Log Cabin in the Skinner Box

Posted on 17 Apr 2015 at 7:50am

The GOP keeps shocking LGBTs, but LCR still keeps getting in the box

ratThere is a nasty little experimental device invented by B.F. Skinner that bears his name — the Skinner Box — and is used to study the behavior of rats when subjected to “negative reinforcement.”

It works like this:

The floor of the box is a wire mesh that is designed to deliver a mild but uncomfortable electric shock. There is a lever on the wall of the box that turns off the current. Rats are placed in the box and after jumping around on the electric floor, soon discover that when they bump against the lever, the shock stops. After just a few visits to the box, they immediately run to the lever and hold it down.

Skinner later added a light that signaled that the shock would start in a few seconds.  The rats learned to run to the lever every time the light was lit and thus avoided the shock.

Not what I call humane, but very instructive —  especially for human behavior.

In most cases, people will react the same way to negative conditioning. After all, with the exception of most of my kinky friends, no one wants to get shocked. But I guess I need to add the Log Cabin Republicans to that list as well.

Last week the Western Conservative Summit returned the registration fee for a booth for the Log Cabin Republicans, telling them they were free to attend but, “we have to draw the line at a formal relationship between two organizations with diametrically opposed policy beliefs.”

The same thing happened at the CPAC conference in February.  And take a look at Republican documents like the 2014 platform of the Texas Republican Party:

“Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nation’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.”

It would seem that the Log Cabin Republicans are stuck in a big GOP Skinner Box and just can’t find the lever to turn off the current. What is worse is, the box in this case is not sealed and they can leave any time they wish.

Which brings me to this postulate: They like the pain.

Haberman-Hardy-After all, for years LCR has been jumping around in the Skinner Box, being electrocuted by the GOP at every turn. And yet, they still insist on voting for the very party that tortures them.

This is behavior I would expect from my masochistic friends, who will freely admit they enjoy the pain, yet know they can stop it at any time using their “safe word.” Therefore, I have to suspect the Log Cabin Republicans are really deeply closeted masochists who are enjoying their futile and painful experience with the Republican Party, but don’t understand they have a “safe word” to end the torture.

That safe word is their vote. They can end the pain and the charade of trying to be pliant little creatures, willing to endure whatever negative stimulus the GOP will dish out as long as they can still call themselves Republican.

I guess the GOP’s imaginary condition of being fiscally conservative has seduced them very well. Truth is, over the last 80 years, the party that has been better for business and the economy are the Democrats.

The recent book Bulls, Bears and the Ballot Box, by Bob Deitrick and Lew Godlfarb, reveals some interesting statistics:

• Under Democratic administrations personal disposable income grew nearly 6 times more and GDP grew 7 times more.

• Under Democratic administrations corporate profits have grown more than 16 percent more per year and the stock market grew 18 times greater.

• And — the dirty secret that Log Cabin Republicans conveniently ignore — Republican presidents added 2.5 times more to the national debt than Democratic presidents.

All that pain the LCR experiences, jumping around in the GOP box could be ended with one simple action: Vote Democratic. As much as I enjoy torturing people, (mutually consensual, of course) I have to say that this experiment needs to end.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 17, 2015.

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