The Daily Agenda for Saturday, June 22

Jim Burroway

June 22nd, 2013

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Augusta, GA; Berlin, Germany; Biarritz, France; Chicago, IL; Columbia, SC (Black Pride); Columbus, OH; Durango, CO; Essex, UK; Fribourg, Switzerland; Gloucester, UK; Houston, TX; Knoxville, TN; Napa, CA; New Orleans, LA; Olympia, WA; Palermo, Italy; Regina, SK; Salisbury, NC; Santa Fe, NM; Skopje, Macedonia; Sofia, Bulgaria (Cancelled by authorities, citing security concerns); Wausau, WI (Cancelled by organizers, citing security concerns); Wilton Manors, FL.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Oakland, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Frameline Film Festival, San Francisco, CA.

Robert Hillsborough Murdered: 1977. A brutal murder thirty-six years ago in San Francisco has been largely forgotten today, but at the time it was credited as being the event that catalyzed the gay community and awoke the larger city to the growing violence against gay people. On the night of June 21, 1977, Robert Hillsborough, 33, and his friend, Jerry Taylor, 27, went out to a disco called The Whiz for a night of dancing, and sometime after midnight they stopped for a burger a few blocks from Robert’s apartment in the Mission District. When they left the burger joint, they were followed in their car by four young men, who attacked them when they parked their car at the sidewalk in front of Robert’s apartment.

Taylor was beaten, but he managed to escape and flee to a friend’s apartment. Robert wasn’t so lucky. He was beaten and stabbed 15 times by 19-year-old John Cordoba while yelling “Faggot! Faggot!” Some witnesses also reported that Cordoba yelled, “This one’s for Anita!” Neighbors were awakened by the commotion, and they rushed to Robert’s aid. But it was too late. Hillsborough died 45 minutes after the 12:45 a.m. attack at Missions Emergency Hospital. Cordoba and the three other assailants were arrested later that morning.

Hillsborough’s death struck a deep nerve in the gay community, which had sensed increasing violence in the wake of Anita Bryant’s anti-gay campaign in Miami which resulted in the defeat of a gay rights ordinance three weeks earlier (See Jun 7). “We live in a paranoid state,” said Harvey Milk, who was preparing his run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, “and the death of Robert is only the culmination of a lot of violence that’s been directed at us.” The tragic event, coupled with Bryant’s win, galvanized the gay community, and San Francisco’s Pride celebration just a few days later attracted a record-breaking 300,000 people. The parade became an impromptu memorial march with participants erecting a makeshift shrine at City Hall.

Cordoba was charged with a single count of murder, along with Thomas J. Spooner, 21. The other two passengers in the car were not charged. Charges were later dropped against Spooner, and Cordoba was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Jimmy Somerville: 1961. The Scottish pop singer had his moment in the sun in the 1980s as lead singer with the synth pop group Bronski Beat (those of us of a certain age might remember “Smalltown Boy”) and the Communards. After the Communards split in 1988, he embarked on an off-again on-again solo career. His most recent album, 2009’s Suddenly Last Summer, contained acoustic versions of songs from his iPod. In 2011 Somerville released a dance EP, Bright Thing.

Jai Rodriguez: 1979. He was the “culture vulture” for Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. He’s has also done some acting and some singing. In 2002, he created his own musical cabaret show, titled “Monday Night Twisted Cabaret,” which ran at New York gay club xl for a year. In 2005, he created and performed his own one night stage show, “Jai Rodriguez: xPosed,” which told the story of Rodriguez’s life and struggle to come out to his religious family. In 2012, he was a regular in the short-lived ABC sitcom, Malibu Country, starring Reba McEntire.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?


June 22nd, 2013

Does anyone have an opinion on this speech by Scalia yesterday? I am wondering if the decision has been made and he isn’t happy with the outcome, or he IS happy with the outcome.

“ASHEVILLE With a potentially ground-breaking decision on gay marriage expected next week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Friday morning that he and other judges should stop setting moral standards concerning homosexuality and other issues.


We aren’t qualified, Scalia said.

In a speech titled “Mullahs of the West: Judges as Moral Arbiters,” the outspoken and conservative jurist told the N.C. Bar Association that constitutional law is threatened by a growing belief in the “judge moralist.” In that role, judges are bestowed with special expertise to determine right and wrong in such matters as abortion, doctor-assisted suicide, the death penalty and same-sex marriage.”

Read more here:

Ben In Oakland

June 22nd, 2013

It sounds like Scalia is experiencing some sour grapes– delicious sour grapes.

My own thought: if there are indeed moral issues and legal issues to be decided, then we’re going to need a judge to tell us which are which. But it’s also quite a bit less than ingenuous. In theory, judges are not bringing their moral views into play, they are deciding the legal cases in front of them on their legal merits.

Priya Lynn

June 22nd, 2013

The law and morality are inextricably linked. You can’t decide on one without deciding on the other. There is no such thing as deciding on the law without setting moral standards.


June 22nd, 2013

Priya Lynn-

While I agree with you, I do have to ask, WHOSE morals do we use? That’s the problem I think he is trying to address, but I also have a feeling(call me crazy)that he is now expressing sour grapes over the decision that was made and waiting for release.

But it is a valid question, whose morality do we use? Fred Phellps? Scalia’s? Bill Clinton’s? Obama’s? Morality, where some may think it’s the same for everyone, is a personal thing. Yes, we have standards in our laws, but some people feel abortion is immoral, so do we use their moral code? Finding a common moral code in a pluralistic society is almost an impossibility.

But I do think we may have gotten something that HE is unhappy about. I hope that isn’t just wishful thinking.

Priya Lynn

June 22nd, 2013

Its up for debate. I suggest the essence of morality is “Do whatever you want but harm no one”.

Ben In Oakland

June 23rd, 2013

Robert, it’s an interesting question, one that ironically, Scalia is spectacularly unqualified to answer. He is perhaps, exceeded only by Thomas, one of the worst justices in my very long memory.

Scalia is an authoritarian disguised as a originalist, a radical disguised as a conservative, and a moralizing busybody not disguising either his authoritarianism nor his belief that Catholicism gives him a moral leg up on everyone else. My own belief is that he will always choose moral authoritarianism over actual principle, any day.

Bowers v. Hardwick was not a case that Scalia was a party to. Yet, Bowers was decided based upon the moral opprobrium attached to homosexuality. Basically, the majority decided that 500 years of legal oppression justified more of the same, all other constitutional issues be damned. And as sure as god made little penises, you can bet scalia supported the majority.

Lawrence v. Texas however, explicitly stated that this was not going to be decided on a moral basis, but on a legal basis. That was the majority decision, 5-4 and 6-3, with O’Connor recognizing that equal protection of the law was in fact at issue.

That Scalia wants to pretend that it is STILL a moral issue is because moral issues are what gets Scalia’s knickers into a thoroughly uncomfortable twist– note his support of Citizens United, which gave the lie to anything remotely approaching originalism– and just underlines that he only cares about moral issues when he isn’t the one that gets to decide what’s moral.

Very rarely do I find scalia on the right side of any issue, though he is, on occasion. He was in that shameful eminent domain case a few years ago, if I recall. But you know what they say about clocks stopped in the 16th century– they’re still right, twice a day.


June 23rd, 2013

I agree in part with Scalia: SCOTUS is not qualified to set moral standards. But he’s conflating morals and ethics. Morality is between a god and his/her followers. Ethics are between members of a society.

Moral codes are allowed to be arbitrary, are not required to be self-consistent, and may be immutable. These attributes are incompatible with modern law.

It is a judge’s duty to clarify the societal ethics when two (or more) differing moral codes conflict.

This wailing and gnashing is based on the extraction of Christian morality and sin from the law, where it has no place. We must be able to agree as a society on ethical behavior regardless of religion.

Priya Lynn

June 23rd, 2013

Argo morality and ethics are synonyms. No atheist would agree with you that morality doesn’t apply to them. Its quite arrogant for religious people to declare dominion over all.

Ben In Oakland

June 23rd, 2013

Priya, I’d disagree here, but then, I slogged through Max Weber 40 years ago.

Morality as often used is a set of rules. There need be no consistency, logic, or justification for them. Those are the rules. Birth control is a good example.

Ethics is a system of beliefs from which the rules are derived. Your statement “Do whatever you will so long as it harms no one” is a good ethical place to start from.

that being said, we often use the two words interchangeably.

Priya Lynn

June 23rd, 2013

Ben, even then by your definition the two are inextricably linked. Morality cannot be just an arbitrary set of rules otherwise one would say the rules for chess or checkers is a system or morality – no one would say that.

If you look up morality in the dictionary it says right or virtuous conduct. Look up virtuous and it says ethical or moral conduct – the words are used interchangeably. There is always an assumed consistency logic, and justification for morality and that is that behavior be good rather than bad or evil. Even if its questionable whether a religion’s or society’s stated morality is in reality good and not evil the presumption is that it is good and not evil.


June 23rd, 2013

I agree that not everyone considers this distinction between ethics and morals; in fact, that’s my point with Justice Scalia. But the concept of this distinction goes as far back as David Hume.

Let me rephrase my comment. Morality in this context is a recieved interpretation of what is and is not a sin. It brooks no authority higher than itself. (E.g., if eating shelfish is a sin, then it’s a sin. No further reason is needed than “God said so.” In fact, any other reason is post hoc rationalization.)

In contrast, ethics are guidelines reasoned from first principles on what constitutes just and unjust behavior. In a pluralistic society like ours, a judge has no place considering the religious concept of sin in determining law. Law must be founded on reason.

When we as a society allow multiple religions to coexist, there will be inevitable conflicts. It is the role of our judicial system to arbitrate impartially in exactly these situations.

Ben in Oakland

June 23rd, 2013

Argo, you said it better. Though I understand priya’s point. I’ll often use the word immoral, in the sense that someone is claiming something is right when it is so, so wrong.

Priya Lynn

June 24th, 2013

Most people don’t see the distinctions you do Argo, for most people the terms are interchangeable. The vast majority of people see sinning as doing something wrong, something evil. The vast majority of people believe that when god said it was a sin to eat shellfish he said so because it was not good, it was evil to eat shellfish, for whatever mysterious reason that only a god would know.

You can use morality in whatever context you want, just don’t expect anyone other than yourself to agree with you.

I have morals, I believe in morals, I hate immorality and it has nothing to do with any god(s).

Priya Lynn

June 24th, 2013

And David Hume hasn’t been granted any authority by anyone to decide what morality is. Just because he liked to conceptualize it that way does not mean anyone else sees it that way. For virtually the entire human race David Hume is just another nobody of no more importance than than the guy polishing shoes on the corner.

Timothy Kincaid

June 24th, 2013

The vast majority of people believe that when god said it was a sin to eat shellfish he said so because it was not good, it was evil to eat shellfish, for whatever mysterious reason that only a god would know.

The Christians whom I have ever known do not apply the received knowledge approach to sin. They believe that sin is something that God forbid not out of some arbitrary whim, but because it’s “not good for us”. For example, they would say that refrigeration issues made the eating of shellfish dangerous in ancient times (whether or not that is true, I’ve heard that explanation given).

Those who oppose homosexuality do not do so much “because God said so” but rather “God forbid it, knowing that it’s bad for you”. (You’ll notice that there is a LOT of emphasis in conservative Christian ranks on the ‘health risks’). It’s a bit of a subtle difference, but it is one that allows for doctrinal shifting on issues. And (to take up Argo’s distinction) it’s one that allows ethics to pressure presumed morality.

I’m not saying that all Christians have that perspective (and there may well be denominational differences) but that is what I’ve experienced.

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