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kboo presswatch partial script: 2-26-04

culture war
Press**Watch for 2-26-04

It's once again time for activism and protest. It was probably the global eleven million anti-war protesters that prevented Team Bush from following through on their threat to use nuclear weapons in the attack on Iraq. It was protests—primarily women protesters—that saved us from catastrophic rates of cancer, mutation, and leukemia by stopping atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in the Sixties. How many people remember that? When protesters are denigrated as useless or annoying, how many people realize that the eight-hour day was won, and Jim Crow lost, because of protest? There's no end to what we can do.

Resident Bush has evidently been instructed by his superiors to start a culture war. It's a war that will primarily be fought between Whites-- as the whole issue of whether or not to tolerate normal human sexual variation is perceived as a White issue-- and the shock troops will be the reactionary fundamentalist Christians—the American Taliban. Falwell and Dobson and the religious broadcasters are girding their holy loins, you can bet. It's a very calculated act on Team Bush' part, although it would seem to me to show signs of desperation.

In this political context, the first answer to the question "Should gay marriage be allowed?" should properly be "Oh, yes, you did lie about needing urgently to go to war to prevent the deployment of weapons of mass destruction." Gosh, should those darn queers be allowed to get away with marrying? Response: Yes, Cheney will be under indictment for massive bribery in Nigeria. Gay marriage? Yes, global warming is being ignored under the Bush regime. Gay marriage? Yes, there was a stand-down order on 9-11, otherwise the airliners would easily have been intercepted. Gay marriage? Stop trying to change the question.

However, the battle has been joined, and in a nation of 270 million people, the majority of whom are homophobic, it is clear that there will be casualties. Young men and their baseball bats will be the most brutally obvious perpetrators. I have no statistics on how many cases of outright homophobic murders happen per year across this benighted society, but I can guarantee that Bush's announcement will kill. The numbers will go up, because the enemy has been identified by the office of the President himself, and it is now clear in the pointed heads of the queer-bashers that their cause has never been more legitimate. They will kill. They are making plans to kill, right now as I speak; it's statistically certain. Can it be predicted that at least one gay marriage will be violently broken up by some of Bush's stormtroopers, say, Fred Phelps' group? How many people "perceived to be gay" will find their health or their lives suddenly interrupted by young thugs with Louisville Sluggers? It's an issue now. It's now legitimate in conformist, conservative, and reactionary circles to start talking about, and acting on, the 'gay problem.'

Doubtless arbeit macht frei, though. Ya think? (I don't.)

There will be subtler but none the less powerful repercussions from Bush's declaration of war on queers. Conservatives around the country now suddenly feel that the gay people in their employ are somehow part of a 'queer agenda that has gone too far.' Last hired, first fired, as people of color know all too well. For the same reason, it is now harder for gays to get jobs in the first place, because the legitimacy of sexual variation is now in public debate.

But as distasteful as it is to engage in debate on one's right to existence and full civil rights, we must now loudly raise that debate. We must counterattack. We've seen it all before here in Oregon; we've met the battle and won it peacefully, with groups like Basic Rights Oregon—and so many others—and individuals like Catherine Stauffer, who almost single-handedly wrestled the OCA to the financial mat. Now we find ourselves at the barricades again, this time nationally. And the other States will need the expertise developed successfully in places like Oregon and Colorado to beat this issue back—otherwise, they will be forced to start from scratch, with their opponents several moves and millions of dollars ahead of them. But we know we can win this battle, if we fight it on the basis of fairness and education. That's what has swayed Oregonians in the past, and it will work on Americans generally, because everyone wants to be fair or at least perceived as fair, and there is a transparent meanness and disproportion to this Federal war on queers. Polls worded carefully do show a majority of Americans are against gay marriage, but what would the polls show if the question were worded, "Do you think it is fair to break up happily married same-sex couples, and subject them to the loss of their children?" It is an issue of fairness. And since homosexuality is a pejorative term in much of the country, it is paramount that the discussion be raised, first to the conscious level, then to societal debate, then to scientific and international standards—because that is what reliably takes away people's queer fear. People who have never really thought about human sexual variation are secretly terrified that any variation in their own thought pattern could lead to queerness. We can show them: that fear is groundless. That pulls the mat from under Team Bush.

And the fact is: Bush lied, people died. That's what this is really about, and as far as the neocons are concerned, people on both sides of the diversionary gay marriage issue are expendable. It's typical elitist behavior: the reactionary right is being impregnated with larval hatred so that they can burst their bodies on a conveniently distracting issue. If they understood this, they'd abandon Team Bush immediately. But of course they don't understand—the Bush calculation stands—and the war is on, and we're grossly outnumbered.

By the way, the number for Basic Rights Oregon is 503-222-6151. Since war has been declared on people like you and me—oh yes, I do mean you as well, oh KBOO liberal leftie queer coddling pervert-protecting bleeding hearts who don't deserve a job or an apartment—yeah, you, as well as gays and lesbians and people like me who are so utterly narcissistic and twisted as to ruin my manly body with hormones and go around in a dress—you and me—as I was saying, since our bodies and lives are on the line, how about helping Basic Rights Oregon? Don't you have a twenty? A five? Would you be willing to volunteer an hour or so a week? Please call them now: 503-222-6151, or write it on your wrist and call them in five minutes, or leave a message, or whatever—because we're up against the wall and the baseball bats are coming down, and if not now, when? Please, we can't afford to sit on our hands now. We are in terrible danger.

Theresa Mitchell