Conservatism isn't simply in political retreat, it is fast travelling beyond the pale, fast becoming anathema in America. And not just "conservatism"--any bumper sticker sentiment that denies due reverence for the precepts of progressivesm as exemplified by the leftward evolving sensibility of the media and cultural mainstream. We had support for McCain-Palin support garner a concussion for a college freshman here; an arrest for a passer-by here; and now general opprobrium and even curses here--and toward a middle schooler!
It is anything that smacks of the traditional that is under assault now in the public sphere, in the cultural mainstream, and sometimes literally.
Look at the reaction to the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which amends the California Constitution to limit marriage to one man and one woman. Having seen homosexual marriage fail at the polls by a margin of 52 to 47 percent, Prop 8 opponents are already busy filing lawsuits, hoping to overturn the poll results in the courts, staging protests, and singling out for ridicule and attack at least the weaker elements of the coalition that brought the proposition to victory: namely, the Mormons, who heavily supported the measure. Opponents of the measure are not, notably enough, targeting black voters, who also heavily supported the man-woman marriage measure.
The Los Angeles Times reports generally about what it describes as "an outpouring of demonstrations ranging from quiet vigils to noisy street protests against Proposition 8, including rallies outside churches and the Mormon temple in Westwood as well as boycotts of some businesses that contributed to the Yes on 8 campaign."
In a nod to the Other Side, the Times notes:
Supporters of Proposition 8, however, have expressed outrage at the demonstrations and boycotts -- particularly the ones targeting Mormon temples and Catholic churches.
"This activity shows great disrespect for the will of the voters," said Andrew Pugno, the lawyer for the Yes on 8 campaign.
"It also shows religious intolerance," he said, adding that his Catholic church was vandalized.
The mainstream media have so far failed to get across the intensity of the ordeal that supporters of Prop 8 may now be subject to--something I realized on coming across this extraordinary blog account of a meeting at the legendary restaurant El Coyote in Hollywood, not far from where I grew up in Laurel Canyon. The meeting was between the elderly Mormon owner, who donated $100 to support Prop 8, and Prop 8 opponents, who are threatening a boycott, and it is as soul- grinding as something out of Soviet show trial history. Peacelovelunges.com--billed as "the blog of ex-Mormon, reformed porn star and Hollywood fitness trainer Sam Page"--reports:
In a dramatic, closed door meeting, the owner of a renowned Mexican eatery in Hollywood expressed regret in her decision to donate $100 to the “Yes on Prop 8″ campaign, but her remarks before a group of about 60 members of Los Angeles’ LGBT community fell short of an outright personal apology.
Just the spectacle of an American citizen expressing regret for her political conviction to avert economic harm is gruesome already. But it goes on:
“I’m sick of heart that I’ve offended anyone in the gay community,” said Marjorie Christoffersen, co-owner of El Coyote Mexican Cafe for 17 years. “I have had, and do have family, friends, and people I work with of course who are gay…and you are treasured people to me.”
The tall, frail Christoffersen stood in the center of the group. She appeared to be shaking during her prepared remarks which lasted about 3 minutes. Two young female family members flanked her to prevent her from fainting, according to a restaurant employee. At several points during her speech, Christoffersen simply became too emotional to continue.
El Coyote has become the latest casualty in the local outburst against the passage of Proposition 8, an anti-marriage amendment [sic] to the California State Constitution. Dozens of e-mails and websites, including the popular online local guide, Yelp.com, have urged boycotting the legendary cafe in recent days.
Christoffersen, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, insisted that her donation was personal, and reflected her religious faith.
“I’ve been a member of the Mormon Church all my life,” she said. “This was a personal donation. In like fashion, any employee here would be free to donate, worship or support anything of their personal choosing."
Freedom, the Golden Rule, conscience--none of it is good enough for the commissars.
"Over the years Coyote has financially supported many charities and thousands of dollars most particularly have been given to the gay interests and charities. The restaurant does not support any political group.”
Progressive bona fides aren't good enough for the commissars, either.
In the only question taken by Ms. Christoffersen after her remarks, and before those gathered, I asked her directly if she would personally make an equal donation to the campaigns to repeal Proposition 8.
“I cannot change a lifetime of faith,” she said.
I would love to know how Peacelovelunges.com felt after the old lady's quiet riposte, but he doesn't say.
Moments later, the same group which had been invited for lunch and margaritas grew increasingly verbal, apparently reacting to the lack of a direct apology from Ms. Christoffersen, and she left the building in tears. The group continued to meet for another 30 minutes, before dispersing for what appeared to be a looming boycott. One demonstrator was already shouting outside.
Still, there were some dissenting voices in the room. One woman compared the angry gathering to Nazi Germany, when Hitler’s military singled out individual Jews in a witch hunt for their religious beliefs. “Why are we singling out one restaurant?” the woman asked. “Are you ready to go up against every single restaurant in the city?”
Openly-gay restaurant manager Billy Schoeppner, announced that El Coyote would make two $5,000 contributions, each to the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center and the Lambda Legal Defense Fund. He also asked those gathered to suggest any possible or practical ways the legendary establishment could avert a full-on boycott and PR war by the Los Angeles LGBT community.
Another manager, Arnaldo Archila, outrightly denounced Ms. Christofferson in a forceful statement.
"We don’t share her views as the management,” said Mr. Archila, a native of El Salvador. “They don’t press us to do anything that we don’t want to do, and we never talk about politics or religion. I don’t understand why we got connected to something going on at the top.”
Welcome, Salvadoran stalwart of freedom.
Other restaurant employees also spoke, including a waitress who tearfully worried what would happen to the 89 families that receive some financial support from El Coyote if a boycott were to occur.
Mr. Schoeppner told me privately that in addition to making reparations [sic] to the aforementioned charities, that the restaurant was planning to take out full page advertisements in the LA Weekly and Frontiers Newsmagzine to avert a boycott.
“I understand boycotts and protests have been planned. Let me personally take the responsibility for your pain and anger,” said Christoffersen. “El Coyote is no part of what I have done. The only people you will truly hurt are the hundreds of families of mixed origins and sexual diversity who rely on El Coyote to feed their families.”
Are those really the only people who will be truly hurt, Mrs. Christoffersen? Aren't we all hurt, isn't our entire political system hurt, when citizens are not free to express their opinions--increasingly, their traditional political opinions--without fear of tribunal, intimidation and boycott? Aren't we all threatened when purity of orthodoxy--as determined, in this case, by a margarita-swilling lunch crowd--becomes a requirement for social inclusion?
Almost anti-climatically, further fallout from Prop 8 was reported in a New York Times story about the resignation of a California theatre director brought about due to the man's support for the traditional marriage proposition. The Times writes:
The artistic director, Scott Eckern, came under fire recently after it became known that he contributed $1,000 to support Proposition 8, which amended the state Constitution to recognize only male-female marriages. ...
In a statement issued on Wednesday morning, Mr. Eckern said that his donation stemmed from his religious beliefs — he is a Mormon — and that he was “deeply saddened that my personal beliefs and convictions have offended others.”
More apologies for convictions.
His donation was brought to light by online activists angry about the measure’s success at the polls.
Thought police are now political donation police.
“I understand that my choice of supporting Proposition 8 has been the cause of many hurt feelings, maybe even betrayal,” Mr. Eckern said. “It was not my intent. I honestly had no idea that this would be the reaction.”
But the swift resignation was not met with cheers by those on either side.
Marc Shaiman, the Tony-Award-winning composer (“Hairspray”), called Mr. Eckern last week and said that he would not let his work be performed in the theater. “I was uncomfortable with money made off my work being used to put discrimination in the Constitution,” Mr. Shaiman said. He added, however, that the entire episode left him “deeply troubled” because of the potential for backlash against gays who protested Mr. Eckern’s donation.
“It will not help our cause because we will be branded exactly as what we were trying to fight,” said Mr. Shaiman, who is gay.
Well, I don't who's going to do the branding Marc Shaiman fears. The only branding going on is of "racists" for McCain-Palin, and "bigots" for traditional marriage. The point is, in the media, among the elites, in academia, on the sidewalk, at El Coyote, in the theatre, the stage is being set ... for intolerance.