Thursday, February 27, 2014

Inglourious Bigots

Arizona SB 1062 is dead. There is hope for the human race—even in Arizona.

Hurrah for tolerance!


Sadly, not so much. Look, don't get me wrong. I'm happy for the Arizona LGBTQ+ community. At least they'll be spared the indignity of state-sanctioned hatred. For now. But, if you think SB 1062 was the last or most threatening attempt to outlaw Arizona Queerness—well, I wouldn't hold my breath.

Jim Wright, my fellow ex-Navy, progressive, All-American curmudgeon—in his latest Stonekettle Station entry—explains part of what I find so unsatisfying about Governor Jan Brewer's veto of SB 1062. Great work as always, Jim. Like Jim and like Quentin Tarantino's Lt. Aldo Raine (Inglourious Basterds, 2009), I prefer my evil bigots clearly labeled. Okay, maybe carving swastikas in their flesh is a bit much. Still, a law requiring them to wear white robes and swastika armbands would make it so much easier to know who I can trust. Goddamn bigots and homophobes insist on looking like everybody else. Sneaky bastards. Perhaps a tattoo or a small brand…

Whoa! Am I really advocating branding bigots? Carving swastikas in the foreheads of people like Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter? Jan Brewer?

[Hmmm, you know, now that I think about it,…
*Sigh.* Don't tempt me.]

No, I know better. The examples of outspoken assholes like Limbaugh and Coulter notwithstanding, bigots are not leopards. Human beings are reasoning beings. They can and do change their spots (well, their minds). Admittedly, such a drastic change as Ann Coulter embracing tolerance is extremely unlikely, but we have to be able to hope.

So, no swastikas in the foreheads. And now, thanks to Governor Brewer's veto, no swastikas carved into Arizona law. Tant pis.

Beyond the lost opportunity to label hypocrites, however, I have another serious qualm about the veto. As a number of commenters have already noted (Jim Wright and Jon Stewart are not the only two to notice), many Arizona Conservatives wanted this bill vetoed. The past week's media responses showed Arizona that SB 1062 was a step too far. They'd overestimated their ability to sell their religious freedom canard. That's not the same thing as recognizing that the law they were suggesting was, as Jon Stewart notes, "morally repugnant."

So, to summarize,
  • I am relieved for the LGBTQ+ community in Arizona
  • I agree that SB 1062 was morally repugnant 
  • I don't believe bigots should be permanently labeled
And I still object to the veto. Think about it. Arizona SB 1062 would have been easy to demolish in court. The first time anyone brought SB 1062 under legal scrutiny by trying to enforce it, the courts would have been tripping over each other to rule it unconstitutional. It would have been a great precedent to have on the books. Now, the AZ lege will go back and try again. Next time they're likely to narrow the focus of the law (SB 1062 was so broadly worded, it could have been used to discriminate against anyone based upon any religion). They'll couch their homophobia in a stealthier cloak, and we won't have easy access to a legal precedent.

Congratulations, though, to my queer friends in Arizona. You dodged a bullet this time. Be diligent, though. Next time, it might not be so easy to see it coming.

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