What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: nathanielperales
A recent article by the Heritage Foundation provides an exhaustive and compelling list of instances in which supporters of California’s recent Proposition 8 were targeted, harassed, and violently abused by individuals in the opposing camp. While certainly not complete in its documentation of every such occurrence, it nevertheless paints a picture of the persecution suffered by many who donated and worked to support the “traditional” version of marriage.
As has been pointed out elsewhere, the reactionary hostility exhibited by those who decry others for being instigators of “hate”, “fear”, and “bigotry” is hypocritical to the point of saturation. Such individuals undermine their own campaign, of course, by demonstrating themselves to be the very thing that has been suspected of them all long: liars willing to do whatever it takes to impose their will on the majority. Rather than conceding defeat and respecting the will of their peers, they spew their fomenting rage onto easily-identifiable targets, like the stealthy leopard pursuing a vulnerable gazelle in hopes of an easy feast.
Many of the individuals opposing Proposition 8 would consider these acts of protest and persecution to be the "just deserts" of their adversaries—the “price” that is theirs to pay for getting involved the way they did. This intellectual cop-out is simply an attempt to justify the opposition’s abusive and caustic retaliation towards those who voted differently.
The fact is, each person has the ability to choose how they will act and react. There is no fixed price for political involvement, nor any natural consequences to be meted out by those who did not succeed. The underlying claim of “he had it coming to him” is not only incorrect, but the complete opposite of reality. A person who votes a certain way does not do so with the understanding that a person who disagrees with him will throw a brick through his window, defecate on his doorstep, or stage a boycott protest outside his business.
The reactions to those who contributed to and voted for Proposition 8 are neither justified nor necessary. Protesters, vandals, and angry mobs were not fulfilling some cosmic destiny decreed for the donations made or votes cast. Instead, they were acting of their own accord, choosing to violently intimidate other people without any compulsion or pre-defined order of justice mandating it be done.
This “price” for voting in support of Proposition 8, then, is akin to a mechanic working on your car who rips you off and damages your vehicle because of something he disliked. When you dropped off your car to be worked on, you had no idea that the mechanic would horribly object to the radio station you chose, the drink sitting in your cup holder, and the color of the car’s interior you fell in love with at first sight. In his anger, he decided to spill your drink all over the inside of the car, draw obscenities with markers all over the seats, and cut the wires that powered the radio—and then charged you five times the previously-agreed-upon price.
The mechanic and opponents to Proposition 8 alike have chosen on their own to be instigators of violence and vandalism. The human element of this savage response and all the uncertainty it created in the political aftermath of Proposition 8 no doubt led the Heritage Foundation to include these words in its final analysis:
Indeed, no matter who is to blame for the hostility surrounding Prop 8, one lesson of Prop 8 cannot be denied: Individuals or institutions that publicly defend marriage as the union of husband and wife risk harassment, reprisal, and intimidation — at least some of it targeted and coordinated.
The risk mentioned in this quote is introduced by the unpredictability of the hostile response—based in “hate”, “fear”, and “bigotry”—launched by individuals who are hypocrites, liars, and uncivil participants in the political process. Theirs is not the path of justice being meted out as a result of a cast vote, but of a tantrum-throwing juvenile crowd who will kick and scream until they get their way. This is neither just nor American, and should be repudiated by all who esteem the ballot box as being the best method of governing ourselves and determining a proper course of action for our communities.