LABELING

Those of us 40 and older no doubt remember Ronald Reagan's first summer in office (1981) coming to a crescendo on August 3 with his now-infamous ultimatum to the nation's striking air traffic controllers. Their union, PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) was effectively broken in the process. When Reagan demanded that the 13,000 employees return to work within 48 hours or forfeit their jobs, it was no idle threat. Since public employee unions were forbidden by law to strike, he was able to use the authority of the Attorney General and Secretary of Labor to de-certify PATCO. With the possible exception of the auto sit-down strikes, the Norris-LaGuardia Act, or Youngstown v Sawyer, it was the most important moment in 20th Century labor history in the United States.

Recently I recalled doing some research years ago and coming across Reagan's press conference Q&A after making his announcement (transcript here). I was struck at the time, and reminded over the past few days, at how frank he was. Unions were still fairly popular in 1981 although their decline in power and popularity was already underway. And Reagan, for whom I think you all know I have no excess of admiration, said, "Here's what we're going to do" and then did it. While I disagree vehemently with the course of action he took, at least he had the decency to be honest about it. When shitting all over a group of people, in this case PATCO, an elected official should never be hesitant to say "The purpose of these actions is to shit all over PATCO." If he has the strength of convictions that he claims to have, there should be no hesitation to tell the situation exactly like it is.

This came to mind over the weekend watching and listening to Mike Pence nervously sputter into cameras in an attempt to explain that despite all appearances to the contrary, the recent law passed in Indiana totally isn't about legalizing discrimination against gays. It is a textbook case of the lady protesting too much, with every appeal to "religious freedom" making it sound less and less likely that religious freedom has anything at all to do with the motive. Throughout all of this – I've received a heavier than usual dose of this controversy since I lived in Indiana for 7 years and still have dozens of friends there – I find myself desperate for someone, anyone, to come out (phrasing) and admit that they just don't like The Gays much. Pence has promised to "clarify" the "intent" of the law, and I'm hoping that will consist of explaining that Indiana has a huge population of old, rural, white people who fear change and hate their shitty lives so they need to pretend it's 1950 and take it out on some social minority group. If we can make it sound noble by appealing to religion, all the better.

To many of you there may not be much of a difference in practice between "discriminatory" and "discriminatory and sanctimonious." It's true that the effect of the law is the same no matter how it is packaged and sold. I'd argue that in a way the rhetorical obfuscation makes it worse. The animosity is real no matter how we burnish it with florid words, so why kid ourselves?

(Oh, and fun fact: Ronald Reagan was the only president who was actually in a labor union – the SAG. Of which he was briefly president.)

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51 Responses to “LABELING”

  1. J. Dryden Says:

    There's something quietly bracing about groups and individuals that are openly hateful, rather than offering the weak tea of "Oh, we're not ANTI-anyone–we're just PRO-[men, Christians, whites, etc.]"

    What absolute flaming horseshit that is. When people talk about gays burning in Hell, I squirm, but I also utter a quiet "Thank you for not insulting my intelligence AS WELL AS my moral core." The modern GOP–in large part thanks to Reagan, actually–has managed to establish itself as a group that is defined in its discourse by what it is in FAVOR of, as opposed to what it is AGAINST. This, despite the fact that all the things that it favors come at the expense of the things that it is against–and despite the fact that it will generally NOT claim to favor the ONE thing that it, in fact, favors: The Moneyed. (Although even there, the phrase "job creators" did gain a certain amount of traction.)

    When you consider that conservatism largely depends on maintaining a system of political and social and economic values that were created–and, pre-Emancipation and post-Reconstruction, actively designed–to silence, marginalize, exploit, oppress, and outright obliterate anyone who wasn't/isn't white, straight, Christian, male, and rich–then the claim that they are "pro"-anything falls short of credibility. They want the country that was founded on the principles of the Roman Republic, complete with an aristocracy, slavery, expansionism via military spending, etc.–they want it SO BAD.

    And hey, by eliminating the estate tax, freezing the rise of wages to match inflation, and cutting a check to Lockheed Martin every year, they're pretty much getting that.

    Just wish they'd OWN UP TO IT.

  2. bjk Says:

    "One restaurant owner who wouldn’t disclose his name or the name of his business, confessed to a local radio show that he had already discriminated against LGBT people who walked into his restaurant and was glad Pence had signed the law."

    So we don't know his name, the business, or even that he runs a restaurant, but we're totally sure he's telling the truth. OK. This law wouldn't even apply to public accomodations like restaurant, so triple fail for the TP false flag operation.

  3. Jude Says:

    He was the SAG president twice.

    'MERICA!

  4. Major Kong Says:

    Indiana is a strange state. Once you get out of Indianapolis or Bloomington it's the kind of red state that makes Texans scratch their heads and go

    "Dayum! Y'all sure are conservative up there."

    It's worth remembering that the KKK was very strong in Indiana during its resurgence in the 1920s.

  5. Matt Says:

    "I find myself desperate for someone, anyone, to come out (phrasing) and admit that they just don't like The Gays much."
    Agreed. I think my head would explode if folks who hate The Gays would stop invoking the Bible and/or their bullshit religion and just admit: "I'm uncomfortable around homosexuals."

    I was Pence's nephew's junior high history teacher. He was a sweet kid. It pains me to think he might be swallowing a lot of his uncle's bullshit on this topic.

    Also, a part of me wonders if Pence has no moral objection whatsoever to homosexuality. I wonder if he's just angling for some far-right crowd. I think Pence has bigger aspirations. But he's a total dumbass if he thinks appealing to the far right fringe will get in in the White House or similar office. Well, he's a dumb ass anyway, but I think you get my point.

  6. doug Says:

    Re: SAG ronnie 'helped' root out the commies……

  7. c u n d gulag Says:

    Governor Pence has sure earned his nickname: “The Dense!”

    Today’s “Christians” don’t know jack-sh*t about Jesus or The New Testament and his messages of peace, love, tolerance, acceptance, forgiveness, and inclusion.

    But, their pages of The Old Testament – with all of the begetting, smiting, murder, sacrifice, and revenge – are permanently stuck together.
    EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Mark Says:

    Freedom of association is a natural right. No one is allowed to stop two or more people from openly associating. Inherent within the freedom to associate is the right not to associate. Stated differently, no one can force you or I to associate or do business with another if we choose not to.

  9. Khaled Says:

    @Mark-
    Actually, the government can force you do business with someone even if you choose not to. 14th amendment's equal protection clause and anti-discrimination legislation is designed to do just that. It is illegal for a business to refuse service to an inter-racial couple, even if the business owner has a religious belief that such unions are against his or her religion. So why would gay couples be any different?

    The original US RFRA was enacted after the Supreme Court ruled against Native Americans who lost their jobs and were not allowed unemployment benefits after they took peyote as part of a religious ceremony. The law was designed to prevent the government overreach into the practice of religion, not protect the feelings of private business owners. Wanna bet what the reaction would be if, which this law makes legal btw, Muslim shop owners would refuse to do business with dog owners because they would consider them to be unclean? Or the case when Muslim cab drivers refused to take people with alcohol because they viewed it to be against their religion?

    US v. Lee already held that compelling government interests can and do override "religious beliefs" when the practice of religion by a business owner extends to his or her employees and/or customers. In that case, an Amish man refused to take out SS taxes from the paycheck of an Amish employee, stating that Social Security goes against the religious beliefs of the Amish. While the Court did find that SS was against the religious beliefs, that the government's interest in levying taxes overrode the not paying SS taxes to employees, even if their religion went against it.

    The right to swing your fist extends until it hits my nose, and so does the practice of religion. Once a religious belief is used to exclude someone else from the due process of law or the equal protection of the laws – in this case, having someone discriminate against someone else- the compelling governmental interest steps in.

  10. Gino H Says:

    Mark: Do you deny there is a difference between choosing to associate or not associate with someone socially and using that foundation to deny someone access to a business or accommodation that is otherwise open to all other members of the public? If so, please post the name of your Montgomery, Alabama, lunch counter.

  11. Gino H Says:

    Name and address, that is.

  12. Noel Barrett Says:

    "Freedom of religion", as we understand it in the civilized western world, has never meant that you have absolute freedom to do whatever you felt were the dictates of your particular faith – we don't allow wife beating, arranged marriages of adults with children or murder of those you perceive to be non-believers. The religious have to moderate their beliefs to conform to society's norms . If the Santorums and the Gomerts of our world can be allowed to get away with suggesting that marriage equality will lead to man and dog and man and gold fish unions why can't we point out that their version of religious freedom will lead to their being allowed to refuse the sale of Hobby Lobby glue guns to anyone who buys a condom? And where are the Sunday Morning Gas bags who would have the nerve to point out to and ask the Mike Pences, et al. about this ultimate logic of their version of freedom of religion.

  13. Robert Says:

    This has been a bit of a wake up call for me. I live in Oakland, California. My marriage is both same sex and different race, and we have adopted children. My husband and I have had no issues with the people in our neighborhood or day to day lives. News like this reminds me that we live on an island, and there are forces – organized, passionate and well-funded- who don't want anything like my family around. It's a bit unnerving.

  14. Interrobang Says:

    There also seems to me to be a sort of "carrier of last resort" problem here, pertaining to the argument that if a particular business doesn't serve a particular customer, that customer can always go somewhere else.

    What happens if, hypothetically speaking, every business in Tinytown, IN, refuses to serve May Belesbian? I've already heard of cases where atheists have been harassed into moving away; this law sounds like a great excuse for the establishment in small towns to drive out anybody they don't happen to like because they "might be gay."

  15. Brian M Says:

    "Today’s “Christians” don’t know jack-sh*t about Jesus or The New Testament and his messages of peace, love, tolerance, acceptance, forgiveness, and inclusion."

    I hate this meme. We don;t even know what "Jesus'" message was…the New Testament was written decades after his death, and Christianity is really PAULISM (Paul won the battle on the subject of Christianity as a minor Jewish sect versus Christianity as a broad-based religion convenient for social control). But for every Sermon on the Mount (a fairly late addition) there was the cursed fig tree. Furthermore, according to the Bible, Jesus drew upon Hellenic currents to really ramp up the Damnation and Hellfire far beyond anything envisioned in Judaism.

    Given his status as one of many cult leading apocalyptic preachers wandering the countryside, Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild is a comforting liberal myth that is no more accurate than the fundies' hellfire and brimstone.

    Of course, we don't know. "His" words were written down well after the fact by people who didn't even know him in real life (unless you belive in Paul's hallucinations).

    I'll quote Hitchens: Christianity is a wicked teaching. At its core.

  16. Skippper Says:

    Reagan didn't start the anti-union crusade. That actually began in the '30s. In fact, the whole notion of the American Dream was designed to combat the unions, of which the corporations were terrified. The idea behind universal home ownership was that if you had workers up to their earlobes in debt, they couldn't strike. They had to meet the mortgage or lose their homes.

    The anti-union effort was also behind the Business Plot in 1934 to overthrow the government, make FDR a figurehead, and install Prescott Bush (yes, the Bush family again) as fascist dictator. The people behind the plot were the heads of all the major corporations, and they were fascinated by the fascists. The plot was uncovered by Smedley Butler. FDR needed the corporations in order to get the New Deal on track, which is why the ringleaders weren't hanged for treason. In the meantime, much of the public record has been scrubbed.

    The anti-union forces had to go underground with the advent of WW2, but they emerged again with the passage of Taft-Hartley. This was the heyday of the Red Scare (which was really scary if you lived through it, which I did). Taft-Harley allowed unions but required that they scrub themselves of any lefties, which they did. However, the lefties were the organizers and the thought leaders. This left a vacuum, which was filled by opportunists, gangsters, etc.

    This allowed the corporations to denigrate the unions, and the country lapped it up. So, when Reagan pulled his shit, the skids were already greased. Had someone tried that same thing earlier, there would have been hell to pay. Reagan, instead of being brave and bold, as his hagiographers claim, was merely shooting the wounded.

    PS — Brian M. Not all the writings attributed to Paul were by the same person. The original Paul was a Gnostic and very mystical. The later Paul was Constantinian and had a completely different outlook.

  17. Gerald McGrew Says:

    These appeals to "religious freedom" to justify discrimination against gays, are the modern day version of the appeals to "heritage and tradition" to justify discrimination against blacks in the Jim Crow south.

    And as with "heritage and tradition", history will not be kind to the "religious freedom" folk.

  18. anon Says:

    Anyone who wishes to deny service over a religious belief should be required to post a placard at the door stating so. That way the rest of us could know not to give them our business.

  19. JustRuss Says:

    I expect SAG is the only union to count a number of millionaires among its active members, so that probably makes it OK in Conservativeland.

  20. Nate Says:

    Pence is such a dipshit and an awful governor. While also hating the gays, he also is trying to get rid of a democratically elected Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz. I almost can't believe that he's worse than Mitch.

  21. Skepticalist Says:

    I find this similar to what my so-called preacher neighbor says. He likes to remind me that his Jesus Jolly pals aren't really evolution deniers. They just want to allow students a "choice" by teaching both. It's like deciding to debate the speed of light.

    This same shining light pretends that he has no problem with gay marriage so long as it's called something else. Shame on us all for letting them get away with this. Marriage as some kind of sacrament isn't as old as mega church freaks would have us believe anyway.

    It's a crime of the first order that we let racketeers get away with extortion, child molestation, and even murder by invoking the name of some invisible being. Too bad Governor Pence isn't invisible.

  22. Don Says:

    Reagan and the air traffic controllers: this was a milestone in my life; the first time (and only time, it turns out) I've bought the morning newspaper, read the headline, yelled OH FUCK YOU at the top of my lungs, and flung the paper to the sidewalk.

    (Only time because – besides being jaded – now my news comes to me via much more expensive platforms, not because there's no cause. Throwing your smart phone across the street requires a commitment to rage I can't sustain.)

  23. Chicagojon Says:

    I'm a more-than-once GenCon attender which brings over 50,000 people to Indy and a shitton of $$$. To their credit the organization expressed concern and said that they would review the situation after their lease was up in 2020. I say screw that — let's Indiegogo a "we don't support Indiana's bullshit" to raise the funds to cover breaking the lease and establishing with a new location.

    How's Peoria for convention centers and a range of hotel pricing?

  24. Kevin Says:

    "I expect SAG is the only union to count a number of millionaires among its active members"

    There are also the MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL players' unions.

  25. Michael Says:

    The gaslighting moves it from animus to abuse.

  26. Stella Says:

    If you look at the photo of Pence signing the legislation, he's surrounded by plenty of people who have already stated that they Do Not Like Teh Gays.

    Micah Clark believes that homosexuality is a curable disorder.
    Eric Miller distributed propaganda implying that clergymen could be arrested for preaching an anti-gay agenda.
    And Curt Smith, a dude who equates homosexuality to bestiality and adultery, was a co-author on the freaking bill.

  27. Skepticalist Says:

    The thing is to protest on the level of Fox News. Something national every single day and get a lot of TV. Make sure Indiana business gets the idea every day. It's they who have created a problem. No one else.

  28. jon Says:

    If you go to your state and local government and get a government license or licenses to open a business, an okay from government inspectors that your business is safe to operate, protection from that government in the form of police and fire service, governmental legal assurance that other competing businesses under that governmental jurisdiction have to operate under similar governmental rules, and place the money earned from that government-licensed business into banks regulated by the government, DON'T YOU FUCKING DARE SAY YOUR RELIGION GETS TO TRUMP THE RULES EVERYONE ELSE FOLLOWS!

    Thank you.

  29. jon Says:

    Also, too: when you get married, which of the following must be visited?

    A) a courthouse
    B) a church

    If you don't know, please return to your hole and die in the cold and dark.

  30. Huey Says:

    Are we not doing 'phrasing' anymore?

  31. Brian M Says:

    PS — Brian M. Not all the writings attributed to Paul were by the same person. The original Paul was a Gnostic and very mystical. The later Paul was Constantinian and had a completely different outlook.

    I know this (should be clearer) but my basic points remain true. Liberals can't cherrypick the Bible any more than fundie frothers.

    I think the fundamental premise of Christianity is wicked: God fucked up His creation, but it is his contingent, flawed created sentient creatures who are to blame. And no, "free will" is not a valid excuse for an Omniscient being who is happy to punish those who "choose" incorrectly. Don't like Sam Harris on some (many) topics, but he is correct on the fundamental immorality of Christianity.

  32. Tim H. Says:

    If they really believed, they would have confidence in judgement day. That they wish the judgement to occur here suggests doubt about the veracity of scripture. So, not as dumb as they look, meaner than we thought.

  33. April Says:

    http://www.politicususa.com/2015/03/30/connecticut-state-boycottindianas-rfra.html

    “You guys have said repeatedly that we shouldn’t be able to discriminate against anyone, but if you just ignore the existence of this law, can’t we already do that now? Can’t so-and-so in Richmond put a sign up and say ‘No Gays Allowed?'” she asked. “That’s not against the law, correct?”

    “It would depend,” Bosma replied. “If you were in a community that had a human rights ordinance that wouldn’t be the case.”

    “But most of the state does not have that, correct?” the reporter pressed.

    “That’s correct,” Bosma admitted.

  34. Kaleberg Says:

    Ironically, PATCO was the first union to endorse Reagan. (The big union busting move started in the late 1970s, but the Reagan administration really made it happen. People forget how a good bureaucrat can make policy by sins of omission or commission.)

    I suppose it is progress that these goons are constantly needing to lie about what they've said and done, whether it is enabling discrimination, cutting wages, hurting business or gutting Social Security. It always reminds me of the scene in 'Pretty Baby' after Brooke Shields "sells" her virginity (or is raped, if you prefer accuracy) and the guy who won the auction skulks out the back way and skips the after party.

  35. Stella Says:

    jon, careful, Oklahoma is trying to make that trivia question REALLY tricky.

    http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2015/03/okla-house-oks-bill-shifting-issuance-of-marriage-licenses-from-state-to-clergy/

  36. Anderson Says:

    Bjk: "This law wouldn't even apply to public accomodations like restaurant, so triple fail for the TP false flag operation."

    Why don't you think the law applies? Federal public-accommodation law doesn't protect gay folks, & IN has no state version that would do so. The Indy Star has called for a PA law.

    Brian M, you have read some strange things about Paul if you think he was a gnostic. There are some letters wrongly attributed to him, & some redaction of his letters to throw in a little misogyny here & there.

  37. Barry Says:

    Mark Says:

    "Freedom of association is a natural right. No one is allowed to stop two or more people from openly associating. Inherent within the freedom to associate is the right not to associate. Stated differently, no one can force you or I to associate or do business with another if we choose not to."

    I think that Mark is being honest here – these people want to roll back the Civil Rights Movement.

  38. Bitter Scribe Says:

    I've heard that, even by the standards of Republican politicians, Pence is not quite the sharpest knife in the drawer.

  39. Skepticalist Says:

    "Liberals can't cherrypick the Bible any more than fundie frothers."

    Why not? Bottom feeders who think they have a lock on morality do it all day long. Tiny sections of it have been used to excuse every kind of atrocity imagined. It's also the most fucked up, unreadable tome ever concocted.

  40. GST Says:

    @ Brian M. I'll do you one better…not only do we not know what Jesus actually said, we don't really know whether he actually existed. There's a strong case to be made that Jesus was no more of a historical figure than King Arthur.

  41. Brian M Says:

    Brian M, you have read some strange things about Paul if you think he was a gnostic. There are some letters wrongly attributed to him, & some redaction of his letters to throw in a little misogyny here & there.

    That was another commenter's response to my earlier comment about the questionable timing and veracity of the Bible. I would never claim Paul was a Gnostic, although I would agree with said commenter that the scholalrt consensus agrees that there was no single "Paul" responsible for all of the writings in the Bible historically attributed to him. :)

    GST: That IS an interesting argument. I've read claims that the Biblical Christ figure is a conglomeration or wandering street preachers cobbled together.

    On a related note, the Torah, or Old Testament, cannot verifiably be dated back before the 230s B.C. The claim is it was concocted by a priestly caste to justify their return to Canaan as tax collecting satraps for the Persian court!

  42. democommie Says:

    @Mark@8:33AM:

    Don't let the door smack you in the ass on the way out.

    Trolls be trolls.

    I think we may have a new meme.

    Phyrric Victory might be replaced by Pencian Victory; all the results remain the same.

  43. democommie Says:

    Geez, I almost forgot.

    Ronald Reagan was a piece of shit. Now he's a dead piece of shit.

  44. Mark Says:

    @democommie, my old friend. Exactly where it it that I am going? Almost everyone commenting on this site is wrong. Whether you like it or not I/we should not be forced to associate against our will. If I am a private business owner why should I not be allowed to choose my clientele? Explain to me how it is the governments business.

  45. Arslan Says:

    Mark, that was already explained to you by Jon:

    "f you go to your state and local government and get a government license or licenses to open a business, an okay from government inspectors that your business is safe to operate, protection from that government in the form of police and fire service, governmental legal assurance that other competing businesses under that governmental jurisdiction have to operate under similar governmental rules, and place the money earned from that government-licensed business into banks regulated by the government, DON'T YOU FUCKING DARE SAY YOUR RELIGION GETS TO TRUMP THE RULES EVERYONE ELSE FOLLOWS!

    Thank you."

  46. Mark Says:

    Arslan, I read the post. Just because it is there does not make it correct. Although the government feels the need to oversee every aspect of our lives, government should actually remove themselves from our lives. The constitution allows the federal government limited powers, and no where in the Constitution does it give them the authority to interfere in our day to day lives. And for what it is worth, I never mentioned God, the Bible, Jesus, Allah, the Koran, Buddha, or made any reference to religion in my post. Although all of our rights come from God, do not assume that that is my motivation.

  47. democommie Says:

    @Markdown:

    Dude, go to your nearest cafeteria and get a heaping bowlful of "fuckyourselfanddie" soup.

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  49. Mark Says:

    In all of this discussion no one has offered me an explanation of why anyone should be compelled to do business with another if they choose not to. I understand "the law", but there have been many bad laws written and passed. Look no further than the Affordable Care Act. Truly a despicable law, but the law non the less. Convince me why I should be forced to do business with someone that I simply do want to do business with.

  50. Just this Once Says:

    @Mark

    Let's say you don't want to do business with teh gays in your store. You ask them to leave and they don't because they want (god knows why) to purchase something from your establishment. So you call the police, and the police have to escort them out and possibly arrest them for doing what every straight and closeted person is capable of doing. Because that's what it comes down to. Laws have law enforcement (hence the name, you see?) to give them power. Do you really want the police to start arresting and the criminal justice system to start prosecuting people for nothing less than visiting a business and wanting to be treated like anyone else who's not of their orientation? That is exactly what you're asking for by supporting legislation like this. You want to condone people to discriminate? Fine by me. But to have the criminal justice system act as the mercenary of the intolerant? That's the very definition of institutionalized discrimination.

  51. democommie Says:

    "but there have been many bad laws written and passed. Look no further than the Affordable Care Act"

    Spoken like a troo bleever AND Liebertardlican.

    Get the Meal Deal with that bowl of "fuckyourselfanddie soup".