Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fayetteville and Human Rights: Deja Vu all over again?

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 12:35 PM

"Sometimes with progress, when you deal with any kind of discrimination, you are going to have a fight on your hands.” Fayetteville alderman Randy Zurcher, 1998

It has been a long time coming - a shameful long time coming - but finally, Fayetteville may put the memory of 1998's Human Dignity Resolution to rest, when a simple ordinance protecting the rights of city (though for the politically illiterate, city meant anybody actually living in Fayetteville) employees was enough to bring out droves of people, many of whom did not even live within our boundaries, to city council meetings to condemn it.

“Are you a Christian, Mr. Zurcher?” was how one opponent to the HDR led off when his turn came to address the city council.

There are those among who may be wringing their hands, horrified at the opposition to the proposed Civil Rights Administration Ordinance. Well, maybe they should read a little more history.

Yes, this is where I plug my book, Ozark Mosaic, which contains accounts of the Human Dignity Resolution struggle. Consider it done. Now, let’s move on.

Though at first I was ambivalent about this, the irrational fear and rage I have encountered online and in letters to the editor has convinced me that, yes, it is indeed a good idea.

Some of the most rancid bigotry (okay, is there any other kind?) has been on the Internet sites of certain news stations - all left by folks who lack the integrity to use their real names.

I have been informed that one person may be responsible for much of them, using various aliases, but that doesn’t account for all that I have read.

This morning on the KFSM news site, someone warned that we should all read The Turner Diaries, the infamous racist novel, so that we would be aware of the world that “liberals” wanted us to live in.

The similarities between 2014 and 1998 are not that far apart, sadly. After the City Council passed the ordinance - over the veto of Mayor Fred Hanna - petitions were brought forth to put i to a public vote.

To the dismay of so many people, a majority of voters turned it down.

A commercial was cut prior to the vote featuring Carolyn Long-Brewer, a popular figure who once worked as a newscaster for Channel 29, in which she made the claim that, “Resolution 51-98 would tear down the tolerant climate that makes living in Fayetteville so enjoyable.” She went on to repeat the ugly phrase proclaimed by so many, “I believe in Equal Rights not Special Privileges based on sexual preference.”

The atmosphere grew so heated, and the cries of the ignorant and intolerant grew so loud, that the Washington County Quorum Court took it upon itself - after heated public comment - to strip away protections for gay employees which had been in place for several years.

Fayetteville, which once prided itself on being the “Athens of the Ozarks,” was once the most liberal community in the state. I’m not sure if many folks realize just how conservative much of Fayetteville has become.

It is my fervent hope that this ordinance passes tonight. But even if it does, supporters might well steel themselves for a repeat of 1998, when folks who think the 1950s was the perfect time and place for all Americans, start passing around petitions.

Even if they have no legal grounds for doing so.

And I suppose we must also steel ourselves for the letters to editor warning about the gay agenda, and that dread couple, Adam and Steve.


Quote of the Day

“Ultimately, America’s answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired.” ~ Robert Kennedy `




Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Richard Drake

  • Dana D. Kelley: A Profile in Stereotyping?

    It is more than a little intriguing that the only black leader Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Dana D. Kelley could even think to quote in last Friday’s column (“Profiles in Cowardice”) was accused sexual offender Bill Cosby.
    • Jan 16, 2017
  • C.F. Roberts: A Decade in the Margins

    It is with great pleasure that I am able to pass along the following information about my friend C.F. Roberts’s upcoming art show.
    • Jan 14, 2017
  • Washington County Judge Joseph Wood: The Runner Stumbles

    Getting of experienced county personnel and replacing them with what seem to be party hacks may be a sign that Washington County, which has not been running smoothly for some time, is in for an even rougher 2017.
    • Jan 11, 2017
  • More »

Most Shared

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be deputy White House press secretary

    Donald Trump announced additional White House staff today, notably including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation