When you write a column for a living, you get called lots of names on a regular basis. Moron, liar and sellout, to name a few.
I’m in no position to complain, though, since I occasionally use the same words to describe public officials and captains of industry.
But I’ve never been called a bigot so many times as I have since I wrote in my Sunday column about the boycott of El Coyote, the Los Angeles cantina whose Mormon manager donated $100 to Proposition 8, the successful November ballot initiative to ban gay marriage.
“Your article defending” the manager “is making the rounds on gay boards, which means that you’re becoming notorious for your bigotry,” wrote someone named Laight.
“You should be ashamed of yourself,” wrote Amy.
About two-thirds of the roughly 400 readers who sent e-mails took similar positions. They said I was too sympathetic to Margie Christoffersen in writing about how business at her mother’s margarita mill is way down, thanks in part to an organized boycott, and how Christoffersen is so distraught she has taken a leave of absence.
“Oh, poor Margie,” was a popular line among angry readers, as was, “Cry me a river.”
So did I get it wrong?
To summarize the column, I said I was opposed to Prop. 8 and to the ugly campaigns against gay marriage by organized religion. I also wrote that Christoffersen is entitled to her views no matter how objectionable they are to me or anyone else, and that 89 El Coyote employees shouldn’t be hurt by their manager’s politics.
I’m not taking any of it back, and that goes for my comments about organized religion, which ruffled the feathers of another flock of readers. But there’s room for honest disagreement on the many issues wrapped into this story, and I thought a lot of responses from readers were worth sharing.
T. Miyashiro-Sonoda wrote: “All couples (of any combination) should apply for a civil union license and have a civil ceremony. This would have all of the legal rights that are now granted by what we recognize as a ‘marriage.’ If the couple would like this union blessed or recognized by a church, synagogue, temple or any place of worship as a ‘marriage,’ another ceremony could be performed there. That way, any church, synagogue, temple or place of worship would have the right to recognize the union or not. What do you think?” I think I like it.
Marc Pattavina wrote: “Saying that she has no problems with gay people and loves them like everyone else but donates money to [Prop. 8] is no different than me saying I have no problems with Mexicans or blacks and then giving money to the Minutemen or the KKK. . . . If Margie was a real friend to the gay community she’d step up for her friends and not let herself be herded like a sheep by the Mormon Church. If they told her to jump off a bridge would she do that as well?”
My guess is yes.
Tim O’Shaughnessy wrote: “Those who supported this proposition for religious reasons committed the ultimate betrayal of Jesus Christ’s prime directive: ‘Judge not lest ye be judged.’ They reap what they sow.”
OK, Tim, but doesn’t that work both ways?
Jeff Dannels wrote: “Homophobia is not just another point of view. It’s not some harmless ‘I like Coke, he likes Pepsi’ difference of opinion. It is hateful and it is harmful.”
Agreed. But there’s been steady progress, and one day in California, gay marriage will be legal. It doesn’t surprise me that at least half the population isn’t there yet, and I don’t think blacklisting those who still aren’t comfortable with gay marriage advances the cause. But don’t take my word for it.
J. Greg Veneklasen wrote: “As a gay man I am VERY unhappy with reverse discrimination of the anti-8 crowd. Their reactionary strategy is definitely too much, too late. Where was this organization before the election, when it could have had an impact...Not a way to win over hearts and minds, guys.”
Good point. If the yes-on-8 campaign seemed unconscionable, the no-on-8 campaign seemed uninspired.
John A. Blue wrote: “I went to three same-sex marriages last summer, and the joy I saw at each is just indescribable. It absolutely boggles my mind that anyone, let alone any persons claiming to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, could want to destroy that joy. . . . In civil society, actions have to have consequences. Otherwise we are in a Malthusian world where life is nasty, brutish and short. I contributed to the No on 8 campaign, and if that persuades some Christians that they should not patronize me or my law firm, well, I will live with it. . . . I’d just as soon not provide my legal services to someone who thinks it’s OK to take away civil rights from a fellow citizen.”
A noble position.
April (no last name) wrote: “The issue is that she likes to make money from gays and anyone else willing to spend a buck in her restaurant. Despite being a Mormon, she serves alcohol -- to make money. Guess her faith is kinda flexible, but it’s okay when she’s anti-gay rights because of her faith?”
Also a fair point.
Maria Elena Hernandez wrote: “Tell Ms. Christoffersen to save her hankies and tissues for those of us whose wedding vows may be negated and to those who will have to wait until we have equal rights across the nation. My years of tears certainly outweigh hers.”
Hard to argue.
Richard Adkins wrote: “I am disappointed in our gay leaders who failed to identify the Mormon component in this election and use it to assist in the proposition’s defeat. . . . I will go to El Coyote on a Thursday night because I don’t think anyone should lose their livelihood over an opinion. . . . Any supporters of a political ideal need to be aware that they can become what they oppose.”
Don’t eat your fajitas in silence, Richard. Tell Margie how you feel about that opinion of hers.
Robert Barrone wrote: “Although I voted against Prop 8, and can only hope to understand the frustration in the gay community, I am reminded of [the famous quote]: ‘I disagree with what you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it.’ ”
That was Evelyn Beatrice Hall describing the French philosopher Voltaire’s beliefs. And speaking of Voltaire, isn’t he the one who said: “Prejudices are what fools use for reason?”