Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Far Right's Scorched Earth Policy

The last few weeks has been a series of horrifying revelations for supporters of LGBT rights.  What it has unveiled is the "scorched earth" approach that the far right in the US is willing to pursue.

First it was Kansas's House of Representatives passing a hideous "Jim Crow" law, only to have their Senate balk at it.  Kansas, it seems was only one head of the hydra, with Arizona's state Senate passing a very similar law a mere week later.  As writers at Alternet point out, Republicans in several states are pushing similar legislation:
Republicans in Arizona, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Idaho, Ohio, Mississippi, and Oklahoma have now introduced bills that would also grant religious zealots the right the segregate their businesses against LGBT Americans. Significantly, all of these bills were introduced this year. 
These kinds of laws are naturally appalling to reasonable people.  These aren't reasonable people pushing this legislation.

At the same time, we have anti-gay activists Scott Lively and Peter LaBarbera getting together to push for Russia-style anti "gay propaganda" laws.   Okay, these two are to some extent seen as a bad joke in their home country.  That doesn't mean they can be safely ignored.  It's pretty well documented that Lively has been influential in both Uganda and Russia creating anti-gay legislation in recent years.  It is through the activism of people like these two that the "Tea Party" Republicans get the idea of who to demonize - and the target is LGBT people.

In Canada, these "right to discriminate" ideas have been soft-peddled under the rubric of "conscience rights" - especially with respect to the abortion debate, and until recently "Conscience Rights" were part of the WildRose Party of Alberta's platform - so it's not like Canadian political discourse is immune to the influence of these ideas.

The optimist in me wants to believe that this is the thrashing of a dying movement.  Unfortunately, I think it really tells us that the price of the liberty and equality that the LGBT movement has gained since the 1960s truly is eternal vigilance.  There will always be a significant and very vocal group of people who will be using LGBT people as the choice target for demonizing with their politics of fear and division. 

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