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AlbertJayNock

Milk

I saw Milk this weekend. It is an OK movie, and Sean Penn's performance was certainly worth of at least an Oscar nomination.

The film opens with footage of gay bars being busted. Hidebound conservative though I am, it was hard to avoid wondering if the police didn't have anything better to do. These guys were just off by themselves, being gay  and not bothering anyone but other gay people. So there's no need to bother them.

A lot of the movie dealt with a ballot proposition by California State Senator John Griggs to ban homosexuals from teaching in California schools, and Harvey Milk's effort to fight the ballot. It was a tough fight, but Griggs made it easy for him by including "those who support homosexuals" among those who were to be fired. Sheesh.  Even the most strident right wingers (like me) would oppose this bill unless they were also strident control freaks. One of the strident right wingers who opposed the bill was then-governor Ronald Reagan.

There was one scene where my disagreement with Milk became deeper than just the standard left/right differences. He strongly criticized a brief against the proposition which said that it was bad because it was state intrusion into the private lives of individuals. His problem was that it said nothing about homosexuality.

So what? It was an excellent argument, one that emphasized that the issue was bigger than just homosexuality. It gave me the impression that he was more concerned with the interests of the gay community than he was with individual rights in general. I know that as a gay man he would naturally place more importance on the  specific concerns of gays than I would. But I wish he had realized that individual rights are of great importance, and ultimately benefit everyone, including gays.

This got me to thinking about the stock footage at the beginning of the movie of gay bars being busted. And how we have gone from that
to a situation where Neil Clark Warren is forced to accommodate gays who are looking for a partner, even though that goes against his moral beliefs. Or the wedding photographer who was sued because he didn't want to do a same-sex wedding. Maybe they are narrow-minded prudes. But that is their business. There are plenty of dating services and wedding photographers who do not have those views, so there is no need to force people to violate their consciences, even if you think their consciences are misinformed.

It is tempting to describe the above dichotomy as the pendulum swinging too far. But that's not really it. In both cases, peoples freedom is being curtailed, in my opinion unnecessarily. Allow people their lifestyles, however much you may disapprove, but don't force people to accommodate them, no matter how much you think they should. In other words, live and let live. That's not a bad way to run a society. 
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Good review. I'm especially fond of the paragraph you ended with.

Hey, I know quite a few self-described conservatives who are OK with gay people getting married. And even gay conservatives. Although the latter tend to get marginalized among left-leaning gay people...

He strongly criticized a brief against the proposition which said that it was bad because it was state intrusion into the private lives of individuals. His problem was that it said nothing about homosexuality.

You've hit the nail on the head regarding the difference between live-and-let-live politics and identity politics right there. I don't know if Milk actually said these things, but I wonder...did the filmmaker put that line in to make him look good? If they did, then I think I can guess the political views of the filmmaker.

And the eHarmony case irked me too. You're absolutely right that both the anti-gay conservatives and the pro-gay activists who want to tell people how to run their businesses are using the state to interfere in the lives of others.

One of the strident right wingers who opposed the bill was then-governor Ronald Reagan.

And lots of left-leaning gays tend to forget this...

Edited at 2009-03-17 01:10 am (UTC)