Just Equal, Not Special

Last night the Anchorage Assembly held a public hearing on extending the Municipality's anti-discrimination laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in matters of employment, housing, and public accommodations. If Ordinance No. 64 passes, it will be illegal to fire someone from their job, refuse to rent them an apartment, or deny serving them in a restaurant because they were gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender in the Municipality of Anchorage. Sounds fair, right?

Not to everyone. Led by Jerry Prevo, the pastor at the Anchorage Baptist Temple (basically he is AK's version of doughy hate walrus Jerry Falwell), hundreds of people showed up to protest. And by "showed up" I mean "were bussed in from as far away as Wasilla." And by "people" I mean mostly children--I estimate that over half of the anti-equality protestors were under 18. And there were plenty of kids there under 15 and some as young as 5. It was disgusting; these kids have no idea what the ordinance is about, what the issues are, or why they were there. They were basically pulled out of bible camp and given red shirts to wear and signs to wave (the anti-equality folks wore red, those of us who want to live in a free and tolerant society wore blue. Redshirts v. Blueshirts. It was just like color war.). In fact, the camp analogy was not far off--this was straight out of Jesus Camp. We presumed their afternoon schedule went something like this:
2:00: Arts and Crafts (make anti-gay signs for protest)
3:00: Free Swim
3:45: Board bus for Anchorage
4:30: Hate Mongering
Here are some pictures of the campers kids in action:

Despite waving these signs, none of them could explain exactly how the proposed ordinance was unconstitutional, or antithetical to American or Alaskan values. But that may be because they didn't know what "antithetical" meant.

Really? Would Jesus want people to be fired from their jobs for being gay?

"Truth is Not Hate"? That doesn't even make any sense.

I kind of like the minimalist approach used here.

Definitely a family-friendly event.

"Non-Homosexuals Have Rights"? Good one.

Future leader of the Aryan Nation. I just kept taking pictures of the kids until they got really uncomfortable, or started smiling and waving at me.

"I just got my license!"

Hate the sin? What sin? Wanting to not be denied a place to live because you happen to be gay? Isn't invidious discrimination also a sin?

These kids don't look happy at all.

"If we leave now we can make it to Abercrombie and Fitch before they close."

"Ohmygod Mom, where are you? You promised to pick me up at 6:00."

Someone came up with a really clever sign about the kids:

Who was that incredibly witty someone you ask? Rumor has it that it was this guy:

The Redshirts'whole argument comes down to this pithy statement that they kept repeating: "No special rights." But that doesn't mean anything. What are special rights? Being treated like everyone else? Having the same legal protections as the rest of society? Please. It's a bullshit argument. Equal rights are not special rights.

Rather than recap the whole evening, visit The Mudflats for a pretty good play-by-play. I'd prefer to review some of the more humorous moments from the evening. To begin, this tongue-in-cheek sign:

Now look at the guy in the middle of the picture below. He was really funny. It's a little hard to see, but his sign, written in red, says "I'm just in it for the chicks" and has a swastika crossed out with a cross drawn next to it instead. He marched around with the Redshirts and it took them a while to figure out he was making fun of them.

It may seem mean or disrespectful to their point of view to trash the Redshirts like this (and it is definitely immature to make fun of them like I do, but inside I'm like twelve years old), but I think it is permissible here. I will always vigorously defend someone's right to speak their mind, even if their opinions are abhorrent to me. But I will not respect you if your opinion is ignorant or uninformed, as was the case last night. That most of the Redshirts didn't know the facts was made painfully clear when one of the City administrators announced to a throng of them that "If you want to testify on 64, you have to sign up." That led to this exchange:
Redshirt: "What's 64?"
Administrator: "Uh, it's the number of the ordinance."
Redshirt: "What do you mean?"
So, back to the teasing. Every subset of protestor was present last night--the guy who brings his bongo drums, the religious fanatics, the old hippies who sing We Shall Overcome, etc. But my favorite kind of protesters are the "silent-but-deadly" types--the ones who walk right up to the opposing side and just stand there, all up in their grills, holding a sign and not saying anything. This guy did that to Brendan and Brendan's response was perfect: he just held up the mini sign I made him in response to their "Truth Is Not Hate" meme (it says "Not Truth Is Hate"):

The Jesus Brigade was also out in full force. This woman was literally thumping a Bible all evening and seemed pretty mad (unfortunately, my camera battery died and she had put the Bible away by the time I secured a replacement and started snapping photos again. Note to self: always charge your camera before a protest). I think she was mad because no one sent her the "don't wear a blue shirt" memo. I affectionately called her Kimberly Jong-il:

Not to be outdone, this scary lady sprang into action. First she fished some little pamphlets out of her purse and then waved them around:
Then she came right up and yelled "NO SPECIAL RIGHTS!" right in my face. I was afraid.

And if you are wondering about that sweet scarf/head covering she is wearing, it's pretty awesome: it is festooned with I Heart Jesuses and angels:

This seems like a good time to talk about Redshirt style. And since Myster wasn't there, somebody has to do it. As the pictures above illustrate, being an Anti-Gay Activist does not imbue one with good fashion sense. These people made some bad choices:

For the active gay-hater who needs to go directly from the office to the protest, it's the new Jaclyn Smith line from JC Penney.

The girl in the middle: weird tunic-like thing and the worst. shoes. ever. to wear to a 6 hour long protest.

This guy breaks so many fashion rules that I lost count. His main sins: mis-matched tracksuit (misdemeanor) and socks with sandals in the first degree (10-20 years, min.)

I'm sorry, these guys are so gay. How long till they realize they are on the wrong side? And how long before their little friend throws away her Promise Ring and dates a 24 year old with a Camaro?

The highlight of the evening, style-wise, was this celebrity sighting: It's Dog the Bounty Hunter!

I think he saved that sign from an earlier protest because same-sex marriage was not even close to the issue being discussed. But I wouldn't expect this dickhead to know what was going on, he was too busy leading groups of kids around chanting "STRAIGHT IS GREAT!"

He was also yelling "If you're gay, jump!" to the people watching the protest from this bridge:

What an asshole. Let's make fun of him: First, he has a picture-perfect mullet. We have to acknowledge that; it really is a thing of beauty. But, as someone commented, "It must be nice to only have to use gel on the top of your head." His clothing fascinates me. Aside from the Oakley Thumper sunglasses/mp3 player combo, he is wearing a long sleeve shirt with a Harley Davidson flame logo, a short sleeve shirt over that and a leather vest with a totally creepy Jesus logo:

Here is a close-up of the logo. The banner on the top says "Jesus." The banner on the bottom says "Spiritual Freedom." In between there is a cross draped with a shroud and that is all in-between two opened hands breaking free from their chains. Who designs this stuff?

Unfortunately, all of the fun we were having was marred by a few things: (1) the realization that we have to debate equality at all. It's 2009, for Christ's sake haven't we moved past this? (2) the fact that so many people signed up to testify that the Assembly meeting ended before they could vote on the ordinance; and (3) this guy:

Mr. Dirtypants and Flashdance Shirt worried me. I saw that he was just standing around by himself and I thought he looked like he was waiting to start some trouble.

Of course, an hour later he punched someone in the face who made a derogatory comment about Jesus. Love thy neighbor! Here he is getting arrested:

The guy who got punched is okay, but his sunglasses were broken. Fortunately, this was an isolated incident and several people came over to apologize to the victim. Most everyone was behaved and the Anchorage Police Deparment did a great job.

Back to the funny stuff. These are things that were said or yelled by people within earshot:
  • “Look! It’s the kids from Big Love!”
  • "I wish I had kids so I could exploit them too."
  • "I wore this hat because I thought it could lead to us finding some common ground. We will always disagree on equality, but we can all agree that the Mets are awesome."
  • "I really want to be attracted to you, but you’re a racist."
  • (in response to the "Straight is great!" chant): "Straight’s not all it’s cracked up to be, especially in this town."
  • "It looks like it is really hard being Mrs. Alaska." RE: Mrs. Alaska, this was really weird. She was at the rally, very clearly on the red side (Apparently, Mrs. Alaska is a bitch.). At one point she walked into the street between the two sides of protesters, silenced the crowd, did one of those pageant wave things and then just walked away without saying anything. Very odd. And, serioulsy? An equal rights protest was the best gig she could get? You suck, Mrs. Alaska. Here is a picture from the ADN where she is marching hand-in-hand with her husband (is he automatically Mr. Alaska? Will someone please look into this, I want to know.):
  • “It’s not gay if it’s with a priest.”
  • "Is it still abstinence if you just do it in the ass?"
  • "If you want to be literal about the Bible and live under those rules, then give me your cell phone and you don’t get any medicine."
  • (after a Redshirt swiped a spider off of his shoulder): "So you hate animals too?"
  • "Well, you can’t find a gene that says you’re a dick, but you are one."
  • "You just hate Coldplay because Chuck Klosterman told you to."
No one on the other side was laughing, smiling, or cracking jokes. We had fun (which is what you have to do to prevent yourself from freaking out over the hate and ignorance spewing from the other side) and we are totally going to win. Because we are right.


Jasper said...

This blog does not allow anonymous comments = bullshit.

Laura said...

Jason, you are too funny on the same par as Michael Moore. Thank you for making me crack up. I seriously needed a good laugh after this seriously bad night of witnessing the worst of human nature = mind control....

Laura said...

You are too funny, on same par as Michael Moore....thanks for making me crack up!!!!!

H P said...

The Neo Nazi color scheme really brings the whole thing together.

Suki said...

Okay -that was one of the funniest things I have ever read. Please keep it up!

Nathan said...

Tragic & hilarious all at the same time.

AshyKnucks said...

I may have been on the fence about witnessing the protest tomorrow, but whatever reservations I had have been obliterated like the redshirts' ability to understand current events, the fact that mullets are no longer in style and prevent child exploitation. My camera will be 100% charged, and I'll bring two lenses with me to ensure both wide-angle and closeups of these amazing looking redshirts. Awesome.

Michael & Sarah said...

You are hilarious. Glad someone can a least find a little humor in such a shitty situation. Thanks.