Please come to Baltimore!


A musical invitation: In this morning’s New York Times, it’s bombs away—again.

In New Hampshire, the state legislature may repeal the 2009 law which lets gays and lesbians marry. This has inspired Andrew Rosenthal to toss his B-bombs around. In the hard-copy Times, these are the headlines which appear above today’s editorial:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (2/29/12): The Challenge to Marriage Equality

Driven by bigotry, New Hampshire is poised to take a giant leap backward
In one way, these headlines represent an advance. The New York Times typically restricts its use of R- and B-bombs to actions taken by southern whites. In this case, the board is accusing a northern legislature of being “driven by bigotry” too!

Is everyone opposed to marriage equality in New Hampshire “driven by bigotry?” That’s a perfectly decent question—but in the editorial itself, the Times doesn’t bother itself with such trifles. At the Times, B-bombs are thrown so routinely that the editors don’t feel the need to explain their use of this term. Though the editorial does say that the opponents of the New Hampshire law are “right-wingers.”

Are they all "right-wingers?"

Is that an appropriate use of the B-bomb? In our view, our tribe has used its B- and R-bombs so promiscuously for so long that the terms no longer have much meaning. But since Andrew Rosenthal has a different view, we’re extending an invitation:

Please come to Baltimore! No really! Come on down!

As the Times editorial notes, marriage equality is about to become law here in Maryland. But uh-oh! Here in Maryland, opposition to the bill has often come from the state’s black clergy. This front-page report in last Friday’s Washington Post was the latest report about this situation, which you won't likely see discussed on the Maddow Show.

For ourselves, we wish the ministers felt differently. But are we prepared to call them bigots? Are you, after reading that report?

Plainly, Andrew Rosenthal is! Hence, our invitation:

Andrew Rosenthal, please come to Baltimore! We’ll take you to our local supermarket. You can set up a little stand on the sidewalk and drop your B-bombs on black Baltimoreans as they enter the store! We’re sure that Rosenthal, in his great fury, is eager to spread his judgments around. He wouldn’t want to drop his bombs on New Hampshire “right-wingers” while ignoring the Democrats who feel the same way down here!

In this recent post, Kevin Drum said this about our view on the use of the B-bomb: “Bob thinks it's counterproductive to throw around charges of bigotry too casually, and I suppose I agree.” We do think this can be counterproductive. But that isn’t necessarily our main objection to the casual use of this term.

The promiscuous use of B- and R-bombs often strikes us as being rather shaky on the merits. It strikes us as being disrespectful of the history in which real bigotry has been involved—including real bigotry aimed at gays and lesbians. Most unattractively, loudmouths like Rosenthal tend to drop their bombs on tribal foes, while ignoring similar conduct from those within their own tribe.

This is stupid, ugly conduct, but it’s found all over our tribe. It’s amazing how often we liberals will castigate southern whites in the most aggressive ways for holding views which may be widely held within parts of our own coalitions.

We love to drop bombs on southern whites (and on northern “right-wingers.”) We often seem to be too dumb to know that many people within our own tribe may hold the same darn views.

Hence our invitation! Please come to Baltimore, and bring the whole board. We know a supermarket where you rubes can drop your bombs all around.

If we might express ourselves musically: To the tune of “Please Come to Boston:”

Please come to Baltimore for the spring time.
There’s a Motel 6 on the Beltway,
They've got lots of rooms.
You can sell your judgments on the sidewalk
By a cut-rate supermarket where we’ll be shoppin’ soon...

Rosenthal loves to drop his bombs. But only on the other tribe! And only when they’re not present!


  1. Actually I have seen a fair amount of criticism of black opposition to gay marriage so no, I don't think it's like something that's being blithely ignored.

    1. Black people are NOT the ones stopping same-sex marriage. Black legislators and residents in DC, in New York, in Connecticut, etc., are NOT the ones agitating and denying marriage equality. Not a single black legislator in New York State voted against same-sex marriage, and several were champions.

  2. But ask yourself, do the "black clergy" represent the majority of the black population in Maryland? Are most black Marylanders agitating against same-sex marriage? I ask because Maryland has one of the highest percentages of black residents of any state in the United States. It's nearly 1/3rd black. It also was a former slave state, and also historically has had a sizable Roman Catholic population.

    Aren't the Roman Catholic clergy in Maryland also against same-sex marriage? Why don't you point that out? Yet most Roman Catholics in Maryland (as in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, California, etc., all states with or that have had same-sex marriage and large Catholic populations) are probably not against same-sex marriage.

    Washington, DC has a majority of black residents. There were many black clergy members there against same-sex marriage, but the majority of the black population was not. Have black residents tried to repeal same-sex marriage? NO. Have they dumped millions of dollars into pushes to repeal it, like the Roman Catholic and Mormon churches. NO. Do you not think that bigotry is a primary motivator against same-sex marriage?

    Don't slag off on black people because the black clergy, like white Roman Catholic bishops, arrogate to themselves the right to speak for the majority. THEY DON'T!

    1. Did Bob Somerby "slag off on black people?"

      No, he didn't.

      [end transmission]

  3. Surely this post isn't suggesting that members of the Southern black clergy are incapable of expressing bigoted views. I understand that the use of the term "racist" by media figures is often unmerited (as Bob often illustrates in his "R-bomb" posts), but bigotry is pretty clearly defined:

    (From Merriam-Webster) bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

    Maybe Bob has something else in mind when he writes about "real bigotry," but we should all be able to agree that opposition to same-sex marriage is based on intolerance toward a specific group by people obstinately devoted to their own opinions and prejudices.

    It strikes me that if black clergymen in Baltimore are trying to deny a fundamental right enjoyed by heterosexuals throughout the world to people of another group (i.e. - homosexuals and lesbians), then they ARE engaging in bigotry. The notion that people should not call them out on it out of deference to the bigotry African Americans and others historically suffered (and continue to endure) is ridiculous.

    1. Thank you. Took the words right out of my mouth.

  4. As far as I can see, gay marriage is working OK in states where it's legal. I don't have a problem with it.

    However, IMHO it should be recalled that gay marriage is a very radical idea. As far as I know, throughout all of human history, among all cultures, all races, all religions, and all forms of government, marriage has always been heterosexual. It freaks me out to see the word "bigot" so casually applied to people just because they oppose such a radical change.

    1. When you say that marriage has always been heterosexual as far as you know, that shows how little you know. There have been many cultures, times, races, religions that had sanctioned same-sex unions. Google is your friend in this respect. Also, multiple marriage has been sanctioned at various times and places throughout history. You might even have heard something about this in your Bible.

    2. Anon -- Your point about multiple marriages doesn't contradict what I wrote. Historically, multiple marriages were heterosexual ones.

      It's true that there's some history for same-sex unions, but little or none for same-sex marriages. Historically, those (relatively few) societies that formalized gay relationships considerered those relationships to be something distinct from the relationship of marriage.

      California law has long since permitted a formalized same-sex relationship, namely Domestic Partnership. Domestic partners have most of the same rights as married couples. And, domestic partners don't get hit with the marriage penalty on their income tax, as married couples do.

    3. Thank you so much for not having a problem with the decision we made in my state. Ever so tolerant and big-hearted of you.

    4. As far as I know, throughout all of human history, among all cultures, all races, all religions, and all forms of government, marriage has always been heterosexual.

      It's true that there's some history for same-sex unions, but little or none for same-sex marriages. Historically, those (relatively few) societies that formalized gay relationships considerered those relationships to be something distinct from the relationship of marriage.

      Backing away from your prior absolutist statement when you're called on it, I see. For examples of formalized same-sex marriages, one can, but need look no further than the early Roman Empire, which only outlawed such unions after converting to Christianity. Would there have been a reason to outlaw something that no one was doing?

      Some Native American cultures, ancient Chinese cultures, and African cultures had marriages between same-sex partners that were indistinguishable from those for opposite-sex partners. They were often undertaken for dynastic purposes, but so also were heterosexual marriages. Outside arrangements were made for procreation in these unions.

      I bring up the multiple marriages in the Bible to show that customs change over time. We don't allow men in our culture to own multiple wives and slaves. If you're taking history as your guide of what should be acceptable today, I think you should be advocating for the return of chattel slavery and multiple marriage. But since you're not, I can only assume you're making distinctions without a principled difference.

  5. Excellent post . It would have been a little funny but for the amazing blind-spot , which was once known as chauvinism . A practice that is as solemn as church mice with known feline ecclesiastics .

  6. Bob,

    More than happy to hang out in front of the Save a Lot on McMeekin and call all manner of folks bigots, because they are homophobes of the first degree. The creepy misogyny and homophobia of the pastors who were fighting against marriage equality in MD is an open secret.

    I'll call those folks out. Let's set a date.

  7. If I am not mistaken, the position of the current president is that marriage is for heterosexuals, not gays.

    Is the president a bigot on the question of gay marriage? Why or why not?

    1. Yes, actually, he has been. Any more questions I can answer for you?

      Happily, Obama seems to be on a path to seeing the error of his ways on this subject, but we'll see.

    2. A path that will be greased, no doubt, by poll numbers. Obama the (gradually becoming) enlightened.

  8. These comments make Bob's point. When you throw these name-calling bombs, you get more heat than light.

  9. A great example of northern white bigotry was the infamous Jason Whitlock defense of Don Imus for the crack about the Rutgers Women's Basketball team.
    Whitlock accused Revs Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson of trying to censor Don Imus, when what they asked for was for Blacks to boycott Imus' sponsors.

    Whitlock said the two Reverends should be censoring rappers for their racist language, seemingly unaware that they had condemned some record companies for just that.

    White liberals were overjoyed that the hypocritical "racists" Sharpton and Jackson were called out by a Black journalist. KC Star 4/11/07

  10. Bob is right: the Times has a responsibility to let bigots and racists blather and bustle without fear of being criticized. We'll be dragged back into the 19th century, but at least we won't be tribalist.

  11. from the merriam-webster online dictionary:

    ": a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance"

    so yes, i'd have to say those black ministers in MD are, well, bigots, with respect to gay marriage. their insistence that their's is the only correct position on the subject renders them so.

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