I’ve been seeing this video going around from The Daily Show, and while it’s very funny and I like most of their stuff, I can’t say I really get what they’re trying to say here.
So basically they get a couple of men to roam around Mississippi and Alabama—which are rightfully considered the last two states in the country that will ever legalize gay marriage on their own—and found that people were nice to them, even though they did stuff like hold hands, kiss, and even have obnoxious public proposals. People ignored them or even applauded them. The idea, I guess, was to show that stereotypes about homophobic Southerners weren’t fair. Actually, I don’t guess—that’s basically what they say.
Problem is that makes no kind of sense. If Mississippi and Alabama are bastions of pro-gay sentiment, then, uh, they’d legalize same-sex marriage already. They bring Nate Silver on to make that exact point, and you know, he’s 100% right. Indeed, there’s a brief and rightful mockery of the emphasis of anecdote over statistical data….and then they go on to use anecdote to make the “Southerners aren’t homophobes!” point.
The weirdest part is all they ended up proving, at best, is that people is Mississippi and Alabama are polite. Or even just that they don’t want to start shit for no reason. Just because someone is a bigot doesn’t mean they’re on fire about it all the time, particularly if they have to deal with someone face-to-face. There are plenty of men out there who hate women with a burning passion, as the internet has amply demonstrated, but by their own Reddit confessions, they tend to keep a lid on it in public instead of screaming “CUNT!” at every woman who walks by. Racists tend to keep their lip buttoned when dealing with people of color, so much so that a lot of people end up getting a little anxious trying to figure out if the asshole is just an asshole or a racist asshole. Every liberal man or liberal white person has experienced that situation where they’re around someone bigoted who feels free to let loose with sexist or racist opinions because the people they are opining on aren’t in the room. There’s no reason to think that homophobes would be any different.
There’s a percentage of Southerners who are liberal and pro-gay and I’m sure these guys encountered them, don’t get me wrong. But I’ll bet dollars to donuts that many to most of the people who weren’t evil to them to their faces still have piss-poor opinions about gay people and oppose marriage equality. If the Daily Show is trying to argue that opposition to gay marriage is the result of something other than bigotry, then yeah, no.
Or maybe the whole point of the skit was that anecdote-based journalism is no good, and they just did such a great job of emulating anecdote-over-data style journalism that I got confused. If so, I’m not the only one because all the reporting has focused on this as a piece that somehow “disproves” what the statistics actually prove, which is that homophobia is much more concentrated in the deep South.
I’m insulted, honestly. No one said all Southerners were bigots, nor has anyone suggested that every time a gay couple goes out in these places they get bashed. That’s not how bigotry works. “We mostly let people go about their business without beating them up” isn’t really good enough to disprove the allegations of widespread bigotry. You have to, uh, also support people’s basic right to equality.
Maybe I’m missing something. Commenters?