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6.8.07

Peeves

A couple things that bother me:

1. I find the gloating from the left about evangelicals' unease with Mitt Romney's Mormonism unseemly. Irrational bigotry against people based on their religion is something we should be condemning, not welcoming. (And it is irrational bigotry that's being gloated about -- we're told that unspecified anonymous Republicans* will refuse to vote for Romney because they think his church is a hell-bound cult, not because they think his religion will lead him to take the wrong stance on one or more issues.)

2. I'm uncomfortable, albeit somewhat ambivalently, when someone criticizes some person or institution for a political or moral failing, and then people chime in with additional apolitical/amoral criticisms. For example, there was a thread a while back on Pandagon (I don't have time to dig out the link right now) about a restaurant that had kicked out a customer for being a lesbian. In the comment thread, lots of people said that the restaurant's food is bad, too. On the one hand, I can understand the desire to heap abuse on one's enemies (particularly since the diner in question is more likely to be upset about being told their food stinks than that they're homophobic). And it certainly makes it easier to stick to a boycott of them for political reasons if you don't think you're missing much food-wise. But it also seems to miss the point. If you think their food stinks anyway, why should they care whether you agree with their nondiscrimination policy (or lack thereof)? The focus on the bad food (which affects you personally) seems to me to cheapen and dilute the concern with the violation committed against the lesbian who was kicked out because of her sexuality. Denying service to a lesbian is wrong whether you're Marvin's Garden or the Boulevard Diner**.

*I'm also a bit skeptical of the polls cited to show that there's a big anti-Mormon base out there. The question usually asks about whether the respondent would vote for a hypothetical candidate based only on the information that said candidate is a Mormon. I think this kind of question makes it easy to take absolutist stands about whether you'd vote for a certain type of person. But in the real world situation when you have a limited menu of imperfect candidates with a lot more biographical and policy detail, concerns about religion have to be balanced against other things. So a lot of these people who tell a pollster that they'd never vote for Generic Mormon Candidate would be willing to suck it up and vote Romney to keep Giuliani or Clinton out of the White House.

** My least and most favorite diners, respectively (located in Phoenix AZ and Worcester MA).

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