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Archives, April 20 to May 7, 2005

Saturday May 7, 2005

Vaporware

Microsoft (well, Steve Ballmer) is now saying that they’ll support the anti-discrimination bill next time it comes up. Swell. Really.

Not to throw cold water on all the celebration going on in the community now…but…

For example, truthful preannouncements usually benefit the public. Only the deliberately false ones are totally lacking in redeeming social value. Building production capacity ahead of demand can be exclusionary but can also benefit the public, and the same can be said of vigorous price wars. Therefore, the dangerous probability rule is a filter or sieve that the antitrust laws use to try to separate anticompetitive and procompetitive conduct from one another when they may look very much alike at first glance.

However, the premise of the rule is that something of value is at stake. If illegal vaporware is defined at the outset as intentionally false, the definition may filter out the socially useful conduct from the valueless conduct. Further, if the only remedy is going to be a court order not to do it again, rather than damages or a break-up order, perhaps it is excessive to expect proof of actual, specific impact as a result of the deliberately false vaporware announcement. Little is gained, and possibly much is lost, when such vaporware flourishes. It harms the public and also discourages potential market entrants from creating new software. Will small software houses even try to develop new applications if they think an 800-pound gorilla will vapor-zap the product before it gets a chance in the marketplace?

Microsoft and vaporware, by Richard H. Stern

Vaporware. If you’ve ever heard the term, you probably heard it with regard to Microsoft. Here’s how it works: Company A is a big software maker that dominates their industry. Suddenly one day a smaller company, Company B, comes out with a product that is much, much better then anything Company A makes. It either works a lot better then an existing Company A product, or it does something new and exciting that no other Company A product does. Suddenly Company B looks about to take away a big chunk of market out of Company A.

If the two companies were comparable in market power, it could be a real struggle for Company A to get back in the game. But Company A isn’t just a market leader, they own the foundation all the other software companies build their products on, The Operating System. Company A has worked that ownership of the software foundation into a market share that is so big, there is an enormous amount of market intertia now, that works against change. So company A does something that no other company can do and get away with: they issue a statement saying that they have a competing product in the works, that will be coming out Real Soon Now, and will do everything that Company B’s product does, but even better. This competing product of course, doesn’t actually exist, or it will be much longer before coming out then Company A says. But consumers don’t know that. All they know is that the company that makes the operating system, as well as most of the other major software applications they run, says it’s coming out with a better product then Company B’s product, Real Soon Now, so the smart thing to do is wait for that product to come out before they decide which one to buy.

And so Company B’s product never sells, and Company B runs out of venture capital (not having the deep pockets of Company A) and goes out of business. Occasionally, when Company A pulls this off, they buy the intellectual property of the company they’ve just bankrupted, and repackage it as their own, Better Product.

This is the kind of thing Microsoft has done for years. Read the link above and see how the prosecutor in the antitrust case basically gave Microsoft a free pass on it. But more then that, in the context of this new announcement from Steve Ballmer, you really need to pay attention to how completely guileless Microsoft is with regard to lying to the public in order to shut competitors out of a market. Vaporware is the art of lying to the public just enough not to run afoul of antitrust laws, and still take oxygen away from competitors. It’s a tactic Microsoft uses deliberately.

So essentially, Microsoft is saying now that next year they’ll have a new policy toward anti-discrimination laws that’ll be even better then this year’s was. Isn’t that swell? But that’s it. That’s all they’re saying here.

They’re not apologizing for this year’s policy, or even saying it was a bad one. Steve is saying “we are taking steps to improve our processes going forward.” Steve is saying “if legislation similar to HB 1515 is introduced in future sessions,we will support it”. If. Similar to. In future sessions. Announcing a new and improved product a year’s time in advance, and being carefully vague about what it will actually do, generally qualifies in this industry for the vaporware tag.

So what are we, the gay community, the people actually suffering the effects of the discrimination this law was intended to address, to make of this. I suggest, you treat this announcement as though it is worth its weight in gold.

There is no commitment, Now to ensuring gay and lesbian Americans are treated with dignity and fairness. There is no commitment, Now to acting in any way shape or form towards things as simple and basic as equal rights in job opportunities, and housing. There is no commitment, Now to do anything at all toward improving the political and social climate that gay and lesbian Americans now live in, a climate that is far more violent today, then it was just a year ago. There is a vague assurance that they’ll support an anti-discrimination law a year from now, and no, absolutely no acknowledgement of the injury to gay and lesbian Washingtonians they’ve caused now.

This is nothing but vaporware. It is worth its weight in gold.

What the hell is wrong with Washington State, that they can’t do something as simple and basic and humane as protect its gay and lesbian citizens from invidious discrimination that denies them jobs and the ability to earn a living, that takes away the roof over their heads, that makes it impossible to just fucking have lives they can just fucking live? What gives? For thirty years now, the decent people of Washington State have been trying to get an anti-discrimination law passed. Thirty years. You’d think it was Texas. They had their best chance yet of getting it passed last session. But thanks in no small part to Microsoft (and the republican state representative from Redmond), gay and lesbian people in Washington State will have no recourse when they loose their jobs or their homes due to discrimination against them for at least another year. And that’s assuming Microsoft is willing to lift more then its little finger next year, which it’s not committing to at all here. So call me churlish, but I think Microsoft needs to do a little more then just lend the next bill a nice little note on some company letterhead.

They need to either fight the good fight, or shut the hell up about how progressive they are, and how very very much they’re rooting for the angels to win.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday May 6, 2005

Read

Just go read this. It’s a link to a Daily Kos posting. Read. Now. Then if you have the stomach, go read from the Linda Kimball article cited in the post. You simply cannot find a better example of the frenzy of hate the right wing is lashing themselves into. It is the pure, unadulterated stuff, evidence of why violent attacks on homosexuals are up by 23 percent since last year.

Then pay attention to this warning bell from the cited Harper’s article:

Hedges ends with a thought back to his Divinity School ethics professor, Dr. James Luther Adams, who held a deep-seated fear of a coming battle against "Christian Fascists".

He gave us that warning 25 years ago, when Pat Robertson and other prominent evangelists began speaking of a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all major American institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government, so as to transform the United States into a global Christian empire.

Then as now, Adams said, too many liberals failed to understand the power and allure of evil, and when the radical Christians came, these people would undoubtedly play by the old, polite rules of democracy long after those in power had begun to dismantle the democratic state.

Adams told us to watch closely the Christian right's persecution of homosexuals and lesbians. Hitler, he reminded us, promised to restore moral values not long after he took power in 1933, then imposed a ban on all homosexual and lesbian organizations and publications. Then came raids on the places were homosexuals gathered, culminating on May 6, 1933, with the ransacking of the Institute for Sexual sciences in Berlin. Twelve thousand volumes from the institute's library were tossed into a public bonfire. Homosexuals and lesbians, Adams said, would be the first deviants singled out by the Christian right. We would be next.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday May 5, 2005

I Prefer The Term Cafeteria Christian Myself. Of Course, The Food Is Still Pretty Bland…

Shorter David Brooks:

We reject the bland moral relativism of militant secularists, however we are also a little nervous about the perfectionism that often infects evangelical politics, so we embrace our own moral relativism, which is morally superior to the moral relativism of militant secularists, because it's our moral relativism and not their moral relativism. You should respect our struggle for a more perfect moral relativism.

Hey… David… Is it really true that you can’t spend more then twenty dollars in a restaurant in Franklin County, Pennsylvania? Wow!

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday May 4, 2005

Blessed Are The Venal…

I’m on the phone with a UPS customer service representative, trying to get an answer as to why a package wasn’t left with a neighbor like the UPS driver usually does when I’m not home…which is almost never during business hours because, well, I work during business hours. While I’m on hold waiting for someone on the other end to come up with another excuse, I’m also flipping channels. It’s network news time. I see a story about religion and NASCAR pop on the TV screen. Oh great, thinks I, maybe tomorrow they’ll have a story about religion and Pro Wrestling. Or maybe it’ll be religion and Ice Hockey. When did the broadcast networks all suddenly become 700 club clones? Ah…right…it was after the Values election last November, wasn’t it…

I see a shot of somebody, I assume he’s the new official NASCAR pit preacher, having a few moments of ostentatious fellowship with various pit crews and racers. See what a bunch of righteous people we are… Then there is a shot of the cars racing around a track somewhere, while the correspondent (they don’t call them reporters anymore, which is just as well), saying in voice over that sometimes a fella’s faith can be tested in the rough and tumble environment of the track. Then a racer talks to the camera, and what he says makes me almost physically ill. The bible, says the racer, says that we all have to do our jobs as well as we can. For me, the racer says, that sometimes means I have to bump someone. But you do what you have to do because that’s your job.

Swell. Just swell. At racing speeds deliberately bumping someone is dangerous as all hell, oh…and not to mention the fact that it’s breaking the rules. The term for that isn’t Doing Your Job, it’s Cheating. This pathetic jackass is saying that God thinks cheating isn’t just okay, that endangering the lives of his fellow competitors and the lives of the spectators so he can cross the finish line first and get his trophy is what God expects of him, he’s saying it’s his Christian Duty.

Right. I think if I’d ever stood up in Vacation Bible School and said that my duty to God as a Christian was to cheat in order to win, I’d have gotten myself slapped. But that was in, it seems, another time, in another age, so very long ago. This guy, this All American NASCAR racer, said it plainly, simply, and without a hint of shame. God wants us to cheat. You can almost hear amens ringing out from the Red State megachurches.

Thou shalt lie.

Thou shalt remember the Sabbath Day, and cheat like hell on your way to the finish line…

Thou shalt steal a win.

If this is, at long last, what Christianity has come to in the heartland, then it’s no wonder they’re all waiting for the End Times to come Real Soon Now. Every day they have to spend here on this earth, is another day they have to spend living with what they’ve made of themselves, another day they have to spend figuring out how to cheat their way to tomorrow.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday May 3, 2005

Tales From George Bush’s America…(continued)

Via Digby… Teachers Strip Searched After Protesting At Bush Rally

Two teachers arrested at a 2004 campaign rally for President Bush and strip-searched at a county jail have filed a lawsuit alleging law officers conspired to violate their constitutional rights.

Alice McCabe and Christine Nelson, both in their 50s, were among five protesters arrested at the Sept. 3 rally. The pair were handcuffed, taken to the county jail, strip-searched and charged with criminal trespass. The charges were dropped months later.

"I believe the federal government behaved very badly in this situation," said David O'Brien, the women's attorney.

The lawsuit claims the strip search violated constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Typically suspects are searched only if authorities have cause to believe they possess a weapon or illegal drugs, O'Brien said.

"We don't think they had a reasonable belief that these two, 50-year-old school teachers had a weapon or contraband in their possession that day," O'Brien said, whose clients requested a jury trial and unspecified damages.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Cedar Rapids said the office had not yet seen the complaint and could not comment.

McCabe and Nelson ? described in the lawsuit as political novices motivated by their opposition to Bush administration policies in Iraq ? attended the rally at a city park, where McCabe held a sheet of paper urging, "No More War," and Nelson wore a John Kerry button.

A Secret Service agent allegedly told McCabe, who was on a sidewalk near the rally, that she was on private property and would have to move. When they moved to a parking area, the agent approached again and repeated the order.

After asking why, McCabe was arrested by a state trooper. Nelson was arrested later by another trooper, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the women's rights to free speech, free assembly, equal protection and due process were violated, and that federal agents conspired with local and state law enforcement to deprive them of those rights.

Can we put to rest this myth now, this utter bullshit notion that the media is liberal? Please? Can you imagine the howls of outrage from the mainstream news media if this sort of thing was being done at rallies for a sitting democratic president? It would be 24/7 coverage on all the cable networks. There would be at least a dozen congressional committes investigating it. The talk radio blowhards would be screaming that the democrats were a bunch of facists turning America into a Stalinist dictatorship. You can bet these same people are all laughing their asses off at what happened to those two women.

ABC just gave James Dobson’s Focus On The Family time to run a commerical the other day. This is the same network that refused to run an ad from The United Church of Christ that promoted its inclusive policy towards gays, racial minorities, and people with disabilities, saying it was too controversial. Dobson was one of the fine Americans who helped bankroll the recent Justice Sunday rally, among whose speakers included Edwin Vieira, who avered that Stalin had the right idea when it came to murdering his political opposition. Evidently ABC regards the killing of federal judges to be somewhat a less controverisal position then accepting gay and lesbian Americans as full citizens. But then, this is the same network that whitewashed the murder of Matthew Shepard last November.

What is more the more despicable…a nation that silences its press, or a free press that sells out?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Department Of The Utterly Clueless

You really wonder some days, just what the hell some people were thinking when they walked on this good earth

Washington mourned in public yesterday - but privately allowed itself a smile - after the suicide of the king of its public relations circuit, notorious for representing dictators and declaring that "shame is for sissies".

Edward von Kloberg III, 63, an American who changed his name because he thought it would sound better with a German twist, flung himself from the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome - the site of Tosca's suicide in the Puccini opera.

Among items found on his body was an American magazine cover with a picture of him meeting the first President George Bush.

Italian newspapers said he had been depressed after a failed attempt at reconciliation with his Lithuanian homosexual lover.

...

Among his clients were Saddam Hussein, Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania, the Burmese junta, Liberia's Samuel Doe, and Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire. He also later represented the latter's successor in the renamed Democratic Republic of Congo, Laurent Kabila.

Move over Roy Cohen. Jeeze. And he was distrought over the end of his love affair with another guy. I wonder how many gay people his clients had arrested and put to death.

What is it with right wing gays and their desperate need to put people into power who would otherwise kill them as soon as look at them? I wonder how many of the deep thinkers over at the Independent (sic) Gay Forum, or the Log Cabin Club, ever attended this guy’s fabulous Washington parties, while his clients were busy spilling the blood of their people on the streets of their nations?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

We Reject Your Giving Credit For Our Position To That Other Guy…

Le Dance Pathetique…as choreographed by Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary, Alberta:

Un…

This is not a fascist...

Deux…

...or Hitler-like position...

Trois…

...nor even an anti-homosexual stance...

Quatre…

...but it reflects Christian teaching on the primordial status of marriage and family life.

Cinq…

Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution, and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the State must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good.

Le Curtian…Applaus a Voux…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday May 2, 2005

The Bad News Is That I’ve Tested Positive For Anthrax. The Good News Is That My IQ Test Came Back Negative.

Any doubts about the kind of man that’s leading the anti-gay pogrom in Washington state, any doubts about the kind of man Microsoft has cowtowed to (and now denies having ever cowtowed to), should be pretty well put to rest by this New York Times article:

In a style that is typically blunt (and, his detractors say, typically intimidating), Dr. Hutcherson described Microsoft's version of the events as "a flat-out lie."

Asked if he thought that he alone could have changed the giant corporation's mind, Dr. Hutcherson said in an interview Friday: "I don't think. I know."

He continued: "If I got God on my side, what's a Microsoft? What's a Microsoft? It's nothing."

If there is any question about Dr. Hutcherson's intolerance of dissent or disobedience - one that is infused with a stinging sense of humor - it could be answered quickly by a glance at the mini-refrigerator in his office. Next to his chair, which is submerged under a lavish white sheepskin cover, a sign on the fridge says, "Warning: I have licked the tops of all my Snapples - Hutch. * And I have tested positive for anthrax."

Man…what an asshole. Whatever the sign on the outside says, when he’s inside of it yapping away, it’s not a church, it’s a stained glass gutter.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday April 30, 2005

Having A ‘B’ Movie Moment…

I just scanned in a few updates to my What I’m watching/reading/listening to stuff on the right, mostly to get back into some familiarity with GIMP and xSane on Linux. Between the Mac in my art room and the various Linux distros I run up in my office (didn’t they used to be called ‘dens’ once upon a time…?), I can pretty much do without Microsoft stuff. But I’ve done so much work on my C++ class in Visual Studio 6 that I’ll probably be booting Windows XP here at home on a regular basis at least until after finals. Next year, it’ll be a different story.

Speaking of which…I see Redmond’s finally launched a 64 bit version of XP. Whoop. I’ve been running 64 bit SuSE Linux for several months now.

I ran across a cheap copy of a cheap ‘B’ monster flick that took me back to the days when I came home from school and watched the afternoon sci-fi horror flick on TV. More often then not, when I was supposed to be doing homework. There was some local show broadcast in the Washington area back in the 60s, I think it was called Thriller, which was nothing more then a lot of cheezy ‘B’ flicks from the 50s. This was the time in my life when I got to see such ‘B’ classics as Them, Invaders From Mars, The Thing, The Blob, Kronos, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Cool stuff. My friends and I would compare notes for hours afterwards.

As technically advanced as modern special effects are these days, I find most of what’s being advertised as science-fiction/horror is unimaginative. Even Alien, which I thought was fantastic, was pretty much It, The Terror From Beyond Space. Done much better granted. But still nothing new. There’s Independence Day and then there’s Earth Verses The Flying Saucers There’s Predator, and then there’s the episode Fun and Games from the old Outer Limits TV series. Don’t get me wrong here…I like a lot of the new stuff. But the only original thing I’ve seen in ages was the first Matrix film. With everything else I always have a sense of having been here before, and then it was more exciting somehow. In a world with cell phones, the Internet and spy satellites, it’s hard to recapture that sense of facing the unknown for the first time, all alone.

The closest a new film has come to my old boyhood joys was the first Tremors flick. The scene where Kevin Bacon’s character finds the old man perched on top of a telephone pole starved to death is pure 50s B monster movie weirdness fun. Strange things are starting to happen around this place…strange things indeed…say Larry…why don’t you take the car that’s almost out of gas and drive all alone down that dark country road, while I take my malfunctioning flashlight and wander aimlessly into this fog bank that just appeared out of nowhere…

So I’m at my local video store and my eyes are wandering over the Clearance DVS rack and suddenly I’m beholding a really obscure title from those black and white days: The Crawling Eye, complete with a B movie pricetag, and I had to have it.

Let’s see now…something mysterious and unseen is killing unsuspecting travelers…check. Local authority who insists that it’s all just a coincidence…check. Mysterious radioactive cloud…check. Scientific genius with a German accent…check. Story with more dangling unresolved plot lines then a George Bush rational for invading Iraq…check. Oh what fun!

What was cool about this flick was that instead of the Abominable Snowman, we get this very weird crawling eye blob thing with tentacles whipping around, and a really unnerving hollow heaving and grunting sound effect. In Britain the film was called The Trollenberg Terror, and you could wish they kept the title for the U.S. release, because when you finally see the monster the flick’s been building up to, it just seems to come completely out of left field. It’s very strange, and actually still kinda creepy.

And the acting in it is actually quite good. It’s just that the story itself sucks pretty badly. So much happens with so little explanation, rhyme or reason that you feel disappointed. Now, in a genre that includes giant ants created by atomic bomb testing, you don’t necessarily expect a believable explanation for what’s going on. But you at least want some internal consistency to it. I got the feeling that the writer came up with this really cool monster, but beyond that couldn’t decide on a good context for it, so he just threw stuff out at the audience.

But it was a fun watch, and it’s got me thinking that maybe I should start adding some of those old B flicks I used to raptly watch after school to my collection. It must be zat ze radiation has caused them to grow to zis enormous size… And hey…I have homework now that I can shirk while watching them too…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday April 29, 2005

Tales From George Bush’s America…(continued)

I haven’t posted all week, but it’s not for lack of things to vent about, so much as lack of time. Finals are coming up and my work load at the Institute has been going up a tad at the same time. Plus, this crap from Microsoft this week still has me steamed.

And this has me spitting nails again: I’m surfing the blogs and find another gay teen who’s been attacked, this one much worse then the other I wrote about previously:

I am not sure about anything anymore. Going into last night I was so proud of myself and who I have become. I was at a party that some guys from the team was having it was a great party I was laughing have some fun. I knew I had to be home by 1am and it was getting close. I told the guys thanks for having me but I had too go. I get out to my truck and then it happen. I heard someone say where are you going faggot?

I turn around to see who was saying that and when I did I got hit. I fell to the ground and all hell broke loose on me there was 4 of them hitting kicking me. I hurt all over today. There is so much more but I hurt and I can't bring myself too write it right now. There was a hero last night someone I would least think would help me but he did Thanks James!

I am not sure what I am going to do now with me. I can see I have too change. I know there questions you all have and in time I hope I can answer them but please for now just give me some time. I will tell you the police was called and they are working on it. I ask please give me some time I need too clear this up in my head. The hate a human has for another human hurts me worse than getting beat up.

Like I said before…some days you just want to put your fist through a wall. I’m not linking to this guy for the same reason I didn’t link to the other…neither one seemed to really want a lot of attention afterward, beyond their usual readers. But I thought you should read their words. This is the payoff of Karl Rove’s campaign to hold onto the white house by demonizing gay and lesbian Americans. This is what happens when hate is preached in the name of Christ. This is the blood on the streets Pope Ratzinger said no one should be surprised about, as he washed, washed his hands before the multitudes.

My copy of Elmer Gantry arrived today, and I had just settled down to it before reading this kid’s cry of pain. I’d read Sinclair Lewis’ Arrowsmith some years back and marvelled at his quick insight, and ability to capture with a few deft words, some fundamental aspect of human character and American society. At the beginning of chapter two, Lewis sums up a brief account of Elmer’s childhood church life thusly:

He had, in fact, got everything from the church and Sunday School, except, perhaps, any longing whatever for decency and kindness and reason.

He could have written those words today, about any number of bible thumping gay bashers on the American political scene. When they speak of morals, and values, and the decay of American society, think of this kid. The moral crusade is no different from any pogrom that ever justified the brutalization of minorities, by claiming that they were only acting on behalf of God.

[Vice President Gore] recently praised the lesbian actress who plays 'Ellen' on ABC Television...I believe he may even put children, young people, and adults in danger by his public endorsement of deviant homosexual behavior...Our elected leaders are attempting to glorify and legitimize perversion.

Jerry Falwell as quoted by People for the American Way, "Hostile Climate", 1998, p.9.

[Homosexuality] is the opposite of love for God. It is a rebellion against God and God's natural order, and embodies a deep-seated hatred against true religion.

Steven A. Schwalm, Family Research Council

It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this is not perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man.

Pope John-Paul II, on Same Sex Marriage

We shall see how defenders of the Church take pains to distinguish between "anti-Judaism" and "antisemitism"; between Christian Jew-hatred as a "necessary but insufficient" cause of the Holocaust; between the "sins of the children" and the sinlessness of the Church as such. These distinctions become meaningless before the core truth of this history: Because the hatred of Jews had been made holy, it became lethal.

-James Carroll, "Constantine's Sword"

Somewhere in Georgia right now, a gay teen is struggling to cope with being gay bashed at what he thought was a party with some guys from his team. Meanwhile in Ashland Kentucky, the Alliance Defense Fund, a klan of religious right lawyers formed by Dobson, James Kennedy, and Don Wildmon, among others, is fighting to have the court-ordered anti-harassment training at Boyd County High School eliminated, on the grounds that it violates the right of Christian students to express the viewpoint that homosexuality is morally wrong. The training was ordered after a judge found widespread anti-gay harassment in the school, where students in an English class once stated that they needed to “take all the fucking faggots out in the back woods and kill them, and the school’s Model United Nations adopted a resolution declaring an “open hunting season” on gay students. This is what the religious right calls expressing the Christian point of view on homosexuality. The beatings gay and lesbian kids endure at the hands of their peers would be another. Like Lewis’ Elmer Gantry, they got everything from their churches and Sunday Schools, except any longing whatever for decency and kindness and reason.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday April 25, 2005

Sensitivity

A theme of Steve Ballmer’s capitulation memo, is that we have to be sensitive to the feelings of those on the “other side” of the issue of gay and lesbian civil rights…

I don't want the company to be in the position of appearing to dismiss the deeply-held beliefs of any employee, by picking sides on social policy issues.

This memo is creating a few waves among Microsoft employees, some of whom blog. One Microsoft blogger, posts a comment from his boss’s boss who says:

I realize that many people, including myself see this as a human rights issue. But you do have to stop and consider the people with the opposing view.

Stupidity. Let me tell you about stupidity. Shear, glorious, exuberant, guileless, carefree stupidity. The kind of stupidity that makes otherwise intelligent people ask questions like that one. Oh…I should stop and consider the people with the opposing view should I? You mean…like…oh…this one:

Basically, the clubs are attempts by delusioned teens to fuse gay and heterosexual lifestyles and mind-sets ≠ if such a thing was possible. The only thing that will be spawned out of such a heretical alliance is the sinister proselytizing of straight kids. To put it plainly, gays exist not to further the existence of mankind, but to promote the damnable offense of sodomy. And parents should make no mistake about it: straights do not proselytize, gays do. And their primary mission in life is to proselytize youth. They have no other conceivable way of continuing what they think of as the human race unless by in vitro impregnation.

The Covington News Banner (Louisiana), March 2, 2000

Or this one…

I learned that being homosexual does not destroy a person's talent or deny those aspects of their character that I had already come to love and admire. I did learn that for most of them their highest allegiance was to their membership in the community that gave them access to sex.

-Orson Scott Card, The Hypocrites of Homosexuality

Or this one…

TWIN FALLS, IDAHO The Associated Press-- Homosexuals are "spawn of the devil" and contribute to the destructions of the family, according to a manual distributed among Idaho Citizens Alliance members.

The "debat manual" has been sold to alliance members who are pushing the anti-gay initiative on Idaho's November ballot.

The guide says, "Promiscuous sodomite activists are the most violent and irrational group of people on earth." It denigrates feminists and says "from God's point of view," contraception is wrong.

"Debating the 'Gay Rights' Issue" was writen by Brian Clowes, an anti-gay rights activist from Vancouver, Wash., and distributed by the United States Citizens Alliance, the Idaho group's parent organization.

The guide says gays "agressively demand: the closing of all churches that oppose them; the total destruction of the family; exile and actual murder of those who oppose them in any way; the 'conversion' by forced sodomy of all young men to homosexuality; the official condemnation of normal love between men and women, and the raising of private armies of thugs to enforce their agenda."

The guide also says many gays are masochists and enjoy being beaten.

Say…how about we “consider” this fine lady “on the other side”…

Woman: This gay agenda is the most ridiculous, satanic thing I've ever heard.

Chris Leo: I understand, ma'am.

You're going to be under God's eternal curse if you promote it.

I understand, ma'am.

It's an abomination, I'm telling you.

I understand, ma'am.

If homosexuals get their way, there would be no need for any more schools.

I understand, ma'am.

Homosexuals don't have children.

I understand, ma'am.

They're sick.

Loathe Thy Enemy
Orange County Weekly (California), June 4-10, 1999

Or these fine people “on the other side”…?

Meanwhile, Scott Lively - another leader in Orange County's hyperactive anti-gay campaign - appeared on May 24 on KBRT-AM Christian radio with afternoon host Rich Agozino. Like Williams, Lively - who is co-author of The Pink Swastika, a book that says gays created Nazism and carried out the Holocaust - and Agozino have a knack for posing as pious while spewing bigotry.

"The homosexuals are at war with the family," said Lively, who claims gays are secretly working to take over not just the United States but also the world. He worked with the fanatically homophobic Oregon Citizens Alliance in the early 1990s. Nowadays, Lively heads Orange County Families Against Homosexuality. "Our young people are being targeted by pro-gay propaganda . . . and the infiltration of schools."

Not to be outdone, Agozino bizarrely observed that if Christians can't discriminate against homosexuals, then "the H word [will become] like the N word and blacks." He has espoused the death penalty for homosexuals and said on the May 24 show, "Their lifestyle is a death style." After claiming gays manipulate public opinion through despicable fear tactics, a Bible-quoting Agozino told his listeners to stay tuned for the next segment, "Recruit-proof Your Children."

Loathe Thy Enemy
Orange County Weekly (California), June 4-10, 1999

Or this guy here…

However, candidate Timothy Hill went much, much farther, to the first applause of the evening and several other expressions of enthusiasm. "Homosexuals are perverts," he declared. "This is a Christian nation. To put up with perversion like that, you're willing to put up with anything. They've spread their disease worldwide...." he said, adding "I will do everything I can to keep them out of Springdale, including enforcing the sodomy law." The candidate then promised to post a sign at the city limits saying, "No fags in Springdale." Another sign he'd like to see would read, "Welcome to Springdale: Home of God-fearing, armed Christian citizens." Hill believes that with an armed citizenry and the creation of a voluntary militia, the police force could be cut in half at a cost savings.

Anti-Gay Extremism in AR - PlanetOut Friday, July 17, 1998

Or how about this fine gentleman on the other side…

Or this one…

Or these fine folks on the other side…

Or how about this guy here…

An American man who beat his dog to death, thinking the pet was a "homosexual," was quickly convicted of animal cruelty this week in a Florida courtroom.

The homophobic owner, George Stephens Finley, 58, apparently became upset when his dog General Lee, a poodle-Yorkie mix, kept humping another of Finley's dogs, a male Jack Russell terrier.

"He felt that the dog was a queer-type dog and it made him angry," sheriff's Capt. Mike McQuaig said later.

After listening to her husband complain about the dogs' behavior, Finley's wife told him, "Well, then, you make them stop."

Prosecutors say that Finley grabbed a vacuum cleaner wand, beat the dog and then threw it against a tree. The animal lapsed into a coma, and a veterinarian was forced to put it to sleep.

The woman divorced Finley after the incident...

salon.com June 22, 2000

Or maybe you’d like to tell me now that you don’t have a fucking clue about the people with the opposing view!

I’m fifty-one years old. I came out to myself when I was seventeen. Don’t fucking tell me that I don’t know how the other side feels! I’ve had my face rubbed in it since I was a teenager!

Since I was a teenager. You want to consider someone’s feelings here. Okay…consider the gay teen’s feelings. Ask yourself this: Have you ever been in love? Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Do you remember what it was to discover what it was to be in love? Do you remember the awe and the joy of that time, of that moment? Now ask yourself what kind of person would take that away from anyone.

Gay teens grow up, and feel their first stirrings of desire toward their attractive sex, which is there own, and instead of experiencing that joy, that delight, that awe, instead of thinking about how wonderful life is, how magical, instead of having all the wonder and joy of life singing in their veins…they go off and kill themselves.

And Steve…you motherfucking bastard, you cowardly slug, you’re telling me you don’t want to offend the people who take that wonderful awesome joy and turn it into enough self hate and self loathing to make a kid with their whole life ahead of them kill themselves. Piss On You!

There are times when decent people have to say Look…I understand you have strong feelings about all this, but what you’re doing is wrong, what you’re doing to these people is wrong, and you have to stop doing it.

I don't want the company to be in the position of appearing to dismiss the deeply-held beliefs of any employee, by picking sides on social policy issues.

Fuck their goddamned feelings! Matthew Shepard had feelings. That seventeen year old student in Cleburne Texas that underwent facial reconstruction surgery after three other teenagers attacked him last October had feelings. The man Martin Thomas Hartman burned to death in his bed after finding out he was gay had feelings. The gay kids who get their faces slammed into their lockers at school every day in this country have feelings. Every gay teenager who ever killed themselves rather then face life as a homosexual had feelings! Say…you’ve got a brain…now Grow A Goddamned Conscience Steve!

The Other Side is taking what should be one of this life’s most wonderful joys, falling in love, being loved in return, and turning it into ashes. Every time they stick the knife into the heart of a gay or lesbian person, the world looses a little more of it’s ability to love, to cherish, to dream, to hope. You think there’s not enough despair in this world do you Steve? You think maybe this world needs a little more loneliness, a little more alienation, a little less kindness and sympathy do you? If there is such a thing in this world as Sin, capital-S, then taking some of awe and joy from the human experience, making this world a little less able to love and trust, has got to be a big one. You can call kind of person who puts a knife into their neighbor’s heart a lot of things, but moral isn’t one of them. The emptiness they leave in their wake is not filled by their “deeply-held beliefs”.

But…hell…never mind them. Nobody expected them to support Washington’s anti discrimination law. Pigs will fly before their kind stops trying to stick the dagger in the hearts of their gay and lesbian neighbors. Jesus Christ couldn’t convince them that loving their neighbors might be a good idea. Never mind them. What do you call the man who can look the world in the face and say that the emotional rape of one small portion of the human family isn’t something he or his company should take sides on? Seriously. What do you call that man? No…it isn’t Chief Executive Officer

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday April 23, 2005

Be Afraid…

Good one from Howard Cruse.

You should check out some of the other stuff on his website. In particular, check out the awesome commission work he did for a Walt Whitman enthusiast on the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Walt Whitman’s classic volume of poetry, Leaves of Grass, here in his My Doings page (scroll down for the Whitman piece).

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Despicable

Via John John Aravosis, via Towleroad, an internal memo from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been leaked that carefully and tactfully explains that Microsft actually never meant to support equal rights for Gay and Lesbian Americans to begin with…

From: Steve Ballmer
Sent: Friday, April 22, 2005 6:40 PM
To: All Employees of MS in Puget Sound; All Employees of MS in MSUS
Subject: Microsoft and the Anti-Discrimination bill

Over the past two days, there've been a lot of stories about Microsoft and our position on an anti-discrimination bill in Olympia.

I've heard from a number of employees, and I take all of the input on all sides seriously, so I wanted to talk directly with all of you about the company's position and how I view these issues.

First, I want reaffirm my personal commitment -- and the company's commitment -- to keeping Microsoft a company that values diversity. That will never change.

As long as I am CEO, Microsoft is going to be a company that is hard-core about diversity, a company that is absolutely rigorous about having a non-discriminatory environment, and a company that treats every employee fairly.

I'm proud of our track record on diversity issues. We were one of the first companies to provide domestic partner benefits, or to include sexual orientation in our anti-discrimination policies. And just this year, we became one of the few companies to include gender identity or expression in our protection policies.

There have been several news stories that imply that Microsoft changed its position on an anti-discrimination bill, HB 1515, because of pressure from a conservative religious group. I want to make it clear that that is not the case.

When our government affairs team put together its list of its legislative priorities in Olympia before the Legislative Session began in January, we decided to focus on a limited number of issues that are more directly related to our business such as computer privacy, education, and competitiveness. The anti-discrimination bill was not on this list and as a result Microsoft was not actively supporting the bill in the Legislature this year, although last year we did provide a letter of support for similar legislation.

On February 1, two Microsoft employees testified before a House Committee in support of the bill. These employees were speaking as private citizens, not as representatives of the corporate position, but there was considerable confusion about whether they were speaking on behalf of Microsoft.

Following this hearing, a local religious leader named Rev. Ken Hutcherson, who has a number of Microsoft employees in his congregation, approached the company, seeking clarification of whether the two employees were representing Microsoft's official position. He also sought a variety of other things, such as firing of the two employees and a public statement by Microsoft that the bill was not necessary.

After careful review, Brad Smith informed Rev. Hutcherson that there was no basis for firing the two employees over the misunderstanding over their testimony, but did agree that we should clarify the ambiguity over the employee testimony. Brad also made it clear that while the company was not taking a position on HB 1515, the company remains strongly committed to its internal policies supporting anti-discrimination and industry-leading benefits for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees.

I understand that many employees may disagree with the company's decision to tighten the focus of our agenda for this year's legislative session in Olympia. But I want every employee to understand that the decision to take a neutral stance on this bill was taken before the Session began based on a desire to focus our legislative efforts, not in reaction to any outside pressure.

I have done a lot of thinking and soul-searching over the past 24 hours on this subject, and I want to share with you my thoughts on how a company like Microsoft should deal with these kinds of issues.

This is a very difficult issue for many people, with strong emotions on all sides. And that makes it a very difficult issue for me, as the CEO of this company.

On this particular matter, both Bill and I actually both personally support this legislation that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But that is my personal view, and I also know that many employees and shareholders would not agree with me.

We are thinking hard about what is the right balance to strike ñ when should a public company take a position on a broader social issue, and when should it not? What message does the company taking a position send to its employees who have strongly-held beliefs on the opposite side of the issue?

The bottom line is that I am adamant that Microsoft will always be a place that values diversity, that has the strongest possible internal policies for non-discrimination and fairness, and provides the best policies and benefits to all of our employees.

I am also adamant that I want Microsoft to be a place where every employee feels respected, and where every employee feels like they belong. I don't want the company to be in the position of appearing to dismiss the deeply-held beliefs of any employee, by picking sides on social policy issues.

It's appropriate to invoke the company's name on issues of public policy that directly affect our business and our shareholders, but it's much less clear when it's appropriate to invoke the company's name on broader issues that go far beyond the software industry ñ and on which our employees and shareholders hold widely divergent opinions. We are a public corporation with a duty first and foremost to a broad group of shareholders. On some issues, it is more appropriate for employees or shareholders to get involved as individual citizens. As CEO, I feel a real sense of responsibility around this question, and I believe there are important distinctions between my personal views on policy issues and when it's appropriate to involve the company.

I know that some employees will still feel frustrated by the position the company has taken, but I wanted you to hear directly from me on this. We will continue to wrestle with how and when the company should engage on these kinds of political issues. And above all, I want you to know that as long as I am CEO, Microsoft will always be committed to diversity and non-discrimination in all of our internal policies.

Thanks.

Steve

What Ballmer is saying here, is that if this was 1963 and police were letting their dogs loose on peaceful civil rights demonstrators, Microsoft should stay carefully neutral on the question of civil rights legislation, so as not to offend any of its racist employees or shareholders, regardless of his personal feelings about racism. What Ballmer is saying here, is that if this was Germany and it was 1933, Microsoft should stay carefully neutral on the question of antisemitic legislation, so as not to offend any of its antisemitic employees or shareholders, regardless of his personal feelings about the rights of jews.

If you wanted to know where the bottom of the American political gutter was, well, here it is. These are people who knowingly, and with care and deliberation, turn their backs on the struggle between good and evil, so as not to offend anyone. Ballmer, Steve Ballmer, the man, the person, the individual, is telling his employees that they work for a company that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about making America a better place for all who live and work here, and that’s because he, Steve Ballmer, the man, the person, the individual, has utterly no conscience. It’s worse then if he were to say outright that he thinks homosexuality is immoral and that homosexuals should be made to suffer. When he says he personally thinks anti gay discrimination is wrong, and in the same breath says that the company he runs shouldn’t do anything about it, he’s saying that he’s perfectly willing to stand aside and watch while a prejudice and hate that he personally thinks is wrong eats the heart and soul of America. To call this despicable is to ennoble it. It is cowardly. It is contemptible. While prejudice and hate are scourging America, men like Steve Ballmer, are enabling that scourging, that ruination, by shrugging their shoulders at it, and looking the other away. They don’t want to offend anyone.

So while innocent people loose their jobs, their homes, their livelihoods, Steve Ballmer offers up his condolences, and looks the other way, lest doing anything more then meekly talking the talk offend the haters. So while other companies follow Microsoft’s lead and pull back from supporting gay and lesbian civil rights, Steven Ballmer gives America his assurances that he personally doesn’t approve of anti gay discrimination. So while one American legislative body after another attacks the rights and basic human dignity of gay and lesbian people, Steve Ballmer shrugs his shoulders, and says he’s very very sorry about all that, but he just can’t take sides. So Steve Ballmer remains carefully neutral, while the street thugs, the brownshirt enforcers of the theocratic right do their part, and not just down in the bible belt south, but right in Steve’s own back yard:

Pair who beat gay man get 11 1/2-month terms

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Saturday, April 23, 2005

Two men convicted of beating a Seattle man because he is gay were sentenced yesterday to just under a year in jail.

In June, Micah Painter was beaten and cut with a broken bottle in an assault by a group of men, one of whom first asked whether he was gay before attacking him.

In March, a King County Superior Court jury convicted Vadim Samusenko, 21, David Kravchenko, 20, and Yevgeniy Savchak, 18, of felony malicious harassment -- a hate crime -- and assault.

Yesterday, Kravchenko and Savchak each were sentenced to 11 1/2 months in the King County Jail, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecutor's Office.

Samusenko is scheduled to be sentenced May 13.

Dig it. Under a year for violently attacking someone because they were gay. If they’d actually killed him, maybe they’d have gotten the whole year. What does it say to people like this, when the one of the biggest companies in America says it doesn’t care one way or the other how gay people are treated? But mind you…Steve Ballmer cares. He just doesn’t want to offend the likes of Kravchenko and Savchak and Samusenko, and all the Microsoft employees and shareholders who think they’re on the side of righteousness in the war on homosexuality.

If you thought it wasn’t possible to crawl any lower in the American political gutter then the likes of Bill Frist and Tom DeLay…take another look at Steve Ballmer. Frist and DeLay are at least using the theocratic right as a stepping stone to power. They don’t care who the theocrats maul, whether it’s homosexuals or federal judges. Ballmer on the other hand claims that he cares, but that he just doesn’t want to offend bigots. Ballmer claims In His Own Defense that he is against anti gay prejudice and hate, but that he’d rather not do anything to put a stop to it, because he doesn’t want to offend the haters. Here is the bottom. Here is where, at long last, truth doesn’t even exist as a concept. Here is where true and false are equally nothing. Here is the bottom. There is no possible depth further for a human being to sink. It’s not that we don’t care…it’s that we don’t care that we care… Here is Pilot, washing his hands of the blood of the innocent.

Bad enough that Microsoft does it. This will, without a doubt, influence other major corporations to take the same cowardly bended knee approach to antigay prejudice and hate. Expect to see more companies take a “neutral” stance on civil rights legislation in the coming months. Expect them to cite the sensitivity to their own employee and share holder hatreds. Expect the gay community to have to fight these battles all over again, for our basic right to simply exist in America, just as if it was 1969 all over again.

Well…we knew the Bush second term wouldn’t be all blue sky and roses.


(Graphic courtesy of Pam’s House Blend)

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday April 22, 2005

Good!

Via John Aravosis, The Los Angles Gay and Lesbian Center has asked Microsoft for its award back:

In response to Microsoft's withdrawal of support for legislation that would have outlawed discrimination against gay and lesbian people in Washington, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, which presented Microsoft with its Corporate Vision Award in 2001, is asking the company to return the award.

"We honor companies that, among other things, set a high standard for others by exhibiting leadership in advancing the cause of lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual equality," said L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings. "Because of Microsoft's apparent capitulation to the demands of anti-gay extremists and withdrawal of support for a bill that would do nothing more than protect gay and lesbian people from discrimination, we believe it's no longer worthy of our highest corporate honor."

At the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's 30th Anniversary Gala in 2001, Microsoft was honored because the company had been a leader in opposing anti-gay initiatives, was one of the first companies to offer domestic partnership benefits and include sexual orientation in its corporate non-discrimination policy, and has supported AIDS and GLBT organizations across the country. Center leaders are concerned about the company's apparent shift in its support of civil rights legislation for the GLBT community. Phone calls from the Center to Microsoft have not been returned.

"One of the most basic civil rights is protection from discrimination," said Cummings. "By withdrawing support for legislation that would protect the GLBT community from discrimination -- especially in its home state -- we're very concerned about the direction Microsoft is headed. It sends a dangerous message to the rest of corporate America, and to society in general, and may be cause for our community to evaluate its support of Microsoft."

For thirty years they’ve been trying to get a basic, a basic anti-discrimination bill passed in Washington state. They nearly had it this time, and all of a sudden Microsoft stabs them all in the back. This is something that’s outraged even the timid HRC:

Steven A. Ballmer
CEO, Microsoft Corporation
1 Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052-6399

CC: Bradford L. Smith

Dear Mr. Ballmer:

The Human Rights Campaign, along with your many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, would like to express our profound disappointment at Microsoft Corp.'s withdrawal of support for Washington State House Bill 1515 that would have banned discrimination against GLBT Washingtonians in housing, employment and insurance.

The defeat of this bill struck a blow to fairness for all Washingtonians. No Washingtonian or American should ever be fired for who they are. Corporations in Washington, especially Microsoft, must recognize the enormous impact this bill could have had at delivering equal protection to GLBT people.

In media reports, your company spokesperson said that workplace fairness is not directly "related to our business" and that the short legislative schedule precluded the company from supporting the bill. That position belies your own policies and those of countless other companies who believe firmly that workplace protections for all are essential to maintaining a competitive business environment. Successful businesses embrace diversity not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it the right thing to do for their business.

We also find it troubling that public reports allege that Microsoft made this decision not based on a business rationale, but under pressure from conservative religious-political groups. The reported rationale that Microsoft officials were afraid of offending "Christians" is itself deeply offensive to the many Christians who believe in non-discrimination and were proud of Microsoft's previous position. Further, giving in to threats from a small group fighting to impose their own view of religion on the company and the state will only encourage more such threats. We urge you to work to change this perception.

While Microsoft's internal policies regarding GLBT diversity have been trend setting, its reversal sends a signal, intended or not, that it is no longer supportive of its GLBT employees, customers and shareholders. It implies a lack of support for its own employees as they seek housing and insurance coverage and creates the impression that Microsoft does not support equal treatment at businesses elsewhere in Washington. In fact, the strong stance of Microsoft on behalf of the GLBT community and our partnership with the organization in the past makes this feel like even more of a betrayal.

In addition, Microsoft's position is the exception to many other leading companies that support the bill and the timing of the withdrawal of your support has created the perception that Microsoft was partly responsible for the bill's demise.

Microsoft should reinstate its support for this bill when it returns to the Legislature. It's simply the right thing to do for Microsoft's employees and its business. Further, we call on Microsoft to unambiguously state its support for non-discrimination legislation at the state and federal levels. This lack of clarity may have already had a devastating effect and it's past time to clear the air.

We appreciate our 10-year relationship with Microsoft. We are hopeful the issues raised in this letter can be resolved and we look forward to working with you to that end.

Sincerely,

Joe Solmonese
HRC President

That Bradford L. Smith CC’d in the letter is the Microsoft general council that took time from his busy schedule to tell Microsoft’s gay and lesbian employees that their company was going to cowtow to religious bigots and there wasn’t anything they could do about it. Before Stonewall, all across America, in every city and state, you could be denied a professional license or have one revoked if you were discovered to be a homosexual. Before Stonewall, being fired for simply being a homosexual, was nearly universally regarded as being something you deserved. In the early 70s, it was something I had to endure myself, as time after time I would be fired, or layed off, after my sexual orientation became known. With no college diploma, I went from one job to another, before finally deciding I had to live a life as a freelancer or contract worker. The job I hold now, as a software engineer for the Space Telescope Science Institute, is the first staff position I’ve held in decades. For most of my early adult years, I couldn’t keep a staff position anywhere for very long, because once my sexual orientation became evident, I was out the door.

That’s had a major impact on my life. For most of my adult life I’ve had to live in rented rooms. I spent summers before I got steady work as a contract PC application programmer, mowing lawns, passing out ad flyers, and working Manpower jobs to make ends meet. It wasn’t until I was 38 that I could afford to rent my own apartment here in Baltimore. I have precious little in the way of retirement savings because for most of my working life I never made enough to save.

I always got praise and high marks from my employers…until they found out I didn’t date girls. Then it was back on the streets looking for work again. I have to consider myself lucky I was born when I was, and not a couple decades earlier, when by the time things began to change for the better, I would have been too old to work. But as it is, I’m not looking forward to an easy retirement. I’ll probably have to keep working until I’m 70, and hope my health (and the economy) holds out.

But now I can live openly and not worry about something as basic as loosing my job. Maryland has an anti discrimination law. But people like Rev, Hutcherson want to bring all that down on gay and lesbian Americans again. The gutter crawling thug actually demanded that Microsoft fire two employees who testified in favor of the Washington state bill. These people won’t be satisfied until they have us all swinging by the necks from lamp posts. The republicans think their votes will keep them in power, so the republicans keep kicking us in the face. But what the hell is Microsoft thinking? That people who still don’t believe the universe is more then a few thousand years old are going to become the driving force in Information Technology? Those people think computers are the work of the devil.

I’m glad to see the L.A. center has asked for its award back. Microsoft doesn’t deserve it. With this one stupid, piss ignorant act, it has completely undone everything that came before it. They have pissed all over everything they’ve ever done, not just to support the gay community, but in support of the cause of equal justice for all. They’ve walked away from the civil rights struggle, and the ghastly thoughtlessness of it just makes it all the more obvious they never really meant any of it to begin with. It was all just for show. Nothing more. Nothing more.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday April 21, 2005

Unbelievable

According to this article in The Stranger, Microsoft has gone from merely being a company that just wants to eat other companies, to being a company that wants to eat our civil rights. Or at minimum, doesn’t particularly care if someone else eats them.

The Stranger has learned that last month the $37-billion Redmond-based software behemoth quietly withdrew its support for House bill 1515, the anti-gay-discrimination bill currently under consideration by the Washington State legislature, after being pressured by the Evangelical Christian pastor of a suburban megachurch. The pastor, Ken Hutcherson of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, met with a senior Microsoft executive in February and threatened to organize a national boycott of the company's products if it did not change its stance on the legislation, according to gay rights activists and a Microsoft employee who attended a subsequent April 4 meeting where Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft's senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, told a group of gay staffers about Hutcherson's threat. Hutcherson also unsuccessfully demanded that the company fire two employees who had testified in favor of the bill.

This wasn’t even a same-sex marriage bill…it was a simple anti-discrimination bill that polls show the people of Washington State are overwhelmingly in favor of. Microsoft is a 37 billion dollar a year company. What the hell are they thinking here? That the religious right is going to put a dent in their profits? Where? By flocking en mass to Steve Jobs? Linux? Linux?? Don’t make me laugh. The Red State boobus Americanus that can’t get their heads around evolution sure as hell aren’t running over to Linux. So what the hell is going on here?

I am genuinely puzzled. I have no great love for Microsoft anymore, but until today their thuggish predatory ways have seemed to be confined to the business world. They target other businesses, not the rights and lives of individual citizens. But power corrupts, as they say. Maybe Bill has come to the same conclusion other American billionaires have, which is that people shouldn’t believe they have rights. People should believe instead, that they have a place in the pecking order, and if they know what’s good for them they’d better stay there.

For software developers, the choice not to support Microsoft’s platform monopoly couldn’t be any clearer now. Microsoft used to hide it’s predatory ways behind a gloss of progressive social initiatives. Probably the simplest explanation for what happened today in Washington, is that Microsoft feels it doesn’t have to care what people think of it any more. So the facade is coming down. Not because Bill has any great desire to tear it down and dance in the ashes of the hopes and dreams of gay and lesbian Americans, but because he couldn’t care less. It’s all about power. It was always all about power. All those happy and proud gay and lesbian employees at Microsoft were just meant to be so many bright little trinkets to distract everyone from Bill’s predatory business practices. Now they’re just a collection of office park lawn jockeys. Bill was never into software. Bill was never into computers. Bill created a software company, simply because he understood that it would be software that powered the information age. Where others saw computers as a powerful liberating force, Bill saw only power. But some of us still believe in the ability of computers to bring power down from the rarified heights, into the homes of the people.

And those of us who write the instructions that make the machines do the work we ask of them, have a much clearer picture of Microsoft today then we did the day before. Bad enough that it was stifling competition and innovation in our beloved trade. Now we can see it clearly, unmistakably, as a human rights predator as well. It is no longer possible to morally justify writing code, that only runs on Microsoft platforms. Microsoft may be too big to simply walk away from…for now. But we can do this much: we can make it possible to walk away from Microsoft tomorrow. We can embrace tools that allow us to write software that runs on multiple platforms. We can create new tools for working on multiple platforms. We can begin to free our users. And ourselves. This is Our revolution. We have the power.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday April 20, 2005

If She Made A Joke About Timothy McVey Bombing You, You’d Still Have Kissed Her Ass Wouldn’t You?

Dear Time Magazine…

Editors;

I see John Cloud has responded after a fashion to his critics in an interview in the Columbia Journalism Review online publication CRJ Daily. I have a few questions, both for you, and for him.

Mr. Cloud seems to feel that having Michael Moore on the cover of Time is equivalent to having Ann Coulter on the cover. When did Michael Moore ever publicly regret that hundreds of journalists hadn't been killed by a domestic terrorist?

Mr. Cloud says that Eric Alterman and Ann Coulter engage in the same kind of debate. When did Eric Alterman ever publicly regret that hundreds of journalists hadn't been killed by a domestic terrorist?

Mr. Cloud claims Ann Coulter was just joking about Timothy McVey bombing the New York Times building. In fact, she did clarify her joke later, saying in an interview with the website Right Wing News, "Of course I regret it. I should have added, 'after everyone had left the building except the editors and reporters.'" Is this also Time Magazine's idea of a joke?

Mr. Cloud says that Time also ran a cover with Adolph Hitler on it. Was that the one with the headline that read, "Is he serious, or is he just having fun?"

Mr. Cloud says his job wasn't to be a fact checker. When did facts stop being important to journalists?

---
Bruce Garrett
Baltimore, Maryland

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Meanwhile…Back At The Splendid Little War…

Via Brad DeLong, via Juan Cole

A tearful member of the Iraqi parliament, Fattah al-Shaikh, stood up before other MPs and told the story of how he was attacked and detained by US troops when he attempted to enter the Green Zone, the heavily fortified area near downtown Baghdad where parliament is held and the US embassy is situated. Wire services report that he said, 'ìI donít speak English and so I said to the Iraqi translator with them, ëTell them that I am a member of parliamentí, and he replied, ëTo hell with you, we are Americans.'" '

Al-Hayat reported that al-Shaikh, a member of the Muqtada al-Sadr bloc, said the US troops put their boots on his neck and handcuffed him. The Iraqi parliament was thrown into an uproar by the account...

To hell with you, we are Americans… Kinda sums up the Bush foreign policy in general doesn’t it? And it really complements the Bush domestic policy, which is To hell with you, we are in charge, doesn’t it?

So I suppose there’s no point any more in trying to find out which Texas landfill he dumped America’s moral authority. Right? We can all just forget this nation ever had one of those now.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Religious Right Loves Israel…It’s Only Jews They Can’t Stand…

From the You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught Department:

Air Force Cadets See Religious Harassment

The Associated Press
April 20, 2005
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- Less than two years after it was plunged into a rape scandal, the Air Force Academy is scrambling to address complaints that evangelical Christians wield so much influence at the school that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment have become pervasive.

There have been 55 complaints of religious discrimination at the academy in the past four years, including cases in which a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and another was called a Christ killer by a fellow cadet.

Virginia Gov. James Gilmore is quoted in the article as warning the school superintendent that evangelical Christians “do not check their religion at the door.” Swell. Can they check their gutter crawling prejudices at the door and at least make an effort to try to get along with their fellow students, heathens dammed to hell fire for all eternity though they are? Or are we going to start hearing from them something like this:

...by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.

You know…I don’t think religion leads people to hate. I don’t think it makes people murder their neighbors. It’s arrogance that does that. A monstrous arrogance that strips us of our human capacity to love one another, that denies us the ability to see ourselves in our neighbor’s faces. When right wing politicians talk about a war against people of faith, what they’re saying is that their’s is the only faith. So where the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, that can only apply to the only religion there is. Their’s. We’re all atheists, except for them. Everyone. The whole wide world. We’re all unbelievers, except for them and their children, telling jewish classmates that their grandparents deserved to spend their last minutes on this good earth gagging on insecticide in Nazi gas chambers because the jews killed Christ.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

And Speaking Of Those High Church Hypocrits That Christ Was Always Going On About…

Oh did you hear that Charles and his old squeeze finally got decent? And the guy who married them couldn’t have been more understanding…

Royals, Gays and the Double Standard

Michael McGough
The Los Angeles Times
April 18, 2005
The no-frills nuptials of Britain's Prince Charles and divorcee Camilla Parker Bowles - in which the couple had to settle for a blessing by the archbishop of Canterbury after a civil marriage - were God's gift to British satirists.

But they also were a high-profile reminder that some Anglicans (and other Christians) who oppose church blessings of same-sex couples read Holy Writ selectively. When St. Paul condemns homosexuality, he is to be taken literally; when Jesus condemns divorce, some of these sticklers for scriptural purity suddenly discover situation ethics.

Had the new duchess of Cornwall not been involved with Charles during his marriage to Princess Diana, she and the prince might have received a full-dress church wedding, with a mitered archbishop of Canterbury declaring them man and wife and not simply blessing a civil union.

But even the bargain-basement blessing bestowed on the couple by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams would be unavailable to same-sex couples under the approach taken by the so-called Windsor Report. This was issued last fall by a commission named by Williams to deal with dissension among Anglicans worldwide over homosexuality.

The report is best known for its call on the Episcopal Church of the United States to express regret over the ordination as a bishop of the openly gay Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson. But the report also targeted the New Westminster Diocese of the Anglican Church of Canada for approving blessing services for same-sex couples.

In both cases, in the view of evangelical Anglicans, the anything-goes North Americans had contravened the plain teaching of the Bible - particularly St. Paul's condemnation of men who "leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet." The Very Rev. Colin Slee, dean at the Southwark Cathedral in London, sees a double standard in the way supposed sticklers for Scripture react to homosexuality and divorce.

The story goes that Charles was having an affair (that’s British high society talk for schtupping) Camilla Parker Bowles well before he met Diana. The story further goes that Bowles was perfectly content to be Charles’ mistress, even to the point of encouraging him to marry Diana. Charles of course, was perfectly willing to marry a woman that was not the main love of his life.

And Rowan Williams was perfectly willing to marry the two of them, now that Diana is dead and gone and apparently there is no more gain in pretense between the two lovebirds. Swell. And Williams is kicking the American churches in the face because homosexuality is incompatible with scripture according to Williams. Homosexuality that is, not adultery, and not divorce, and especially not hypocrisy.

Okay…can we put this to rest now? Finally? Please? It has nothing to do with scripture. Nothing. It’s all about animus toward homosexuals. God hates them, because we hate them. On the other hand, God likes adulterers. He likes divorce. And he loves a good hypocrite. Hypocrites were among Christ’s favorite people. He liked them even better then he liked money changers and Pharisees and child abusers. God loves hypocrites most of all. They are his chosen people. Good thing for Williams.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

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