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No Place for Fat Free Lard!
Common Sense

The August 1st Boston Globe reported that Abraham Foxman (national director of the ADL), said that it would be quote – bigoted – end quote for Watertown to rescind its involvement with No Place For Hate simply because the ADL refuses to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Foxman’s assertion is so asinine that even long-time ADL supporters like B.U professor Dr. Michael Siegel are scratching their heads in disbelief.

Quite simply, Foxman and the ADL consider themselves the presumptive prelates of pluralism, endowed with the sole power to arbitrarily define the term bigotry. If you agree with their position, you are the incarnation of tolerance. If you do not, you are the manifestation of hatred and bigotry.

In reality, these self-anointed demi-gods of diversity are saying: their definition of tolerance will not tolerate any intolerance towards their views about tolerance. And if you don’t tolerate their definition of tolerance, than you must be an intolerant bigot.

Huh? A college full of the foremost philosophical minds couldn’t decipher that position.

Let me simplify it. Or dare I say, put it in more ‘tolerable’ terms. The ADL’s notion of tolerance makes as much sense as fat free lard!

Clearly, Foxman’s hypocrisy provides sufficient and just cause for Watertown to end this ill-fated fling with the ADL. We can’t knowingly keep sleeping with genocide deniers and still respect ourselves in the morning. Let’s just say the No Place For Hate committee unwittingly set us up on a really bad blind date. It’s time get over it and move on; lest we find ourselves married to this “Bridezilla”!

There are however, some equally important issues at stake that can’t be forgotten in the righteous furor over Foxman’s foibles. Not the least of which is: any municipal involvement in a program, that arbitrarily defines terms, will result in marginalizing those who disagree with the program’s definitions.

Bloggers and pundits have commented that the No Place For Hate controversy originated because one man wants the freedom to hate gays.

I strongly disagree with that premise. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume it’s the case. Isn’t that the price we pay for Democracy? No one needs a municipally sanctioned inquisition to condemn a man’s views? If anybody thinks this guy is a bigot they have every right to call to him one. Just like this guy has every right to his views, whatever they may be. Period. End of controversy. Exclamation!

The real debate revolves around the definition of terms and just as important, who gets to define them.

Let’s look at the related portion of the “No Place For Hate” proclamation and you’ll see what I’m driving at.

“Whereas, all acts of subtle and overt…homophobia…substantially undermine …the promise of equal justice.”

Ok, that sounds good. But what does it mean? Who gets to define homophobia?

Does it simply mean we are not going to tolerate denying homosexuals their legitimate rights as citizens of the United States? If that’s the case, I see no problem with that language; other than it’s superfluous. We already have State and Federal Constitutions that protect everyone’s rights. The Town Council doesn’t need to waste its time restating the obvious.

On the other hand, many world religions, have historically professed that homosexual acts are contrary to their teachings on sexual morality.

Are we going to include religious teachings in the definition of homophobia? Some would advocate exactly that course of action. And if No Place For Hate ascribes to that definition, then the Town Council unanimously (even if unintentionally) condemned the religious convictions of many constituents. Not to mention: Municipal participation in any such program arguably violates the free practice of religious expression.

But this debate transcends beliefs about human sexuality. Any number of controversial opinions, religious convictions, and statements can fit someone’s definition of hatred, bigotry or ant-Semitism. Even my editor (Chris Helms) questioned the use of the phrase “fat free lard”. He feared some might construe any reference to pork as anti-Semitic. Actually, the connection to pork never crossed my mind, until he mentioned it. I was simply thinking of lard and fat as one and the same. Hence, my point is the ADL’s position, like fat free lard, is nonsensical.

This ‘high-caloric’ exchange about pork, fat, and lard actually provides a not so lean illustration of my point. Just about anything you say can be interpreted by someone as hate. I suppose soon it will considered hate speech to ask: “Where’s the beef?” in the presence of vegetarians!

Putting my sarcasm, hyperbole, and headache-inducing wordplay aside, let’s look at what is really at issue.

At the core of this controversy, is whether or not municipal participation in No Place For Hate encroaches on our civil liberties. So long as any program raises such serious questions, the Town has no business sanctioning it; let alone providing said program with taxpayer resources.

History teaches us that the road to tyranny is often traveled one step at a time. What seems like an innocuous proclamation or a feel good measure, can soon lead to restrictions on what we can believe and publicly profess.

John DiMascio

Communications Director
Watertown Citizens for Common Sense Government

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