One of the more interesting campaign stunts this time around was Obama's idea to randomly pick 4 people - donors, specifically - to have a dinner with him. The idea was that you didn't need to be a big name, or have donated a large amount of money in order to have fairly intimate access. Even I was tempted to donate for the chance to do something cool like that.
Thing is, they actually had to make a change to the guest list. One of those invited is a firefighter in Florida. In the course of reporters' searches for "gotcha!" tidbits about the invitees, they dug up
the fact that Jennifer Lasko used to be a man named John. The local media started to make a big deal out of it, and Jennifer declined the invitation.
When you're a transsexual, attention is often the last thing you want. There's too many people who think you're an abomination, who think that your existence is the source of their problems in their marriages, their jobs and their own self-image. The Obama campaign, to their credit, made it clear that Ms. Lasko was welcome to attend; there was no issue from them.
Live and let live. It's such a simple concept. It's such an American
concept: keep your big nose out of my business. What's sick about our culture right now is the belief that a person's mere existence, even if it's across the entire country, is considered an intimate intrusion, an interference in the lives and homes of the rest of us.
Ms. Lasko gave up the chance to eat dinner with Barack Obama because she understands that this country has lost the idea of "live and let live." She's probably in fear of her job, perhaps even her life because of the attention already, and doesn't want to endanger herself any more than has already been done. Ms. Lasko knows that everyone else
has a reasonable expectation of being left alone. She knows that everyone else
can enter contests, can run for office, can live anything approaching a "public" life.
Of all the challenges we face, our biggest is our oldest: convincing everyone to just live, and let live.