388502292_351fa0e2fa_m.jpgA mash up of public information about who donated to Proposition 8 in California and a Google map plotting all of that information out is causing a bit of a stir in the old blogosphere. Rod Dreher of Crunchy Con first wrote about the map saying this,

Here is a Google map that allows you to find your way to the homes of people who donated money to Prop 8 in California. It’s damn creepy, is what it is. What could possibly be the use of this kind of information, presented in this way? It’s intended to intimidate people into not participating in politics by donating money. Do that, and you’ll end up on some activist group’s map, with hotheads being able to find your street address on their iPhones.

Prominent gay blogger over at the Atlantic Andrew Sullivan, on the other hand, doesn’t see quite what the fuss is about,

If Prop 8 supporters truly feel that barring equality for gay couples is vital for saving civilization, shouldn’t they be proud of their financial support? Why don’t they actually have posters advertising their support for discriminating against gay people – as a matter of pride?

Sullivan also says in that post that the map could be used by marriage equality advocates to better understand who it is that they need to engage in a healthy discussion about why same-sex marriage shouldn’t be seen as a threat.

Dreher; however, thinks Sullivan is being naive and perhaps a touch disingenuous,

This is, of course, utter nonsense. Neither Andrew nor any other gay-marriage backer who likes Eightmaps intends to use it as a guide to where to dispatch gay missionaries, like fashion-forward Jehovah’s Witnesses, to do front-porch evangelism on behalf of same-sex marriage. The question is, what do they think it’s supposed to be used for? I can’t read minds, but it seems clear to me that the anger of many gay-marriage supporters is such that they feel justified in exposing people who gave money to the Prop 8 campaign like this, and letting the chips fall where they may. I can’t prove it, but I believe they’d be pleased if these people were attacked in some way, or had their property vandalized, just to “show them.”

The debate rages on and I encourage you to check both Dreher and Sullivan’s sites if the topic interests you, right now it seems to be the only thing that Dreher is interested in writing about.

While I think that he’s tending to be a touch hyperbolic about the whole thing, my immediate reaction to seeing the map was very much in line with Dreher’s, “Wow, that’s kind of creepy.” I say that as a staunch advocate of same-sex marriage. My mind keeps whirling around the question, “What would someone possibly do with this?” And the most prominent answer that pushes to the front of my mind is, just like Dreher, that it seems like a perfect tool for backlash.

Of course, the problem here is that we’re talking about potentials. Both Dreher and Sullivan impute their take on the map primarily based on their stance on the issue it highlights. As it stands, no one has done anything wrong here. The map itself is made up of public information, available to anyone who has a mind to collect it. The webpage doesn’t give any direction on what to do with the information.

The map is an artifact and what it might be used for exists in the realm of speculation. And speculation, of course, is no grounds for indictment of wrong doing, particularly potential future wrong doing.

But I think that what is really troubling me here is not so much the idea of marauding bands of anti-Prop 8 activists setting out to the countryside with maps in hand intent on harassing Prop 8 supporters, it is rather the general state of things around same-sex marriage.

During the campaign around and immediately following the passage of Proposition 8, tensions ran extremely high. While you haven’t heard much from either side over the last few weeks, that doesn’t mean that those tensions aren’t lying just under surface, prepared to boil over at a moments notice.

At some point, the issue of same-sex marriage and its legalization requires the emergence of cooler and saner heads to achieve resolution. Putting the issue to rest in a satisfactory manner, if it can ever be put fully to rest, is going to involve incremental persuasion of opposition, which itself requires engagement in a manner that leaves both parties feeling at ease.

In and of itself, the existence of Eightmaps doesn’t mean anything wrong has been done, and Sullivan might be correct that in the right hands it could in fact do some good. But the perception of its existence by those with whom same-sex marriage advocates need to engage does more harm, at least at this point in time, than any good it might be able to achieve. It likely inflames a situation, causing reactions like Dreher’s, that needs time to cool off a bit.

And in that regard, I think that on balance it would be better if Eightmaps hadn’t been put together in the first place.

Update: one of Sullivan’s readers echoes my concerns much more eloquently.

SCOTT PAYNE
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  • StockBoySF

    The same map can be done showing those who financially support most votes….. It’s just a matter of who has enough energy (or anger- in this case the right to marry to was taken away from a group of people) to put it together.

    I don’t actually care whether anti same-sex marriage supporters find it creepy or not. These are the people who support taking rights away from people. That’s far worse then some map that anyone can put together from information in the public domain. as Dreher say, “It’s intended to intimidate people into not participating in politics by donating money.” When actually what he means is that he’s afraid it will intimidate people who think like him to not donate to causes he believes in. See my comment above…. this cuts both ways and at the moment the only map out there is this one. There’s nothing to prevent Dreher from putting his own map together of people who voted against Prop 8 and reaching out to them to try to get them to change their vote. Dreher is just a whiner who wants everyone to believe and act like he does.

  • ljm

    Sully might be a little disingenuous about engaging these specific donors. But, so what? You can find names and addresses of donors for elected offices. Dreher, too, is overplaying that initial reaction of “OMG they’re going to burn their homes down”.

  • rudi

    BalloonJuice used this as an update for the Wingnut homoerotic love of torture and the silly 24 show,

    Red State busts out the torture HoYay:

    We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. Those rough men might hesitate knowing their commander-in-chief just might not stand behind them if their actions become known. Their hesitation will lead to American deaths.

    I feel gayer having just read that. Not that there is anything wrong with that, you handsome, strong, strapping rough guy, you.

    *** Update ***

    I think it is time to ask our brave patriots again (Maher clip here):

    “Would you have sex with another man to stop a terrorist attack(teh gays marry)?”

  • scotthpayne

    StockBoySF: do you think the creation of a mirror opposite map would help people from different of the spectrum on this issue engage each other in a productive manner? My point was that whether you care about the feelings of those who voted for Prop 8 or not, you have to deal with them in order to get some kind of real resolution to the issue. So doing things that inflame their unease around same-sex marriage is counterproductive. Of course, many people will disagree with that suggestion, and you may well be one of them.

    ljm: agreed, as I mentioned, I think Dreher is being pretty hyperbolic, pulling out the worst possible scenarios as the most obvious outcome when it is likely that a much milder result will occur. But his reaction is worth noting and I don’t it is an isolated incident of those who knows about the map.

    • StockBoySF

      Scott, no I don’t think such a map created by the conservatives would help engage the other side productively. My point is that the tools are available to conservatives to do so if they wanted to. Dreher’s whining about the left doing this and being creepy makes it appear that the left has brought out this secret nefarious weapon.

  • AustinRoth

    Just keep in mind how this same type of technology can be used, and abused, when the vote is not about a pet Liberal cause, but a pet Conservative cause. Would you feel so comfortable with it then? This is nothing more than a high-tech Scarlet Letter.

    And ignoring Lib/Con, this same technology can be used, and abused, by the government. Many, many people here have decried the destruction of privacy rights in the name of national security, but don’t seem to have the same concerns over loss of privacy over how individuals spend and contribute to political causes.

    I don’t think very many of the commentators here are naive enough to think some local elected official wouldn’t let this kind of information sway some decision you have brought to their little fiefdom. If you are concerned about the government communications monitoring programs (just ruled legal by the FISA court, btw), which have little likelihood of affecting many individuals, then how can you not be concerned about this, which is much more likely to be able to be used against regular folk, if you will?

  • scotthpayne

    Fair point SBSF. And you’re right, either “side” could create such a map. I guess my point is that doing so, from either perspective, seems a bit creepy and the whole issue would benefit from no one creating a map like this. It only really distracts from the work of honest and sincere engagement.

  • jeff_pickens

    I’m like others here who have mixed feelings about all of this. Do I want my Bible-Belt friends to know that I’ve been politically active against the decisions of the Texas State Board of Education to include wording in the TEKS standards that would allow creationism to be introduced as a scientific precept, or as an “option” for “academic freedom?”

    Do I want my neighbors (in an ocean of McCain/Palin yard signs) to know I voted for the Democratic party this year, or that I contributed campaign funds for Obama?

    Well, in reality I’ve had to own up to those things. I’ve lost friends because of it. It’s who I am, and perceptions will be perceptions. But I own it, as part of a responsible voter. I’m accountable for how I voted in 2000, 2004, 2008. The honor of being able to vote should perhaps include the honor of being accountable for that vote.

    I somehow think this is fundamentally different than the warrant-less wire-taps or the McCarthy-ish demonization of people based on heresay or speculation. It’s in the public square? My wife thinks I should then wear the bumper sticker.

    • AustinRoth

      Jeff –

      The difference is you choose to own up to some or all of your activities and positions, rather than having it done ‘for you’.

      And that is a HUGE difference.

    • StockBoySF

      Jeff: “Do I want my neighbors (in an ocean of McCain/Palin yard signs) to know I voted for the Democratic party this year, or that I contributed campaign funds for Obama? Well, in reality I’ve had to own up to those things. I’ve lost friends because of it. It’s who I am, and perceptions will be perceptions.”

      I don’t understand why people can not respect the rights of others. I don’t much care for the religious right because they feel that everyone should act like them, and if they do not act just like them, then they are sinners (and not worthy of being friends). The religious right does not tolerate diversity or respect others with differing beliefs, whether you support abortion rights or the rights of any two consenting adults to marry. The religious right is just wrong to cram their own religious beliefs down everyone else’s throats. That’s not the Christianity I know and it certainly is not the America the Founding Fathers created.

      It’s for that reason the Prop 8 supporters are wrong…. it’s their religion and beliefs they are forcing upon others, to the point of even taking away rights under the CA Constitution of those they do not like.

      just to be clear…. if they don’t want to marry a person of the same sex, that’s fine. I’m not going to tell them who they can and can not marry. It’s none of my business who they marry. But I expect the same respect and consideration from them….. I want them to stay out of my business and not tell me who I can or can not marry.

  • pacatrue

    For me: 1) I vastly condemn proposition 8 as displaying one of our worst sides. 2) Creating a map of every individual who supported the Prop is really creepy and only serves to stifle opinion by public humiliation. I used to live in very conservative areas and it’s one thing if I myself decide to take any particular liberal belief and post a sign in my yard about it. It’s another thing if someone drives by and sticks the sign in my yard for me.

  • scotthpayne

    Austin and pacatrue: good points in terms of the difference between making the decision to own up to and engage others on your decision/beliefs and having others do that for you/force it upon you.

  • jeff_pickens

    AR–
    I agree that, something inside me is appreciative of the fact that when I go to pull the voting lever, it is in a quiet, private box without onlookers. No coercion. No threats. Just me and my convictions.

    This is weird because I’ve never seen this type of thing before: the public display of public votes. Is it some form of public harassment for a group of people, who perceive their rights being usurped by a vote, to want to see the faces of the people who vote against them? Should that, in this particular instance, be discouraged? Should we want the voting public to be immune to public accountability, without the instance of some voluntary self-confession?

    In some vulnerable human sense I say: “Yes, make me immune as a private citizen!” Maybe the voting records of congresspeople are and should be different than voting records of private citizens. But Andrew Sullivan does make sense to me as well, when he writes that in this very public situation someone has had what they perceive to be their civil rights threatened by a voting majority, and the “outing” of the vote turns the voter into the “victim.” This is one weird situation. I’m afraid I just don’t have a good answer. And deep down it does “creep me out.” Would I want to see more of this? I really don’t think I’d personally like to wear every bumper sticker, despite my wife’s thoughts.

    • AustinRoth

      Jeff –

      Let’s not muddle the issue. This is not a map of votes – that would be VERY illegal. It is a map of donations. Doesn’t make it right, but in a real sense better. I don’t like it, but I would like it WAY less if it was actual votes.

  • scotthpayne

    I think a lot of how one perceives this situation has to do with how one perceives the people who donated to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign. If you see those folks as acting out of either an explicit or implicit bigotry, then I think you’re inclined to think they ought to be outed whether they like or not. If; however, you see them as folks acting on their convictions, whether or not you agree with those convictions, then you might be more inclined to see this map as potentially problematic.

    Of course, it goes without saying that one can’t paint Prop 8 supporters with one brush, so the dilemma of what to think about the map remains.

  • I’m sympathetic to both sides of the argument.

    On the one hand, I’m a privacy advocate, so stuff like this map sets off alarm bells in my head. I definitely don’t want to see anyone physically hurt or intimidated because of their political views.

    On the other hand, it’s probably a net good that we can better trace the flow of money in politics. We would lose that ability if donations were kept truly private, and that’s the only way to keep maps like this from popping up.

    Perhaps we should just accept that political donations are a form of speech in the truest sense of the word. And with speech there is always an author or a speaker.

  • Doug_Williams

    I’m surprised no one else here has mentioned the previous cases in which pro-life activists have posted pictures, addresses and other information about doctors who provide abortions. There seemed to be a pretty wide consensus in those cases that it was an act of intimidation regardless of whether any suggestion was made that the information was intended to cause violence. And I quite agree with that consensus.

    I don’t see much of a difference in this case.

  • CaliforniaGold

    I think what no one is addressing here is the intimidation, vandalism, racial slurs, and violence that the anti-8 group has ALREADY shown here in California. Offering addresses of those who contributed to the Yes on 8 campaign, KNOWING that violence and property damage have been done by those opposed to 8, makes the person who created the eightmaps site (funny how that person doesn’t want to be publicly known) someone who is actively looking to cause harm to those identified as pro-Prop 8. And that’s not right.

  • Mrbill

    We solved that issue long ago at our home. The AK is always loaded in case they do show up.

    I love the sound of THUD in the morning.

  • UserZero

    I seem to recall Malkin being savaged for posting someone’s contact info. Even though said contact info was included on the groups own flyers.

    So yeah, Sully, as usual, is full of it.

  • Befuddled

    I think Sullivan is absolutely right on this.

    Please give me his address so that I can go discuss it with him.

  • jeff_pickens

    AR-
    You’re right, it is muddled…

    But I don’t think it’s a stretch to say this is a map of votes. In a sense, I think that’s what’s so upsetting about the issue as a whole. Unless some of these guys were willing to put forth $10,000 toward the “yes” campaign to then vote “no.” Campaign contributions to elected officials are publicly posted in many places, as someone alluded to earlier, nothing new or special about that. I can look up my friend in Odessa Texas and see how much he has contributed to the Republican primaries, and local elections, for several years running. He’s not crying “foul,” but I get a pretty clear picture of who he has voted for.

    There has to be something fundamentally different about this issue specifically that has us all up in arms about it. Maybe because of claims of “unfairness” or even “deception” on the part of the advertisers who directly benefited from contributions. Also, this has a fair mix of religion in politics.

    There is a lot of tension across the spectrum. No-one advocates violence on this forum as far as I can tell (unless we disregard briko’s “AK” readiness, but I concede his point.)

    To all: have a great weekend, signing off.

  • ExurbanKevin

    To all those who support same-sex marriage and think this isn’t creepy:

    Would you support the Mormons using this mashup to look up your address and send a couple of missionaries to your doorstep?

    Is that creepy, and if not, why not?

    For the record, I’m a non-Mormon conservative Christian who thinks that the government could define marriage as being between an adult and consenting lawn furniture and it wouldn’t affect me one bit.

    But this creeps me out. Severely.

  • Ah, heck. I just wrote a big ol huge comment on this, and then it disappeared. My feeble attempts to recreate it:

    Some points that have gone missed here:
    1) This is public information. There’s a reason donor rolls are public, and we can debate whether or not they should be, I suppose, but it seems a bit silly to be complaining about someone putting this into a more accessable format.

    2) Anti-gay groups have been targeting groups that give money to gay organizations for a long time. From big companies like Disneyland (boycotted for having gay days) and Toyota (boycotted for advertising in gay publications), to businesses and business owners/employees who were targeted from these SAME donor lists, threatened that they better give to Yes on 8 in equal or larger amounts, or these groups would boycott their businesses. Sucks when the shoe’s on the other foot, don’t it?

    3) These aren’t mere voters, they are people who are so adamant about their panty-sniffing bigotry that they gave money to break apart gay marriages, presumably knowing that donor information is public. So where’s the “public humiliation”? If gays are really evil and dirty and going to hell and shouldn’t have rights, then where’s the embarassment in saying so? If not, then maybe there should be some self-examination on the part of these donors about why they should feel shame about giving to this campaign. That, I think, is why this map could be valuable.

    4) I truly hope that nobody responds to this map with violence, threats, or vandalism. It hurts my heart to see things like death threats or violence against those who have different views of things. On the other hand, I’d love to see the reaction of some of the people who fear this sort of retribution, if they were to actually talk to any gay or trans person about the death threats and killing, the constant fear of physical or sexual violence, the constant marginalization, the fear of losing their job if “outed”, the shunning by their families, the having to fight and beg for rights that straight people take for granted. I just don’t see anything even approaching the same level of discrimination against those who have given to Yes on 8 as we see every day against those who actually fall into one of the sexual minorities.

  • SteveK

    California Gold said: “I think what no one is addressing here is the intimidation, vandalism, racial slurs, and violence that the anti-8 group has ALREADY shown here in California. Offering addresses of those who contributed to the Yes on 8 campaign, KNOWING that violence and property damage have been done by those opposed to 8…”

    You seem to be misinformed as to which side of this issue is using “intimidation, vandalism, racial slurs, and violence” as a tool. Non-violent protest marches by *anti 8* groups are the ones who have been physically and emotionally attacked.

    Google “prop 8 violence” and check the stories coming out of ‘real news’ sources. (I realize that you’ll have to search as most links are to sites either pro or anti) All I’ve found are reports that the actual violence was mostly started by *pro 8* groups and video I’ve seen regarding the violence in L.A. clearly shows LDS Tongans and other pro 8 supporters tearing down ‘No on 8’ posters, jumping anti 8 protesters and starting the fights.

  • Befuddled

    SteveK

    That is simply not correct. From the inception of the campaign there has been a marked intolerance on the anti-8 side. My neighbor had over 30 “Yes on 8” signs stolen from his yard during the campaign (he had a garage full of signs and would put one up each morning.)

    The OC Register ran a story on the sign vandalism http://www.ocregister.com/articles/signs-sign-ban-2197356-vandalism-people. I have seen many heated campaigns, but I have never seen the “tolerant” side so anxious to stand up for civil rights by censoring the political speech of the “intolerant” side.

    This also ignores the religiously bigoted anti-Mormon commercials aired by the anti-8ers before the election. The commercial showed two white shirted “missionaries” violently assaulting a lesbian couple. A real appeal to the intellect there.

    The entire anti-8 campaign assumed homophobia and intolerance on the opposing side, and worked from that assumption. They did not pause to think that there may be reasons to oppose gay marriage that were not linked to being in favor of the murder of Matthew Sheppard. I think Richard Epstein’s editorial in the LA Times makes a fairly persuasive case that there is no reason to increase existing marriage laws to fit a type of relationship not originally contemplated by those laws. http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-oe-epstein4-2008dec04,0,6684798.story. It is also instructive to look at the effect the Massachusetts court ruling had on organizations like Catholic charities.

    After the election, the Los Angeles LDS temple was closed down due to white powder being sent in the mail. There was a surprising lack of white powder being sent to leaders in the gay community. I don’t mean to discount your theory of jack-booted Tongan Mormons roaming the streets to roll protestors, but, despite the racism implicit in such a statement, it seems much more likely that the fellows shown in the LA Times standing at the fence of the LDS Temple, and screaming angrily at the patrons inside were more likely terrifying the elderly than protecting themselves from South Pacific violence. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-protest7-2008nov07,0,3827549.story. But hey, believe what you want.

    • StockBoySF

      Befuddled, “I think Richard Epstein’s editorial in the LA Times makes a fairly persuasive case that there is no reason to increase existing marriage laws to fit a type of relationship not originally contemplated by those laws.”

      Well….. to begin with Prop 8 was not about INCREASING existing marriage laws to include other types of relationships. Prop 8 was about taking away rights of citizens to marry who they wanted to marry. Assuming you’re heterosexual, how would you feel if someone told you that you could not marry the man (or woman) you wanted to? That’s all Prop 8 did…. take away the existing right for people to marry, simply because one (the Prop 8 supporters) don’t agree with them.

      Second of all, as a hypothetical question, since it doesn’t apply here…. what IS so wrong about changing existing law to “catch up” to a changing culture? I mean a few years ago blacks could not marry whites…. are you saying that was a wrong decision because it changed existing law?

  • Befuddled,
    Political sign stealing and protesting outside a church is the best you can come up with? Come on now…

  • SteveK

    Befuddled,

    Let’s go over your “evidence” point by point:

    1) The OC Register story that you seem to think makes your point led their story with: “The battles are taking place in the front yards and public right-of-ways from Buena Park to Mission Viejo, where those on both sides are reporting a multitude of Prop. 8 signs slashed, stolen, and tagged.” This is followed by “he said… she said” quotes from both sides. Surprisingly the OC Register Reader Poll shows 49% opposed to Prop 8 and 48% for. For an ultra conservative community like Orange that alone speaks volumes. My point… The OC Register DOES NOT prove, or even agree with, your position.

    2) “The religiously bigoted anti-Mormon commercials aired by the anti-8ers before the election.” I agree, the “ad” was lame, just shows there are kooks on all sides BUT it was a 15 minute of fame – YouTube wonder NOT a prime time, in your face TV ad. Your attempt to give it credence doesn’t help your argument.

    3) Dr. Richard Epstein’s editorial, too, does not say what you think it does. He concludes his opinion (not news… opinion) with, “So, my love, as you can see, I’m not really opposed to gay marriage. What I’m opposed to is narrow thinking. The world is changing fast, and one change we need to consider is to have governments recognize a wide variety of legitimate, caring relationships. Gays have pushed us toward greater tolerance of the unfamiliar, but we have a long way to go.

    4) My “theory of jack-booted Tongan Mormons“, “… screaming angrily at the patrons inside were more likely terrifying the elderly…” “My theory”? “most likely elderly”? I don’t think I need reply to that one… thanks. 🙂

    5) Your LA Times link seems to have tried hard to give both sides of the story. They even shot down your “anti-Mormon commercials aired by the anti-8ers” theory by reporting “The ad was produced by an independent group not affiliated with the official No-on-8 campaign and was shown on MSNBC and Comedy Central…

    Maybe you should reread the links you provided and then… believe what you want.

    I don’t have a horse in this race but I did learn a long time ago that fear, hate and negativism are much easier to sell to the masses when you add God to the mix.

  • AustinRoth

    This whole argument shows how hypocrital the left can be.

    Next, waterboarding OK for Prop 8 supporters, says Sully.

  • calwatch

    From a technical standpoint, it doesn’t appear they have access to the addresses, only zip+4 information, which goes down to the block level (and usually requires access to a database of several thousand dollars to transmogrify zip+4’s into street locations, since Google Maps does not geocode zip+4’s). Zip+4s go down to the street level, and a few checks from the downloadable database on the Secretary of State’s web site show that they did not bother to convert the contributions with just regular zip codes into the map. The solution in the future for the address coding is pretty simple: stop publishing zip+4 data, much like how addresses are not posted online. Zip+4 data goes down generally to the block and side of the street level, which usually narrows down the target to just a handful of homes.

  • PabloCA

    Was interesting to see someone say that this isn’t creepy because these are donors to a cause that seeks to revoke the rights of other citizens (i.e., “evil people”).

    If I were a betting man, I’d stake somebody arguing that “legalizing” gay “marriage” is *creating* a right, rather than one who argues that a public referendum excluding it is revoking one that never has existed, you know, since that supposed “right” is nowhere mentioned much less enumerated in the Constitution, federal or state.

    The issue has been put to referendum, what?, *twice* in recent years, lost both times, overturned previously by the courts (without any clear Constitutional guidance or precedent).

    Now, after ignoring the will of the people, twice, the activists start printing “hit lists” of those who won’t “see the light”….hmmm…..

    Here’s a thought experiment:

    Imagine a referendum on banning guns (hand/assault/any…take your pick) passes in CA. Since, you know, that right is actually *in* the Constitution, those that donated to pass it, or any gun-control groups *must* be evil creatures trying to revoke existing rights. So, why not put together a map of them?

    I’m sure all of you “it’s just a map, and it’s public information, why creepy?!” people would have a much different outlook…