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Equal Rights? Fine, as long as they agree with me!

Original post made by Paly Parent on Mar 22, 2013

It seems that in Palo Alto and possibly elsewhere, equal rights are only fine and acceptable as long as the rights agree with the way I think.

If the John Doe family want to build a community center for the people in town it is only an acceptable gift if they agree with everything I agree with.

If John Doe and his family are NRA members, or if they give to their religious charities, or if they give to the wrong political party, or they support they wrong football/baseball/basketball team, then their gift to the community is tainted and we should not accept it.

It seems also that the Weekly does not like us having opinions that are deeply divisive so they stop us talking openly about it.

It seems as if America is the land of the free with freedom of speech and open democracy are only acceptable when they agree with the pc police.

Last time I checked, we are living in a free country, we are allowed to have whatever political points of view we agree with, we are allowed to vote for whomever we like and we are allowed to put our money behind whatever cause with which we agree.

If NRA membership, religious pursuasion and political alliances are no longer acceptable then I can't see that this country is free thinking any longer.

As long as there is a freedom which doesn't break any law then there is freedom. Once that is taken away we are turning into a Soviet style machine.

Comments (25)

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm

As Voltaire said "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it. Voltaire ...

Posted by Seigneur de l'Enfer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm

There seem to be many people in Palo Alto, some of them who post on this forum, who will not allow free speech to those who disagree with them or have a differing perspective due to differing experiences of their own. Every family has its own individual culture, which makes for a lot of culture clashes on top of the ones related to national, regional, or racial culture. There is also a lot of classism here, which I have been shocked to find out, and the uppermost classes do not want to hear what the middle classes have to say and often try to suppress it by naysaying everything without thinking it through.

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 22, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Tolerance works both ways. Sometimes it means respecting an opinion that is different from your own.

Someone who voted republican is not a racist, just disagrees with Obama's political agenda.

Someone who supports Prop 8, is not a bigot or gay hater, just someone who respects gay people to have their own lifestyle and civil unions, just prefers to keep the definition of marriage as an institution between one man and one woman.

Someone who is prolife, is someone who respects the life of the unborn as much as the life of the born.

Someone who is catholic is not a supporter of priests abusing minors.

Someone who is a meat eater is not a supporter of the inhumane treatment of animals.

Someone who supports the NRA is not a trigger happy vigilantes.

Someone who does not agree with you is not a hater, or a bad person, or some other label. They are just someone who has a different opinion. Being tolerant means respecting differences of opinions. Being an American in the Land of the Free means exactly that.

Posted by Stonewall, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 22, 2013 at 3:31 pm

The OP says: "If John Doe and his family are NRA members, or if they give to their religious charities . . . then their gift to the community is tainted and we should not accept it." Hate is not a religion and giving to advance anti-gay bigotry is not a religious charity.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 22, 2013 at 4:48 pm

I really hate it when people equate the First Amendment with I-can-say-whatever-the-hell-I-want-without-repercussions.

What the First Amendment guarantees is that the feds aren't going to send you to prison or censor you. Doesn't mean that I ever have to agree with you. Doesn't mean I have to do business with you if I disagree with you. (Thus the addition of other protections in other cases.) Doesn't mean that the Weekly, which owns this site, can't remove whatever posts it wants.

As for your list--there's a basic logical flaw. There certainly are some trigger-happy nuts who support the NRA. There certainly are homophobes who oppose gay marriage. What, you think homophobes all support gay marriage?

What you meant to say is that espousing political viewpoint A doesn't make you negative-stereotype B. I think that sort of sweeping generalization is its own cop-out. In some instances, that's true--I know Republicans who aren't tea-partiers and are drawn to the pro-business stance of the Republican platform. BUT I think you can't give money to the GOP and pretend that, somehow, your money's not going to be used to support a conservative social agenda.

You may be a non-trigger-happy member of the NRA, but if you give the NRA money, you ARE supporting a lobbying group that works very heavily to promote the sale of guns and opposes all restrictions on them and even fights research into gun safety and violence. At which point, IMO, not being "trigger-happy" doesn't mean a whole lot to me--I see you as part of the crew that helps trigger-happy nutjobs have easy access to guns.

As for Prop. 8, most people no longer oppose gay marriage--the tide has turned on that one. I admit, way back when, the fight for gay marriage wasn't a big cause of mine. (Marriage, historically, has been a mixed bag to put it mildly.) But once it became legal in California, I think there was something truly vituperative and nasty about the Prop. 8 battle--you know, where a bunch of people actually fought and voted to take *away* a right. Why? Because it clashed with their definition of what "marriage" ought to be. Not because anyone seemed to be harmed by it--no one really argued that. There wasn't a practical reason for it. There were religious objections--though why one person's religious views should dictate someone else's life is beyond me.

So sorry, Proposition 8 was about bigotry. The only thing good I can say about it is that the ugliness of it woke up a lot of people to the political intrusiveness of the religious right.

Posted by Stanford prof, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 22, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Reminds me of the famous quote on this topic, variously attributed to Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, etc.:

"They are telling this of Lord Beaverbrook and a visiting Yankee actress. In a game of hypothetical questions, Beaverbrook asked the lady: 'Would you live with a stranger if he paid you one million pounds?' She said she would. 'And if be paid you five pounds?' The irate lady fumed: 'Five pounds. What do you think I am?' Beaverbrook replied: 'We've already established that. Now we are trying to determine the degree." See Web Link.

Would we all really be defending the sacred right to have one's support of bigotry to the tune of $20,000 ignored without social repercussion if we didn't have $20 million riding on it?

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 22, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Stanford prof,

Speaking of George Bernard Shaw, I guess I've got sort of a Major Barbara attitude about the whole gym thing. I'm for taking the $20 million and painting the gym rainbow colors and then christening it with a gay/straight student alliance fundraiser.

That's $20 million that won't be spent on another Prop. 8. (And, unlike the situation in Major Barbara, the money wasn't generated by tainted means--as far as I know.).

Posted by Academe, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 22, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Freedom of speech does not mean that you can slander someone. There has been a lot of that in this forum. However, many times truth can sound like slander ( or libel) because someone does not want to believe it is truth. Sometimes slander ( or libel) can sound like truth because it has been taken out of its original context and misused, and people DO want to believe it.

As Thomas Jefferson said, "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 22, 2013 at 7:16 pm


I don't read all forum posts, but I don't see a lot of libel. Remember, opinion can't be considered libel. There are certainly lots of, er, heated opinions here.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2013 at 8:40 am

Paly Parent, as you know this is an almost entirely liberal region of the country, with San Francisco as the ultimate liberal epicenter.
Even other moderate areas of the country (no, not the backwoods conservative areas) are surprised at San Francisco.
I don't think of it so much as an issue of it being liberal, but rather marvel at the focus of the liberal politicians: narrow-personal interest issues are that focus while the big picture (budget of the city of SF, whatever) are far less important. It is a question of emphasis and where one wants to devote one's time and attention, and I think SF, in particular, wastes the citizen's money in an egregious way. Have whatever opinion you want, but don't waste hundreds of hours of public debate time over middle-aged men having the right to befoul public benches in San Francisco. Get the streets paved first.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2013 at 8:42 am

Make that naked middle-aged men....(yes, this is a super topic in San Francisco among some of the well-paid political class)

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 23, 2013 at 11:15 am

Just for clarification.

I did not say that I agree with any of the examples I gave as being something I support.

I only used them as examples.

All these supporters are free to support any legal cause they agree with. They can support them as much as they like, with time, money and energy, because they are free to do so. This is a free country and they can donate, time, money, effort to any legal cause without being called haters, racists or anything else. These are all legal causes and even though I do not necessarily support them, I support their rights to exist and be supported by anyone until such time as the law is changed making them illegal if that happens.

If someone chooses to support a cause with which I do not agree, they are free to do so and I do not judge them as a result. I may choose not to use their business if I so choose. That is my right. But, don't judge everyone on all their choices as to whether or not they are also allowed to donate to a cause you will benefit from.

If we are judging others by who they vote for, who they financially support, which religion they belong to, and researching every person who runs a business we might use, then we are a sad nation. If you want to look at the owner of every restaurant, every grocery store, every department store chain, on their voting habits or charitable donations then you are going to be spending a lot of time on the internet.

This is a thread not to discuss a particular gift by a particular person, but by a trend which is becoming more common place nowadays of judging negatively against someone who is freely acting as they see fit. This is a free country. Don't take away the freedoms of others because one day one of your freedoms might be judged against you and you will not like it.

Posted by Stonewall, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Stonewall, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Paly parent: saying that it is legal so it is beyond criticism is naive. Apartheid was legal. Slavery was legal. Jim Crow was legal. Nazism was legal. Sodomy laws were legal until a few years ago. And anti gay laws are still legal. That odes t make them right, or moral. Just as all of those forms of bigotry were on the wrong side of history so is Prop 8. That's why Bill Johnson revoked his endorsement from Steve Pogue foe giving just 500 to Prop 8. Because Prop 8 was a discriminatory law. If a family hypotheticcally gave 43 times as much Pogue it would be reasonable to conclude that they are not "profamily" as the Weekly coverage stated. Why is the Weekly saying the Pogue had bad values and lauding the g donors as being supportive of families. It is not consistent by the weekly. And it was apparently hurtful to a gay student, something that got shut down. The students letter was very thoughtful and mostly a critique honestly of the weeklys portrayal of this donor as pro family. Hate is not a family value even when it is practices by billionaires. Is the weekly afraid of repricussions or does it just not like the crit?

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 23, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Maybe this family, that donated to prop 8, also donated to the weekly. That would surely color their coverage--- it has become apparent that if you buy ad space in the weekly when you are running for election, you get an endorsement (I.e. kniss and Holman, to name a couple) . I am sure if you donate your also get prefential treatment

Posted by some guy, a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Everyone has their own bias and their own bigotry. People have a tendency to think that their bigotry is better than someone else's.

Posted by Sigh, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 24, 2013 at 7:17 am

some guy: best post. Thanks!

Stonewall and OhloneParent prove the point with their own bigotry, blinding them so much that they can't see their own horrific bigotry. To equate hate of gays with anti-Prop 8, or the NRA fighting research into gun violence, or Teapartiers with your definition of a conservative social agenda.

Gay marriage would be fine, as long as it didn't force anyone to disagreed out of business or into a change in their church. Live and let live is fine..the problem is we saw what happened to charities, adoption agencies and private businesses once gay marriage was legal in Massachusetts. That changed my mind. There has to be protection for the rest of the citizens in order for gay marriage to be legal. I am pro-freedom for each of us to choose our lives and how we live them, not forcing some to do business in a model they don't agree with to accomodate other people's choices.

NRA: Either you understand that LEGAL gun ownership lowers gun deaths, or you don't. Either you accept you have a right to bear arms in self-defense against a government run amok, or you don't. This is not a pro-violence stance, in fact it is a pro-safety stance. Read "More Guns, Less Crime" by Lott.

Teapartiers: Want us to return to a Constitutional Federal government, that protects each of us in our individual rights as guaranteed in our Bill of Rights and our Constitution. That has nothing to do with "social conservativism". Many teapartiers are also pro-life, anti-gay marriage, but so are many democrats. Hmm...

Social Conservatives: Somehow said as if that were bad, not understanding that defending everyone's life is defending non-conservative lives as well, that defending everyone's ability to live and do business is defending their right to do business as they wish and associate with whatever groups they wish, "religious' or not.

I could go on and on, but this is enough.

The point was that OhlonePar and Stonewall proved the bias points very well, presenting one side of their stereotypes, without any thought to the millions and millions of words written and said to try to explain how many of us are trying to defend THEIR liberty along with ours.

And now, I will expect the usual blasts.

Posted by Sigh, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 24, 2013 at 7:20 am

BTW, Palyparent who started this thread...did I miss something? Was there a gift turned down in Palo Alto?

Posted by stonewall, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 24, 2013 at 8:10 am

No gift was turned down. The donor to the new Paly gym also gave $20,000 to Prop 8. He is one of the largest donors in California to Prop 8. A gay paly student posted to another thread saying that the way the family of the donor and the Weekly were writing about how the donor was "pro family" really bothered him, since he had donated substantially to invalidating thousands of marriages and families in the state. The problem was more with the family's and the Weekly's portrayal of the gift. Had the story been: billionaire gives gym, I think it would have been less inflammatory. But because the family went out of the way to lengths to make a high school gym, which is not really a family promoting thing -- it's a high school sports promoting thing -- into a "family" activity, that makes the question of the donor's views on family relevant. A representative sample from the story is: "It's not about athletics so much as youth, *families* playing together, Dave Peery says," and that the family "wants to give back in ways that enable youth and *families* to spend more time playing together." The family spokesperson stated that "We aim to support initiatives which nurture the whole child." The family's foundation, which is funding the gym, also funds Brigham Young, and the family claims it has the mission to "strengthen youth and *families* to build lives of dignity and self-reliance."

The last line about dignity is pretty hard to swallow if you undertand what Prop. 8 was which is a direct assault on the dignity of gay families.

In response to Sigh, who said: "Gay marriage would be fine, as long as it didn't force anyone to disagreed out of business or into a change in their church." That's not how rights work. Rights are not optional and wanting to deny people rights is not itself a right. Bigotry is bigotry but every time I write the word "bigot" in connection with anti-gay bias the editor deletes it. I guess billionaires who have prejudiced conceptions of family are like the 800 pound gorilla to our local paper. They can sit wherever they want.

Posted by Family*, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 24, 2013 at 9:39 am

Maybe the Weekly should have said that the family "wants to give back in ways that enable youth and families* to spend more time playing together."

*some restrictions apply.

Posted by jake, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 24, 2013 at 10:01 am

Weekly is not Free.. You have to be kidding me.

Posted by Family*, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 24, 2013 at 11:45 am

And by the way, stonewall is wrong on one thing. Prop 8 isn't legal. Two different federal courts have found it was ILLEGAL. Just like segregation. Just like anti miscegenation laws. Prop 8 is illegal. So the donor supported an illegal effort to destroy gay families. So he's only pro straight family. Maybe that's why gay Paly senior is upset and maybe he has a point.

Posted by Bad connections, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2013 at 12:44 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm


Do you actually understand what "bigotry" is? You're misusing the word. Or do you use the term as a way of not actually dealing with viewpoints that oppose your own?

You make several erroneous assumptions.

I pointed out a basic logical flaws in Paly Parent's arguments.

Allow me to do the same for you. I'll start with a little bit on guns.

The NRA's policies have little to do with legal gun ownership. Your claim that legal gun ownership lowers gun violence is kind of, well, silly. Fewer guns equals a lower rate of gun violence--i.e. there's almost none in Japan which has almost no guns--legal or otherwise. I don't think Japan's trade-off would fly here, but the point is kind of obvious--if you don't have something around, it's not there to be used. *Legal* gun ownership has skyrocketed in the past decade. So has gun violence.

Both Adam Lanza and the Aurora shooter used legally purchased weapons.

And *every* gun was once a legal gun. There are just a hell of a lot of guns out there. There are more guns to be used.

Now, back to gay marriage. NOTHING about gay marriage being legal in California required churches to perform or condone gay marriage. There's a separation of church and state in this country.

Again, Proposition 8 was intent on taking *away* an existing right. That's what made it so ugly.

I mean, I have to laugh when I hear about the "sanctity of marriage"--given the high divorce rates in red states, the increasing percentage of out-of-wedlock births, again particularly in red states.

And we're worried about gay marriage? Let's worry about finding ways to support the heterosexual kind.

THe irony of all of this, to me, is that the Prop. 8 fight ended up, long term, *helping* the cause of gay marriage and hurting conservative religious groups, such as the Church of Latter-Day Saints. I think plenty of people saw how happy those nice gay couples were when they got married at City Hall. I think plenty of people saw just how much money was spent by out-of-state interests (particularly Mormon groups) to ban gay marriage.

The take-away for a lot of people was that A) gay marriage wasn't hurting anybody and B) why should someone else's religious beliefs tell people what they could and could not do?

I've noticed, online, that there's much, much more antagonism toward religion than there used to be. I think some of the more politicized church groups have forgotten that tolerance is a two-way street. The LDS has taken to spinning and whitewashing its heavy involvement in pushing Prop. 8.

It is pretty funny, though, to see the self-pity party Prop 8 supporters throw themselves when it turns out that other people don't like their views and tell them so. (What is with the me-too victimism on the right these days? It makes me miss John Wayne.)

Paly Parent, we judge one another for our views all the time. Doesn't mean I don't think you have the legal right to hold them, but it's my right and, to some extent, my responsibility to oppose them if I disagree with them.

Posted by PalyDad, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 24, 2013 at 9:35 pm

PalyDad is a registered user.

Apparently the Weekly editor felt that this discussion was "tiresome, distracting and an unproductive loop," and locked the last remaining open thread on the subject. There was a lot of interesting discussion topics here -- better than "I almost had a bike accident" or Piazzas gets bigger." These are soul-searching discussions that should be the purpose of Town Square -- if it has any purpose beyond gossip and anonymous slander, which is doubtful most days. For a guy who wants to have a high-brow intellectual discussion, you locked this one down repeatedly even though it promises to be that.

An open community discussion of the very important issues raised by Prop. 8, the changing definition of "family," what kind of deference the mega rich receive, the feelings of the gay Paly senior [still overlooked very tragically -- I guess it only "gets better" if there isn't a billionaire on the other side of the ledger] , and the Weekly's PR-style article about the "family" values of the gym donor, as well as the community reaction supporting Prop 8 -- all of these are exactly the kinds of topics that could generate the kind of discussion that one would hope to find in a town square. Instead, we have a fluff piece for an ultra-conservative billionaire lauding his "family" focus (or, more properly, Focus on the Family*) followed by every effort imaginable to prevent a good discussion of the Weekly's ethics, the teen's bravery, and the feelings of the community on the issue of gay rights.

Back to idle chatter, the square footage of grocery stores, and flattery of billionaires.

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