Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Anti-HERO ads roll out "filthy" and "disgusting"

Here we go.

"No men in women's bathrooms," the incendiary and misleading ad begins. "This ordinance will allow men to freely go into women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and showers. That is filthy, that is disgusting, and that is unsafe," the woman, falsely, says in the ad. She also claims to speak for "all moms, sisters, and daughters," which is false.

The group sponsoring the ad is called the Campaign For Houston, and it's headed by Jared Woodfill, a 47-year old attorney and former chairman of the Republican Party of Harris County, Texas.

That's a awful lot of lies and fear to combat.

It falsely claims HERO "limits free speech and religious expression in unprecedented ways," "gives new special privileges to two special interests, neither of which qualify as true 'minorities' requiring special legal protection," and calls HERO's "naming of these groups ... a ruse in an attempt to hide the ordinance’s real purpose, which is to make 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identification' two new protected classes." It also falsely claims sexual orientation and gender identification "are defined by their behaviors -- not by characteristics given to them at birth.

Calling the ad "not subtle," ThinkProgress' Zack Ford offers a few observations:

Gender identity, as protected by HERO, is not something that can be flipflopped every day, and moreover, predatory behavior is still illegal. If HERO fails to pass, it will actually force many men into women’s restrooms, the very outcome they claim to oppose.

Houston Unites calls the ad "vulgar and grossly misleading."

"Nothing in the equal rights ordinance changes the fact that it is -- and always will be -- illegal to enter a restroom to harm or harass other people," the group told the Houston Chronicle. "And the ad leaves out the fact that the law protects tens of thousands of Houstonians from job discrimination based their race, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability."

Good rationales, but I'm concerned there aren't enough smart people in Houston to overcome a tidal wave of ignorance motivated by their God-given phobias.  You can listen to the ad if you can tolerate it at the link, but it's also coming to a radio near you.  Turning it off, changing the station, and otherwise generally ignoring the widespread panic from your conservative acquaintances misses the point: the weaponized paranoia is going to hit its intended target.  And the social Neanderthals are going to turn out in record numbers to vote against it.

Maybe a few more signatures on that petition to the NFL to pull the 2017 Super Bowl out of Houston might get the attention of the pro-business, pro-tolerance Republicans, but I hope Mayor Parker and her group have some strong counter-efforts ready to go soon.

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