My right to be offended by your existence trumps your right to exist

Rod Dreher tweets: “Oreo embraces gay pride? Since when do we expect supermarket cookies to take political stances?”

Because, you see, gay people aren’t really people — they’re political issues.

Dreher would never think to criticize green-stuf Oreos for St. Patrick’s Day as “a political stance,” but rainbow stuf Oreos for Pride Month are somehow essentially political. Celebrating Irishness with your Irish customers is cheerful fun and good business. Celebrating pride with your LGBT customers is a “political stance.”

What does that even mean? To take a political stand is to stand against something, but what, exactly, is the opposing position of the alleged “political stance” of the rainbow Oreo? Does Dreher think Nabisco ought to have produced an Oreo that “embraces gay shame” instead?

No, no, no, he would protest — he simply wants his Oreos neutral, to take no “political stance” in the controversy between pride and shame. WTF?

Again, try to imagine anyone saying such a thing about St. Patrick’s Day, or about your local Polish festival.

Every year, your local newspaper runs a photo of the mayor, grinning broadly over a plate of kielbasa served by a grandmother at the tent from Our Lady of Czestochowa. The mayor, of course, is a politician and he has political reasons for celebrating Polish heritage at the festival. He wants the Polish community’s votes in the next election.

But while the mayor’s joining in the celebration is in some ways political, that doesn’t mean that his presence at the festival constitutes his taking a particular “political stance.” To suggest that his attendance there amounts to “taking a political stance” would be weird and kind of creepy.

What would you think if someone argued that the mayor should have stayed “neutral” — keeping apart from the political fray of polkas and pirogies?

Such “neutrality” wouldn’t seem neutral at all. It would seem anti-Polish. It would lead you to suspect that the person calling for this neutrality on the “political stance” of the Polish festival harbored some deep-seated hatred toward Polish people.

The suggestion that celebrating Polish-ness is somehow a “political stance” implies that the very existence of Polish-ness is an unsettled matter of political controversy. It implies that one is not yet convinced that Polish people have a legitimate place in society, or even a legitimate right to exist.

I don’t think Rod Dreher wanted to suggest all of that in his tweet about rainbow Oreos, but there’s no other way to read what he’s saying there. To “embrace gay pride” is to “take a political stance,” he writes, meaning that LGBT people are existentially controversial. That their legitimacy is legitimately disputed. That their right to participate in society is an unsettled question.

“Embracing gay pride” is to “take a political stance” because it’s bound to unsettle those who deny, dispute or question gay people’s right to be here. A rainbow-colored Oreo cookie is a “political stance” because it’s bound to offend those who find the very existence of their LGBT fellow citizens offensive.

The cookie endorses no candidate, advocates no piece of pending legislation, favors no political party. But it reminds others that LGBT people exist , and that is perceived as a horrific insult by those who would prefer they didn’t.

That preference, Dreher is saying, is their right. Those who embrace gay shame have a right not to be confronted by such offensive reminders of that which they would prefer wasn’t so. And that right, Dreher is saying, must be presumed to be valid, legitimate and undisputed in a way that LGBT people’s right to participate in society cannot be.

It boils down to something like “My right to be offended by your existence trumps your right to exist.” That’s a pretty dark and creepy place to wind up at in response to such a fabulously festive cookie.

  • http://www.crochetgeek.net/ Jake

    Of course, 150 years ago, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day or going to the Polish festival would have been a political statement, and being anti-Irish was regarded as a perfectly reasonable way for an American to be. These days I suppose we still have people who will try to tease an antagonistic statement out of celebrating, say, African-American or Latin-American heritage. The idea that we can celebrate gay people is just another point along the spectrum of othering, and I can hope that soon enough the idea that recognizing that gay people (or African-Americans, or Latinos, or whoever else’s culture we’re intolerant of) can celebrate themselves ceases to be an incendiary issue.

    FWIW, the ice seems to be cracking remarkably quickly on gay rights. Some disenfranchised ethnic and racial groups have been slowly working for mainstream acceptance of their identity over the course of at least a century in America, but it looks like the idea that gay people can be and by default are participants in the American social fabric is taking hold in less than a generation.

  • TheDarkArtist

    All I know is that now I want to eat a delicious box of those cookies and have gay sex!

    Damn you, homosexual agendaaaaaaaaaa!!!

  • fraser

    This reminds me of Michael Gerson’s off-hand comment that Obama’s position on illegal immigrants was “a cultural battle.” Not, say, a decision that affects the lives of thousands of people.

  • Tonio

    If you believe people like Dreher, men
    will turn gay just by downing a few of the rainbow Oreos. What
    rubbish. I’m eating a couple now and…wait a minute, a
    guy just walked by and I caught myself looking at his rear end! Hey,
    now my wrists are getting limp! What’s happening to me? Why do I have
    this sudden urge to move into a tastefully decorated apartment in Dupont
    Circle? I’ll turn on ESPN. I need some
    testosterone-laden, bone-crunching sports action to put me back on the
    straight and narrow. Oh no, it’s Christopher Lowell on the Discovery
    Channel, and he’s starting to sound normal! You did this to me, Nabisco! You and Fred Clark and your gay propaganda! You’re part of the
    vast left-wing gay conspiracy to turn all decent family men into
    prancing, mincing queens! I can feel my heterosexuality slipping away even as I type this! Quick, someone get Pastor Sean Harris, so he can slap the gay away before it’s too late…!!

  • Tonio

    I hope so. In our house, we”ve explicitly told our children that there’s nothing wrong with being different.

    What would a gay shame Oreo look like? Perhaps it would resemble the homophobes’ hot dogs from SNL.

  • Eamon Knight

    When the Orange Men parade through Catholic areas of Belfast, or the KKK through black neighbourhoods, they aren’t just celebrating the existence of Protestants or whites, they’re making an explicitly political statement of power and intimidation. Dreher is trying to cast himself in the role of those Catholics or blacks — the underdog being threatened by the hegemonic power.

    Doesn’t really work, does it?

  • Vermic

    What would a gay shame Oreo look like?

     Exactly like a gay-pride Oreo, but you’re not allowed to open the box.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Exactly like a gay-pride Oreo, but you’re not allowed to open the box.

    ^open^leave

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    FWIW, the ice seems to be cracking remarkably quickly on gay rights.[...] the idea that gay people can be
    and by default are participants in the American social fabric is taking
    hold in less than a generation.

    Well, it started gaining momentum more than a generation ago, but I agree that it’s remarkably fast.

    It really helps that we are difficult to exclude by sight. Our devious strategy of being born into and raised within otherwise straight families and communities, and often within straight identities has been helpful that way: rejecting strangers is a lot easier than rejecting friends and family.

    Or course, it has taken a heartrending toll on many of us as individuals.

  • WingedBeast

    Jake stole my initial response.

    When hate, or at least acceptance thereof, becomes normative enough, acceptance becomes a political statement.   That statement, however, is “This is America.”

    It has long since ceased to amaze me and is now just a casual expectation that those who wave the flag the hardest, and make the most hay about how certain candidates don’t wave that flag as hard as they could, just don’t understand the basic notion of America.  We’re the place where you can be different and still one of us.

    You have the right to live here, build yourself up however you choose*, own your own fate and roll your own dice, and, however you build yourself up, however strange you look to the rest of us, however odd or even offensive ** that may be to us, you’re still one of us.

    So, congratulations to Oreo for making the same political statement politicians are, by political necessity, required to make at any Cinqo De Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest, Black History Month, etc.  “You aren’t necessarily like the rest of us.  You are different with your own unique experience.  But, you are one of us to be celebrated.”

    * So long as you’re not doing any actual injury to other people.***

    ** Offense does not constitute injury.

    *** Being forced to notice that somebody, who you would prefer not to exist, does exist does not constitute an injury.

  • tiredofit

    Especially since St. Patrick’s Day is not an Irish holiday, but an Irish Catholic holiday with great political implications.

  • Jessica_R

    The Professionally Offended are going after General Mills too. But again, the response is heartening, 
    http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/general-mills-employees-serves-refreshments-to-anti-marriage-equality-protesters/marriage/2012/06/28/42275

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1137545863 Ian Cunningham

    Had this tweet not existed, it would not have prompted this post, which if it had not existed, I would never know about rainbow Oreos, which I must now purchase and consume at my earliest opportunity. Maybe Rod Dreher is a shill for Big Cookie?

  • http://dumas1.livejournal.com/ Winter

     

    What would a gay shame Oreo look like? Perhaps it would resemble the homophobes’ hot dogs from SNL.

    Exactly the same, but they spontaneously combust if someone else sees you eating them.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    It implies that one is not yet convinced that Polish people have a legitimate place in society, or even a legitimate right to exist.

    There’s the key word: “legitimacy”! 
    That’s what gets Dreher’s panties in a bunch: legitimacy. 

    There are things that are “legitimate” to Mr. Dreher: going to church, working hard, getting married, having children with your married spouse, and raising a family. 

    There are things that are illegitimate to Mr. Dreher: lying, stealing, having sex outside of marriage, using illegal drugs, cheating on your taxes, beating your spouse, and so on.

    At the core, Dreher’s objection is that there are “gay people”, versus “people who choose to engage in an act he considers illegitimate”. 

    Dreher no doubt believes homosexual attraction is a choice; I’m sure he believes that if no one ever saw or heard of homosexual sex that no one would ever engage in it. He probably wouldn’t use these terms, but I suspect Dreher thinks of people as tabula rasta, blank slates that are written upon by those around them. Forty years ago, he would probably have encouraged the beating of children who wrote with their left hands instead of their right.  Had he been raised in a different culture with less education, I’m sure he would be arguing to perform exorcisms on epileptics. 

  • Nequam

    Had this tweet not existed, it would not have prompted this post, which if it had not existed, I would never know about rainbow Oreos, which I must now purchase and consume at my earliest opportunity.

    Unfortunately, I think they only made the six-layer mockup for the photo (which these days may mean that even that one cookie doesn’t exist thanks to the marvels of Photoshop).

    Nothing stopping you from getting some food dye and boding up your own, though! (Me, I’d rather look at that Oreo than eat it. That is waaaaaay too high a filling/wafer ratio.)

  • mud man

    Sorta like somebody’s indignation at the job going to somebody else trumps Voss Lighting’s existence as community of active faith. 

    I entirely support The Oreo Company’s private right to make stuff in whatever colors they choose, for whatever reasons they privately consider appropriate.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Yes, the actual ad has the caption “Made with creme colors that do not exist”. Google turns up some homemade ones, of course.

    Also – love this bit of snark: http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m68ui6rOFG1qzdimx.jpg – the standard Oreo gets the caption “they didn’t like the blacks and whites touching either”.

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

    I love the look of that six-layer rainbow Oreo, but when I try to imagine actually EATING one, I get two reactions, neither one pleasant.

    (1) I open my mouth wide, my teeth crunch down through the cocoa-biscuit, and the pressure squidges rainbow-filling all over the floor. Yells of “HOMER! DON’T!” as self or girlfriend rush for kitchen towel to wipe up the sugar before the dog exercises his usual it’s-on-the-floor-it’s-mine privileges.

    (2) I carefully separate the two halves and manage to eat the rainbow Oreo without squidging it all over the floor. SUGAR OVERLOAD. I feel slightly sickish and about half an hour later starving hungry as blood sugar CRASH.

    So can it stay a beautiful rainbow idea that REALLY annoys fundies? Cause it is beautiful.

  • We Must Dissent

    I really don’t like Oreos at all, but I’m thinking about buying a box of these just for spite’s sake.

  • Tonio

    Me, I’d rather look at that Oreo than eat it.

    Me too, but only because food dyes can be unhealthy.

  • Tonio

     I can’t believe I’m going to go there…With a gay shame Oreo, one saves the filling for last while eating in secret, while eating only the wafers in public and vociferously condemning the filling-eaters as disgusting perverts.

  • Münchner Kindl

    Me too, but only because food dyes can be unhealthy.

    There are a lot of natural food dyes – carotene that’s made from carrots makes cheddar orange; red beet juice turns red; etc. But since American consumers want bright colours, they only get unnatural dyes. (Haribo has two different productions of gummi bears: all natural colours for German consumers who want natural; all synthetic colours for USians who want bright colours).

    I, too, wondered how you could eat that big a stack; and whether the colouring is taste-neutral, or the different layers are themed (red for strawberry taste, green for mint, yellow for lemon etc.)

    But apparently it doesn’t exist for real?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    …who do nothing and care for nothing except eating the creme filling out of (ahem) Oreos. Eventually one expands that mythology to include the idea that filling-eaters loathe the very idea of chocolate wafers, much as one has oneself come to loathe one’s own chocolate-wafer-eating public existence.

    Meanwhile, it turns out that everyone else is just eating Oreos.

  • Georgia

    Christians Against the Tea Party on Facebook likes to quote you : )

    https://www.facebook.com/Christiansagainstea

  • ReverendRef

     Unfortunately, I think they only made the six-layer mockup for the photo
    (which these days may mean that even that one cookie doesn’t exist
    thanks to the marvels of Photoshop).

    I’m a big fan of the DoubleStuff Oreos (actually prefer Ding Dongs, but that’s another story).  So if I could get my hands on a SextupleStuff Oreo and a gallon of milk . . . Oh yeah.

  • Jenny Islander

    Maybe in 50 years, there will be a national Pride Day on which anybody can be non-vanilla non-hetero for the day.  Slow dance with your best bud!  Cross-dress!  (If there is still widely recognized  gendered clothing!)  Try out faux bondage gear!  (Come to that, the official Pride Day “cross-dressing” outfit may be 1940s men’s and women’s glamwear, highly stylized.)  Put on special coruscating rainbow lipstick and kiss as many people as possible!  “Pride Day–Let’s Play!” will become the new “Kiss Me–I’m Irish!” and little cartoon men in tutus and fairy wings will be as annoyingly seasonally ubiquitous as St. Patrick’s Day leprechauns.

    Meanwhile the actual non-vanilla, non-hetero folks will be having quiet gatherings at which they reflect on the struggles previous generations endured in order to gain the right to marry, have consenting sex with like-minded partners, and/or raise kids.  Or they’ll just go, “Pfff, mehh,” and stay out of certain parts of town for one night because urgh, Pride Day is tacky and annoying.

  • Tonio

     I have a relative who has reactions to FD&C colors – abdominal cramps and mood changes. Most of the things with these dyes are marketed to children, although there are exceptions. Pickles? Really?

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    …trumps Voss Lighting’s existence as community of active faith.

    Except it’s not. It’s a lighting company – the clue’s in the name. Being a boss is somewhat different to being a dictator, as much as the Right refuses to acknowledge that.

  • The_L1985

    Damn, and all this time my idea of What A Gummy Bear Should Be has been dictated by the wrong version of Gold-Bears.

    Et tu, Haribo?

  • The_L1985

    I don’t want to sound like an ad, but I’m a fan of Stonybrook yogurt–especially the kids’ yogurt–for the specific reason that they use bright-but-pleasant natural dyes (it actually says “Beet Juice” instead of the “Natural Colors” cop-out) instead of weird neon colors and gag-worthy artificial flavorings like every other kids’ yogurt.

  • Münchner Kindl

    I have a relative who has reactions to FD&C colors – abdominal cramps and mood changes. Most of the things with these dyes are marketed to children, although there are exceptions.

    If you had proper licensing laws and a non-gutted FDA, your relative could look at the labels for what over here is known as E-numbers and avoid those commonly known as problematic / artifical.

    Here’s the list of colours used:
     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-numbers#E100.E2.80.93E199_.28colours.29

    Pickles? Really?

    Who said anything about pickles?? I didn’t. I talked about red beet, a root that contains a red colouring that’s taste-neutral but difficult to get from your hands when you handle it, or your clothes if you stain them.

    Sadly, the colours (and other ingredients) aren’t organized by origin, so you have to look at each entry to figure out whether it comes from plants or is an azo- (artifical) colouring.

  • Tonio

    Thanks for the listing.  I meant that it’s simply ridiculous that manufacturers would use artificial dyes in pickles. Of course, at one time, pistachio companies assumed that few people would by them if the shells weren’t stained red.

  • Tonio

     We are a Stonybrook household, especially the yogurt sticks which are great when frozen.

  • Münchner Kindl

    This is one of the typical ads for Haribo Gold bears in Germany http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fl9xTH2Bwe4 with famous (in Germany) Tommy Gottschalk http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gottschalk doing the ad.

    If you look at the dancing bears at the end, you will note that their colours are muted and there’s no blue (can’t be made naturally – too rare in nature), purple or other difficult colours.

    The change is only a few decades old, though, when German consumers got increasingly aware of additives in the food being bad for you.

    If you want something real German, try “Apfelbärchen” – apple bears http://www.allsana.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p6550_Bio-Apfelbaerchen.html. Not available from Haribo, but in local organic shops, they are made with Apple pectin instead of gelatin (from animals) like Haribo, so vegetarians can eat them, too. (They melt even quicker in heat, though, come only in one colour, and taste less exciting. But far healthier).

    I also remember the second big PR campaign of Haribo, back then, when they announced that they would henceforth only use natural beeswax as seperating agent (to keep the bears from sticking together) instead of the artifical agent used before).

    Haribo does keep secret about the different markets, though, probably because people aren’t much interested and don’t often stumble across it. I only read about it in an article about the use of intelligent software for multi-national companies and how marketing (and with it logistics) must be tailored to each culture.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     I wish I could like this twice.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

     American labels do have to list the dyes they use. They have different names, but they are still listed. I just double-checked with a packet of lovely imported Kool-Aid.

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    Because, you see, gay people aren’t really people — they’re political issues … Again, try to imagine anyone saying such a thing about St. Patrick’s Day, or about your local Polish festival.

    In the far-right lunatic fringe mind, remember, being gay, unlike being Irish, is a choice … just like choosing to have an abortion, or choosing to be a lazy poor person, or choosing to be an anti-American Moslem terrorism supporter.  It’s a terrible, awful, no-good choice made by bad people, and it’s right and fair to ridicule and persecute them for it.  The way you laugh at the fat kid on the playground.  Like Jesus taught us.  

  • Münchner Kindl

    I meant that it’s simply ridiculous that manufacturers would use artificial dyes in pickles.

    Oh, I misunderstood you! Sorry.

    My friend got headaches after pickles and realized that most companies replace part of their sugar with saccarin / aspartame, to which he’s apparently sensitive. So now he looks very carefully at the labels to be sure it’s only sugar in there. (Amazing how much sugar is in some ready-made food: ketchup has up to a third sugar! Because kids like it sweet).

    Before the founding of the FDA and similiar agencies, in the mid- and late 19th century, really poisionous stuff was used for colour: lead, arsenic etc.

  • Monala

     How do they know Americans want only bright colors? I would love to find more foods that are colored with natural dyes, especially the foods my daughter likes.

  • AnonymousSam

    Aun-nurgh. x_o

    I would be more eloquent today, but I’m fresh out of SAN after having been directed to the Top 100 list of worst things ever seen from the fingers or mouth of a fundamentalist.

  • Tonio

    Our kids went through a phase when they would choose a store-bought sugar cookie with neon-pink icing over a homemade chocolate-chip cookie without tasting either first. They learned the hard way that the icing tasted like sugared spackling compound and probably resembled it chemically. So much advertising is aimed at children that it can be a struggle to nurture their tastes, culinary and otherwise.

  • http://profiles.google.com/esperandopara Nicholas Reed

    I used to be a red-blooded, God-fearing, heterosexual, “real American.”  But somehow, seeing rainbow colours in a cookie has now convinced me to hate Jesus and vaginas.  I will now ditch my wife and children, who I have suddenly and whimsically decided I no longer care about, in accordance with the Gay agenda. Because everyone but fundamentalist Christian Republicans are such a weak, impressionable characters that our judgment can be completely overwhelmed and all our most important life choices dictated by a fycking cookie that doesn’t even exist.

    In order to be offended by the ad, the above narrative has to be plausible to you; you would have to believe that someone out there might actually think that way. And yet those who are threatening boycotts are absolutely convinced that they have better judgment and more moral fortitude than everyone who disagrees with them. Talk about being a weak, impressionable character…

  • Münchner Kindl

    How do they know Americans want only bright colors?

    Market research – probably both looking at what the competition in the sweet aisle of the supermarkets look likes, and by testing different types on consumers.

    Like I said, it was a throw-away paragraph in a longer article to illustrate the difficulties for international companies, so they didn’t go into any detail.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/BYRV35EWCL4AKVA3APJHDTND6A Steve

    So, in other words, Rod Dreher is protesting the right of Nabisco to pursue market share from a particular demographic, mainly because he objects to the existence of that demographic?  Are you trying to restrain free tade, Rod?  The Tea Party would like to have a word with you… ;-)

  • AnonymousSam

    The things I’m reading indicate that this is 100% plausible to far too many people. Allow me to quote:

    We have to tolerant and inclusive. In the future all heterosexuals will have to submit to a night of gay sex to prove their loyalties to the ideals of tolerance and inclusiveness. The Democratic party will demand it. Joe Biden will demand it. Obama’s safe sex czar will demand it. If you don’t submit you will be fined and forced to buy an ornament of gay Jesus for the Christmas tree.

    It could be a poe, but these days, it’s all too likely to be sincere…

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Agree with you on the filling:wafer ratio. A better methodology for gay cookies would be to have one colour in each cookie, arranged in the traditional manner. 

    And to remember indigo, dammit.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Sadly, they don’t actually exist. I was just having this conversation with my SO, and we debated how hard it would be to make one using food dye. 

  • MaryKaye

    Have people heard Weird Al Yankovich’s parody of “The Right Stuff” about Oreos, called “The White Stuff”?  It seems applicable to this thread in a number of ways….

  • Stone_Monkey

    I would have though that visibility would be exactly what the homophobic bigots want from LGBTQ people; surely they should be crying out for more of it. Visibility, one would assume,  makes it far easier for them to spot the people they want to persecute. Otherwise, how are they going to tell them apart from everyone else?

    I mean, those of us with what the racist bigots would surely think of as “non-standard” ethnicities are impossible to miss. It’s no wonder that “passing” was considered such an abomination by the racists primarily because it meant that they would actually miss out on opportunities to persecute some of the people who they felt surely deserved it…

    After all, the last thing any stripe of bigot wants is to find themselves thinking of “the Other” as deserving of kindness, compassion and fair treatment like anyone else. I mean, they might have to then think about their motives, and that just wouldn’t do.


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