Wednesday, April 24, 2013

These Two Things Are Not the Same - Post on District 4

For those of you who follow me on Twitter (the feed is to the left, by the way), you may have noticed a few tweets last night with the hashtag #sameashomophobiarightevanandlucas.  But you may not have understood the context of the tweets.  So allow me to explain:

After the 2012 general election, San Diego City Councilman Tony Young resigned from office to pursue other interests.  And, as you might expect, there was a special election to replace Mr. Young.  The primary has taken place, and the general election is coming up.

There were a large number of participants in the primary election, but there are only two you need to worry about for this post - Dwayne Crenshaw and Myrtle Cole.  Dwayne is a good friend of mine, and I have supported him from the get-go, including donating to his campaign.  I also believe that Dwayne would be a great City Councilman - he has a record of economic development in this City Council District as a private citizen that most politicians would be proud of.  Myrtle Cole, I do not know, but she is backed by the Labor Council, who, in turn, secured her endorsement from the Democratic Party. Dwayne is also a Democrat, by the way.

The other thing to know is that this particular race takes place in San Diego's historically African-American District.  Ironically, African Americans aren't the largest ethnic group in this area - Latinos are more numerous - but it has historically been the seat of African American politics in San Diego.  Both Dwayne and Myrtle are African Americans.

It is also important to know that Dwayne Crenshaw is gay, and his coming out process was brutal. When running for the same City Council seat in 2004, he was outed publicly and was subject to vicious and homophobic attacks.  He left politics, and worked for a nonprofit called the Coalition of Neighborhood Councils (CDC), which employed 1 part-time employee when he arrived, and employed over 50 full-time employees when he was fired for being gay (allegedly).  The whole process left Dwayne bruised and battered.  Oh, and the CDC collapsed when Dwayne left.

Anyway, back to the story - a few days before the Primary, the San Diego Voice & Viewpoint, the biggest and most influential African American newspaper in San Diego, who's editor regularly appears on radio and other local media outlets, endorsed a third candidate in this election.  That's not very important.  What is important is that the newspaper specifically rejected Dwayne Crenshaw because he is gay.  Not because of his record, but because he is gay.

Shortly thereafter, there were calls from various progressive groups to condemn the Voice & Viewpoint for this editorial.  48 hours later, Myrtle Cole did so.  Now, keep in mind, she wasn't endorsed by the Voice & Viewpoint either.  She had no dog in the fight, and would have won brownie points by denouncing the rampant homophobia right away.  But instead she waited.  Mostly, I think she waited because she didn't think about it.  Anyway, she got on board, and finally denounced the Voice & Viewpoint.

Now, moving forward to yesterday, there have apparently been some hit pieces distributed in the District by San Diego's Lincoln Club - basically the well-oiled, well-financed, Republican/conservative group here in San Diego.  From what I've seen, these hit pieces are a bit ridiculous - alleging Cole just moved into the District from Arizona (she is from Arizona, but moved to San Diego years ago; she moved into the District recently), that she was fined $10,000 for ethics violations (she was not, a campaign she worked for was, but after she left), and there are a few other iffy claims in the mailer.

Thus began a twitter war - two members of the Labor Council's political arm - Evan McLaughlin and Lucas O'Connor both tweeting that if given the whole blow-up over the Voice & Viewpoint, surely Dwayne would denounce the Lincoln Club's slimy hit pieces against Cole.

And this is where I got pissed off.  There is simply no equivalence between what the Voice & Viewpoint did and what the Lincoln Club has done. Yes, the Lincoln Club are slimy fucks.  Yes, they are lying in a hit piece against Cole. This is politics, and sadly, it happens all the time.  That's why politicians have bad names, and why most people don't read mail hit pieces - they throw them out almost immediately.  What the Voice & Viewpoint did is different.

The Voice & Viewpoint did not send out obvious advertising, it wrote an editorial on the front page of the paper.  As I said earlier, John Warren is a public figure - and in some circles, he is the voice of San Diego's African American community.  So, for John Warren to reject a candidate because he is gay is a statement that San Diego's African American community rejects everyone in the LGBTQ community.  Because a "confessedly homosexual lifestyle" is wrong in his eyes.

Think about a young teenager in that community hearing that message of hate.  We know what the effects are - Dan Savage started a YouTube channel called "It Gets Better" specifically to convince LGBTQ teens to not kill themselves for being gay.  We have seen gay men targeted for beatings because they are gay.  The Stonewall Patrol in Hillcrest was formed specifically to prevent such attacks on gay men that were occurring on a way too-regular basis.  The editorial didn't just attack Dwayne for being gay, it attacked the entire LGBTQ community.  That's why it had to be denounced immediately.

By contrast, a hit piece filled with lies, against a single person, written by a Republican Party group in a predominately Democratic District is hardly equivalent.  Is the Lincoln Club filled with slimy fucks who will lie at the drop of a hat?  Of course.  But no one is going to kill themselves over the message. When someone tries to draw a parallel to what happened with the Voice & Viewpoint, I get pissed off. And hence, the twitter war.

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