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10/27/2011

San Francisco, valuable: Cold shoulder + warm American city = Reductive 'culture war' ease

by Jeremy Hooper

Of all the tools in the "pro-family" arsenal, the repeated shunning of a major American city, its people, and its values might be the most telling:

"Together, we can protect DOMA and block Senator Feinstein from imposing her San Francisco values on the entire nation, but only if we all do our part today."

-NOM president Brian Brown, via a newly issued action alert

"San Francisco values." We hear it all the time from the "culture war" crowd. If Rice-A-Roni is the official treat and Ghiradelli the most known chocolate, then accepting LGBT people is the designated point of attack for those self-appointed moral authoritarians who wish to undermine others' values.

But I say this geo-targeted nonsense is telling, because just think about the thought process that creates such a meme. First, there's the lumping of all of a city's 809,000 residents into one giant monolith, the sort of reduction so common to our opposition, Then there's the obvious choice of San Francisco itself, a selection that the gay rights foes clearly chose in order to scare "real Americans" with a town they've designated as a catch-all for that is wrong with the nation. Plus there's the deliberate use of the word "values," which fosters the idea that things like DOMA repeal are a direct threat to the self-designated "values voter." Put it all together and you have a polarizing phrase that shows just how far the other side is willing to go with the "us vs. them" mentality, even if it means fostering the notion that "true values" would better succeed if the City by the Bay would secede.

In this case, at least the silliness involves someone actually from the Bay Area -- but it doesn't have to. If you support the "radical" notion that LGBT people are part of our spectrum of normalcy, then you too are a San Francisco resident. So put some flowers in your hair and enjoy the mild climate: We have a valued American home to defend!

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