A reader writes:
I thought I'd write you concerning the Prop 8 maps you've been discussing over the last couple of days. I think if you were out here in California instead of on the East Coast you would determine that it is NOT a good idea at this time. I say this as a progressive who voted against Prop 8 who happens to be Roman-Catholic, so I hear A LOT from both sides of the argument.
Things out here, especially on the Anti-8 side are highly charged. While the initial flurry of vandalism has died down, the tension has not. Rhetoric still remains very hot on both sides as if it's Nov 3rd. The tension which democratic elections are supposed to release has not been resolved in this case. As a matter of fact it has radicalized the gay rights movement out here to a degree that is alienating mainstream people.
While I have no statistics to back this up, my guess would be that if Prop 8 were to come up on the ballot today in a special election format, I think it would lose again and this time in an even worse fashion than it lost in November. Things like the Prop 8 map do not help. Yes the information is publicly available, and legal, and I wouldn't legally prevent anyone from doing it. The question is, is whether or not this is a good idea?
Right now public opinion on this issue is in a dramatic state of flux, but it would really only take one ugly incident from one side or the other to shift it in a radical way how this issue is handled in this state for the next decade. The map only helps that ugly incident to occur in a way that does not help those who want gay rights to be strengthened. As a matter of fact if I were a Pro 8 person, the quickest and dirtiest way to further my cause would be to take that map and vandalize some Pro 8 homes and blame it on the other side.
As you noted in your posting commenting about the George Will column, democratic legitimacy is a far more impressive mandate than judicial fiat. The same argument holds here. Prop 8 by all rights was a legitimate election process. I hated the outcome, but for now it's legitimate. The proper response to a rebuke from the electorate is to analyze why we were so wrong. Why did that person's aunt who invited them over for dinner as a homosexual couple then give money to Prop 8? Why was there this seemingly silent but determined movement of people for Prop 8?
These are questions no one is asking, as a matter of fact very few people are even actually reasoning about this issue at all, everyones trying to 'gut' their way through it. In such an environment where feeling is outweighing thinking there is little other purpose for such a map at THIS TIME other than targeting and cornering, and likely hardening opposition. If there was a new referendum on the ballot than perhaps such information can positively be used, but right now I cannot think of a benefit to this information that could possibly outweigh the potential risks.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.