Several strippers from The Foxhole Gentleman’s Club have decided to fight back against a local church. Some highly motivated Sheep For Jesus took it upon themselves to enforce their own morality on Foxhole patrons. So they took up positions outside of the club and took pictures of the clientèle, their cars, and their license plate numbers and posted them online. It’s reported that some customers were even followed all the way back to their houses!
The first thing that strikes me about this is that it’s dangerously close to restraint of trade. I know it wouldn’t hold up in court, but the principle is damn close. (Recall that I’m not a big fan of boycotts, either.) Here is one group of people that has taken it upon themselves to close a business down because they don’t like the service it provides. It’s nothing short of an attempt to enforce their moral code on the business world — which is ultimately an attempt to make their religion synonymous with culture. Which is wrong.
The next thing that hit me after watching this video is that this is something we’re going to start seeing a lot more of. Not necessarily strippers, but people protesting churches that try to strong-arm their way to dictating morality. In the short run, I think it will increase tension and probably create more immediately apparent problems. But in the long run, history seems to bear out the belief that it will be a net gain for egalitarianism.
In nearly every instance of American History where an oppressed group fought for equality, it’s been the same. Rocking the boat initially caused more problems than it solved, but over the long run, the visibility of human injustice overcame the desire to keep the status quo.
We’re starting to see this in the news. I’ll illustrate with a personal anecdote. While I was driving through the bowels of the Deep South last week, I listened to an hour of a conservative talk radio show. The discussion was whether or not the judge who struck down Prop 8 should have recused himself because he’s gay.
One caller said the most intelligent thing I’ve ever heard come out of a Republican Redneck’s mouth.“Well, I ain’t gay… I mean… I don’t approve of that… um… lifestyle, you know… but you’re saying that this judge is biased because he’s gay. And maybe he is. But wouldn’t a straight judge be biased too? So the only judge that could be unbiased would be a eunuch, right?”
Smart stuff. And just a couple of years ago, he’d have probably been shouted down by any self-respecting conservative host in the country. But he wasn’t. The host agreed with him, and quickly changed the subject. It may not seem like much, but that’s a huge change in attitude, and I’ve seen it in other larger forums. CNN seems solidly behind gay marriage now, and even one or two FAUX News pundits have grudgingly hinted at equality under the constitution after it’s been repeatedly pointed out (on the internet and mainstream media) that the reasoning being used to discriminate against gays is the same as that used against women and blacks.
The point is that the tide has turned. It seems like gay marriage will be the next in a long (and grudging) line of equalities granted by the U.S. government. Sure, there will be lots of people who will hate it. But in twenty years, gay marriage bashers will be thought of the same way that racists and sexists are today. Yes, racism, sexism, and homophobia will still exist, but racism and sexism have been marginalized.
The same thing can happen for atheists. We just have to continue to be brave, to speak honestly about what it means to be an oppressed minority. We need to band together with other oppressed groups and send the message that we demand an America that talks the talk and walks the walk.