Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How to Lose Friends and Offend People

Dale Carniege wrote a book called How to Win Friends and Influence People. Apparently the people who took over Laissez Faire Books read a different book, How to Lose Friends and Offend People. Read it? Hell, I think they wrote it. The new owners sent out a newsletter discussing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal, which eventually gets around to supporting the repeal (sort of) but does so in a way pretty much guaranteed to offend anyone who supports their position. One prominent libertarian noted, "It's not exactly Roy's LFB any more," referring to Roy Childs, who used to the intellectual light at Laissez Faire Books, back in the good old days. Roy, as most people knew, was a gay man.

The repeal of DADT was ushered through by Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME). When they did this end run around Obama's refusal to lift a finger to repeal DADT, and succeeded, they came out of the Senate chambers with smiles on their faces and Lieberman gave a thumbs up to the press.

The new LFB, under the guise of one Gary Gibson, who is listed as "Managing Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder/Laissez Faire Books," has a headline: "If it makes Joe Lieberman happy, be very afraid." The "it" would be repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Now, to be clear they eventually get around to somewhat supporting the repeal but it appears they would rather it not be repealed. Please allow me to dissect what they said, from start to finish, to show you precisely how offensive their position happens to be.

Remember the repeal stops government from booting people out of the military merely for being gay. The managing editor at Laissez Faire Books calls repeals "a progressive take on homosexuality" and quotes someone I've never heard of speaking as if repeal is "making progress" for the rights of gay people "through 'big' government." Actually, that is not the case as DADT repeals a power of government, it doesn't give it new powers at all, but takes away a power to go on attacks against military personnel merely because they are gay. That is the opposite of big government, that is limiting government and doing so for the right reason: because it violates the rights of individuals.

LFB describes this as how the Left "just have the government force people to behave the way you want!" Who are the people being forced here? Government agents, not the people in general. So yes, all limitations on state power "force people (when government agents) to behave in the way you want." That is precisely what limitations on government power are meant to do. The new, shall I say conservative, management at LFB seem to have things completely backwards, at lest backwards to libertarian thinking.

Then they argue:

And anyway, what’s this nonsense about gay rights? You court trouble when you try to assign rights to groups, sort of like when you try to assign legal personhood to corporations. Rights belong to individuals. Rights are as natural as skin and present from birth.

Again this is mixed. Yes, all rights belong to individuals. But the "nonsense" about gay rights is actually rather sensible given that gay people are not thrown out of the military due to their individual misconduct but because they are members of a collective called "homosexuals." The anti-gay Right denies people rights because of collective traits and then whines about individual rights when people challenge their actions.

People discuss gay rights precisely because gay people are denied rights as a collective body. This is the fake "individual rights" view of the Right at work. They target people for special legal oppression due to a collective trait (in this case sexual orientation, but in the past it was race or gender as well) and then pretend that anyone who wishes to end that collectivist oppression is a collectivist. It is they who are guilty of collectivism.

Let us move to the next paragraph where Gibson goes out of his way to defend individual bigotry, even though that was not the issue in DADT. It wasn't that individuals were not free to be bigots, the issue was whether the federal government should enforce that bigotry. DADT was never about private bigotry, but only about state oppression of people in violation of basic Constitutional principles and accepted views about individual rights. LFB launches in a discussion that the "Constitution protects the natural right to hold unpopular, even ugly, opinion." But certain "progressive folks would ignore those cumbersome Constitutional principles in order to force other people to think properly."

Clearly that is not the case in the DADT repeal. The only people being "forced" here are state agents, not private citizens. This seems to be an intentional nugget being thrown to the bigots and hate-mongers by the new LFB. Virtually all libertarians I know wanted DADT repealed. Even the conservative, but libertarian-leaning, Ron Paul voted for repeal. This description of the repeal by Gibson is dishonest.

Gibson said: "I'm all for private individuals discriminating in matters of employment, purchasing, selling, mating or associating in any manner based on whatever grounds they wish..." I suspect this is just piss-poor writing. As it is stated Gibson is not defending the private right to be bigoted but actually saying that people ought to be bigoted. That is what "I'm all for" means. I don't think that is what he meant.

After letting all the bigots know he's with them, he points out the military is not private but a public institution and arm of government. So, instead of discussing the individual rights of people who are gay he avoids that sort of individual rights and looks at the bogus issues the bigots bring up: "troop morale and cohesion if there were a chance of a stray glance in the communal showers."

Okay, this stupid argument angers me because the bigots seem to be under the delusion that they have not already showered with gay men. This view that gay men are predators of some sort really does underlie the bigotry of many on the Right. Consider that ever grade level in any school has gay students. Consider that in virtually every school the students are required to take gym class. Consider those classes often end with communal showers. Do these morons really think that everyone they shared a shower room with is heterosexual?

Apparently they do. But if they do, and given that facts are contrary to their assumption, that would indicate that most bigots have showered with gay men and never noticed a "stray glance" or experienced predatory behavior. That they make this argument is self-contradictory, unless you really do assume that they lived in some heterosexual "utopia" for their entire lives. Given how many millions of men shower communally in gyms, racket ball clubs, tennis clubs, school, etc., for decades of their lives, the assumption that showering with gay men is not a common practice already indicates that they are absolutely clueless about reality. My school had swimming in the nude. With 240 boys on campus it quite a few were gay and we boys actually knew that. Odd that we kids, at the time, had more sense about this sort of thing than these conservatives who are now running Laissez Faire Books.

Gibson then wonders "how many soldiers are more worried about sharing barracks with dagos, bog trotters or jigaboos?" I'm not making this up. Apparently to prove he's not PC he goes out of his way to dredge up offensive insults about people. I confess that I'm so PC, apparently, I don't even know who is supposed to be slandered by "bog trotter" remarks. I guess the circles I travel in are a bit more civil than those Mr. Gibson frequents. Gibson? Any relation to Mel, other than intellectually?

Gibson then says that he knows for a fact that "surely a great number of servicemen" are worried about these groups, especially "the last group." Of course "jigaboo" is a highly insulting term for black people. It is usually considered so insulting that one would only quote the term if context were necessary. In Gibson's article context did NOT require the use of the term, while unfortunately. explaining how insulting the article was, does require quoting it precisely.

Gibson says that he was told the story of a "white recruit who didn't want to sleep next to any negroes and respectfully told his commanding officer, "I ain't bunking next to no nigger... sir!"

Again, does using an insulting word like that actually contribute to the argument that Gibson is making? I don't think so. It seems to be his attempt to prove exactly how uncivilized he can be in the name of being anti-PC. And, who has used the term "negroes" to describe black people anytime in the last several decades. Mr. Gibson seems to be living in 1950.

Gibson then asks: "Who would you rather have running behind you with a gun if you were a white man: another white dude who thinks your ass looks amazingly good in combat fatigues...or a member of race (sic) your own people has spend (sic) a few hundred years abusing... and who is very likely harboring some serious racial grudge..."

Wow! Just when you thought he would be most insulting about gay men he turns around and spouts some stuff that is clearly going to offend a huge percentage of black people, and most decent people of any race.

First, notice the string of bigoted stereotypes. A gay man, running behind another soldier, presumably in combat, is not going to be thinking about another man's ass but about survival. Yes, Mr.Gibson, gay men do not think about sex 60 minutes per hour and are about as likely to be thinking about a man's butt during combat as straight men would be obsessing about breasts while being shot at. Second, even with a hell of a lot of racism around for centuries, it is not my experience that black men are "very likely harboring some serious racial grudge."

I do think a lot of black people would be very insulted by the claim that they are "very likely" to have racial grudges against whites. I have little doubt that victims of bigotry may be more sensitive to bigoted remarks, but that is very different from saying they are "very likely" to harbor a "racial grudge" against whites. However, I have noticed that white bigots tend to think that whichever group they are bigoted against is actually more bigoted than they are.

Also notice the silly assumption that the gay man who can't stop thinking about his fellow soldier's ass is going to be "white." That's just daft. A black recruit has the same chances of being gay as a white one, there is no difference due to race when it comes to sexual orientation.

But what argument is Gibson really telling his readers here? He seems to be arguing that one reason to have gay men in the military is that is will reduce the chances of having a black man serving with you. Is he trying to lessen anti-gay bigotry by appealing to racist sentiments instead?

Gibson almost moves toward decency when he then notes that "closeted gays and bi-sexual men have been ogling their comrades in arms and later enthusiastically fantasizing about them for as long as there's been a military." True gay men are served in the military and were forced to be closeted. But really, is their military career just a series of ogling and fantasies? The Klan used to promote the theory of the oversexed "negro," now the Right trots out claims of oversexed gay men.

Gibson then says that these fantasies have existed for centuries and that what matters isn't what people thin,k but what they do. And he quotes a Marine who said: "People who waste their time worrying about who might be staring at their asses in the shower don't have what it takes to be Marines."

So where does Gibson finally end up after this insulting romp through the bigoted mindset? In a "parting shot" at the bottom of the e-newsletter, Gibson says: "At the end of the day, one has to wonder what all the hubbub is really about. Gays and bisexuals have always served silently alongside their straight brothers. Can't they just stay quiet and keep serving?" Ah, but isn't that what DADT was supposed to do, keep people from knowing who was gay and force all gay military members to "serve silently" or, as Gibson puts it, "just stay quiet and keep serving." So, his last comment seems to imply he wants to keep the DADT policy and that gay members of the military ought to stay closeted. Whatever that view is, it isn't libertarian.

The newsletter has a second piece on DADT as well, by one Linda Brady Trayham who trots out some typical conservative laments about morality in general, unbecoming a publication that has the name of Laissez Faire Books attached to it. She says she doesn't mind if same-sex couples "live in sin" but "I am against that for heterosexual couples." She complains about illegitimacy and calls these children "little bastards" because she finds it odd the term is insulting but "no social force is leveled against those who bear children out of wedlock." Hmm, an interesting new twist to libertarian thinking for straights as well.

She refers to the argument for gay people serving and describes it this way: "The arguments are that a sexual deviant can be just as patriotic and competent as anyone else..." Referring to gay individuals as a "sexual deviant" seems to imply that Mr. Gibson, with his "negroes," isn't the only one living in the 1950s. I assume Trayham's piece is supposed to balance out Gibson's piece, lest they be considered too "liberal." Of course they aren't liberal at all, or libertarian for that matter.

Traynham once again trots out the absurd "shower" argument saying: "I think all of us can agree that we would find it uncomfortable to shower in mixed groups whether that meant those of both genders or those of our own who saw us as sex objects." Again, we run smack dab into the delusional argument that straight people and gay people don't share showers by the millions every day of the years in schools, gyms, etc across the country. Exactly how far up their asses are their heads, as to allow them to be so absolutely clueless about this? Wow, LFB used to present intellectual libertarianism, instead it is now promoting mindless dribble from conservatives.

To find out if her prejudices are unrealistic Traynham consulted three ex military men. One told her all gay men should be killed." She found that "a little severe, given easier solutions." Just a "little severe? Easier solutions? Is she for real?

The second man she consulted didn't want to risk his life in a tight situation with someone who found him desirable. Ah, the fantasy of straight men that all gay men desire them. First off, a word to most straight men -- most gay men don't desire you. That doesn't men they don't desire some men but really, gay men tend not to be interested in morons who actually think all gay men desire them. If you think this is how gay men, chances are you are more than safe, even if the gay man were desperate.

Then this "officer" told a story about a gay man who caused a gun on the U.S.S. Wisconsin to blow up because he was jealous over a boyfriend and how this wouldn't happen with straight men. In fact this case didn't happen with gay men. This officer called it the well-known incident on the Wisconsin. Actually the incident was on the U.S.S. Iowa. And the despite Navy officials trying to leak claims the man involved was gay the actual investigation said that he was NOT gay but was suicidal. But further investigations showed it to most likely be a tragic accident. This is what passes as expert consulting in anti-gay circles.

Traynham then quotes her friend who suggested gays be killed. He also suggested that if gays are allowed in the military that they be branded in some way so everyone can know who they are. Maybe they should be forced to wear pink triangles, he suggests. Of course, pink triangles were used by the Nazis to demarcate gay men in the death camps. Lovely isn't it? Traynham says this friend of her's "asks good questions." Now you know her standard of "good" as well.

Traynham then argues that if you can't discriminate against gay people then all grounds for military acceptance have to be abolished. That is an absurd claim. All relevant grounds remain, the issue is whether being gay is relevant and most Americans and most people in the military don't think so. She wants to know why people can't join over 35 years of age, for instance. Well, being a senior citizen does impact on ones physical ability to do the job, being gay does not! That's why and if she took off his bigoted blinders she would see that.

So, to counter Gibson's view that gays should be allowed to serve if they just keep quiet, Traynham argues for banning gay men completely. No one here took the libertarian view yet we have Laissez Faire Books connected to this bigotry.

This newsletter is edited, and described as such, by the "Managing Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder/Laissez Faire Books," Gary Gibson.

Real libertarians should be outraged by this disgusting turn of events. No, it certainly isn't Roy's LFB anymore. He would be livid about it.

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