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11/28/2011

Major League Bias: Far-right America's favorite pastime

by Jeremy Hooper

To most rational, reasoned Americans, Major League Baseball's decision to add sexual orientation to its employment agreement's nondiscrimination classifications constitutes little more than acknowledgement of a need to treat all people fairly, regardless of who they love. But to Peter "I'd prefer to export Peter-Sprigggays from the United States" Sprigg, the Family Research Council's senior fellow for policy studies, MLB's support for basic fairness is a full-blown grenade in an ongoing "culture war":

In the larger picture, the homosexual activists are trying to have their ideology become dominant not only in the most liberal segments of society, like academia, but in the most conservative institutions, such as the military, the church, and now in sports,” [Sprigg] said. “Liberals attack conservatives for the idea of legislating morality, but this is exactly what’s happening when one of these codes is adopted. It’s saying that anyone who disapproves of homosexual conduct, for whatever reason, is a bigot and we are taking a moral stance against that.

“This is not a neutral act. It’s taking sides in the culture war.

MLB Passes Sexual-Orientation Discrimination Ban [Focus on the Family Citizenlink]

This is the kind of story and quote block that shows you why, exactly, the far-right has been crafting the "culture war" framework for the past few decades. By branding it as a "war," they've created the illusion of two sides fighting to achieve their respective goals. Worse yet: They've duped us all into using the phrasing, out of consistency and ease, if nothing else. That was all part of their strategic thinking. Knowing full well that America is a place that always rejects discrimination eventually, the social conservatives knew they had to do whatever they could to mask the one-sided war that they were/are waging against certain rights and protections. Waging against certain lives and loves.

So here we have an all-American institution catching up with the times and committing itself to a more equal recognition of our world as it truly exists. It's a recognition that is of benefit to everyone who has a sexual orientation (i.e. all of us) and of detriment to none. In a world without an engaged troop of self-appointed "culture warriors," MLB's move would be as benign as dry toast. But here in our contrived, "warring" world, folks like Sprigg rush in to spin the MLB decision as some sort of militarized act against their "side." Since Sprigg and his ilk have so dutifully stayed on message for so long, the FRC senior fellow doesn't have to work overtime pushing his "culture war" talking points. Rather than call this MLB employment decision what it is (a move to remedy unfairness), Sprigg can resort to his "culture war" shorthand and get mileage (and cable TV bookings) out of it. He can frame this as an oppositional chess move -- one he and his fellows must resist, so as not to lose ground.

The obvious truth: That Peter "Yes, I'd support criminal sanctions against gay 'behavior'" Sprigg deserves to lose ground. Because there is no "culture war": There is only life. And in this life, there are LGBT people. That some people want to deny these LGBT people of their rights, protections, and basic humanity doesn't give their fight any more merit. Their willingness to feed the "culture war" talking point machine doesn't give them the moral high ground. We all play on this same field, and we are all bound by the same laws. Treating certain citizens unfairly on the basis of who they are is patently wrong, plainly unAmerican, and unduly dangerous.

Oh, and framing that desire to treat people unfairly as some sort of "culture war" so as to take onus off of your own discriminatory goals? Well that's just plain spineless.

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