Friday, March 11, 2005

Minority Report

Ever wonder why minorities insist on yammering on about how oppressed they are? There are a lot of answers to that question, but one of the most significant is that if minorities don't speak up for themselves they get used in ways that are exploitive and hurtful.

Case in point, have you heard about the Portland couple whose wedding photograph was taken without permission or payment from the Portland Tribune's archives to be used in an anti-AARP ad? The newspaper snapped a photo of Rick Raymen and Steven Hansen's on the day that they exchanged vows in Portland, OR. A consluting firm working for the conservative group USA-next used the photo in an attack ad against the AARP. They placed the picture with a green check mark over it, next to a troops photo with an X through it along with a note about AARP's "real agenda." The Portland Tribune story is here.

Okay, imagine a photo from your wedding one day shows up on the internet in an ad sponsored by a group that seeks to limit your freedom or at least use your struggle as a weapon against you. And the argument for using the photo without permission and without even paying the Tribune for it (also known as stealing in some parts of the world) is that they thought the consulting firm they hired to use your wedding photo to promote a political agenda that actually is damaging to you was pursuing their purposes legally.

Oh, and what does one do when they get caught toying mindlessly with the rights of minorities? Well, one prime strategy is to blame the victim. It was argued by the defendents that no one would even know about the picture if the couple had not made such a big deal about their wedding. Those uppity fags (or insert other deragatory racial or cultural slur of choice)! This quote from Steve Duin at the Oregonian (full article here.)

...Asked if his clients should have been a little more guarded about their privacy when they posed for the cameras last March, Wolf said, "There's a big difference between allowing your photograph to be taken on your wedding day and having that photo perverted into a homophobic political weapon.

"It really shocks me what they (USA Next) did here," Wolf continued. "If they wanted to make this point, they could have hired some models to pose as a gay couple getting married. Instead, they took two private citizens who value their privacy and inserted them into a really ugly political campaign."

Though it remains to be seen what the result in this case will be, according to John Avarosis, who is working on behalf of the couple:

In Washington, DC today, US District Judge Reggie Walton (an appointee of President Bush (41)) granted the gay couple’s request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against USA Next. The TRO requires USA Next to cease and desist from further use of the couple's photos for any purpose. This is a big deal because it means the judge has found that the guys have reasonable likelihood of winning their case, and he also said he could see how they could get damages.

The attorney for USA Next did not promise that the photograph would not continue to be used in ads. How is that for respecting the law? (Full article here)

So, you see, when you hear me sound alarmist or dismayed, maybe even annoyingly persistent about discussing this issue, maybe it will be easier to understand why. And I put these kinds of things here so you can be aware of the political landscape as well. You never know when you might find yourself in a minority someday.


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