LOS ANGELES—Leave it to AHF president Michael Weinstein to suggest that class was the determining factor in why people voted for or against Measure B, which passed Tuesday by a healthy 11 point margin. It was a drill-down by the Los Angeles Times into the post-election numbers revealing a seeming disparity in how certain parts of the city voted on the measure that prompted Weinstein's strange comments.
The Times had interpreted the numbers as showing that Measure B "won big in nonwhite, working-class areas" and that "neighborhoods voicing the most opposition to a condom requirement were higher-income areas."
Specifically, the article noted that Measure B "racked up huge margins in lower-income neighborhoods that are either heavily Latino, black or both, like East Los Angeles (67%); Inglewood (75%); Compton (76%); Los Angeles' 8th City Council District in South L.A (76%); and Willowbrook, south of Watts (77%).
"In contrast," it continued, "neighborhoods voicing the most opposition to a condom requirement were higher-income areas that have significant white majorities. The "no" vote for the measure rose to 54% in Malibu, Ranchos Palos Verdes, Westlake Village and Sierra Madre; 55% in Calabasas, La Crescenta, and Topanga; 56% in Redondo Beach; 57% in Hidden Hills and Rolling Hills Estates; 58% in El Segundo; 59% in Manhattan Beach; and 60% in Hermosa Beach."
All of that is statistically true, of course, but a closer look shows that voting was actually all over the map, literally. An argument can be made that income disparities had something to do with the way people thought about the mandatory condom measure, but other factors could also have accounted for voting disparities. Maybe people in the "lower-income neighborhoods" voted early, before the "NO" campaign was able to reach them, or maybe people from those neighborhoods were more religious, and voted the "morality" aspect of the issue.
The Times also postulated that "areas hit highest with HIV infection came out strongly for Measure B." It ran the idea by Weinstein, who was having none of it. Explaining that West Hollywood has "the highest rate of HIV infections in the county, and rejected the measure," he proposed another theory about the discordant voting patterns: class.
"Measure B," the Times quoted him as saying, "was endorsed by 'people who relate to the idea that you can get hurt in the workplace... I think it's unlikely that people in Malibu and Palos Verdes are factory workers or construction workers.'"
You know, like brown and black people are.
Doctors, on the other hand, who work in virus and germ-filled workplaces—including ICU units, which Weinstein himself patterned the Measure B requirements after—have no understanding of workplace safety. Neither, apparently, does anyone who wears anything but a blue collar to work, including, according to Weinstein, West Hollywood denizens. One wonders how the community AHF was created to serve will greet those ugly comments.
But this is precisely the sort of generally biased thinking that Weinstein has brought to the so-called debate on condom use on porn sets ever since he set his sights on the industry. Convinced that he is right and everyone else is wrong, and ever-willing to accuse anyone who disagrees with him of the worst sorts of motives, it is he who will say and do anything in support of his own worldview, including playing the class warfare card. It doesn't matter if he has anything to back it up; it sounds right to him in the moment so it must be right, and anyone who doesn't agree with it must by definition belong to the wrong class.
The reality of the situation, however, is that in lieu of exit polling, the real "reason" why Measure B failed cannot be known. The numbers show both support and opposition throughout the county, with some possible geographic trends peeking through. But in every area, people voted both for and against it. And of course, the opposition campaign manager, James Lee, could be correct in his assessment that the reason why B lost is because the campaign started far too late. Though somewhat self-serving for him to say, it also has the ring of truth to it—the campaign did start late!
Let's just not forget as well that more than a few people—including the Daily Show's Jon Stewart—don't believe the thing should have ever been on the ballot in the first place. After all, who (except for Weinstein) wants "factory workers or construction workers" making decisions about what you put into your body or on your dick?
It appears that preliminary results of exit polling conducted by The Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, not yet available on their site, have just been released to the media. LA Weekly has some interesting numbers that show big differences between the genders on B.
"A summary of responses, sent to the Weekly, found that men were against measure B, with 61 percent voting no (39 percent said yes)," writes Dennis Romero, "Women voted yes at a rate of 63 percent (with 37 percent saying no).
"Put each gender's vote back to front and you'd almost have a perfect 69. Or yin and yang."
There now seems to be data that supports any interpretation of why people voted for (and against) measure B, with more to come as resistance by the industry moves into a new phase. And of course, the issue is being pushed statewide once again by AHF, but who knows, things may yet stay close to home.