Response to "The Uniter Speaks" cartoon
From reader who feels I'm intolerant of Bush's personal views
Like most people, I love getting mail (except for hate mail, but I try not to take people who swear at me and call me names too seriously). Most of the responses I got to the cartoon were positive (not surprising, as it ran in the Boston Phoenix, whose readers tend to be younger and more liberal than the average newspaper audience). But I also got an email from a Mr. Donald Bassman, who respectfully disagreed with the cartoon. Here's his letter, and my response:
It strikes me as odd that your cartoon would have George Bush saying that someone was welcome to "rot in hell". I don't recall ever hearing him say anything so hateful as that, or hateful at all, for that matter.Of course Mr. Bush has never OPENLY said any such thing. That's the whole point of the cartoon--that Bush gets away with DOING very anti-gay things by coating them in the language of tolerance. Cartoons are not supposed to be literal depictions of what politicians actually say. Cartoons use exaggeration to make points. And my point is that Bush talks all this talk about being "a uniter, not a divider", and being a "compassionate conservative," but he doesn't walk the walk. When he wants to make it easy for federally-funded charities to discriminate in hiring against gay people, he talks about how it will help the poor (except, I suppose, the GLBT poor). When he wants to further strengthen laws that bar loving same-sex couples from having the same rights and respect as heterosexual couples, FIRST he talks about being a "welcoming country," and THEN he says he's working with lawyers to "codify" heterosexual-only marriage.
Mr. Bassman continues:
If the mere fact that a person may not agree with your lifestyle, which a person has every right to, causes you to think that they want you to "rot in hell", then I REALLY have to wonder who has the problem.Mr. Bush is NOT a private individual who in the privacy of his thoughts doesn't think gay couples should have the right to marry but who is publicly accepting/tolerant of them. He is the President of the United States, a public political figure with worldwide influence who helps to make LAWS and POLICIES that hold back and restrict the rights of millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. By this and other anti-gay positions he has taken, and by his close political ties to virulently anti-gay men such as Ralph Reed and Antonin Scalia, Bush is in essence telling gay people that he will happily hurt them to please his right-wing supporters--in other words, that they can go to hell.
And to allow Mr. Bassman to finish his letter:
People can accept each other and not have to totally agree on every aspect of each others lives. But, obviously, for many this just isn't enough. Oh well.Saying to someone "I like you a lot but you have awful taste in movies so let's not watch movies together" is acceptance. But saying "You're OK but I think your homosexuality is sinful and/or disgusting and you don't deserve the same rights as I do to not be discriminated against in hiring and housing" is NOT acceptance. Saying "homosexuals are OK as long as they don't kiss or hold hands in public, don't engage in long-term publicly acknowledged relationships and don't have/adopt children" is NOT acceptance.
And no, it ISN'T enough. And I wish politicians like Bush who think gay, bisexual and transgendered people don't deserve equal rights would just say so--and not hide behind words like "accept" or "tolerate."