So no, the right to be a dick is not at issue here. What's at issue, year after year, are two things.
First, whether the AWVC will finally decide to choose to stop excluding LGBT organizations;
Second (assuming the AWVC doesn't do the right thing) whether people -- and particularly political figures -- should choose to participate in a parade that excludes LGBT organizations.
These questions get raised every year -- MassEquality aways apply, and are always turned down -- but are getting additional scrutiny this time around, because of all the political action in South Boston that I wrote about recently.
South Boston resident Maureen Dahill, who is running for state senate, issued a statement Friday asking the AWVC to allow LGBT groups to participate. That prompted the Boston Globe to do an article about the issue, in which the AWVC's Philip J. Wuschke tried to be inoffensive -- you know, instead of the old days, when they would openly sneer at the queers, nowadays Wuschke says that he keeps them out for the same reason he wouldn't allow white supremacists to march in the parade.
No really, that's what he said.
See, according to Wuschke, any group that includes the term "gay" or whatnot in its name (or its mission, like Join The Impact, which was turned down last year) is inherently making a political demonstration; and a political demonstration, Wuschke makes clear, has no place in his parade next to, oh, let's say, the group marching behind a giant "Nick Collins For State Senate" banner.
Look, this is not difficult. The parade's organizers exclude LGBT groups from their parade, because they disapprove of them. Perhaps more or perhaps less than they disapprove of white supremacists, I don't know. But I know that they don't want gay groups in their parade, because they don't think gays are OK.
Well, a lot of us do think gays are OK. And so, we think that excluding them is similar to excluding, say, Jewish groups or black groups because the organizers disapprove of Jews or blacks.
This brings us to the second issue I mentioned above. The first issue has been answered: the AWVC intends to be dicks again this year, as usual. So, should people participate?
As with the rights issue, there's grey area when it comes to deciding what events to boycott; you're not always going to agree 100% with the sponsoring organizations, or the way they run the event.
But if you think it's OK to be gay, I just don't see the grey area in this one. I don't think too many pols would want to march behind a big sign with their name on it, in a parade whose organizers exclude black or Jewish groups because they don't like them.
Steve Lynch (who will be in a Holyoke parade, but will have a group marching for him in Southie) hides behind the irrelevant "right to be a dick" argument here; he and Collins (who reportedly will march; his campaign has not yet responded to my request for comment) are in kind of tough political pickles here. They both have long participated in the parade, so to switch positions now and boycott would A) implicitly concede that they've been doing the wrong thing for all these years; B) look like a change for political convenience as they are running in a wider area; and C) upset their base supporters while gaining them very few new ones.
I get that. And I feel for them, that the politically astute course of action happens to be the morally repugnant one -- assuming, as I do, that they both in fact think that gays are OK.
But that's why those of us who believe in civil liberties always emphasize the difference between supporting the rights of people to be dicks, and actually supporting the dicks, and their dickish behavior.
The people equating LGBT groups to white supremacist are dicks. You march with them, you're not just supporting their right to be dicks, you're supporting the dicks, and their dickish behavior.
And it seems to me, that's dickish behavior. And it makes you a dick.