DHS contractor threatens woman with arrest for wearing "lesbian.com" tee on federal property

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59 Responses to “DHS contractor threatens woman with arrest for wearing "lesbian.com" tee on federal property”

  1. SamSam says:

    The big question is…

    What is that site doing parked??? It could be making big $$$$….

  2. Little John says:

    MDHatter @#19 (and others):
    What I didn’t like about the line was, firstly, that it was already clear enough for me as a reader that both mother and daughter were advocates at some level for lesbian interests, and that’s enough for me. The paragraph immediately previous ends, “Gilbert called her mother, Tanya Gilbert, who calls herself a longtime activist for gay rights.”

    I made an assumption that both or either one of these women were gay. I didn’t know for sure, I didn’t need to know (the guard wasn’t complaining about actual homosexual activity), and it’s irrelevant. Still, I made my guesses. But the paper told me anyway.

    Secondly, and this is the larger issue I had with the line, is that the phrasing makes me connect the mother and daughter with same-sex partners.

    Maybe I’m the only one who read it that way, but it caught sideways in my brain for a moment.

    As for the rest of your comments, MDHatter, I’m not sure what to say. So I’ll offer this:

    “Do you think lesbians feel that way about your heterosexuality?

    I don’t imagine lesbians feel any way about my putative heterosexuality. I’d be surprised if any lesbians think about my sexuality at all. Which probably reveals that, yes, I am a male IRL. But why do you assume I’m straight? (I’ve never said, and it’s none of your business.)

    “The only thing squicky about that shirt is YOUR OWN IMAGINATION.”

    I don’t think there’s anything squicky about the shirt at all. I never said I thought so. In fact, I think it’s a nice shirt. If I had one, I’d wear it. I’m objecting to the phrasing of the article.

    If the woman had gone in to the SocSec office without a shirt, then I guess that’d be a bit squicky. And it’d justify the guard’s attempts to remove her.

    “You’re coming across as an “-ist”.”

    Um, okay. Like a humanist? A good journalist? A pianist? What?

  3. Little John says:

    Thank you, Jerril. You got it where MDHatter (repeatedly) didn’t.

    MDHatter: @#34:

    “LittleJohn – I rightly assumed your heterosexuality.”

    No, you did not. You don’t know anything about me. You can’t even seem to understand my explanations of what I noticed about a tiny, rather unimportant detail I found in a newspaper article.

    About my sexuality, sexual preferences, sexual activities past and present, sexual relationships, secret sexual fantasies, sexual failings, sexual strengths, number of sexual partners and how they ranked me in bed, you have absolutely no idea.

    Which is, of course, how it should be.

  4. Little John says:

    But then cooler heads prevailed (i.e., there were people with brains present) and she was let back in. The “loud, unreasonable, aggressive” guard got the support and respect he desreved. Case closed.

    I don’t know anzthing about the L.A. Daily News, but I did read TFA, and my eyebrows went up when I saw this:

    The mother and daughter have had same-sex partners for many years.

    Seems like an unnecessary and deliberately provocative line to me.

  5. libelle says:

    And here I would have thought that the shirt was an ad for a site promoting a Mediterranean Island.

    We all project what we want to project.

    Rent-a-cops project offenses and powerless people.

  6. libelle says:

    … er *Aegean* Island.

    See, this is exactly the kind of ignorance we need to combat in the 21st century!

  7. Frank_in_Virginia says:

    I’m not sure if this is new, or if we are just more aware of it, but it seems persons in positions of authority are much more willing to exercise their opinion of rules and regulations.

  8. John Coulthart says:

    Still, I made my guesses. But the paper told me anyway.

    I don’t know about US papers (although I can guess) but UK papers have been doing this for years and the tabloids have yet to grow out of the habit. At its mildest it’s there for the simple-minded readers who need it spelled out why a woman might wear a t-shirt with the word “lesbian” on it; at its worst it’s a dog-whistle tactic that says “these people brought this on themselves”. A similar tactic of homophobic journalists used to be (and no doubt still is in some quarters) mentioning the marriage status of anyone supporting gay issues.

  9. Antinous says:

    DragonFrog,

    What part of my comment didn’t you understand.

    The domain is not parked.

  10. tengu99 says:

    oh america… you are so doomed.

  11. HereticGestalt says:

    @MDHatter: As a fellow homosexual, thanks so much for making the rest of us look bad. Though, just in case you didn’t know, I suppose I should clarify that most gay people aren’t particularly interested in being perceived as irrational, chronically angry, and afflicted by gigantic persecution complexes.

    Now, one more chance to have this broken down for you. Generally speaking, journalistic writing does not report the orientation of people it is reporting on, unless it is directly relevant to the facts of the story. In this case, the orientation of mother and daughter was mentioned unnecessarily, and apparently only because they were both lesbians – that is, if they had been straight ally activists, they wouldn’t have been specifically mentioned as heterosexual, by the above observation. BB readers perceive this as *discrimination against homosexuals* and were *upset* about it. Moreover, the wording of the phrase seemed intended to imply that mother and daughter were engaged in an incestuous relationship, which would be *defamation of homosexuals*.

    Now, can we stop the friendly fire, and the Black Panther-esque violently irrational ultrasensitivity?

  12. Takuan says:

    is it idling?

  13. Antinous says:

    Let’s refocus the invective toward the security guard, eh?

  14. WeightedCompanionCube says:

    I saw this on the news this morning and was wondering how quickly BB would pick up on it.

    Long story short, both the DHS and Paragon have no idea WTF that guard thought he was doing, and are very displeased about it.

    Fran in VA hit it dead on. You’d be just as likely to be harassed by a rent-a-cop at the mall.

    As for what lesbiatopia sez: “…what do you think would have happened if a man walked into that same federal building wearing the same t-shirt or even worse, a t-shirt with a naked woman on it”

    well, nudity on a shirt, depending on how explicit it was, could be considered inappropriate under reasonable standards, and a woman vs. a man wearing a shirt with a naked woman on it would be just as inappropriate, so that’s kind of.. well… FAIL.

    …once again proving there’s nothing worse for a cause than misdirected activism.

  15. hugehill13 says:

    Just to clarify, the owners of the site lesbian.com have been trying to sell it for a while now. They are holding out for a buyer of the domain that will utilize the domain name for its original purpose, to provide lesbians and other women with community resources. They are trying to hold out so that porn sites, etc. don’t obtain the domain name.

    http://www.lesbian.com/aboutus/sale_press_release1.html
    http://provincetownjournal.com/business/entry/domain-name-lesbian-com-for-sale-for-2million/
    http://gay_blog.blogspot.com/2006/04/lesbiancom-url-up-for-sale-for-2.html

  16. WeightedCompanionCube says:

    Takuan – yes, and it’s in the bike lane, dammit.

  17. Takuan says:

    and have those islanders even made an offer?

  18. Jerril says:

    #34: “That the very mention of “same-sex partners” makes your brain turn sideways for a second (any more so than a mention of a husband and wife would) does NOT make you sound like a humanist.”

    Uh, no, I think what he was @.@-ing about was the way the awkward wording made it sound a little like the MOTHER and the DAUGHTER were supposed to be EACH OTHERS SEXUAL PARTNER. The orientation of the people is irrelevant, the grammatical mishmash that implies INCEST is not.

    INCEST is a pretty common squick. Get off your high horse and stop trying to write up EVERYONE EVERYWHERE as out to get you.

  19. Glossolalia Black says:

    I hope lesbian.com throws their full support behind this woman and if they have any connections, can hook this lady up with a good lawyer. I’m not the litigious type, but my mom’s a lesbian, too, and this shit lights up on my last nerve something fierce.

  20. Glossolalia Black says:

    Also @LittleJohn: I agree with your assessment that mentioning the daughter’s sexual orientation was unnecessary and probably resultant of the reporter’s own salacious internal response to the information.

  21. Little John says:

    Antinous @46:

    Possibly I grossly underestimate the analysis tool you have, if it lets you reliably determine my sexual proclivities from my comment history. Although if it lets you analyse my history without falling asleep, I’ll agree that it’s a powerful tool indeed.

    Hmm, let’s see: I see a lewd suggestion involving Natalie Portman, and a passing remark about Cosmo. Nothing definitive about my love life or preferences. Or did you see some subconscious revelations in my history?

  22. Jamie Sue says:

    I think listing the sexual orientation of either person was not necessary. Had she been straight would they even have mentioned it? The focus was better placed on the guard’s association of the word “Lesbian” with something obscene than on the sexual orientation of the persons in the story.

  23. BWChicago says:

    Playing devil’s advocate, perhaps the (stupid) guard (stupidly) made an association with .com and assumed it was a porn site. Not that there would necessarily be anything wrong with that, nor do I think government has a right to infringe on free speech.

  24. caitidid says:

    Bad day for Del Martin to die.

  25. HereticGestalt says:

    I vote bisexual.

  26. dz79 says:

    Little John… you didn’t see the infomercial?

    Introducing, from RonCo, the Anal Ysis Tool you’ve been waiting for. It evaluates and estimates the anal proclivities of random strangers on message boards, and provides hours of fun for the whole family. Also available from Ronco, the Oral Ysis and the Vaginal Ysis, and coming soon the Nasal Ysis.

  27. ill lich says:

    Just take off the shirt and walk into the office topless– problem solved.

    “Offensive” is in the eyes of the beholder. I am deeply offended by some Christian fundamentalist bumper stickers I have seen. If I were a security guard would I then have the right to enforce my own ideas of offensive on anyone?

  28. paulm says:

    So, the discrimination against porn sites continues.

  29. paulm says:

    What we lack is the category between No Crime and a Hate Crime. Like a Dumbass Crime.

  30. joe0403 says:

    Well, in the article, it almost sounds like this woman is just trolling for controversy. ‘Her mother, a 30 year gay rights activist…” Well dam, if she had been an activist for 31 years, maybe this wouldn’t have happened?

    The website, is parked, it has no real content so the attention/advertisment is useless.

    It also sounds like the rent-a-cop was bored and over thinking the rules.
    He had no real authority to remove anyone for appearance unless it was causing a disturbance or disruption.
    What if a buxom redhead in short shorts and a cut-off tee shirt that had EASY printed on it had been in the line? If everyone in the place was staring (including the dyke with the shirt)would he have done the same?

    If so, sign the rent-a-cop up for the fashion police.

  31. Antinous says:

    Lesbian.com is not parked. It’s not much more than a link aggregation site, but it’s there.

  32. WeightedCompanionCube says:

    really? Who are they running for prez this year?

  33. mdhatter says:

    Jerril @ 43 – I tried, and I can’t read the article to mean that. Also, I’m not gay, so I’m not worried that anyone is out to get me – but many gay people rightly feel that way.

    @ Heriticgestalt – see above. Only you can make you look bad.

    @littlejohn – your second comment said “my putative heterosexuality”. That means that you and I both commonly accept it as true. Therefore I was correct.

    I have a hard time understanding how you read the article to imply incest.

    You left more room for misinterpretation by us here than the article itself left for you.

    If you’re telling me I misread you, then please accept that I am telling you that you misread the article.

  34. mdhatter says:

    @ littlejohn – AND that caused your comment to sound very much like veiled bigotry.

    If you’re going to complain, you’d best be able to do it better yourself, yaknow?

  35. Takuan says:

    is there a legal standing for “honorary homosexual”?

  36. airship says:

    I, for one, am grateful that our diligent government security guards are protecting us from these godless lesbian terrorists.

  37. Glossolalia Black says:

    Well, in the article, it almost sounds like this woman is just trolling for controversy. ‘Her mother, a 30 year gay rights activist…” Well dam, if she had been an activist for 31 years, maybe this wouldn’t have happened?

    What some people call “trolling for controversy”, other people call “going about living his/her life”. Do you think that because she’s an activist that it somehow negates the wrongness of what has happened? All it means is that it happened to someone who knows about the deeper implications of it.

    Too bad the website’s not real. I suspect then that her teeshirt was probably purchased from a place that has activist teeshirts, and that the teeshirt itself is about the visibility of the word “lesbian” in what people call “the regular world”.

    In other words, she was an out, activist lesbian, wearing a shirt that advertised not only her orientation (correctly, in this case) but also advertised her politics. She got the brunt of one man’s bad reaction to it, which confirms the need for more visibility of the word lesbian outside the confines of “titillating sexuality”.

    Weird feedback loop we’re getting here.

  38. Mojave says:

    MMmmmmmm…..godless lesbian terrorists.

  39. dragonfrog says:

    That is very weird – why would a gay activist wear a shirt advertising a parked domain?

    That date on the story is yesterday’s, and the domain was last updated back in May…

  40. dragonfrog says:

    Chris Tucker @17

    Maybe because it was the first clean shirt she grabbed that morning?

    Fair enough – I guess it’s more why she’d have one in the first place. The article mentions that the site is an information resource for lesbian. I guess the journo either didn’t check the site himself, or just took her word on what used to be there, back when it was active, since the content of the site is really beside the point of the article…

    John Coulthard @20

    Er, who cares whether it’s an active site or not? The problem didn’t concern a parked domain, it’s about the use of the word “lesbian”.

    No question there – this is a stupid case of a stupid guard enforcing stupid made-up rules. He should get a spanking, and perhaps be made to wear a “lesbian.com” pin fastened to his uniform for the next few months.

    I just don’t find the important part of the story very weird – combine low hiring and training standards for security companies, sincere and vocal gay-rights advocacy, and a global media system that informs of us every such incident, and it’s more surprising that we don’t read about incidents like this every week.

    What did strike me as odd that someone would go to the trouble of printing up a bunch of T-shirts advertising a parked domain, and that someone who’s quite serious about lesbian issues would then wear one.

    Presumably it used to be a real site, I guess.

  41. Halloween Jack says:

    Glossolalia Black: what you said. How many other people might have, or actually have, gone ahead and changed shirts without protest because they were afraid of being denied services and/or being tasered?

  42. Cpt. Tim says:

    joe0403, don’t you hate it when people stand up against bigotry.. er.. troll for controversy.

    i didn’t realize when i wore shirts from my company (also a gay website) i was just waiting for something like this to happen.

  43. Zergonapal says:

    non-existent websites aside I think people should be more willing to call out people who threaten to call the police.
    Wait for the police to arrive, calmly state you case and then step aside as the police give an earful to the private security about wasting their time.
    Then again this is America we are talking about here and the police might just tazer your arse and ask questions later.

  44. ZippySpincycle says:

    Gee, for a site that’s supposedly parked, it was pretty quick in adding a link to this story.

    I think you’re confusing “parked” with “not particularly well-designed or containing much original content.”

  45. doggo says:

    I’m betting “The Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property” apply to Federal employees, not their clients. If there is such a document.

  46. Chris Tucker says:

    That is very weird – why would a gay activist wear a shirt advertising a parked domain?

    Maybe because it was the first clean shirt she grabbed that morning?

  47. mdhatter says:

    John @ 1 and others:

    Seems like an unnecessary and deliberately provocative line to me.

    Do you think lesbians feel that way about your heterosexuality?

    The only thing squicky about that shirt is YOUR OWN IMAGINATION.

    You’re coming across as an “-ist”.

  48. bzishi says:

    @doggo:

    Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property (PDF)

    The security guard was obviously wrong and these regulations gave him no authority to kick the woman off of federal property. Other things like gambling, posting flyers, making loud noises, collecting debts, possessing weapons, or being drunk would have been reason for removal. The security guard was probably twisting the Soliciting, Vending and Debt Collection regulation’s prohibition of displaying commercial advertising. Unfortunately, this guard failed to read the Impact on Other Laws or Regulations section where he would have known that the Supreme Court has ruled that personal clothing is protected under the 1st Amendment.

  49. themindfantastic says:

    I guess some people believe that don’t ask don’t tell exists in general law too… that whole American first amendment thing, thats some bit of hokum people spread around as a bit of humour back in those late 1700′s.

  50. John Coulthart says:

    That is very weird – why would a gay activist wear a shirt advertising a parked domain?

    Er, who cares whether it’s an active site or not? The problem didn’t concern a parked domain, it’s about the use of the word “lesbian”.

    Lesbiatopia.com asks: “…what do you think would have happened if a man walked into that same federal building wearing the same t-shirt or even worse, a t-shirt with a naked woman on it or some other type of woman-objectifying message?” then shows a photo of a dork in a Hooters t-shirt.

  51. mdhatter says:

    LittleJohn – I rightly assumed your heterosexuality.

    I rightly assumed your brain went sideways for a second about the phrasing, though I was incorrect about exactly which phrase (ok, the article rather than the t-shirt).

    That the very mention of “same-sex partners” makes your brain turn sideways for a second (any more so than a mention of a husband and wife would) does NOT make you sound like a humanist.

    It makes you sound like a heterosexal male for whom the idea of gay sex in-and-of-itself is squicky – and something you can’t be helped for thinking about (after all, they mentioned it and they are therefore responsible for your reaction to them) when the reality of it is brought up.

    and I’ll leave it there.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Frankly, *this* lesbian would have calmly stayed put, told him to go ahead and arrest me, and never have to set foot into a social security office again. I’ll simply live off the settlement for the unlawful arrest and detainment and the civil case against this jack boot.

  53. astrochimp says:

    Too bad Cohen v California isn’t taught in schools: we can wear jackets saying “fuck the draft” into a courtroom and there’s nothing the government can do about it.

  54. membeth says:

    @MDHatter: The article doesn’t actually say that or even really imply it. But something about the inept way that sentence is phrased is making lots of us misread it. I too initially understood it to imply an incestuous relationship between the mother and daughter. (Upon rereading, I was merely confused as to why it mattered to the story.)

  55. william says:

    @Zergonapal:

    A friend of mine is an ardent cyclist. When somebody is parked in a bike lane, he’ll politely ask them to move. If he gets backtalk, he’ll pull out his cellphone and say, “It looks like we have a difference of opinion about the law. I’m sure a police officer can settle this for us. Would you like me to call one?”

    He says it works every time, and he’s never actually had to call.

  56. z7q2 says:

    I am very proud of my collection of t-shirts from defunct dot.coms. They were giving them away during the boom years, and most were pretty hardy. The best one is the DoDots t, just a big yellow eye on a grey beefy T. And in 9 years of washing it hasn’t degraded at all.

    I wish I had a lesbian.com t-shirt.

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