In 1992, a couple of years after we retired to the Oregon Coast from San Francisco, this litle bit of politics popped up and hit me right in the solar plexus. It felt like being kicked by a mule. These things always do:
“ All governments in Oregon may not use their monies or properties to promote, encourage or facilitate homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism or masochism. All levels of government, including public education systems, must assist in setting a standard for Oregon's youth which recognizes that these behaviors are abnormal, wrong, unnatural and perverse and they are to be discouraged and avoided. ”
There was only one thing to do -- get involved in seeing that the thing failed at the ballot box. What a panorama of accusation. Is homosexuality really the equivalent of pedophilia? Are any of these things equivalents? Does having a gay teacher or hiring a gay worker in your office or renting an apartment to a gay tenant really "facilitate homosexuality?" Basically, it outlawed anything that would allow a gay person to survive. This was a nightmare of a ballot measure.
Then they sent in the troops. Little old ladies with blued hair and sweet smiles, who spewed forth filth and misinformation with shocking disregard for either truth or profanity. I heard one woman inform the crowd from a Methodist pulpit that since gays can't reproduce, they must recruit, and they are after your children. She said they rarely live to be more than 30 because of all the sexually transmitted diseases they get since each one has more than1000 sexual partners over a lifetime. She also went into detail about what they all did in the privacy of their boudoirs, which included things I would never have even imagined. It took a pretty good (and filthy) imagination to come up with all that stuff, and probably a lot of porn to help it along. Just stunning! They had pamphlets with all of it in print so we could take it home and ponder the horrors of such a "lifestyle choice."
As if. After this event, a great many bumper stickers showed up around town that read "One recruit short of a toaster oven." She left out the part about gay people having a great sense of humor in the face of adversity.
We defeated the stupid thing by something like 630,000 to 430,000. That was very heartening. That 430,000 people fell for those heinous lies is a little scary. The rural areas voteds for it and the urban areas voted against.
The chief method they used to push this was lies to instill fear, loathing and hatred. They did probably manage to work people up to the point where some guy came up from California and murdered two lesbian real estate agents simply for existing. He thought they were monsters. I have a different opinion about who the monster was.
Now I see these same tactics being used again, but this time the fear, loathing and hatred are directed toward our elected government, and specifically at our president. It is also directed again the passage of a health care bill which, though not anywhere near good enough, is a lot better than anything we have now. I don't think it's really health care they're after. They want anything and everything this government attemps to fail. It's Rush Limbaugh's strategy, and they are following it with vigor and malice. It's appalling to me, but it's the same old poison-the-well tactics that extremists seem to prefer.
The appalling racial and anti-gay name-calling and spitting behavior of the so-called tea baggers during their rally last week reminds me very much of the behavior of Lon Maybon and the other carpetbaggers who came up to Oregon from southern California to push their agenda of hate back in 1992. He was eventually exposed for what he was and lost his near-cult following. I can only hope the current batch comes to the same inevitable end. Lies don't hold up very well in the bright daylight of reality.
photo credit: Google