the right thing in voting against Proposition 8. But when my fellow opponents behave as did Mr. Hilton this month and as did the protesters last fall, I feel less comfortable being associated with such prominent opponents of the initiative.

If such rhetoric alienates a gay man with lesbian friends who have sought state recognition of their marriages, how will it impact those lacking a personal connection to the issue?
I'm afraid those on our side of this issue are going to find out.

UPDATE: A related post over at GayPatriot sums up the situation perfectly:
The more they slur her, the more sympathetic they make her.
UPDATE II: Welcome back, Instapundit readers! Have a look around!

UPDATE III: Latest Copyright Thug, Perez Hilton. I have no great love for the National Organization for Marriage, or for the ad in question, but considering the videos Perez Hilton has on his own YouTube channel, the idea that he would try to have anything removed from that site leaves me speechless.

(h/t: Instapundit)