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://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

     I think what you’re missing is that many of them don’t see persecuting LGBTQ people as an ends in itself, merely the means to an end:  To make LGBTQ people disappear.  Whether that disappearance is due to the fact that we cease to actually exist or simply go back into our closets and pretend we’re someone we’re not makes little difference to them.

  • Panda Rosa

    Simple: it would have no cream filling at all, just the two outside chocolate cookies. Because everyone knows that the creamy vanilla filling is the best part!
    Oh dear, now I’ve gone and made a case for Oreos being a gay cookie. Especially in how you eat them.

  • Zumadave

    Next up for nabisco: bland white cookie with wine flavored cream filling. A communion hit to appease the gay haters.

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

    More offended wtf-ery: http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/genreville/?p=1998

    Yes, allowing gay marriage means that by 2065 we’ll have rapid and cheap Moon travel (but no two-way communication with it), polygamists who are wildly unhappy about it, nuclear war, and an “American Indian” president.

    If I were going to make a rainbow Oreo, I’d try to have one layer with all 6 parts in segments, with the right frosting and a pastry bag it should be possible.

  • Tricksterson

    I just don’t see how anyone could fit their mouth around one of those things.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MEJ4FWDLETFH7BTEMY27VNVGM4 Matthew

    As much as I want to agree with Fred, I think he is engaging in a bit of overreach here.  The problem is one of context.  There is no reputable opposition to a Polish festival, so a mayor’s endorsement of such a festival is all up-side; the mayor is not weighing the issue of which group of constituents to support.

    Here’s contrasting example; the Orange Day parades in Northern Ireland.  Now, there is nothing intrinsically problematic about a group of Protestants celebrating the start of the Reformation.  And in a less charged environment (i.e., just about anywhere outside of Northern Ireland), local politicians of any faith could appear in a celebration of the Reformation without being at all controversial, and being political only in the sense of wanting to express solidarity with a bunch of voters.  But in the context of the Troubles, the parades became something altogether more sinister; they were an instrument of oppression and intimidation.  It is no coincidence that the parades snakes through predominantly Catholic areas.  Politicians could, and did attend such parades, but there was no question that such actions were political statements of sectarian support.

    Now, I am not saying that Gay Pride marches are equivalent to Orange Day parades.  But I think it is disingenuous to suggest that they do not not have a political element.  As long as (otherwise) reputable people (like Dreher, for instance) oppose gay rights, the place of gay people in society is a political flashpoint.  Which means that Nabisco should be commended – they are taking a political stand in support of tolerance and inclusion, and in opposition to the traditional values of suppression of dissent and occlusion of difference. 

    (Or they have simply made a calculation that they stand to gain more by selling rainbow colored cookies than they will lose to boycotts from bigots.  But even in this case, they are choosing sides in a political conflict.)

  • LL

    I should feel sad for these people. I don’t, but how sad is someone who always a) points out everything that they don’t like, no matter what it is, no matter how seemingly harmless it is (my mother is one of these) and b) thinks that that thing is some sort of threat that needs to be stopped? How small and mean as a person are you when you just can’t say, “Eh, whatever.”?

    I have to do that every day. I see things I think are kind of appalling or dumb every day. But I don’t go out of my way to point them out and then suggest that they shouldn’t exist, simply because I don’t like them. 

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I think you’re giving Mr. Dreher too much credit to assume he’s against husbands beating their wives, or against rich people cheating on their taxes.

  • Tricksterson

    Even if I agreed with the stance of that article I’d have to hate it jus tfor being horrible, horrible science fiction.

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

    …practice?

    *avoids making dirty joke*

  • iiii

    I wish they’d make varicolored oreo fillings and sell them in rainbow-ordered packages every June, followed by red-white-blue sets for July.

    Presumably someone in management there has already floated this idea or something like it and they decided it wouldn’t be cost-effective… but it sure would be pretty.

  • MadGastronomer

     Indigo is not and never has been part of the Pride colors. Pink used to be, though.

  • Nequam

    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.

    See, I’d rather have six Oreos, one for each color of filling.

  • Nequam

    Because everyone knows that the creamy vanilla filling is the best part!

    I’ll be honest– I think I could eat the wafers just by themselves. The filling is just a bonus. So if anyone wants to make the six-layer monstrosity they can just send the extra wafers my way. (Good for pie and tart crusts, too!)

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I also imagined squishing filling out between the cookies when trying to eat the Gay Pride Oreo.

    So I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or disappointed when I realized that it was a manip.  If you look closely at the filling, you will see that the lines in the filling are exactly the same on each layer. 

    Whoever made it photographed one cookie and then duplicated the filling five more times and colored each one, but didn’t bother to polish out the lines and other markings first.   The first one I noticed was the two diagonal lines on the right-hand side, but now I can see about seven other markings that were exactly the same on each layer.

  • Tardigradepat

    “Here’s contrasting example; the Orange Day parades in Northern Ireland.”

    Except the crucial difference here is context.
    In a Protestant-majority area where Catholics have been systematically oppressed for centuries, and religious violence is even now a legitimate concern, Protestants marching through Catholic neighborhoods in celebration of their religion is an incitement of violence and an act of intimidation. “Protestant Pride” in that context becomes a euphemism for, and justification of, terrorist acts.

    In a nation where Gays (and the rest of the alphabet) have been, and still are being, denied rights in defiance of the Constitution, literally the highest law in the land, a position of Gay Pride is a re-affirmation that those people exist and have an expectation of being treated with dignity and respect. 

    A powerful group declaring they are proud of their race/religion/orientation is worrisome, because it reinforces the idea that they deserve special privileges. A weak group declaring they are proud of their race/religion/orientation is generally a good thing, because it reinforces the idea that they deserve basic human rights.

    I agree with you that, unfortunately, affirming people’s humanity is a political stand; I think Fred is trying to say that it *shouldn’t* be a political statement.

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

    If you are Nabisco, you simply make huge batches of each colour stuf and load it into the squirters. Inserting your own after-market stuf is a pain in the neck no matter what colour.

    When I was very little I tried dumping a whole bunch of sugar into a half-empty bucket of Crisco to make my own stuf. Didn’t work too well. 

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

    But then how do you pronounce poor Mr. Roy G’s last name? BV or BPV? There needs to be a vowel there!

  • MadGastronomer

     I don’t, mostly. You know indigo is only included in that because Newton thought seven was a perfect number, right?

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

    I’m guessing you mean “ideal” rather than “perfect,” as “perfect number” has a specific mathematical definition that Newton was certainly aware of – and 6 *is* a perfect number (the first one, in fact!)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_number

  • Makarios

    @ LL–The prepetual outrage, the constant ginning up of non-issues, the insistence on making a culture-war battlefield out of every single thing, is how people like Dreher keep the troops riled up. It brings clicks to their blogs, money into their coffers, and voters to the polls. It’s of a piece with the annual outcries about the

    War on Christmas™, the overheated calls for boycotts of any business that doesn’t treat QUILTBAG folks like pariahs, and now a picture of a cookie. It’s petty, it’s cynical, and it can be pretty darned effective amongst a certain demographic.

  • PJ Evans

    Maybe they should put out packages of Oreos with cookies in each of the rainbow colors?

  • PJ Evans

    at one time, pistachio companies assumed that few people would by them if the shells weren’t stained red

    I’ve heard that they were dyed to hide dinged or otherwise flawed shells. That changed when pistachios started being grown in quantity in the US. (They like deserty areas best.)

  • MadGastronomer

     Well, if I recall, he specifically preferred seven over six for alchemical or numerological reasons instead of mathematical ones. I could be wrong about that, but that’s what I remember.

  • MadGastronomer

     From the Wikipedia article on the spectrum:

    He chose seven colors out of a belief, derived from the ancient Greek sophists, that there was a connection between the colors, the musical notes, the known objects in the solar system, and the days of the week.

  • Keulan

    This is the same as the way anti-atheist bigots react to being reminded of the existence of atheists. They are “offended” that people who don’t believe in god(s) exist and are open about it. They’re just like Dreher and his fellow anti-gay bigots, who take offense at the existence of gay people.
    Good to see that the makers of Oreos are on the side of equality. It just makes me like their cookies even more.

  • LMM22

    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.

    Yeah. And there’s way too much disco and songs from musicals.

    On the other hand, the theatrical performances are to die for.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

      Now, there is nothing intrinsically problematic about a group of Protestants celebrating the start of the Reformation. And in a less charged environment (i.e., just about anywhere outside of Northern Ireland), local politicians of any faith could appear in a celebration of the Reformation without being at all controversial,

    I’m not sure if you’e naive or just not Catholic, but a politician celebrating the start of the Reformation would be controversial just about anywhere, not only Northern Ireland.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    So I’m back from the shops where I went to buy Oreos. Thanks for the craving, everyone. I walked there and bought some bananas and a capsicum too, so it wasn’t a completely sugar-laden activity.

  • Stone_Monkey

    It’s also not the start of the Reformation they’re celebrating, not in NI anyway. They’re celebrating the defeat of James II forces at the Battle of the Boyne on 12 July 1690, the end of the Catholic Monarchy in Britain and thus the supremacy of Protestants over Catholics. They’re called the Orange Order for a reason, that reason being the Accession of the William III of Orange (via his wife, Mary II, who was James II daughter) to the English throne during the Glorious Revolution (which, ironically enough, happened on November 5 – an infamous date in Britain for other reasons that are also to do with Catholicism). There’s a reason the Marching Season has caused trouble in the past, and probably will in future, unfortunately. 

    There’s a whole mess of sectarian nonsense around this, but the one thing it’s definitively not about is commemorating the start of the Reformation.

  • malpollyon

    Indigo is not and never has been part of the Pride colors. Pink used to be, though.

    Are you sure about that? The history I’ve always heard gives its origin in Gilbert Baker’s eight-striped flag where indigo represented harmony, it also contained a hot pink stripe representing sex. Then hot pink stripe was dropped leaving seven colours, and finally the flag was redesigned to the modern six coloured iconic form replacing indigo with blue.

  • MadGastronomer

     You’re right, I’d forgotten that iteration. I stand corrected.

  • Lori

     

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

    Do you really still not understand why these are not remotely the same thing and why Voss Lighting is in any case  not a “community of active faith”?

    I assume that you have at least graduate high school. If so and you’re logic skills are still this poor then I find myself, yet again, weeping for the state of our educational system.  (If you’re still in school I hope they get to this part of logical reasoning before you graduate. )

  • Lori

    Further proof that Dreher and his ilk have already lost this fight and just refuse to notice:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrqqD_Tsy4Q&list=UUOCUuEaxCY0013YPnl0BJPQ&index=2&feature=plcp

    This is a video that a US high school student did for a video production class. Yes, it’s US-centric I’m pretty sure that’s the point. In any case, my reason for posting it is to note what he shows at 1:35.

    Dreher and NOM and all the rest of the haters can moan and complain and spend millions upon millions of dollars to delay the inevitable, but it’s still inevitable. The fact that the homophobes are having success delaying it is wrong and infuriating, but I’m still thrilled and amazed that we’ve come to the point where I can honestly say those rights will be settled within my lifetime (assuming that I don’t die at a statistically young age).

  • Tricksterson

    This reminds me of Koyanisqaatsi

  • Green Eggs and Ham

    The title of the article makes perfect sense.  It is also equally true that my right to make a profit trumps your right to survive working for me.

    I wish this were snark, but unfortunately and most tragically, this is true in an all too common way around the globe.

    I think it derives from a point I made in another thread:  There are many who think they have the right to privileges, and how dare anyone suggest that equality is a better standard.

  • The_L1985

     I’m goign to have to do that.

  • The_L1985

    Those are the Gold-Bears I remember from my childhood, too–same colors and everything.  This nonsense about blue bears in the American version must be new, then–I last ate gummis of any kind about a decade ago.

    Most American gummis are WAY too soft for my tastes.  I’ve always preferred how much firmer Haribo’s are.  I just haven’t bought much in the way of candy since I was on Atkin’s for a while as a teen.

  • The_L1985

    I’ve stopped buying pre-packaged bread in place of the fresh stuff from the bakery department (or just the diet flatbreads) because of the sweetener.  Why does bread need so much corn syrup?  IT’S BREAD.

    And the artificial colors used NOW can kill you if they accidentally put too much in.  The current trend toward brighter and brighter colors in children’s food bothers the hell out of me.

  • The_L1985

     Seconded.  I honestly would have been more than happy with the usual birghtly-colored packaging.  But then, dinner at my house, even when I was a kid, was homemade pasta, pot roasts, or salmon loaf, none of which are particularly outstanding in the color department.

  • The_L1985

    Most states don’t teach logic in K-12 at ALL.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Which should be considered criminal negligence, in my opinion.  We need a population that understands logic if we want our democracy to be functional.  I tend to think that a lot of our current legislative deadlock and knee-jerk voting could have been avoided if more people were willing to apply a little logic to the political process.  

  • Münchner Kindl

    Yes, allowing gay marriage means that by 2065 we’ll have rapid and cheap Moon travel (but no two-way communication with it), polygamists who are wildly unhappy about it, nuclear war, and an “American Indian” president.

    Aside from all the other idiocies in this article (no real food, but IV – yeah, that’s only more expensive!) – what struck me most that abolishing one man-one women marriages leads to … polygamist marriages, and that’s somehow terrible, although

    1. The biblical patriarchs were allowed several wifes

    2. The ten commandments only forbid adultery, not multiple wives

    3. It’s mathematically difficult, because men and women are roughly 50:50. Even in extreme patriarchal societies like India and China, who use amniocentesis + abortion to lower the rate of girls, the total proportion hasn’t changed much. (Available girls in a particular age range, beautiful without blemishes, and cheap enough to afford the price, – those are becoming scarce, but that’s a very narrow subset of all women).

  • Münchner Kindl

    I’m not sure if you’e naive or just not Catholic, but a politician celebrating the start of the Reformation would be controversial just about anywhere, not only Northern Ireland.

    um, why? No he wouldn’t. When the Protestant Church holds their two-yearly Church day, politicans attend (and not only known protestantic politicans, either).

    The Reformation was an important part of German history, so if a round year is celebrated, why should politicans not attend festivities?

  • The_L1985

     I strongly agree. Sadly, the way the boards of education are set up….well.

    You did hear that last week the Texas BofE chose NOT to teach critical-thinking skills because “that would encourage rebellion?”  Yeah, boards of education are not exactly accountable to the people.

  • The_L1985

     Don’t forget, though, that polygamy could theoretically also include the practice of one woman taking several husbands.  The primary reason this form never caught on historically was because inheritance laws were based on paternity, which is easier to determine when a woman is only having sex with one man.

  • Lori

     

    Most states don’t teach logic in K-12 at ALL.  

    Not formal logic, but they pretty much have to teach some kind of logical reasoning skills in order to teach other things. Math, obviously, but also things like how to right the basic five paragraph essay.

    If a person has gotten far enough in school to have learned story problems and the FPE then s/he should at least be able to recognize that mud man’s argument about Voss Lighting is nonsense. The person may not be able to identity exactly why it’s nonsense, but they should know that it’s wrong.

  • Lori

     

    You did hear that last week the Texas BofE chose NOT to teach
    critical-thinking skills because “that would encourage rebellion?” 
    Yeah, boards of education are not exactly accountable to the people.  

    The issue in Texas is that opposition to critical-thinking skills is an official plank in the Texas GOP party platform*. I don’t think the BoE had anything to do with it or that anything about primary education in Texas has changed.

    *The Texas GOP has since said that this was an error. Clearly their “error” was in being so honest about the fact that they hate critical thinking skills because those skills tend to make people not vote for the Texas GOP.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     

    If a person has gotten far enough in school to have learned story
    problems and the FPE then s/he should at least be able to recognize that
    mud man’s argument about Voss Lighting is nonsense. The person may not
    be able to identity exactly why it’s nonsense, but they should know that
    it’s wrong.

    I think the problem is less, “People don’t have critical reasoning skills” and more “People will choose to suspend their critical reasoning skills in order to accept something that they supports something they already believe”. 

    I’m sure that if you took those same people and presented them equally flawed arguments in support of something that hurt them personally, all of a sudden they would find the ability to poke those arguments full of holes.

    Should we do a better job of teaching logic and math? Absolutely. But I don’t think that it will have as much of an impact as some of us assume. If highly-educated scientists can be suckered into believing dubious proofs that justify their homophobia, their Young Earth Creationism, etc. despite going to some of the best schools in the history of the planet…

  • Münchner Kindl

    Don’t forget, though, that polygamy could theoretically also include the practice of one woman taking several husbands. The primary reason this form never caught on historically was because inheritance laws were based on paternity, which is easier to determine when a woman is only having sex with one man.

    I thought the term for one woman, several men was polyandry? And if I remember correctly, some groups in Tibet or Nepal have a variant where a woman marries all the brothers of the first husband, too. Apparently the same motive as for the sequential multiple husbands called Levite Law, where a woman married the brother of her dead husband to continue the line: a dangerous enviroment, or lots of war, kills too many men to supply a 1:1 ratio.


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