The Southern Poverty Law Center has officially designated the Family Research Council a hate group. The SPLC defines hate groups as having “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”
The Family Research Council’s views on gay rights accurately fit that description. Something about the SPLC’s move smacks of a PR stunt, more about politics than policy. But it is technically accurate.
Of course, people should be free to dislike other people for any reason they wish — even if those reasons border on bigotry, as they do with FRC. Bigotry and homophobia are wrong, but they shouldn’t be crimes; freedom of thought and all that.
But an organization that wants to use the power of the state to enforce its moral views deserves universal opprobrium. Morality is an individual issue. Not a government one. That FRC is so eager to use the cudgel of government to make people abide by their views is troubling. And not just because I don’t share those views.
This whole controversy highlights the fundamental contradiction at the heart of conservatism, which I don’t think gets nearly enough attention. Many conservatives hold fairly free-market economic views. They don’t think government can do a good job running the economy. Yet they assume that the same government that can’t deliver the mail on time is somehow able to achieve their overarching vision of a more moral society.
Not the most internally consistent philosophy.
If you’re gay, you can’t donate blood. It’s illegal. The ban was put in place in 1983, during the early days of the HIV/AIDS scare. It may have made some sense in those days, when HIV testing was less than trustworthy. But it sure doesn’t now, with modern screening technology.
Obviously, keeping HIV-positive blood out of circulation is a wise policy goal. But most gay people don’t have HIV/AIDS. Rather than screening donors for sexual preference, they should be screened for blood-borne diseases. Straight people already are. And it works quite well. Current policies are keeping healthy, willing donors out of the system.
The outdated ban could soon be coming to an end. Sen. John Kerry and 15 of his colleagues, usually more prone to passing regulations than repealing them, are urging the FDA to repeal this one. You can read their letter here.
The one disconcerting thing about the letter is that every single one of the signees is Democratic. Not one Republican joined in. That could be because Sen. Kerry and the others deliberately excluded them for political reasons. But the GOP is famously behind the curve on gay rights issues. So maybe Republicans were asked, and said no. I don’t know.
Republicans should send their own letter supporting Sen. Kerry’s position. Enlarging the pool of eligible blood donors is an unabashed good. It’s a classic gay rights issue. It’s also a health issue. Blood would be more readily available for patients who need it. Economists would add that increasing the supply of blood will lower its price – a good thing in this age of rapidly rising health care costs.
Posted in Economics, Health Care, Political Animals, Regulation of the Day
Tagged aids, blood donors, democrats, donating blood, fda, gay, gay rights, Health Care, hiv, hiv/aids, John Kerry, kerry, republicans, senate, Senator John Kerry