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 `

rsdrake@cox.net

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