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T-Shirt Intolerance and Prop. 8 Protests

10:50 AM, Nov 14, 2008 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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This story will surprise no one who has lived in a deeply liberal community that prides itself on its tolerance and diversity above all else. A brave Illinois 8th-grader, daughter to a conservative dad and liberal mom, conducted a social experiment in the weeks before the election in the tolerant, liberal suburb of Oak Park.

She wore a "McCain Girl" shirt to school on one day, and an "Obama Girl" shirt on a subsequent day. The responses to her McCain shirt were predictable, as she was harassed by students and questioned by teachers:

"One person told me to go die. It was a lot of dying. A lot of comments about how I should be killed." ...

"He said, 'You should be crucifixed.' It was kind of funny because, I was like, don't you mean 'crucified?' " Catherine said.

Other entries in her notebook involved suggestions by classmates that she be "burned with her shirt on" for "being a filthy-rich Republican."

This story will not surprise Phyllis Burgess who was attacked for carrying a cross into a crowd of Prop. 8 protesters in the aftermath of California's gay marriage measure passing.

It won't surprise Jose Nunez who was assaulted for distributing pro-Prop. 8 flyers.

It won't surprise Mormon temples that have been under siege by angry crowds hurling expletives (and occasionally projectiles) since Prop. 8 passed.

Now, suspicious white powders have shown up at several Mormon temples, though the incidents have yet to be connected to Prop. 8.

I understand that emotions run high on this issue, but the behavior of gay marriage activists in the aftermath of Prop. 8's passage has been largely disgraceful. The marches, rallies, and protests would have been more helpful to their cause before the election, and with decidedly less anger.

They'd also likely be more successful in persuasion if sober efforts were directed at members of their own Democrat/liberal coalition who voted for Prop. 8, like Hispanics and black voters. But white liberals have no capacity to criticize those communities in even the slightest way, so they vent their anger by throwing things at Mormons.

What's going on now has far too much the look of a hateful temper tantrum than a regrouping to fight another day. Imagine the outcry had Prop. 8 supporters lost the vote and immediately began protesting gay clubs or disrupting gay marriage ceremonies and club meetings in large numbers. Gay marriage is an issue on which public opinion is trending in their favor, but displays such as the Phyllis Burgess incident are not convincing any Prop. 8 voters to be more open to the gay community and its needs.

There was a vote. It was close, but they lost. They should go about the work of convincing people to vote the other way next time. The law will not be changed because a requisite number of Mormons are harassed.

Liberals fancy themselves the most tolerant of all people, and indeed they are, as long as they never encounter anyone with the gall to wear a McCain t-shirt or support traditional marriage. Then, it's on.