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05/21/2007

Barber: But that's not the way I see it!

by Jeremy Hooper

If you're a regular G-A-Y reader, you surely have learned a few things about the "pro-family" movement:

*They stay on message in a way so freakishly uncompromising, you seriously begin to question if they are even still capable of independent thought

*They enjoy using and misusing terms such as "militant," "agenda," and "protect"

*They know that framing a certain policy or issue as if it affects children is a very effective method of rallying their troops

*They think imagery of American flags and wholesome, smiling families of four can make even the most discriminatory of messages look wholesome

*A reasoned assessment of multiple viewpoints is like Kryptonite to these kids

 Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images Img4297E7C83Ba21 1-1-1-1Now, we don't have the time or space to go into all of the above, so you'll have to keep reading for that. However, for a shining example of the last one, we will now turn to the Concerned Women For America's Matt Barber, who is lashing out against Starbucks for their "The Way I See It" campaign of personal viewpoint expression.

For those not familiar with campaign, well, you need to start drinking more pricey caffeinated beverages. But if you can't or won't, let us explain it to you: Basically, most Starbucks cups now feature a quote from a prominent or semi-prominent public figure, wherein said person expresses an idea or belief personal to their own life (thus the "I see it" part of the campaign's name). Some of the views are religious, some are secular, some are silly, some are sad, some are deep, and some are just plain bad. The java containers run the gamut.

Well, the evangelicals went crazy back in 2005 because of a quote from Armistead Maupin, in which the queer author -- and you better sit down for this one -- had the nerve to express happiness about being gay. At the time, the "pro-family" community was putting out scores of missives decrying the quote, and some Christian colleges even had the cups pulled from their S-bucks locations. It was truly one of the most unhinged, least rational bits of anti-gay antipathy that we have ever seen.

Well now, two years later and the movement none the less reactionary, folks like the aforementioned Matt Barber are again gunnin' for the"controversial" java receptacles. Except not only are they accusing the chain of being pro-gay, they are now accusing them of being anti-God. And in Barber's latest CWA piece, he points to the following as the quotes that are really steaming and frothing his milk:

The Way I See It # 347 – “Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.” – Bill Schell, Starbucks customer from London, Ontario, Canada

The Way I See It # 230 – “Heaven is totally overrated. It seems boring. Clouds, listening to people play the harp. It should be somewhere you can’t wait to go, like a luxury hotel. Maybe blue skies and soft music were enough to keep people in line in the 17th century, but Heaven has to step it up a bit. They're basically getting by because they only have to be better than Hell” – Joel Stein, columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

The Way I See It # 43 – “My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it for so long. I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don’t make that mistake yourself. Life’s too d*mn short.” – Armistead Maupin, Homosexual Novelist

That last one if the Maupin quote that we told you about above. That middle one is from Joel Stein, who, if you're not familiar with his work, is an irreverent columnist who is known for pieces much like the quote above. The first is from a Starbucks customer who is expressing a personal view. And if you notice the numbers associated with the quotes, there are literally HUNDREDS of others out there. Ones like:

The Way I See It #250 -- In reality hell is not such an intention of God as it is an invention of man. God is love and people are precious. Authentic truth is not so much taught or learned as it is remembered. Somewhere in your pre-incarnate consciousness you were loved absolutely because you were. Loved absolutely, and in reality, you still are! Remember who you are! -- Bishop Carlton Pearson, author, speaker, spiritual leader and recording artist.

The Way I See It #205 -- Many people search blindly for the “meaning of life.” What they don’t seem to understand is that life does not have meaning through mere existence or acquisition or fun. The meaning of life is inherent in the connections we make to others through honor and obligation. -- Dr. Laura Schlessinger, international radio host and author.

Now in fairness, Bishop Pearson is pro-gay. However, his quote is God-based nonetheless. As for Dr. Laura -- well, if you don't know her gay rights legacy, then just ask any gay person in your midst. And then there are, as Barber fairly mentions in his piece, also ones from folks like Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren. Additionally, Starbucks has taken great strides to say the views do not necessarily represent the company. But again -- if one expresses gay happiness, a satirical take on heaven, or a questioning of the way we handled crises, the "pro-family" folks immediately jump to accusations of "hating God"!

It is truly disgusting (and scary)!

In the closing of his piece, Barber offers his own quote for consideration:

The Way I See It # ?? – “Why do so many in our fallen world revile God’s natural order when it comes to marriage, family and human sexuality? Why do we encourage wicked pride in a morally bankrupt, high-risk lifestyle that’s anything but “gay”? Why do we shake our fist with hate at perfect Love? Life is short – but it’s never too late for change.” – Matt Barber, Policy Director for Cultural Issues, Concerned Women for America

But see, this just fully exemplifies how folks like Barber just DON'T GET IT! In a partial search of over 150 of the cups in this campaign, we could not find ONE that comes even close to demonizing a sect of the population. However, Barber wants the company to print a quote that blatantly demonizes gay people! There is a huge difference between a viewpoint and a bit of cruel, discriminatory dogma. The former compliments our world and our soy lattes; the latter sullies both!

But that being said, not only would we have no problem with a less condemning quote from the likes of Barber, we would actually support it! Give every side a forum (within reason) and let the public decide who most represents "the way THEY THEMSELVES see it." One thing we can absolutely guarantee you: We're not gonna toss our White Choc. Mocha in the trash and protest the company because someone with whom we don't agree is expressing a benign, non-hateful message regarding their faith or politics. One, because White Choc. Mocha's are yummy and we don't want to waste it. But two, and most importantly -- because we are not threatened by diverse viewpoints!

In terms of open minded assessments, Mr. Barber: It's time you and your allies wake up and smell the...cola? Juice? Gatorade? Ah screw it.

The Way Starbucks Sees It [CWA]

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Your thoughts

Many right-wing groups are fond of quoting Edmund Burke, and the CWA is no exception with the appearance of Burke's most famous quote on their front page: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." "Good" and "evil" being flexible concepts depending on your point of view, naturally.

It doesn't take much searching to find other quotes from Burke such as:

"Politics and the pulpit are terms that have little agreement."

and

"Religious persecution may shield itself under the guise of a mistaken and over-zealous piety."

Posted by: John C | May 22, 2007 10:51:38 AM

If barber's quote is to be considered hateful, then so is #347. If #347 is merely a viewpoint, then so is barber's quote. They EQUALLY express the viewpoint of the author and EQUALLY demonize those that disagree with them. Please be fair and strive for equality in your reporting.

Posted by: Tim | May 29, 2007 9:56:51 AM

Are you kidding me, Tim? You honestly see no difference between:

The Way I See It # ?? – “Why do so many in our fallen world revile God’s natural order when it comes to marriage, family and human sexuality? Why do we encourage wicked pride in a morally bankrupt, high-risk lifestyle that’s anything but “gay”? Why do we shake our fist with hate at perfect Love? Life is short – but it’s never too late for change.” – Matt Barber, Policy Director for Cultural Issues, Concerned Women for America

The Way I See It # 347 – “Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.” – Bill Schell, Starbucks customer from London, Ontario, Canada

I would really like to know how #347 demonizes ANYONE!?

And you are the one being unfair, as this writer acknowledged in the piece that I would have NO PROBLEM with someone like Barber having his saying, just as long as he doesn't condemn a population sect. The key word is condemn, as in "morally bankrupt, high-risk lifestyle."

If Barber wanted to respond to #347, he could say:

The Way I See It # ??? – “In moments of crisis, people of faith ask God for strength and help because as cognitive beings, we believe he controls our destinies. We have strong convictions that He is not a figment of our imaginations, so we look to Him for guidance. Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? Because while we are strong, we are not strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes (or endure them alone).”

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 29, 2007 10:08:39 AM

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