Monday, February 20, 2017
Selective bigotry on the Left: New Yorkers accept homosexuals -- but not conservative homosexuals
Chadwick Moore, a 33-year-old journalist who lives in Williamsburg, had been a lifelong liberal. Then, last September, he penned a profile for Out magazine of Milo Yiannopoulos — a controversial and outspoken critic of feminism, Muslims and gay rights (despite being openly gay himself). Although the Out story didn’t take a positive stance — or any stance — on Yiannopoulos, Moore found himself pilloried by fellow Democrats and ostracized by longtime friends.
Here, he tells Michael Kaplan his story — including why the backlash drove him to the right.
When Out magazine assigned me an interview with the Breitbart.com rabble-rouser Milo Yiannopoulos, I knew it would be controversial. In the gay and liberal communities in particular, he is a provocative and loathed figure, and I knew featuring him in such a liberal publication would get negative attention. He has been repeatedly kicked off Twitter for, among other things, reportedly inciting racist, sexist bullying of “Ghostbusters” actress Leslie Jones. Before interviewing Yiannopoulos, I thought he was a nasty attention-whore, but I wanted to do a neutral piece on him that simply put the facts out there.
After the story posted online in the early hours of Sept. 21, I woke up to more than 100 Twitter notifications on my iPhone. Trolls were calling me a Nazi, death threats rolled in and a joke photo that I posed for in a burka served as “proof” that I am an Islamophobe.
Most disconcertingly, it wasn’t just strangers voicing radical discontent. Personal friends of mine — men in their 60s who had been my longtime mentors — were coming at me. They wrote on Facebook that the story was “irresponsible” and “dangerous.” A dozen or so people unfriended me. A petition was circulated online, condemning the magazine and my article. All I had done was write a balanced story on an outspoken Trump supporter for a liberal, gay magazine, and now I was being attacked. I felt alienated and frightened.
I hope New Yorkers can be as accepting of my new status as a conservative man as they’ve been about my sexual orientation.
I laid low for a week or so. Finally, I decided to go out to my local gay bar in Williamsburg, where I’ve been a regular for 11 years. I ordered a drink but nothing felt the same; half the place — people with whom I’d shared many laughs — seemed to be giving me the cold shoulder. Upon seeing me, a friend who normally greets me with a hug and kiss pivoted and turned away.
Frostiness spread far beyond the bar, too. My best friend, with whom I typically hung out multiple times per week, was suddenly perpetually unavailable. Finally, on Christmas Eve, he sent me a long text, calling me a monster, asking where my heart and soul went, and saying that all our other friends are laughing at me.
I realized that, for the first time in my adult life, I was outside of the liberal bubble and looking in. What I saw was ugly, lock step, incurious and mean-spirited.
Still, I returned to the bar a few nights later — I don’t give up easily — and hit it off with a stranger. As so many conversations do these days, ours turned to politics. I told him that I’m against Trump’s wall but in favor of strengthening our borders. He called me a Nazi and walked away. I felt awful — but not so awful that I would keep opinions to myself.
And I began to realize that maybe my opinions just didn’t fit in with the liberal status quo, which seems to mean that you must absolutely hate Trump, his supporters and everything they believe. If you dare not to protest or boycott Trump, you are a traitor.
If you dare to question liberal stances or make an effort toward understanding why conservatives think the way they do, you are a traitor.
It can seem like liberals are actually against free speech if it fails to conform with the way they think. And I don’t want to be a part of that club anymore.
It used to be that if you were a gay, educated atheist living in New York, you had no choice but to be liberal. But as I met more Trump supporters with whom I was able to have engaging, civil discussions about issues that impact us all, I realized that I like these people — even if I have some issues with Trump himself. For example, I don’t like his travel ban or the cabinet choices he’s made.
But I finally had to admit to myself that I am closer to the right than where the left is today. And, yes, just three months ago, I voted for Hillary Clinton.
When I was growing up in the Midwest, coming out to my family at the age of 15 was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Today, it’s just as nerve-wracking coming out to all of New York as a conservative. But, like when I was 15, it’s also weirdly exciting.
I’ve already told my family, and it’s brought me closer to my father. He’s a Republican and a farmer in Iowa, and for years we just didn’t have very much to talk about. But after Trump’s inauguration, we chatted for two hours, bonding over the ridiculousness of lefties. But we also got serious: He told me that he is proud of my writing, and I opened up about my personal life in a way I never had before to him.
I’ve made some new friends and also lost some who refuse to speak to me. I’ve come around on Republican pundit Ann Coulter, who I now think is smart and funny and not a totally hateful, self-righteous bigot. A year ago, this would have been unfathomable to me.
I even went on a date this past week with a good-looking Republican construction worker, someone I previously would not have given a shot.
I hope to find out that it pays to keep an open mind.
And I hope that New Yorkers can be as open-minded and accepting of my new status as a conservative man as they’ve been about my sexual orientation.
SPLC Hides Behind Its Own Hate
If there’s one defamatory term that gets thrown around more than any other today, it’s “hate.” Politics has devolved to the point in which simply disagreeing on anything is cause for getting thrown into the Doghouse of Hate. That’s not to say there aren’t factions whose sole purpose is to promulgate hurtful and harmful rhetoric and deeds. That’s what ISIL does. And the KKK. And numerous other groups. Some are obviously more hostile than others, but there’s no limit to the extremes people will go to on both sides of the political and social divide. However, the “hate” label can also be used to script narratives, which the Southern Poverty Law Center does in its annual “Year in Hate and Extremism” publication.
This week, the center reported that 2016 saw a three-fold increase in what it calls “anti-Muslim hate groups.” By it’s metrics, the U.S. now contains 101 so-called Islamaphobic groups whose retaliatory crimes include wrecking “a mosque in Victoria, Texas, just hours after the Trump administration announced an executive order suspending travel from some predominantly Muslim countries.” Moreover, it adds, “In the first 10 days after [Trump’s] election, the SPLC documented 867 bias-related incidents, including more than 300 that targeted immigrants or Muslims.” All told, SPLC currently identifies 917 hate groups whose ideologies vary anywhere from neo-Nazism to black separatist advocacy to “general hate.”
To its credit, The Washington Post’s coverage describes SPLC as “a liberal-leaning advocacy group.” But the reasons for skepticism toward the group go far beyond that. For one, “general hate” can be construed to mean anything in this world of moral relativism. The thresholds that delineate meanings now can and most certainly will change in the future. And all conservatives have bona fide reasons to fear falling victim. Secondly, if we’re playing by the same rules, the SPLC itself could be described as a hate group. As Family Research Coincil’s Tony Perkins wrote in a recent column, “For years, the anti-Christian Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) bragged about its work with the FBI. Their partnership on issues like ‘hate crimes’ helped fuel the Obama administration’s fierce targeting of mainstream pro-family groups. That abruptly ended in 2014, when the agency distanced itself from the controversial organization.”
He adds, “Despite being linked in federal court to domestic terrorism, SPLC, the self-anointed authority on ‘hate,’ had remained a go-to ally of the Obama administration. That all changed, emails reveal, when FRC took our concerns to Congress about the ties between SPLC and the gunman who walked into our lobby in 2012 and shot Leo Johnson. … The concerns we expressed to our friends in Congress was not just about FRC and our safety, it was about the dozens of pro-family groups and Christian organizations that the SPLC has targeted because of their biblical view of human sexuality. Just how outside the mainstream are the claims of SPLC? This was the Obama FBI that distanced itself from SPLC.”
There is no justification for those who intentionally target anyone merely because of ideological differences. And the SPLC is right to call them out. But there’s also no justification for the SPLC’s true motive, which is to purge America of conservatism and anything else it considers “not inclusive.” When your own rhetoric results in getting good people like Leo Johnson shot, there’s a serious need for self-reflection. Because that’s the very definition of hate.
Turning journalism into a crime
Britain's proposed new Espionage Act would devastate press freedom
Journalists and whistleblowers in Britain could be treated as spies and imprisoned for years under proposals for a new Espionage Act. The Register revealed on Friday that the UK Law Commission’s latest recommendations to the government include treating journalists and leakers as foreign agents, in an attempt to ban future reporting of large data leaks, like the Edward Snowden revelations.
The 326-page consultation paper, titled Protection of Official Data, proposes that the ‘redrafted offence’ of espionage would be ‘capable of being committed by someone who not only communicates information, but also by someone who obtains or gathers it’. The paper proposes ‘no restriction on who can commit the offence’. Had this proposed law been in place in 2013, it could have led to the jailing of Alan Rusbridger, the then Guardian editor who published the Snowden data leaks, for the crime of handling the information passed to his reporters by Snowden.
As if press freedom in Britain wasn’t in a dire enough state. While handling the Snowden story, Rusbridger was threatened with jail and a gagging order when the government attempted to block the story. These new proposals would result in a further chilling effect on press freedom, scaring investigative journalists out of doing their jobs properly.
Under the new proposals certain government offices would become completely off-limits for reporters and whistleblowers. The Register noted: ‘British Embassies abroad, intelligence and security offices, and data centres not officially publicised by the government would be designated as “prohibited places” or “protected sites”, making it an offence to publish information about them or to “approach, inspect, pass over or enter” for any “purpose prejudicial” to national security.’ This gives free rein to certain agencies of the state, which would never have to worry about being held to account. They would be protected from investigation.
The proposals would replace four Official Secrets Acts and would remove ‘public interest’ as a defence for anyone accused of offences. This is insidious. The public-interest defence in the realm of leaks is the one legal tool that provides protection for lowly reporters when faced with the full force of state power.
The report suggests blocking one of the fundamental tenets of journalism: holding the powerful to account. If certain areas of state are cordoned off, so that penetrating them becomes punishable by long jail terms, then who will dare to criticise and attempt to uncover the farthest reaches of state power? To fulfil their role in a democratic society, journalists must be free to delve into the darkest recesses of government influence.
Beyond the contents of the consultation, the methods used to carry it out appear to have been decidedly underhand. By the Commission’s own admission, the consultation was devised without any meaningful input from journalists or rights groups. This is despite law commissioner David Ormerod QC claiming in the Telegraph that, ’We’ve scrutinised the law and consulted widely with… media and human-rights organisations’. Open Rights Group (ORG) was one of the NGOs listed by the report as having been consulted, yet ORG’s chief executive Jim Killock told the Register: ‘There was no consultation. There were some emails with our legal adviser about having a meeting, which petered out without any discussion or detail being given.’ Similarly, the Guardian said it attended a ‘high-level, very general chat’ about the consultation last year, and then heard nothing more.
This unwillingness to consult both sides in the debate, and the neglectful gaps in the report, highlight how one-sided the proposals truly are. The document suggests removing the historic public-interest defence in an apparent bid to protect national security, yet it fails to define what it means by ‘national security’.
The bias in the document speaks to a wider attitude among those in power, who are becoming far too comfortable with imposing themselves on the press. This can be seen in the allegations that David Cameron attempted to get Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre fired in the run-up to the EU referendum, as well as in the recent Royal Charter for press regulation.
Should these proposals come to pass, they would destroy investigative journalism as we know it. The Leveson Inquiry has already proposed various measures that would stifle press freedom and investigative journalism; these proposals go even further, making it virtually impossible for journalists to investigate the powerful. Investigative journalism relies on a delicate balance of relationships with contacts or whistleblowers. Those whistleblowers speak to the press if they are confident journalists will protect their sources. But journalists can only offer that protection when they are assured of their own protection under a public-interest defence. If the state gets to decide what constitutes public interest, or indeed that there is no such thing, what’s to stop them blocking all news stories about state-run offices? While, for now, we are talking about ‘national security’ level stories, there is no reason to assume the government won’t find a way to broaden this undefined term to cover all manner of state-controlled sins. That would put an end to NHS whistleblowers, for example, who rightly highlight poor care and sometimes even abusive treatment.
The Law Commission’s proposals should alarm anyone who believes in a free and democratic society. If these proposals were to become law we would effectively be passing a huge chunk of journalism into state hands, and it is the public who will lose out. Knowledge is power, and by attempting to criminalise certain kinds of journalism the government is seeking to control how much the British public can know about the state they live under. These proposals, if acted upon, would take Britain a leap closer to authoritarian rule — they must be scrapped.
There's no shame in being a Mrs!
As Miriam kicks up a fuss over being called Mrs Clegg, LAURA PERRINS says the successful 48-year-old lawyer's aggressive feminism does her no favours
Well, I hate to say this, but Miriam Clegg might be a bit sensitive. The wife of our former Deputy Prime Minister has gone off the deep end on social media after being invited to an event to mark International Women's Day - in her married name.
The lawyer, known professionally as Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, posted on Instagram the offending missive with its handwritten `Dear Mrs Clegg', and added a withering caption bemoaning the `irony' that the event was a celebration of `women's success'.
It was clearly a mistake on the part of the organisers, but did she need to be so cross and make such a fuss?
Here we have a successful 48-year-old glamorous mother of three boys with a fulfilling, lucrative career in commercial law, and a happy marriage. So why the grand-standing and public humiliation of the event organisers over what was, in all likelihood, an error made by some unpaid intern?
She's not the only feminist making a fuss about the `insult' of being referred to by her husband's surname this week. Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, complained to the Speaker when the Prime Minister referred to her in a Commons debate as Lady Nugee, which is her married name as the wife of High Court judge Sir Christopher Nugee. Mrs May was forced to apologise.
In this latest case, I'd say the one who needs to apologise is Miriam Clegg.
Instead of dealing privately with a clerical error, in a letter which said the organisers would be `honoured' if she took part, she chose to act with breathtaking rudeness. She might have been at a feminist boot camp as they handed out good manners.
She claims to be independent, and made noises when her husband was in office about being too busy to accompany him on official engagements.
Then last year she published her cookbook, Made In Spain, in which, incidentally, she was photographed on the front cover resplendent in Liberal Democrat yellow.
It was a clear case of wanting her paella and eating it too. No publisher would have been remotely interested in her book if she hadn't been able to mix a sprinkling of spice in with her recipes, slagging off Samantha Cameron for putting Hellman's on the table rather making her own mayonnaise and telling how she refused to cook for George Osborne when he came to dinner. The only reason she was able to meet SamCam and the former Chancellor was through her husband.
Whether she likes it or not, it was their marriage that gave her professional profile a boost.
Are we supposed to believe that International Women's Day would have been interested in Miriam Gonzalez Durantez if she wasn't also Miriam Clegg?
There are hordes of clever, successful female commercial lawyers in City of London firms like hers. I know because I was once a lawyer, too, a criminal barrister.
While never in Miriam's league, I've met plenty of women who are. I doubt any of them get the same invitations and opportunities that she does.
Feminists used to campaign under the slogan that women were entitled to `have it all'. Miriam Clegg wants to have it both ways - as the wife of a powerful man when it suits her, but her own woman when dealing with fellow feminists.
And I do wonder why it is such an unforgivable crime to take your husband's surname? I did, though I never think of Perrins as my husband's name. For me it is now our name - as a family unit that includes our three children.
If there was any loss for me in becoming Perrins, it was losing my identity as a single woman and gaining an identity as a married woman, which I was happy to do. In our wedding vows, my husband pledged to protect and provide for me. It didn't seem like a lot to ask me in return to take the name Perrins.
Another lawyer, Amal Alamuddin, had no problem in taking her husband's surname when they married - but then he IS George Clooney. Now, the once little known human rights lawyer is feted around the world.
The kind of aggressive feminism displayed by Miriam Clegg and Lady Nugee does them no favours.
Instead of making them appear stronger, it turns them into victims; women who are so brittle they mistake even the smallest slight for an outrageous attack.
Take Emily Thornberry, again. `I have never been a Lady and it will take a great deal more than me being married to a Knight of the Realm to make me one,' she complained to the Speaker on Monday after the Prime Minister had `insulted' her and demanded an apology.
This minor infringement of parliamentary rules led to an absurd spectacle, in which the most powerful politician in Britain, a woman who has risen to the top in spite of having taken her husband's name 36 years ago, was compelled to say sorry to someone who was throwing her toys out of the pram.
Perhaps if Miriam, Emily and their ilk weren't wasting so much energy feeling outraged at perceived slights, then they might one day aspire to the heights of Mrs May, and a certain Margaret Thatcher (nee Roberts) before her.
Their agenda is entirely self-serving. In the real world, the rest of us are too busy getting on with it to care.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.