Last night was the big Kathy Griffin My Life on the D-List episode where she embarrasses herself to national politicians on behalf of our movement and stages a big rally with HRC that accomplished nothing. (By the way, Dan Choi and James Pietrangelo’s charges were mysteriously dropped today. He informed the park police he’d seen them soon.)
While I’m glad to see open discussion about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on TV, I was generally frustrated that Kathy Griffin would hail herself as some kind of hero that she is not. So, I decided to use the episode to raise a little awareness about the Human Rights Campaign. I’ve written against them quite a bit in the past (April, March, February, January, October) and am still in no way satisfied that they appropriately represent the LGBT community on our salient issues.
So, on the Human Rights Campaign Facebook Wall, HRC had posted a link to their Dear Senator robo-email form, encouraging those watching Kathy Griffin’s show to participate. In fairness, it was not an ask for money. But, the whole things was still a publicity stunt. So, I offered the following comment.
Zack Ford: Want to take action to help pointless publicity stunts that don’t really make a difference? HRC is the group to fund!
And hoo-wee was the discussion fun!
Thomas Vire: Hey Zach,sounds as though you’d rather help the tea party…Now there’s a pointless group of very angry people,they just don’t know who to be angry at… [13 Likes]
Doyle C. Durando: Great Attitude Zach!
Michael Voit: I agree with Zack on this one. Thanks for wasting my time.
Josh Ritchie: Want to talk pointless crap that only makes you look like an idiot? Zack is the person to talk to! [6 Likes]
Bret Valdez: @Zack, Kathy Griffin is a huge ally for the gay community… shame you’re so negative towards our supporters… [2 Likes]
Erica Anderson: Bitter much, Zack? If anything you are thinking of PETA with their outrageous stunts they pull to try to get people to pay attention to them.
Ashleigh Bealko: Yes, no hate please…if u don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all- didn’t anyone ever teach u that? [2 Likes]
Social media is fun! Can there be a new form of Godwin’s Law for Tea Party comparisons? I can’t believe that was the first retort out of the gate.
Simply for challenging our largest LGBT organization to be accountable (as most of the Netroots do these days, it seems), I was attacked by their supporters. I was called a teabagger, which is bad enough, but my points were also referred to as “pointless crap,” and I was accused of being negative and hateful. I think one of the other commenters might have thought I was a Republican. Yeesh.
We have a big PR problem within our community if that’s how people react to fair internal critiques.
Of course, I wasn’t done.
Zack Ford: Wow, love all the respectful dialogue. If HRC claims to speak on behalf of all of us, it’d be great if they didn’t constantly cave on all our issues. Excuse me for wanting to hold them accountable. [3 Likes]
Not even close.
Sloan Danenhower: zack, i hear you. but at the same time politics is the art of the possible and if the HRC didn’t “cave” we wouldn’t have anything…
Mario Pinardi: Bitter & jaded solves nothing. Energy & passion solves the impossible. If you do not like HRC, at least, stand behind the cause of repealing DADT. Zero patience for bitter idiots. [4 Likes]
Zack Ford: Sloan, we don’t have anything anyway.
Chris Weisbecker: I don’t know. I do believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, that’s one of the things that makes this country so friggin awesome. But I also do feel that we are making a huge difference. If you are not happy with the organization, you can always just leave. Or even better yet, offer some constructive ways and solutions to make things better. [3 Likes]
Zack Ford: How about we stop pandering the President? How about they stop asking for money for campaigns that don’t actually apply pressure? How about we stop accepting compromises on our equality? Anyone want to tell me when the discharges stop?
Brian Rolon: If HRC is pointless, then remove them from your friends list and quit posting your own pointless comments. Get em Kathy!
Bret Valdez: Zack you sound so ignorant right now. I barely know anything about politics, but I’m not on a Facebook profile voicing my ill-advised opinions about them. and remember, opinions are like assholes; everyone’s got one.
Zack Ford: Bret, when do the discharges end?
I’m not going to lie; I do find this kind of fun. But I also think it’s important. There could have been a hundred comments of people just praising Kathy Griffin and HRC, but now there’s some real discussion going. People are calling me names and spelling my name wrong, but that’s ok. It’s just a poor response to the cognitive dissonance they’re experiencing.
Sarah Angela Evans: @Zach Ford, WRONG.. you do have rights and you may not realize this because of your youth, but the rights you have NOW are because of the HRC and those of us who stood up and gained the rights we have now. We started the first Gay Activist Alliance at the University of Oklahoma, when it was unheard of to talk about being a “queer” but we fought and we won. I remember being called names, bashed and having fireworks hurled at us by those who hated us. And the police turned the other way. When the police did look our way, they were beating us up for being a queer… I see you graduated from IOWA.. be proud at least gays can marry in your State!!! I remember many friends who were discharged dishonorably after a career in the military simply on the word of someone saying they were a queer… and when the Army Internal Affairs would come to the gay bars off post and take names of those who were there so they could throw them out of the service… Zach, we have so much more than we did when I was your age… This is not an overnight win.. it takes time… hopefully in my lifetime, but definitely in yours… [3 Likes]
I didn’t want to respond to Sarah, directly, because that just didn’t seem like it would be productive to the thread. But, I will say here that the dishonorable discharges are no different today. I still can’t get married. I still can get fired. The police still unfairly target our community. I am quite proud of those who came before to help educate and change attitudes, but when it comes to the law, what’s different? As far as I can see, I don’t have any federal rights that she didn’t back at the University of Oklahoma. I hate to be a downer, but that’s why I’m angry. Important work was done, but we haven’t come that far, and HRC surely has done squat recently (except take our money, of course).
Zack Ford: It’d be great if we stopped apologizing for a President who takes our money and then doesn’t expend any capital on our issues. I appreciate the work that’s come before, but I think we need to hold HRC accountable for their promises and issues. [1 Like]
Brian Anderson: Thank you Zack.
Sabrina Codella Ricketts: I am gay, and I served for 8 years. I completed my contract, got out and married my highschool sweetheart. As much as I am disgusted with DADT, I’m not naive enough to think that things will change over a couple years. Never in our country’s history has change towards equality been swift. One of the first moves towards ending slavery happened in 1787. MLK was still marching for equality in the 1960s. Now gays aren’t fighting back from slavery but we are fighting back from being labeled as immoral and a disease on society. You can’t expect the impossible. Unfortunately it will be slow gains over time. Just keep fighting and grab onto and celebrate the gains. Direct your anger where it belongs. At the bigots, not the organizations trying to make things better.
Thank you for your service, Sabrina. Unfortunately, the organization taking our community’s money is responsible for our lack of progress. Did it ever occur to you that they’re not good at what they do? Or more importantly, they don’t accomplish the goals they’ve promised us?
Evance Cannon: HRC FAIL
Evance Cannon: The elegant activist is a total DOUCHENOZZLE!
Zack Ford: Gotta love the photo opportunity while real activists are taking real action… Ooh, and a text from Cher! That’s going to make a difference. We can do so much better than these stunts folks. Think twice about who you entrust to advocate on your behalf. [1 Like]
Mario Pinardi: As a gay man who is relatively dull, I choose to make bold choices in order to fight for equality. So, if you are a gay & a conservative & a hater, then you are the one who is damaging our cause, not vocal allies like Kathy. Again, zero tolerance for those who choose to diminish & hate inside their own GLBT community. You have a lot to learn about tolerance, inclusion, & equality. I say “Go Kathy” – make more bold choices for your “gays.”
Some of these comments make me wonder if we have a real insecurity problem in the community. I come from a biased place; I read about HRC’s inaction at least weekly on the blogosphere. But here are folks that think HRC’s the end-all-be-all and attack anyone who challenges their organization’s pristine reputation. Wake up, folks! It’s far from it.
The thing that frustrated me most was that at the end of the D-List episode, some text on the screen explained that the House of Representatives had voted on repeal or Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
No, they did not. They voted on some ambiguous compromise that two months after the completion of the survey that will take until December, a whole bunch of military leaders can decide if and how they want to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Zack Ford: WHOA MISINFORMATION. THEY DID NOT VOTE ON REPEAL.
Zack Ford: When do the discharges end? No one knows.
Keith Valdez: I think Kathy did the right thing in not going to the white house with cho. How is handcuffing yourself to the white house fence going to help? [1 Like]
Zack Ford: Keith, like all civil disobedience, it puts the pressure and accountability on the those who enforce the law. It’s saying, “This discrimination is so hurting us we’re willing to break the law in front of your office. It’s YOUR fault, President Obama, that I’m in jail. I wouldn’t have to do this if you had fulfilled your promise to be a fierce advocate.” [1 Like]
Keith Valdez: Well not everyone is against Obama. Obama didn’t put him in jail, he handcuffed himself to the fence. That is a violation of the laws protecting the residence of our nations leader and therefore he put himself into jail. He could have made a bold statement any other way because if I remember correctly he wasn’t protesting the laws governing the protection of the white house. Kathy does not have to subscribe to his way of protesting and neither do the rest of us. That event was in the news for a few days then forgotten until now so he can thank her for giving him some publicity. It was presumptuous and not very thoughtful on his part to put her on the spot in that way.
Actually, I think the media completely ignored Kathy and Joe’s staged rally in favor of the real activism Dan and Jim were doing. There was nothing news-worthy about the rally except that it got trumped by what Dan and Jim did! Oh, and did you see they were still in the news today of their own accord? And their charges were dismissed, presumably because the Obama administration was embarrassed there would be a public airing of their failure to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell!
William Robert Hagen: @Zack Ford, I agree 100%. Almost 1,000 LGBT soldiers have been booted under Obama. HRC does need to hold Obama accountable. Obama made those promises to us, we did not force him to make him those promises. Obama could stop enforcement through Executive Order right now and has not. If he would do that, I personally would shut-up, but until he does that he does not get my support and more importantly, my money.
Glen McWilliams: All the blind kudos just because it’s Kathy Griffin is a perfect example of why no one in office takes gay activism seriously.
Now, there might be some of you out there who think my little comments on HRC’s wall were petty and useless. You might feel that reading this post was a waste of your time. That’s fine. But let me ask you: what have you done to engage in critical dialogue lately?
If one person read my comments and thought twice about the efficacy of the Human Rights Campaign, then it was worth it. Every step forward helps.