You (Michael Sullivan) wrote a fair and well-balanced story (VC Reporter 11/26) about Lassen’s Health Food Store owner Peter Lassen’s financial contribution to Prop. 8. Good reporting, but it is with Peter Lassen that I take issue, and to him I address (most of) this open letter. Now that his store has experienced a small drop-off in business due to a modest boycott, he states that this backlash to the publicity surrounding his contribution “…was never intended to be this way” and that “I regret making the donation. . . . I don’t feel bad supporting the cause but I would have done it differently.”
Now wait a minute. Did I hear you right? You just wrote a check for double the average yearly salary for a minimum-wage worker, as casually as I’d write a check for my phone bill, but you didn’t really think it was a big deal? Are you ‘shocked, shocked’ to see what is happening because of what you did? How DARE you call yourself an equal opportunity employer, providing a hate-free and nondiscriminatory workplace? You’re quite a hater yourself, Mr. Lassen, but on the sly. Oh sure, you’ll employ gay people, but behind their backs, hoping that no one would discover or say anything about your whopping donation to the divisive, bigoted, fear- and hate-mongering Prop. 8, you wrote that check. Oh!! But now. .
. “The personal donation that was made has made people think that I am a bigot and hate all people.” You poor, misunderstood dear! No one thinks you hate all people . . . Just gays. Duh! It’s not hate, you say? Then what, Mr. Lassen, is telling two human beings who want nothing more than to live together, love each other, raise children and enjoy the same legal rights as everyone else does (hardly the “special” rights you speak of) that they can instead, under your medieval and Draconian philosophies, do none of the above —well, maybe co-habit and share the same bed as long as they don’t hold hands while walking in or out of their own house, thereby not offending the delicate sensibilities of your backwards, cultish church filled with Ward and June Cleavers on the sunny green lawns of Happytown, U.S.A.
Most people recognize your ideas as hypocritical. To me, they are that and schizophrenic as well.
Along with all sensible people, I regret that some individuals have unfairly targeted employees of your own store, not realizing that your employees are not to blame for your own ignorance and stupidity. How very predictable then, that you should hide behind your employees as the coward you are, using them as a protective shield by telling your customers that boycotting your store hurts them, too. Of course it does. Conflicts have innocent casualties because that’s the way of war. Your employees need to realize that they work for a monster with an earnest and smiling face, the human face of right-wing Christo-Fascism, one who would employ them, maybe even contribute a little bit to their health insurance or pay a smidgen into their 401Ks, but behind their backs, in the privacy of his own home office, by candlelight with a portrait of Joseph Smith looking beatifically down from the wall and a desktop figurine of the baby Jesus, (doubtless blond-haired and blue-eyed) smiling up at him as he signs his name, affixing his signature to a hefty check aiding their continued and legalized, codified marginalization in our society.
I urge all who want to see equal marriage rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or religious affiliation, to remember that they need not attend a protest march or join a picket line to make their presence felt. Instead, I suggest that we all save our receipts from every food store where we now shop, and once a month, send these to Peter Lassen to show him how much more he’s lost than what he’s gained. If everyone did this, over a few months, it could well total in the tens of thousands.
Needless to say, Mr. Lassen, I, too, will never, ever shop in your store again, and now that you have named yourself my clear and present enemy, I will do everything in my power to defend myself, my family and friends from your legislative assaults against basic human rights. No one should be made to go to the back of the bus. No one should be a second-class citizen, and certainly not subservient to the blind un-enlightened likes of you. You are called out and unmasked. I call you, and all those who believe as you do, exactly what you are: sham Christians, sham Americans, a dark, sinister and poisonous blight on our otherwise good and hopeful land.
Let everyone who reads this know that there are enemies of freedom; enemies of equality; enemies of logic, reason and rationality, enemies of human potential, basic human rights and, yes, even human happiness itself, who would reserve these things only for themselves and other adherents to their fearful, tunnel-vision creed.
What’s the difference between the Taliban of the Middle East, oppressing all those who don’t share their twisted, reactionary beliefs and many individuals right here at home who would do the same thing if given half a chance? Nothing. Even though the disheartening and shameful fact of the matter is that slightly more than half the (energized, manipulated) voting population of California opposes the equal rights of a minority of perhaps 8-12 percent, let everyone who reads this know, Mr. Lassen, that by your very own admission through your own spectacular contribution to religion-based oppression of a minority group in our country, that you are the Taliban in America; The enemy is you.
Therefore, standing shoulder to shoulder with my gay brothers and sisters, my fellow citizens of the United States of America and the great state of California, I join in the noble, patriotic cause of equal marriage rights, and proudly sign my name in the bright light of day,
Roger William Osborne is a resident of Ventura. He is also painter and photographer with a B.A. in philosophy and psychology.