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Oh, the humanity...
August 27, 2007 12:40 AM   Subscribe

A post and comment thread on BlackProf (a blog run by leading black law professors) regarding Obama fielding a question as to the "homophobia problem in the Black community" [see third video down]
posted by pwedza (33 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Christ, the world is fucked up.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 12:58 AM on August 27, 2007


Only forty-two years since Jim Crow was repealed. Americans have short memories, once they get theirs, God bless 'em.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:05 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not quite clear on what Obama's stance here is, but the message I got through all the circular talk is "We need to focus on more important issues affecting black families, like the fact that black men can't find jobs." (Paraphrasing, of course). So, equal rights for homosexuals is not an important issue? Or is he saying that homophobia in the black community is simply bait for election fodder? After all, there is a homophobia problem in ALL communities, as BlackProf points out.

I did like this bit though:
Perhaps more problematic (and heartening) was a question by the event's host, who asked Obama -- and only Obama -- to compare the black struggle for civil rights with the gay struggle for civil rights. Obama, I think, answered this question with as much honesty and intelligence as it could be answered, and then challenged the questioner to ask the question of the other candidates, not simply the black candidate. Unfortunately, no other candidate was asked the question.
posted by Brittanie at 1:09 AM on August 27, 2007


Wow. Good stuff.
posted by malaprohibita at 4:33 AM on August 27, 2007


All the videos say 'VIDEO NOT ACCESSIBLE', here (most .flv's play fine for me).
posted by Drexen at 5:04 AM on August 27, 2007


I think there are a lot of closet down low chi chi men up in the spot cheerleadin "the agenda" while faking the funk like they are normal brothas. Real n!ggas ain't gay and never have been Keep it real. If you gay and down for that speak the truth and stop frontin. I'm out, its getting too rowdy, already sound like a bunch of females wil'n out.
posted by stammer at 5:52 AM on August 27, 2007


Gosh, this is addictive.

I know that males having sex with males is filthy and disgusting. I can't say the same of Lesbians because we worship the same thing. I can understand the sexual attraction to the female. However since the black male image is being ruthlessly attacked those gay black men need to think about the consequences of their actions. Especially since the media has added to it's cache of weapons against black males the idea that black men are gay in abundance, while they promote the straight white male hero that every woman of every color should yearn for. Think about it. Was Chandler, Ross, or Joey gay on the most widely watched white sitcom. No they were not. Did they have gay friends? No, they did not. Was Seinfeld, Castanza, or Kremer gay? No, they were not. Did they have any gay friends? No, they did not.
posted by stammer at 6:06 AM on August 27, 2007


Oh MAN, and then another guy shows up urging the black community to abandon homophobia and unite against the real enemy: Hispanics! Brilliant.
posted by stammer at 6:07 AM on August 27, 2007


Oh MAN, and then another guy shows up urging the black community to abandon homophobia and unite against the real enemy: Hispanics! Brilliant.

That's just basic human behavior. When I was in the Soviet Union many years ago a friendly Russian said to me, "You know, we Russians and you Americans have a lot in common, we should stop being enemies..." (I was nodding and smiling) "... and unite against the real enemies, the Chinese!"
posted by languagehat at 6:46 AM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm a big fan of the posts by Chi-town Hustler, demanding his civil rights for being discriminating against for whoring with the boss's wife.

That Mel Smith is seriously fighting the good fight on there. Interesting how the original post questions the assumption that the problem with homophobia is greater in the black community, and then his own posters do everything that they possibly can to support the assertion.

Transform or suppress.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:47 AM on August 27, 2007


I should know by now that reading comments like that only raise my blood pressure and do nothing to enhance my understanding of people I disagree with. When all it is is a stream of "gays are like this, and real black men are like this,", and a whole lotta "I'm going to use my religious beliefs to stamp out your civil rights", well, I just end up all angry and hating people.
posted by rtha at 6:52 AM on August 27, 2007


"When I was in the Soviet Union many years ago a friendly Russian said to me, 'You know, we Russians and you Americans have a lot in common, we should stop being enemies...' (I was nodding and smiling) '... and unite against the real enemies, the Chinese!'"

He was right, of course. Those little yellow devils are crafty.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:58 AM on August 27, 2007


first he wasn't black enough. now he isn't gay enough?
posted by bruce at 7:03 AM on August 27, 2007


Those posts are amazing, I just couldn't stop reading them. I do wonder how many of them are just troll bait though. Still, wow.
posted by hojoki at 7:06 AM on August 27, 2007


I'm not quite clear on what Obama's stance here

His stance is he wants a democrat to get elected this time around, and knows that connecting gay rights with black rights in general and his campaign in particular, while intellectually logical enough, is a net loss proposition in the vote-getting scheme of things. Simple political calculation.
posted by scheptech at 7:32 AM on August 27, 2007


A huge chunk of those posts are by the same guy. Yes, there are nutters who want to tie their specific dysfunctional beliefs to a larger identity class. No, you shouldn't pay more attention to them because they fit an idea you might have. The original post is quite insightful on the subject, as you might expect of law professors. The comments page is not, as you might expect of internet comments pages.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:37 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was watching our local PBS station one evening. I think it was Tavis Smiley. He had a group of 3 older African-American pastors/ministers. The show more-or-less consisted of everyone patting each other on the back for their tireless work during the civil-rights era.

And then the subject of gay rights came up. And whether there was any similarity between the fight for gay rights and the fight for African-American rights.

Those men of the cloth...supposed civil rights "fighters"...quickly turned into a hard-core group of bigots right before my eyes. It was sad, appalling, and, unfortunately, entirely predictable.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:50 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Interestingly enough Fred Phelps was a civil rights lawyer before his whole anti-gay crusade, and made his fortune suing on behalf of people of color who had been discriminated against during and after the civil rights era.
posted by delmoi at 8:01 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I so want to change my username to Just-A-Cracker's-Opinion.
posted by desjardins at 8:11 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Great observations in the post:

Capehart's and Obama's statements were made without regard to the consistent record of support that the Congressional Black Caucus has given to equality issues within the LGBT community. Such statements also fail to recognize the diversity of thought within black religious communities, including Jeremiah Wright, Obama's own pastor, who has been a leading light on issues of same-sex inclusion.

Stupid for Obama to accept the premise of the question like that.

scheptech: [Obama] knows that connecting gay rights with black rights in general and his campaign in particular, while intellectually logical enough, is a net loss proposition in the vote-getting scheme of things. Simple political calculation.

That right there is what's so insulting to gay and lesbian voters - the clear statement from *every* leading Democrat that it's not even worth *trying* to articulate a positive gay equality position, not even worth the *attempt* to move the discussion further along during a time we're supposed to be discussing issues. It's cowardice and nothing more. A clear "the laws should apply to everyone" aimed at family and friends of gay voters could overcome any disadvantage. Instead, we get to watch smart candidates lying through their teeth about why they don't support gay marriage.

It's disgusting. All the major Dems are shitting on our heads on this issue. The primary winner will get my vote, but the shitting on my head part makes it kind of hard to get very excited about any of them.
posted by mediareport at 8:26 AM on August 27, 2007


the clear statement from *every* leading Democrat that it's not even worth *trying* to articulate a positive gay equality position, not even worth the *attempt* to move the discussion further along during a time we're supposed to be discussing issues.

That should really read "...from every *leading* Democrat...", because there are at least a few candidates (not leading, but theoretically viable) who do believe this is an important issue to be discussing.
posted by davejay at 9:01 AM on August 27, 2007


Obama, I think, answered this question with as much honesty and intelligence as it could be answered, and then challenged the questioner to ask the question of the other candidates, not simply the black candidate. Unfortunately, no other candidate was asked the question.
posted by Brittanie at 4:09 AM on August 27


The purpose of the question was to marginalize Obama as "the black candidate", rather than portray him as the democrat who has inspired and galvanized the democratic base, and who also happens to be black. In other words, the purpose of these pre-season debates is to establish Hillary as the "official" Democratic Party candidate.

If you look at the practically neocon positions Hillary has taken on many foreign policy issues, you wonder if she's crazy. But she knows that the machine will spin into gear and establish her as the candidate and Obama as the "other guy". Her positions only make sense in a national election contest against a republican, a strategy which only makes sense if she assumes she'll win the primary. And the funny business with the primary election calendar convinces me the fix is in for her.

But this amazes me:
That right there is what's so insulting to gay and lesbian voters - the clear statement from *every* leading Democrat that it's not even worth *trying* to articulate a positive gay equality position, not even worth the *attempt* to move the discussion further along during a time we're supposed to be discussing issues. It's cowardice and nothing more.

The coding in here (not the comment, the candidates' actions and statements) is astounding. There are gay people who vote right? So assuming you are a sociopathic cynic running for office, why not toss that group a bone, some offhand comment about moving the agenda forward, etc.?

Because there are votes not simply in being against gay marriage, there are votes in being against gay people. They must understand or have some data that a significant percentage of the electorate isn't simply against gay marriage, but that they loathe or are repulsed by homosexuality and homosexuals.

This is calculated politics here, not cowardice. As a candidate, you need these votes from bigots to win, the gay vote is either too small or too concentrated in places democrats are going to win anyway that you don't need to pursue it. Now the move would be for someone to call the candidates on this - force them to take a position. But that is only going to happen with Obama, not Hillary, for the reasons mentioned above.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:16 AM on August 27, 2007


Pastabagel: Yes, there are gay people who vote right. See, for example, the Log Cabin Republicans.

On top of that, there are poor people who vote right in direct conflict with their economic interests, and minorities who vote right instead of for candidates that aren't bigoted towards them, and so on. Why do people express surprise about this any more? Hasn't 7 years of W in the white house (especially the last 3 years, since we knew what was going to happen from the first 4) made it clear that people aren't exactly rational voters?

But I think the real argument isn't about getting gay voters to vote for someone isn't a homophobe. There are always going to be enough gay people out there who are (in my opinion) misguided enough to think that someone who will pursue policies that trample on their civil liberties are good ideas for other reasons (whether or not those other reasons turn out to be true, but we're already moving pretty far off topic here...)

The real argument for a mainstream Democratic candidate taking a meaningful position on the issue of equal civil liberties for gay people is that then they could actually appeal to the larger community surrounding them. For example, my mom isn't gay, but she really would like to see a relationship I'm in get recognized by the state someday, like the relationship my brothers have with their wives. And a lot of her friends, if this was described in the correct way, would sympathize with her position.

If we could have a national politician take a stand on something like this, we might actually have a conversation where both sides of the aisle are legitimately taking a stake on protecting family values, instead of the cowardly way that the Democratic party has ceded everything with any moral authority to the Republicans in spite of the fact that most Democratic positions actually have fairly good moral arguments to back them up.
posted by grae at 11:26 AM on August 27, 2007


"You know, we Russians and you Americans have a lot in common, we should stop being enemies..." (I was nodding and smiling) "... and unite against the real enemies, the Chinese!"

We'd still be outnumbered.

As far as the subject of this thread goes? Everybody hates everybody else, generally for no good reason. This is not news.
posted by jonmc at 11:41 AM on August 27, 2007


The purpose of the question was to marginalize Obama as "the black candidate", rather than portray him as the democrat who has inspired and galvanized the democratic base, and who also happens to be black

You think?

You realize that the guy asking the question was black as well, right? Perhaps he was a Log Cabin Republican as well?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:46 AM on August 27, 2007


This is calculated politics here, not cowardice. As a candidate, you need these votes from bigots to win, the gay vote is either too small or too concentrated in places democrats are going to win anyway that you don't need to pursue it.

This is calculation, but not exactly as you have it. I strongly suspect no one really knows the size of the bigot vote. The real calculation is that gay voters will simply hold their noses and pull the lever anyway. And that may well be accurate. Why should the Democrats risk anything for us, if we're going to vote for them anyway just because they're not as bad as the other guy?
posted by me & my monkey at 11:57 AM on August 27, 2007


This is calculated politics here, not cowardice.

My point, Pastabagel, is that there is an equally calculating - and somewhat braver - gay equality political position.

Again, none of the major candidates are even bothering to *try* to articulate to the muddled middle why gay equality is the right thing to do. They're running away screaming from the issue - calculatedly, but still running away - instead of turning, facing it, and calculating how to articulate a winning position on gay rights. It's not that hard to imagine one, but their advisors have "calculated" that it's not worth the effort to try.

Again, that's called shitting on gay citizens' heads. Fuck the people who do it. They've eventually got my vote, but they're nto getting anything more.
posted by mediareport at 12:10 PM on August 27, 2007


It's depressingly unsurprising that homophobia remains more or less unaddressed in the black community, just as it remains more or less unaddressed in just about every other community. There's absolutely no reason to believe that simply belonging to one persecuted minority makes one immediately sympathetic to every other persecuted minority.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:17 PM on August 27, 2007


A clear "the laws should apply to everyone" aimed at family and friends of gay voters could overcome any disadvantage.

Yes, because that kind of approach has been shown to work so well when discussing the free speech rights of people the average voter disagrees with.
posted by phearlez at 2:59 PM on August 27, 2007


phearlez, we're not talking about convincing right-wing fundamentalists here (ignoring centrist Dem consultants' wet dreams). We're talking about convincing the folks in the middle with gay brothers, sisters, cousins and neighbors. All you need is a few percentage points of those folks to overcome the loss of anti-gay bigots who aren't already squarely in the Republican camp.

For just the first example off the top of my head, 70% of Americans consistently report support for a federal law banning gay people from getting fired just for being gay. That's what we call a *perfect* wedge issue to isolate far-right Republican support and move centrist folks over to the left a little. Any Dem consultant who can't turn that stat into a feelgood, vote-getting ad is a fucking moron.

They're not even trying. Instead, they solemnly swear to any Dem candidate that gay rights is the new third rail of politics, and that even touching it is fatal. I call utter, cowardly bullshit on that.
posted by mediareport at 5:11 PM on August 27, 2007


banning gay people from getting fired just for being gay

protecting gay people from getting fired just for being gay, but you knew what I meant...
posted by mediareport at 5:12 PM on August 27, 2007


First, when I wrote "There are gay people who vote right?" it should have been "gay people who vote, right?" I know there are some right wing gay voters (even gay republican senators, from Idaho).

And I understand that the person who asked the question is black. But don't assume that because someone is black they will automatically vote for and defend a black candidate.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:13 AM on August 28, 2007


We're talking about convincing the folks in the middle with gay brothers, sisters, cousins and neighbors. All you need is a few percentage points of those folks to overcome the loss of anti-gay bigots who aren't already squarely in the Republican camp.

I admire your faith that the percentage of jerkbags is less than or equal to the number of reasonable people who need some goading, but I do not share that belief.

Even if we concede that point, this is an issue where one side is highly polarized, full of hate and fear and moral indignation. The other a group that you need to convince to act out of interest for their friends and family, not themselves. One side feels personally affronted. The other does not, and by your definition these are the people who have previously NOT been moved to take the incredibly difficult path of registering to vote and sacrificing 2 hours a year for the cause.

I just don't see that this is a gamble that the smart pol would take, at least not on your side. It's the right thing to do, and I believe there are people who will be motivated enough by that fact to do it. I just don't think you can argue it's a good pure strategic choice. Rousing the indignant will always be easier than motivating the apathetic.
posted by phearlez at 8:26 AM on August 28, 2007


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