Tuesday, June 2, 2009

When the good guys cross the line.

So there's a group in Washington State called WhoSigned.org that states it will publish the names, zip codes, and possibly addresses of everyone who signed petitions in favor of Referendum 71, an anti-gay-marriage initiative currently gathering signatures. Now I'm as pro-gay-marriage as I can be without actually marrying a girl, but this is creepy bullshit.

Petition signatures are public record in this state, and people should stand behind their beliefs. But publishing the names of people who didn't expect that when they signed is a screwjob, and threatening to publish names when the referendum doesn't yet have its quota is flat-out intimidation. It's also eerily reminiscent of what only the creepiest opponents of abortion do. Saying "we don't have to be nice because this cause is just so clear-cut and important" is scary no matter what the cause is.

I think what bothers me most is how little this has to do with gay rights. This tactic would work with any controversial and emotional issue. It's low, it's mean, and it doesn't make anyone look good.

This is a whole lot less "Gays: they deserve to have normal families" and a lot more "Gays: if you piss them off, they'll tell everyone where your kids go to school." And if you look beyond the individual referendum to the future of gay rights in this state, or to actually changing people's minds, that's not a strategy with much persuasive power.

By the by... Whosigned.org is being run by Brian Murphy, who lives at **21 BROADWAY E and has a home phone number of 206-***-6738, and I put those *'s in because I'm not an asshole and I wouldn't want him to be harassed or anything.


  1. I'm tired of fighting the Right's fire and brimstone with the Left's puppies and hugs. I'm good with this. I don't think it should be legal to fire people for their beliefs, but social shunning is effective and (the Right should like this) extremely traditional.

  2. Crayonbeam - Who said everyone who opposes gay marriage (which isn't necessarily synonymous with Right, by the way) is fire and brimstone? I've signed pro-gay-rights petitions and I don't see my home address being bandied about anywhere.

    Anyway, puppies and hugs are awesome. I'd rather be better than the opposition than play the "he hit me fiiirst" game.

    Social shunning is an effective form of short-term intimidation. It's an ass-horrible form of actual persuasion.

  3. A difference between liberals and conservatives in the U.S.: If it's a liberal who pulls crap like this, you get an outcry from both sides; but if a conservative does it, the outcry usually comes mostly from the liberal side. Or at least, that's how it's been in my experience. (I don't consider myself to be particularly either.) I suspect this is because the left tends to value ethics over loyalty, and the right tends to value loyalty over ethics.

    Also, I've posted here often enough that I've decided to stop being "anonymous" so things would be a bit less confusing when there are 2 or 3 other people doing the same.

  4. It seems to me that you cannot, by definition, sign a petition without putting it out there that you support whatever it is. And that, if you're going to publicly support something, not everyone is going to congratulate you.

    And that it would be hypocritical of me to put a pseudonym on this comment.

  5. Saying "you should expect that not everyone will congratulate you" is all fine and dandy if not for the following possibilities:
    Physical property damage
    Stalking and/or harrassment
    The effects possible spilling over to your children, who really have nothing to do with this.
    Making personal information available to people you wouldn't necessarily want to have it. I know *I* have people in my life I wouldn't want having my address...

  6. It doesn't seem like they're doing themselves (or the gay community) any favors in the long run.

    I also think this whole Left/Right thing is a bunch of bullshit. Some people like portraying themselves as victims, everyone likes to have the moral high ground, and most people like to portray their enemies as scumbags. If you can't have a logical argument without reverting to childish tactics, then STFU.

    Most of my views are traditionally "Right wing," but enough of them are "Leftie" that I really wish people would quit trying to categorize things, period. However, it's much easier for people to pretend they understand something when they attach a preconceived label to it (and by understand, I mean automatically reject or hate).

  7. Charles - One more thing to consider is that not everyone who signs a petition is really committing to the cause. The usual petition-signing process goes more like this:

    "Hi there! Want to sign our petition? It's to protect marriage!"
    "Uh, okay, sure, whatevs, you asked me so I'll sign your thing."

    Not everyone with their name on the list is necessarily a hard-core front-line homophobe.

  8. I'm not expert but what kind of record is public if it's not available to the public? People should know this going in no matter what the issue is.

  9. Nothing new. Here in TN, and in other places, newspapers have thought it a good idea to publish the names & addresses of carry-permit holders; good idea until somebody turns it around & publishes the info for the reporters & editorial staff at the paper.
    "I suspect this is because the left tends to value ethics over loyalty, and the right tends to value loyalty over ethics."--you must have your Reverso-glasses on. I find it to be exactly the opposite (btw, I'm a libertarian). When somebody on the Right goes bad, they get it from all sides: when on the Left, the Left scrambles to cover for them.

  10. I must say the attempt at intimidation would really piss me off if I was in that area.

    That petition is not something I would be interested in signing normally; however if the people opposed to it are running with that kind of tactic I might just sign the damn thing out of spite.

    I can't really get behind a cause if the most vocal public face presented is an asshole.

  11. Then people are signing something without understanding what it is. I think I did that with credit card applications in college*. They're lucky they only look like homophobes.

    Also, I'm not sure it's possible to be a little bit homophobic. Anyone who thinks marriage for opposite-gender couples is ok but same-sex marriage is wrong is, in fact a homophobe, if not necessarily a "a hard-core front-line homophobe."

    Now, anon: if the names of people who signed a petition I agreed with were publicized, and they were harassed, I would consider it a terrible thing--that they were being harassed. That they're out there as supporters of this thing doesn't bother me.

    *Not actually true, I read every line of those

  12. NotMe: Whatta friggin crock. The left value ethics in the right! If a right wing politician has even the "appearance of impropriety", he resigns. Gerry Studds, the Congress critter who cornholed congressional pages, never stepped down.

    If I ever experienced harassment from signing a petition, I'd hurt the harasser, then I'd go after the person who published my name.

    Brian Murphy! You don't speak for the entirety of the gay, and gay friendly community.

    Not even a significant section of it. You are an Oswald, you are that so called journalist in a gay tabloid in San Francisco calling for "ALL GAY MEN TO DONATE BLOOD" if funding for AIDS research didn't reach a certain level, by a set date.

    Mr. Murphy you are a sawn-off Osama Bin Laden. I and my friends would feel safer being represented by Jim West and Larry Craig, than you.

  13. the preceeding was a letter I writ the editor of the Review...

  14. The only thing that list facilitates is harassment, intimidation, or "social shunning." (I'm sure other reasons could be invented... believed only by people who just fell off the tofo wagon or have their party blinders firmly engaged) It doesn't say "victim of oppression" so much as "vindictive queens."

    If these people want gay marriage, this isn't an acceptable response. The reality is that gay marriage supporters have to be better than their opponents. Even if their opponents would do the same thing, they can't. Otherwise, it'll be a long road. Yes, it sucks. Welcome to the club.