Watertown Tab and Press
DiMascio: `No Place for Fat-Free Lard’
By John DiMascio, Common Sense
GateHouse News Service
Thu Aug 09, 2007, 08:49 AM EDT
WATERTOWN, MA –
The Aug. 1 Boston Globe reported that Abraham Foxman (national director of
the Anti-Defamation League), said that it would be quote – bigoted – end
quote for Watertown to rescind its involvement with `No Place for Hate’
simply because the ADL refuses to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Foxman’s assertion is so asinine that even long-time ADL supporters like
Boston University professor Dr. Michael Siegel are scratching their heads in
Quite simply, Foxman and the ADL consider themselves the presumptive
prelates of pluralism, endowed with the sole power to arbitrarily define the
term `bigotry.’ If you agree with their position, you are the incarnation of
tolerance. If you do not, you are the manifestation of hatred and bigotry.
In reality, these self-anointed demi-gods of diversity are saying: their
definition of tolerance will not tolerate any intolerance towards their
views about tolerance. And if you don’t tolerate their definition of
tolerance, than you must be an intolerant bigot.
Huh? A college full of the foremost philosophical minds couldn’t decipher
Let me simplify it. Or dare I say, put it in more `tolerable’ terms. The
ADL’s notion of tolerance makes as much sense as fat-free lard!
Clearly, Foxman’s hypocrisy provides sufficient and just cause for Watertown
to end this ill-fated fling with the ADL. We can’t knowingly keep sleeping
with genocide deniers and still respect ourselves in the morning. Let’s just
say the `No Place for Hate’ committee unwittingly set us up on a really bad
blind date. It’s time get over it and move on, lest we find ourselves
married to this `Bridezilla!’
There are however, some equally important issues at stake that can’t be
forgotten in the righteous furor over Foxman’s foibles. Not the least of
which is: any municipal involvement in a program that arbitrarily defines
terms will result in marginalizing those who disagree with the program’s
Bloggers and pundits have commented that the `No Place for Hate’ controversy
originated because one man wants the freedom to hate gays.
I strongly disagree with that premise. But for the sake of argument, let’s
assume it’s the case. Isn’t that the price we pay for democracy? No one
needs a municipally sanctioned inquisition to condemn a man’s views. If
anybody thinks this guy is a bigot, they have every right to call to him
one. Just like this guy has every right to his views, whatever they may be.
Period. End of controversy. Exclamation!
The real debate revolves around the definition of terms and just as
important, who gets to define them.
Let’s look at the related portion of the `No Place for Hate’ proclamation
and you’ll see what I’m driving at.
`Whereas, all acts of subtle and overt … homophobia … substantially
undermine … the promise of equal justice.’
Ok, that sounds good. But what does it mean? Who gets to define homophobia?
Does it simply mean we are not going to tolerate denying homosexuals their
legitimate rights as citizens of the United States? If that’s the case, I
see no problem with that language; other than it’s superfluous. We already
have state and federal Constitutions that protect everyone’s rights. The
Town Council doesn’t need to waste its time restating the obvious.
On the other hand, many world religions have historically professed that
homosexual acts are contrary to their teachings on sexual morality.
Are we going to include religious teachings in the definition of homophobia?
Some would advocate exactly that course of action. And if `No Place for
Hate’ ascribes to that definition, then the Town Council unanimously (even
if unintentionally) condemned the religious convictions of many
constituents. Not to mention: Municipal participation in any such program
arguably violates the free practice of religious expression.
But this debate transcends beliefs about human sexuality. Any number of
controversial opinions, religious convictions and statements can fit
someone’s definition of hatred, bigotry or ant-Semitism.
Even my editor, Chris Helms, questioned the use of the phrase `fat-free
lard.’ He feared some might construe any reference to pork as anti-Semitic.
Actually, the connection to pork never crossed my mind until he mentioned
it. I was simply thinking of lard and fat as one in the same. Hence, my
point is the ADL’s position, like fat-free lard, is nonsensical.
This `high-caloric’ exchange about pork, fat and lard actually provides a
not-so-lean illustration of my point. Just about anything you say can be
interpreted by someone as hate. I suppose soon it will considered hate
speech to ask: `Where’s the beef?’ in the presence of vegetarians!
Putting my sarcasm, hyperbole and headache-inducing wordplay aside, let’s
look at what is really at issue.
At the core of this controversy is whether or not municipal participation in
`No Place for Hate’ encroaches on our civil liberties. So long as any
program raises such serious questions, the town has no business sanctioning
it, let alone providing said program with taxpayer resources.
History teaches us that the road to tyranny is often traveled one step at a
time. What seems like an innocuous proclamation or a feel-good measure can
soon lead to restrictions on what we can believe and publicly profess.
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress