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August 8, 2007 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Warning: Explicit sexual content. "These firefighters dedicated their lives to save the lives of others. They did not sign on to become unwilling props to a controversial political and social agenda," says Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, representing a group of brave men in uniform who were subjected to "vile sexual taunts" at a San Diego gay pride parade. Via Gawker.
posted by digaman (339 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
(hose goes limp)
posted by hackly_fracture at 1:50 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't know why they couldn't find any volunteer firemen, but absent any brave souls not afraid of looking at the odd willy, it seems...authoritarian to order a fire fighter to do a task not directly associated with his job.

The corollary for me would be if I was ordered as part of my job to look at an extreme beauty pageant with naked girls, squealing and demanding I remove my kit. I would not enjoy it, nor would I see it as a task essential to the job.

Weird.
posted by dash_slot- at 1:51 PM on August 8, 2007


Oh, be nice!
posted by porn in the woods at 1:52 PM on August 8, 2007


"The firefighters were also targets of gross sexual gestures to include the following: exposure of genitals, blowing kisses, grabbing of the crotch, rubbing of nipples, tongue gestures, men hugging and kissing one another passionately..."

Well, at least the guys weren't, say, bored and reading a magazine while they were hugging.
posted by digaman at 1:53 PM on August 8, 2007


Great second link. But seriously, many civic employees from all departments are asked by their superiors to attend or manage all kinds of community events, whether Pride, July 4th, or Thanksgiving etc. The only difference here is that gayz were standing on the side of the street, as opposed to any other group, which induces the gay-panic tort.

Some may have been (allegedly) obnoxious, but that would be a matter to address with means no different than police having to deal with, say, drunken revelers at a St. Patrick's Day parade.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:57 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is 'I rub my nipples at you' similar to 'I fart in your general direction'?
posted by ao4047 at 1:57 PM on August 8, 2007


Dude, as a former Ann Arbor resident, got anything more than Thomas More? Those guys are batshit former Monahan bedfellows. They're the ones who were all het up about OMG nudity at an art film fest that indirectly got funded by the state.
posted by klangklangston at 1:59 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sexual banter at a gay pride parade is like beer at a St. Patrick's Day parade. One can expect it to flow freely.
posted by digaman at 2:01 PM on August 8, 2007


Dammit, there's a 'flaming' joke here somewhere, I just can't make it work.
posted by Skorgu at 2:05 PM on August 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


"The Thomas More Law Center: The Sword and Shield for people of faith"

Yeah, no bigot agenda there. ((rolls eyes))
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 2:05 PM on August 8, 2007 [7 favorites]


I've been "near by" Hillcrest during that "parade" and it's pretty damn insane. A few years ago I was walking my kids in their stroller, right up University Ave, and these guys poured out of a building wearing nothing but cowboy hats, boots and just a little bit of skinny electrical tape.

I love my gay buddies, but I imagine that being a "fireman" in the middle of a fired up gay crowd would be more than a little intimidating. Someone could have made a better choice with this one.

Thanks for the interesting post!
posted by snsranch at 2:09 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


In related news: NYC Firefighter Beefcake Calendar Canned After Michael Biserta is Exposed
"After numerous websites published the report of NYC firefighting calendar coverboy Michael Biserta's appearance in a 'Guys Gone Wild' video showing off his own firehose, Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta announced that from now on New York City firefighters would be prohibited from posing in the beefcake calendar.

The calendar, published by the FDNY Fire Foundation, raises money for FDNY equipment and training. The 2008 issue will be its last.

...The FDNY was taken by surprise with the news of their firefighter's extracurricular talents. Biserta reportedly joined the FDNY in April 2006, after the 'Guys Gone Wild' video was filmed, and will not be disciplined for appearing in it."
posted by ericb at 2:11 PM on August 8, 2007


“Fire Chief Tracy Jarman, a lesbian, has apologized to Fire Capt. John Ghiotto, Engineer Jason Hewett and firefighters Chad Allison and Alex Kane and says she's having the the city's Equal Employment Investigative Office take a look at the situation, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The city's firefighters have participated in the gay pride parade for the last 15 years without incident.

Says CBS8:
‘They're trained to risk their lives battling fires, but some local firefighters suggest nothing could have prepared them for the insults and obscenities they faced at this year's gay pride parade.’
The Union-Tribune reports:
‘In statements filed with the state, the men said that along the parade route, they were subjected to offensive lewd comments such as, 'You can put out my fire,' and saw men blowing kisses at them. Then, they said, they had to endure protesters who yelled at them that homosexuality was a sin. Some comments were too risque to print.’
So, according to the paper, they had to endure men complimenting them for their looks, as well as experience first-hand the religious bigotry gay people must endure every day.

Poor things.”*
posted by ericb at 2:17 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I WAS SO INTIMIDATED I OFFERED TO SUCK THEIR COCKS AND GIVE THEM $20.
posted by 2sheets at 2:17 PM on August 8, 2007 [30 favorites]


Come on now, that guy in the picture on the left totally has an eggplant stuffed in his drawers.

Or is it...a firehose?
posted by The Straightener at 2:18 PM on August 8, 2007


Sexual banter at a gay pride parade is like beer at a St. Patrick's Day parade. One can expect it to flow freely.
posted by digaman at 9:01 PM on August 8


I agree, though clearly the banter was directed at unwilling participants. Therefore, why deny the firefighters the right to decline an order to be there?

As to the agenda of the Thomas More centre, looks like the Fire Chief played right into their hands. Not too clever.
posted by dash_slot- at 2:19 PM on August 8, 2007


2Sheets— Wait, were they black?
posted by klangklangston at 2:19 PM on August 8, 2007


Well, until I see something on this from a...er...slightly more reputable news source, it's hard for me to take the story at face value. But it did make me laugh. But then I thought about it some more, and realized if it was, I dunno, the Maxim Pride March, and it was a bunch of dudes shouting come-ons at a pack of hot female police officers who were just there trying to do their job, I'd be pretty fucking disgusted. So I dunno.

(On preview: Ah, there's those reputable news sources now.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:24 PM on August 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


imagine that being a "fireman" in the middle of a fired up gay crowd would be more than a little intimidating

What exactly would these men who run toward burning buildings for a living have to be afraid of? After nearly 50 years of gay pride parades in America, I haven't yet heard of one that turned into a mass rape or lynching of straight bystanders. It's hard for me to imagine that happening. There's a lot of nudity and sexual banter at these parades, but it's not quite a raging "fired up" threatening mass.
posted by digaman at 2:28 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


CBS8 video segment.
posted by ericb at 2:28 PM on August 8, 2007


"Fire department spokesman Maurice Luque said the four men, who were assigned to a fire station in the parade route area, were called in after another crew that had volunteered to participate canceled at the last minute because one firefighter had a family emergency."*
posted by ericb at 2:30 PM on August 8, 2007


aren't these assholes supposed to be supertough guys who jump into raging fires and shit? and they're afraid of a bunch of guys in Speedos mooning them? wtf?
posted by matteo at 2:33 PM on August 8, 2007


It's not about physical fear. It's about harassment.
posted by desjardins at 2:36 PM on August 8, 2007


...were they black and stocky???
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:36 PM on August 8, 2007


Oh, come now matteo— they had the perfectly reasonable fear that they'd be offered a no-strings-attached gay encounter, and since gay sex is more potent than heroin, they'd become gay. And since we all know that gay people are subject to all sorts of archaic legal discriminations, it's worth trying your damnedest not to accidently become one of them. That's why gays recruit kids, like boy scouts and altar boys.
posted by klangklangston at 2:37 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


"During the course of the ensuing three hour long ordeal, the firefighters were subjected to vile sexual taunts from homosexuals lining the parade route. This included the following statements: "show me your hose," "you can put out my fire," "you're making me hot," "give me mouth-to-mouth," "you look hungry, why don't you have a twinkie (from a man wearing a "Girth and Mirth" t-shirt)," and "blow my hose." "

First 9-11 then this.
posted by LarryC at 2:38 PM on August 8, 2007


"...were they black and stocky???"

Black and stocky versus black and chubby?
posted by klangklangston at 2:38 PM on August 8, 2007


In every gay pride parade I have attended (Boston, Chicago, L.A., New York and San Francisco) there have always been contingents of openly gay police and firefighters -- often marching behind a banner declaring their affiliation/organization.

Fire engines with lights and horns a-blaring open the parade here in Boston (followed traditionally by the 'Dykes on Bikes'). The parade closes with a contingent of firetrucks -- also blaring sirens, horns and flashing their lights. No one assume those on the firetrucks and rescue vehicles are necessarily 'gay.'
posted by ericb at 2:38 PM on August 8, 2007


"First 9-11 then this."

6-21 NEVAR FORGET.
posted by klangklangston at 2:39 PM on August 8, 2007


By the way, can anyone provide a quote that indicates the firefighters were physically afraid of the parade attendees?
posted by desjardins at 2:40 PM on August 8, 2007


I said stocky and I meant stocky! I'd rather be a racist than a homosexual! Or a fireman!
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:42 PM on August 8, 2007


First 9-11 then this.

I swear to God, I typed that phrase here three times and deleted it each time.
posted by digaman at 2:43 PM on August 8, 2007


By the way, can anyone provide a quote that indicates the firefighters were physically afraid of the parade attendees?

No, but damn it, the teasing, oh, the teasing really hurt!
"...colleagues called to tease them for participating in the event."*
posted by ericb at 2:46 PM on August 8, 2007


These guys may or may not be homophobes, but being forced to attend an event where you are sexually harassed should not be part of any job description. If these were women being harassed by straight guys, I think the response here would be very different.

Note that the firefighters are not pressing charges or whatever against the parade attendees. They are suing their boss, who mandated their attendance at the event.
posted by desjardins at 2:50 PM on August 8, 2007 [16 favorites]


Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center

Salon: Intelligent Designer -- "The chief defender of intelligent design in the Dover evolution trial insists he has science and God on his side."
posted by ericb at 2:50 PM on August 8, 2007


In an ironic twist of fate, my homophobic 76 year old father was raised on 8th in Hillcrest & now lives right on Park Blvd. So I was walking my puppy out and about the Pride festival this year while my dad penned himself up in his house with his headphones on to pretend it wasn't happening.

It was interesting to me to be in SD during it, since after living in LA & SF I've forgotten about the open discomfort & disdain a lot of straight San Diegans display over homosexuality, especially during pride weekend. But it was palpable, I heard more than a few people talk about how they "avoid going out" on that weekend as though it's common knowledge that scary gay people are temporarily running the asylum so you shouldn't venture into the sun lest they "get" you. But other than avoiding certain streets that I knew would be blocked off with traffic, I found the Pride crowds to have a very pleasant & friendly attitude.

So now here's the part I don't really understand about the article... in LA & SF, they generally have volunteers for those events. Gay firefighters and policemen are first to put on duty, and then anyone who is open to it. Generally the straight officers who work the parade are people who aren't homophobic at all, they are cool and supportive, just there to do their jobs without taking anything personally. From what I've seen, they know what they're in for & take it with a grain of salt and a polite smile generally.

My only thought is... especially after being reminded that San Diego is such a white bread Republican town... perhaps they have fewer officers who are out of the closet and willing to volunteer. So maybe they just assign people the duty whether they want it or not. But I mean, honestly, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that the minute a fireman shows up at Gay Pride he's gonna be popular. That's a big gigantic "DUH."
posted by miss lynnster at 2:50 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sexual Harassment Law 101
posted by desjardins at 2:52 PM on August 8, 2007


I dunno, I wouldn't want to march in a parade for three hours hearing "show me your hose," "you can put out my fire," "you're making me hot", etc. If someone yelled that at a woman in any way, would we be so quick to tell her to, uh, man up and take it as part of the spirit of the event?

If these guys were told they had to be in it, I can see why they might get a little peeved. And so they didn't respond to the cat calls. So the people on the parade route got pissed, and started swearing, so the firefighters got even more peeved. Whoever ordered them into the parade should have just hopped in the firetruck themselves, methinks, and spared everyone this little tempest.
posted by Salmonberry at 2:52 PM on August 8, 2007


I hope every attractive woman who has been asked by their boss to walk past a construction site to get coffee or something else can also get in some cool tort action. Unless construction workers have somehow changed in the past fifty years.

Or is it different because they're not gay?
posted by inthe80s at 2:54 PM on August 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


"I said stocky and I meant stocky! I'd rather be a racist than a homosexual! Or a fireman!"

NO FATTIES!
posted by klangklangston at 2:54 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


So now here's the part I don't really understand about the article... in LA & SF, they generally have volunteers for those events.

They had volunteers. At least one of the volunteers had a family crisis. The replacements were ordered by the chief to go. (source)
posted by desjardins at 2:54 PM on August 8, 2007


Interesting to consider how this falls within the "sexual harassment" rubric. If we turn things around a bit -- maybe make the victims female reporters trying to interview athletes in a locker room, only to be groped and subjected to a bunch of sexually lewd comments -- would people be so quick to dismiss their complaints?
posted by pardonyou? at 2:55 PM on August 8, 2007


No, but damn it, the teasing, oh, the teasing really hurt!

"You look hungry, why don't you have a twinkie?"
posted by kirkaracha at 2:56 PM on August 8, 2007


I used to be a "twinkie" myself! ; )
posted by ericb at 2:57 PM on August 8, 2007


They talk about this issue here, but I MUCH more enjoyed reading about lots of hot football players and sexy lesbian moms. And of course, the craziness that ensues.

Seriously, is ANYONE on any of these topics not seriously batshit insane?
posted by OhPuhLeez at 2:57 PM on August 8, 2007


inthe80s, that's a ridiculous comparison. If the boss ordered the worker to go TO the construction site, and she was harassed there, then yes, she apparently has a case.

But I have never heard of a boss ordering a subordinate to take a specific route past a construction site in order to get coffee.

Furthermore, the firefighters were ordered to go to an event that has been historically sexually charged. You might really, really like your Starbucks, but it's not the same thing.

(IANAL)
posted by desjardins at 2:59 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


One of the things inherent in sexual harrasment is a power differential— it's hard to argue that gays occupy the same position of privilege in relation to straight guys as men do to women. Which isn't to say that being ordered into this position is necessarily right, or that the firefighters don't have a case, but that it does explain a lot of the mockery that they're getting here.
posted by klangklangston at 2:59 PM on August 8, 2007


But I mean, honestly, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that the minute a fireman shows up at Gay Pride he's gonna be popular. That's a big gigantic "DUH."

No kidding miss lynnster. I think someone noted above that it was a last minute thing based on a no show of volunteers.

I'm not anti anything, but that can be a "freaky" as in shake ya naked ass, scene. I just hope this situation doesn't screw up the future of the event. It is one of the more cool things down here in uptightville.
posted by snsranch at 2:59 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


and since gay sex is more potent than heroin

Gay sex is only tempting if you're gay. Somehow, that particular fact doesn't make it into mainstream discourse much....
posted by Malor at 3:01 PM on August 8, 2007


But it was palpable, I heard more than a few people talk about how they "avoid going out" on that weekend as though it's common knowledge that scary gay people are temporarily running the asylum so you shouldn't venture into the sun lest they "get" you.
It's a funny thing. The only major NYC parade I can stand being in the city for is the Pride parade. All of the rest of them set off my claustrophobia.

As for the firefighters. On the one hand, I empathize with their discomfort. On the other hand, part of me is saying "welcome to what women go through on the streets all the time."
posted by Karmakaze at 3:01 PM on August 8, 2007 [5 favorites]


One of the things inherent in sexual harrasment is a power differential

Right. As in the power differential between the fire chief and her subordinates.
posted by desjardins at 3:02 PM on August 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


Right, and if she was sexually harassing them, this would be a different story. Instead, she was sending them to a place where she had no control over the crowd. If the crowd acted badly, how is that her fault?
posted by klangklangston at 3:04 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


(Malor— Forgive the link to About.com, but this is what I was referencing.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:05 PM on August 8, 2007


"The harasser does not have to be your supervisor for the harassment to be illegal. Employers have a responsibility to provide a workplace free from sexual harassment, whether the harasser is your supervisor, a supervisor in another department, a co-worker, a subordinate, or even a customer or client."

source
posted by desjardins at 3:05 PM on August 8, 2007


Aren't there enough gay and lesbian firefighters in San Diego to fill a truck?

Not a problem in New York (self link)

IMO (as a PFLAG dad) this just gives the bigots more ammo, and they don't need more.
posted by Danf at 3:07 PM on August 8, 2007


Is San Diego's Gay Pride Parade super-rowdy and lewd? From the television news footage and amateur videos on YouTube of this year's event, it all looks pretty tame to me. The Thomas More Law Center is likely employing hyperbole in their complaint.
posted by ericb at 3:09 PM on August 8, 2007


obligatory onion article
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:12 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not a problem in New York

And their brethren: Gay Officer's Action League of New York | Gay Officer's Action League of New England.
posted by ericb at 3:12 PM on August 8, 2007


And the website -- listed on the banner in Danf's photo: FireFlag/EMS.
posted by ericb at 3:13 PM on August 8, 2007


Here's a pdf of the complaint.

The Pride parade is generally friendly, but there is some drinking and cat-calling. If these had been women who, as part of their job, had to go to a place where drunken guys yelled at them to show their tits, I don't think we'd be dismissing it so easily. Anybody who's ever seen that parade should have known that the crowd interaction goes a bit beyond polite smiles and flag-waving.

In any event, the complaint says that they offered alternatives, and that others who were asked to participate were allowed to decline. If my boss told me that I had to go to a community event where people were going to talk dirty to me, I'd be pretty pissed off, especially if other people had been told they didn't have to do it. I have nothing against talking dirty in general, but I do object to it being made a part of my job, even if only for a few hours.
posted by stefanie at 3:16 PM on August 8, 2007


""The harasser does not have to be your supervisor for the harassment to be illegal. Employers have a responsibility to provide a workplace free from sexual harassment, whether the harasser is your supervisor, a supervisor in another department, a co-worker, a subordinate, or even a customer or client.""

So, if you work as a female cop, your supervisor has to make sure that you're never sent to patrol an area where you may be verbally harassed? No female police can work Mardi Gras then. Or most sporting events. It takes an extreme stretch to imagine the public as customer or client in terms of that definition, and employers only have to take reasonable action regarding sexual harassment precautions.
posted by klangklangston at 3:17 PM on August 8, 2007


Instead, she was sending them to a place where she had no control over the crowd.

She made their attendance mandatory. Corollary: if a group of female executive assistants were told by their male boss to attend a mandatory convention, and at that convention were told it was mandatory for them to go up on stage -- and then, once up there, the room of conventioneers spent twenty minutes shouting crude obscenities and making sexual gestures at them.

There's a double-whammy of double standard potential here: first, there's the "it's men being harassed, so it's not like women were being harassed" and "they're firefighters and the parade-goers were gay, what did they have to be afraid of?"

Both of these are based on the same fallacy: (Fire)men are big and powerful, and women/gay men are small and weak.

If you're a woman and harassed by a man, you're powerless to stop it, because you're weak. If you're a gay man harassed by a group of straight men, you're powerless to stop it, because you're weak. However, if you're a (fire|straight) man and you're harassed by a group of gay men, no harm was done, because they're weak and you're strong -- so you weren't in physical danger, and you're a big tough guy, you don't have feelings, right?

Everybody has feelings; everybody has insecurities; everybody can be insulted, harassed, etc. If you're a straight man with big muscles, so what? You might be underwater on your mortgage, having marriage troubles, and scared that if you lose your job your family will be on the street -- muscles and sexual orientation don't change that. Heck, you might just be a sensitive guy with low self-esteem, or you were raised to believe homosexuality was wrong (even though you believe otherwise, that indoctrination can stay with you emotionally) and then your boss puts you in the parade.

I have a certain amount of sympathy for them, as I do with anyone who's harrassed but not physically harmed: I assume that if they were in a position to say "no" they would have, so they weren't in a position to say "no", and they deserve some sympathy. Not as much as someone who gets beaten up or raped or otherwise physically harmed, of course, but that's only because such occurances have physical AND emotional components, whereas harrassment only has an emotional component.

Done ranting, but all the "big firemen should be able to take it" people are missing the point.
posted by davejay at 3:19 PM on August 8, 2007 [13 favorites]


All you "if they were women getting lewd stuff yelled at them, it'd be different" folks...I guess you've never heard of Mardi Gras?

Which makes me wonder, does the NO fire department have a truck in the Mardi Gras parade, and if so, does it have female firefighters? Somehow I suspect if it did, they'd get just as many beads-for-boobs propositions.
posted by nomisxid at 3:19 PM on August 8, 2007


One of the things inherent in sexual harrasment is a power differential— it's hard to argue that gays occupy the same position of privilege in relation to straight guys as men do to women.

Yes, but sexual harrassment laws are gender-neutral, as they should be.

I wish guys would say stuff like that to me more often. I know how I'm dressing up for Pride next year.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 3:20 PM on August 8, 2007


As for the firefighters. On the one hand, I empathize with their discomfort. On the other hand, part of me is saying "welcome to what women go through on the streets all the time."

Seriously! And before the Anita Hill hearings made everyone uber sensitive about harassment, the workplace could be a mighty uncomfortable work environment if a man thought you were attractive. I remember men saying and doing offensive stuff in the workplace that I still can't believe actually happened.

Anyhow, when my dad makes a homophobic comment and I call him on it, he always says, "You don't know what it was like, when I was in the service and walked through San Francisco. Men tried to pinch my rear end."

Every time I say the same thing, "Wow dad. I've NEVER had a guy pinch my rear end! What's that like? It must've been horrible for you!". Oh, and then I remember that from what I've heard the man was never stationed in San Francisco when he was in the service. Sounds good though.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:20 PM on August 8, 2007


I don't think the firemen should have been compelled to participate in this parade but...they probably would have been equally as offended if the boys didn't make lewd remarks.The only thing worse than being sexually harassed is being sexually ignored.
posted by MikeMc at 3:20 PM on August 8, 2007


Questions that remain unanswered:

Did the firefighters object at the time of their assignment?

Were they in the cab or exposed to the crowd?

Gay pride parades can be completely over the top, and quite uncomfortable for the uninitiated, especially if the uninitiated is wearing a fireman's hat. I mean, Pride parades are an explicit exercise in sexual harassment, a flowing-over of libido and energy. (At least in this neck of the woods.)

If these guys were really forced into it, they could have moral, if not legal grounds to complain. But hiring the Screaming Asshat Law Partners of Lower Michigan to churn out press releases like this sets off a five-alarm credibility question.
posted by bicyclefish at 3:21 PM on August 8, 2007


So, if you work as a female cop, your supervisor has to make sure that you're never sent to patrol an area where you may be verbally harassed? No female police can work Mardi Gras then. Or most sporting events.

No, because they have recourse, because harrasing a cop is an arrestable offense.
posted by Snyder at 3:21 PM on August 8, 2007


"Both of these are based on the same fallacy: (Fire)men are big and powerful, and women/gay men are small and weak."

Bullshit. As a societal generalization who has more power, women or men? Who is likely to be more able to intimidate, based either on physical strength or position? Acknowledging that is not fallacious, and since your argument all stems from that, it's all bullshit. Sorry. They should have been able to take it because it's part of their job to deal with the assholes who happen to make up a large percentage of the public at large.
posted by klangklangston at 3:23 PM on August 8, 2007


"No, because they have recourse, because harrasing a cop is an arrestable offense."

Saying "Show us your tits" to an officer is not an arrestable offense. Interferring with their duties is. It would be sexual harassment in another context.
posted by klangklangston at 3:24 PM on August 8, 2007


To bad they weren't armed with the puke-light.
posted by Mr_Zero at 3:24 PM on August 8, 2007


"Yes, but sexual harrassment laws are gender-neutral, as they should be."

But context-dependent, as they should be.
posted by klangklangston at 3:25 PM on August 8, 2007


Boo hoo. You know, this is just what happens when you work in what people generally consider a “sexy” profession. You get treated like a piece of damn meat by women and men alike. Is it tough? Yeah, well, life is tough. You just have to get used to it, so suck it up.

Anyways, I better get back to reviewing these zoning variances.
posted by gordie at 3:28 PM on August 8, 2007


"No female police can work Mardi Gras then. "

No matter how drunk I was, I don't think I would be dumb enough to sexually harass a cop. And if I was, I would be in jail.

Firefighters can't arrest people.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:31 PM on August 8, 2007


Saying "Show us your tits" to an officer is not an arrestable offense.

You haven't had much contact with the police have you? Anything is an arrestable offense if you piss the officer off enough. The only issue for the cop is deciding which law you broke by enthusiastically asking to examine her breasts.
posted by MikeMc at 3:32 PM on August 8, 2007


Seems silly that anyone would dismiss the claims of these men. As was said very cogently early on:

But then I thought about it some more, and realized if it was, I dunno, the Maxim Pride March, and it was a bunch of dudes shouting come-ons at a pack of hot female police officers who were just there trying to do their job, I'd be pretty fucking disgusted.

I think it's just insane that these fireman could be ordered to go to a gay pride parade. Some people just aren't going to be comfortable with that, and that's their right. I would have no problem with it, I'd probably be rather flattered...but there's no reason why they have to share my point of view. I think the fire chief was really insensitive. Of course, the lawyers' blathering about the "homosexual agenda" makes it harder to see this from their side. But unless you're looking to completely redefine sexual harassment, that's what this was.
posted by Edgewise at 3:34 PM on August 8, 2007


Boo hoo. You know, this is just what happens when you work in what people generally consider a “sexy” profession. You get treated like a piece of damn meat by women and men alike. Is it tough? Yeah, well, life is tough. You just have to get used to it, so suck it up.

That's what I told my secretary and my maid, but they still refused to wrestle in the jello.
posted by Partial Law at 3:34 PM on August 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


"You haven't had much contact with the police have you? Anything is an arrestable offense if you piss the officer off enough. The only issue for the cop is deciding which law you broke by enthusiastically asking to examine her breasts."

Having been to Mardi Gras a couple of years ago, I can emphatically say that not even waving your dick at a police officer was an arrestable offense in that situation.

Further, basing what is and isn't an arrestable offense on the whims of officers may be realistic, but it certainly isn't a good place to argue similar principles upon.
posted by klangklangston at 3:36 PM on August 8, 2007


Saying "Show us your tits" to an officer is not an arrestable offense.

I need to go out drinking with you sometime, klangklangston. You sound like a hoot and a holler.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 3:42 PM on August 8, 2007


Re: bicyclefish:
Questions that remain un were already answered:

Did the firefighters object at the time of their assignment?


Yes, see the original complaint.

Were they in the cab or exposed to the crowd?


Seems like both, see the original complaint.
posted by desjardins at 3:45 PM on August 8, 2007


> On the other hand, part of me is saying "welcome to what women go through on the streets all the time."

But exactly. And why should we take that any more seriously than we're taking this? Just whip out a few hose jokes, that should help the firemen and the sisters unclench and chill. Glad to see so many folks here understand that and agree. Bit of a surprise considering the site, but whatever.
posted by jfuller at 3:47 PM on August 8, 2007


Bullshit. As a societal generalization who has more power, women or men? Who is likely to be more able to intimidate, based either on physical strength or position? Acknowledging that is not fallacious, and since your argument all stems from that, it's all bullshit. Sorry. They should have been able to take it because it's part of their job to deal with the assholes who happen to make up a large percentage of the public at large.

Sorry, no, your response is bullshit. Without getting into whether intimidation is required for harassment to exist, or what exactly intimidation or harrassment require, it is not part of their job to deal with assholes any more than it's your job to deal with assholes.

I like gay pride parades, I think firemen can be hawt, but I don't think anyone should be required to participate in them against their will.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:50 PM on August 8, 2007


Having been to Mardi Gras a couple of years ago, I can emphatically say that not even waving your dick at a police officer was an arrestable offense in that situation.

Mardi Gras in N.O. might be a slightly different situation than asking your average female cop elsewhere in the country to display her sweater puppies.
posted by MikeMc at 3:53 PM on August 8, 2007


But it's likely much closer to "Show me your hose" at a gay pride parade.

"Sorry, no, your response is bullshit. Without getting into whether intimidation is required for harassment to exist, or what exactly intimidation or harrassment require, it is not part of their job to deal with assholes any more than it's your job to deal with assholes."

Dude, they get paid to put out fires and ride in parades. The asshole quotient surrounding those two situations is huge. It's not a supervisor's job to ensure that the public will always be sensitive to the feelings of any given employee. The supervisor has NO CONTROL over any folks on the street. Just like how any boss couldn't be charged with sexual harassment for the actions of construction workers next door— you'd have to charge the construction workers.
posted by klangklangston at 3:58 PM on August 8, 2007


Saying "Show us your tits" to an officer is not an arrestable offense. Interferring with their duties is. It would be sexual harassment in another context.

Well, just using Arizona state law for a minute:

"13-2905. Loitering; classification

A. A person commits loitering if such person intentionally:

1. Is present in a public place and in an offensive manner or in a manner likely to disturb the public peace solicits another person to engage in any sexual offense;"

or even:

" 13-2921. Harassment; classification; definition

A. A person commits harassment if, with intent to harass or with knowledge that the person is harassing another person, the person:

1. Anonymously or otherwise communicates or causes a communication with another person by verbal, electronic, mechanical, telegraphic, telephonic or written means in a manner that harasses.

2. Continues to follow another person in or about a public place for no legitimate purpose after being asked to desist.

3. Repeatedly commits an act or acts that harass another person.

4. Surveils or causes another person to surveil a person for no legitimate purpose.

5. On more than one occasion makes a false report to a law enforcement, credit or social service agency.

6. Interferes with the delivery of any public or regulated utility to a person."

Police have discretion in arrests, and things that might be acceptable in parts of New Orleans during Madi Gras (mostly because there are actual rapes, fights and property destruction going on,) would not be acceptable other times or places in that city. I guarantee you, waving your dick at a cop in NO anything time of year, or in a different location in the city during Madi Gras, will most likely get something more than benign indifference.

The point I'm trying to make is that police have reasonable methods to deal with harrasment, sexual or otherwise, which these firemen did not. If a female police oficer was ordered to patrol an area, but restriced by her supervisor from responding to "Show us your tits!" then yes, that would be sexual harrasment.
posted by Snyder at 4:00 PM on August 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


I used to live upstairs from The Loft (gay bar) on 5th Avenue, really close to the parade route, and of course I went to the parade and had fun. At the time, the late 90s, I thought that CityFest (the Hillcrest street festival in August) could be almost as rowdy. The main difference was that at the Pride Festival, Candye Kane (omnisexual blues singer) could play the piano with her boobs; she was covered up at CityFest. But I digress...

I really can't understand why they didn't have volunteer firefighters, or gay or lesbian forefighters, for that matter. I used to know a gay San Diego cop. I'm sure there's enough gay firefighters there to make up a contingent, too.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:01 PM on August 8, 2007


Just like how any boss couldn't be charged with sexual harassment for the actions of construction workers next door— you'd have to charge the construction workers.

You're right, unless the boss required you to interact/walk by/whatever with the construction workers next door, and refused to deal with any complaints you brought to them.
posted by Snyder at 4:02 PM on August 8, 2007


These guys were at a *gay pride parade*, and I'm sure were not the only ones having lewd comments yelled at them. This is what happens at a gay pride parade: lots of dirty talk gets thrown about. And if you go dressed up as a firefighter of all things, you're probably going to get your extra share of the raunch. This doesn't mean you're being harassed, any more than those guys in the photo were probably being "harassed" by the crowd, any more than those guys in the second photo were probably "harassed" by the crowd. If you're at a gay pride parade, and you're a sexy man, or you're dressed up as a firefighter, or you're wearing crotchless leather chaps, or whatever, then you're going to attract attention. And the comments from the article are laughably unoffensive. "You make me hot!" "Blow my hose!" oooh... shudder!

I grant that it's strange and was a bad idea that their supervisor ordered homophobic firefighters to go to the event, but I see no way that what happened at the parade was anything other than harmless fun in the spirit of the day.
posted by polytropos at 4:03 PM on August 8, 2007


"Both of these are based on the same fallacy: (Fire)men are big and powerful, and women/gay men are small and weak."

Bullshit. As a societal generalization who has more power, women or men? Who is likely to be more able to intimidate, based either on physical strength or position? Acknowledging that is not fallacious, and since your argument all stems from that, it's all bullshit. Sorry. They should have been able to take it because it's part of their job to deal with the assholes who happen to make up a large percentage of the public at large.


I probably shouldn't engage, but I'll bite for one comment's worth.

"As a societal generalization" is not the same as "for these specific people." We're not talking about all white straight men versus all women and gay men.

Here's the cage match we're talking about:

1. Government employees who are expected to be courteous, respectful and pleasant to the public, placed in a position that is not officially part of their job description, on a stage from which they cannot depart or take action without putting their job at risk;

vs.

2. Thousands of civilians who, individually and as a group, have no accountability for their behavior (provided they don't break any laws in the process) and who are in an environment that is supportive of, and encouraging, lewd and obnoxious harrassing behavior.

If you look at this individual case (as I was) the firemen were clearly at a disadvantage, not being in a position to evade, confront or otherwise deal with their harrassers directly.

To say that these firemen generally have more power than women and gay men doesn't change the fact that they didn't have the power in this case -- and you're not arguing that because they "generally" have more power, they somehow deserve this, are you? After all, these may actually be some of the nicest, most courteous, most dedicated straight white men on the planet -- who have all of this power, supposedly, but who instead have dedicated their careers to saving people's lives.

Oh, and do we know if any of them are African-American, or Hispanic? No offense to 'em if so, but I would say they've got a lot less "power" (generally speaking, as you were) than the typical straight white male, yes?

Of course, at the end of the day, nobody wins the internet, we are probably both full of crap, and nobody cares. Except the people involved in this case, of course, who we don't know and whose troubles will go on long after this thread has closed.
posted by davejay at 4:07 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


And if you go dressed up as a firefighter of all things, you're probably going to get your extra share of the raunch. This doesn't mean you're being harassed...

You see her skirt? She wanted it! Hey, we were just having a little fun.
posted by Snyder at 4:07 PM on August 8, 2007


I'm sure were not the only ones having lewd comments yelled at them.

I'm sure they were the only ones there not by choice.

if you go dressed up as a firefighter of all things

Again, not their choice.

And the comments from the article are laughably unoffensive.

Great, you wouldn't mind if someone said the same things to your sister/mother/daughter, then?

How about "Fuck you firemen"? "Fuck you fire department"? Those aren't offensive?
posted by desjardins at 4:09 PM on August 8, 2007


Dude, they get paid to put out fires and ride in parades.

No, they get paid to put out fires. And I doubt there's much sexual harrassment going on at a fire.

Just like how any boss couldn't be charged with sexual
harassment for the actions of construction workers next door— you'd have to charge the construction workers.


That's simply not true. An employer can be held responsible for putting an employee in a situation where that employee may be harassed, if there's a reasonable expectation that harassment may occur.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:09 PM on August 8, 2007


You idiots. Gays are incapable of sexual harassment, just as blacks are incapable of racism, Muslims of ethnic profiling, and Jews of genocide.
posted by Krrrlson at 4:11 PM on August 8, 2007 [5 favorites]


dressed up as a firefighter

Does it count as dressing up if you actually ARE one?
posted by davejay at 4:12 PM on August 8, 2007


This is the most ludicrously strange and misguided mefi discussion I've ever read.
posted by TypographicalError at 4:12 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


> This is what happens at a gay pride parade: lots of dirty talk gets thrown about. And if you go dressed up
> as a firefighter of all things, you're probably going to get your extra share of the raunch.

I'll be sure to remember that tomorrow at the office, if I see anybody dressed as a woman.
posted by jfuller at 4:12 PM on August 8, 2007


Employers have a responsibility to provide a workplace free from sexual harassment, whether the harasser is your supervisor, a supervisor in another department, a co-worker, a subordinate, or even a customer or client.

Great. So it's OK to send them into a burning building to risk their lives, but send them into a parade full of cat-calling fairies, and they'll sue your ass into tomorrow for it.

The point I'm trying to make is that police have reasonable methods to deal with harrasment, sexual or otherwise, which these firemen did not.

They don't have cellphones? If they felt that harrassed or intimidated, they should have called a cop and let a 'real man' take care of them.

I grant that it's strange and was a bad idea that their supervisor ordered homophobic firefighters to go to the event

Meh. It was a public relations exercise. Public servants are often instructed to attend such things in order that they meet and are accountable to the communities that they serve. I bet if they were being paid overtime to attend, they'd have been queuing twelve deep to do so.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:13 PM on August 8, 2007


when a female is subjected to a "hostile work environment" at her job, sometimes she collects over a million. a million dollars per fireman should be enough to teach the fire department not to order its members to attend any kind of parade.
posted by bruce at 4:14 PM on August 8, 2007


Davejay, I agree with you that if the firefighters were uncomfortable with going, they should not have been forced to attend the parade. But calling the behavior of the participants there harassment is simply disingenous.

I'd liken it to going to a strip club and then complaining that the dancers are harassing you because they're exposing themselves and making lewd comments at you. You'd have a hell of a case against your employer if he forced you to go to the club as a PR move, but you couldn't honestly claim that you were harassed by the dancers. Similarly, unless there is evidence of anything more serious than catcalling, which I don't think there is, you can't say that the firefighters were harassed by the audience at the parade.
posted by polytropos at 4:14 PM on August 8, 2007


I'm really torn about this. It's a gay pride parade. They're attractive firefighters. They were definitely going to get attention. I think anyone with half a brain would have expected that. And the power differential issue is an important one, at least from a legal and historical perspective. But on a personal level? I feel for the guys. Unwanted sexual advances are just that: unwanted. Does the fact that they are male and not female mean they deserve mockery for being upset about that?

As for the people who supposedly got hostile when the firefighters didn't respond the way they wanted them to? Assholes, pure and simple. No one is required to think your come-ons are adorable. Move on and find someone more receptive.
posted by LeeJay at 4:16 PM on August 8, 2007



Great, you wouldn't mind if someone said the same things to your sister/mother/daughter, then?


Well, depending on the context, yes or no...
posted by polytropos at 4:18 PM on August 8, 2007


Again, not their choice.

And on that issue I agree with you davejay. They shouldn't have been sent to the parade. But I think it's really a stretch to say they were harassed because they were catcalled after showing up at a gay pride parade dressed like firemen.
posted by polytropos at 4:20 PM on August 8, 2007


So, according to the paper, they had to endure men complimenting them for their looks, as well as experience first-hand the religious bigotry gay people must endure every day.

Poor things.



Boo hoo. You know, this is just what happens when you work in what people generally consider a “sexy” profession. You get treated like a piece of damn meat by women and men alike. Is it tough? Yeah, well, life is tough. You just have to get used to it, so suck it up.

What the fuck, people!? Seriously? So is it ok to insult gay people if they're in the wrong place? 'Cause you know, they're just asking for it. Besides, life is though and shit... How about fucking a nurse that's there to look at your IV or give you a sponge bath? Or a catholic school girl?


All you "if they were women getting lewd stuff yelled at them, it'd be different" folks...I guess you've never heard of Mardi Gras?


Yes, we did. And so far as we know, Mardi Gras is completely voluntary. No one gets ordered to attend and flash their tits.
posted by c13 at 4:20 PM on August 8, 2007


*desjardins, sorry
posted by polytropos at 4:21 PM on August 8, 2007


but you couldn't honestly claim that you were harassed by the dancers.

Which they aren't. They are suing the city.
posted by c13 at 4:22 PM on August 8, 2007


... The message sent to the gay citizens of the Hillcrest district is clear: your local firefighters, those who will be called upon to save your life and property, despise you and think you are lewd, debased, and obscene. ...

I'd like a list of all the other celebrations and parades they attend.
posted by amberglow at 4:27 PM on August 8, 2007


Which they aren't. They are suing the city.

Yup. Others in the thread have been claiming the firefighters were harassed at the parade. That's whom I've been addressing.
posted by polytropos at 4:28 PM on August 8, 2007


I'd like a list of all the other celebrations and parades they attend.

I'd like to see what catcalls are made to them at the other parades.
posted by desjardins at 4:33 PM on August 8, 2007


But I think it's really a stretch to say they were harassed because they were catcalled after showing up at a gay pride parade dressed like firemen.

Emphasis mine.

Why are you noting how they were dressed? Because that makes it OK to catcall? You should test this theory of yours on women.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 4:35 PM on August 8, 2007


RTFA PEOPLE the volunteers cancelled at the last minute!!!

Also, Federal Law doesn't apply to this suit they are suing under the California Fair Housing and Employment Law.

From reading the complaint the officers acknowledge that it wasn't everybody on the parade route that "harassed" them "These unsolicited and unwanted behaviors from a few individuals of the public
toward us, reduced our morale as well as the integrity of the workplace, and destroyed
our professionalism ."

They admit that is was only a few individual that behaved poorly.


They also admit, in the complaint, that they planned ahead of time to make a fuss and sue..Before the Parade! "We both felt stressed out about
this whole ordeal and that if we were going to be given a direct order to be in the parade
that our Equal
Employment Opportunity (EEO) Policy would be violated ."

The Parade itself is what they were anxious about on June 20
posted by Megafly at 4:38 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]



Why are you noting how they were dressed? Because that makes it OK to catcall? You should test this theory of yours on women.


If you can't see the difference between catcalling firemen in a freaking gay pride parade and catcalling a woman on the street then I don't know what to tell you.

You're completely ignoring the context. How they were dressed was important. They were dressed like firemen at a gay pride parade. Firemen are definitely sexy. Look at the guys in speedos in the second link - you think it'd be wrong to yell "you make me hot!" at them if they rolled by you on a float in a parade? I think the same general principle applies, and obviously men who are uncomfortable with that should not have been put in their situation. The fault lies with their supervisor, not with the audience members at the parade.
posted by polytropos at 4:41 PM on August 8, 2007


Anyhow, when my dad makes a homophobic comment and I call him on it, he always says, "You don't know what it was like, when I was in the service and walked through San Francisco. Men tried to pinch my rear end."

Haha! My dad was stationed in Frisco in the Navy in the 60s; he used to say he dropped his wallet one time and kicked it all the way to Sausalito before bending over to pick it up.

He wasn't what you would call "open minded" or "tolerant."
posted by The Straightener at 4:43 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


They have been harassed, polytropos. Harassment is define as "Unsolicited words or conduct which tend to annoy, alarm or abuse another person." Or, as in this case, "Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature."
Notice that the definitions refer only to the recipient of the harassment, not the perpetrators. The taunts and come-ons were not welcomed by the firefighters, therefore it was harassment, and it should have been stopped. I realize that it was hard to do, with everyone around them being so gay and proud and all, but that does not change things.


your local firefighters, those who will be called upon to save your life and property, despise you and think you are lewd, debased, and obscene. .

It does not matter what they think about you, amberglow. They might as well despise you, but their job is to save your ass, not to love you. If they don't do their job properly, then you've got a case, otherwise this is bullshit, and you know it.
Doctors are not expected to love every fucked up junkie that gets brought to the ER, pilots are not expected to think you as a paragon of virtue. Neither are taxi drivers or road construction crews. Why would you think firefighters are any different?
posted by c13 at 4:46 PM on August 8, 2007


The Parade itself is what they were anxious about on June 20

Not everyone is supposed to like gays or want anything to do with them. All you can reasonably expect is not to be interfered with.
posted by c13 at 4:48 PM on August 8, 2007


"you wouldn't mind if someone said the same things to your sister/mother/daughter, then?"
Mind? There's minding, and there's filing a lawsuit and using a bunch of homophobic snake handlers for PR.
My sister invaded friggin' Iraq; I think she could handle a few taunts as long as she gets back in one piece, and I think she can dish it back just fine.
posted by 2sheets at 4:54 PM on August 8, 2007


And if you go dressed up as a firefighter of all things, you're probably going to get your extra share of the raunch.

But you wouldn't if you were dressed as, say, a policeman. Or a soldier. Or a construction worker. Or maybe a biker. Or a Native American.

NO FATTIES!

There was a man wearing a "Girth and Mirth" T-shirt.

I've lived in San Francisco for 12 years and no one's tried to pinch my rear end. I'm disappointed in the gay men in San Francisco and/or my butt.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:57 PM on August 8, 2007


c13, I guess we just see it differently. I see going to the event in a firefighter's uniform as soliciation of come-ons and raunchy comments. This perspective is easy to misconstrue into one that justifies the perspective that anyone who dresses a certain way deserves whatever they get. That is NOT what I mean. However, I do think catcalling is an expected response to a fireman who is riding in such a parade. Less homophobic firemen could I'm sure have taken it with good humor.

Really, I don't think anyone is at fault except the supervisor who sent them there in spite of the fact they were uncomfortable with going.
posted by polytropos at 5:04 PM on August 8, 2007


I pretty much have to side with the firemen here.

They were forced--subject to a severe power differential--to attend an event involuntarily, at which they were treated like pieces of meat. While there is a certain poetic justice in forcing men (that's 'men in general') to realize how men (ditto) often treat women (double-ditto), such things really shouldn't be done. Especially when they're being done by executive fiat from their boss, for crying out loud.

Presumably, those who had volunteered to go to the parade knew exactly what they were in for, and either relished the attention, didn't care, or felt it was part of their civic duty.

The chief fucked up, bigtime. Should have called around for more volunteers. Or, here's a thought, called around for one volunteer to replace the one person who couldn't go.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:06 PM on August 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


I see going to the event in a firefighter's uniform as soliciation of come-ons and raunchy comments.

Sure, if you're going there for that purpose, voluntarily.

These firemen weren't there voluntarily. They were ordered to go.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:08 PM on August 8, 2007


when a female is subjected to a "hostile work environment" at her job, sometimes she collects over a million. a million dollars per fireman should be enough to teach the fire department not to order its members to attend any kind of parade.

Listen, the percentage of women who have "profited" off of being harassed by men is minute. It's not just a special occasion "ordeal" women endure, it's a fact of life we are taught to expect. The Bureau of National Affairs reports that 40 percent of women in the workplace have been sexually harassed. Other studies say as many as 60 percent to 90 percent of women have been sexually harassed. If suing actually stopped it for us, we'd all have lawyers.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:10 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]



But you wouldn't if you were dressed as, say, a policeman. Or a soldier. Or a construction worker. Or maybe a biker. Or a Native American.


Ha, yeah exactly. If you go as one of the village people, or pretty much in any outfit which anyone thinks you look hot in, and you're actually marching/riding in a pride parade, you'll probably hear about it. i don't think that's harassment.
posted by polytropos at 5:11 PM on August 8, 2007


Hmmmm. Sexual Harassment? No. A labor rules violation? Maybe.

Nobody should have to perform tasks they find personally demeaning or humiliating as part of their job.

Unless you work for me. Lunch time Cage Matches are NOT optional!
posted by tkchrist at 5:11 PM on August 8, 2007


I understand that, polytropos. Yes, it was a gay pride parade, and yes, firefighters are apparently very sexy (why, I can't fathom) and yes, the participants didn't know that the firefighters were not there on their own volition. And I think the firefighters understand that as well, that's why they are suing the city and not the individual participants. What I find surprising is the offense people seem to take here at their unwillingness to participate, or their being put off by the cat calls. I don't think participation in parades or love of gay people is a part of their job description.
posted by c13 at 5:19 PM on August 8, 2007


If you think that someone shouting "Show me your hose" to a fireman in a gay parade counts as "sexual harrassment," I suggest that you never hang out in beauty parlors -- the gossip there can be "murder."

The supervisor was TOTALLY AN IDIOT and should be reprimanded. But this lawsuit is a hoked-up bullshit excuse for right-wingers to work themselves into a self-righteous froth about gay licentiousness, and for the More Center to get more publicity. Whoever made this FPP should be reprimanded.

Uh oh.
posted by digaman at 5:30 PM on August 8, 2007


Lunch time Cage Matches are NOT optional!

thank you, rex kwan do.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:37 PM on August 8, 2007


I don't think participation in parades or love of gay people is a part of their job description.


This bears repeating.

Yes, they have a duty to be polite to the public which pays their salary. Yes, they have a duty to keep that public safe, without consideration of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, etc.

They are not--or should not be--required to be on display as pieces of meat at a Pride parade. If they volunteer, by all means. And while it's true that the paradegoers could not possibly know that the firemen were not there of their own volition, it really doesn't matter. Why?

1) Does anyone here who has been to a Pride parade honestly believe that if there had been a sign saying "THESE FIREMEN HAVE BEEN COMPELLED TO BE HERE AND DON"T WANT TO BE HERE" that there would have been no catcalls or harassment? Please.

2) The firemen fully understand that the crowd is not at fault. The chief--who is, if I read correctly, lesbian--is at fault. She required her staff to be present somewhere she knew they would be subjected to behaviour that they might consider objectionable. This was a bad call on her part, period.

If you think that someone shouting "Show me your hose" to a fireman in a gay parade counts as "sexual harrassment," I suggest that you never hang out in beauty parlors -- the gossip there can be "murder."

But it is. It's an unwanted remark of a sexual nature. While the intent of sexual harassment laws had to do with power, they have been subjected to scope creep. The current definition of sexual harassment is any unwanted comments or behaviour of a sexual nature.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:38 PM on August 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Digaman hits my feelings exactly.
posted by klangklangston at 5:39 PM on August 8, 2007


c13, I agree. It's certainly not in their job description to be ogled, cajoled and harangued sexually.

Also as racially and culturally mixed as San Diego is, there are still some extreme divisions. It's still a military town, as miss lynnster mentioned, it is greatly Republican, and we probably have more "Cowboys" than Kansas City.

So whatever the cause is for this thing, lesbian fire captain, it's not any good at all for civil liberty in this town.
posted by snsranch at 5:40 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


polytropos: Really, I don't think anyone is at fault except the supervisor who sent them there in spite of the fact they were uncomfortable with going.

I agree, and that's who their suit is directed to. The crowd had no way of knowing they didn't want to be there, or any way of knowing the firemens' orientation, and it was reasonable for them to catcall people in the parade.
posted by desjardins at 5:43 PM on August 8, 2007


NYFD and NYPD guys are much more blase about this kind of stuff, I guess. I've seen Gay Pride Parades, protest marches, Halloween parades etc and usually they're either looking on bored or goofing along amiably. Like matteo said, these guys run into burning buildings and stuff, some dude making kissy-face is small potatoes. Take a tip from the Apple and get a grip, San Diego.
posted by jonmc at 5:47 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I somehow missed that the fire chief is a lesbian. Then I'll add that besides the hoking-up of this "sexual harrassment" lawsuit, the More Center is undoubtedly exploiting the firemen's desire to get revenge on their dyke supervisor for forcing them to look at a bunch of fags.

Scope creep, my ass.
posted by digaman at 5:57 PM on August 8, 2007


This post is awesome. So far I've heard that if you have a sexy job you need to suck it up and get used to it--great news for secretaries, nurses and teachers; that you should expect gay functions to be sexually charged, it's a celebratory part of their culture and they just can't help it; that if other people around you are being harassed, what did you expect; that if you knew it would be like that, going there makes you culpable for your own harassment (even when you were forced to do so); that to be a fireman it's part of your job to be in parades; that haha, it's funny when the tables are turned and other people get harassed for a change; that if you object to harassment it's because you might really want it, or maybe you're just frigid; that if you're a big boy you should be able to handle a little sex talk; that when we consider male sexual harassment, it is important to know if the male's race before making judgment.

This is like bizarro-world FreeRepublic.
posted by erikharmon at 5:57 PM on August 8, 2007 [10 favorites]


I lived on 5th and Penn in Hillcrest for a year and many of the more global arguments in this convoluted thread would be addressed by people personally experiencing the SD Hillcrest experiment. IMHO the "crazy" factor is a bit higher in the SD gay population than in other urban, gay-friendly areas (NYC, LA, Philly, Boston, etc.).

I moved out of my old apartment after a year, in large part, because of community behavior similar to that described by the firefighters. After getting home from work I couldn't walk to my apartment without being lewdly yelled at from bars (I'm blonde and 6'1" so the word "twink" was tossed out a lot) and going to a bar was downright scary sometimes. Being pinned, albeit not-so-forcefully, against a stall door in a bathroom by someone 3 inches taller than you is not pleasant, nor is being called a "fucking breeder" when you politely tell someone you're not gay.

I lived with a gay man for years and lived in some of the gay-friendly neighborhoods of the aforementioned cities. I've never seen any of this behavior as reinforced and accepted as in SD. I think the gay community in SD just isn't as diverse as it is in some other cities and there's a lot of insecurity and juvenile behavior.

I suspect that more issues/incidents in this vein will pop up in the next decade as is to be expected when you have cultures changing.

PS
The weird thing is that a friend and I were having a discussion about Jarman last year and the Pride parade issue came up. Jarman had been doing a good job (fire safety, etc. is a big deal in SD) about expanding coverage and response time, but this doesn't really speak well about her capacity to act as management.
posted by Redgrendel2001 at 5:58 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I read the PDF of the complaints, and I have to say that it sounds like the crew were harassed just as mercilessly by their firefighting peers, before and after the parade. Also interesting to note that every year it's apparently a hassle to get a fire engine crew into to participate in the parade. Basically, it appears that the SDFD has a lot of internal issues. It seems clear they were harassed while participating in the parade, but is that worse than being harassed by coworkers?

"It has been less than 24 hours and I've already received three types of derogatory communication by coworkers about being in the parade."

I do have to say that the complainants (?) come off as a bit whiny, but again, it seems like this is more about the SDFD as an organization, rather than the specific incidents in the parade.

"When I walked into the bullpen at the station I saw the shift commander... showing another captain on the chalkboard how to play craps. This made me even more disappointed and upset. After what we, as crew, had to experience, he was demonstrating gambling on the chalkboard."
posted by oneirodynia at 6:04 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Redgrendel2001: I worked in the West Village of New York and walked down Christopher Street (the major gay cruising strip) plenty of times in the course of my meanderings. I'm built similar to you, although I'm dark-haired and goateed and wear a motorcycle jacket and I never was on the recieving end of anything more menacing than a wink or a smile.

All that sunshine in Cali must be fucking with everybody's heads.
posted by jonmc at 6:04 PM on August 8, 2007


Sigh...not the "SD Hillcrest experiment", but rather the "SD Hillcrest phenomena". Me proofread good one day...

jonmc: That's what I think the primary factor is. The SoCal culture can be absurd at times...
posted by Redgrendel2001 at 6:08 PM on August 8, 2007


Redgrendel2001, I've had similar experiences there. Sometimes there is a real "Aha, the tables are turned!" kind of thing. As if harassing the straight guy makes up for years of hate-crimes against homosexuals. It can be very intimidating, and frankly, I'm not easily intimidated.

That said, maybe some of you guys are right about the firemen being pussies about this. It's not like they were cornered in an alley by a bunch of burley fuckin' TOPS who only have one thing on their mind.
posted by snsranch at 6:14 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


There was no guarantee those men would be harassed on that assignment, because harassment is subjective. The behavior of people in public shouldn't be an actionable legal matter against their employer, it should be reason to call a cop. Harassed at work? HR, DOL, Lawyer. Harassed in the street? Cop.

That said, if they voiced their discomfort and were forced anyway, that's stupid as hell.

Was their truck assigned there as a public safety or just to represent?

And, this thread sucks major firehose.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:15 PM on August 8, 2007


It sounds like just to represent- Engine Number 5 is the crew for that district (or appropriate firefighter jargon word for district), according to the information in the statements. Another engine volunteered initially, and then one of their people was out and the sub for that day refused to work the parade. So the No. 5 crew got the direct order. I'm not sure why such a homophobic crew works in that area, but there you go.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:21 PM on August 8, 2007


Cops get catcalls at our pride parade all the time, even when they're just stationed on corners working. They don't sue.

The ones marching get them too and they don't sue (but those are volunteers).

Presumably, those who had volunteered to go to the parade knew exactly what they were in for, and either relished the attention, didn't care, or felt it was part of their civic duty.

The chief fucked up, bigtime. Should have called around for more volunteers. Or, here's a thought, called around for one volunteer to replace the one person who couldn't go.


That's exactly right, and it's not a sue-able offense i don't think--or definitely not winnable if it goes to court. Community Relations are vital for Firemen and Cops. It must be part of their official job descriptions.
posted by amberglow at 6:22 PM on August 8, 2007


(i'd also think they shouldn't sue the city, but take it to their union reps if they really had a problem.)
posted by amberglow at 6:24 PM on August 8, 2007


They should have gone here: San Diego City Firefighters IAFF Local 145.

It would be surprising that they didn't, since this is directly a management/member issue and about coercion, but i'm sure at least one of them wanted this fight, and that "law center" is one of many rightwing places that funds and pushes for these fights all over the country.
posted by amberglow at 6:27 PM on August 8, 2007


All that sunshine in Cali must be fucking with everybody's heads.

There are a lot of angry people in San Diego (along with a lot of cool people). It's almost like a little slice of reactionary Florida was imported there.

And, speaking as a Northern Californian in Oakland, we haven't seen the sun for days here. Not for more than an hour or two each afternoon. It hasn't stopped anybody from shooting each other though, so I have to reject your hypothesis.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:27 PM on August 8, 2007


Not to toot the NYC horn too much, but is the gay community in SD more ghettoized than in New York, resulting in more agressive representing at events and more overreaction from outside? I'm not suggesting things are perfect here, but it just about every part of NYC, homosexuality is more or less taken for granted.
posted by jonmc at 6:29 PM on August 8, 2007


Community Relations are vital for Firemen and Cops.

What, people are going to start setting their houses on fire intentionally if they think the firemen are homophobic assholes?
Who needs who more?
posted by c13 at 6:31 PM on August 8, 2007


Shucks, when I (a gay man) lived in Hillcrest, nobody propositioned me on the street. I feel cheated. :-) But there was that very nice clerk in Ace Hardware...

Seriously, I agree with dirtynumbangelboy. IANAL and can't speak to the specifics of the complaint, but the management of SDFD seriously screwed up here. I'd complain, too: Sort of like if I were a gay fireman sent to do PR for an evangelical group that tried to proselytize me.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:32 PM on August 8, 2007


I do have to say that the firemen reacted badly. The right thing to do would've been to just joke back amiably and the whole day would've passed peaceably, and suing just seems petty. And firemen are vital to city's civic health so bad community relations is not desirable.
posted by jonmc at 6:32 PM on August 8, 2007


What, people are going to start setting their houses on fire intentionally if they think the firemen are homophobic assholes?

No, but if the gay community and the fire department don't get along, it's going to make life very tedious for all parties involved.
posted by jonmc at 6:33 PM on August 8, 2007


Plus it reinforces hostility and homophobia if the straight assholes run and sue over bs like this like the wusses they are.

Gay guys will not become firemen there now--it's a hostile environment. And if i was a fireman there, i'd countersue the ones suing for creating a hostile workplace.
posted by amberglow at 6:45 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


From the article :
*WARNING EXPLICIT SEXUAL CONTENT*

How disappointing. I was expecting at least a couple of photos with various bits black-barred out. Instead all I got was innuendo and double-entendres, and an edited swear word or two.

I guess some people have varying ideas of what constitutes 'explicit sexual content'.
posted by kaemaril at 6:46 PM on August 8, 2007


What, people are going to start setting their houses on fire intentionally if they think the firemen are homophobic assholes?
It's more likely that when there is a fire or emergency, they'll think the firemen are delaying in responding to that neighborhood on purpose.
posted by amberglow at 6:47 PM on August 8, 2007


the straight assholes run and sue over bs like this like the wusses they are.

As a straight asshole, I'm offended.

*sues*

(seriously, more and more of us could honestly care less)
posted by jonmc at 6:49 PM on August 8, 2007


jonmc, that's my theory. The gay communities in SF and LA have a lot more respect and support from the greater community. San Diego has long been home to a number of polarizing groups, especially with regards to the generally liberal tenor of California. I can imagine the LGBT community in SD feeling a lot more defensive and being a bit more reactionary; that has been my understanding from various San Diego friends that were part of other potentially marginalized groups. For whatever reason, there are a lot more WASP-y Republican types, skinheads, and anti-immigration zealots in San Diego than in other major cities in California.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:50 PM on August 8, 2007


Oh, I don't mean to imply that the gay community doesn't get any respect from the greater community in San Diego; they just have to contend with a lot more disrespect, as well. I'm not sure San Francisco would do a much better job of getting along with everybody if it had an enclave of conservatives in it's midst. I can't exactly say that anyone up here is hugely tolerant of vastly different viewpoints either.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:02 PM on August 8, 2007


anyone everyone
posted by oneirodynia at 7:03 PM on August 8, 2007


Plus it reinforces hostility and homophobia if the straight assholes run and sue over bs like this like the wusses they are.

The wusses have a right to sue. Like I said, schnoozing up to gays is not a part of their job description. At least, as far as I know. If you can show me some sort of contract that the fireman of SD had to sign before being hired that says they have to play a role in masturbatory fantasies of some overly proud gay guys, or be excited to have any other association with them, aside form putting out fires in their residences or performing first aid, I will be willing to change my mind.

It's more likely that when there is a fire or emergency, they'll think the firemen are delaying in responding to that neighborhood on purpose.

If they think that, they have a right and a responsibility to collect supporting evidence and take their case to court.

Gay guys will not become firemen there now--it's a hostile environment.

So you realize that a hostile work environment is bad and should not be tolerated. So the reason that the firemen involved should tolerate theirs is why? Or does this concept not extend to straight males?
posted by c13 at 7:18 PM on August 8, 2007


Well of course, SD was the home of former Mayors Pete Wilson and Rodger Hedgecock. Talk about polarizing figures... OTOH, several lesbians have been elected to office there, too, and there's a history of gay activism there going back to at least the 1970s. The thing is, it isn't taken for granted there like it is in SF.

Likewise, SD is a huge place, geographically encompassing lots of areas that would normally be considered suburbs -- including the mindsets that you don't see in "the City".
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:22 PM on August 8, 2007


Robert Angelo , you left out uber-thief/bitch/asshole, Susan Golding. Otherwise, yea, you're right. I don't usually make so many comments but this IS my home town, and no it isn't perfect. (But we're trying!)

Did I mention the Cowboys? (San Diego is really a weird place to live in.)
posted by snsranch at 7:50 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Like I said, schnoozing up to gays is not a part of their job description. At least, as far as I know.
Community Relations must be part of their job description, as i said above. All municipal service providers and first responders (who are actually local, and are paid by us, etc) have that as part of their official duties, i believe---they certainly do here in NYC. That means shmoozing up to gays is actually part of their jobs, just like shmoozing up to all communities.

Take this: a group of SD firefighters are forced to march in the Hispanic Pride Parade. They get catcalls, etc. They then sue because the Hispanics were so disgusting and vile and ruined their lives.
It's the same thing. Their racism in that case is the same as their homophobia in this one.
posted by amberglow at 8:07 PM on August 8, 2007


Their panic over being objects of attention because the people making them that were gay and not cute girls is not an actionable cause to sue.
posted by amberglow at 8:08 PM on August 8, 2007


Polytropos said:
I grant that it's strange and was a bad idea that their supervisor ordered homophobic firefighters to go to the event, but I see no way that what happened at the parade was anything other than harmless fun in the spirit of the day.

and

Less homophobic firemen could I'm sure have taken it with good humor.

oneirodynia said
So the No. 5 crew got the direct order. I'm not sure why such a homophobic crew works in that area, but there you go.

I don't think it is clear the firefighters are homophobic, as desjardins has already pointed out. Just because someone has a different belief about morality than a homosexual does doesn't make that person a homophobe.

I just detest the term because it's too inexact. People who disagree over the issue of what behavior is acceptable can do so respectfully, and certainly without fearing the homosexual. People who hate homosexuals probably should have a more descriptive term, too. Like homobigot or something.

On the other hand, it's still possible the firefighters are indeed afraid of gay people. I wouldn't call it definite yet, though.
posted by bugmuncher at 8:11 PM on August 8, 2007


Supporting these folks just reinforces and enshrines their badly mistaken beliefs that gay men thinking they're hot is somehow something you can sue about, or some horrible thing, instead of the enormous compliment it really was.

Do they sue when ugly girls catcall them or grandmas? Do they sue when their calendars are sold to men as well as women? WTF?
posted by amberglow at 8:14 PM on August 8, 2007


Also, i bet that just as supervisors are allowed to insist on mandatory diversity training, this is allowed too, as part of that.
posted by amberglow at 8:17 PM on August 8, 2007


Dude, now you're really not making any sense. First of all, your opinion of what their responsibilities should be is not what they actually are. Secondly, if they are forced to participate in any parade or any other activity that is not explicitly stated in their job description, they have a right to a recourse. Thirdly, why would firemen (non-Hispanic) get catcalls from presumably straight Hispanics? At least try to keep your strawmen apart.
Fourthly, it's a little presumptuous on your part to assume that they would enjoy playing a role of a piece of meat in front of a female audience. It may surprise you, but quite a few people are not obsessed with their sexuality, do not make it a defining aspect of their lives and their interactions with others.
And finally, the fact that they did file a law suit and have lawyers representing them quite clearly shows that they have an actionable cause to sue. How it's going to turn out is a different matter, however.

On preview: Supporting these folks just reinforces and enshrines their badly mistaken beliefs that gay men thinking they're hot is somehow something you can sue about, or some horrible thing, instead of the enormous compliment it really was.

Again, keep your strawmen straight. (no pun intended)
They are suing not because they were complimented (speaking of which, it really is not all that enormous), but, as the article states: Participation’ should be a voluntary act—these four firefighters had no choice in the matter and that is wrong no matter what one’s sexual orientation.”

Do they sue when their calendars are sold to men as well as women?

These particular firemen were photographed for a calendar? You have a link to it? Come the fuck on!
posted by c13 at 8:38 PM on August 8, 2007


Their panic over being objects of attention because the people making them that were gay and not cute girls is not an actionable cause to sue.

Amberglow, honey, you are missing the point.

They were sexually harassed. That is an actionable cause to sue their employer, for requiring them to be in a situation in which any halfway rational human being would know they would be targets of sexual innuendo.

I hate to do this to you, but...

Supporting these folks women just reinforces and enshrines their badly mistaken beliefs that gay men thinking they're hot inviting them to perform various sexual acts is somehow something you can sue about, or some horrible thing, instead of the enormous compliment it really was.


Seriously, amberglow, stop being so dense.

Sure, part of a First Responder's moral/social duty is to play nice with the community around them. That's a given. But it's not a job requirement.

And what you are missing is that these particular men were compelled by their ultimate boss to be in a situation where they would be viewed as pieces of meat. They did not choose to be in that situation; they were required. That is not okay. Men can be--and are--victims of sexual harassment too. It is not the sole domain of women.

More to the point: we don't get a pass just because it's Pride. While the crowd was acting perfectly fine in keeping with the context of the situation, the point is--I seem to be repeating myself, but perhaps you'll get it--the point is that these firemen were not given a choice about being there. They were ordered to go and do something which is not, I repeat not actually part of their job description. Their job is to save lives. Period. Anything on top of that is extra stuff they're doing out of the goodness of their hearts--as, indeed, the original crew which volunteered was doing.

Instead, they were ordered to be in a situation which, I am guessing, they would not have voluntarily chosen to be in. A situation which is not part of their actual job--namely, saving lives.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:40 PM on August 8, 2007


their badly mistaken beliefs that gay men thinking they're hot is somehow something you can sue about, or some horrible thing, instead of the enormous compliment it really was. .

Oh good god! Do you really hear yourself?

Gee, what the fuck is the problem!? All I said was that broad had a nice pair of tits. I'd really like to blow my load on them. It was a fucking compliment, what's she so uptight about?
posted by c13 at 8:45 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not to toot the NYC horn too much, but is the gay community in SD more ghettoized than in New York, resulting in more agressive representing at events and more overreaction from outside? I'm not suggesting things are perfect here, but it just about every part of NYC, homosexuality is more or less taken for granted.

I don't know what the direct results of the situation are as far leading to more aggressive representing, but I'd say the gay population here is pretty much located in one area; at least the highly visible portion of the population. Hillcrest is the epicenter, but the neighboring areas are all generally pretty gay-friendly for the most part. As others are saying though, SD encompasses a really wide range of urbanity and suburbia and covers a lot of ground geographically, so there is a pretty good mix. Traditionally, we're seen as a more conservative town, but I think that's changing a bit.

Although I'm a native, SD's population is almost entirely composed of transplants from elsewhere, so it's hard to pin down a typical San Diegan perspective. I was at a party once where someone was complaining about how lousy San Diego drivers were, and I had to point out that just about everyone at the party was not actually from San Diego (including the person making the criticism), and that I too was extremely disappointed that all the idiot drivers from elsewhere move here and skunk up our roadways. Perhaps the same concept applies to political affiliations.
posted by LionIndex at 8:46 PM on August 8, 2007


Plus it reinforces hostility and homophobia if the straight assholes run and sue over bs like this like the wusses they are.

no what really reinforces hostility and homophobia are gay people who demand rights without recognizing that straight people have some rights too - such as the right not to be sexually harassed in the workplace

and screw your political spinning about it ... this is a matter of law and if you don't like right wingnut groups suing over this kind of thing, perhaps they shouldn't be given the opening by clueless supervisors ordering their employees to be in a parade where they are likely to be harassed

perhaps, oh my god, you should practice the kind of tolerance you want others to practice towards you

or is that too much to ask?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:01 PM on August 8, 2007


I don't think it is clear the firefighters are homophobic, as desjardins has already pointed out. Just because someone has a different belief about morality than a homosexual does doesn't make that person a homophobe.


I agree with what you're saying, but reading the PDF's, the impression I got was "homophobic". I could be wrong though.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:10 PM on August 8, 2007


It does not matter if they are homophobic, as long as that has no effect on their job performance or civil interactions with gays. Just like it's ok for gays to think of straight guys as "breeders", or for religious people to think atheists are wrong, or for atheists to think that religious people are deluded. As long as there is no harassment or interference. Tolerating someone or something is not the same as embracing it.
Besides, using one's superior position to require homophobes to be exposed to gays is not a good way to foster love and understanding. I bet amberglow would get his panties in a bunch real quick if his boss made him participate in a southern baptist revival fest.
posted by c13 at 9:24 PM on August 8, 2007


Christ on a bike, the discussion on Fark was more reasonable. If you look at the Complaint you will see that the firemen gave clear indication they did not want to go to the parade, and that they were ordered to go by their employer: that is, attendance became covered by the California equal employment statute, which IIRC includes by reference the "workplace free of harassment" language. It was a given they would get comments they went out of their way to try to avoid. The gender or gender preference of anyone involved is irrelevant.
posted by jet_silver at 9:46 PM on August 8, 2007


Their panic over being objects of attention because the people making them that were gay and not cute girls is not an actionable cause to sue.

Yeah, just like broads will only accuse guys of sexual harassment when they don't think the guy is hot. Fuckin' bitches, man.
posted by Snyder at 10:17 PM on August 8, 2007


I know that Mefi is full of wusses, but give me a fucking break, this is not sexual harassment, at least not in any meaningful form.

It was a couple hours in one day. Afterwards their boss recognized it was a mistake and apologized. That should have been that, unless there was some sort of ongoing pattern of poor decision-making.

The only reason this is making news is because we had a meeting between lawyers with an axe to grind and people who like money.

Unfortunately that's life in these United States.

In San Diego, where this is actually happening, it's getting about 10 seconds of news. It's getting more here because the right-wing assholes who are behind this nonsense are very, very good at getting people like Bill O'Reilly to make it a big story, and then getting everybody else to blather about it, until the city feels pressured to accept a ludicrous settlement.

The right-wing nutjob lawyers thank you for making their job simpler. Especially those of you dumb enough to think that they deserve CASH MONEY for this.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 11:31 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]



Yeah, just like broads will only accuse guys of sexual harassment when they don't think the guy is hot. Fuckin' bitches, man.


This is an idiotic comment.

Women don't go around pressing sexual harassment charges because somebody made one lewd comment about them, or because their boss accidentally exposed them to some horny guys for a day.

Claiming this suit is just like a typical sexual harassment, except with some different genders, is fucking absurd, and it's demeaning to the women who have had bosses who thought they could fuck them, or who created environments where every single day was hell.

A single moderately bad decision followed by an apology is not the same, and you're a prick for claiming otherwise.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 11:35 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Okay, I was joking upthread about how women get harassed all the time. But for me the real issue isn't so much about harassment here. For me the issue is that I have noticed, pretty consistently since leaving SD the first time in 1987 & the second time for good in 1992, that there's quite a bit of xenophobia there unlike other places. To be honest, that's what made me leave. I didn't like that people were ignorant that way. As someone with friends around the world of all colors and nationalities (I mean, I dated a serbian and am emotionally involved with a muslim for christ's sake! Aaaah!) it didn't feel good to me.

For example, in the 90s while watching a football game with former friends, I actually heard one guy say "Run with that watermelon boy!" and NOBODY WAS SHOCKED BUT ME. Nobody even noticed. And that floored me. And after not being home for a long while, I was shocked to hear my father getting a kick of telling me all about the "lesbos" who were renting a place behind his, and then my mom telling me about the nice "black" orderly in the hospital who has been taking care of her, because "his skin is so BLAAACK!" Yeah, my parents are old but I'm just not used to hearing people talking that way anymore. And they know I have friends of all races and orientations so this was them on good behavior!

I do believe that being a Navy town, San Diego is stunted in its ability to be openminded about diversity. That's what I find. So when I say it's like high school, I really mean it... since that's where I went to high school. And this is the impression I have of the firefighters too. They were being teased by their peers and probably created the lawsuit to overcompensate. Makes sense, really.

Walking around the Pride parade myself, I saw men and women alike. I saw straight, gay and bi people. I even saw kids. They actually were all really pretty mellow and pleasant and relaxed, a lot of the event had a family feel to it. More than a few people came up to me and started playing with my puppy. They didn't ever ask if she was gay, either. They were all very respectful. I guess it's a good thing I didn't dress her up in this!
posted by miss lynnster at 11:36 PM on August 8, 2007


Or to make my point using classier language, it's not a hostile environment unless the behavior is severe and pervasive.

In this case the employees in question made a complaint, and after this complaint there was an apology and certainly a change in policy.

This is only in the courts because right-wing extremists want it publicized. This is why it was on Bill O'Reilly and such. It's a lame lawsuit at best.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 11:47 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


(and I really hope the city stands their ground on this one. These whiny fucks, and the sleazebags funding this nonsense don't deserve a dime.)
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 11:48 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


c13 : What, people are going to start setting their houses on fire intentionally if they think the firemen are homophobic assholes?
Who needs who more?


Actually I am certain that part of the formula for getting funding from the city, any city, contains an extensive public relations effort. I am positive the SDFD has such an effort underway and that employee participation in any and all community events which the department has deemed to be a part of that PR effort is mandatory.

These firemen were surely paid for their efforts and were on the clock as part of their normal workday. It is not the case that a fireman's job description only entails fighting fires and saving people. There is an enormous amount of drudge work leading up to the actual act of fighting fires or saving lives. Attending community events and outreach activities can be, for some firemen, part of that drudgery. Some firemen are sent to visit schools and some to gay pride parades.

On the surface this looks like bad management. The catcalls and come ons should have been expected and the manager should have taken great care with placing suitable members of the department in this parade situation rather than those who asked explicitly not to attend.

But she may not have had the staffing to do this any better. I suspect that the case will hinge on what her staffing options were at the time.

We'll find out if a law was broken, it sure looks like it was, as the courts have their way with this. But surely it is very important for the fire department of San Diego to have a cordial and helpful relationship with all parts of the community, including those communities that catcall, if it is to get the share of the public budget the fire department wants. The next time the fire department asks for raises they are more likely to get them if local communities, such as the gay community, aren't standing in the way of those raises.
posted by filchyboy at 11:51 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


> This is like bizarro-world FreeRepublic.

Indeed. But it's a feature of the site--the large fraction of commenters who believe themselves intelligent and progressive but who are unable to apply the same scrutiny to themselves that they give to class enemies. It's the show I keep coming back for.
posted by jfuller at 4:20 AM on August 9, 2007


or because their boss accidentally exposed them to some horny guys for a day

It wasn't accidental. There is no way in hell that the lesbian fire chief didn't know this was going to happen.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:42 AM on August 9, 2007


It wasn't accidental. There is no way in hell that the lesbian fire chief didn't know this was going to happen.

Is there any evidence to support this contention?
posted by kaemaril at 4:52 AM on August 9, 2007


I think the firefighters have a case though I wouldn't rule in their favor. I don't think the afternoon event and the harassment described qualifies as sufficiently severe. It's not their regular work environment so it isn't pervasive. This was an aberrant event and is not the kind of real and harmful sexual harassment that the law is meant to address. They have other avenues to pursue their valid complaint and they should explore them. If this yields no results then a suit would be more appropriate.
posted by effwerd at 6:12 AM on August 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


It wasn't accidental. There is no way in hell that the lesbian fire chief didn't know this was going to happen.

Is there any evidence to support this contention?


The chief is openly lesbian. It somewhat beggars belief to think that she could have no clue whatsoever of the kind of behaviour that is common at Pride events, especially with regards to how men--especially men with a sexually iconic persona/appearance--are treated.

By the way, I hope you know that I'm gay, that this isn't some HURF DURF GAYS R BAD thing. I just think that while it is arguable that these firemen should have a little more sensitivity to the community they serve, it was not their choice to be put in a sexually-charged situation in which they were guaranfuckingteed to receive unwanted advances. They were ordered by their chief, with all of the undertones appertaining thereto, to be present in a situation in which they would be subjected to unwanted sexual advances. Why is this so hard for people to understand?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:42 AM on August 9, 2007


Women don't go around pressing sexual harassment charges because somebody made one lewd comment about them, or because their boss accidentally exposed them to some horny guys for a day.

Heh. You're obviously not an employment lawyer. I see such claims all. the. time.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:49 AM on August 9, 2007


Of course you see them -- it's your job! But when you compare the amount of women who are harrassed to the amount of women who actually sue? The percentage is minute.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:11 AM on August 9, 2007


But when you compare the amount of women who are harrassed to the amount of women who actually sue? The percentage is minute.

That's doubtless true, but also totally beside the point. Tacos was implying that these firefighters are being hypersensitive, and that women in equivalent situations don't bring harassment charges. I was informing him that he's just wrong. Moreover, if we believe the allegations, this is far more than "one lewd comment" or the boss "accidentially exposing them to some horny guys for a day."
posted by pardonyou? at 7:25 AM on August 9, 2007


(Oh, yeah, about that suck it up and get used to it comment. That comment was, taken as a whole, a poorly executed jab at my own job, one which inspires very few lewd comments. Parsed apart, it does come off bad.

I don't actually think anyone should have to suck it up, although I also think that urban planners should be held in higher esteem, as far as as sexiness goes.

I would have cleared this up earlier, but I was busy last night doing things not on the internet. Carry on with this vital discussion.)
posted by gordie at 7:39 AM on August 9, 2007


Why don't they just make the fire chief organize a straight pride parade and put all the gay firemen in that. It'd only be fair.
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 7:47 AM on August 9, 2007


Moreover, if we believe the allegations, this is far more than "one lewd comment" or the boss "accidentially exposing them to some horny guys for a day."

No--it's far less than what workplace harassment actually is. These people were physically separated from the crowd, with no possibility of physical threat or contact, and no implications at all connected to the catcalls. These people were marching as a group in the street while getting catcalls from the sidewalks (and not all the time either). They surely got just as much if not far more applause from the community.

They were not shut out of promotions or opportunities because of the catcalls. The catcalls did not make for a hostile workplace because of the other homophobes in their firehouse--it's those other homophobes in the firehouse who made a hostile workplace, and not the city or the boss who made them march.

Taco is absolutely right. They brought it to their supervisor, she apologized, and they have other avenues for redress, including their union.

And women do not sue over every catcall--we would have courthouse waits 7 million miles long. Every single day millions of women get catcalls on the street.
posted by amberglow at 7:49 AM on August 9, 2007


And women do not sue over every catcall--we would have courthouse waits 7 million miles long. Every single day millions of women get catcalls on the street.


*sigh*

amberglow, please step away from the keyboard. You're just being dishonest now.

Of course women don't sue for sexual harassment over catcalls in the street. They are not required to be there as part of their job, generally speaking. And, more to the point, it is reasonable to assume that any catcalls in the street are likely to be random and minor.

That was not the case here. What part of 'these firemen were ORDERED to be in a situation where it was known they would receive unwanted sexual advances' are you not understanding?

Or do you think that it's okay because the perpetrators are gay?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:02 AM on August 9, 2007


About SD, diversity, xenophobia, etc: I'd say that the character of the town is more nuanced than some of the description here. For example, the District Attorney, an elected office, is an openly lesbian Republican. I wonder if SD reflects a type of diversity that is really broader than places like SF: It has conservatives and moderates, too. :-)

Some parts of the gay community in SD seem very insular, like they exist in a little LGBT bubble. When I lived in North County SD in the early 90s, it seemed like it was very hard to explain to the Hillcrest queens that, yes, there really is like north of I-8. Yet, there were lots of GLBT folk in Del Mar, Encinitas, Oceanside, San Marcos, etc. My ex-partner and I were very active in GLANC (Gay and Lesbian Association of North County), which eventually evolved into the GLBT Center in San Marcos. Yet, going down to Hillcrest, it seemed like we were the invisible people from another planet. Later, living in Hillcrest I never quite fit in so I absconded to Golden Hill as soon as I could. Compare it to living in the Castro, right in epicenter of it all.

I'm rambling here, sorry. Guess my point is that there's more to "Kansas-by-the-Sea" than meets the eye.
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:08 AM on August 9, 2007


really is like life
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:09 AM on August 9, 2007


That was not the case here. What part of 'these firemen were ORDERED to be in a situation where it was known they would receive unwanted sexual advances' are you not understanding?

Or do you think that it's okay because the perpetrators are gay?

They themselves demanded a direct order to attend. They were asked to attend by their boss and refused. THEY told the boss it would have be a direct order.

They didn't receive unwanted sexual advances that are actionable as workplace harrassment, given that they were marching as a group, and all the catcalls and everything were on the sidewalk, with police barricades inbetween. And in their minds even before they made their boss give a direct order and even before they stepped out onto the street, all attention would have been unwanted.

It's called a PARADE for a reason--people and groups PARADE down a street explicitly for other people's attention. Again, i'm sure the applause they got for participating (another type of attention all marchers get overwhelmingly) was the dominant reaction. They are ones focusing on this type of attention. They are ones bringing a lawsuit with the help of the rightwing haters.

Their boss also apologized and also forwarded the case to the SD EEOC. Their management was responsive when they brought their complaint, and a lawsuit is wholly unwarranted.
posted by amberglow at 8:12 AM on August 9, 2007


They themselves demanded a direct order to attend. They were asked to attend by their boss and refused. THEY told the boss it would have be a direct order.


And your point is?

They did not want to go. They refused to volunteer. Knowing that, the chief still ordered them to be in that situation.

Also, distance from those doing the catcalling is supremely unimportant, as is the fact that they were marching in a group. Seriously. Are you even listening to yourself?

Sub in 'women' for 'firemen', and 'straight men' for 'gays', and we wouldn't even be having this discussion.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:38 AM on August 9, 2007


Of course it matters that they were physically separated from all catcalls. Of course it matters that they were marching as a group on the street, and officially representing the firefighters of the city, and by extension, other civil servants as well. Of course it matters that they were at an event explicitly designed to call attention to all marchers.

Of course it matters that there were no workplace implications (workwise, promotionwise, or physical one, etc) to the attention they received--except for their own expressed and explicit hostility--and initial refusal-- to the very idea of having to march in a parade for us.

Now, unless there's some law i don't know of that says that all civil servants must only be treated with respect and applause at parades no matter who they are or what they do, they have to grow the fuck up, and learn that their city is diverse. None of them were ever at any risk of anything, unlike women on the street.
posted by amberglow at 8:52 AM on August 9, 2007


And if anyone did wrong, it wasn't the parade watchers subjecting those poor defenseless firemen to attention--but these firemen making a federal case out out of their homophobia and panic--homophobia that was clearly and directly expressed even before the parade when they refused the request to march, and demanded an order to do so.
posted by amberglow at 8:54 AM on August 9, 2007


Of course it matters that they were physically separated from all catcalls.

Why?

Of course it matters that they were marching as a group on the street, and officially representing the firefighters of the city, and by extension, other civil servants as well.

Yes, that matters, but not for the reason you think it does. It matters because it is therefore temporarily their workplace, and everyone has the right to a workplace which is free of unwanted sexual advances and innuendo.

Of course it matters that there were no workplace implications (workwise, promotionwise, or physical one, etc) to the attention they received

That actually doesn't matter. The point is that we are all entitled to a workplace free of this shit. They were ordered to be there.

Now, unless there's some law i don't know of that says that all civil servants must only be treated with respect and applause at parades no matter who they are or what they do, they have to grow the fuck up, and learn that their city is diverse.

I'm sure they know their city is diverse. And they preferred to not be placed in that situation. The chief should not have ordered them to be there.

None of them were ever at any risk of anything, unlike women on the street.

Did you actually just say that? Are you actually saying that sexual harassment only occurs when there is a risk of something physical happening? Do you even understand what sexual harassment is?

I'm sorry, amberglow, but you simply do not understand what's happening here. You think that because gay men were involved that the response is automatically homophobic. You fail to understand that if we were talking about women, this discussion wouldn't even be occurring.

It's sad. I used to think you were intelligent and insightful. It's become clear that you have an enormous blind spot when it comes to the behaviour of gay men.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:00 AM on August 9, 2007


also, the avenue they march down during pride is very wide (much wider than 5th Ave here) --how could they realistically have heard all those comments? I don't buy it--many if not all of these rightwing orgs bringing suits like this have exaggerated and lied about the horrible discrimination their plaintiffs suffer, all in order to abolish any public mention of gays in schools or streets or workplaces, etc.
posted by amberglow at 9:00 AM on August 9, 2007



I'm sorry, amberglow, but you simply do not understand what's happening here. You think that because gay men were involved that the response is automatically homophobic. You fail to understand that if we were talking about women, this discussion wouldn't even be occurring.

Tell it to the women cops who marched in uniform, and the women and boys in swimsuits or topless or otherwise parading at a parade.

The firefighters were automatically homophobic in refusing to march and demanding a direct order. That's fact. Bringing suit is further fact of that. This is not workplace harassment--any more than booing them would have been.

Harassing is not just simply making a catcall as a physically separated group of marchers passes by DURING A PARADE--get real.

You really think Beauty pageant winners can sue if guys on the sidewalk make cracks when they're in a parade in their one-piece and sash and tiara? Get real.
posted by amberglow at 9:05 AM on August 9, 2007


If those guys grab their crotch? Does that make it harassment to those beauty pageant winners? wtf?

This was a PARADE. People PARADE on the street and others--behind barricades, and with cops around for security-- look and talk and clap and boo and make comments.
posted by amberglow at 9:07 AM on August 9, 2007


amberglow, seriously, you are losing your mind here.

They are suing because of sexual harassment they received as the result of being ORDERED BY THEIR BOSS to be in a position in which any rational human being would know that there would be sexual harassment. Everything you're saying is immaterial. The chief fucked up. Period.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:11 AM on August 9, 2007


...The firefighters were also targets of gross sexual gestures to include the following: exposure of genitals, blowing kisses, grabbing of the crotch, rubbing of nipples, tongue gestures, men hugging and kissing one another passionately, many of them wearing make-up and dressed like women. Although the firefighters were not physically assaulted, the gestures were clearly directed towards them. ...
Why the fuck was men hugging and kissing directed towards them? or drag queens actually daring to exist and be visible in public? ???

This is entirely bullshit, and we are the Thomas More Center's targets: ...Restoring Time-Honored Family Values--
Defending the Traditional Family
Challenging Special Rights for Homosexuals
Protecting Children and Families from Pornography
Equal Rights for Homeschoolers
Security of Families
Block Efforts to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage ...

posted by amberglow at 9:14 AM on August 9, 2007


Tell it to the women cops who marched in uniform, and the women and boys in swimsuits or topless or otherwise parading at a parade.


You mean the ones who chose, of their own free will, to be there?

The firefighters were automatically homophobic in refusing to march and demanding a direct order.

So? They're allowed to be. As long as their attitudes don't affect the performance of their duties--namely, SAVING LIVEs--they are allowed to believe what they like, and prefer not to participate.

Besides, how do you know they didn't have a party to go to? A family reunion? Gathering with friends to watch the baseball game? You don't. Their refusal to march in the parade may have stemmed from homophobic tendencies, but--and this is important--it is their right to refuse to participate in activities which are not, actually, a direct part of their job.

This is not workplace harassment

How is it not? They were ordered there for work. Thus, the parade became, temporarily, their workplace.

You really think Beauty pageant winners can sue if guys on the sidewalk make cracks when they're in a parade in their one-piece and sash and tiara? Get real.

Again, they chose to be there. The firemen were ordered.

Here's the thing, amberglow.

Every person in the world is free to love, hate, or not care one way or the other about gays. Absolutely and totally free. What they are not allowed to do is attack us, be derelict in performance of their duties, or any other actual action. Similarly, they cannot be forced to take action that is not actually part of their jobs.

You may want everybody to love us. It'll never happen. They can think as they please--as these firemen did.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:17 AM on August 9, 2007


They are suing because of sexual harassment they received as the result of being ORDERED BY THEIR BOSS to be in a position in which any rational human being would know that there would be sexual harassment. Everything you're saying is immaterial. The chief fucked up. Period.
This is not harassment. Read the Thomas More bullshit examples and reasons to see the "harrassment" listed.

They want the lesbian chief fired, and this is their chance. It's not harassment to order them to attend a parade, whether it's a gay pride parade or not.

Unlawful harassment is a form of discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal authority.

Unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based on race, color, religion, sex (whether or not of a sexual nature and including same-gender harassment and gender identity harassment), national origin, age (40 and over), disability (mental or physical), sexual orientation, or retaliation (sometimes collectively referred to as “legally protected characteristics”) constitutes harassment when:
1. The conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment; or
2. A supervisor’s harassing conduct results in a tangible change in an employee’s employment status or benefits (for example, demotion, termination, failure to promote, etc.). ...
A claim of harassment generally requires several elements, including:
1. The complaining party must be a member of a statutorily protected class;
2. S/he was subjected to unwelcome verbal or physical conduct related to his or her membership in that protected class;
3. The unwelcome conduct complained of was based on his or her membership in that protected class;
4. The unwelcome conduct affected a term or condition of employment and/or had the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with his or her work performance and/or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

What is Not Harassment?
The anti-discrimination statutes are not a general civility code. Thus, federal law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not extremely serious. Rather, the conduct must be so objectively offensive as to alter the conditions of the individual’s employment.
The conditions of employment are altered only if the harassment culminates in a tangible employment action or is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment. ...

posted by amberglow at 9:24 AM on August 9, 2007


amberglow, you have missed the point by so much I am surprised you haven't come full circle. I'm done with you.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:29 AM on August 9, 2007


Parade=isolated incident, and offhand comments in passing--literally.
No possibility of altering their employment, since they're unionized and protected, even tho they were ordered against their will, which was at their own request because they refused to attend the community event.
Not severe, not pervasive, not based on their membership in a protected class, not affecting their employment or future opportunities, ...

And it was their fellow firefighters who teased them afterwards so it's them who are creating the hostile workplace, not the boss. Let them make a complaint against the other firefighters who teased them about being gay afterwards.
posted by amberglow at 9:31 AM on August 9, 2007


dirtynumb, their boss is allowed to request they attend community events. that's the point. they refused, so they were ordered to attend. that's the point too.

This was not harassment. And most certainly not actionable beyond the usual and multiple channels they have available to them.
posted by amberglow at 9:33 AM on August 9, 2007


OKay, fine, I'm not done.

Please. Try and read this. I'll use small words.

THE. BOSS. CAUSED. THE. SITUATION.

THE. BOSS. KNEW. BETTER.

THE. BOSS. IS. AT. FAULT.

And now I'm done, because if you don't get it when it's put that simply, you never will. Your blind spot is obscene.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:35 AM on August 9, 2007


You tell me what the point is--they're suing because they were ordered to attend this event and encountered things they didn't like. They were only ordered because they refused the reasonable request of their boss. Furthermore, their boss has already apologized and either passed the complaint on to the EEOC or told them she would do so if they want.
posted by amberglow at 9:35 AM on August 9, 2007


That doesn't make it harassment--are you actually saying the boss was harassing them by having them attend the parade? that's crazy, and that's what the law center is saying.
posted by amberglow at 9:39 AM on August 9, 2007


Jesus fucking Christ, amberglow. Are you capable of reading? Or do you just filter out everything that you don't agree with?

The boss ordered them to attend the parade, therefore putting them in a situation where they would be harassed. As was pointed out a lot earlier in this thread, that is grounds for a lawsuit.

Grow the fuck up, and realize that -- guess what? -- straight men being harassed by gay men is NO FUCKING DIFFERENT from straight women being harassed by straight men.

You want equality? That's equality. Warts and all.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:44 AM on August 9, 2007


The boss ordered them to attend the parade, therefore putting them in a situation where they would be harassed. As was pointed out a lot earlier in this thread, that is grounds for a lawsuit.
Grow the fuck up, and realize that -- guess what? -- straight men being harassed by gay men is NO FUCKING DIFFERENT from straight women being harassed by straight men.


It's not harassment, and they were not put into a situation where they would necessarily or even possibly be harassed--to state that is insane.

You privilege their homophobia over their job duties. You enable their panic. You agree with them that we are all about sex, and predatory and were harassing them--all false--especially during a pride parade. You attribute hostile motives to the boss who had to order them because they refused, and are actually saying that she specifically put them in an unsafe and sexually harassing situation. Again--insane.

Our pride parades are not that kind of situation, especially for marchers separated from viewers. Straight people--even attractive ones in uniform--always march in them--and some of them are ordered to too, since it's part their community relations. All viewers watch them and comment or applaud or boo or get excited when the marcher is hot. That's not harassment. Everyone is an object when marching in any parade.
posted by amberglow at 9:54 AM on August 9, 2007


For you to characterize our pride events this way is what's truly blind of you, dirtynumb. To agree with the way that rightwing law center paints them is even worse.

Politicians wouldn't march, grandmas wouldn't march, professional groups wouldn't march, corporations wouldn't sponsor floats, etc, if they were the offensive and sexual events they're painted as. Nor would any of them get permits to be held at all.
posted by amberglow at 10:01 AM on August 9, 2007


I love how so many people are pretending that hostile work environments for women are considered a serious problem and that women who complain about teasing are taken seriously instead of being mocked and losing their credibility and probably careers.

I wish... I'm not even confident that half the people spouting this stuff here *would* take a woman's complaints seriously except to bolster men's complaints.
posted by Salamandrous at 10:07 AM on August 9, 2007


It really is an enormous and pervasive problem.

Things like this firefighter thing are not at all that.

We're seeing the same as this all over the country--pharmacists sue because their job requires dispensing contraception which they're morally opposed to, students sue because there was a question about gay marriage on an exam they have to take, parents sue because there's a gay book in a school library or a diversity curriculum, contractors refuse gay clients, white parents don't want their kids integrated with blacks, christians sue to get intelligent design or bible classes in public schools, ... -- In all these cases, they sue and accuse others of discriminating and harassing them because they're not allowed to discriminate freely and avoid or banish things they don't approve of.
posted by amberglow at 10:22 AM on August 9, 2007


Oh for God's sake, amberglow.

Sexual harassment is defined in terms of the perception of the harassed person, and not in the intent. I have said repeatedly that the paradegoers were acting perfectly fine in the context. The firemen, however, were forced to be there--they were not given the option.

You privilege their homophobia over their job duties.

Their job duties are to save lives. As long as they evince no homophobia or discrimination in execution of their duties, I'm good.

You enable their panic.

I recognize their right to be free of unwanted sexual advances.

You agree with them that we are all about sex, and predatory and were harassing them--all false--especially during a pride parade.

No. I am saying that they felt harassed, in a situation they were forced to be in, and would not have participated in voluntarily. And, more to the point, should not have been forced into. Winning hearts and minds takes time, not brute force.

You attribute hostile motives to the boss who had to order them because they refused

No, I attribute stupidity to the boss.


and are actually saying that she specifically put them in an unsafe and sexually harassing situation.

Did I say unsafe? No, no I did not. You're already telling me what I think--erroneously--and I would appreciate it if you didn't put words in my mouth.

I'm not saying she went "Heh, heh! I'll give these guys a taste of their own medicine!". I'm saying that there is no way she could not have known 1) the kind of behaviour they woud be subject to (behaviour, I add again, that is perfectly fine within the context of Pride and those who voluntarily choose to be there), and 2) that these guys, particularly in light of them refusing to go voluntarily, would react poorly.

Straight people--even attractive ones in uniform--always march in them--and some of them are ordered to too, since it's part their community relations.

They should not be ordered, as such duties are not actually part of their jobs. Community outreach? Sure. Being forced to support something they don't believe in? No. Again, as long as discrimination never enters the actual fulfilment of their duties, they are by and large private citizens who are--must be!--permitted to think and believe as they wish, so long as they remain within the bounds of the law. That's really the whole point of freedom of thought.

All viewers watch them and comment or applaud or boo or get excited when the marcher is hot. That's not harassment.

Isn't it? How is it not harassment when you are forced by your boss to be in a situation where you are subjected to unwanted sexual advances and comments?

Everyone is an object when marching in any parade.

You are forgetting the crucial element of choice.

Politicians wouldn't march, grandmas wouldn't march, professional groups wouldn't march, corporations wouldn't sponsor floats, etc, if they were the offensive and sexual events they're painted as.

I didn't paint this as an offensive event. But you cannot deny that there is an enormous sexual component to Pride.

Pride is offensive to some people. And what you're forgetting is that they are allowed to be offended, and they are allowed to choose to not participate. Marching in a parade is no more an official duty of firefighters than helping old ladies cross the street or raising money for charity. Sure, a lot of them do it by choice, but they should never be compelled.

pharmacists sue because their job requires dispensing contraception which they're morally opposed to

Which they should not be allowed to do. Dispensing medication is a core job requirement. Similarly, if these firemen refused to save a gay person from a fire, they should be fired immediately. Marching in a parade is not, however, a core job requirement.

One could also argue that their First Amendment rights are being infringed, by forcing them to implicitly show support--again, outside their core job requirements--for something they may well not support.

students sue because there was a question about gay marriage on an exam they have to take, parents sue because there's a gay book in a school library or a diversity curriculum

Those are stupid, and should be thrown out as the nonsense claims they are.

In all these cases, they sue and accuse others of discriminating and harassing them because they're not allowed to discriminate freely and avoid or banish things they don't approve of.

The firemen are not claiming discrimination. They are claiming they were ordered into a situation, against their will, where they were subjected to what was reasonable behaviour on the part of the participants, but was considered harassment by the claimants.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:04 AM on August 9, 2007


Thread summary: dirtynumbangelboy is right, and amberglow is wrong. tkchrist is, for no apparent reason, baiting people.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 12:49 PM on August 9, 2007


dirtynumb, their boss is allowed to request they attend community events. that's the point. they refused, so they were ordered to attend. that's the point too.

So, is a conservative Christian fire chief allowed to send gay firefighters, regardless of those firefighters wishes, to an evangelical picnic where they are proselytized at (as Robert Angelo mentions)?
posted by Snyder at 1:20 PM on August 9, 2007


So, is a conservative Christian fire chief allowed to send gay firefighters, regardless of those firefighters wishes, to an evangelical picnic where they are proselytized at (as Robert Angelo mentions)?

Any fire chief is allowed to order their staff to attend any community events. And there's no certainty that they will be proselytized at all in that instance. It doesn't matter what kind of fire chief they have. This SD chief did not act the way she did because she's a lesbian.
posted by amberglow at 1:40 PM on August 9, 2007


And those firemen feeling harassed doesn't mean they actually were harassed. That's really important, and being ignored by some here. Plus, their jobs are not just to fight fires.

The opportunities for redress they already have would take care of their feelings. They weren't harassed in fact or in law.
posted by amberglow at 1:43 PM on August 9, 2007


Where the hell did anyone say that, amberglow?

The only thing I said even remotely close to that was that she should have known better, being a lesbian and presumably knowing what Pride is like. Could you please stop with the strawmen, and actually discuss the actual points which have actually been raised?

And, seriously, why is the fire chief allowed to order their staff to attend community events? That is not their job. Ask for volunteers, sure. That not only shows community involvement, but ensures you will get the people at the events who will be most energetic in representing your department. But requiring them to be at events which are not part of their actual job duties? It smacks of your boss ordering your division to attend her daughter's Little League games as a show of support. It's just not on.

And those firemen feeling harassed doesn't mean they actually were harassed. That's really important, and being ignored by some here.

Dear God. Can you even hear yourself? "Just because that secretary felt harassed when a bunch of guys in the office told her she had a great rack doesn't mean she actually was harassed."

They weren't harassed in fact or in law.

The fact that they have been allowed to progress with the suit would appear to indicate otherwise.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:45 PM on August 9, 2007


Pride is offensive to some people. And what you're forgetting is that they are allowed to be offended, and they are allowed to choose to not participate. Marching in a parade is no more an official duty of firefighters than helping old ladies cross the street or raising money for charity. Sure, a lot of them do it by choice, but they should never be compelled.

You're wrong--they're not allowed to choose not to participate when it's part of their job. Cops are not allowed to say "no! i won't patrol during pride" when they are assigned to do so. Firemen who are ordered places are not allowed to say no either. It doesn't matter if they find it offensive or not--they have jobs to do and part of those jobs includes duties they might not like. Too bad for them.

This is exactly like the pharmacist case. This isn't about core job functions versus other job functions--It's about doing your entire job.
posted by amberglow at 1:47 PM on August 9, 2007


Where the hell did anyone say that, amberglow?

The only thing I said even remotely close to that was that she should have known better, being a lesbian and presumably knowing what Pride is like. Could you please stop with the strawmen, and actually discuss the actual points which have actually been raised?


It was raised--try reading the question about the Christian fire chief.
I was asked something.

And, seriously, why is the fire chief allowed to order their staff to attend community events? That is not their job. Ask for volunteers, sure. That not only shows community involvement, but ensures you will get the people at the events who will be most energetic in representing your department. But requiring them to be at events which are not part of their actual job duties? It smacks of your boss ordering your division to attend her daughter's Little League games as a show of support. It's just not on.
Then change the job descriptions for civil servants who interact with the entire public daily. All cops and firemen do these things all the time--as part of their jobs. It's no secret.
posted by amberglow at 1:50 PM on August 9, 2007


Also, many people dislike other people. That's too damn bad--especially if you're a public servant who serves the entire diverse community, and just because they find a rightwing org willing to make a case out of it doesn't mean they're right or that it's valid.

This is not at all like women getting harassed on the job. Stating it is or using their experiences as a comparable example to these homophobes is laughable.
posted by amberglow at 1:54 PM on August 9, 2007


[a lot of stupid comments removed -- any more goes to metatalk or banning will comments, be cool and stick to the topic, or another topic, but quit directly going after other people in the thread, period.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:56 PM on August 9, 2007


Chiming in to say that dirtynumbangelboy is making a hell of a lot of sense. The chief screwed up badly when she ordered those firefighters to attend the parade. This wasn't just a case of meeting a variety of people, gay and straight, in a relaxed environment. This was a huge, exuberant, outdoor party with a hell of a lot of sexual content and context. Most community events are not that overtly sexual, and I think it's really stretching things to make attending a Pride parade part of the official firefighter duties.
posted by maudlin at 1:59 PM on August 9, 2007


amberglow, my comment was in regards to your ridiculous strawman "This SD chief did not act the way she did because she's a lesbian."


Cops are not allowed to say "no! i won't patrol during pride" when they are assigned to do so.

Because patrolling and providing public safety without favour or discrimination is their job, for crying out loud.

Marching, under orders, in a parade is not a job requirement.

This is not at all like women getting harassed on the job. Stating it is or using their experiences as a comparable example to these homophobes is laughable.

Why is it not? They were required, wrongly, to be there as an execution of their duties. How, precisely, does that make it not a workplace issue?

This is exactly like the pharmacist case. This isn't about core job functions versus other job functions--It's about doing your entire job.


No, it really isn't. The core job function of a pharmacist is to dispense medication that is prescribed by a duly authorized medical practitioner.

The core job function of a firefighter is to be a First Responder to an emergent event.

Some pharmacists, and some firefighters, take on other duties--community outreach, counselling, marching in parades. But to try and say that they should be forced to do things is not acceptable. And, I believe, could very seriously be considered an infringement on their freedoms of speech and association.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:09 PM on August 9, 2007


Most community events are not that overtly sexual, and I think it's really stretching things to make attending a Pride parade part of the official firefighter duties.


maudlin, I don't really think that Pride is any different from any other community event. They shouldn't be required to be at any event which does not bear on their actual job responsibilities, period. Everyone here--especially amberglow, I suspect--would be up in arms if firemen were required to take part in a parade extolling the dubious virtues of, say, white power or evangelical Christianity. Fire--and police--departments are/should be apolitical entities which serve the public. If some want to volunteer, that's fine.

The only time I could see required attendance would be, hypothetically, a community Health and Safety fair. That bears directly on a firefighter's responsibilities--learn basic first aid from a firefighter! Let a firefighter help you put together an escape plan for your house! Come get your smoke alarms tested! -- this makes sense, I think. Pride? No.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:13 PM on August 9, 2007


The boss made a mistake, the boss apologised.

Considering this event had no effect on their day to day working lives this lawsuit comes across as pure spite cause they were told to do something they didn't like.

They sound like fucking teenagers, what adult doesn't realise that life, especially work, sometimes involves things you don't like? I would have thought a group of people who risk their lives for a living wouldn't be such wimps.

And please don't change any words to black people or women or tiny little bunnies to make a point.

These guys were never in any jepordy, they could not be so much as touched, they admit they only got comments from some of the crowd and the whole event lasted for maybe an afternoon.

Grow the fuck up.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:14 PM on August 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Marching, under orders, in a parade is not a job requirement.

You haven't actually provided proof of that anywhere.

Not saying you are definately wrong, but you might be. Without proof neither you nor anybody else knows.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:17 PM on August 9, 2007


Marching, under orders, in a parade is not a job requirement

Apologies for the triple but does the above seem odd to anyone else?

I mean that the firemen didn't want to attend the parade but they did once ordered.

If this was not a job requirement then surely they could have still refused.

At my job cleaning the toilet definately is not a job requirement, if my boss tells me to i'm telling him no. If he then orders me to clean the crapper i'm still telling him no because i know its not part of my job and my boss has no authority to force me to.

So why would the firemen attend if they were opposed to it and it wasn't a job requirement?
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:36 PM on August 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I don't think it's as cut-and-dried as dirtynumbangelboy is portraying it. To me, it falls to one question: Is attending community events a part of a firefighter's job description? Because if so, there's nothing that I would consider to be actionable (not a lawyer, etc). What if firefighters had to respond past the parade to fight a fire? They're being subjected to the same level of potentially harassing behavior, but that's clearly a part of their job and just as clearly isn't a problem.

And just for clarity, I don't think I'd have a different answer if these were female firefighters at a construction worker's parade or some such reversal. It's reasonable to assume that the job of a firefighter includes community service, and that includes the entire community. You don't get to pick-and-chose to interact with half your community any more than you get to pick and chose which fires to respond to. Could the chief have been more sensitive? Sure, and that *might* be an internal labor/union issue.

If it's not part of their job, it's definitely a labor issue, they were coerced into a potentially hostile/harassing situation. Either way, a lawsuit seems like overkill, but that's the law and their prerogative.
posted by Skorgu at 2:37 PM on August 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just to expand on my points against the suit and reiterate what's been scattered through the comments:

I have no problem conceding that the men were harassed and the harassment was sexual in nature, even though I think it can be argued otherwise. And that it occurred as a direct result of an order given them by their superior, which is established fact. But that's not all there is to determining if the case has merit, we still need to determine if and how this case fits into the statutory scope of the law in question.

Did the chief use this to extort anything from the men? No, and no one is claiming this. Is this case indicative of a pervasive hostile environment? No. It was an afternoon event that the men were ordered to go to because of an unforeseen cancellation. Okay, despite that, was the harassment severe enough to warrant the suit? The men admit that the harassment came from a few individuals. The content of the harassment was arguably tame and certainly not unexpected or unusual for such a public event. There was no real threat posed. I can't see how this could be considered severe.

Finally, I think you really have to consider what other avenues of redress these men had and would they have conceivably solved the problem without the need for litigation? Emphatically, yes. A simple formal complaint would have easily compelled the proper reprimands and apologies. And if it didn't, at least they'd be getting closer to demonstrating a pervasive hostile environment and have a better case to bring before a court.

Maybe these last few points aren't really for the court's consideration, I think this case is pretty transparent, though.
posted by effwerd at 4:01 PM on August 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


... what adult doesn't realise that life, especially work, sometimes involves things you don't like? I would have thought a group of people who risk their lives for a living wouldn't be such wimps.

And please don't change any words to black people or women or tiny little bunnies to make a point.

These guys were never in any jepordy, they could not be so much as touched, they admit they only got comments from some of the crowd and the whole event lasted for maybe an afternoon.

Exactly.

Finally, I think you really have to consider what other avenues of redress these men had and would they have conceivably solved the problem without the need for litigation? Emphatically, yes. A simple formal complaint would have easily compelled the proper reprimands and apologies. And if it didn't, at least they'd be getting closer to demonstrating a pervasive hostile environment and have a better case to bring before a court.
Totally.

amberglow, my comment was in regards to your ridiculous strawman "This SD chief did not act the way she did because she's a lesbian."
And that comment was a direct response to a question asked me, as i already said above. They put forth a hypothetical about a Christian fire chief.
posted by amberglow at 4:17 PM on August 9, 2007



The only time I could see required attendance would be, hypothetically, a community Health and Safety fair. That bears directly on a firefighter's responsibilities--learn basic first aid from a firefighter! Let a firefighter help you put together an escape plan for your house! Come get your smoke alarms tested! -- this makes sense, I think. Pride? No.


Except that many on-duty officers stand at hiring booths at many Pride street and community fairs all over the country without problem or lawsuit. They also do so at street fairs in explicitly gay areas as well--all part of their job. They get catcalls too, and they get flirted with. They don't sue.
posted by amberglow at 4:20 PM on August 9, 2007


maudlin, I don't really think that Pride is any different from any other community event. They shouldn't be required to be at any event which does not bear on their actual job responsibilities, period.

I agree, and I wasn't trying to single out Pride as a single, special exception, even though on re-reading what I wrote, I phrased it badly. Firefighters shouldn't be ordered to attend parades, picnics, supermarket openings or community dances of any sort to do things that aren't part of their job responsibilities. But I think there was an extra level of discomfort that these firefighters experienced because of the sexual environment and the sexual comments that arose from that (which, as you said, the fire chief should have foreseen). Being ordered to join any community event that doesn't draw on their job responsibilities is wrong. Being ordered to join a community event that doesn't draw on their job responsibilities AND that is sexually (or politically, or religiously) charged adds a heated emotional component.
posted by maudlin at 5:12 PM on August 9, 2007


Being ordered to join a community event that doesn't draw on their job responsibilities AND that is sexually (or politically, or religiously) charged adds a heated emotional component.

Who decides? Most events are charged in someone's eyes. Everything from the Israel Day Parade to India Parade to the Puerto Rican Pride to the Dominican Parade to St. Patrick's Day (which is enormously political) to Columbus Day Parade to ...
posted by amberglow at 5:56 PM on August 9, 2007


This SD chief did not act the way she did because she's a lesbian.

It was raised--try reading the question about the Christian fire chief.
I was asked something.


Actually, it was not raised, and I did not say that she acted that way because she was a lesbian. I used an similar example where a chief, would be reasonably expected to have some knowledge of what would happen at an event, Like dnab says and I agree with. And you didn't actually answer the question.
posted by Snyder at 7:52 PM on August 9, 2007


Of course he didn't, Snyder. He'd be forced to confront his own hypocrisy if he did.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:16 PM on August 9, 2007


I did too answer the question. Get real.

So, is a conservative Christian fire chief allowed to send gay firefighters, regardless of those firefighters wishes, to an evangelical picnic where they are proselytized at (as Robert Angelo mentions)?

Any fire chief is allowed to order their staff to attend any community events. And there's no certainty that they will be proselytized at all in that instance. It doesn't matter what kind of fire chief they have. This SD chief did not act the way she did because she's a lesbian.


My answer is right there, and it's clear. You brought up a specific kind of chief. Why was that? It doesn't matter what kind of chief it is. And it doesn't matter what kind of chief she is (except to these people bringing the lawsuit and claiming harassment, of course).
posted by amberglow at 8:22 PM on August 9, 2007


I'm sorry--that wasn't actually fair of me.

That said.. you would honestly be okay with that? Mr Keep-Your-Fundie-Religion-Off-Me? You'd be okay with that?

Admit when you're wrong. It's more graceful.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:25 PM on August 9, 2007


I'll repeat the answer:
Any fire chief is allowed to order their staff to attend any community events.


It was very clear the first time.
posted by amberglow at 8:26 PM on August 9, 2007


I should have bowed out when I originally said I would. There is absolutely no point in talking to you if you believe that firefighters should be under that sort of authoritarian command.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:39 PM on August 9, 2007


fyi the job description for the San Diego fire department is here. There's a few different positions, full list here but none yet I found that involve public relations events. *shrugs* it's not impossible that the contract they sign includes more, but I've never heard of any firemen being required to march in parades.
posted by kigpig at 8:46 PM on August 9, 2007


SIT ON YOUR HANDS.

You guys have been at this, filling the thread with catty, pointless bickering all day, to the point of deletions. I'm just here to let you know, as a user that likes you both usually, that you're lowering the signal to noise ratio in here, and teaching us by repetition your worst attributes (amberglow=stubborn, prone to irrelevant departures vs. dirtynubangelboy=deliberately irritating) in this ill-advised public slapfest. Please, be done?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:04 PM on August 9, 2007


Yeah, go molest some firemen and quit bitching at each other.
posted by desjardins at 9:07 PM on August 9, 2007


Consensually, I meant.
posted by desjardins at 9:08 PM on August 9, 2007


Oh, and post the pics.
posted by desjardins at 9:08 PM on August 9, 2007


Anyone remember the show Moonlighting, where Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis constantly bickered at each other?
posted by desjardins at 9:09 PM on August 9, 2007


Yeah, go molest some firemen and quit bitching at each other.

Anytime. Firemen are hot! ; >
posted by amberglow at 9:12 PM on August 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


My answer is right there, and it's clear.

Well, fair enough.

You brought up a specific kind of chief. Why was that?

Because I challenge that you are trying to uphold a principle here, a principle of fire chiefs being able to order their subordinates to any community function they desire, especially if the chief was a fundie ordering people to a fundie event, considering, for example you think a voluntary "Bible as literature" class in public high school is unconstitutional.
posted by Snyder at 10:04 PM on August 9, 2007


Ambrosia, to be clear: the deletions were because another user came in to stir up shit. It actually had nothing to do with what either amberglow or I were saying.

And I resent you saying that I have been 'deliberately irritating'. If you have a problem, take it to MeTa. Alternatively, STFU and contribute something to the discussion.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:28 AM on August 10, 2007


No principle without a power analysis.

The principle these firemen are employing is a valid one. Nevertheless, it's a right wing law centre that took the case, and they took it for the benefit of an agenda that liberals and radicals oppose. Supporting these firemen, otherwise commendable, would feed the flames of homophobia; therefore we should not do so.

Tough shit, firemen. If they wanted to express a grievance rather than grind a right-wing axe, they should have gone through their trade union, which would have likely sparked a useful debate among firemen and even gotten them satisfaction with their supervisor.
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:57 AM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


The principle these firemen are employing is a valid one. Nevertheless, it's a right wing law centre that took the case, and they took it for the benefit of an agenda that liberals and radicals oppose.

and this is where i say that this isn't a good thing, but they have every right of access to the court system that we do and every right to expect that justice will be fair and impartial, no matter what their political and cultural leanings may be

that's not "supporting the firemen", it's supporting rights for all people, even those we disagree with ... even those that you perceive as having "power" as that doesn't mean their rights are forfeit

also, if we don't want this right wing agenda advanced through the court system then people need to show enough discipline and consideration not to give them an opening like that

i'm rather puzzled as to why one would want to make homophobic firemen attend a gay pride parade ... it hardly seems as though it was going to go well
posted by pyramid termite at 8:21 AM on August 10, 2007


i'm rather puzzled as to why one would want to make homophobic firemen attend a gay pride parade ... it hardly seems as though it was going to go well

Of course we don't want to make homophobic firemen attend a gay pride parade. We want to address their homophobia through training. Taking this shit through channels (administrative or union) would likely have lead to such a resolution, in time.

they have every right of access to the court system that we do and every right to expect that justice will be fair and impartial, no matter what their political and cultural leanings may be

Politics is everywhere, particularly in a democracy. The court system is never impartial. That's why the political parties vie for nominees to federal courts. We're not trying to block their access to the court system, but we've got plenty of right to cry Foul! when the More Law Centre takes advantage of their complaint.

When liberals and leftists start playing politics and not letting our principles hamstring us, we will start winning. :)
posted by By The Grace of God at 8:27 AM on August 10, 2007


When you've abandoned the principle of equality (even for firemen), By the Grace of God, it's probably time to ask what you're actually fighting for.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 8:38 AM on August 10, 2007


It's not equality when they gin up an unnecessary and unfounded lawsuit based on their homophobia, even tho they have multiple other options for redress. It's not equality when their duty assignment one afternoon is compared to women and others who actually do undergo harassment at work. It's not equality to accept that a Pride Parade is necessarily a harassing and hostile environment for public servants who participate--straight or gay--as the plaintiffs and this law center does. ...

This entire thing is about prejudice and about their hurt feelings of masculinity and heterosexuality. Equality really has something to do with it, but not in the way they allege or that others here allege. All participants in parades are objectified--equally.
posted by amberglow at 8:54 AM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can't see how I've abandoned any principle. I just can't imagine myself signing on to a campaign that's designed to promote homophobia. Don't you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to weigh two principles, or place principles in a strategic context? This is pretty elementary in my book.

Another example of a progressive principle used strategically by right wingers is George W. Bush banning photographs of returning Iraq war dead coffins for the principle of privacy for the families. The principle of the public's need to know was balanced against the principle of privacy, and won.

In both of these cases I think the principle cited by the righty is being used disingenuously. I won't apologise for taking a strategic position in these cases.
posted by By The Grace of God at 8:55 AM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Supporting these firemen, otherwise commendable, would feed the flames of homophobia; therefore we should not do so.

So you admit they were sexually harassed?
posted by Snyder at 9:06 AM on August 10, 2007


We're here. We're homophobic firemen. Get used to it.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:09 AM on August 10, 2007


Sure they were harassed. And then they blew (pun intended!) their perfectly good case by taking it to the More Law Centre.
posted by By The Grace of God at 9:10 AM on August 10, 2007


In both of these cases I think the principle cited by the righty is being used disingenuously.

They do that a lot. They flip all these principles on their heads to further their discrimination and prejudice. They claim discrimination against them when they themselves discriminate against women seeking birthcontrol legally, or don't want to serve gay couples in their businesses. They claim discrimination against them when they're not allowed to inject the Bible into public schools or mangers into public squares or at workplaces or anywhere. They claim harassment every single time they're even exposed to any homosexuality anywhere. ...
posted by amberglow at 9:13 AM on August 10, 2007


We want to address their homophobia through training.

as long as they don't act on their homophobia by violating other people's rights, why is that necessary?

and what kind of "training" is it that overrides a person's beliefs? ... if they find that you are baptistphobic, do they get to "train" you, too?

sounds a lot like "re-education" to me

It's not equality when they gin up an unnecessary and unfounded lawsuit based on their homophobia, even tho they have multiple other options for redress.

they're not required to give up their legal rights for your political agenda

It's not equality when their duty assignment one afternoon is compared to women and others who actually do undergo harassment at work.

to say that straight men can't be sexually harassed by gay men is to deny equality, period ... and it smacks of heterophobia

It's not equality to accept that a Pride Parade is necessarily a harassing and hostile environment for public servants who participate--straight or gay--as the plaintiffs and this law center does. ...

so gay men can commit sexual harassment but no one else can? ... how is that equality?

This entire thing is about prejudice

your prejudice

So you admit they were sexually harassed?

don't you get it, snyder? ... they're straight men who believe in nasty rightist things, so they give up their rights to not be sexually harassed and have to be "trained"
posted by pyramid termite at 9:21 AM on August 10, 2007


And then they blew (pun intended!) their perfectly good case by taking it to the More Law Centre.

ah, so you're saying that the lawyers there should be disbarred?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:23 AM on August 10, 2007


I can't see how I've abandoned any principle.

First, you exhorted left-wingers to abandon principles when they aren't popular ("play politics and [don't let] our principles hamstring us").

Second, you acknowledged that the firemen are right ('The principle .. is a valid one') but still refuse to support them because they are also supported by some people you dislike.

All of your rhetoric here is of the Bush-esque you're-either-with-us-or-against-us variety ("signing on to a [homophobic] campaign", "supporting these firemen .. would feed the flames of homophobia" etc).

You're painting everyone with a slightly more nuanced, principled position (that we shouldn't visit the sins of the lawyers on the firemen) as no different from the Thomas More people themselves.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 9:25 AM on August 10, 2007


Let's get down to brass tacks.

Let's say some nice, liberal people decide to support this case. They help lead the case to victory! Who's in the news and releasing press releases and gaining donations because of this?

Not any anti-harrassment organisation - the Thomas More Law Centre gains prestige, money and power because of such a victory.

What's more it would embolden people all over the country who are trying to excuse themselves from civic participation because they claim harassment, or opposing views. That includes pharmacists not dispensing birth control and teachers asked to teach evolution.

Bad strategy, friends. Bad, bad, bad. Even Dan Savage agrees - he encouraged his readers to support an anti-abortion Democrat to get rid of Santorum. And it worked!

What REALLY threatens the More Centre and their supporters is that the firemen were asked to this gay pride parade because the gay community has been integrated enough that it's a CIVIC institution. Like festivals of Latino or Chinese culture, the gay pride parade is part of the multicultural salad bowl. The More Centre wants to push it back into the compost heap of special interest status.
posted by By The Grace of God at 9:37 AM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Let's get down to brass tacks.

fine - if you politicize the justice system, you will not have a system of justice left

people, left and right, need to start remembering that justice must be done first ... the political consequences have to fall where they may
posted by pyramid termite at 9:49 AM on August 10, 2007


As Dan Savage said, it's entirely principled to be pro-choice and vote for a pro-life candidate in order to depose a more extreme pro-life candidate. It's entirely unprincipled to be pro-equality and anti-harassment and still refuse to help these firemen because some unpleasant people could gain, if they win their case.

If you abandon your principles whenever they could make you worse off or your political opponents better off, they're not really principles at all.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 9:55 AM on August 10, 2007


Well, using Dan's analogy, I'd see the More Law Centre as the worse anti-choice candidate. They're homophobic, anti-women and extremely political (not for impartial justice whatsoever).
posted by By The Grace of God at 10:32 AM on August 10, 2007


I'd see the More Law Centre as the worse anti-choice candidate.

they're not running for office, they're representing clients

They're homophobic, anti-women and extremely political (not for impartial justice whatsoever).

a judge and jury still have to hear whatever case they bring on the merits ... and frankly, no lawyer is for "impartial justice" for his client ... he wants to WIN

so, are you claiming they should be disbarred?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:55 AM on August 10, 2007


That analogy doesn't make any sense, because the central choice here (analogous to choosing Casey or Santorum) is supporting the firemen or not. It's not about whether you prefer the More Center or the legal firm the City has retained, it's about whether or not you support the firemen who are being harassed.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 10:59 AM on August 10, 2007


Huh. Never thought I'd agree wholeheartedly with pyramid termite, but so it goes.

These men were forced to be in a given situation.

Any rational human being would know that sexual harassment would be part and parcel of that situation. While it is true that everyone who chooses to be part of Pride actively engages and welcomes this behaviour, those who are forced to do not.

Thus hangs their lawsuit.

Personally, despite the political fallout from this, I absolutely support the firemen in their suit.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:44 PM on August 10, 2007


they're not required to give up their legal rights for your political agenda
No, but normal decent humans use the multiple avenues within their organizations and unions and localities first. If they get no satisfaction or solution from those, then they sue. These people didn't even bother--and they have more built-in avenues for redress and official protections and boards for complaints than most of us do.

Any rational human being would know that sexual harassment would be part and parcel of that situation.

This is absolutely false. Completely.
posted by amberglow at 3:47 PM on August 10, 2007



to say that straight men can't be sexually harassed by gay men is to deny equality, period ... and it smacks of heterophobia


No one has said that at all--anywhere.

What we've said is that this is not sexual harassment. I posted the requirements but apparently you ignored them.
The anti-discrimination statutes are not a general civility code. Thus, federal law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not extremely serious. Rather, the conduct must be so objectively offensive as to alter the conditions of the individual’s employment.

posted by amberglow at 3:50 PM on August 10, 2007


These people and their "law center" claim that a couple hugging and kissing along the parade route is somehow harassing them along with other normal behavior--absurd. Most if not all of their claims are totally absurd, and they're just pissed they had to see gay people having fun with their friends and families in public, and had to participate officially representing the SDFD. Too damn bad for them--let them grow up.
posted by amberglow at 3:54 PM on August 10, 2007


All are welcome at Pride Parades and this Fire Department's 15 year history of previous participation WITHOUT INCIDENT shows that they are welcome too.

What was different this year about other people's behavior? Or have parade watchers actually all been sexually harassing all firefighters every single year in the past too? It is not believable.
posted by amberglow at 3:58 PM on August 10, 2007


The parade watchers did not even know the sexuality of the Firefighters--and they never have. There wasn't a sign around their necks saying they're straight boys that precipitated some harassment.
posted by amberglow at 3:59 PM on August 10, 2007


Any rational human being would know that sexual harassment would be part and parcel of that situation.

This is absolutely false. Completely.


Okay, fine.

Can you deny that people in the parade would be subject to sexually-charged comments and behaviour?

Of course not.

Can you deny that some people would perceive those comments as sexual harassment?

Of course not.

All are welcome at Pride Parades and this Fire Department's 15 year history of previous participation WITHOUT INCIDENT shows that they are welcome too.


Who said they weren't welcome?


What was different this year about other people's behavior?

Nothing.

Or have parade watchers actually all been sexually harassing all firefighters every single year in the past too?

Again, sexual harassment is about the perception of the harassed. And yet fucking again, you are ignoring the point of 'choice', as in, choice to be there.

The parade watchers did not even know the sexuality of the Firefighters--and they never have. There wasn't a sign around their necks saying they're straight boys that precipitated some harassment.


The sexuality of the firefighters is immaterial. Nobody has suggested that the crowd knew they were straight and therefore behaved the way they did.

In fact, many people here--myself vocally included--have pointed out that the crowd was acting reasonably in context.

Similarly, the behaviour of straight men at a strip club is absolutely appropriate in context. That behaviour, in the context of a working environment (that is not a strip club, natch) is not appropriate. Point being? The crowd was doing what crowds at Pride do. No harm there.

The problem--and you keep ignoring this--is that the firefighters did not want to be there. In fact, they were ordered to be there. In effect, they were ordered to be victims of harassment that they tried to avoid. Given the information posted above about PR duties NOT BEING PART OF THEIR JOB DUTIES, are you still incapable of seeing how this is a problem?

Again, amberglow, you're missing the point. I'll summarize:

1) Sexual harassment is, in common usage and as far as I can tell in court usage as well, about the perception of the harassed person, and not the intention of the alleged harasser.

2) Therefore, no malign motives can be ascribed to the parade audience. Nor, indeed, are any.

3) The fire crew refused to volunteer for the parade. They did not want to be there.

4) They were ordered to be there.
4a) By someone who could not possibly have been unaware of what behaviour at Pride is like.

5) Behaviour that is perfectly appropriate amongst consenting participants.

6) These firefighters did not consent. They were ordered.

7) The firefighters were on the receiving end of behaviour that to a consenting person is great. To a non-consenting person, it is harassment.

8) Marching in a Pride parade--indeed, participation in any duties other than First Responder & maintenance of equipment--does not appear to be a job requirement.





posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:25 PM on August 10, 2007


We, apart from amberglow, seem to have established that the firefighters have legitimate complaint. My question is, why should the government (whether it's the city, the fire department, the state, or whoever) be paying firemen to march down the street in the first place? (I'm assuming that the marching firemen were not doing it on their unpaid free time.)

Even if they had been volunteers, why should we pay them to attend Pride?

Marching in a Pride parade--indeed, participation in any duties other than First Responder & maintenance of equipment--does not appear to be a job requirement.

I don't claim to know anything about the job requirements of the San Diego fire service, but it seems to me that firefighters are primarily employed to put out fires, and secondarily to reduce the number of fires started. To accomplish the second objective, they do things like going to into schools and community groups and talking to people about testing their smoke alarms, using extinguishers, leaping from buildings etc. This is all good work, and absolutely worth funding.

But surely anything else is irrelevant. It's pretty hard to see how firemen spending a few hours marching around being objectified in the middle of a parade is going to cut the number of fires. Clearly, they're at the march because of the well-known 'hot-fireman' stereotype. In return for the public money we're spending on them while they're marching, the only value they're providing in return is titillation, and although I have no problem with people leering at firemen, that's not really what we have a fire service for. The city's accountants also provide public service, and I'm sure they'd be happy to swan around at a parade for a few hours while being paid, but no one asks them along.

I don't really have anything against objectification — you're free to objectify whomsoever you wish — but why on earth should the taxpayer be footing the bill? The government doesn't distribute free scantily-clad nurses to heterosexuals, so why should it provide free firefighters at Pride?
posted by Aloysius Bear at 5:00 PM on August 10, 2007


Again, sexual harassment is about the perception of the harassed. And yet fucking again, you are ignoring the point of 'choice', as in, choice to be there.
...
The sexuality of the firefighters is immaterial. Nobody has suggested that the crowd knew they were straight and therefore behaved the way they did.


It's not only about the perception of the harassed. Anyone can claim harassment about any other behavior--that doesn't make it harassment, and certainly doesn't make it harassment as the law and courts define it. Simply perceiving that something is harassment doesn't make it true--or sue-able.

The sexuality of the firefighters as well as their gender is absolutely and totally material. Sexual harassment is completely gendered and utterly dependent on sexuality. That's why there's both hetero and gay sexual harassment, and they each rely on sexual advances and/or hostile acts that occur specifically because of the victim's gender and sexuality (and perceived sexuality as well).

They're basing their case on their sexuality.
posted by amberglow at 5:00 PM on August 10, 2007


I don't really have anything against objectification — you're free to objectify whomsoever you wish — but why on earth should the taxpayer be footing the bill? The government doesn't distribute free scantily-clad nurses to heterosexuals, so why should it provide free firefighters at Pride?
For the same reasons cops and firemen and other civil services attend and man booths at many if not most street fairs and community events, and march in all parades here in NYC--it's part of their informational and safety education, and their hiring and diversity efforts.

Also, seeing them at a parade (like seeing them at the block party or community event, etc) tells all of us that fact that all are welcome to become firefighters too. It's very important, particularly in a place like SD which has had many cases of anti-gay harassment in the FD in the past.
posted by amberglow at 5:06 PM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Manning a booth (and presumably providing safety and recruitment information from said booth) is pretty different from marching down the street to entertain people. It's hard to see how much "informational and safety education" one can distribute while being catcalled in the middle of a parade.

As for the recruitment aspect, I can't imagine many people at Pride were considering their career options while ogling the firemen. And how is parading down the street a better solution than just having a stall? The profile of firefighters hardly needs to be raised; every single kid goes through a phase of wanting to be one.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 5:21 PM on August 10, 2007


That's why there's both hetero and gay sexual harassment, and they each rely on sexual advances and/or hostile acts that occur specifically because of the victim's gender and sexuality (and perceived sexuality as well).

wtf.

So you're saying that they couldn't have been harassed if they were gay?

Man, that must be great news to all of those straight women who have been sexually harassed by straight men.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:23 PM on August 10, 2007


So you're saying that they couldn't have been harassed if they were gay?

That's not what i'm saying.

Their case is based on their heterosexuality.
posted by amberglow at 5:38 PM on August 10, 2007


Oh my God.

So you're saying that if I was ordered to go to Pride, and was therefore in receipt of unwanted sexual attention in a work situation, I wouldn't have been harassed?

Give it up amberglow.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:41 PM on August 10, 2007


What we've said is that this is not sexual harassment.

you weren't there and you can't know that

I posted the requirements but apparently you ignored them.

you posted a link to the fcc's webpage, not an actual federal law ... so you haven't cited any law at all ... they are attempting to sue under state law, anyway, so your comments about federal law are utterly irrelevant ...

Rather, the conduct must be so objectively offensive as to alter the conditions of the individual’s employment.

says the person who uses the fcc as a source for california sexual harassment law

Their case is based on their heterosexuality.

so it's inconceivable to you that a gay person could be a) reluctant to take part in a parade where lewd behavior is going on; b) offended by such behavior; c) offended to the point where they would feel sexually harassed?

you're a political hack, amberglow ... the only reason you continue to argue about this is because you percieve it as a tactical defeat for gay culture ... no matter what the firefighters and/or their lawyers may believe, i look upon it as a means of clarifying the responsibilities of employers and average citizens in regards to avoiding sexual harassment

as if gays taking equal responsibility for a sexual harassment free society wouldn't be in and of itself progress towards equal treatment of gays in society

you're not against equal rights for gays, why be against equal responsibilities?

No, but normal decent humans use the multiple avenues within their organizations and unions and localities first.

all that means is that you haven't read what the local paper said about it

it's obvious that they have been going through the union as well ... and in fact, they have to get permission from the state to sue at all

so much for what YOU know
posted by pyramid termite at 8:56 PM on August 10, 2007


as if gays taking equal responsibility for a sexual harassment free society wouldn't be in and of itself progress towards equal treatment of gays in society


More to the point, if you don't mind me taking on: equality meanse equality across the board. That means not only getting the benefits that everybody else enjoys, but taking our lumps, too. The gay rights movement is not--cannot be--selective about the areas in which we become equal. It is an all or nothing struggle, and you should know better, amberglow.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:14 PM on August 10, 2007


t wasn't accidental. There is no way in hell that the lesbian fire chief didn't know this was going to happen.

Is there any evidence to support this contention?

The chief is openly lesbian. It somewhat beggars belief to think that she could have no clue whatsoever of the kind of behaviour that is common at Pride events, especially with regards to how men--especially men with a sexually iconic persona/appearance--are treated.

posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:42 PM on August 9 [+] [!]


So ... that's a 'No' then.
posted by kaemaril at 1:12 AM on August 11, 2007


kaemaril, if you want to play ridiculous semantic games, be my guest. But simple common sense would dictate that an out and proud lesbian would have, at the very least, an inkling of how people are objectified at Pride.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:56 AM on August 11, 2007


... I cannot be responsible for any fainting fits or attacks of the vapors.
...I'm actually fairly sympathetic to the argument that they should not have been forced to participate -- accepting that that is indeed what happened -- if for no other reason than that it was unfair to the parade-goers to be treated to the spectacle of these good husbands and fathers regarding them at their own parade as "immoral." Because that was the reason they didn't want to go. As ABC quotes one of the firefighters:
"I was forced into a situation that would compromise what I hold true and what I believe in," engineer Jason Hewitt said in a statement.
What he holds true and believes in would appear to be that homosexuality is wrong. No wonder they got the response they did.
What this nonsense is all about is another attempt to legitimize the idea that bigotry against homosexuals is an acceptable moral position. ...

posted by amberglow at 11:09 AM on August 11, 2007


amberglow.

Please try and understand this:

They are allowed to think as they please. They have that freedom. So do we. The only time that their beliefs may be appropriately circumscribed is when they transfer from thought to action. If these firemen balk at saving gay lives, if they refuse to offer the same protection to gays than they do to straights, then there is a problem. And since--as has been proven, and as you keep ignoring--attending parades is not actually a job requirement, they were well within their rights to refuse to go.

It is regrettable that they think the way they do. One day, hopefully, that wrong will be redressed. But in the privacy of their own minds, they are permitted--nay, encouraged--to believe as they wish.

"it was unfair to the parade-goers to be treated to the spectacle of these good husbands and fathers regarding them at their own parade as "immoral." Because that was the reason they didn't want to go"

Given that -- as you pointed out -- it was impossible for the paradegoers to know that these firemen were straight, how could the paradegoers possibly have known that they didn't want to be there and in fact disapproved?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:39 AM on August 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, this thread keeps on giving.

From the article linked, it appears to have been Fire Department Policy to mandate participation in all parades sanctioned by the city (which they have now changed). Which means that it was part of their job description, and that if there was harassment, it should be taken up with those who harassed, not the SPFD. The policy was dumb, arguably naive (in that it would have mandated a fire department vehicle if the Klan got a parade together).

One of the best things that could be done is for the organizers of the Pride parade to apologize for the conduct of their revelers.
posted by klangklangston at 11:54 AM on August 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


"And since--as has been proven, and as you keep ignoring--attending parades is not actually a job requirement, they were well within their rights to refuse to go."

Actually, it was. I know that "proven" means something different to you, as in "something I've conjectured and then repeated to myself until it assumes the patina of received knowledge," but you should stop giving Amberglow a hard time over it.
posted by klangklangston at 12:00 PM on August 11, 2007


"their" revelers? I think we have some poor perceptions of public/proprietary spaces in this thread. Why not seek for the mayor to apologize on behalf of his lewd and/or homophobic citizens if that's something you think would help?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:01 PM on August 11, 2007


I was going by the job posting, klang. No need to be such a fucking dick about it.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:17 PM on August 11, 2007


Ambrosia— The classy response would be for the organizers of the Pride parade, who have at least a titular responsibility for those they rally under their banner, to say "Hey, this isn't what we're about, or at least not the primary attribute we'd like to put forth to the larger public." A move to distance themselves from people that did act like assholes, so long as assholish behavior distracts from the primary message of having pride in gay identity. Further, the citizens at large have a heterosexual normative privilege, which is likely to lead to them sympathizing with these firemen, whether or not the firemen were homophobic (and I think they were). For the mayor to apologize would both be bad politics and silly (which is why I doubt the sincerity of your proposal); for the organizers to apologize would be good politics, and would mitigate the public perception of the righteousness of these firefighters getting redress from the city. One of the ol "We're sorry if they felt harassed, or anyone got out of line. That wasn't the intent," would refocus what could easily be drummed up as a "unabashed sodomites" talking point by Thomas More onto the idea that the gay community comprises a responsible part of the multicultural community. Just like how organizers of any ethnic parade always work immediately to distance themselves from any bad behavior at a parade, especially if it conforms to negative stereotypes.

DNAB— You've got, what, like 50 or so comments of being a presumptive dick in this thread? Excuse me for not realizing that you were a sensitive flower.
posted by klangklangston at 12:37 PM on August 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


klang, STFU or take it to MeTa.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:42 PM on August 11, 2007


Actually, it was.

and now the legality of that is under question ... in fact, the city's already changed their policy on that

i do know this - if a bunch of firemen are in a parade and a fire breaks out, what would you expect them to do?

right

if a bunch of firemen are at a fire and a parade breaks out, what would you expect them to do?

right

so much for "job descriptions"
posted by pyramid termite at 1:36 PM on August 11, 2007


"and now the legality of that is under question ... in fact, the city's already changed their policy on that"

Yeah, I think that's the right move.

"i do know this - if a bunch of firemen are in a parade and a fire breaks out, what would you expect them to do?

right

if a bunch of firemen are at a fire and a parade breaks out, what would you expect them to do?

right"

Leaving aside whatever might be drawn from this, it seems like it would make a great chorus for a disco/house track. (Maybe it's that I'm listening to The Meters, and everything sounds like it would be an awesome clip to overlay on some organ+breaks).

"klang, STFU or take it to MeTa."

Fine, take me to MeTa. Whatever. I'm gonna go buy groceries now, my precious pugnacious friend.
posted by klangklangston at 1:48 PM on August 11, 2007


"i do know this - if a bunch of firemen are in a parade and a fire breaks out, what would you expect them to do?
All city fire departments always have extra staff on duty at every firehouse--even during fires--and none of them ever order staff to outside events if they're needed on call to fill out rosters for engine or ladder duties. (They also are allowed to demand firefighters work extra shifts if needed, and/or keep them on duty for longer than is specified if needed--there's absolutely no impact on fighting fires or attending emergencies, and those firefighters on parade would have left if an emergency arose in which they were needed, and the existing staff was short.)
posted by amberglow at 2:28 PM on August 11, 2007


Firefighters, cops, ems people, sewer and sanitation and transit workers, public hospital staff, and many others are actually always on call and can be called to duty even on their time off if there's need.
posted by amberglow at 2:33 PM on August 11, 2007


dirtynumbangelboy: what in the world makes you think it's rational to call people names here and then be all "stfu or take it to MeTa" whenever someone points out your rudeness and corollary hypocrisy?

klang: I know you got my point, but I'll just underline that the kind of PR you're describing is ethically distasteful to me, falls short of my ideals of individual responsibility, and only caters to the bonehead constituency. It's like apologizing for the fucking weather. It feels corrupt. /Dominique Francon
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:55 PM on August 11, 2007


Ambrosia, to you, too, I say: got a problem? take it to MeTa.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:07 PM on August 11, 2007


All city fire departments always have extra staff on duty at every firehouse

that's to make sure there's at least four people around who want to play pinochle

bye
posted by pyramid termite at 3:12 PM on August 11, 2007


Aloysius Bear -- FWIW -- every parade I have attended in Boston opens and closes with an impressive showing of fireman and firetrucks: Gay Pride, Fourth of July, St. Patrick's Day, Bunker Hill Day (and more). Boston firefighters who drive the trucks and emergency vehicles in these parades are not there to to provide, as you put it, " titillation" for anyone. They get paid to participate in these events. I suspect this is the same in many, if not most, major metropolitan centers in the U.S.
posted by ericb at 3:18 PM on August 11, 2007


Fair enough. It doesn't seem like a particularly good use of public funds, though.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 3:21 PM on August 11, 2007


It doesn't seem like a particularly good use of public funds, though.

I think the fire department's participation is part of civic pride/duty, PR, etc. I watched this year's Bunker Hill Parade and there were gads of fire, police, emergency personnel and vehicles, including high-tech, mobile Homeland Security ones that filed by. There were large contingents of active-duty armed forces personnel, including a HUGE contingent of Navy officers and sailors in their "dress whites" -- those from the Charlestown Navy Yard and an aircraft carrier that was stationed in the harbor for a week. I suspect that you'd argue that the use of funds to put on this parade, as well as "people" it with representatives of our local and state governments, as well as active duty personnel from our federal armed services is wasteful. I think most people appreciate exposure to those who "protect and serve" at civic events, as well as seeing color guards at sporting events. Even more so, people get a rush out of fighter jet flyovers for the start of the Super Bowl, the World Series, 4th. of July concerts, etc. In your world that counts as incredibly and unthinkably wasteful spending.

I suggest you take your concerns up with your local government, as well as your state representatives in Congress. While you're at it, tell them what you think of Senator Steven's $453 million Bridge(s) to Nowhere in Alaska.
posted by ericb at 3:44 PM on August 11, 2007


In thinking more about the San Diego firemen's claims of being "sexually harassed," don't they have to substantiate these claims? If so, what is needed to do so? What constitutes "burden of proof" (if any) in situations like this?
posted by ericb at 3:59 PM on August 11, 2007


they can't do it--all they can do is show video of the parade, i bet--the same video rightwing orgs use to demonize us, and that the news used to show every pride.
posted by amberglow at 4:01 PM on August 11, 2007


it's the substantive harm to their employment which is what they can't prove because it doesn't exist.
posted by amberglow at 4:05 PM on August 11, 2007


ericb, I don't really have a dog in this fight, being at least five thousand miles away from California.

But the comparison between firemen at Pride and the armed forces at July 4th parades is false. I think that the firemen were, more or less, the only public servants involved in the Pride march itself (correct me if I'm significantly wrong about that, but it's the impression I get from the links and comments). I'm guessing the whole set of "police, emergency personnel and vehicles, including high-tech mobile Homeland Security ones" were not in attendance. The only plausible explanation for firemen being the only public service represented at Pride is the sexual image of firemen. There's a big difference between the state funding a fourth of July march displaying all the branches of the uniformed services, and the state funding the display of 'men in uniform' for objectification.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 5:02 PM on August 11, 2007


kaemaril, if you want to play ridiculous semantic games, be my guest. But simple common sense would dictate that an out and proud lesbian would have, at the very least, an inkling of how people are objectified at Pride.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:56 PM on August 11 [+] [!]


Ridiculous semantic games? I asked if there was any evidence, yet all you could provide was your belief that she would and/or should have known.

In what jurisdictions are your assertions of what a person should have known considered evidence? Are you a recognized expert in the field? Have you previously testified as an expert witness in similar cases?

Failing that, I'd be surprised if your assertion is considered evidence.

Unless, of course, you can point to something in the state or federal rules of evidence that clearly states that what you believe has equivalent legal weight to actual evidence. Once you can do this I will agree that the difference is mere semantics.

FWIW, this entire thread has well and truly jumped the shark.
posted by kaemaril at 9:11 PM on August 11, 2007


kaemaril, you appear to have confused Metafilter with a court of law. On Metafilter, it's perfectly reasonable to assume that a lesbian fire chief in San Diego will have, to say the least, an inkling about what a Pride march is like.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 4:30 AM on August 12, 2007


I think that the firemen were, more or less, the only public servants involved in the Pride march itself (correct me if I'm significantly wrong about that,

You're wrong about that--cops march, vets, elected officials of all sorts, public service union members, health workers, social service workers ....
posted by amberglow at 8:58 AM on August 12, 2007


here's the lineup from our last NYC pride--SD would have simply been a smaller version of this, but with the same variety and range, i assume.
posted by amberglow at 9:07 AM on August 12, 2007


and the mayor of SD uses Pride to help promote the city. (i'm also looking for the Mayor's resolution declaring the day, week or month Pride officially, but can't find it yet--i'm sure they do it tho)
posted by amberglow at 9:18 AM on August 12, 2007


ahh---here's a rightwing Christian alarmist report about the city council declaring Gay Pride Month in SD--...Mayor Jerry Sanders has participated in eight gay parades. ...
posted by amberglow at 9:25 AM on August 12, 2007


Aloysius: I have confused nothing. I simply asked if there was evidence, beyond what dirtynumberangelboy appears to believe. He was unable to offer any, then suggested I was indulging in semantics. Anyone here is free to assume anything they like, but to confuse that with actual evidence - as anyone suggesting the difference between opinion and evidence is 'semantics' is doing - shows flawed thinking.
posted by kaemaril at 9:52 AM on August 12, 2007


Apparently, "mayor" has yet to become a hot enough archetype in gay culture...
posted by klangklangston at 9:52 AM on August 12, 2007


kaemaril, I said it was a semantic game because the fact of the mayor being an out and proud lesbian should be evidence enough. In the real world of common sense, it would be.

What you're asking for, it would seem, is documented evidence showing that she has been to Pride, or something similar. Don't be so fatuous. You're playing ridiculous semantic games and you know it.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:01 PM on August 12, 2007


dirtynumbangelboy: I'm really growing rather sick of this.

Yes, I'd like some documented evidence from you. That's what I asked for. You could have said you had none, instead you impugn me by accusing me of playing games. I am not.

Prove your assertion. If it's so blindingly obvious to you she must have known it should be easy for you to google her presence at this or any other similar event, or find a paper trial. Or interviews. Newspaper cuttings. Anything. That would be evidence. It is not "fatuous" to expect to see evidence to back up blind statements of "fact" with nothing behind them.
posted by kaemaril at 8:15 PM on August 12, 2007


kaemaril, don't be stupid.

Is it reasonable to expect that someone from New Orleans has an idea of what Mardi Gras is like?

Of course it is.

Is it reasonable to expect that an Irish person from Boston has an idea of what the St Patrick's Day Parade is like?

Of course it is.

Is it reasonable to expect that an out and proud lesbian has some idea of what the Pride parade is like?

Of course it is.

Get over yourself. As someone pointed out above, you've mistaken MetaFilter for a court of law. For something as blindingly obvious as this, a paper trail isn't necessary. If the assertion had been 'well, of course she should know what frat parties are like' I'd understand where you're coming from--the likelihood of her having been to a frat party is nowhere near the likelihood of--let me repeat this again--AN OPEN MEMBER OF THE GAY COMMUNITY HAVING A CLUE ABOUT THE SINGLE LARGEST EVENT ON THE GAY COMMUNITY CALENDAR.

Common sense. Got some?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:25 AM on August 13, 2007


I've not mistaken Metafilter for a court of law. I simply asked for some evidence of your unfounded allegation that:

It wasn't accidental. There is no way in hell that the lesbian fire chief didn't know this was going to happen.

I simply asked for some evidence of this. Your "evidence" was that it's common sense that she must have known, that "The chief is openly lesbian. It somewhat beggars belief to think that she could have no clue whatsoever of the kind of behaviour that is common at Pride events"

I'm getting pretty sick and tired of your rhetoric. Do your beliefs amount to evidence? No, not even on Metafilter. I've not confused Metafilter with a court of law, you've confused your unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations, your beliefs, with objective fact. There's no evidence this woman deliberately sent these firefighters into an environment she knew would offend them, just your speculation that she "must have known".

Is your belief likely? Maybe so, maybe no. I'll be generous, and say yes. Eve so, does it amount to evidence (WHICH IS ALL I ASKED FOR)? No. Does the fact that your belief is LIKELY (and even that is arguable) make it an objective fact? No. I asked for evidence, that's all. You didn't have any, that's all you had to say. Instead you had to mess about with your pissy little insulting phrases. "Fatuous", "semantics", "common sense, got some?".

Your opinion is worthless to me. I assume the reverse is also true, so further discussion between you and I is pointless. Lets be better strangers, OK?
posted by kaemaril at 4:51 AM on August 13, 2007


Kaemaril— Don't bother. DNAB's repeated himself over and over; as we saw for the 'parades have nothing to do with their duties' talking point, that's good enough for him to believe that it's fact. If it wasn't, why would he have said it so many times?
posted by klangklangston at 7:53 AM on August 13, 2007


Guys, Guys? Got a problem? Take it to MeTa. Oh, snap.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:20 AM on August 13, 2007


There's no evidence this woman deliberately sent these firefighters into an environment she knew would offend them, just your speculation that she "must have known".

Actually, if you'll read what I've written, you'll note that I said I don't think that she deliberately sent them off to be viewed as objects.

What I did say was that she should have known, and thus should not have been surprised by the repercussions. Indeed, she should have thought twice before ordering them to be there.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:31 AM on August 13, 2007


First of all, they were prejudiced and offended even before they were ordered to go, and they themselves made that clear. Of course anything they saw at all would offend them.

That has nothing to do with actions of spectators at the parade, and it's not grounds for a lawsuit against the chief or city.

If it was an objectively offensive environment as you keep stating, dnab, politicians and other public servants wouldn't support it or march. If it was inherently offensive and harassing as you keep stating, it wouldn't be used in the city's promotional materials as a selling point and as something they're proud of. ...
posted by amberglow at 11:06 AM on August 13, 2007


"Guys, Guys? Got a problem? Take it to MeTa. Oh, snap."

Are you offering to escort me to the MeTa ball?
posted by klangklangston at 11:50 AM on August 13, 2007


amberglow, at no point did I say it was an objectively offensive environment. I said it was subjectively offensive. As in, it was offensive to that particular group of people who were forced to go. Of course it's not offensive to you if you choose to participate.

In sexual terms (leaving aside for the moment the political and community aspects of pride), the parade can be considered analogous to a strip club. There are people who are offended by the notion of a strip club, and there are people who would find the behaviour inside one to be objectionable. Those people tend to choose not to go.

Ditto Pride.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:13 PM on August 13, 2007


dirtynumbangelboy, you're off the mark and off message. The important difference between a strip club and a pride event is that the latter is public. That's the whole point, that it's free, in the streets, made visible to anyone who happens across it, whether they intended to or not. It's a statement, that the sexuality of the paraders is not wrong, and is something society should accept. Granted, this is territory that by nature borders on the evangelical, and garners a lot of distaste from the "why do you have to push it in my face" crowd, but sympathy for the offended is totally counter to the mission of Pride, isn't it?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:25 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


what Ambrosia said.

The firemen had a twisted view of Pride, and so do you, dnab. analogous to a strip club???? not.
posted by amberglow at 3:03 PM on August 13, 2007


Hey guys, really now. This year was much more mellow, probably as a result of some hideous hate crimes that happened last year, but this is no family picnic.

Honestly I wasn't anywhere near the event this year, but I used to live right there and it can be a serious freak-show. (I don't mean that to be offensive. It's just kinda really sexy or something.)

On the other hand, after mulling it over, it's pretty ridiculous for those firemen to be so peeved as to take legal action. What's next, "I'm not putting out that fire, or saving that guy because they are gay and might look at my crotch?"

(Actually having lived there for so long I can say that I've seen some incredible emergencies, and I've never seen firemen or paramedics treat gays or anyone else with anything other than determination to help with compassion.)

(Only chiming in because I can't believe this thread is still kicking! )
posted by snsranch at 4:12 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


The only plausible explanation for firemen being the only public service represented at Pride is the sexual image of firemen.

You're kidding. Right?

Bwahahahaha.

Let's make sure that the firemen participate in our parade -- and for the past 15 years. We, the organizing committee of the San Diego Gay Pride Festival, request of our city that they send a contingent of fire fighters (yet again), so that participants and attendees can satisfy their fantasies and lust for our uniformed men of service.
posted by ericb at 4:31 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh -- while you're at it, City Fathers (and Mothers), can you enlist that cute cop who directs traffic at Broadway and 4th to march in the parade next year? LuvYa. Kthxgdbye.
posted by ericb at 4:33 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Er, what's your alternative explanation for there being lots of firemen at San Diego pride and not, say, paramedics, traffic police, garbage men, public-sector accountants, prison officers, parking attendants, librarians, bus drivers etc etc? If there was a plentiful supply of nurses/secretaries at a hypothetical FHM march, would that be sheer coincidence as well?
posted by Aloysius Bear at 4:44 PM on August 13, 2007


I didn't say the analogy was perfect. And note that I said only in sexual terms. As in, it's a zone of extremely open and flaunted sexuality.

At what point did I say there was anything wrong with that?

Oh, right! I didn't.

I also pointed out that in a narrow way it is analagous--leaving aside, as I said, the political and community themes and ideals of Pride.

But you'd rather pick and choose what I say. I guess it's easier for you to try and bolster your position that way.

Bye.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:06 PM on August 13, 2007


You said Pride is analogous to a strip club in that some people choose to enjoy it, while others dislike and avoid it. I said your comparison of public vs. private space was poor. Offensive behavior in public spaces are sanctioned by laws against them. If laws were broken at Pride, so be it. Call a cop. If not, the FF need to stfu about getting "harassed" at "work" because, guess what, they're public servants and their clientele is the great unwashed. Ugh, I'm beginning to repeat myself, here. I guess I hope somehow you'll develop perception of the obvious. But with your hysterical imagination...

At what point did I say there was anything wrong with that?
Oh, right! I didn't.


I didn't say you did. I did say you're being deliberately irritating, and I think this passage shows the tone I meant quite well.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:29 AM on August 14, 2007


As in, it's a zone of extremely open and flaunted sexuality.
Bull. And compared to what? I could name 7 million events and sites and gatherings on public space where sexuality is extremely open and flaunted daily, but of course that's just heterosexuality so it's seen as normal and expected.

Because it's the one day of the year when you wouldn't normally be bashed for acting like normal humans who kiss and hug and talk about hot guys or girls or even come on to them? (and in SD and many other places, you get bashed during Pride anyway.)

And if Firefighters are seen as sexy, that's exclusively because of heterosexuals and their open and pervasive flaunted sexualizing of them (not to mention Firefighters' repeated and profitable use of their own hot image for various reasons).
posted by amberglow at 8:13 AM on August 14, 2007


And the majority of all Pride Parades aren't even flaunting anything or even overtly sexual--it's far more community and professional orgs and corporate-sponsored floats than any kind of flaunting of anything. Read any parade lineup like the one i linked to above.
posted by amberglow at 8:16 AM on August 14, 2007


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