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March 3, 2007 7:42 AM   Subscribe

I would be more comfortable speaking with someone gay. Is that kind of sexism halal on AskMe? I need a straight interior decorator (gay men make me uncomfortable). Where can I eat in a nice whites-only restaurant?
posted by Meatbomb to Etiquette/Policy at 7:42 AM (194 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I'd be happy to review this callout again when us "breeders" have an equal chance of being subject to discimination and insensitivity based on orientation. Would you still have your panties in a twist if the question was "I'm a woman, and I'm looking for a great female doctor in Manhattan"?
posted by theantikitty at 7:51 AM on March 3, 2007 [8 favorites]


There are women-owned and black-owned businesses, and people actively search out and give those businesses their custom. This is no different — read the business secton of any city's gay newspaper.

In any case, challenging the poster about his question doesn't help answer it. A lot of those answers are noise and need to be removed.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:56 AM on March 3, 2007


I don't see anything wrong with it and it isn't sexism. He's just looking for a professional who will see eye-to-eye with him on a cultural level. Why is it so wrong to want to work out personal matters like finances with someone who gets where he is coming from? Did he say that straight people make him feel uncomfortable? no. He just wants to help out his community and work with someone who shares his culture.
posted by necessitas at 7:58 AM on March 3, 2007


That is why I bring it up here, BP, I didn't want to derail the question. My panties aren't all that twisted / bunched, I am just curious as to whether this is OK.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:00 AM on March 3, 2007


I read the question a bit earlier today, and I thought it was funny because it sounded more like the poster was looking for a good marriage prospect, but the explanation cleared it up. I think it's fair enough for him to feel more comfortable talking to someone he relates to. So if voting counts, I'd vote to leave him alone.
posted by micayetoca at 8:01 AM on March 3, 2007


Did he say that straight people make him feel uncomfortable?

He said "I would be more comfortable speaking with someone gay."
posted by Meatbomb at 8:01 AM on March 3, 2007


The post is fine.
posted by wheelieman at 8:02 AM on March 3, 2007


Where can I eat in a nice whites-only restaurant?

And this comparison is so awful I don't even know where to begin. Perhaps there's a parallel universe somewhere, where gays run the country and imported straight people as slave labor for a few centuries. As I understand US history, however, the reality is somewhat different.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:03 AM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh for god's sake. If you can't understand why a gay person might want to patronize gay services, and what makes that different from a straight person not wanting to patronize gay services, I can't help you.
posted by languagehat at 8:04 AM on March 3, 2007 [6 favorites]


Or what Blazecock Pileon said.
posted by languagehat at 8:04 AM on March 3, 2007


It may be an unusually specific and in some ways impolitic request, but that is not license to dirty up the thread. There are some measured "that's not necessarily a good plan for this practical reason" comments, one from dirtynumbangelboy that I think pushes toward the reasonable limits of askme answers, and I've deleted a a not-remotely-measured comment already.

Please, do keep it out of the thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:07 AM on March 3, 2007


He said "I would be more comfortable speaking with someone gay."

That is not at all similar to the "gay people make me uncomforable " example you used in your post. He isn't saying straight people make him uncomfortable. He is saying that because he is gay (I could be wrong, but the impication there seems to be that some of his financial issues are related to his lifestyle, possibly a partner, etc.) he would feel more comfortable speaking with someone who has personal experience with those issues.

I think it is pretty dumb for him to be looking for a gay lawyer with experience with central american fincance issues. If he does have some personal financial issues tied to his lifestyle (future planning for parner and children, etc.), he'd be better off getting the larger financial issue solved and then looking for a culturaly similar financial planner for his own stuff. But that is his choice.

In any case, I think you are just looking for an issue to pick on today and think you've latched on to some sort of reverse discrimination issue, but you haven't.
posted by necessitas at 8:09 AM on March 3, 2007


Ideally, I would like to find someone who has a background with such inheritance issues, is in Manhattan, and is gay or "gay-friendly."

I don't think this is unreasonable.
posted by grouse at 8:09 AM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like to speak at people with with downs syndrome, they find me funny. Unlucky lame guys can be fun too, they can rarely catch me. The ones in the sporty wheelchairs are especially great on sand.
posted by econous at 8:15 AM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I am just curious as to whether this is OK.

Seeing as this is an anonymous question, it must have made it past a moderator. I would think that means it is OK, if as in OK, you mean "OK for AskMetafilter."
posted by marxchivist at 8:19 AM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


And this comparison is so awful I don't even know where to begin. Perhaps there's a parallel universe somewhere, where gays run the country and imported straight people as slave labor for a few centuries. As I understand US history, however, the reality is somewhat different.

My mom always told me two wrongs don't make a right. Was she wrong? Because I'm pretty sure that you're saying she's wrong and it's now only okay to discriminate against whitey, and only as long as he likes girls. And after we do that, we'll see a beautiful rainbow.

Oh for god's sake. If you can't understand why a gay person might want to patronize gay services, and what makes that different from a straight person not wanting to patronize gay services, I can't help you.

You're saying you have an air-tight justification for cultural relativism. I'd like to hear it. It might help me.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:20 AM on March 3, 2007


My mom always told me two wrongs don't make a right.

Your premise is wildly flawed, in that you assume that giving your business to someone who is gay or gay-friendly is entirely equivalent to keeping black people from eating at Denny's. This is false logic.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:25 AM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb doesn't really object to the question. He likes to get people worked up about stuff, and probably thinks that this is an interesting way to 'test' our reactions.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:32 AM on March 3, 2007


Well then I'm in the minority, amongst those "who can't be helped".

I don't find it offensive that he wants to hire someone gay with whom he shares a "cultural" affinity. Fine. But to go from there and state that there is something wrong with the heterosexual wanting to visit a straight doctor or an anglo wanting an anglo banker is hypocritical. I'm not one to decry political correctness at every turn but this is the worst type. It's OK for a minority member to select service providers according to preference of gender, sexual orientation etc. but don't anybody else do it.

I would hardly expect the consensus view on Metafilter to be consistent in treating bias but there are some of us that find this hypocrisy ugly. Well, at least one.
posted by BigSky at 8:33 AM on March 3, 2007 [7 favorites]


all due respect to the mayor's mom, I think it's quite obvious that, for example, people (especially blacks, not just them) every right not to patronize a diner that keeps a huge Confederate flag on a wall, just like people (not enecssarily Jewish) have every right not to go see Apocalypto to make Mel "I hate teh Jews" Gibson even richer, etc

taking one's money to businesses that don't hate you or think you're subhuman is quite logical. I'm sure the Mayor's mom agrees.
posted by matteo at 8:33 AM on March 3, 2007


This callout smacks of "Why can't we have a Straight Pride Parade" to me.
posted by CKmtl at 8:41 AM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


The poster knew straight financial planners would be squicked-out by his attempts to deduct 55-gallon drums of Boy Butter, and was simply trying to spare their feelings.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:46 AM on March 3, 2007


He is saying that because he is gay (I could be wrong, but the impication there seems to be that some of his financial issues are related to his lifestyle, possibly a partner, etc.) he would feel more comfortable speaking with someone who has personal experience with those issues.

This makes sense. I have gone through four accountants trying to find one familiar with small business done on the internet. Every time I meet with an accountant, we have a weird 15 minute back and forth about what I do, and they never understand. We're conditioned to be weird about money and we have to be weird about money with these strangers.

I can imagine having to meet an accountant for the first time and on top of all the weirdness about money, you'd have to tell them you're gay. Granted, in NYC, that's probably not too shocking of a revelation, but there's still a chance some freaky accountant would say "Oh I'm sorry, I don't know how to work with you people."

I say this because last month I opened up the local newspaper and saw that a women's shelter for recovering drug addicts was being fiercely blocked from relocating in our town and the person leading the crusade against the shelter was my latest accountant, a woman.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:46 AM on March 3, 2007


I say this because last month I opened up the local newspaper and saw that a women's shelter for recovering drug addicts was being fiercely blocked from relocating in our town and the person leading the crusade against the shelter was my latest accountant, a woman.

Your latest and current accountant?
posted by delmoi at 8:54 AM on March 3, 2007


But to go from there and state that there is something wrong with the heterosexual wanting to visit a straight doctor or an anglo wanting an anglo banker is hypocritical. I'm not one to decry political correctness at every turn but this is the worst type. It's OK for a minority member to select service providers according to preference of gender, sexual orientation etc. but don't anybody else do it.

I don't se anything wrong with the examples you've cited. Maybe it is just semantics, but I don't think there is anything wrong with someone interested in patronizing businesses or professionals who share a ethnic/cultural background, it is wrong when people refuse to patronize businesses (or provide service to customers) who don't. My aunt is a great example of the latter group. I am ashamed to say she picks her doctors based on who has the least ethnic sounding name. If she wanted a female doctor or a jewish doctor, that would be fine. But she goes down the list of doctors and eliminates the ones whose names sound foreign. She doesn't care if they are black, white, male or female, she just wants them to be american.

Wait, maybe it IS just semantics, because I suppose that could be rephrased to say "because she is american, she wants an american doctor." Ok, I think I'll stop now because I've obviously lost sight of my point.
posted by necessitas at 8:55 AM on March 3, 2007


Your latest and current accountant?

After this tax season, I'm moving on to a new one. I mentioned it because obviously we don't share the same values at all and I'd rather work with people that do.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:04 AM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can imagine having to meet an accountant for the first time and on top of all the weirdness about money, you'd have to tell them you're gay.

You have an odd relationship with your accountant. My financial planner never hears about what I do with my sexual organs.

And my financial planner might be a lesbian. And it never occurred to me to care until just this moment. But I guess I should find out because it affects her ability to help me in some vague way that no one will explain.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:05 AM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


My financial planner never hears about what I do with my sexual organs.

There is a reason an accountant would need to know, there are tax implications. In California, domestic partners can file as married next year. I'm sure New York isn't far behind.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:08 AM on March 3, 2007


It's OK for a minority member to select service providers according to preference of gender, sexual orientation etc. but don't anybody else do it.

There is often an obvious disparity of power between minority and majority that motivates minorities to seek out others who will treat them like equals, deserving of the same resources, respect and dignity that a majority will not often provide. 

And indeed, there are cases where the majority will codify inequities into law, which may well be the case for this post, where homosexuals who cannot marry must find alternative means to manage the legalities and other particulars of each other's estate, tax and other financial responsibilities.

This inequity is not obvious to those in the majority, who are blind perhaps not of choice, but by simple virtue that they never will have to deal with these issues.

Thus we so often see specious comparisons, such as "whites-only restaurants" and "moral relativism", where no such comparisons are really applicable.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:11 AM on March 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


My mom always told me two wrongs don't make a right.

Not all discrimination is wrong. Certain types of discrimination have been institutionalized in the past, and such instintutionalized discrimination was generally found to be without merit. So now we treat those specific types of discrimination with increased skepticism. It doesn't follow from this that all discrimination is bad.

If I'm looking for someone to play Strom Thurmond in an upcoming movie, for example, it's perfectly legitimate for me to discriminate on the base of skin color. But even in such an exceptional context, I should still reasonably expect to explain this discrimination because white-only discrimination has a history of meritless institutionalization. Gay-only discrimination, on the other hand, has no such history, so it's not reasonable to expect it to be explained everywhere.

This is an unreasonable callout.
posted by scottreynen at 9:14 AM on March 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


And being gay isn't just about doing something with your sexual organs. There is a huge culture and counterculture around it. There is a lot of opposition and sympathizers, people who seek them and people who refuse to share their company. It can be a bit of a struggle, you see?. That's the reason that I too, can imagine why he would be more comfortable with someone who at least is on the same side of trench. Even if the task at hand is unrelated to the lifestyle.
posted by micayetoca at 9:14 AM on March 3, 2007


Anonymous seems like kind of a dick for discriminating against heteros. I've never found a very good convincing logic why "discrimination is a bad thing, but it's actually not bad if the people doing the discrimination usually have the lower hand". Still, it doesn't violate MeFi policy, that I know of.

But, less argumentatively: there's the issue of whether he really wants a gay accountant, as he indicates sometimes, to "help his community", or if he wants a gay OR gay-friendly accountant, which he also indicates. The latter seems non-discriminatory to me. If you're gay, or straight, or white, or left-handed, or whathaveyou, it isn't discrimination to want to work with someone who doesn't hate you. Plus, there's a bit of vagueness about what "gay-friendly" means. In addition to "cool with gay folks", it could also mean, in the specific case of an accountant, "someone who knows accounting and laws as they relate to gays", like arranging joint accounts within the tangled jungle of United States treatment of gay marriage, or the like. In which case not only is it a groovy thing to get a gay-friendly accountant, it's goddamn critical to do so.

Plus, honestly, Anonymous made a big fucking mistake in that post: He said "Feel free to debate this if you like". Which means that all that side-discussion in the thread about whether or not he should be looking for what he's looking for cease to be noise, and are actually invited by the asker (or, rather, they are noise, but noise requested by the asker). I suspect he meant to say "Feel free to debate this if you like, but not here", or perhaps "Feel free to debate this if you like, by email", or even the incredibly contradictory "I understand you may disagree with this, and that doesn't bother me. There is no need to debate it here, though" (like the way people say "literally" to mean "figuratively", or "I could care less" to mean "I couldn't care less").
posted by Bugbread at 9:18 AM on March 3, 2007


You have an odd relationship with your accountant.

Are you being deliberately obtuse, or did you skim the thread and come up with a snappy one-liner? It's already been explained that there could be potential tax implications of his sexuality, e.g. as above in
He is saying that because he is gay (I could be wrong, but the impication there seems to be that some of his financial issues are related to his lifestyle, possibly a partner, etc.) he would feel more comfortable speaking with someone who has personal experience with those issues.
posted by Tuwa at 9:22 AM on March 3, 2007


Blazecock Pileon writes "There is often an obvious disparity of power between minority and majority that motivates minorities to seek out others who will treat them like equals, deserving of the same resources, respect and dignity that a majority will not often provide."

Yes, but that's assuming that a member of the majority is incapable of treating a member of the minority like equals, deserving of the same resources, respect and dignity. But that isn't the case. If you want someone who will treat you like an equal, deserving of the same resources, respect and dignity, then what you want is a gay-friendly accountant, not a gay accountant. Sure, that's statistically likely to end up being a gay accountant, but that's not a statistic game that one should be playing. Playing that game leads people to doing things like not hiring blacks because they're more statistically likely to get arrested and put in jail.
posted by Bugbread at 9:22 AM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


You have an odd relationship with your accountant. My financial planner never hears about what I do with my sexual organs.

And my financial planner might be a lesbian. And it never occurred to me to care until just this moment. But I guess I should find out because it affects her ability to help me in some vague way that no one will explain.


It's not about which meat-tabs go into which meat-slots, really. It's about identity and a comfortable working relationship. In a perfect world, a financial planner / accountant wouldn't treat their clients differently based on their sexual identity (or race, or what have you), but we're not in a perfect world.

If the client's homosexuality isn't brought up at the start, he may be sitting through each meeting wondering if the financial planner's giving him the stink-eye because his hair is a bit too fabulous, or if he mentions something about 'me and Bob' wanting to eventually buy a condo together. Would you want to have to constantly analyze the social situation like that? Or not knowing if the person with their hands in your money is a bigot? Not to say that all straight people are bigots, but that's the point of being upfront about it and wanting a gay or gay-friendly person.
posted by CKmtl at 9:24 AM on March 3, 2007


There are also many states that are actively trying to eliminate the ability of gay people to form contracts with each other, claiming that any contracts creating financial partnerships that "resemble" marriages are illegal. Child custody laws surrounding surrogacy and gay parents and adoption are often conflicting, confusing, and years behind the times with regards to available reproductive technologies. And this legislation is rapidly changing, with new laws being proposed or struck down constantly.

I can't imagine, if I were in that situation, not needing an accountant intimately familiar with those laws, and the future of those laws, and the history of those laws. It would be totally negligent for an accountant who was not gay-friendly (in that sense, of knowing the legalities that apply specifically to gay relationships) to be working with the anon poster.

So, basically, what Blazecock Pileon said. If you can't imagine why being gay would matter when it comes to financial and legal planning, it's because you're ignorant of how this country's laws directly affect (and mostly discriminate against) gay people.
posted by occhiblu at 9:27 AM on March 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yes, but that's assuming that a member of the majority is incapable of treating a member of the minority like equals, deserving of the same resources, respect and dignity.

If the law is written so that two gay people cannot get married (or enter into a legally recognized relationship similar to marriage) — which is the case for nearly all of the country — then they need legal and financial expertise that is, in all reality, much less likely to be available from someone who is not gay or not gay-friendly.

This does not begin to address the stupidity of comparing seeking out specialized help with kicking blacks out of a whites-only restaurant.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:29 AM on March 3, 2007


Dear AskMe: I am trying to find a community weblog where everyone agrees with my worldview. Please advise.
posted by LarryC at 9:33 AM on March 3, 2007 [5 favorites]


necessitas,

I don't think it is just semantics at all. Your post is pretty much the way I see it as well. Granted, the distinction is not always smooth but I am more sympathetic to a "going towards" mentality than an "avoiding" one. I don't think that the poster in question is objectionaable in any way. What I find ugly is the idea that this kind of filtering is OK when the gays [or - insert your favorite minority group here] do it and only then.

Blazecock Pileon,

As I mentioned above I don't have any issue with people making selections according to their biases. And when there is an actual difference in services provided I would expect that that provider would command greater market rewards commensurate with the value they provide. So if a gay financial planner provides more value to gay client well and good. He might also provide more value just in terms of it being a more comfortable environment for his gay clients. That's still OK. Now, is there a problem when the white man wants to contract a commercial landscape service with a company run by an Anglo because that's who he feels most comfortable talking with?
posted by BigSky at 9:34 AM on March 3, 2007


Ideally, I would like to find someone who has a background with such inheritance issues, is in Manhattan, and is gay or "gay-friendly."

This callout misrepresents the asker. Gay or gay-friendly just asks for acceptance, not sameness. The fact that the poster later abbreviates this as 'gay' does not change the nature of the restriction.

The analogue you're looking for isn't a whites-only restaurant, it's: "Please help me find a hairdresser comfortable doing a male-to-female pre-op transsexual's hair; I hate arguing about the pricing when I try to pay the higher woman's rate. Transsexuals or trannie-friendly strongly preferred."

It might even be as sexist as this: "Please help me find a professional gay man for accounting and afternoon delight. Wavering straight men are acceptable, but please no homophobes, as I don't like having my skull caved in by a glorified book keeper."
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:37 AM on March 3, 2007


Actually, it strikes me that if I were in anon's place but were not facing legal issues with same-sex partnership or adoption, I would still want to support financial planners who had taken it upon themselves to see these issues as important enough to be competent in, so that I could reward them financially for assuming that my community's needs were important. Supporting those professionals would be a way to make other professionals realize that they couldn't simply pretend that gay financial planning issues were irrelevant, and might encourage them to get the training and experience necessary to help future clients.
posted by occhiblu at 9:38 AM on March 3, 2007


I will join the chorus of not seeing what the problem is here. First of all, he is comfortable with "gay-friendly" and I don't see how you could be comfortable with that and still anti-hetero. Second of all, I would expect the default position of a financial advisor to be hetero- and/or white friendly. To be gay-friendly would seem to be an added qualification that (perhaps, I honestly have no idea) some planners would have and others may lack. And we're not just talking about qualfications in the sense of "expert in gay issues in financial planning" but also qualifications in terms of "can more easily relate to what's going on".
posted by ontic at 9:40 AM on March 3, 2007


This callout seems oddly oversensitive to me. So the asker would like a gay financial planner, so what?

When I feel like eating Indian food, I prefer going to restaurant run by (Asian) Indians. When I eat at a Spanish restaurant, I like it when the chef/proprietor is Spanish.

Are you really going to take that against me?
posted by Lush at 9:43 AM on March 3, 2007


For the record, I would have no problem with a person who wanted a commercial landscape designer who didn't discriminate against white people. Sounds perfectly reasonable -- it's also going to be terribly common and so hardly worth asking about except in very specific places.
posted by ontic at 9:44 AM on March 3, 2007


I would feel more comfortable deliberating this issue with someone sober.
posted by prostyle at 9:45 AM on March 3, 2007 [7 favorites]


And we're not just talking about qualfications in the sense of "expert in gay issues in financial planning" but also qualifications in terms of "can more easily relate to what's going on".

Yeah, that's why some people feel more comfortable doing all business with hetero white christians. They can "more easily relate to what's going on". Giving them business is a way of helping and supporting the community.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:47 AM on March 3, 2007


Yeah, that's why some people feel more comfortable doing all business with hetero white christians.

Are people who support this community hard to find or in great need of support against a popular culture that opposes and thwarts attempts of it even to exist?
posted by ontic at 9:53 AM on March 3, 2007


This is just bizarre. Every major US city I've been to has some form of community-published gay yellow pages, or at the very least, a GLBT weekly with ads from gay-owned businesses aimed specifically at gay people. I use them myself simply to support the community. This dude isn't doing anything different than gay people and their straight allies do every day.

If you really want to make a dent against this menace, I suggest you start a campaign against all the gay realtors who advertise as "family friendly." There are about five for every house available here in Portland alone, as far as I can tell, so you better get cracking.
posted by melissa may at 9:53 AM on March 3, 2007


Wait, Meatbomb, you're still here and defending this execrable callout? I would have thought you'd slink away with your tail between your legs by now. Perhaps you should consider that course of action.

Gay or gay-FRIENDLY.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:53 AM on March 3, 2007


Blazecock Pileon writes "If the law is written so that two gay people cannot get married (or enter into a legally recognized relationship similar to marriage) — which is the case for nearly all of the country — then they need legal and financial expertise that is, in all reality, much less likely to be available from someone who is not gay or not gay-friendly."

Blazecock, I think we just shot past each other. I am totally groovy with the "gay OR gay-friendly" search. That makes infinite sense to me, from a personal standpoint (feeling comfortable with your accountant) and a professional standpoint (the accountant knowing what he needs to know to handle my finances well). My response was just about the hypothetical "gay only" situation.

I just think the asker phrased his question badly. Sometimes he says "gay or gay friendly", and I see almost all of us agreeing on that. Sometimes he just says "gay", and I see folks disagreeing on that. If he'd written "gay or gay-friendly" each time (which would just increase his word count by 4 words total, or a 0.1% word count increase), probably most of this discussion wouldn't even have happened. And if on top of that he'd skipped the "Feel free to debate this if you like", I think almost all of the noise in the original question would disappear, and the answers would be much more useful to him. It's not like he commited a cardinal sin, he just phrased his question a little sloppily. It happens.

There's a phrase in Japanese: "Don't grab my lifted leg". It means, basically, "yes, I know I made a little phrasing mistake. Don't seize it and make a big deal about it; it was just a mistake, not something intentional". I think that's the case here: he slipped up his phrasing, but the more I think about it, the more clear it is that he was just sloppy in using "gay" to mean "gay or gay-friendly", and we're making a mountain out of a mole hill.
posted by Bugbread at 9:54 AM on March 3, 2007


Now, is there a problem when the white man wants to contract a commercial landscape service with a company run by an Anglo because that's who he feels most comfortable talking with?

Because Anglos (what, no Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians?) are the only people who will treat this white man as an equal human being? There are no non-Anglo white-friendly people?

Feeling comfortable because the person you're dealing with sees you as an equal is one thing. Comfort stemming from your own biases against outsiders is another thing entirely.
posted by CKmtl at 9:55 AM on March 3, 2007


anotherpanacea: I am asking if it's OK, not saying it isn't OK. It seemed an oddly worded question to me, is all. And for all you want to emphasize "gay or gay-friendly", I would redirect you to "I would be more comfortable speaking with someone gay". The makes the asker's intentions / motivations less than clear to me.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:58 AM on March 3, 2007


Ok...This is starting to get confusing. People talking about gay-or-gay-friendly are getting comebacks based on gay-only assumptions, and people talking about gay-only are getting comebacks based on gay-or-gay-friendly assumptions.

Let's all start prepending our comments about whether we're getting righteously indignant about:

Option 1) Someone wanting to hire only gay folks.
Option 2) Someone wanting to hire only gay or gay-friendly folks.
posted by Bugbread at 10:00 AM on March 3, 2007


bugbread, I mostly agree, but I think it's a bit wrong to claim that not being totally hetero-inclusive in every single phrasing is the poster "slipping up." No one should have to feel compelled to soothe the ruffled feathers of overly sensitive straight people every time he wants to discuss gay issues; that's a silly burden. I really think the problem here is that Meatbomb et al are being (possibly disingenuously) overly sensitive, not that the poster was being rude.

I mean, for heaven's sake, does being straight carry such a precarious legal, emotional, and financial status in this society that we can't somehow deal with being excluded from a single person's search criteria?
posted by occhiblu at 10:02 AM on March 3, 2007


On non-preview: It's getting confusing because the entire argument against the question is stupid, and it's only possible to continue the argument by splitting hairs.
posted by occhiblu at 10:03 AM on March 3, 2007


Meatbomb writes "The makes the asker's intentions / motivations less than clear to me."

Then that's your problem. It isn't whether "that kind of sexism [is] halal on AskMe", like your initial post said. It's about whether "this is an example of homosexism, or just a slip of the tongue". And there's only one person in all of MetaFilter who can answer that question, and he posted anonymously, so you're never going to get the answer to your question. Yes, unanswered curiosity sucks. Deal with it, because nobody here can help you find out the answer.
posted by Bugbread at 10:03 AM on March 3, 2007


Option 1: Permissible due to the possible rarity of "cultural comfort" in many situations, but possibily limiting onself in terms of quality.

Option 2: Permissible due to the possible rarity of "cultural comfort" in many situations.
posted by ontic at 10:05 AM on March 3, 2007


I just think the asker phrased his question badly.

Disagreements about interpretations of phrasing are cool, I guess. Since it's a matter of reading comprehension, or reading into or guessing the anonymous poster's intent, on that level I'm honestly not sure there's much to be gained by that conversation.

I think that's the case here: he slipped up his phrasing

I'm not sure I agree, but I agree with you that the response (most of the original post's comments, this post) certainly seemed disproportionate and obnoxious.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:08 AM on March 3, 2007


Is that kind of sexism halal on AskMe?

why does it have to be halal? couldn't it be kosher?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:12 AM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Metatalk: the entire argument against the question is stupid, and it's only possible to continue the argument by splitting hairs.
posted by vacapinta at 10:16 AM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's why some people feel more comfortable doing all business with hetero white christians.

If I were a hetero at tax time, or when dealing with trusts and estates, I'd want a professional who could handle taxes and laws relating to marriage and children. You know, one who could relate to breeding. Fortunately, that's the standard among accountants and tax attorneys! They all know about that stuff. It's required learning.

But there are specialized tax and accounting and estate needs for all sorts of customers. For instance, I have a friend who needs a specialist because he and his wife work and have income and residences in different countries. He's neither going to be interested in working with someone who has no expertise that area, nor someone who thinks miscegenation is wrong. (Yes, such people exist.) He'll be screwed on either account.

This question-asker is dealing with estate planning and trusts; there's often nothing more contentious than throwing inherited money into a family, particularly if there's any issues with the gay member of the family. You'd be an idiot not to bring in an understanding professional.

Also, both Merrill Lynch and Citigroup have specialized financial planning services for the gays. They invented these units because 1. they knew they could make money off the gays but 2. because they knew there was both specialization and expertise needed to serve those customers.

And now, I'm going to undermine my calm and rational post here by saying that some of you need to spend a couple of days as a faggot before you think you know all about it. Oooh, am I a cultural relativist now? Well, tie me to the stake.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:18 AM on March 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


My aunt is a great example of the latter group. I am ashamed to say she picks her doctors based on who has the least ethnic sounding name. If she wanted a female doctor or a jewish doctor, that would be fine. But she goes down the list of doctors and eliminates the ones whose names sound foreign. She doesn't care if they are black, white, male or female, she just wants them to be american.

If it's indeed true that United States medical schools are more selective, or more difficult to graduate from, then your aunt is being perfectly reasonable.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:19 AM on March 3, 2007


I think this is an interesting discussion, but I'd like to address meatbomb's actual question:

Is that kind of sexism halal on AskMe?


I don't agree that this is sexism (racism or any other ism for that matter), but why the hell wouldn't it be? How would that break guidlines? If someone wanted a haircut in anywheretown and only wanted to go to a gay stylist, would that be a problem? Or if someone wanted to find a white landscape designer in anywheretown. That is the person's choice. Ask.Me is here for all the questions that can't be asked elsewhere. We aren't here to judge a person's motives, we are just here to help and answer the question. I think we are all adult enough not to have our feathers ruffled when exposed to other people's preferences. Do we really need to call out the PC police? People ask all sorts of questions here, if you find one to be offensive but doesn't break the guidelines, just move along.
posted by necessitas at 10:22 AM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


As if it's not obvious from the post, the asker needs advice about a very stressful subject that involves family dynamics. At the very least, perhaps he doesn't want his own sexual orientation to be a barrier between him and his planner. He needs someone he can look to for trusted advice on a personal matter. It's not that different from choosing a therapist. Let him pick whoever the fuck he wants.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In a different universe where there is, you're also in trouble for your racist use of "halal."
posted by scarabic at 10:22 AM on March 3, 2007


Kwantsar: If it's indeed true that United States medical schools are more selective, or more difficult to graduate from, then your aunt is being perfectly reasonable.

Only if immigration is a completely new phenomenon in america, and it's virtually impossible that the children of immigrants could have gone to said spectacular med schools and kept their foreign-sounding last names... Dr. Chung or Dr. Mbasa could very well have been at the top of their class at Princeton, UCLA, or wherever.
posted by CKmtl at 10:26 AM on March 3, 2007


If it's indeed true that United States medical schools are more selective, or more difficult to graduate from, then your aunt is being perfectly reasonable.

No, there is no rational thinking going on there. The only thought process going on is an opinionated one. I used her as an example of bias against rather than preference for. While she doesn't dislike any ethnic group, she has drawn all these conclusions about certain ethnic group member's behavior based on limited experience. She thinks that asian doctors are too curt and abrupt and not touchy-feely/emotional. She thinks that caribbean women are too tough and not understanding. The list goes on and on. To say she is crazy and wrong would be pointing out the obvious. She was just used as an example of what not to do, not what to do.
posted by necessitas at 10:28 AM on March 3, 2007


I'm thinking about placing an online personal ad. Due to things and stuff, I'd like someone with a vagina, or someone with a vagina-friendly. I'd be more comfortable with someone with a vagina.

OMG SEXISM

Preference for a certain trait is okay. It doesn't have to be an ism.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:28 AM on March 3, 2007


"Feeling comfortable because the person you're dealing with sees you as an equal is one thing."

Ah, I see. Assuming that your kind is more capable of treating you like an equal (professionally?) is totally different from other kinds of bias.

Thanks for the clarity.
posted by BigSky at 10:39 AM on March 3, 2007


Mayor Curley opines "You have an odd relationship with your accountant. My financial planner never hears about what I do with my sexual organs."

Then again this can have some bearing on your financial planning. Most openly gay people I know aren't particularly interested in leaving a big estate for their children, for example, whereas this is a major financial-planning concern for a lot of (if not most) straight people.
posted by clevershark at 10:49 AM on March 3, 2007


Assuming that your kind is more capable of treating you like an equal (professionally?) is totally different from other kinds of bias.

Would you hire a chef to fix your computer? A biochemist to tune your instruments? An optometrist to install plumbing?

In an ideal world, people would not need to specialize. In the real world, some biases for those with specific skills are useful, even necessary.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:53 AM on March 3, 2007


I just want a bookkeeper who is well-versed in double-entry.
posted by found missing at 10:54 AM on March 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


*dances a little to see RJ Reynolds*
posted by scody at 10:56 AM on March 3, 2007


BigSky: Ah, I see. Assuming that your kind is more capable of treating you like an equal (professionally?) is totally different from other kinds of bias.

I never limited it to anyone's "kind", neither did the original asker. See the whole gay-friendly distinction. Considering gay-friendly straights pretty much obliterates the "all straights are anti-gay" position.

Given the social and political climate, it's pretty reasonable for an openly gay man to be a bit wary when entering into professional relationships like that, since there's a non-trivial probability that the straight guy could be anti-gay.

And yes, "professional" people's biases do sometimes prevent them from treating their clients as equals. Just recently, there was a 'Christian' pediatrician who refused to treat a little girl's ear infection because her mother had a tattoo.
posted by CKmtl at 11:04 AM on March 3, 2007


From the original post:

For me, it's a cultural issue, but I also believe in supporting my community (though not at the risk of bad advice or planning.)

So the dude would like to support the gay community so he asked for help with that, but it's pretty clear that he's not going to put the gay issue enough of bad advice or planning. So it's all good and everyone can move on now.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:09 AM on March 3, 2007


Just recently, there was a 'Christian' pediatrician who refused to treat a little girl's ear infection because her mother had a tattoo.

suffer the little children to come unto me unless their moms have a rose tattoo'd on their arm
posted by pyramid termite at 11:10 AM on March 3, 2007


If you can't understand why a gay person might want to patronize gay services, and what makes that different from a straight person not wanting to patronize gay services, I can't help you.

If I read one more comment about how LanguageHat is so great because he always makes an effort to disagree without talking down to people or treating them like they're stupid, I'm going to fucking vomit.
posted by cribcage at 11:10 AM on March 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


occhiblu writes "bugbread, I mostly agree, but I think it's a bit wrong to claim that not being totally hetero-inclusive in every single phrasing is the poster 'slipping up.' No one should have to feel compelled to soothe the ruffled feathers of overly sensitive straight people every time he wants to discuss gay issues"

Actually, one of the first few responses to Anonymous was by a gay guy berating him, so it's not just straight people.

And, no, he shouldn't have to feel compelled to soothe anyone's ruffled feathers, gay or straight. But I suspect he's more interested in getting a good accountant recommendation than this ruckus, so from that point of view, he slipped up, because he phrased his question in such a way that he's getting a higher noise-signal ratio than he probably wanted.

occhiblu writes "I really think the problem here is that Meatbomb et al are being (possibly disingenuously) overly sensitive, not that the poster was being rude."

I didn't mean to imply he was rude, just that he phrased his question in a non-optimal way, and some folks are making a mountain out of a molehill because of it.

occhiblu writes "does being straight carry such a precarious legal, emotional, and financial status in this society that we can't somehow deal with being excluded from a single person's search criteria?"

Well, that's moving back to the not-really-pertinent-to-this-particular-case mountain issue of "is choosing someone for business based on their sexual preference inherently a bad thing?" In which case I'd say that the problem with discrimination isn't that people can't deal with single little cases, but that we find discrimination itself bad.

Which, again, is not something that I think directly relates to this case. That's just an aside regarding your question.
posted by Bugbread at 11:12 AM on March 3, 2007


I think it depends on the question. I never ask a straight guy "does this tie go with this shirt?" Invariably, when I pick the tie myself, my wife winces, when I ask a gay friend for help she says "great choice."
posted by three blind mice at 11:23 AM on March 3, 2007


Setting aside the "gay-friendly" part, and just looking at how people are thinking about the "hiring gays only" issue, it seems to me we have a similar breakdown of ideas here as we do when people discuss free speech. In regards to free speech, there seem to be 3 main camps:

1) All speech should be free, because suppressing speech is in itself bad (with some small exceptions, like shouting "fire" in a crowded theater)
2) Speech should be free, unless it is hateful or dangerous
3) All speech should be free, because while it would be good to suppress hateful and dangerous speech, it's really difficult to agree on the dividing line, and there's too much danger of a slippery-slope (slippery slope argument, not slippery slope fallacy)

Here, we have the pretty analogous positions of:

1) Any selection based on race, sexuality, etc., is bad, because discrimination is in itself bad (with some small exceptions, like it's ok to restrict your search to males only when trying to cast someone to play Richard Nixon in a movie)
2) Selection based on race, sexuality, etc., is bad, except when it is for non-hateful or non-dangerous reasons.
3) Any selection based on race, sexuality, etc. is bad, because while it would be good to allow for non-hateful, non-dangerous reasons, it's really difficult to agree on the dividing line, and there's too much danger of a slippery slope (argument, not fallacy)

I'm really curious how the two correlate for everyone. I fall into camp 3 for both.
posted by Bugbread at 11:51 AM on March 3, 2007


anotherpanacea: I am asking if it's OK, not saying it isn't OK. It seemed an oddly worded question to me, is all.

Oh, bullshit. You can pretend to be Mr. Vaguely Confused Nice Person if you want, but then you have to avoid making comments like

Yeah, that's why some people feel more comfortable doing all business with hetero white christians. They can "more easily relate to what's going on".

Because that kind of blows the pretense out of the water.
posted by languagehat at 11:55 AM on March 3, 2007


It seems like his rationale is that he wants to support "his community." I don't see how different that is from African-American leaders urging people to "shop black" or certain Christians touting the "Christian Yellow Pages."

On the one hand, that seems perfectly acceptable. OTOH, it seems silly, because it's part of this move towards ghetto-ifying race, religion, creed, gender, and sexual orientation into easy-to-market-to boxes. I know this has been going on for hundreds, if not thousands of years, but I don't think that necessarily makes it right, if it is right all the time.
posted by dw at 12:05 PM on March 3, 2007


Yeah, that's why some people feel more comfortable doing all business with hetero white christians.

Yes, and there are whole business devoted to people looking for that: Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, for instance.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:16 PM on March 3, 2007



He likes to get people worked up about stuff, and probably thinks that this is an interesting way to 'test' our reactions.


Let's not let the obvious get in the way of a good argument.

Do y'all even know what you're arguing about anymore? Passing judgment on whether an individual attending to their own business should consider sexual orientation when choosing a personal adviser is to question the validity of basic personal freedom.

Why are we doing that again?
posted by scheptech at 12:29 PM on March 3, 2007


scheptech writes "Passing judgment on whether an individual attending to their own business should consider sexual orientation when choosing a personal adviser is to question the validity of basic personal freedom."

No, because nobody's saying one shouldn't have the freedom to do so. They're saying one should, but choosing someone based on their sexual orientation is a bad choice. Free speech is valid. If someone uses their free speech to trash talk a good person out of jealousy, or to hurt other people, or to con people, and we say that that use of free speech wasn't good, we aren't questioning the validity of free speech, just the quality of a particular exercising of it.
posted by Bugbread at 12:42 PM on March 3, 2007


"Where can I eat in a nice whites-only restaurant?"

That is a legit if distasteful question, capable of factual answers. I suspect however there would be few Mefites who could answer such a question, and even fewer who would want to.

Read the guidelines. Distastefulness, immorality, hatefulness do not figure as grounds for deletion far as I can tell. And I think that's a good thing.

So I vote for the current question on free-speech grounds alone, never mind whether Meatbomb's proposed analogy is legit.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:15 PM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm really curious how the two correlate for everyone. I fall into camp 3 for both.

Me too. But this is one of those areas where liberalism splits with progressivism. To the extent that this is a useful distinction, progressives tend to go with #2 on both questions. As a result, liberals accuse progressives of insufficient devotion to general principles, whereas progressives accuse liberals of ignoring larger social structures. Liberals insist on their general principles (e.g. no discrimination) because they believe that these promote fairness for individuals most effectively. They worry about individuals who will be hurt by efforts to discriminate because lots of people fail to fall neatly into the more general groupings upon which the discrimination is based. Progressives focus on social structures (and groups of people) because they believe that maligned groups are most in need of defense, and so their efforts are best spent helping these groups. They are more concerned with people in their capacity as members of various groups. You get disagreements like this as a result.
posted by smorange at 1:17 PM on March 3, 2007 [6 favorites]


It seems like his rationale is that he wants to support "his community."

Uh, no it doesn't, not in the slightest. As has already been pointed out many times in this thread, being gay actually has tax implications. Estate planning is (much) more complicated. Filing as a married couple is obviously right out, even if that's what you de facto are and have been forever.

This is part of what is meant by straight privilege: that the discrimination is actually, concretely inscribed in law and practice both, such that it has teeth. Why is that so hard to understand?

Or is more what I strongly suspect: that it's not at all hard to understand, and you're merely playing at befuddlement?
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:04 PM on March 3, 2007


"Where can I eat in a nice whites-only restaurant?"

iceland ... the menu's right here
posted by pyramid termite at 2:11 PM on March 3, 2007


adamgreenfield writes "Uh, no it doesn't, not in the slightest."

Actually, it does, in the slightest. Or, rather, it seems he has more than one rationale. One is that being gay in a long-term relationship can have specific financial quirks. The other is, in his words, "I also believe in supporting my community". So, yeah, his primary rationale probably is the financial reasons (actually, I'm just guessing that, because it makes the most sense), but another slight rationale is wanting to support his community.

That, or you're calling him a liar. One of the two.
posted by Bugbread at 2:27 PM on March 3, 2007


I suppose that (1) I know why the person in AskMetafilter is asking: legal issues of inheritance, custody, etc. are exceedingly difficult and complicated for the gay community compared to the straight community - I have co-workers that seek out financial planners and lawyers strictly based on their knowledge of the law and their previous gay couple case experience.

and (2) why the person posting here in MetaTalk is "complaining": because if you asked for a "straight" financial planner you might get quickly shot down.

The majority of financial planners are going to be mostly schooled in commonlawmarrage/single/married/not-married-but-kids situations, not gay couple situations. They really won't know how to do planning based on the legal matters that face gay couples.

Nevertheless, I admittedly wonder if there would be cries of homophobia if a married person asked for a "straight marriage counselor". I suspect the non-sensitive language to use would be "a married marriage counselor" and you could get away with the question without too much hubbub.

I see the point of the original question posted (since a lot of folks I work with will have horrible legal issues if they DON'T have a financial planner and/or lawyer who understands the legal complications of a gay couple that can not legally enter into a marriage contract) as well as the question posted here in metatalk... although, the way it's posted does smack of a (possible) underlying prejudice.

Were it me, I would not use a loaded term like "sexism" and at least make an effort to pose the question as one of genuine curiosity and not one of (possibly) offended indignation.
posted by smallerdemon at 2:36 PM on March 3, 2007


Actually, it does, in the slightest.

Don't grab my lifted leg, dude. You know what I meant.

What I don't get is what you mean. What exactly is your agenda here? Do you really not see why a gay person might have concrete reasons for wanting to conduct financial planning with someone both thoroughly conversant with the tax-law implications of their orientation, and sympathetic to them?

In other words, there is clarity aplenty here, and as far as I can tell the effect of all your input has been to muddy that clarity needlessly. Unless offering a bogus taxonomy of arguments against the curtailment of speech somehow speaks to the issue of equal rights under law?

I have no doubt that in your heart, your intentions are good. But you're overthinking things, overcomplicating them, introducing if not fear than uncertainty and doubt where there should be none. In the process, you're giving those interested in reinforcing a pernicious status quo a wedge where they deserve none.

In a better world, of course, there would be no implications financial, legal or otherwise of one's natural-born orientation. But this is the world we live in, and as long as we do, it is only right and proper that someone seek professional services offered by someone that is not merely knowledgeable with regard to the specific situation at hand, but is also inclined to advocate forcefully for the client.
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:44 PM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, hetero please!

/all I can say about this callout.
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:50 PM on March 3, 2007


adamgreenfield said what I've been trying to formulate for a while, and he said it much better than I could have.

So, yeah. What he said.
posted by occhiblu at 3:04 PM on March 3, 2007


adamgreenfield writes "Don't grab my lifted leg, dude. You know what I meant."

Ah, sorry, didn't realize it was a slip of the tongue. The leg lifting was not intentional. I apologize.

adamgreenfield writes "What exactly is your agenda here?"

I don't have one, nearest I reckon.

adamgreenfield writes "Do you really not see why a gay person might have concrete reasons for wanting to conduct financial planning with someone both thoroughly conversant with the tax-law implications of their orientation, and sympathetic to them?"

No, I've said several times upthread that I'm totally cool with that.

In fact, this is one of the reasons I recommended that people write what they're getting offended by, because we have two topics of discussion here:

1) Is it fair/good/acceptable/whathaveyou to pick an accountant based on their sexual preferences?
2) Is it fair/good/acceptable/whathaveyou to pick an accountant based on their comfortableness with your own sexual preferences, and their knowledge of accounting and legal conditions related to it?

The asker, in this case, was of category 2, nearest I can figure. And I'm totally groovy with that. No problem whatsoever.

Category 1 doesn't apply to this asker, but it's a topic also being discussed in this thread. Category 1, I'm not so groovy with.

adamgreenfield writes "But you're overthinking things, overcomplicating them, introducing if not fear than uncertainty and doubt where there should be none."

I totally disagree. People here are talking about two entirely different issues, but either pretending they're the same issue, or just plain not noticing the difference. I see people here who agree with eachother disagreeing left and right because of this misunderstanding. Lots of convos like this:

A: "I think it's bad to pick someone based on their sexual preference"
B: "I totally disagree. There's nothing wrong with picking someone based on their acceptance of your preference, or their professional knowledge that applies to it."

A and B are convinced they're disagreeing, but they're not even talking about the same damn thing. What I'm trying to do is not to "overthink" things or make them overcomplicated, but pointing out, "Guys, you're making overly complex disagreements based off a very simple disagreement about what the hell you're talking about in the first place".

To make another example:

A: "Did you see that Bruce Willis movie on TV last night? It rocked!"
B: "No, it sucked! You're so wrong"
A: "The part where Bruce Willis says 'yippee cayee motherfucker!' was awesome"
B: "The acting was terrible, and Danny Aiello was totally miscast."
Me: "Uh, A and B? You're talking about different movies. A's talking about Die Hard, on ABC, and B's talking about Hudson Hawk, on NBC"
posted by Bugbread at 3:43 PM on March 3, 2007


(If you think the topic is actually pretty simple, and needs no clarification, then why did you disagree with me about something I am agreeing with you about?)
posted by Bugbread at 3:45 PM on March 3, 2007


bugbread's schema is very interesting. There is no doubt that surpressing any free speech always involves some badness, but there is also no doubt that sometimes that badness can be outweighed by the goodness of preventing some very very bad free speech sometimes.
If you lean axiological, you think that the only thing that weighs on how you should act is how much good the act produces. In that case, you would lean toward camp 2) or 3), depending on how well you thought that you could discriminate between the overall "bad" speech and the overall "good" speech--if you thought that you had a pretty good handle on how to discriminate, you'd be in camp 2); if you weren't so sure, camp 3).
If, on the other hand, you lean intuitively deontological, you think that there is more to deciding how to act than merely maximizing goodness in individual instances--you might think that always following the right general rule will lead to maximizing overall goodness in the world, for example. If you have that sort of intuition, you might see that 1) looks like the right kind of general rule to follow to maximize overall goodness--since surpressing free speech always involves some badness, never surpressing it will always prevent this badness.

(Worries and oversimplifications abound, of course; and there are also some people who think that acting morally involves acting charitably or benevolently; it's never been clear to me exactly what these people are up to, but I suspect that they would also go with choice #1).

What do I think? I dunno; I'm one of the folks who worries about what we mean by "good" when we have these discussions.
posted by Kwine at 3:54 PM on March 3, 2007


Don't grab my lifted leg, dude. You know what I meant.

I don't. Here's what he said in the post:
For me, it's a cultural issue, but I also believe in supporting my community (though not at the risk of bad advice or planning.)
So a) I need a financial planner who understands the tax/legal ramifications of being GLBT, AND b) I want to give my money to a member of the GLBT community.

Even then, though, it seems like the bigger need is someone who understands Latin American probate laws.

It does seem ghettofied, but it's probably more along the lines of a Muslim asking for a financial planner who understood Islamic teachings about money and oh, he'd like this person to be Muslim or Muslim-friendly. Is it OK to exclude those "not like you" because you think (but don't know) they lack the "special knowledge" you believe is germane to your situation? I don't know.
posted by dw at 3:56 PM on March 3, 2007


It's getting confusing because the entire argument against the question is stupid, and it's only possible to continue the argument by splitting hairs.

Exactly. Is anybody here still seriously equating choosing a gay financial planner with bigotry? Anybody?
posted by mediareport at 4:18 PM on March 3, 2007


mediareport writes "Is anybody here still seriously equating choosing a gay financial planner with bigotry? Anybody?"

Did anybody in the first place?
posted by Bugbread at 4:25 PM on March 3, 2007


Yes, I think so. The analogy with white supremacism was very clear, and reading between the lines a little, and factoring in the ignorance of basic gay issues, yes. Yes, very much.
posted by mediareport at 4:35 PM on March 3, 2007


Huh. I don't see it.
posted by Bugbread at 4:45 PM on March 3, 2007


bugbread: not to rehash, but "white-only restaurant" in the original MeTa... BigSky's hypothetical white guy
posted by CKmtl at 4:59 PM on March 3, 2007


AskMetafilter: being gay actually has tax implications.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:06 PM on March 3, 2007


Did anybody in the first place?

Yes, bugbread, the person who posted this call-out very clearly equated the motives of someone searching for a gay or gay-friendly financial planner with the motives of someone who would want to dine at a "whites-only restaurant", i.e. being motivated by a philosophy of segregationism, seperatism, or racism — all otherwise understood in the real world to be bigotry.

This comparison was also made by one of the people who responded to the original question, though this response was deleted.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:20 PM on March 3, 2007


Ok, I was splitting hairs, sorry. I realize that mediareport probably meant to say "Is anybody here still seriously equating limiting ones' choice of financial planner to a gay person with bigotry?"

In which case: yeah, I still think so. But that's just a hypothetical strawman that meatbomb tossed up, not the actual situation in the AskMe question. What the asker of the actual AskMe question is trying to do, unlike meatbomb's mischaracterization, is not bigotry.

See, isn't it fun arguing about meatbomb's straw man mischaracterization and the actual question in AskMe as if they were the same thing? We should do this again.

Oh, wait, that's what we do already in like 1/3 of our giant fracasses!
posted by Bugbread at 7:45 PM on March 3, 2007


But that's just a hypothetical strawman that meatbomb tossed up

Considering it came up a few times from different people, I respectfully disagree. Indeed, I have to wonder why you are so generous with your interpretation of Meatbomb's question, yet seem determined to continue to characterize the anonymous poster's question in an unnecessarily ambiguous light.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:05 PM on March 3, 2007


Jesus, bugbread.
posted by mediareport at 8:07 PM on March 3, 2007


Jesus, bugbread.

Agreed. Anything further along these lines I'll interpret as deliberate FUD. And honestly, I really think you need to ask yourself about your motives in obfuscating what's at issue here.
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:42 PM on March 3, 2007


And honestly, I really think you need to ask yourself about your motives in obfuscating what's at issue here.

You've got to be fucking kidding.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:09 PM on March 3, 2007


If you can't understand why a gay person might want to patronize gay services, and what makes that different from a straight person not wanting to patronize gay services, I can't help you.

I can understand both former and latter, but not what makes the former acceptable and the latter unacceptable. Either you support equal rights, or you support unequal rights. There's no nuance about it.

You've got to be fucking kidding.

What, someone dared express anything other than overwhelming agreement? RAISE THE HOMOPHOBIA P.C. ALERT LEVEL TO RED!!!
posted by Krrrlson at 11:06 PM on March 3, 2007


There's no nuance about it.

*laughs*

Of course not. No nuance at all.
posted by mediareport at 11:25 PM on March 3, 2007


Too much fucking nuance.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:43 AM on March 4, 2007


Discrimination against straight people isn't a big deal, so it doesn't matter whether the asker was doing that or not.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 3:00 AM on March 4, 2007


Blazecock Pileon writes "Considering it came up a few times from different people, I respectfully disagree."

Huh? So you think that the asker really was asking for only a gay accountant, and not a gay or gay friendly accountant?

Blazecock Pileon writes "Indeed, I have to wonder why you are so generous with your interpretation of Meatbomb's question, yet seem determined to continue to characterize the anonymous poster's question in an unnecessarily ambiguous light."

Ok, are you guys trying to make this more confusing and complex than it is?! What the hell is going on?!

Questioner in AskMe makes a reasonable question. Great. No bigotry. No bad. Not the best phrasing, but it's all cool.
Meatbomb totally distorts what the asker asked, in order to make him seem like a bigot.
I say "The asker of the AskMe question asked a reasonable, non-bigotted question. Not the best phrasing, but probably not bigoted. Meatbomb, however, totally misrepresented that question. Meatbomb's hypothetical bigotry is, in fact, bigotry, but Meatbomb's little hypothetical callout is a total misrepresentation of the actual question in Askme."

And now you're saying I'm generous to Meatbomb?! I'm saying "The asker used bad phrasing, but it was probably just a slip of the tongue, and I certainly doubt he's being bigoted. Meatbomb, on the other hand, is totally distorting what the asker asked." That's being generous to Meatbomb?! What would I have to do to not be generous to him, go to his house and beat him up?

adamgreenfield writes "Anything further along these lines I'll interpret as deliberate FUD. And honestly, I really think you need to ask yourself about your motives in obfuscating what's at issue here."

Are you all on crack?! There are two issues here. I'm trying to clarify them. And as much as you all insist that the issue is so damn clear, the fact that you keep disagreeing with me whenever I say "You're right", and that you keep accusing me of supporting Meatbomb when I'm saying "his argument is a strawman" indicates that, either this issue isn't so damn clear, or you're trying to start shit on purpose. And I can't figure out why that is. I've thought about it, and it isn't clicking.

Look, it's straightforward. I don't know how to make it more clear.

1) Asker asks A.
2) Meatbomb says "Don't you think it's a bad thing that the asker said B?"
3) I'm saying "Yes, B is bad. But the asker didn't ask B. He asked A. And A is not bad."

There. Clear enough? FUD free enough? Non-obfuscatory enough? The whole damn thing in three lines. If you understand those three lines, but disagree that those three lines are what has happened here, then, well, fine, we agree to disagree, and everything's cool. End of story, smiles all around. If you don't understand those three lines, I really don't know what to say. I can't think of how to make it easier. If you find them to be FUD or obfuscatory or the like, again, I really don't know what I can do, and I suspect you've just got some kind of mental block where you aren't going to accept anything I say no matter how I phrase it.
posted by Bugbread at 3:24 AM on March 4, 2007


And if you don't want to read that big block of text, then, in short:

If you're annoyed at Meatbomb, and not at the question asker, then I agree with you. Please feel to get all angry at me for agreeing with you.
posted by Bugbread at 3:25 AM on March 4, 2007


mathowie writes: I can imagine having to meet an accountant for the first time and on top of all the weirdness about money, you'd have to tell them you're gay.

Mayor Curley resonds: You have an odd relationship with your accountant. My financial planner never hears about what I do with my sexual organs.

Tuwa responds: Are you being deliberately obtuse, or did you skim the thread and come up with a snappy one-liner?

I'd go with deliberately obtuse. I don't think snappy one-liners are this Curley fellow's forte.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:36 AM on March 4, 2007


Either you support equal rights, or you support unequal rights.

And while we're at it, cancer patients have some major nerve getting treatment at an oncology ward. If they don't see piano tuners, tarot card readers and taxi drivers to get medical care (in that order), they're keeping black folks from eating. Apparently.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:03 AM on March 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ah, I forgot the part about my agenda.

It's simple. I enjoy debate. But I enjoy debate based on disagreement, not on mutual misunderstanding of eachothers' statements. It's the same reason I could never watch Three's Company when I was a kid. So when I see a lot of people disagreeing, but their disagreement is based on misunderstanding eachother, I try to help clarify the situation. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't work. Sometimes (ok, a lot of the time) I get accused of being pedantic (probably true). This is the first time I can remember being accused of trying to obfuscate the issue, though, which is why my responses are getting so emotional.

And that's it. No agenda past that. Browsing through my comment history will bear this out. I'm just an anal, pedantic guy who doesn't like when he misunderstands other people, and doesn't like when they misunderstand eachother. It's probably why my comments are always so damn long: I don't want people to misunderstand what I'm saying.
posted by Bugbread at 4:07 AM on March 4, 2007


bugbread: I actually think we agree. I just see this thread slightly differently.

1) Asker asks A? B? Unlear.
2) Meatbomb says "Is it OK to ask racist sounding B?"
3) Tonnes of people jump out to say that "No, it is obvious he said A, he said A." while others say "B is fine for gays" and yet others say "Meatbomb is deliberately obtuse for thinking it could possibly be B"
4)Bugbread saying "Yes, B is bad. But the asker didn't ask B. He asked A. And A is not bad."

On point 4 we agree on sentences 1 and 4, sir. But the line "I would be more comfortable speaking with someone gay," irks me in the same way "I would be more comfortable speaking with someone white," does.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:37 AM on March 4, 2007


Here we need an audio segue to the Animals' : "Oh lord, please don't let me be misunderstood!"

Or Elvis Costello's cover version, take your pick.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:44 AM on March 4, 2007


I just copied this thread into Word and replaced the word "gay" with "furry" and it's the funniest motherfucking thing I've ever read.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:32 AM on March 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


I enjoy debate.

Yeah, but this isn't your high school's Rhetoric Team. Debating for the sake of debating is one of the two most annoying habits known to humankind.

But I enjoy debate based on disagreement, not on mutual misunderstanding of eachothers' statements. It's the same reason I could never watch Three's Company when I was a kid.

Boy, your life must be one long laff riot, then. Are you unable to distinguish between circumstances where the "mutual misunderstanding of each other's statements" is tragic (like, oh, when it confronts North and South Korea across a Panmunjeom bargaining table) and where it's the very bedrock of comedy (Clouseau asking the man if his dog bites)?

Either way, I think you'll grant me that when one party has an actual, committed position on something, and someone else steps in to open up "debate" on the question more or less for the hell of it, the first person's most likely going to be irritated with the second.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:39 AM on March 4, 2007


I want to apologize to the people I offended. I didn't realize that Dr. King's stuff about judging people by the color of their character was allegorical. Who knew that you were just supposed to pick and choose the stuff that's convenient for you out of civil rights like it was the Bible?
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:40 AM on March 4, 2007


But the line "I would be more comfortable speaking with someone gay," irks me in the same way "I would be more comfortable speaking with someone white," does.

No gay friends, huh? And not likely to have any, I'm guessing.

Man, there's some serious... lack of understanding (to avoid inflammatory phrasing) going on here.
posted by languagehat at 6:43 AM on March 4, 2007


I didn't realize that Dr. King's stuff about judging people by the color of their character was allegorical

I had a response for this comment, but I'm too busy right now with my gay accountant. We need to find out if I can claim the cost of digging up Dr. King's corpse as a tax deduction. April 15 is coming up quick and race baiting ain't cheap.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:53 AM on March 4, 2007


I'm purposefully making my comment more ambiguous than it has to be, because I'm still wrestling with the issue, but here goes:

I've noticed that minorities in this country, especially first generation who came from outside lands, tend to be far more communitarian than Americans born and brought up here. But, IMHO, this communitarianism comes at a price, which is isolationism. There are of course good reasons to be strongly communitarian, including shared cultural values and a sense of pride of one's origins. And I've noticed that the isolationism is most practically seen in the form of an us vs. them, i.e. patronizing those establishments that are owned or run by those who share your ethnic background or cultural values.

Americans do this too, but (I think) in more secular, idea-based ways. Like patronizing places that promote charities you agree with, or are run by people who share your political views, or share your environmental beliefs. This is primarily because, as Americans, people see themselves as already part of the majority. Second and third generation immigrants fall into this category; sadly, they sometimes suffer the consequences of being easily identified as "foreign" because of their skin color.

Where I'm going with this is I think that gay and lesbians fall into the same category as first generation immigrants because often they don't have gay parents. So they come out, all alone, seeking to find a community. And in doing so, they also isolate themselves, because they don't know who to trust. And here's the kicker for me: while I understand and appreciate this perspective (my parents came to the US in their 20s and I was born and raised here), it also smacks of cultural isolationism and, sometimes, elitism. (From what I've seen, Jews suffer a similar fate as well.)

It's complicated, but there are my two cents.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:00 AM on March 4, 2007


I don't believe that the post should be deleted, but I do wonder how people would respond to a post that went something like this:

As a white person, I sometimes find black people are unreasonably angry at people of my race, and I don't want to have to deal with that sort of attitude. Also, we white folks tend to have a lot more money than most black people, so I need advice from an accountant who is used to dealing with people who have loads of money, not broke-ass people who face a very different set of financial problems. Finally, I think it's important to try and do business with members of my community (ie, other white folks) therefore, can somebody please point me at a white or a white-friendly accountant? Caveat: if there's a black accountant out there who will save me a mountain of money, I'd be happy to consider them instead.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:10 AM on March 4, 2007


I wonder, why do you believe "gay"/"straight" and "white"/"black" have the same relationship in society, such that you can freely use them interchangeably with no difference in meaning?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:39 AM on March 4, 2007


languagehat: sad to see this sort of reaction from you in this thread. I always respect your intellectual vigour and willingness to engage in substantive debate. In this thread, in marked contrast, you've got nothing but hand waving, "you'll just never understand", "you must not have any gay friends"... empty dramatic bullshit. I expect much better of you.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:49 AM on March 4, 2007


metafilter: this isn't your high school's rhetoric team
posted by pyramid termite at 8:02 AM on March 4, 2007


Meatbomb, with all due respect, you don't get to call for "intellectual vigour" while decrying "hand waving" and "empty dramatic bullshit" after opening a thread with the white supremacy card.

You want substance? Here's substance. I'm a gay guy who moved to a red state with my partner so he could go to school. The school's insurance program won't cover me. When we went to buy a car, we couldn't get both of our names on the registration. After a year at my job up here, my insurance was restructured to take away private benefits and replace them with federal benefits--none of which will cover my partner. So now I'M the bad guy if I try and search out insurance or tax advice or financial help of any kind from someone who might, you know, deign to acknowledge the fact that gay people exist?

This thread is really fucking killing me.
posted by bcwinters at 8:05 AM on March 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


SeizeTheDay writes (well, a big block of text that I won't c/p here)...

Yes, it is unfortunately isolating. Not all white folk treat immigrants / blacks like crap, but a non-trivial percentage do. Not all straight folk treat GLBT people like crap, but a non-trivial percentage do. Why is the burden on the crap-treated to give (potential) crap-treaters the chance to treat them like crap? If the majority group were not seen as alienating the minority group, the minority group wouldn't feel that it's as necessary to do the whole isolating ghettofication / communitarian thing.

I mean, do you think it's nice feeling that the only part of town you can completely relax and be yourself (outside of your own home) is the few blocks of the gay neighbourhood? Nothing would be nicer than not having to be slightly on guard in "your" world. "You" made us outsiders, we didn't. When "you" decide to quit the alienation, let us know and we won't have to engage in cultural isolationism.

"You" and "your" used in the collective sense. All this really has nothing to do with the AskMe question, but more to do with the reaction it got here.
posted by CKmtl at 8:32 AM on March 4, 2007


I'm an Irish-American, and I would like to drink at an Irish bar. But I'm afraid that this is the exact same thing as hating homosexuals and/or black people. MetaFilter: Help!
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:43 AM on March 4, 2007


Meatbomb, equating gay people who want to patronize gay or gay-friendly service providers with racists is thoughtless and ignorant. If I had the patience and time, I'd try to provide you with a basic education, but I'm afraid I don't, so all I can say is: talk to some gay people and try to get a clue. I've had it up to here with people who pretend that the actions of privileged people trying to maintain their privilege are just like the actions of victims of prejudice trying to lead as hassle-free an existence as they can manage in a sexist, racist, homophobic society. But hey, there I go, engaging in hand-waving again!

*waves hands, walks away*
posted by languagehat at 8:50 AM on March 4, 2007 [5 favorites]


I'm an Irish-American, and I would like to drink at an Irish bar. But I'm afraid that this is the exact same thing as hating homosexuals and/or black people. MetaFilter: Help!

Don't worry about it and come to Boston where we have more faux-Irish bars than Irishmen. But as for financial issues, I think we can all agree that its best that You People stick to your own kind. You need an Irish financial advisor who has special knowledge of Potato Futures, workers' comp for your "bad back" and putting aside money to settle civil suits stemming from assaults and car-bombings.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:55 AM on March 4, 2007


discomfort is bad. if we just burned all these homos at the stake we wouldn't have to have uncomfortable conversations like this.
posted by quonsar at 9:27 AM on March 4, 2007


Is discrimination bad?

Sometimes.

When?


When it's unjust.

What constitutes unjust discrimination?

That question assumes we know what justice is. The real question is, what is justice?

Okay, what is justice?

Rawls got it right: First, equal liberty, where liberty defined negatively rather than positively as freedom from government intervention rather than freedom to some particular public good. "Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive scheme of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for others."

Then, because there are differences in the world, we need a principle to account for them. "Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are to be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of society."

That's it. Private discrimination is often unjust, but we would not like to regulate it because of the requirements of basic liberty. If we are trying to account for larger forces which, while non-governmental, have state-wide effects, we should apply the difference principle, and ask whether they benefit the least-advantaged. Thus, southern Segregationist whites-only regulations were unjust because they propagated a very specific kind of privilege that had been bolstered by law, even though they were private decisions. There's a whole line of Supreme Court cases on this, which establish the boundaries of private judgment of business owners on these matters. None of them touch on the decisions of individuals to patronize particular businesses over others, because the law cannot reach this level of conduct meaningfully.

Still, there's some reason to ask whether this discrimination is moral, even if it's not an injustice, isn't there?

Though the asker is clearly not engaged in this behavior, even if he were patronizing gay people because they're gay, he'd clearly be doing so to the advantage of the least-advantaged over the most-advantaged. What other definition of morality would you have us apply?

Umm... I think everybody should be color-blind and sex-blind. How else can we be sure that institutional discrimination won't rear it's ugly head?

Well, that's what the courts are for. IF you're really sure you're prefer that all citizens should be completely blind to sex and gender, then go fuck a gay furry. Now: SHUT THE FUCK UP.

But, but... I don't understand!

That's because you're a troll. You're arguing in bad faith.

No I'm not, I'm just confused. It's unclear, and you're being rude.

You deserve it. We've arrived at the point where you're either stupid, irritating, or both. The internets is serious business, and we don't have time for this anymore.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:30 AM on March 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


"You" made us outsiders, we didn't. When "you" decide to quit the alienation, let us know and we won't have to engage in cultural isolationism.

Nietsche wrote a great deal about this mentality, the duality between noble and slave. By blaming the majority, the minority gains comfort in their persecution complex, and ultimately nothing is solved, except for an ingrained sense of, as I mentioned before, "us vs. them".

I feel bad for you that only a few gay friendly blocks give you comfort in the world. (I'm not trying to be patronizing, but trying to sympathize.) I wear my skin color every day, but don't treat it as a means of differentiation and especially not as a means of isolationism. But that's just the way I grew up, not thinking about it. I'm aware of it, and there are definitely societal boundries that are caused by it, but my existence isn't defined by my skin color. That's the difference here. My parents' skin color absolutely defined their existence in the US. They always felt "out of place".

And no, there's no happy ending. The more open we minorities are with the "persecutors", the more likely they will at least have a semblance of understanding. And of course, being open requires us to accept hate, vitriol, and bigotry, along with the love that can exist. And that's tough. Really tough. So much so that many choose instead to isolate themselves.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 9:36 AM on March 4, 2007


what's up?

i've just figured out the best way to post and feel good on metafilter

what's that?

i'm sick of all these other assholes on here and their stupid opinions ... having to quote them and then reply to them is getting on my damn nerves ... they're all so stupid

so what's your solution?

i'm just going to talk to myself ... and i'm going to make myself look as intelligent as i can because what i'm replying to is designed to make me look intelligent

COOL ... by the way, have i ever mentioned that you're the coolest human being on the planet?

no ... i thought it was so obvious that no one needed to mention it

but what do you think about this thing where this guy is actually asking to talk to a gay or gay friendly accountant?

i fucking HATE people with money ... who gives a shit whether he's gay?

rich bastards

up against the WALL ...

you deserve ALL the money, not them

yessssss ... alllll the money

yessssssss, precioussssss, yesssss

PRECIOUSSSSSSS
posted by pyramid termite at 9:47 AM on March 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


PeterMcDermott,

Exactly. Perhaps, "if there's a white-friendly black accountant..."

Krrrlson,

That's my position as well. It is understood that in this case the a gay financial planner might provide some additional service beyond comfort. But from early in this thread the debate has been a bit more abstract and that's a concise way to phrase it.

I'm not looking to limit anyone's right or ability to choose. But that also means that I have to respect the choices of others, intellectual honesty demands it. If they would rather hire a male engineer because they feel more comfortable hearing a man explain the design of a construction project, well other people have other values.

I really think that this is what irks many moderates and conservatives about progressives and why "P.C." is still an emotionally charged label. The reaction doesn't come from the handicapped wanting to be called "differently abled". It is in response to the claim of some extremists that the standards of behavior for minorities and the "oppressors" are somehow different. This is exactly why some minority members who are vehement in these claims are perceived as wanting to be "special".
posted by BigSky at 9:48 AM on March 4, 2007


bugbread, my objection to your (over)parsing is that the parsing doesn't matter. Trying to turn some part of the debate into a debate over free speech or social justice does not clarify the issue; it wreathes ignorance in the rhetoric of justice and lets us ignore what's actually going on.

If the poster wanted any accountant, regardless of sexuality, with expertise in gay issues, that's great. If the poster wanted a gay accountant not because of the accountant's expertise with gay issues but simply because the poster felt more comfortable around gay people, that's fine with me. If the poster wanted a gay accountant because he believes that straight people are all evil scumbags attempting to keep him and his kind down, well, given the current political environment, I'd have to agree with him on a statistical basis, and again, it doesn't matter to me why this man wants a gay accountant, so that's fine with me too.

I think it's hideously presumptuous of people in the in-group, people who have more political, social, and legal power than minorities, to make it the minorities' responsibility to stop discriminating (against the majority!!!). I've been ignoring your parsing because I don't care why this poster wanted a gay accountant or a gay-friendly accountant, I don't care if groups that historically (and in many cases, currently) have been discriminated against by whites/straights/men proceed with a bit of caution when dealing with them/us, and I think it's wrong to tell a member of a group that's actively being discriminated against by an organization as powerful as the federal government that he's just the same as them.

HE IS NOT. He does not have the power to be. And he certainly does not deserve to be told that his actions are the moral equivalent of an entire state or federal government trying to keep an entire class of people from living with their loved ones.

And whether or not you intended to put all that blame on him, by acting as if there were some sort of legitimate argument in this thread, you did.
posted by occhiblu at 9:55 AM on March 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


And on non-preview, I obviously disagree with BigSky, and my comment is a bit funny just below his. But that's exactly the issue: It's not that minorities should get "special privileges," it's that it's almost impossible to exercise power over others when you don't have power over others, and it's wrong to ignore the societal power structure when talking about these issues.
posted by occhiblu at 9:59 AM on March 4, 2007


Meatbomb, equating gay people who want to patronize gay or gay-friendly service providers with racists is thoughtless and ignorant.

langugagehat, you're moving the goalposts. No one has a problem with wanting to patronize gay-friendly businesses. That makes good sense. But there's a difference between a preference for gay-friendliness and a preference for people who are gay. I take it that Meatbomb and bugbread object to the second preference but not the first. Frankly, I think a lot of people simply aren't reading their positions. Otherwise, the vitriol flung their way is just inexplicable.

I've had it up to here with people who pretend that the actions of privileged people trying to maintain their privilege are just like the actions of victims of prejudice trying to lead as hassle-free an existence as they can manage in a sexist, racist, homophobic society.

Agreed. But surely there are some limits on what victims of prejudice should and should not do in their effort to live "as hassle-free an existence as they can manage in a sexist, racist, homophobic society." Some things are just wrong, even if they're done to further good ends. The way I read this thread, several people are saying that discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, etc. are always wrong. But these people are also saying that discrimination on the basis of attitudes (i.e. being gay-friendly) is fine. Others are saying that discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, etc. is sometimes okay if (and only if?) the person doing the discriminating is a member of a disadvantaged group and the people being discriminated against belong to an advantaged group. Again, this is what divides liberals from progressives. I tend to float between the two camps, but on this issue I'm a liberal.

On preview: Though the asker is clearly not engaged in this behavior, even if he were patronizing gay people because they're gay, he'd clearly be doing so to the advantage of the least-advantaged over the most-advantaged. What other definition of morality would you have us apply?

There are several issues here. Rawls takes pains to emphasize that his theory of justice is a political thoery, meant to help in constructing social institutions. It's not a moral theory. It can't be, because he doesn't have the resources to support one. Invoking him to resolve this situation won't help. His theory of justice can't say one way or another whether a gay man ought to patronize gay establishments. It's simply not true that Rawls requires us to make the worst off as best off as possible in our private lives. This would be an exteremly onerous version of utilitarianism, which is itself a theory that's often thought to be too demanding.

Additionally, even as a political theory, Rawls has his problems. One of the problems that Rawls fails to consider is that justice isn't only about maximizing benefit to the worst off. Rawls' procedure, assuming for the sake of argument that it gets the basics correctly, pumps out rights that cohere with this principle. But he neglects to consider moral desert anywhere. The only comments he makes in this direction are brief and unsatisfactory, claiming, essentially, that there's no such thing as moral desert because individuals are not responsible for their moral characters, and character drives actions, which in turn generate claims to deserve something as a result of those actions. The trouble with this is that it needs to be a hard determinism in order to do the work he wants it to. And hard determinism can't be true, otherwise theorizing about morality is pointless.
posted by smorange at 10:07 AM on March 4, 2007


I take it that Meatbomb and bugbread object to the second preference but not the first. Frankly, I think a lot of people simply aren't reading their positions.

I find it strange that some people have been careful to avoid any awareness of how Meatbomb's post was worded, and instead invent and vociferously defend a strawman completely unrelated to the post as it is written.

What I like best is the irony of how the position is changed (or "clarified") once it is pointed out how stupid it is. Talk about moving the goalposts.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:19 AM on March 4, 2007


It's called "not shooting the messenger", Blazecock. Regardless of Meatbomb's initial phrasing, there is a deeper issue with how the original AskMeFi post was phrased and the rational of those to purposefully seek exclusionary behavior.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 10:23 AM on March 4, 2007


SeizeTheDay: maybe I'm being overly prickly about this because my back is screaming from shoveling a foot of wet snow yesterday, but appeals to philosophers piss me off. Comes off a bit like "your position is weak/wrong/silly because this guy wrote something 100+ years ago, and people think he's pretty smart".

"Persecution complex" does too. Makes it seem like a figment of our imagination. As if it's not the case that being beaten up isn't a real problem. Or that there isn't a concerted effort to deny rights or job opportunities (i.e., military service, or teaching "impressionable" minors). Or that, not so long ago, people tried passing off gay panic as a defense for murder - "I killed him because I thought he was flirting with me" (seriously, think about that for a while...).

Being gay doesn't define most of us to the extent that you make it seem. But it's rather hard to ignore it the way you mention. I could meet someone, get along fine with them for weeks, only to have them flipflop when they discovered a part of me that they weren't aware of before.
posted by CKmtl at 10:24 AM on March 4, 2007


And hard determinism can't be true, otherwise theorizing about morality is pointless.

First, though I happen to agree that hard determinism, if true, would make theorizing about morality pointless, that doesn't mean that hard determinism "can't" be true. It's quite possible that it is true, and that theorizing about morality is pointless.

Second, one might not agree with you and me about the entailment; various compatibilists will not. John Fischer from UC-Riverside is one; I just heard him talk Friday about precisely this sort of issue, though I found the arguments less than convincing: he thinks that if it is true that agents cannot "break" causal chains in any meaningful sense, then that does not entail that those agents cannot be held morally responsible for their actions in the relevant sense of "responsibile."

I don't know enough about Rawls to say anything else, though I found your views to be interesting food for thought.
posted by Kwine at 10:28 AM on March 4, 2007


I could meet someone, get along fine with them for weeks, only to have them flipflop when they discovered a part of me that they weren't aware of before.

So what? The same could be said about being a certain religion, or political affiliation, or even ethnic group. It's called humanity. We're judging each other all the time in ways that make more "open-minded people" cringe. If it's not sexual orientation, it's something else.

And the reason I brought up Nietsche was so that people didn't think I was just making something up. Why not try reading what he wrote, instead of instantaneously writing it off because it doesn't mesh with your world view?

The level of closemindedness in your tone and language make it clear to me that you're simply trying to justify your anger (which is fair, I get it, because being a minority sometimes sucks), but all I'm trying to do is add a little nuance to the subject.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 10:31 AM on March 4, 2007


Invoking him to resolve this situation won't help.

I'm not invoking him as an authority, but rather acknowledging the source of my definition of justice. I'm using a definition of justice rather than a claim about moral responsibility because the morality of discrimination requires us to acknowledge the intersection of private decisions and economic effects. Arguments about the morality of economic decisions (eating meat, for instance) must always consider the implications for justice if they are to be thoughtful. Otherwise, they're easily reduced to some fundamentalist claim like the ones that fuel natural law theory. Yes, this does discount a number of moral intuitionist arguments, a discounting I'm willing to defend if you'd like. As for the claim that utilitarianism is too demanding, I think that doesn't apply in this instance, since we're explicating a 'allowance' rather than a 'requirement.' You're responding to an argument that one should -always- prefer gay accountants to straight ones, which I did not make.

The discussion of hard determinism isn't relevant to Rawls, since as you point out he's primarily interested in constituting the political institutions, and asks of us only that we design them in keeping with our best knowledge of consequences, whether these factors are hard determinants or merely soft 'molding' forces. If you're claiming that moral desert can be meaningfully differentiated from justice, I'd like to see that argument. As I understand it, moral deserts are just deserts, and the argument returns to some definition of justice. (I'm also more interested in the pre-pluralist Theory of Justice Rawls than the post-pluralist Political Liberalism Rawls.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:32 AM on March 4, 2007


Every major US city I've been to has some form of community-published gay yellow pages, or at the very least, a GLBT weekly with ads from gay-owned businesses aimed specifically at gay people. I use them myself simply to support the community.

Aside from boycotting businesses that engage in egregious offenses against decency, I find basing what business to patronize based on identity politics weird. I buy where they have what I like or from those who can provide the services I want, regardless of whatever else they might be.

That said, the conserns in this case seem to be more pragmatic than political, so I can see where the OP was coming from.
posted by jonmc at 11:07 AM on March 4, 2007


bugbread, I mostly agree, but I think it's a bit wrong to claim that not being totally hetero-inclusive in every single phrasing is the poster "slipping up." No one should have to feel compelled to soothe the ruffled feathers of overly sensitive straight people every time he wants to discuss gay issues;

So what you're saying is that minor verbal gaffes shouldn't necessarily be taken as indicative of deeper prejudices and antpathies and shouldn't be held against someone because doing so often obscures and trivializes the larger issues involved?

Hmmm.
posted by jonmc at 11:15 AM on March 4, 2007


Why is the burden on the crap-treated to give (potential) crap-treaters the chance to treat them like crap?

I keep forgetting that discriminating against people is perfectly fine as long as they are straight, white, or male, and preferably more than one of those.
posted by oaf at 11:19 AM on March 4, 2007


I keep forgetting that discriminating against people is perfectly fine as long as they are straight, white, or male, and preferably more than one of those.

Sometimes when I have trouble remembering something, I tie a little string around my finger.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:24 AM on March 4, 2007


And the reason I brought up Nietsche was so that people didn't think I was just making something up. Why not try reading what he wrote, instead of instantaneously writing it off because it doesn't mesh with your world view?

I have read Nietsche, actually. I wasn't writing him off or knee-jerking to him, but to philosophical name-dropping; I just responded to yours since it was directed at my comments. If your and Freddy's opinions coincide, referencing him doesn't add to / detract from the weight/credibility of your opinion though. You could've had the same opinion if you'd never read Nietsche, 'making it up' as it were, and it'd have the same validity and credibility. Like I said, back-induced crankiness. Muscle-relaxants haven't kicked in yet.

It's called humanity. We're judging each other all the time in ways that make more "open-minded people" cringe.

I agree that judging is, pretty much, sadly a part of human nature. But that doesn't mean that persecution has to be.

you're simply trying to justify your anger ... but all I'm trying to do is add a little nuance to the subject.


Other than the back spasms, the anger's only at some people's inability/unwillingness to try to see things from something other than their priviledged p.o.v., like others upthread. At the failed nuance-adding, that is.
posted by CKmtl at 11:29 AM on March 4, 2007


I find it strange that some people have been careful to avoid any awareness of how Meatbomb's post was worded, and instead invent and vociferously defend a strawman completely unrelated to the post as it is written.

Why would I set up a position to defend that's weaker than it is? If you meant to say that I'm granting Meatbomb's post too much charity, then you could be right. But this is something I try to do on a regular basis because 1) I'd like for people to apply this rule to me; and, 2) I think it's crucial for productive disagreements.

First, though I happen to agree that hard determinism, if true, would make theorizing about morality pointless, that doesn't mean that hard determinism "can't" be true. It's quite possible that it is true, and that theorizing about morality is pointless.

Quite right. As for your second point, strangely, I'm reading a book right now that references Fischer's argument (Jonathan Adler's Belief's Own Ethics). I should go read it already.

anotherpanacea, I don't think it'll be helpful for me to continue to argue this point. But, in a nutshell, even if I thought Rawls' theory of justice was correct, it's not applicable to situations like the one we're discussing. He doesn't offer a robust morality, which is what is needed here. When you ask what other definition of morality others would have you apply, I'm saying that it can't be the one you propose.

As for the determinism discussion, I'd like to correct what appears to be a misunderstanding. I am not arguing that moral desert can be differentiated from justice. I'm saying almost the opposite: that Rawls believes moral desert doesn't exist -- he argues this in Theory -- and so his definition of justice is wrong.
posted by smorange at 11:33 AM on March 4, 2007


(and before the usual suspects trip over themselves to remind me that I only hold my opinions because I'm an evil straight white male, who in spite of being unemployed and not-too-bright secretly rules the universe, bla bla blah... and others who will say two-wrongs-don't-make-a-right, and let's all sit in a circle and sing cumbaya, we're just a multi-chaded colostomy bag full of love....

and I get it, really. But I'm tired of it. Ultimately the fact is that before your anything else, you're yourself and you're human and deserve a certain amount decency based on that alone. and that's always going to be my ultimate position)
posted by jonmc at 11:34 AM on March 4, 2007


I keep forgetting that discriminating against people is perfectly fine as long as they are straight, white, or male, and preferably more than one of those.

Some people, you just know they're incapable of ever getting a clue.
posted by languagehat at 11:37 AM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


colostomy bag full of love....

*snicker* nice.
posted by CKmtl at 11:44 AM on March 4, 2007


(I stole that from Jim Goad, but thanks)
posted by jonmc at 11:47 AM on March 4, 2007


Some people, you just know they're incapable of ever getting a clue.

I think you quoted the wrong text there, dude, unless you're being sarcastic.
posted by oaf at 11:51 AM on March 4, 2007


If the poster wanted a gay accountant because he believes that straight people are all evil scumbags attempting to keep him and his kind down, well, given the current political environment, I'd have to agree with him on a statistical basis, and again, it doesn't matter to me why this man wants a gay accountant, so that's fine with me too.

occhiblu, you don't really believe this, do you? If you do, I think it's rather incredible that you can't see why people disagree with you. I mean, suppose you had a gay man who, as you say, hated all straight people on the basis of ill-treatment toward him by some straight people. Would this hate be justified? Obviously not, yet your arguments, if true, imply that it would. In fact, your endorsement of acting on a statistical basis are exactly parallel to the arguments that racists use to justify their hateful opinions and bigoted behavior. Many of us argue against this. We want to cut discrimination at its knees, not trim its toenails.
posted by smorange at 12:07 PM on March 4, 2007


Rawls believes moral desert doesn't exist -- he argues this in Theory -- and so his definition of justice is wrong.

Rawls writes: "There is a natural inclination to object that those better situated deserve their greater advantages whether or not they are to the benefit of others. At this point it is necessary to be clear about the notion of desert. It is perfectly true that given a just system of cooperation as a scheme of public rules and the expectations set up by it, those who, with the prospects of improving their condition, have done what the system announces that it will reward are entitled to its advantages. In this sense the more fortunate have a claim to their better situation; their claims are legitimate expectations established by social institutions, and the community is obligated to meet them. But this sense of desert presupposes the existence of the cooperative scheme; it is irrelevant to the question whether in the first place the scheme is to be designed in accordance with the difference principle or some other criterion." (103)

"It is clear that the distribution of economic and social advantages is entirely different [than the scheme by which we punish criminal acts.] These arrangements are not the converse, so to speak, of the criminal law, so that just as the one punishes certain moral offenses, the other rewards moral worth. The function of unequal distributive shares is to cover the costs of training and education, to attract individuals to places and associations where they are most needed from a social point of view, and so on. [...] Variations in wages and income and the perquisites of positions are simply to influence these choices so that the end result accords with efficiency and justice." (315)

I'm satisfied with this account, as supplied by Rawls in Theory, on the question. It contextualizes moral desert within particular cooperative schemes, rather than enunciating a 'natural' theory of desert. I've yet to hear you enunciate a criticism.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:09 PM on March 4, 2007


anotherpanacea, yes, Rawls endorses desert as a function of procedural justice. As a matter of fact, I reject procedural justice as all there is to desert. But, even if I didn't, take a look a couple of paragraphs down from your first quotation. Here's the relevant passage:

"The assertion that a man deserves the superior character that enables him to make the effort to cultivate his abilities is equally problematic; for his character depends in large part upon fortunate family and social circumstances for which he can claim no credit. The notion of desert seems not to apply to these cases. Thus the more advantaged representative man cannot say that he deserves and therefore has a right to a scheme of cooperation in which he is permitted to acquire benefits in ways that do not contribute to the welfare of others. There is no basis for his making this claim."

This strong conclusion can't follow from Rawls' weaker premises. Notice that he uses "in large part" to qualify his claim in the first sentence, and he uses this to generate his (unqualified) conclusion. If you'd like to see rigorous criticism of Rawls, there's lots of it. Joseph Raz (in his book, The Morality of Freedom) and James Rachels (in his essay, "What People Deserve") are, to my mind, some of the most persuasive.

But, again, I think all of this is kind of off-topic, since Rawls' theory of justice isn't all that useful for morality in general, which is what is at issue. I'll leave it at that.
posted by smorange at 12:36 PM on March 4, 2007


so many problems in this world. why this? why hate a member of a seriously oppressed minority for maybe being less than perfectly catholic in return?

surely you've got bigger fish to fry.

posted by ~ at 12:43 PM on March 4, 2007


the usual suspects trip over themselves to remind me that I only hold my opinions because I'm an evil straight white male, who in spite of being unemployed and not-too-bright secretly rules the universe

Don't worry, when I think of the dudes who rule the universe, I don't think of dudes like you. The world is actually run by dudes with names like Mortimer and Randall and Winthrop, and yes they are white (mostly), and straight (outwardly), and evil (totally), and they meet monthly at the Heritage Club where the walls are covered with the dark august gold-framed portraits of white straight evil men wearing wigs. They're all so rich they don't have businesses, they have "concerns," inherited from their papas, who inherited them from their papas, and so on, until you hit the original papa who traded New York for a syphilis-soaked blanket and some novelty jewelry. Whereas a great many of the gay businesses I've supported don't have family money or support (mostly), access to deep channels of power (generally), or wide societal support (definitely). Plus, they are far more likely to take my hand and join in when I burst into a chorus of "Kumbaya" as I tend to do when conducting business, as it relaxes me.

So you can make your choices from the platonic ideal where people are people so why should it be, and I can make mine based on ameliorating historic inequalities as well as from some vague antipathies picked up the 80s film canon of Eddie Murphy. And other dude can get a gay accountant fluent in a Spanish if he wants to, which is the whole reason I vaguely recall this started. This is America, after all, and freedom is a beautiful thing.
posted by melissa may at 1:51 PM on March 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


Just as an aside, I'll say it's generally bad form in non-scholarly discussions to 'cite the literature' rather than quote or paraphrase it for your interlocutor, especially when the resources you cite are not available online. I don't follow the debates on moral desert because they all depend on certain 'intuition pumps' that I find non-intuitive. Because of that, I've heard of the people you're citing, but I haven't read them.

I can, however, respond to the problem you're addressing with 'in large part:' if the larger part of character is due to initial family conditions, the lesser part is due to an individual's efforts on his own behalf, these efforts are still derived from a certain 'capacity' for effort. So the function of a distributive system is to encourage this passive capacity to be actively exercised, 'in the interests of justice and efficiency.' From what I know of Rachels, his arguments depend on the difference between "I deserve my character" and "I deserve the results of my character." My point, and Rawls', is that these are only distinguishable within a certain cooperative distributive scheme.

As Warren Buffet says, "I personally think that society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I've earned. If you stick me down in the middle of Bangladesh or Peru or someplace, you find out how much this talent is going to produce in the wrong kind of soil... I work in a market system that happens to reward what I do very well - disproportionately well.... If you're a marvelous teacher, this world won't pay a lot for it. If you are a terrific nurse, this world will not pay a lot for it. Now, am I going to try to come up with some comparable worth system that somehow (re)distributes that? No, I don't think you can do that. But I do think that when you're treated enormously well by this market system, where in effect the market system showers the ability to buy goods and services on you because of some peculiar talent--maybe your adenoids are a certain way, so you can sing and everybody will pay you enormous sums to be on television or whatever--I think society has a big claim on that."

The question you're ducking is whether a person can morally use the difference principle to guide their actions: is it wrong to make charitable contributions to needier rather than less needy causes? If I know that a person is likely to encounter a great deal of negative discrimination, is it wrong for me to exercise a degree of positive discrimination? Should I, as an individual, take 'affirmative actions' to help someone I believe is in need of more support because of some non-voluntary part of their identity (race, gender, class, sexuality)? If I may direct my charitable efforts in this way, why may I not direct my business and personal life so as to advantage the least-advantaged over the most-advantaged? Isn't this what those in the 'helping professions' have done?

Let us return to the context: Can a straight man prefer gay accountants to other straight accountants? If not, why not? Does the straight accountant 'deserve' my business in some way that the gay one does not? If so, which straight accountant deserves it the most? If skill and pricing are correlative, then may I choose a less skilled accountant if I cannot afford a more skilled accountant? Or if I cannot adequately judge the seven hundred accountants available to me, why may I not use a preliminary guide, like shared sexuality, to narrow the field?

Surely it cannot be because others will take this as an opportunity to provide positive discrimination to those who have not suffered from injurious negative discriminations. Though the two situations are analogous in some respects, there's clearly a different principle for the pro-gay discrimination than for the anti-gay discrimination, insofar as it's the history of injury that guides my decisions, not self-regard or a preference for sameness.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:14 PM on March 4, 2007


smorange, if every single gay person in this country decided that straight people were evil, and they were going to show their moral outrage by only hiring gay accountants, I just fail to see how that should get my nose out of joint to such an extent that I would equate them with the assholes in various legislatures who are trying to take away their kids, take away their partners, and send them to hell for eternity.

The offenses are not equal. The offenses are not anywhere close to equal. Yes, I would prefer it if everyone saw each person as an individual and operated on that belief. But the racist, homophobic, patriarchal, etc. etc. society we live in doesn't really allow that to happen without a HELL of a lot of effort, and I think it's a HELL of a lot more important for the people in the in-power groups to make that effort, rather than harassing already-harassed minorities for not trying hard enough.
posted by occhiblu at 3:31 PM on March 4, 2007


In other words, I don't think it's gay people's jobs to prove that they think all straight people are just great. I think it's straight people's jobs to do something to fix the systematic oppression that gay people face, and I think that we should do that without expecting a cookie.
posted by occhiblu at 3:34 PM on March 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


But the racist, homophobic, patriarchal, etc. etc. society we live in doesn't really allow that to happen without a HELL of a lot of effort, and I think it's a HELL of a lot more important for the people in the in-power groups to make that effort,...I don't think it's gay people's jobs to prove that they think all straight people are just great.

And a lot of us are making that effort (or at least sticking our necks out to denounce it. And FWIW, this straight guy thinks most straight people are full of shit (myself included) I also think most gay people are full of shit. I basically think most people are full of shit is what I'm saying, but most of us are also doing the best we can. Most people of any kind (myself icluded) can't claim any kind of perfection on any kind of non-bigoted scoresheet, but most people would like to do the best they can. I don't want a cookie*, but I'd appreciate not being assumed guilty till proven innocent (even if I understand the suspicion).

*although I'll take a cookie if you got one. Cips Ahoy prefereably.
posted by jonmc at 4:22 PM on March 4, 2007


No cookies on hand... how about some JellyBelly jelly beans? Avoid the buttered popcorn ones though, they're just weird.
posted by CKmtl at 4:28 PM on March 4, 2007


*although I'll take a cookie if you got one. Cips Ahoy prefereably.

Chips Ahoy? Chips A-fuckin hoy? And you live in New York City? Where fine domestic and imported cookies of every stripe are readily available for purchase? Damn, jonmc, I'm starting to think you really are a real, y'know, gen-you-wine regular every-day Amurkan joe! ;)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:05 PM on March 4, 2007


adamgreenfield writes "Debating for the sake of debating is one of the two most annoying habits known to humankind."

And debating just because you don't understand what the person you're debating with is saying is the other.

adamgreenfield writes "Are you unable to distinguish between circumstances where the 'mutual misunderstanding of each other's statements' is tragic (like, oh, when it confronts North and South Korea across a Panmunjeom bargaining table) and where it's the very bedrock of comedy (Clouseau asking the man if his dog bites)?"

Nah. A little misunderstanding-comedy is groovy. After hundreds of comments, though, it gets grating. Plus, I wasn't thinking of this thread as comedy. I probably should have.

occhiblu writes "bugbread, my objection to your (over)parsing is that the parsing doesn't matter. Trying to turn some part of the debate into a debate over free speech or social justice does not clarify the issue"

Yeah, I wish I could take back the "free speech" part. Basically, I thought the debate was pretty much over (I was wrong), so I was going off on a bit of a tangent at the end of the discussion. It wasn't meant as some critical part of the debate or anything, just a side-observation at the very end...but it turns out that it wasn't the very end. Oops.

occhiblu writes "If the poster wanted any accountant, regardless of sexuality, with expertise in gay issues, that's great. If the poster wanted a gay accountant not because of the accountant's expertise with gay issues but simply because the poster felt more comfortable around gay people, that's fine with me. If the poster wanted a gay accountant because he believes that straight people are all evil scumbags attempting to keep him and his kind down, well, given the current political environment, I'd have to agree with him on a statistical basis, and again, it doesn't matter to me why this man wants a gay accountant, so that's fine with me too."

Occhiblu: Thank you. That was perfect. I happen to disagree with you, but that statement was clear, unambiguous, straightforward, etc. Thank you. That's all I was trying to accomplish in this thread: to get the ambiguity out of the way and get clearly stated opinions. Once again, thank you thank you thank you. (Ok, that was "thrice again", not "once again", but so-be-it).
posted by Bugbread at 5:26 PM on March 4, 2007


occhiblu, I think we're as close as we're going to get to agreeing. I think discrimination is always bad, and some is worse than others. But I don't think it's ever good.

anotherpacancea, my primary motive in arguing isn't to convince other people that I'm right. My overriding aim is to clarify the issues in my own mind and to get at the truth. My name-dropping wasn't an attempt to "win" the argument. It was an attempt to point you to other writers on these issues that I find persuasive so that if you want to read them, you can. Frankly, MeFi isn't the place to have productive discussions about this kind of thing. If you have no interest in reading the people I referenced, that's fine with me.

I don't follow the debates on moral desert because they all depend on certain 'intuition pumps' that I find non-intuitive.

You don't think Rawls depends on "intuition pumps?" Here's a paraphrase of Raz: Why shouldn't I be allowed to know my conception of the good in the original position? What about my religion? Rawls' answer, basically, is that such things make agreement impossible. But this is question-begging. Assuming necessity for agreement cooks the books in favor of an agreement whose mere presence is supposed to make its terms just. Robert Nozick has an example that makes this point: lock a bunch of students in a room, forcing them to come to a unanimous agreement on a distribution of grades. The average can't exceed, say, B-. You'll get a situation where everyone agrees to a B- because no one will accept a lower grade. This agreement is nevertheless unfair.

So the function of a distributive system is to encourage this passive capacity to be actively exercised, 'in the interests of justice and efficiency.'

This is question-begging. Why shouldn't the system be set up to further egoistic goals, which, according to Rawls, were the whole point of the agreement in the first place? The only way Rawls gets the results he does is by constructing the veil of ignorance in certain, specific ways. Some of these sneak in assumptions that stack the deck in favor of his theory.

As for your questions about the subject of this thread, I'm not convinced that people are competent to correctly reverse past injustices. I believe that sociological stereotyping is a poor way to do this, and so I always oppose discrimination. Difficult (pratically impossible) lines to draw, slippery slopes, etc.
posted by smorange at 6:50 PM on March 4, 2007


And while we're at it, cancer patients have some major nerve getting treatment at an oncology ward. If they don't see piano tuners, tarot card readers and taxi drivers to get medical care (in that order), they're keeping black folks from eating. Apparently.

Assuming that gibberish is supposed to represent the argument that the OP is entitled, nay, supposed to seek out gay accountants, would you accept someone else seeking out a straight, white, male accountant? Hint: only one answer is intellectually dishonest.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:01 PM on March 4, 2007


this straight guy thinks most straight people are full of shit (myself included) I also think most gay people are full of shit.

And, yet another thread becomes all about jonmc. Thanks for sharing that urgent nugget with all of us, jonmc.
posted by mediareport at 7:05 PM on March 4, 2007


yes, five comments near the end of a dying 175 comment thread. I've been monopolizing things. and 'all about me?' I don't care whether you like me or not, but get a new writer.
posted by jonmc at 8:12 PM on March 4, 2007


I'm sorry, man. That was dumb of me, and I shouldn't have posted it.
posted by mediareport at 8:28 PM on March 4, 2007


Why shouldn't I be allowed to know my conception of the good in the original position? What about my religion?

Sorry, we've begun to cross wires here. I'll allow that Rawls does not supply a theory of justice that trumps others in a principled manner. Most of the reasons for siding with Rawls are prudential, so you should feel free to write whatever form of the original position you choose. It's just another intuition pump. We've never managed to differentiate the constitutional moment from normal politics in the past, and we won't do so any time soon. We certainly won't keep people from bringing their most deeply held religious beliefs to the table, but we can get them to give up the search for dominion and secure their own religious freedom by allowing other faiths the same latitude.

No, Rawls gets justice right, but he does so for the wrong reasons. The right reasons are tied to deliberative practices: the hypothetical students in a room, writ large. The difference principle is one of the foundations of democratic legitimacy.

I'm not convinced that people are competent to correctly reverse past injustices.

This is a strange position for a Nozickian to take, so I'm guessing you're not actually a libertarian. You've set up a standard of success where I enunciated a principle of liberty: I've suggested that a moral agent need only have just intentions, and you're demanding that they actually have the moral luck to achieve that perfect society we've all been dreaming of! The asker doesn't need to convince you that he can correct past injustices; he need only convince himself that he's acting in the pursuit of rectification rather than selfishness. Call it a poor calculation of utility or a failed universalization of the maxim, but in either case you've got to actually give reasons why the decision is unsound. You needn't slide down every slope that presents itself. Are you really suggesting that private economic decisions be subjected to public scrutiny and judged immoral when they merely fail to achieve an optimal increase in Pareto efficiency? Nothing but perfect justice will do? Now who's being demanding?

You've failed to distinguish discrimination from judgment, individual decisions from state policy, racism from charity. I guess that makes sense: you're not trying to "convince other people that [you're] right." You must be one of the new batch of reformed epistemologists I've been hearing about. You're not even offering reasons that are publicly recognizable as internally consistent!
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:44 PM on March 4, 2007


a dying 175 comment thread

We're just getting started!
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:56 PM on March 4, 2007


Assuming that gibberish is supposed to represent the argument that the OP is entitled, nay, supposed to seek out gay accountants, would you accept someone else seeking out a straight, white, male accountant? Hint: only one answer is intellectually dishonest.

Intellectual dishonesty is reinventing what Meatbomb wrote into anything other than what it is: calling the anonymous poster a bigot, and calling gays bigots, in general, who would need to seek out someone with a particular skill set.

It's equal parts hilarious, shameful and tragic watching some of you try to spin his question into something entirely different and unrelated.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:09 AM on March 5, 2007


My comment was responding to languagehat, not to Meatbomb or anything he posted. You chose to reply to it. If you wish to continue the discussion, stop backpedaling and address my latest response. If you wish to continue backpedaling, that's fine as well.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:31 AM on March 5, 2007


(My comment = my original comment)
posted by Krrrlson at 12:32 AM on March 5, 2007


The difference principle is one of the foundations of democratic legitimacy.

I disagree.

This is a strange position for a Nozickian to take, so I'm guessing you're not actually a libertarian.

Right. I invoke Nozick the way I do because in this context, I think he's right.

I've suggested that a moral agent need only have just intentions, and you're demanding that they actually have the moral luck to achieve that perfect society we've all been dreaming of! The asker doesn't need to convince you that he can correct past injustices; he need only convince himself that he's acting in the pursuit of rectification rather than selfishness.

I disagree. Good intentions are nice, but they aren't sufficient for morally good action. The road to Hell and all that.

Are you really suggesting that private economic decisions be subjected to public scrutiny and judged immoral when they merely fail to achieve an optimal increase in Pareto efficiency?

No. First: although I think justice is important, I don't think it's the most important value, even for designing political institutions. I know that assertion clashes with the bulk of the political philosophy since 1971. So much the worse for that literature, I'd say. In the broader historical context, I don't think this is so controversial.

Second: I'm suggesting that the person who attempts to rectify past injustices in his private life through discrimination (on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, etc.) will fail to do so competently. I've said nothing about charity or anything else beyond that. I'm saying that discrimination (on the basis of...) is a bad way to make decisions for action. And I think it's dangerous. But I'd also suggest that this sort of discrimination creates a kind of "moral accountant" mentality with people overly concerned about seeing justice done. Factions and identity politics result. Neither of these, in my opinion, are good things.
posted by smorange at 7:06 AM on March 5, 2007


I guess that makes sense: you're not trying to "convince other people that [you're] right." You must be one of the new batch of reformed epistemologists I've been hearing about. You're not even offering reasons that are publicly recognizable as internally consistent!

This is unfair. I said my primary motive isn't to convince other people I'm right. Are you suggesting that it should be? And, obviously, I think my reasons are internally consistent.
posted by smorange at 7:51 AM on March 5, 2007


I'll agree with you that justice is not, nor should it be, the central value of political philosophy. The fact that it falls out of well-designed institutions is simply an added bonus.

The rest of what you've written... well, as I pointed out before, you've ceased to give reasons that are publicly recognizable as internally consistent. That's a bad trait... but thankfully the solution is easy.

Factions and identity politics result. Neither of these, in my opinion, are good things.

You really don't have a working political theory at all, do you? Check out Federalists 9 & 10. While you're at it, go back and look at Plato's Laws, Augustine's City of God, Machiavelli's Discourses, Hobbes' Leviathan, Locke's Letter on Toleration, Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws, Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals, Schmidt's Concept of the Political, Dewey's Public and its Problems, and Sandel's Democracy's Discontent.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:00 AM on March 5, 2007


Krrrlson: I'll take a shot at making this more understandable, sans snark.

It's coming from the idea that gay accountants / financial planners would have awareness of specialty legal / financial issues that would affect the gay client. Straight accountants might also, but it's not as likely. Taxi drivers may, while waiting for fares, keep up with the latest oncology journals, but it's a bit of a stretch to assume they do.

I'll put it another way. Suppose you have one of those classic 1940s/1950s cars (I'm not a car person, so I can't give you any specific models as examples). In Cuba, those cars are all over the place and still in running order... spare parts are hard to come by, so Cuban mechanics have become exceedingly skilled at repairing these classic cars. So, your classic car is on the fritz... would you be in the wrong to seek out hire a Cuban mechanic, who has had to deal with the specialized issues of these cars, over a just-out-of-mechanic-school guy? The newbie might have restored classic cars as his hobby since he was 8, but you can be pretty sure that the old Cuban guy is aware of and has dealt with the finnickey issues of the cars before. Are you being some sort of bigot by choosing the Cuban?
posted by CKmtl at 8:34 AM on March 5, 2007


You really don't have a working political theory at all, do you?

One that I could articulate fully right here, right now? Of course not. I'll concede this: it's true that most of what I've written has been destructive in nature, and I haven't offered a full-bodied alternative to Rawls' theory. But I don't need to. All I need is good reasons for rejecting your position, which I've tried to sketch above. And then I need good reasons for holding mine (which is just that discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, etc. is bad), which I've gestured toward in my last post.

Anyway, I'm afraid I'll have to duck out at this point. You're accusing me of inconsistency -- and I doubt anyone is entirely free of this curse -- but you're not helping me see how. By the way, I've read most (but not all) of the people you cite. In fact, my mentioning "moral accountants" is straight out of Nietzsche! And my talk about "factions" was a deliberate allusion to the Federalists. Anyway, I fail to see your point. If I agreed with all of those authors on every point, that would be a sure sign of inconsistency, wouldn't it?
posted by smorange at 9:33 AM on March 5, 2007


my mentioning "moral accountants" is straight out of Nietzsche! And my talk about "factions" was a deliberate allusion to the Federalists.

Yes, you do mention phrases used by those thinkers, but you've drastically misunderstood their meaning. The Federalists don't decry factions, but rather design institutions to manage them. Factions are unavoidable; the most we can hope for is to keep them from becoming destructive to the political order. As for Nietzsche, his critique of moral accounting is a complex one... but I'd hardly recommend the alternative! We're not all striving to become 'blond beasts,' I don't think. A close reading of Nietzsche (not a passing mention) shows that his critical insights into morality are fueled by a distrust of transcendentals, and that the inward turn of Christianity makes a purity of thought available that need only reclaim the body.

We are all moral accountants, and epistemological auditors. You, my friend, are in the red when it comes to giving reasons. "I disagree" is not a reason, it's an assertion. "All discrimination is bad" is a similar assertion, and it's driven by a fear of slippery slopes and the failure to use that thoughtful capacity that we have developed to make crucial distinctions. In fact, you seem to believe that human beings are a priori incapable of even the easiest distinctions: between help and harm, friend and enemy, selfishness and charity. I say 'seem' because you are so reticent to actually articulate a position, or even sketch a criticism of the positions of others that supplies both premises and conclusions that follow from them. Good judgment is impossible, you've seemed to say a number of times. Well, I disagree... but I begin to see why you believe it so difficult. You're having a great deal of trouble exercising it here.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:08 AM on March 5, 2007

I keep forgetting that discriminating against people is perfectly fine as long as they are straight, white, or male, and preferably more than one of those.
Tough shit. We've owned and run this country for approximately 300 years, and it's long past fucking time that the scales got balanced.

I'm sorry your tender sensibilities are offended by occasionally being treated in a way vaguely resembling the wholesale disenfranchisement approximately 50% of the country was (and is) subjected for most of its history.

If you have such a tough time with other people getting a fair shot after centuries of de facto oppression, you should probably move to another country, because this one's only about halfway to the actual diversity that will result once every citizen has an equal voice.
posted by scrump at 10:17 AM on March 5, 2007


Tough shit. We've owned and run this country for approximately 300 years, and it's long past fucking time that the scales got balanced.

OK, there's a black guy I know who likes your car, a woman I know who digs your house, and a gay dude who would like your job. Put your money where your mouth is.

(Hyperbole, but you see where I'm going here...and FWIW, while the majority of the rulers of this nation are white, straight and male, the majority of white straight males are not rulers, most are relatively powerless themselves and are getting screwed by the same people screwing over non-whites, women and gays, but for different reasons, and their main problem is they haven't figured out yet that they have more in common with the groups they're pitted against than with those doing the pitting. I can't say that a lot of what I'm hearing here would help much)
posted by jonmc at 11:34 AM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


We've owned and run this country for approximately 300 years

damn, you're old

OK, there's a black guy I know who likes your car, a woman I know who digs your house, and a gay dude who would like your job.

you forgot the transgendered woman who wants your dick

it's always difficult to legislate social and cultural rules ... sometimes, the goal is important enough that it should be done ... other times, i think we have no choice but to let people act as they will

choosing an accountant would be one of those other times
posted by pyramid termite at 4:14 PM on March 5, 2007


It's coming from the idea that gay accountants / financial planners would have awareness of specialty legal / financial issues that would affect the gay client.

Several people in this thread have argued that this is irrelevant, and that a gay person has the right to seek a gay accountant simply because he or she is more comfortable with one, because gays are a minority.
posted by Krrrlson at 4:21 PM on March 6, 2007


Several people in this thread have argued that this is irrelevant, and that a gay person has the right to seek a gay accountant simply because he or she is more comfortable with one, because gays are a minority.

I was trying to clarify the "gibberish" about cancer patients and tarot readers / taxi drivers. That's all.

Yes, and several others have argued that it is a relevant part, in addition to the desire to be 100% sure that the person you're hiring isn't going to cloud the business relationship (where the client's sexual identity would come up in the course of the business) with anti-gay sentiment. I don't currently feel the need to shop around like that, mostly because where I live "straight guy = homophobe" doesn't necessarily apply. But if I lived in a US red state, where it definately seems to apply more, I'd definately want to avoid bringing my business there. Doubly so for businesses advertising with crucifices and jesus-fish (as mentionned in a thread in the Blue).

It's not that I don't want to be around "those people", it's that I don't want to be treated as a lesser human being. Where is it that a straight white guy is going to be treated as a lesser human being by non-straight, non-white, non-guys to the point that he would have to be mindful of where he did business?

I'm surprised people are still replying here, given that it's on the 3rd or 4th page...
posted by CKmtl at 12:05 PM on March 7, 2007


I think it's valid to want to support your community. Everybody defines their community differently, it may be by physical proximity, or by ethnicity, or religion, or sex, or ideology, and some individuals may *not* feel like they are part of a community they want to support and that's fine too, but they shouldn't begrudge other people their communities.

It is arbitrary and unfair to pay for your own child's college tuition, and not for some other child who might need it more, be smarter, get more out of it, and give more back from it. But it is not wrong or immoral or -ist.
posted by Salamandrous at 10:53 AM on March 11, 2007


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