Michael Maiello's picture

    The Problem of Waiting on Civil Rights Issues

    In 2003 and 2004, I had the unique opportunity to have written an experimental musical that was produced off-off Broadway and in the New York International Fringe Festival.  The framed poster from the debut is in my apartment.  To me, it's a major accomplishment.  Somewhere along the run, two men met and fell in love.  They were together for years after I went separate ways with the company that produced the show but technology has allowed us all to meet, disperse and stay in touch.

    Along the way, one man died.  When the Supreme Court decision was released, the survivor posted about the wonderful wedding that never happened.  On civil rights issues, we like to say that society evolves and that things take time.  That's not wrong.  But there's another fact. Human life is fragile.  Death refuses to accommodate our plans.  While society grinds slowly from discrimination to acceptance, people live and die.  We now have a national right to same sex marriage but no way to make amends to all of the couples who were denied.

    This problem naturally extends to every other issue. Slavery endured for so long that we still feel the effects and still have credible debates about the need to pay reparations.  The ridiculous incarceration epidemic, just now being noticed, will haunt us for at least a century.  The home foreclosure crisis, never effectively dealt with, leaves  a trail of misery and will also mar the future.  If it takes another ten years to get gender pay parity in American workplaces, what good does that do a woman who retires in 2020?

    In The New York Times I see Ross Douthat desperately trying to have it both ways as he plays the part of the cosmopolitan conservative but also tries to suggest we've lost something while embracing a new normal.  How many couples never got to be couples because Ross Douthat and his chic conservatives decided it would be a fun and necessary thing to stand athwart history yelling "stop"?

    Now I notice that social conservatives are vocally nervous that they might be judged for their beliefs about how other people live their lives.  Among a certain, more erudite conservative, you can almost hear the bargaining: "How about we just give you the confederate flag?"

    The plea of social conservatives now is that the rest of us tolerate their intransigence.  But there is a real cost to that.  There are the weddings that never happen and that didn't happen because they didn't want them.  I think it's time for us to stand athwart cultural conservatism yelling, "get out of the way!"





    Well written.  It is time to push them aside.  They have been yelling "stop" far too long.

    I couldn't agree more.  Why tolerate the intolerant?  it only encourages them.

    That's bullshit, respectfully speaking. Andrew Sullivan was an early advocate for gay marriage 25 years ago when most gays didn't want marriage (see below). Hillary among many others still hadn't "evolved" on marriage vs civil partnerships as of 2 years ago. Overall it's been a freakingly fast ride to recognition for gays since Stonewall, much faster than many issues, astounding as recognition of gay marriage trounced the worrisome pushback 10 years ago in 2004 when gay recognition rallied conservatives to the polls. But we're supposed to just take the attitude that all these dinosaurs should have rolled over tout d'suite to make way for the obvious even though those most affected didn't even know what their preferred outcome was and many others had legitimate complaints. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/79054/here-comes-the-groom Meanwhile much of my life has gone by waiting for Jimmy Carter's promise of legalization to stop incarceration (no, I don't smoke - just don't want friends and strangers to go to jail for something benign). Women's rights have made little progress. McCarthy era ideas of security and privacy combat with mass public concerns about terrorism and threat. I don't much like it that so many policies go against my ideals - but am I just to assume everyone's attitudes were wring but mine, that these old dinosaurs should have rolled over for me on issues like polyamory, heroin use, redistribution of property...? Global warming - are we each ready to spend $5k-$10k per year for what not all agree? Mideast wars - I had different views on what should have been done but no one listened to me. Treatment of education and health research and universal healthcare - I was right, they were wrong - bit no one's celebrating my perspicuity or even changing laws & spending so I could crow, "serves you right, you fuckwits - progress moves on and you can totter off and die" - nope, not even recognition of my brilliance as Sunday talk shows and campaign operatives and much of the nation's chitchat as viewed on Facebook is decidedly regressive, retro, pathetically backwards. Sadly, if I were to propose an end to tolerance of those with antediluvian views, the real victim would be me, as society's never been thrilled with most of the freedoms and rights I'd bestow on people, so I'd be run over for someone else's obvious "progressivism" as terms and movements are so easily coopted.And just possibly some brainfart of an idea I had that seemed outrageously brilliant at the time might not have been so prescient or led directly to global extinction. So let's not and say we did - leave a bit of tolerance as a bit of celebration of when we weren't so certain of ourselves, in memory of those awful 70s hairstyles and clothes that seemed so awesome at the time, in recognition of the lack of clarity we all suffer as we muddle our way to the future.

    Leave somthin' on the table, bud,

    Like pappy used to say,

    don't bleed em dry,

    it might be you

    sittin' there some day.

    So leave somthin on the table,

    Maybe a ten spot,

    some polyamory, perspicuity,

    or good whiskey.

    Leave somthin' on the table,

    Some coin, ticket to a show,

    and just an ounce of tolerance

    could go a hell of a long way,

    cause, like pappy used to say,

    leave somethin on the table, bud,

    it might save your ass one day.


    Awesome, Oxy.

    Thanks. And apologies to Michael---I know when friends are involved, it affects you differently. But Peracles' rant was delicious.

    No apologies necessary, Oxy.  If somebody had left something on the table for my friends, things would have turned out more happily for them.

    Right, Michael, it cuts both ways.

    Your nemesis is further dissected in a salon article

    Awesome. Marcotte took him down at TPM as well.  And, Brooks today... did you see that disaster of a column?

    Thanks. Marcotte is such a good writer.

    As far as Brooks, he's a basket case of "formlessness and radical flux". If I were a religious social conservative I'd be put off by his categorization as "obsessions with sex" any heartfelt sentiments I might actually hold  


    I don't get why you think PP's post was so great or why you and barefoot are pleased with your comment. I don't think you're saying anything of value with these vague aphorisms. Sooner or later those who cry for "tolerance" will have to get specific about what that means to them and what they actually want. Don't bleed them dry and leave 10 bucks on the table doesn't even begin answer those very real questions.

    My "riff" was just that, and there's no accounting for taste, ask barefooted. The riff cuts both ways.

    Peracles wrote on being so sure of one's own position and victory that you take no prisoners. That's hubris, regardless of the topic, and he nailed it with a memorable rant which with tongue in cheek also lamented why his own brilliance and preferences in life---like all the rest of us---have been so ignored. I enjoyed the creativity of it.  

    As far as others getting specific, don't have a problem with that, maybe you could expand more on the subject.  


    Take no prisoners? Another worthless cliche that says nothing. It refers not to taking prisoners but killing all enemies. No one will be killed for objecting to gay marriage.

    How can I expand on it when I don't agree with it? Those who are asking for "tolerance" need to explain what they mean and want. People have civil rights and civil liberties. Those I will support and fight for even if I find the people and their ideas disagreeable. I don't see "tolerance" in any part of that conversation. You're free to add it but "leave a 10 spot on the table" doesn't advance the dialog in any way imo.

    You seem to be escalating here, Kat, adding even more criticisms of my language. Fine.

    It seems also that you want someone to respond to your point about why people who are asking for tolerance need to explain to you what they mean and want. Fine. I'm not interested.



    I think it's a completely fair question to ask people who are asking for tolerance to explain what they mean with something more than "don't bleed them until they're dry." I fail to see how asking that question or critiquing what I see as the superficiality of your posts on the subject is in any way out of line with reasonable discussion. Of course no one is under any obligation to respond to anyone at any time ever. That neither you nor PP want to or are able to answer that question is indicative of the seriousness of the issue, or how serious you are in posting about it. It appears to be just a literary game for you and PP, not a topic for serious discussion.

    No, I just don't have much fun talking to you. That signifies nothing re: the actual topic.

    I totally understand,  I call you on your bullshit and you can't come up with a rational response. That can't be very fun for you. I'm sure it was a lot more fun when Oxy was patting you on the back.

    Too cool for words. Never mind.

    Whether Oxy liked it or not, why do you have to be a disagreeable fuck? Oh look, someone's having fun on the Internet, I must "call them on their bullshit". What's the matter, ran out of cats to kick? Try telling a joke, dude, it'll do you good.

    Wow, two replies to one comment. Don't want to talk about tolerance but you sure want to talk about me. I think I'm a boring subject and I'm not really interested in discussing it.

    It's true I don't much like your rants. They are extremely high on emotional content and extremely low on substance. Every time I try to move to a less emotional more reason based discussion on what is for you the big issue of tolerance you drop out. But you get kudos from some here for them. Why isn't that enough for you? Does everyone have to praise you for ranting?

    Ah, you're the voice of reason - nice work if you can get it. No, my point wasn't to be praised by you - it was that you didn't always have to be a dick - even I step out of costume about 25% of the time - gives some dynamics to the performance, ya know? And humor - you're as humorless as dried skunkweed. A bit of comic relief here and there keeps the cabbage growing, know what I mean, Vern? Anyway, I'll let you go - you have tough responsibilities to take care of pulling the heavy load.

    Oh yeah, this comment contained some really dickish questions.

    As we hear talk of tolerance in these abstract terms I'm not sure exactly what this means. What exactly are we talking about when right wing christians ask for tolerance of their anti-gay marriage views? When southeners ask for tolerance of their waving of the Confederate flag? What are they asking for in the legislative and social realms? Maybe I agree they should have it and maybe I don't, but until they articulate some definition of what tolerance means to them and  a clear list of what they want I can't even address it.  Face it, you don't have any answer to those questions so you want to call me a dick to weasel out of admitting it.

    I explained the first part. Re: 2, most nonaffiliated groups don't run around with joint wishlists. "Hey white southerners, what do you want?" "oh thanks for asking, let me pull out my list". Sounds pretty stupid, doesn't it?

    No. It seems reasonable to me that someone who argues for tolerance would have some relatively specific explanation of what that means to them and some idea of what changes he would want both politically and socially.

    [I followed this thread about *gay marriage*, not the flag, but whatever]

    A list for 100 million white people across the South? Try "don't be a dick - there are individuals in there".

    1/4 of South Carolina whites voted for Obama in 2012, 1/3 of North Carolina & Tennessee whites voted for Obama in both elections. (Not that a vote for Romney = racist)

    Not all white Southerners are asking to wave the flag. 64% percent have neither positive nor negative reaction to the flag.

    We're divided on many issues in which there is no win/win solution. In the end one side will win and the other lose and the loser will just have to find a way to live with that. My side has won a couple of battles recently but we've lost quite a few over the years too. I've had to "grin and bear it" and fight on or give up.  As we hear talk of tolerance in these abstract terms I'm not sure exactly what this means. What exactly are we talking about when right wing christians ask for tolerance of their anti-gay marriage views? When southeners ask for tolerance of their waving of the Confederate flag? What are they asking for in the legislative and social realms? Maybe I agree they should have it and maybe I don't, but until they articulate some definition of what tolerance means to them and  a clear list of what they want I can't even address it.

    As Oxy said, don't bleed em dry - leave a bit of humanity, room to save face. Send em out the back into the dark, well then you'll always be afraid to go out there in the dark. No one likes ultimatums or humiliation - it's when humans act most unpredictable. Besides, being a bit nice is good for your own soul. Act like a prick, you become a prick. And in the old mystic realm you hate in others what's in yourself - it likely won't manifest exactly as you hate it - just deliciously ironic and analogous ways. Anyway, do good, not mean.

    Thanks PP, your list of cliches has been most illuminating. I catch your drift. As luck would have it I know a few cliches myself. Actions speak louder than words. You're telling us don't hoist them on their own petard. Don't kick them when they're down. Don't avoid them like the plague. Don't leave them all dressed up with nowhere to go. Give them time to cut their losses. We've won so we shouldn't have an ax to grind. Sure beggars can't be choosers but we shouldn't push them till their back is against the wall. We have them dead to rights, it's time to call off the dogs. People, don't cut off your nose to spite your face, the game is no longer on the line. They may be as welcome as a skunk at a lawn party and I know you're worried that if you give them an inch they'll take a mile, but remember, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I'm not sure if your post cuts to the core or cuts to the quick but I found it as useful as a lead balloon.

    I promise not to do any of those things. Cross my heart and hope to die. (my fingers weren't crossed behind my back when I said that)  So it's all good, amirite?

    Know when to hold em, know when to fold em, known when to walk away, and know when to run. And Ruby, don't take your love to town. Amirite? Cause on the bloody morning after, One Tin Soldier rides away.

    Nice post, Michael.

    You know your buddy castigated me for 'whilst'. hahahahahahha

    And now you use the word 'athwort'.


    I never understood this freedom, gay rights thingy.

    How can gay rights have anything to do with other people's rights?

    As I told Stilli today, the issue or underlying issue has to do with SS and pension rights and estate rights....

    Follow the money as they say.

    Nice blog, as always.

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