Being Nice

I swear, after this, I’m moving on from HB600, but, like I said, I think what happened during that vote brings into stark relief the problems we Democrats have. So, Steve Ross has a good post about why it’s counterproductive to be mad at the handful of Democrats who voted for HB600 and not the Republicans. I, of course, am also mad at the Republicans, but I expect nothing different. I do expect people ostensibly on my side to, you know, be on my side.

Ross says a couple of things specifically I want to address:

It’s natural to be more mad at people on your side that vote against you. They’re right there. That other side is so far away. But to what effect? Do you really think any of those 8 Democrats are going to listen to you after you throw them under the bus? Probably not. So the question I ask myself before I start, “what is my intended outcome?”


Discrimination aside, at the end of the day, this bill restricts the ability of a community to hold itself to a higher standard for the good of the community, and removes a community’s ability to contract according to local standards. This bill restricts Nashville to a lowest common denominator, which is ultimately anti-competitive in a world where community standards are constantly being raised.

I want to be clear that this is not a matter of me thinking that Ross is wrong. This is just a point in the conversation where we’ve reached a fork in the road and where he wants to go is not a place I can travel. For me, there is no “discrimination aside.” I don’t believe that, for instance, for Glen Casada or Jim Gotto, there was any “discrimination aside.” This was exactly about a small group of self-identified businessmen who met in semi-secret at Lifeway to plot how they could continue to fuck over gay people and transgender people AND continue to do business with Metro and how they’re getting the state to let them, when they couldn’t make Metro do what they wanted.

I don’t care how they framed it to be palatable to the less pro-discrimination Representatives who voted for it. I’m not interested in treating the cover they gave those cowardly fuckers as if it has equal weight to the truth of the matter. And I’m not interested in coming up with ways to make doing the right thing more palatable to cowards.

Probably that is valuable work that needs to be done. I’m just not interested in doing it.

I don’t think you can be so nice to people who are more powerful than you–and let’s not be mistaken into thinking that you and I are on the same footing as even the representatives in our state legislature–that they will do anything more than make your particular life comfortable. You can be so nice that you become the exception, the pet that needs to be spoiled.

But I can’t think of a single historical example where people who behaved themselves ever got people with power over them to give them real justice. And I’m not that interested in whether Eddie Bass, Charles Curtiss, John DeBerry, Bill Harmon, Michael Ray McDonald, Joe Pitts, David Shepard, John Tidwell, and John Mark Windle listen to me. They didn’t listen to me before.

I’m interested in them rethinking this bullshit pro-discrimination stand they’ve taken, whether on purpose or inadvertently, and not doing it again, because I’m interested in not only living in a state where it doesn’t suck to be a woman or gay or transgender or some combination therein, but also because I’m interested in belonging to a party where “should I help bigots fuck over vulnerable people?” isn’t even a dilemma for Democrats because the answer is always “no.”

If people feel thrown under a bus because I can’t play nice when they’ve helped make life harder for people, then I don’t really know what to say. Maybe they should feel thrown under a bus. Maybe while under that bus they should take a long hard look at the people they threw under there when making that vote.

6 thoughts on “Being Nice

  1. Yeah, I’m having trouble with thw who-threw-who-under-the-bus aspect of Steve’s post. We need to be able to call out Dems for supporting bigotry. If thry want to take their balls and go home because of it, well, they weren’t doing us any non-bigoted favors in the first place, and that says more about them than about the people who expect them to stand up for nondiscrimination. Politicians deserve to be held accountable and should expect to be questioned and criticized, regardless of party, full stop.

  2. You know, looking at the “discrimination aside” thing I wrote now, some 12+ hours after I wrote it, makes it sound pretty dumb.

    This was, after all, a bill about discrimination, and separating the discrimination from the other problems the bill has, one of which is restricting the right of a local gov’t to contract in a way that meets or exceeds their community standards (which was basically the point of the video clips), is ignoring the immediate impact of the bill.

    I do think some of these folks need (or feel they need) political cover, and I do think it was provided…they just didn’t take it. Political cover is a part of politics that bothers lots of folks. From my perspective, if some of these guys need a bankie to vote the right way more, then I say give them the fucking bankie so we can get down to cracking GOP heads, which was another point of the post.

    But in my quest for some kind of rhetorical bankie for these folks, I forgot the most important part…that there may now be a class of people in Tennessee that, if this bill is passed in the Senate and signed by Haslam, are fair game for any homophobic bastard that feels like firing them.

    I’ll correct that in the morning.

    Finally, as I noted in a comment on my post earlier today, I left one member that voted for the bill out, my State Representative, John DeBerry.

    I did that on purpose, because I know his district. I live in it. I can judge his performance with a great deal of understanding of the situation. The others, not so much.

    From my perspective, he has no excuse, and this isn’t even the 100th time he’s done something like this and still run unopposed in both the primary and the general.

    That particular issue will be addressed in due time.

    In all honesty, I’ve kinda been waiting for this post all day. I knew it was coming. Thanks for taking the time to call me out when I get so caught up in my words I lose my intent.



  3. At the end of the day, the question boils down to: Do we want to be state where bigotry is the legislated norm?

    In a state where the majority of voters are still sexists and racists (even before you get started on homophobes), we’ve still got a LOT of work to do changing the minds of the populace.

    Be angry with your legislators for not showing courage, morals, and leadership, yes. But also be angry at your neighbor for being a bigoted asshole who votes against his own economic self-interest in favor of hating his neighbor.

  4. I really don’t know if I should be dipping my toe in this water but I feel like if I don’t, I’ll burst.

    You mention Lifeway.

    I have to honestly say that in the years I’ve been more closely associated with that organisation and the organisations which support it , the more troubled I am.

    I honestly feel like there needs to be some sort of audit of Lifeway and that they quite possibly should lose their tax exempt status.

    Don’t get me wrong. I have many close friends who earn their livings there. But I just know so many things about them…about the way they see the world, about their love of money and their exclusionist thinking, their rapid shift to a neoCalvinist viewpoint (“We’ve got our salvation and are pretty sure the rest of you don’t even qualify”) that I’m troubled.

    I have no doubt that they are behind this bill and I have no doubt that the nature of this bill is exceedingly anti-Christian to its core.

  5. I really, really don’t like the idea that any group, regardless of political affiliation, that isn’t publicly accountable to anyone can meet in secret, regardless of where, and formulate a plan to force their will on a state that is, ostensibly, run by voters for all residents.

    I don’t know if this bill is anti-Christian or not. I guess it depends on a person’s understanding of Christianity. I do know that, if I were a non-Southern Baptist Christian, I’d be pissed that they have enough clout to make their version of Christianity the official Tennessee State Version of Christianity, which must be acquiesced to.

    And if I were a Southern Baptist, I’d be kind of livid that the denomination that is set up in a way to prevent these kinds of leadership abuses through diffused leadership has found, through Lifeway, a way for leaders to consolidate power without the checks that formal hierarchies can put on that power.

    That seems to me to kind of be the core issue here–that these men who’ve figured out how to circumvent the structure of the church (which was, as you know, put in place to prevent these kinds of power grabs) in order to force the church to do what it wants are now in the middle of using their ties to certain politicians to circumvent the structure of the state to force the state to do what it wants.

    I would, if I were feeling charitable, council Lifeway to remember that there are a lot of outstanding child abuse issues that the Baptists have been able to keep at bay because the Baptist church isn’t set up like the Catholic church. There’s no hierarchy that works together to set an agenda and shape the direction of the denomination as a whole.

    If plaintiffs can show that there is such a leadership and that it’s coming out of Lifeway, that might not be pretty.

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