#1498 Pride and Prejudice (Transcript)

Air Date 6/22/2022

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[00:00:00] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left Podcast, in which we shall take a look at the complicated evolution of Pride month in an era of much greater LGBTQ acceptance, and the simultaneous resurgence of anti LGBTQ energy, that in many ways, mirrors the arguments of 40 years ago.

Clips today are from the PBS NewsHour, It's Been a Minute, The Takeaway, Recode Media, What A Day, and Democracy Now!, with additional members-only clips, including a Ted Talk by Chris Southcote-Want and Charlotte's Web Thoughts.

Rainbow capitalism raises questions about corporate commitments and Pride Month's purpose - PBS NewsHour - Air Date 6-30-21

[00:00:39] JUDY WOODRUFF - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: Throughout this past month, LGBTQ communities in the U.S. have been celebrating pride in cities and states around the country. Corporate America has made itself a part of that, too, by increasingly tapping into Pride Month and trying to showcase its efforts to increase diversity and inclusion. But there are concerns Pride has lost some of its political focus and important issues are not being addressed.

Lisa Desjardins has our conversation.

[00:01:07] LISA DESJARDINS: Judy, companies not only celebrate the month, but actively market around it as well. There's a term for that, rainbow capitalism. Walmart and Target have Pride-related ads. Ikea has Pride-themed love seats, and Capital One Bank has this feel-good, splashy video.

But, for many LGBTQ individuals, it's hardly good times. Several states, including Florida, have passed new restrictions, including on transgender athletes. Hate crimes remain too frequent. Murders of trans individuals are at a new high. It's leading to questions about the purpose of Pride Month.

Karen Tongson is an author and professor of gender and sexuality studies at the University of Southern California.

Some people might think corporations are using Pride symbols more, people are putting rainbow symbols on their Twitter feeds, and they think that's support. But why would you say it's a concern?

[00:02:06] KAREN TONGSON: Well, I think we must understand that it's a gesture of support, but gestures of support, nice words, visible images of solidarity aren't always enough. They're often never enough, actually. And so it's not that people are angry that corporations are showing some effort at making a gesture to LGBT communities, but it's like, what backs it up? What is there behind that gesture? Is there anything substantial and material that will actually help transform the worlds that we are in and make it better for us?

[00:02:44] LISA DESJARDINS: We're having this conversation, you and I, right now because this is the last day of Pride Month. But what is the tradeoff there? We see corporations making a big effort during Pride Month, but does it last all year? Or how do you think about that?

[00:02:57] KAREN TONGSON: Well, there are endless memes and Twitter accounts devoted to corporations in the month of June showing an image of a happy LGBT couple or person and then corporations on July 1, which reverts back to exactly the same iconography of straight couples and business as usual. And all we hope is for sustained attention and commitment from these corporations, organizations and anybody who expresses allyship beyond the month of June into perpetuity on our behalf.

[00:03:30] LISA DESJARDINS: Some corporations that are doing this say, we're raising awareness and, in some cases, we're raising money, for example, donating some of the sales that they're bringing in from LGBTQ merchandise to causes that are related. I hear you saying you want something substantial. What do you believe that corporate America should be doing?

[00:03:49] KAREN TONGSON: I think that many of us in the LGBT community are interested in a larger series of systemic changes, policy changes at every level. Some money towards maybe a popular cause here and there, sometimes, like marriage equality was a kind of mainstream popular cause for a period of time, isn't enough to address the deeper systemic issues that often perpetuate the oppression of LGBT peoples, especially of color, those who are unhoused, trans people who have violence committed against them, all of the things that actually many Americans are fighting for around systemic equality, the end of white supremacy, et cetera.

And I think LGBT folks see that they're part of a broader movement and that we need to make deeper changes to our system, to our culture in order to have a more just world.

[00:04:45] LISA DESJARDINS: We're now seeing sort of more visible presence, more attention on different parts of the LGBT community, the transgender community, nonbinary individuals, meaning people who don't identify strictly as male or female. Can you talk about the tension and the communications surrounding those groups and how they see this movement?

[00:05:03] KAREN TONGSON: I think that we have to consider whether or not certain groups who've attained certain privileges within that LGBT acronym have to maybe consider abdicating some of their agenda in order to incorporate what would benefit the most folks under that LGBTQ+ acronym, and whether or not there's true inclusion, acceptance and understanding for trans, nonbinary folks, and others in the community, those especially who don't share the same privileges and wealth, so that we can achieve and attain a truly transformative change from our perspective.

Anti-trans legislation - It's Been a Minute - Air Date 4-29-22

[00:05:44] ARI SHAPIRO - HOST, IT'S BEEN A MINUTE: Without losing sight of the real people who are affected by this, is it possible to assess how much of this is just about pure political calculus, that if you gin up a moral panic, you can win elections, versus an authentic uprising of homophobia, whatever authentic might mean in that sense, or of transphobia?

[00:06:03] JULES GILL-PETERSON: A cynical part of me says it doesn't really matter whether people really mean it or not because the outcome is similar either way. But I actually do think moral panic is sometimes framed just as people's hateful thoughts or their moral error, when actually moral panic and the kind of policies were seing being pushed right now have actual policy goals. There actually is a policy strategy here, and it's one in which attacks on trans people and gay and lesbian people fit into larger right-wing politics. They're joined with attacks on abortion access, reproductive rights, voting rights.

When we think about what it means to ban a small minority population from being able to access health care, life-saving health care, even regular health care, part of that fits into a larger belief system about a certain version of morality, but it's also just about damaging the public health care and the public good that health care is. Or when we think of, for example, the Don't Say Gay Law in Florida, of course, it is a kind of moral censorship of gay, lesbian and trans people, but it also has this civil lawsuit component that is explicitly designed to damage public education in the state.

So I don't know which one is the originary motive. Do people start passing these bills just because they're authentically homophobic and transphobic or because they dislike public education? Or is it both? But, I think it's important to see that link.

[00:07:26] ARI SHAPIRO - HOST, IT'S BEEN A MINUTE: So I'd love for you, as a historian, to take a step back and give us some context for what we're seeing now, because it's not clear to me whether the history of marginalized groups getting rights in the United States is one of a steady, slow march forward, where maybe you take two steps forward and one step back, or if it's a pendulum and groups gain rights and then lose rights. And I guess what I'm trying to ask, is this anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ wave that we're seeing now a historical anomaly, or is it like, "oh, no, this is how it goes. This is how it works in America. This is part of what we should expect every now and then"?

[00:08:03] JULES GILL-PETERSON: Yeah, I think it's really hard to create grand narratives about rights and progress in the United States because, of course, we're talking about several centuries worth of history, but what is happening today, and the targeting of LGBT people in general but especially of trans people and trans children, this is unprecedented. The state has never explicitly named and targeted trans people as an undesirable population who should be subject, not just to the withdrawal of any state support or the withdrawal of their civil rights, but explicitly targeting them for suppression, for being kicked out of the public sphere, kicked out of education, banned from accessing health care, unable to change their ID documents and, therefore, pushed out of public life.

[00:08:51] ARI SHAPIRO - HOST, IT'S BEEN A MINUTE: And, also, in some cases, punishing parents who support their children, which strikes me as shocking, coming from a party that is so often about letting the family make decisions.

[00:09:03] JULES GILL-PETERSON: Exactly. It's really not at all. It's about legislating particular moral point of view and enforcing it as obligatory for everyone. A lot of the discrimination that trans people have faced historically was de facto. Of course, laws and policies were set up on the idea that there were only men and women and that people didn't necessarily cross those categories, and that caused a lot of problems for trans people, but it was never official state policy to name trans people as a minority that had to be punished for being who they were and then try to immiserate them as much as possible through every single law and policy you can think of. That's never happened before.

And, that has been, to some extent, the experience of gay and lesbian people when, you know, at various points in the 20th century, the federal, level or certain states adopted explicit kind of heterosexuality as state policy, but that's something that was chipped away at, in large part, in the 2000s, and so we're seeing it coming back. But it boils down to this idea. Do we think it's appropriate for state legislatures or for the federal government to legislate a state-mandated sex and gender that it can force on people against their will? I think it's really disturbing when we slow down and ask "well, what does that mean for everyone?" because if a state can compel a trans child to take away their bodily autonomy, then it's going to reinforce their ability to take away the bodily autonomy of people who might need access to abortion, or any medical procedure - birth control - other kinds of rights that we might take for granted.

[00:10:32] ARI SHAPIRO - HOST, IT'S BEEN A MINUTE: I'd love for you to weigh in on the language in this debate, because we hear supporters of these laws accusing their opponents of grooming young people. In the 1970s, people like the anti-gay activist Anita Bryant were using that kind of language. She would argue that since gay people can't biologically reproduce, LGBTQ people would have to recruit children...

[00:10:56] ANITA BRYANT: I have been blacklisted for exercising the right of a mother to defend her children, and all children, against their being recruited by homosexuals.

[00:11:06] ARI SHAPIRO - HOST, IT'S BEEN A MINUTE: ...and then some four decades later, we hear similar arguments from Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.

[00:11:13] MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE: The Democrats are the party of pedophiles. The Democrats are the party of teachers, elementary school teachers, trying to transition their elementary school-age children and convince them they're a different gender.

[00:11:26] ARI SHAPIRO - HOST, IT'S BEEN A MINUTE: What do you make of the fact that this language has just boomeranged back into public discourse?

[00:11:31] JULES GILL-PETERSON: It's incredibly chilling. This is extremist language. I think part of the boomerang really did come from QAnon and far-right groups, including white supremacist groups.

[00:11:43] ARI SHAPIRO - HOST, IT'S BEEN A MINUTE: I wondered about that, whether it was the conspiracy theory about child abuse that fed into the mainstream in this way.

[00:11:49] JULES GILL-PETERSON: Exactly. QAnon folks and far-right and white supremacist groups started allying openly with anti-trans groups, and that I actually think is the explicit origin of why we're seeing this language folded back into the public sphere, but, as you pointed out, it has a long history. They're actually so wildly, easily debunkable. They're such extreme, unverifiable kinds of claims that, I think part of how we have to understand them is that they're not even attempts to make truth claims. I don't really care if any of these people believe this or not. Probably some of them don't.

I think what we really have to remember, though, is that when you dehumanize a small minority of people by calling their existence per se as a form of sexual predation, what you're doing is making them disposable, punishable, and sometimes killable populations. That is the sort of tactic that it has been used for in the past. In some ways, Anita Bryant was the most respectable version of this because she didn't call for gay people to be necessarily all rounded up and killed, but it doesn't take too far of a kind of journey down this rhetorical extremist rabbit hole to get to that place. And certainly, I think a lot of trans advocates and public figures, myself included, have seen an uptick in death threats arriving in our inboxes and in our replies online.

So I think this escalation of language actually really does have a verifiable origin in the way that QAnon politics have gone mainstream on the right and in the Republican Party, but on the other hand it's drawing on this really vicious history that clearly has still been in people's repertoires, right? Anita Bryant may no longer be a public figure, but clearly a lot of people still have access to those kinds of really violent, homophobic, and transphobic tropes.

[00:13:41] ARI SHAPIRO - HOST, IT'S BEEN A MINUTE: We've been talking about the outlook right now in which trans and LGBTQ people, more broadly, are playing defense, trying to block legislation. I'd like to end by asking you to imagine a different scenario where life is safe and supportive for trans young people. What would that look like? What would need to happen? What would that situation be? Paint a picture of that for us.

[00:14:09] JULES GILL-PETERSON: If you begin from the premise that there's nothing inferior or bad or wrong about being trans, then you don't really need to know anything else to know that trans people in your life are valuable. Trans people have plenty of gifts to bring the world, and by being locked into these cycles of reaction, we're being deprived of the chance to live meaningful lives. I say this all the time, but for me, having gone through the experience, like so many other trans people, of having to out, without any resources or language in life, who I was and figure out how to say yes to what I needed to live in the world as a happy, well-adjusted person has given me a kind of empathy that I bring to, how I relate to all people that I meet, in every walk of life.

And I think that, when we think of the positive terrain that trans politics can bring us to, it comes down to some really powerful insights, which are, what if we work to create a world in which everyone had the resources they need, not just to survive, but to live happy lives, to explore their potential. What if we said that everyone deserves to go to school, everyone deserves to have access to health care, everyone deserves to be able to imagine achieving things in their lives that surprise and reward them for following their hopes and dreams?

I think those are stories that trans people understand on a really deep, deep level in our bones because we've had to, but those are enduring messages that connect us to so many kinds of other people.

Is Pride Too Commercialized? - The Takeaway - Air Date 6-15-22

[00:15:40] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY - HOST, THE TAKEAWAY: Jodi Nicole was just walking us through some of the challenges of corporate sponsorship. Corporations like Mastercard, Delta, Chase, Target, they're just one small fraction of corporate sponsors. I guess there's a part of me that thinks don't we prefer to have major corporations publicly stating support rather than what could clearly be on the other side of this? Talk to me a bit about this.

[00:16:09] DR. KATHERINE SENDER: I agree with many of Jodi's points. I think that there has been this enormous corporatization of Pride and that that has really had some detrimental effects in terms of pricing out nonprofit groups and other community groups that really just can't afford floats and so on.

[00:16:28] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY - HOST, THE TAKEAWAY: Actually, pause right there for a second. We're broadcast all over the country. For folks who maybe haven't got, what do you mean priced-out floats? What are you talking about here?

[00:16:37] DR. KATHERINE SENDER: For instance, in New York City it costs many thousands of dollars to have a float in Pride, and the more money a company puts forward the further forward they get in the parade. What happens is that there are these huge corporate floats from-- Jodi mentioned AT&T, Toyota, Procter & Gamble. All these people with these huge decorative floats and then straggling at the back are all the other people who can't afford to buy that place at the front of the parade.

Because these parades now are getting really big and really long, it's maybe many hours before community groups actually get to walk down the main site of the parade, and so really aren't getting the visibility that they may have got in a less funded situation, and I would assume would get them in the Reclaim Pride event that's happening on the same day.

[00:17:33] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY - HOST, THE TAKEAWAY: God, that makes perfect sense to me. Jodi Nicole, jump in here for me on this because-- Again, I presume you're not saying, "We're hoping that these corporations stand in resistance to us," but this point being made that it actually literally pushes to the back of the line grassroots-based organizations, that's really pretty compelling to me.

[00:17:57] JODI NICOLE: Yes. To even further clarify what I was touching on before, for me, I'm a type of person where I actually do believe in radical wealth re-distribution. Let's say that any individual within any of these corporations, or even perhaps the corporations as an entity, wanted to be providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in more meaningful ways to our communities. That would be one thing in terms of saying, "Okay, here's some money." But really what we have seen historically is what's being mentioned. It's not a situation of okay, here's $10,000. Here's $50,000.

It's a situation of here is this funding as a dangling carrot, and then these are all the things that we are going to either explicitly or codedly imply that need to be done to be able to continue receiving this. That's more so the problem. It's not necessarily inherently the passing off of the money itself, but the ways in which that is then wielded as a problematic power dynamic and really a tactic of manipulation. Because then, like I was mentioning, there are demands that, for example, Reclaim Pride Coalition and the tens of thousands of people that have marched in the Queer Liberation March in previous years, there are demands that we have not only of capitalist corporations but also of elected officials.

There really comes a point where the contradictions start to emerge because it isn't only so much about the money, but the reality is, I think, we as adults know how society functions. These corporations, they're not being as benevolent and altruistic as they want us to believe.

[00:20:01] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY - HOST, THE TAKEAWAY: Katherine, I want to bring you in as well. I hear from Jodi Nicole at least two interlocking intersecting concerns. That's also been discussed, for example, in the context of October Breast Cancer Month; this kind of pinkwashing. We might call this corporate sponsorship lavender washing or rainbow washing. This idea that just by using the symbols of or doing these symbolic things it keeps meaningful reinvestment or meaningful work of the corporations making sustaining contributions to community-based organizations rather than just being a float in the parade.

The other concern I hear is this idea that money is flowing in both directions, both to the symbols of Pride but also to the public policies that make LGBTQIA+ resistance necessary. Can you walk us through some of that, Dr. Sender?

[00:21:04] DR. KATHERINE SENDER: Yes. I think what we can look at in terms of the history of sponsorship of Pride, it used to be that corporations would advertise Pride and Pride parades as a way of being under the radar. They hoped that if they did this very specific event-based marketing, they wouldn't get the attention of the religious conservatives and the right-wing politicians. That never actually quite happens but that was the fantasy. The biggest risk was getting boycotted by the evangelicals.

What's happened since around the early 2000s is that the tide has really changed, and now what companies are really worried about is looking uncommitted, inauthentic, and doing this rainbow-washing thing. Marketers who advise corporations who want to get into the LGBTQ market say that they have to be sustained through the whole year, not just June and not just the parade, but that they have to have consistent messaging through the whole year. That they have to include LGBTQ people in the creation of their campaigns. In effect, that actually usually means the G and the L in there. More diversity behind these campaigns is more unusual.

That they have to recognize the diversity and intersectionality of LGBTQ consumers. We're seeing much more mixed racially complex representations in marketing. Also that they have to have these corporate relationships with nonprofit groups to signal a real commitment to the community. That said, most of those nonprofits are fairly uncontroversial. Still important, but they tend to be around youth and media visibility and things like that.

The point Jody makes about basically talking out of two sides of their mouth when they're giving corporate sponsorship but also then sponsoring right-wing politicians is really a big deal. One of the things that really gives me hope is that social media is so effective now in really calling out corporations who are demonstrably being cynical and hypocritical. That really has yielded quite a lot of backlash.

Both AT&T, for instance, and Toyota have been called out for giving money to particularly state-based politicians. This is because those right-wing politicians are more likely to give these companies tax breaks. What that then means is that the money that might come from corporate taxes to help support the most vulnerable people in those states, including LGBT people and people of color don't come through. Those kinds of corporate decisions has very real impact on LGBTQ people's lives.

Disney vs. Itself vs. The Right - Recode Media - Air Date 4-13-22

[00:24:12] JANE COASTON: Let's turn back the clock a little bit to the mid 1990s.

When Disney started providing partner benefits to gay and lesbian employees, the Southern Baptist Convention announced this giant boycott because this was terrible.

Also, this is around the time that Disney, I believe this is part of around the time of the giant merger in which technically Disney was the parent company, owned the company that made Pulp Fiction. And so the Southern Baptist Convention was very upset about this.

There really is for Disney a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" type moment, because now you are seeing, especially, again, this goes with the messaging creep that I was talking about where you see Breitbart putting out articles that were this grooming material, and all they're listing are just examples of gay people being in Disney stuff. Not even doing anything.

[00:25:00] PETER KAFKA - HOST, RECODE MEDIA: I wanna spell out the grooming stuff, cuz this is now become -- this is another part of this I wanted to talk to you about -- is Disney has now become -- Fox News in particular but a lot of the right-wing media is now going all in on attacking Disney. Initially it was they're too woke and now it's they are pro-grooming. Explain what that is supposed to mean.

[00:25:20] JANE COASTON: What grooming actually is and I think that there have been some very brave people who have talked about their own experiences of childhood sexual abuse, in which you have an older person, someone you know, who essentially grooms you to be easier to manipulate for the purposes of sexual abuse.

[00:25:44] PETER KAFKA - HOST, RECODE MEDIA: This is a large part of the Jeffrey Epstein case.

[00:25:46] JANE COASTON: Right, exactly. That attempting to break down barriers here.

Now, what these people are appearing to argue is that they don't actually mean sexual abuse at all. They mean something very different. And I think that it's really worth getting at what they are actually saying, so I'm gonna quote here from a conservative writer Rod Dreher, who's been very into this. And so he said no this has nothing to do with being a sexual predator. It says, "I think it is coming to have a somewhat broader meeting, an adult who wants to separate children from a normative sexual and gender identity to inspire confusion in them and to turn them against their parents and all the normative traditions and institutions in society. It may not specifically be to groom them for sexual activity, but it is certainly to groom them to take on a sexual gender identity at odds with the norm."

[00:26:39] PETER KAFKA - HOST, RECODE MEDIA: We're not saying that you, the teacher, are necessarily going to abuse your children. You're opening the door to gaydom and of pushing them through the door.

[00:26:47] JANE COASTON: Exactly. And obviously, one, that's not what anyone thinks of when they hear the term "grooming." What everyone is hearing is, oh, teachers are all pedophiles. And you're saying David Mamet making that argument on Fox News. This new cycle has gone straight to hell.

But again, the idea here is that one, per Rod Dreher and some conservatives, is that if you are gay or lesbian or trans, it is because at some point you weren't, and then something happened. And the idea here, one, is that there's no such thing as a gay kid or a trans kid. It's just they would've been normal until an adult told them not to be normal.

And I think that gets at that's why there's been such messaging creep, is that we're going back to this awful save our children, Anita Bryant, late 1970s idea that oh, The only way you get a homosexual is through a recruitment. That you can't be gay, unless something happens. Into the gay swamp like Brer Rabbit.

[00:27:49] PETER KAFKA - HOST, RECODE MEDIA: This is the same Republican party that had Peter Thiel speak, first openly gay speaker at the RNC convention five years ago now. Has something shifted in Republican politics where they after being really anti-gay for a long time, they've tolerated it and now have rethought it? It is this a marginal group in Republican politics? Are we conflating a bunch of things where you've got people in Brooklyn and Berkeley saying, there's a lot of trans kids in my kids' public school and that's different. I don't know how I feel about that. And then also at the other end of the spectrum, you're courting QAnon by making references to pedophilia and you're winking and nodding and you know exactly what you're doing. What is actually happening?

[00:28:28] JANE COASTON: I think we're in a "Yes, and" moment. There are more conversations about gender identity. There is an increasing number of people who appear to be identifying as LGBT -- granted, those growth of numbers is largely with my people, bisexual people. And also I remain unclear -- I was talking to a conservative writer a couple days ago, which is then what would be the accurate number of LGBT people? The implication here is that there's the right number, and then there are too many people who appear to have given in to " social contagion."

And so I think that this is a moment in which you had a center view that gender identity discussions were going too far, coupled with the belief that this was an example of social contagion. But then you have the social conservatives who were like no, we were mad about Obergefell. We've been mad for the last seven years about that. And now they have come back with a vengeance by making these arguments that are like we're mad about gay teachers all of a sudden. We're mad about gay people writ large. And you're seeing this in specific quotes from figures like Charlie Kirk from Turning Point who is saying that oh, we gave them marriage but that wasn't enough, and now they want your kids. Which again, straight up it's 1978 all over again.

[00:29:39] PETER KAFKA - HOST, RECODE MEDIA: Let's roleplay for a second. Let's say you are Bob Chapek, you run Disney. You have a giant business, beloved brand. Your business is contingent on getting people all around the world, all around America to consume your content, and then also to come to your theme parks and go on your cruises. You cannot afford to have a large swath of the population hate you, or be worried about you. You employ plenty of people who are gay, LGBTQ. How do you navigate this? I understand the impulse to sit this one out. Apparently you can't. So what do you do?

[00:30:09] JANE COASTON: I think that you have to do what Disney would always do, which is you wait it out. And it's interesting because we just saw that there was news -- this is obviously a different company -- that a potential gay plot line involved in the upcoming Harry Potter extended universe movie is being removed in China. And you see a lot of conservatives were very upset about that. And then I'm like, but you want these same plot lines removed in movies shown in America!

So it's you'll never be happy.

[00:30:37] PETER KAFKA - HOST, RECODE MEDIA: You don't want to be soft on China when it comes to gay plots.

[00:30:40] JANE COASTON: Exactly. So if I were Disney, I would say, hello, I am a massive powerful corporation. Your boycott efforts have historically never really worked out because you are the same people who are not quite aware that Disney owns ESPN. And so if you're watching Monday Night Baseball, correct, you are you are enjoying a Disney production.

But I think what they will do is essentially wait it out, because the Disney corporation is well aware that they can just keep on keeping on and there'll be something else. There will always be something else.

But what gets me is that the Disney corporation, they are not the victims here. They are a very powerful corporation that will also excise any LGBT content for any reason. And that's why in many cases, in a lot of movies, if there is a gay kiss in passing, it'll happen in a scene that's non-essential so it can be easily cut for audiences in other countries.

It's the same way that if you are doing a movie that predominantly features black people and you want to do it in China, you rearrange the movie poster to make all the black people go away. I'm aware of how corporations actually work.

But I think that the risk here again is that this is intended to target teachers and target LGBT people. And there are going to be a host of teachers and people involved in schools who are going to be forced to pay thousands of dollars in court fees so that at some point some circuit judge somewhere will finally say what this bill is supposed to do.

Don't Rainbow-Wash On My Parade - What A Day - Air Date 6-2-22

[00:32:12] TRE'VELL ANDERSON: I want to play you a clip of Sylvia Rivera talking about the Pride movement as an example. For those who don’t know, Sylvia Rivera is one of the legendary names we cite of folks who helped pave the way for the LGBTQ right’s movement. She died in 2002, but he or she is in this clip speaking to activist Christy Thomas in June 2001.

[00:32:33] SYLVIA RIVERA: This movement has become so capitalist. It is a capitalist movement. I see this movement becoming a straight-gay movement that only believes in that almighty dollar.

[00:32:53] GIDEON RESNICK: Yeah. Wow.

[00:32:54] TRE'VELL ANDERSON: So now, as I mentioned, what I find interesting about Sylvia’s critique is that 20 years ago is when she was saying this, and now folks say similar things today about the ways that capitalism and corporations have inserted and asserted themselves during this month in particular. So I got a chance to talk about this yesterday with one of my peers, Fran Tirado, they’re, host of the podcast “Like a Virgin” and a longtime writer for LGBTQ+ entertainment and media. And I first asked if, compared to two decades ago, it now feels like it’s more apparent when companies say they’re for LGBTQ+ rights but then work with those trying to erode them.

[00:33:35] FRAN TIRADO: If we had been seeing Pride campaigns two decades ago, a lot of times, maybe you or I would say, oh, this is really nice, it’s good to see a little rainbow logo. But now that LGBTQ marketing is no longer the exception but the standard, all these brands are doing it, and therefore all of us are kind of waking up to the very exploitative and often gross or insidious nature of a lot of these corporate initiatives.

[00:34:03] TRE'VELL ANDERSON: According to the Pride Corporate Accountability Project from this progressive think tank called Data for Progress, major companies like Toyota, like an AT&T, they’re painting themselves as allies for the community, while also simultaneously giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to anti-LGBTQ campaigns. Could you talk a little bit about what is particularly concerning about examples like that?

[00:34:30] FRAN TIRADO: Yeah. It’s a conversation I have to have constantly. I sometimes consult for brands, helping them do LGBTQ marketing, which is not a job I love, but a job that pays the bills. And I constantly have to say that if you want to do a Pride campaign, or if you want to do a Queer initiative in your marketing of any kind, first up, you’re capitalizing on marginalized identities, so you better pay us very well. But two, your campaign is worth nothing if your brand does not stand behind the values that you claim to.

And I think that Disney is a great example. I think Netflix is a really great example, because Netflix was on the forefront of trans representation, and what played a big part in what a lot of people call the trans tipping point of media–though I know not everyone kind of agrees with that term of the trans tipping point–and yet Netflix having given tons of trans people jobs, platforming trans people to do all of that, and then have these Ricky Gervais specials, these Dave Chappelle specials, where trans people are not just the butt of the jokes, but violence is incited against us on this platform–it just completely throws everything else out the window for us consuming some things on Netflix. It just changed the relationship to the brand entirely, and you their stock prices saw the repercussions.

[00:35:53] TRE'VELL ANDERSON: Definitely. Definitely. I’m wondering, though, if you could share for the folks in our audience who might want to get activated about some of these contradictions. What do you see as some of the most effective ways to put these companies both on blast for their contradictions, but also on notice that these types of efforts and contradictions aren’t something that the community is interested in participating in?

[00:36:19] FRAN TIRADO: I have a rubric by which I grade Pride campaigns, and the values aligning with your actions as a company is a really important part of that, but, also, you have to have a nonprofit partnership where 100% of the proceeds or a sizable donation or a substantive contribution to that LGBTQ organization is something big. And it has to be, I think, a meaningful organization like Trans Law Center or Immigration Equality, as opposed to those NGO giants like Human Rights Campaign.

I also say that you need to have community perspective. Queer and trans people, if those are the people you’re trying to reach, need to be in the room when you’re making decisions about this kind of marketing campaign.

[00:37:03] TRE'VELL ANDERSON: I would love to hear if there are ever any examples of corporate Pride that are good, that are positive for the community.

[00:37:14] FRAN TIRADO: I wouldn’t say good, but I would say in terms of checking all the boxes, I think that there was this campaign with Lyft where they made end-product adjustments one year so that app writers could put their pronouns into the app and avoid getting misgendered by their drivers. Similarly, there was a MasterCard campaign where it’s like, you don’t have to use your dead name on the card, you can just put your chosen name. It’s hard to give accolades to a credit card company, but I think that in-product, big swings like that, things that actually create positive change in LGBTQ lives, are things that I really want to see.

Google created a living monument that basically archived a huge history of LGBTQ work and art and all that stuff, in a portal that would live online, in addition to giving $1.5 million to New York’s LGBTQ center. Things like that, that really invest in our communities. But again, all of the companies they just named are evil in some way and have demonstrable evil in their histories, so it’s hard to give accolades. But again, this is just the world we live in, so if you’re going to do it, I want to see that you’re doing it right.

[00:38:27] TRE'VELL ANDERSON: Yeah. We’ve heard commentary from folks about the ways that this rainbow washing, which is what we’re talking about, has also had some “positive impact” in terms of representation and visibility, internationally in particular. I’m wondering if you see that as a potential positive effect for those countries where being LGBTQ is criminalized at all?

[00:38:53] FRAN TIRADO: Yes, I definitely see that. I live in a metropolis area. I’m spoiled rotten, and I feel a lot more safe than the average LGBTQ person in this world, and even beyond international audiences, people in the middle of our country, people in the South, it can be as hard to be Queer in the Deep South as it is in international countries. I get very salty, I always say I don’t want to give flowers to a company that’s doing the bare minimum, but that’s not always true with really, really small companies. Like really small companies where this is all they can do is put up a rainbow flag. If you’re a small business and that’s what you do, that means something to somebody, and I’m not going to ever pooh-pooh that.

Florida to Michigan to Missouri Hear Speeches of Gay Legislators & Allies Fighting Anti-LGBTQ Bills - Democracy Now! - Air Date 4-25-22

[00:39:37] AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: Michigan state Senator Mallory McMorrow made national headlines after she responded to an attack by her Republican colleague Lana Theis, who accused McMorrow in a fundraising appeal of, quote, “grooming and sexualizing kindergarteners.” Theis also accused Morrow of seeking to teach that, quote, “eight-year-olds are responsible for slavery.” This is Senator McMorrow’s full response from the Michigan Senate floor Tuesday.

[00:40:10] MICHIGAN STATE SEN. MALLORY McMORROW: Thank you, Mr. President.

I didn’t expect to wake up yesterday to the news that the senator from the 22nd District had overnight accused me by name of grooming and sexualizing children in an email fundraising for herself. So I sat on it for a while, wondering, “Why me?” And then I realized: Because I am the biggest threat to your hollow, hateful scheme, because you can’t claim that you are targeting marginalized kids in the name of, quote, “parental rights” if another parent is standing up to say no. So, then what? Then you dehumanize and marginalize me. You say that I’m one of them. You say, “She’s a groomer. She supports pedophilia. She wants children to believe that they were responsible for slavery and to feel bad about themselves because they’re white.”

Well, here’s a little bit of background about who I really am. Growing up, my family was very active in our church. I sang in the choir. My mom taught CCD. One day our priest called a meeting with my mom and told her that she was not living up to the church’s expectations and that she was disappointing. My mom asked why. Among other reasons, she was told it was because she was divorced and because the priest didn’t see her at Mass every Sunday.

So, where was my mom on Sundays? She was at the soup kitchen with me. My mom taught me at a very young age that Christianity and faith was about being part of a community, about recognizing our privilege and blessings and doing what we can to be of service to others, especially people who are marginalized, targeted and who had less, often unfairly. I learned that service was far more important than performative nonsense like being seen in the same pew every Sunday or writing “Christian” in your Twitter bio and using that as a shield to target and marginalize already-marginalized people.

I also stand on the shoulders of people like Father Ted Hesburgh, the longtime president of the University of Notre Dame, who was active in the civil rights movement, who recognized his power and privilege as a white man, a faith leader and the head of an influential and well-respected institution, and who saw Black people in this country being targeted and discriminated against and beaten, and reached out to lock arms with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he was alive, when it was unpopular and risky, and marching alongside them to say, “We’ve got you,” to offer protection and service and allyship to try to right the wrongs and fix injustice in the world.

So, who am I? I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom, who knows that the very notion that learning about slavery or redlining or systemic racism somehow means that children are being taught to feel bad or hate themselves because they are white is absolute nonsense. No child alive today is responsible for slavery. No one in this room is responsible for slavery. But each and every single one of us bears responsibility for writing the next chapter of history. Each and every single one of us decides what happens next and how we respond to history and the world around us. We are not responsible for the past. We also cannot change the past. We can’t pretend that it didn’t happen or deny people their very right to exist.

I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom. I want my daughter to know that she is loved, supported and seen for whoever she becomes. I want her to be curious, empathetic and kind.

People who are different are not the reason that our roads are in bad shape after decades of disinvestment or that healthcare costs are too high or that teachers are leaving the profession. I want every child in this state to feel seen, heard and supported, not marginalized and targeted because they are not straight, white and Christian. We cannot let hateful people tell you otherwise to scapegoat and deflect from the fact that they are not doing anything to fix the real issues that impact people’s lives. And I know that hate will only win if people like me stand by and let it happen.

So I want to be very clear right now. Call me whatever you want. I hope you brought in a few dollars. I hope it made you sleep good last night. I know who I am. I know what faith and service means and what it calls for in this moment. We will not let hate win.

[00:44:51] AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: That was Michigan state Senator Mallory McMorrow in a speech in the state Senate in Michigan, now viral. She gave that speech on Tuesday, after being accused by a fellow state legislator of, quote, “grooming kindergarteners” for her views.

Meanwhile, in Missouri, the state House has approved a bill to allow school districts to vote on whether to ban trans student athletes from youth sports. The Republican lawmaker who proposed the amendment, state Representative Chuck Basye, said it was to “save women’s sports.” A gay Missouri lawmaker, Ian Mackey, confronted Bayse in a floor speech that also went viral, comparing the anti-trans bill to his own experience as a queer student growing up.

[00:45:47] MISSOURI STATE REP. IAN MACKEY: I was afraid of people like you growing up, and I grew up in Hickory County, Missouri. I grew up in a school district that would vote tomorrow to put this in place. And for 18 years, I walked around with nice people like you, who took me to ball games, who told me how smart I was, and then went to the ballot and voted for crap like this! And I couldn’t wait to get out. I couldn’t wait to move to a part of our state that would reject this stuff in a minute. I couldn’t wait. And thank god, I made it. Thank god, I made it out. And I think every day of the kids who are still there, who haven’t made it out, who haven’t escaped from this kind of bigotry! Gentlemen, I’m not afraid of you anymore, because you’re going to lose. You may win this today, but you’re going to lose!

[00:46:46] AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: That’s gay Missouri lawmaker Ian Mackey. But before all that, it was Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that prompted our guest today, Florida state Senator Shevrin Jones, the state’s first gay senator, to speak out against the measure on Florida’s state Senate floor in Tallahassee last month.

[00:47:09] FLORIDA STATE SEN. SHEVRIN JONES: Just imagine living your life of 30 years and you coming to your parents and you’re talking about who you are, and you’re lying to them about who you are. I never wanted to disappoint my dad. I even told him to watch this today. I don’t think you all understand that even rerunning for office, it was difficult, because people calling you names, people saying things to you, and all you want to do is serve. I never knew that living my truth would cause church members to leave my dad’s church, or friends to stop talking to me, or families to make jokes about who you are. In my heart, I don’t believe any of you in here, my colleagues, many of who I’ve known for years — I believe that we all want to do right. But it seems as if politics has — we have gone down a road to where we’re scared to just step out to make sure we’re not hurting people.

[00:48:48] AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: Yes, that’s our guest today, Florida state Senator Shevrin Jones, Florida’s first openly gay state senator. Last week, Republican Florida Governor DeSantis signed into law a measure approved by the Republican state lawmakers to rescind Disney World’s self-governing status, after he and his allies blasted Disney for opposing the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law. As we continue with state Senator Shevrin Jones, if you could first elaborate — I mean, the power of your speech, your personal speaking from the heart of what it meant for you to grow up with — in your father’s household, and what it meant to then be voting with the legislators that challenge your identity?

[00:49:41] FLORIDA STATE SEN. SHEVRIN JONES: You know, Amy, I wanted to convey a message to my colleagues that I wasn’t a hypothetical, because that was what they were speaking on in the chambers. Everything was hypothetically speaking, hypothetically speaking. And I wanted to make it clear that I’m a member of this body. I sit in these chambers with you. And I wanted to be clear to them that I have a story that’s behind this and this person that you see right now, and I wanted to share that.

I was raised in a very conservative household. My dad is a pastor of a very large congregation. My mom was a principal at a school. And I wanted to ensure to them that I was raised in a good home, because there was this tone that these children who are gay, which by the bill sponsor said that many of them come from broken households or saying that teachers are socially engineering children. I wasn’t socially engineered. I was loved inside my household. And I wanted them to know that I was neither of what they were trying to convey, but this is who I am.

And that’s what I wanted to convey, to not just them. It was to those young people who were outside. Amy, you could hear them outside chanting and crying and chanting and crying. And I don’t know what it would have felt like to be a 13-, 14-, 15-year-old standing outside to do that, because I just didn’t have that type of courage at the time. But I have the courage now to stand up to bullies who are doing this type of things to a generation of young people, where young people are four times more likely to — LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to commit suicide, not because of who they are but because of how they’re treated. And you have to stand up to bullies. And that was the one way that I was going to. And we must continue to do that all across this country.

Chris Southcote-Want: It’ll all come out in the rainbow wash - TEDxTalks - Air Date 11-18-21

[00:51:32] CHRIS SOUTHCOTE-WANT: "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." That's one of my favorite quotes, but the truth is we're not programmed to like being different. Different can be perceived as weird, uncomfortable, indescribable. What is it about difference that frightens us?

I mean, it's such a juxtaposition. We like to think of difference as creative, the spice of life. It gives us depth and dimension. Like how often have you heard people say how boring it would be if we were all the same? I have always felt different. And I didn't really understand it until I was categorized by those around me, branded by a rainbow. I was put into that rainbow box before I even knew what the box was.

You may be familiar with this rainbow, July, 2021. It was Pride Month. How cool is that? Canada in 1973 for the first pride events had a week, and now we've got a whole month. Rainbows were everywhere. I've never known Pride events to be so en mass, so normalized. My LinkedIn was a wash with rainbows, big corporate spending thousands rainbow washing their brands. Big retail hanging rainbow bunting and launching their rainbow specials. Admittedly, I was partial to a few rainbow cupcakes in my local cafe. Rainbow washing was everywhere.

With businesses portraying progressive support for the queer community, but often without understanding or effort, I found myself getting frustrated. I found myself getting protective of the rainbow. I wanted to say, "give it back. That's ours, we've earned it," and in the same breath I wanted to say, "keep it. I don't want it anyway." So you can see my relationship with the rainbow is tumultuous. It's what we might call a love/hate relationship.

I reflected back on my management career. I remember the first management role that I ever went for. I remember vividly the advice I was given. I was told I was too flamboyant, too eccentric, too extroverted. If I was gonna be taken seriously, I needed to tone down. I remember how hurtful that felt. I remember looking at the rainbow and knowing I was part of it and thinking, why me, why did I have to be part of that stupid rainbow? Luckily I'm quite a stubborn person, so I went to the interview as is, considered the advices noted, and I got the job anyway. But I still remember what it felt like being critiqued for being me—being branded as queer.

Fast forward 20 years and I've managed different teams in different businesses. I've consulted with organizations on diverse and inclusive strategies, but me and myself, 20 years on from that interview, I'm still stuck at being conscious of being different. And I'll tell you why I'm stuck. I'm stuck because every time we want to go to work to be our authentic cells, to fit in with everyone else, where queer isn't noticed, the corporate world drops in a reminder that we're still very much different. We are different. We are different. Whether that be an argument a business is having about a quota for hiring queer colleagues, or the legal right of business has to be able to choose to discriminate against us. Whether that's the latest office poll on whether we should have gender neutral toilets, or the casual conversation with a colleague about why we don't have straight pride month.

But the fact of the matter is that it's been forever conscious of being different is exhausting. The continuous reminders take their toll. Now I'm not gonna bombard you with statistics, but there are just two that I want you to consider. So Beyond Blue, they completed a raft of studies, and of all the people interviewed in our corporate work force, our queer colleagues were six times more likely to suicide than their counterparts. Six times. Our transgender colleagues were 15 times more likely to suicide. 15 times.

So you can see my relationship with the rainbow is complex. It's full of anger, frustration, and hurt, but at the same time, one of belonging, love, but most importantly difference. So it's not something that should be exploited for capitalist gain because some study has opened our eyes to the billions of dollars spent by the queer community, or that the we've realized the cost/benefit to the business from just hiring a few gays into the team. There is still so much work to do.

A friend was telling me a story and picture this. So you consider yourself non-binary, not that you need to declare that into the world. Imagine that you're walking into a store to do some shopping. You go to the men's section, there's rainbow flags everywhere. You're looking through their Pride specials. You're shopping in the men's section. You've always worn men's clothes. You go to the changing rooms. You go to try on the men's clothes, because how weird would it be trying on all the men's clothes in the women's. You get to the doors, there's Pride messaging on the doors. You go to enter and you hear a voice, "excuse me. Madam. You can't go in there."

And as my friend told me that story, I could hear the hurt, the pain, the suffering. Being outed in a public space, surrounded by rainbows. That was supposed to be a safe space. And I thought about the education I wanted to give you all today, how I wanted to tell you all about how to be a good ally, but then I realized it's not about us and them. It's not about me telling you. It's about all of us opening our mind to the difference that we all have to add. It's about all of us being able to have a color in the rainbow. All of us having a letter. I'd love nothing more than for it to be LGBTQIA+++ 'til we need more letters in the alphabet. We can all have a Pride Month, as long as the intention is right.

So what can we do about it? I mean, there is a positive side. I work with some amazing businesses and I reflected on the most thriving and inclusive businesses that I work with. They all have a common trait. And it's simple, they flip the concept of what it means to be an ally. And I don't mean being an ally is just being respectful, seeking to understand, listening, empathy, because that's just being a decent human.

The businesses that I work for that are amazing and inclusive are the ones that break down barriers so it isn't about us and them, it's about all of us. The ones that put up rainbow flags, not to tick a diversity box, but to amplify the voice of every individual in that business. And they celebrate that difference. They celebrate the uniqueness. They celebrate what they bring to the table. And they do that with every single person, every single day. They put up rainbow flags around the office, not because they have to, but because they realize there is still work to do. We are not equal. Transphobia is still very much rife, and we still live in a society of heteronormative design.

So when you see someone putting up rainbow flags or running a Pride event, that's great, but think to yourself, what am I doing to challenge inequity for our queer community? Because our queer community have had, and continue to have, a lifetime of death by social construct.

State Farm Gives Up on LGBTQ Rights - Charlotte's Web Thoughts - Air Date 5-24-22

[00:59:57] CHARLOTTE CLYMER - HOST, CHARLOTTE'S WEB THOUGHTS: You may have been doom scrolling yesterday and caught the latest hysteria of anti-LGBTQ extremists in the conservative movement.

State Farm, the insurance company whose commercials you've definitely seen everywhere in the past 15 years, had a really cool idea. They announced they're partnering with the GenderCool Project to provide LGBTQ-themed books, to schools and communities throughout the country, including Florida, where the infamous "Don't say gay, don't say trans" bill was recently signed by Ron DeSantis, and that's set to take effect on July 1st.

Now this is a private program in which schools and communities can proactively participate, but of course it doesn't require anyone else to participate or contribute their dollars toward that participation.

In January, a State Farm employee sent an email announcement to Florida colleagues asking for volunteers to coordinate with interested schools and communities. It noted that the company would be enlisting the help of 550 volunteers nationwide -- 5-5-0, 550 volunteers, presumably State Farm agents -- to gift a three book bundle to participating recipients. They noted this: quote, "The project's goal is to increase representation of LGBTQ+ books and support out communities in having challenging, important and empowering conversations with children age five and older."

Recently that email was forwarded to Consumers' Research, yes, several months later -- that's an anti LGBTQ extremist organization and I will not link to them in the blog -- who then sent it to far right news outlets and anti LGBTQ influencer Libs of TikTok -- you know all about them -- and all of those outlets and Libs of TikTok gleefully spent all day yesterday, pushing content that claimed State Farm is indoctrinating five year olds to become transgender.

Because hateful online campaigns of this variety have become commonplace lately, and I was working quite a bit all afternoon, I didn't take much notice when State Farm started trending on Twitter from the relentless propaganda and shit posting by anti LGBTQ extremists.

Then came news early that evening of an emergency email sent by State Farm's chief diversity officer -- yes, that is the company's chief diversity officer -- to all employees, announcing that the company would no longer support the program. For those of you who are listening to this rather than reading the blog, I'm going to read you the email real quick. It's three paragraphs. It's pretty short. It says, quote:

"State Farm's support of a philanthropic program GenderCool has been the subject of news and customer inquiries. This program included books about gender identity and was intended to promote inclusivity.

Conversations about gender and identity should happen at home with parents. We don't support required curriculum in schools on this topic. We support organizations providing resources for parents to have these conversations.

We will no longer support that program. We will continue to explore how we can support organizations that provide tools and resources that align with our commitment to diversity and inclusion."

That was the email.

This wasn't in support of a required curriculum. it was a program using State Farm's own money to buy 1,650-some-odd LGBTQ themed books to be distributed to interested schools and communities across the country.

In fact, given the total number of books being gifted, it would be damn near impossible to have anything approaching a large scale awareness campaign. If anything, I saw it as a very nice gesture and nod toward the importance of educating about LGBTQ families.

But State Farm, being the cowards they are, instead of aggressively pushing back against the hateful censorship of anti-LGBTQ extremists, chose to humor the premise that anyone in this situation, any parent or child, was being required to do something they didn't want to do. No one was. It was intended to be all privately funded, all volunteer, and all strictly based on recipients choosing to be part of the program. But State Farm pulled the plug because they got scared and decided it's more important to placate LGBTQ extremists than stand beside the LGBTQ community in a moment of horrific uncertainty.

Of course, given state Farm's political donations in the last cycle, this shouldn't come as a huge shock. According to Open Secrets, a majority of the company's political contributions for the 2020 elections went to Republican and conservative federal candidates, all of them opposing basic LGBTQ rights.

Those of us who are active in LGBTQ politics have been bracing for what this year's Pride month, which starts in a week, will reveal about the strength of support so many companies have expressed for LGBTQ rights in recent years. Basically whether they're real or not, whether they actually support LGBTQ rights or it's all been lip service. Because every year companies toss up a rainbow logo on June 1st, while they still contribute to anti-LGBTQ politicians.

This has long been a problem. It's referred to as "rainbow washing." And yet this year is different. This year, even the performative emptiness of a company's vague statement of support for LGBTQ people seems to be vulnerable to a massive and expensive effort by the Republican party and conservative movement to erase LGBTQ people from the public square and deem anyone who fights back, including allies, as, quote, "groomers."

Pride month this year will be less of a celebration and more of a grim acknowledgement that the GOP is clearly coming after us, and have no empathy or nuance or basic sense of humanity in how they do it.

When attempting to erase a minority group, it's essential to anesthetize public support for their humanity. The GOP has spent a long time attempting to do this in the broad public square. Recently, the bulk of that focus turned specifically to schools and fearmongering over LGBTQ families, teachers, and students. Now the GOP and anti-LGBTQ extremists are focusing their hateful rage on private companies who supposedly support LGBTQ people in the communities in which they do business. Last night, State Farm caved and gave up on being a good neighbor. I wish I could say I wasn't more worried that more companies aren't set to do the same thing.

Final comments on the lessons we must relearn generation after generation

[01:07:18] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with the PBS NewsHour explaining rainbow capitalism. It's Been a Minute looked at the surge of anti-trans legislation and seventies-style anti-LGBTQ arguments. The Takeaway discussed corporations donating to pro-LGBTQ causes and anti-LGBTQ politicians. Recode Media looked at the case of Disney under attack from both sides of the debate. What A Day looked at the long-running unease between the LGBTQ community and big corporations. And Democracy Now! featured three noteworthy speeches of politicians fighting back.

That's what everyone heard, but members also heard bonus clips: one from Chris Southcote-Want giving a TEDx Talk about what companies really need to do to be good allies to the community; and Charlotte's Web Thoughts discussed the incident of State Farm, the insurance company, bending to pressure from anti-LGBTQ hashtag activists.

To hear that and have all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at BestoftheLeft.com/support, or shoot me an email to request a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information.

And now I want to tell you some thoughts I was having, as I was learning about the recycling of 1970s anti-LGBTQ talking points around recruiting, what they now call grooming, what have you.

I got thinking about an idea I've been kicking around recently, which is that it seems like every successive generation needs to relearn so much of what past generations themselves had to learn, as though that information couldn't be passed along.

I mean, this may be because some lessons can only be learned through experience. It could be that we are bad at telling stories about these sort of lessons learned, so that younger generations simply grow up with them built in. Maybe it's a complicated issue having to do with shifting baseline syndrome, or it could be all of the above or something else I'm not thinking of.

Anyway, a good example of this is that the personal is political, which is really just another way of clarifying that structural forces are at play rather than everyone being individually responsible for circumstances they find themselves in. I feel like a lot of people are learning that lesson, now and over the last decade or so.

But it's an idea from feminists in the 1960s and 70s, who themselves I'm sure were just relearning that same idea that had probably been around long before them. Actually I know it was, though I'm not sure if this is what inspired the feminist racism used to not be seen as an individual dislike or disdain of a person based on their race. There used to be a much more widespread understanding of the systemic nature of racism before there was, maybe even arguably, an accidental shift to the "personal bad thoughts" framing of racism that we know and love today. So those are some things that we seem to need to keep relearning.

But then there's also the complicating factors of actual progress being made on one hand, and the phenomenon known as "shifting baseline syndrome." That's the idea that you consider anything you grow up with to be normal. That's your baseline. But that baseline shifts generation to generation. So it's really, really difficult to appreciate all the progress that was made before you came around. Which is not great, but it may also be easier to have loftier aspirations for the future, because you don't have as much of that baggage of the past weighing you down. Or, like we heard today, there was a time when LGBTQ activists would've been deeply grateful to any corporation who is willing to do some rainbow washing, put up a flag, whatever. But now that's the baseline. The baseline has shifted, and people are beginning to realize that it's time to demand a whole lot more than just that.

So I've mentioned general feminism, racism, LGBTQ. So here's the last one that I think caps it off and brings this all together nicely: free speech.

We're in the middle of another new round of debate over free speech, and what that means exactly. Is it the freedom to say something? Or is it the freedom to say something without consequence? And what do we mean by consequence?

Now for context, in the bonus show that we just recorded, that hasn't been released yet, we discussed George Carlin a bit. There was an HBO documentary that came out about him, and New York Times article. So we were talking about those sorts of things. And Carlin came up in comedy during a time that the police would arrest comics based on what they said on stage, if the government deemed it inappropriate. And we're not talking inciting violence here. And so his views, Carlin's views, and the views of many in that generation were largely shaped by that form of extreme censorship of speech. The fight for free speech was literally the fight to not be arrested for what you wanted to say in public, just because the government decided to.

So here's where shifting baseline syndrome and genuine progress get mixed together in a confusing stew. On one hand, younger generations don't have that institutional memory of government censorship of comedians. And so we see the entire debate over speech very differently. But it's because that past battle was fought and won by the generations that came before -- thank you very much -- so it could be dangerous, honestly, as a society to lose a healthy fear of overbearing government censorship, because that is the sort of thing that can spiral out of control, and has here and elsewhere in the past.

But on the other hand, it can be dangerous to get stuck in the arguments of the past, thinking that any social consequence for speech is a step down the terrible road to extinguishing free speech altogether.

These days, people bring up Carlin constantly as a warrior for freedom of speech. But the war that he was fighting was fundamentally different in many ways from the debate over speech we're having today. So much so that one really doesn't map well onto the other. And it's entirely possible that Carlin would have different views on the current situation and our speech debate than he did on the state of speech 30 years ago. In fact, it would be ridiculous if he didn't.

Which brings us to the fight of the day, which is between tolerance and intolerance. Free speech advocates argue, mostly mindlessly, that the only thing we need to combat destructive intolerant hateful speech is more speech. And progressives find themselves in a bit of a trap of their own making, being used against them. We're told that, one, if we want the freedom to say what we believe, then everyone else needs to have the same right. And two, if we are intolerant of intolerance, then we're terrible hypocrites, which I mean might sort of hurt our feelings, but also makes us stop and think that maybe they're right. If our ideology of tolerance is correct, and we believe that it is, then maybe we do need to be tolerant of intolerance we find ourselves grappling with.

But speaking of lessons that need to be relearned over and over through time, enter philosopher, Karl Popper in his book, The Open Society and Its Enemies, who has some thoughts on what he calls the paradox of intolerance. Posing the question, should a tolerant society tolerate intolerance, Popper answers no. And then explains that it is a paradox, but unlimited tolerance can lead to the extinction of tolerance. When we extend tolerance to those who are openly intolerant, the tolerant ones end up being destroyed, and tolerance along with them. Any movement that preaches intolerance and persecution must, Popper argues, be outside the law. As paradoxical as it may seem, defending tolerance requires us to not tolerate the intolerant. You got that?

And remember it next time you see the accusation that progressives are not following their own credo of tolerance by not being tolerant of the intolerance of the right.

As always, keep the comments coming in at 202-999-3991, or by emailing me to [email protected].

That is going to be it for today. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes, and particularly to Deon for really nailing it on the title for today's episode.

Thanks to the Monosyllabic Transcriptionist Trio, Ben, Ken, and Brian for their volunteer work, helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show cohosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at BestoftheLeft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple Podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content and no ads in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player. And if you want to continue the discussion, join our Best of the Left Discord community to discuss the show, the news, other podcasts, interesting articles, videos, books, whatever you like. Links to join the community are in the show notes.

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And coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay!, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from BestoftheLeft.com.

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  • Jay Tomlinson
    published this page in Transcripts 2022-06-22 15:48:45 -0400
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