Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"Joking About Murdering People" Is The Least Of It




Of Vice President Mike Pence, George Takei has tweeted "Not sure what's more disturbing, that Donald would joke about such a thing or that he would pick a man with these views as his number 2."

Takei can be sure, but he is at least closer to the answer than so many supporters of the gay rights movement. We read in Huffington Post

A growing number of celebrities, activists and tweeting voters expressed astonishment Monday over a report that President Donald Trump appeared to joke about Vice President Mike Pence’s stance on gays, saying he wanted to “hang them all.”

“What the fuck,” Josh Groban tweeted, getting right to the point.

According to a New Yorker profile on Pence published Monday, when an unnamed “legal scholar” began to discuss gay rights with Trump, the president gestured toward Pence and responded: “Don’t ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!” The article, “The Danger of a Pence Presidency,” addressed Pence’s religion and religion-based political positions and Trump’s frequent mockery of them. But former White House strategist Steve Bannon is also quoted as saying that “Trump thinks Pence is great.”

George Takei tweeted: “Not sure what’s more disturbing, that Donald would joke about such a thing or that he would pick a man with these views as his number 2.”

Chelsea Clinton noted that the president needs to be reminded that it’s never OK to joke about murdering people. The LGBTQ community is a particular target of hate crimes. At a Justice Department meeting on hate crimes in June, Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed an alarming “spate of murders ... around the country of transgendered individuals.” 

The Advocate asked its readers: “Still think he’s an ally? Trump joked about gays being hanged from nooses.” The National Center for Lesbian Rights responded, over and over, in a tweet: “This is not normal.” 

Spare me the self-righteousness.  Donald Trump was speaking rhetorically, intentionally exaggerating Trump's extremism regarding homosexuals (note: the opposite of this is "heterosexuals.") He was not criticizing, ridiculing, or even stating his opinion of their place in society, though it's extremely unlikely such a remark would be coming from a guy who endorses Pence's perspective.

The answer to Takei's question is that he would pick a man with these views as his number 2. In the article ("The Danger of President Pence") in The New Yorker in which the remark was published, investigative journalist Jane Mayer writes that early in his career

Even as Pence argued for less government interference in business, he pushed for policies that intruded on people’s private lives. In the early nineties, he joined the board of the Indiana Family Institute, a far-right group that supported the criminalization of abortion and campaigned against equal rights for homosexuals.

Before he was in elective office, "while Pence ran the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, it published an essay arguing that unmarried women should be denied access to birth control." Less than a decade later

In 2000, when a Republican congressman in northern Indiana vacated his seat, Pence ran as the Party favorite, on a platform that included a promise to oppose “any effort to recognize homosexuals as a discrete and insular minority entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws.” He won, by a twelve-point margin.

One non-partisan Indiana political scientist stated "The conventional wisdom is that he ran for governor so he could check that box, get some executive experience, and then run for President." However

In the spring of 2015, Pence signed a bill called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which he presented as innocuous. “He said it protected religious freedom, and who’s against that?” (Republican co-founder of Angie's List Bill) Oesterle recalled. But then a photograph of the closed signing session surfaced. It showed Pence surrounded by monks and nuns, along with three of the most virulently anti-gay activists in the state. The image went viral. Indiana residents began examining the law more closely, and discovered that it essentially legalized discrimination against homosexuals by businesses in the state.





Pence later signed a less discriminatory form of the bill following condemnation of the RFRA by gay groups, the NCAA, and the business community, including several companies which "began cancelling conventions, and threatening to reverse plans to expand in the state."  Nevertheless, he is has been a staunch opponent of anything gay, as well of reproductive freedom. He places religious belief above the Constitution and as Mayer puts it, is "the inside man of the conservative money machine" and is very close to the Koch brothers.

Anyone and everyone can get exorcised about a joke or, as it was from Trump's lips, a means to demean  #2.  Of far greater importance is what it says about Trump, and what it says about the guy who may replace him before November, 2020.. Mayer notes

“Trump’s supporters like to say, ‘It’s not what he says, it’s what he does that matters.’ That’s definitely the case when it comes to issues affecting LGBT Americans,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, who started the now-defunct conservative gay rights group GOProud along with Barron. “I never thought that Donald Trump was an anti-gay homophobe. I certainly didn’t think that when I met him back in 2011. But we’ve all learned a lot about who he really is since then. With his political pandering and posturing to endear himself to the intolerant wing of the GOP over the last few years, it doesn’t surprise me that this administration will go down as the most anti-LGBT in history.”

That is, of course, until and unless there is a Pence administration, which would be far more offensive than some off-hand remark by Donald Trump.





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