Saturday, September 15, 2012

FTT Off-Topic: Paying The Price

As always with FTT O-T, it's a Big Dumb Internet, this will be Not Sports, and I'm not trying to make friends or expecting to change any hearts or minds. Rather, it's just me clearing my mind with the keyboard, and you can take or leave it as you like.

In my Facebook feed the other day, someone sent out a blog post detailing a phenomenon called "the distress of the privileged." You can read it here, and it' s a good read, but in case you are time-stressed, the gist of it is that when previously advantaged people encounter a change in the status quo, it doesn't really matter if it's a correction to a past injustice. What needs to happen is that the previously privileged people must be brought, slowly and gently, to understand how things can still work out for them, and that a more just society has advantages they might not have considered. Otherwise, you risk backlash and a prolonged fight with people who are likely to harden their hearts, rather than consider your cause.

Now, all of that's a long way to go in the cause of marriage equality and fast food chicken, which is what brought all of this on. (I'm assuming, for the sake of sanity, that you are familiar with the Chick-Fil-A kerfluffle, where a fast food franchise's family owners are bankrolling efforts against marriage equality for homosexuals. And if you aren't, um, open up a second window and use your search engine of preference. Moving on.)

The concept that boycotting a business for their political / ethical / moral stance hardly seems like a progressive thing to do. And, well, it wouldn't be if the penalty for losing the argument was equal, but, well, it's not. If people boycott a restaurant chain due to the political donations of its owners, they sell less sandwiches and people make other food choices for a more or less zero-sum economic game. If marriage inequality continues, a sizable group of Americans continue to feel like second-grade citizens, and more terribly, be unable to make decisions for loved ones at the end of their lives. Not quite the same impact.

Now, I'm old enough to know that I'm not going to change anyone's mind about, well, anything. But that's not what this is about. Because if I were interested in promoting the cause, it wouldn't be about justice, or equality, or human rights or any of the other high-minded stuff that the proponents might want to talk about. (Side bar: why am I not interested in promoting this cause? Because, well, it just doesn't affect me personally. I've got friends on the other team, but for the most part, I haven't seen them in years, and the fights that I want to fight are a little more universal. But, anyway, digression over.)

No, the way to make the argument is to make it about money, and convenience, and taking the power out of a position. To wit:

1) If gay people marry, they spend money -- lots of it. Marriage licenses, catering halls, musicans, florists, jewelers, hotel reservations, travel and more, more, more. And a frightening amount of that money is going in the hands of people who will spend it right back, on gas and food and groceries and so on, and soon. If you are looking for an immediate regional stimulus, having more people get married is like manna from heaven.

Oh, and if you want to give this some teeth? Tell the taxpayers of a locale that if they don't go for this, that's fine, but they will have to agree to higher tax rates to make up for the hit to your local tourism and entertainment proprietors. It's one thing to be against a minority of people in your area, but it's quite another to pay cash money for that.

One other aside. Tomorrow, if I'm lucky, I'm going to go to Delaware to play poker in a casino. Why Delaware? Because while I'm there, I'll be able to put some NFL parlay bets, which is something I wouldn't be able to do at a closer place. Delaware will win off my purchase, win or lose. New Jersey or Pennsylvania? Not so much.

2) This is pretty much the final big issue for these folks; there is no next step to the agenda, since job discrimination and hate crime legislation is pretty much on the books by now, and adoption is only going to matter to a small subset of the new group. So if you are tired of people pushing their sexuality in public -- and hey, I have young daughters, I'm completely OK with less of that from everyone, striaght or otherwise -- give them this, and watch things melt away to other causes.

3) Finally, I realize this can sound like a hacky stand-up routine, but honestly... there's no better way to hurt a sub-culture than to normalize and co-opt them. You know what you are going to get with gay marriage? Gay married people. Boring, monogamous, rapidly aging cocooners who stop marching in parades, freaking out the norms or making you think about them in, well, any way imaginable. Instead, they'll be getting to the serious business of buying durable goods and financial service products. Like, well, everyone else of a certain age.

So, all of you who want to keep marrige inequitable -- an institution with a 50% rate of failure, an institution with a long and bloody history of subjugation that's even codified in the very rituals of passage, an institution that, if opened, will sap the finances of the people you are acting against while adding to the local vitality of your tax base -- well, I've just one question for you.

Why are you letting these people get off the hook?

1 comment:

Bill said...

A...freaking...man! I've never understood the stand against gay marriage. It's not like heterosexuals are doing such a great job upholding the institution (as you put it so well). You want to marry a tree...be my guest. IT DOESN'T AFFECT ME. I feel so cleansed.

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