Number 317, May 1, 2005

"May Day! May Day!"

Not So Fast
by Alan R. Weiss
aweiss at austin dot rr dot com

Exclusive to TLE

I recently found myself defending the BSDM community in one of the libertarian movement/freedom movement forums I seem to enjoy. There was a great deal of discussion on whether or not "we" would be somehow "endorsing" bondage, sadism, domination, and/or masochism.

I suppose we already do endorse that by paying income taxes, but that's a different matter. Sort of.

The question was, are "we" going to be sullied by outreaching and marketing to people who like to engage in these activities?

Condemnaton comes fast and quick to some individuals, and some communities. Condemning that which you do not understand is a sure sign of limited intelligence, fear,—or, oddly enough, those with an agenda related to power, which I suppose substitutes in some for wisdom. Indeed, in this situation, ironically its about power, control, and competing for attention.

I don't claim to understand completely what BSDM is. But I do know that there is a vast spectrum of behaviors. This is true for other situations as well. For example, until I understood "the gun culture", I considered it to be wingnut country, racist, sexist, Klan-like, and pretty much a small dictionary of negative adjectives. Now I know better. I'm an enthusiastic member of the gun culture now, just as I am of a number of communities.

I used to be fearful of the Japanese (a very 80's thing to be). I then went to live and work in Japan for a bit—and learned to love a very interesting culture. Not all aspects of that culture are appealing to me, but by and large I understand it, and there is much to love. I suppose the same can be said about the culture of adoration for the Boston Red Sox, too.

I am welcomed into the lesian/gay/bisexual/transgender community for some of the work I've done—all because I took the time to learn, to understand, and to suspend judgement and condemnation.

The same is true about the LDS world (Mormons). I figured if my brother was going to marry a Mormon gal, I recognized the challenge to set aside all the media-induced and apocryphal effluvia. I am probably engaged or welcomed in a dozen "communities", or more. Spices of life.

The question of "active outreach" seems to be linked with publicity. It need not. But then again, we outreach to les/gay/bi/trans people, we outreach to the Hempies and victims of the Drugged War, to the Christian fundamentalists, the polyamorists, and all sorts of people with interesting, different affinities. I suppose its normal to want manage to publicity, so perhaps "Alternative Lifestyles" covers inflamed sensibilities somewhat. However, not many people will be fooled.

Every church has sinners. Every church has perverts in it. Shall we brand every church by the actions of the few? Do we allow that to happen, public relations-wise? No, we do not. Same here.

In the end, no one needs "permission" to outreach to various groups. They simply go do it. Having a formal title "Liason" is not necessary. Go. Do.

About titles .... we in the the liberty movement have been all too consumed with "titles", as if they invest one in any more influence or authority than simply being an Activist. It is a remnant of the past, of hierarchical organizations. When one of my staff wanted a "title" for his business card, I suggested "Supreme Allied Commander" (taking a cue from Tom Peters). He laughed. He got it.

In the end, I am entirely uncomfortable and disdainful of those who perform "instant judgements" and "bold condemnations", because I'm not enthusiastic about associating with either those of low intelligence, or those who plays these games for power reasons, or those so fearful of diversity and new experiences that they immediately render instant (negative) judgements. For those fearful of that which they know little about—well, that's human. But its also human to have a brain that reasons, that learns, and that ultimately can say, "hey, its not for me—but if you harm no one else, whatever."

About the Author: Alan R. Weiss is a married father of three individuals (two of whom are now in college), husband of over 21 years (sequentially with the same lovely woman), and the CEO of two companies (both of which take most of his time these days). A accomplished and engaging public speaker as well as rock musician, he is available for events such as business meetings, bar mitzvahs, bongathons, and blowing up preconceptions. He doesn't sleep much these days. He can be reached at: aweiss at austin dot rr dot com


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