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July 14th, 2013
Why didn’t you just button up your britches and go home George?
by Bruce |
Via Death and Taxes…
Now that Zimmerman has a legitimate reason to fear for his life, the threshold for what constitutes a personal threat has got to feel awfully low. What about an unarmed person wearing a t-shirt with George Zimmerman’s face in crosshairs who sees him on the street and swears at him? Could Zimmerman shoot him? Trayvon Martin was unarmed and was wearing a plain sweatshirt. What about a group of protesters shouting hostile messages about him as Zimmerman happens to walk by? Based on the jury’s handling of the Trayvon Martin case, it seems Florida law would allow Zimmerman to pull out his gun and, if he continued to feel threatened by these people for whatever reason, shoot them all in good standing under the law.
You thought the gun made you somebody and it didn’t after all, did it George. You had to chose, as everyone who puts a gun, or any other sort of weapon in their hand, has to choose, between the rule of law and the law of the gun…and you chose the gun…because you thought that made you somebody…and now the gun owns you George…it owns you…
“If I was doing you a favor I’d let them hang you now and get it all over with. But I don’t want you to get off that light. I want you to go on being a big tough gunny. I want you to see what it means to have to live like a big tough gunny. So don’t thank me yet partner. You’ll see what it means.”
-Gregory Peck in The Gunfighter
July 13th, 2013
The Vigilante It Is…
by Bruce |
Zimmerman walks, which is the outcome we should all have expected from Florida, but still…
I was born in the early 50’s and spent most of my grade school years in the 1960s. During that time, probably largely due to the homosexual panics of the 1950s, I got tons of warnings in and out of school about being followed by strange men and how I shouldn’t let them get too close and needed to fight like hell if one of them tried to grab me off the street because I might never be seen again. Maybe they teach kids differently these days, but one of the most striking things to me in this whole episode is Zimmerman could stalk a teenage boy and get away with shooting him dead by claiming that he was mortally afraid of him and people keep saying with pious straight faces that Martin shouldn’t have fought back and because he did Zimmerman was justified in killing him and his race has nothing to do with that.
Seriously. Who tells teenage boys to just do whatever the strange man with a gun tells them to do and everything will be all right? I’m not trying to be snarky here. If you subtract Martin’s race from this, then all the people saying that Martin caused his own death by fighting back are not making sense. That Martin, if (If) he took a swing at Zimmerman, did because he was afraid is obvious. Unless you think that young black men don’t need any reason to try and kill someone with their bare hands because they’re all just animals really.
July 11th, 2013
The Vigilante Or Civilization…Pick One
by Bruce |
The facts show that George Zimmerman armed himself with a gun loaded with hollow point bullets and ended up killing an unarmed teenager who was just out buying some snacks. How that happened is disputed but to me it’s obvious that when you strap on a gun, go looking for trouble and end up stalking and killing an unarmed 17 year old, you’ve done something wrong.
Digby goes on to say “To me, the carrying of that gun morally requires that he be held liable in some way for the unarmed Trayvon’s death”, but there is where I often part company with my fellow liberals on the issue of guns: I am fine with the concept that you have a right to own a gun and defend yourself with it. In fact, I consider that right to be a fundamentally democratic thing.
What isn’t are things like vigilantism and racism. These are poison. They are poison to the person, they are poison to the nation. This case is positively dripping with racism that nobody in the corporate news media wants to look closely at, because we’re all supposed to be beyond all that now. Except we’re not. Zimmerman’s suspicion and fear of Martin only makes sense in the context of Martin’s race, his sex, and his age. There is literally nothing else there but those three things. Zimmerman stalked that kid because of those three things, and his rational for killing an unarmed teenage boy who was out buying snacks can only seem plausible due to those three things. Fear the black male, and especially, fear the young black male. Look, for as long as you can stomach it, at the breathless agreement that Martin posed a threat to Zimmerman’s life, solely on the basis of Zimmerman’s say-so, and the ephemeral signs of a fight on his face and head. That was no beating. You want to see what a beating looks like, look at the photos of recent victims of gay bashers. But it’s simply an accepted fact in certain quarters of the country that Zimmerman’s life was threatened. Were Martin white it would not matter what the race of his stalker would be, other than if his stalker was a black man he’d already have been convicted and on Florida’s death row. Picture it: a white teenaged boy stalked by a strange man, fights back and is found shot to death. Would anyone doubt the adult male had done something horribly wrong? Why is it never considered, that Martin was standing His ground when Zimmerman confronted him? Well, of course a young black male has no such right. Racism was always at the rotten core of this.
But if Zimmerman was a racist, he was also a vigilante and if you approve of vigilantism anywhere outside the pages of a comic book you are no friend of civilization let alone democracy. All those people waving around the second amendment as a defense against tyranny are no defenders of democracy…if anything they are the useful tools of anarchy. The gun is what you need when the the peace is broken, so the first thing, the basic responsibility of the believers in civilization and democracy is to preserve the peace. That means the rule of law and the ballot box as the agent of change. Peaceful disobedience, where the conscience requires disobedience, and responsibility for ones own conduct toward your neighbors. Responsibility. What a concept, that. Zimmerman acted like the gun came with a badge and they don’t. But more than that, he acted as if he had character enough to bear the wearing of a badge and it’s sickeningly obvious he is no such person.
However this trial turns out, if nothing else this case really raises a lot of questions about the kind of nation we are, or should want to be. So many virtuous moral all-American values types cheering on what Zimmerman did. It’s been a while since I’ve been this completely disgusted. Digby’s right, what would be a just punishment for what Zimmerman did isn’t obvious, but what is staringly obvious is that he did something terribly, horribly wrong. A teenage boy went out for snacks and never came back home, because Zimmerman saw a young black man somewhere he thought a young black man didn’t belong, and took that matter into his own hands.
June 26th, 2013
The Untruth At The Heart Of It
by Bruce |
“At the heart of the gay marriage argument is an untruth: unions of two men or women are not the same as unions of husband and wife. The law cannot make it so, it can only require us to paint pretty pictures to cover up deep truths embedded in human nature.”
-Maggie Gallagher, still trying to paint a pretty picture over the untruth at the heart of the anti-gay agenda, that Homosexuals Don’t Love, They Just Have Sex…
Excuses Are Not Mistakes
by Bruce |
This from Slate…
In a speech last week titled “Mullahs of the West: Judges as Moral Arbiters,” Justice Antonin Scalia told the North Carolina Bar Association that the court has no place acting as a “judge moralist” in issues better left to the people. Since judges aren’t qualified—or constitutionally authorized—to set moral standards, he argued, the people should decide what’s morally acceptable.
…and so on. Nathanial Frank pegs it at the end of this piece, thusly:
Morality is not just whatever views a majority has long held, and it’s not simply what you learned on your mother’s knee or whatever it says in your faith’s scripture. Moral belief is a grounded judgment about what harms or helps living things.
(emphasis mine) That. Which leads to this: Scalia, like a lot of homophobes, does not have a misunderstanding about morality; he has an assortment of smokescreens he hides his prejudices behind, that he calls morality.
They do that in the kook pews and that is why their moral judgements seem so haphazard and contradictory: They’re not making moral judgements, they’re jerking their knees, dancing from one thing to another to whatever tune their prejudices call.
June 24th, 2013
Let’s Have A Conversation Past Each Other
by Bruce |
A Facebook friend posted this graphic a short while ago…
Some days I think I’m the only person in the world who sees the various factions in the argument over gun control talking past each other so…Devotedly. Actually, yeah, people do talk about banning the private ownership of guns, usually in the context of saying that it would be impractical at this time or that, like a lot of other idealistic notions it just isn’t practical, so let’s do what we can today. In other words, gosh wouldn’t it be nice if nobody had guns. Well, some of us think not so much, and we’re not all Ted Nugent crackpots or Moloch worshipers. So what some folks insist The Other Side should be paying attention to is “we don’t want to take all your guns away” and the what other folks are paying attention to is that “at this time” or “because it isn’t practical” and so it goes.
Yes we can talk. We can for sure talk about how wonderful a world where nobody but the government can own a weapon, and no I am not an anti-government crank, I am a liberal FDR democrat and I believe that our best defense against tyranny is the ballot box and if you don’t use that wisely your damn household arsenal will not save you and I don’t care how big it is. I am a liberal FDR union supporting social safety net defending equality for all Americans democrat and I don’t see how rendering the common man and woman defenseless improves their lives much. However I Can see how sensible regulation of firearms does. But of course sensible is in the eye of the beholder. Convince me.
Yes, we can talk. We can talk about what sensible gun regulation is. But to have That conversation it would be helpful to hear some general agreement that the second amendment does in fact confer a right on individual citizens to own guns. No more of this “what part of ‘well regulated militia don’t you understand’ crap. What part of “the people” don’t You understand.
How about: “We agree people have a basic democratic right to own their own firearms. But like a lot of basic democratic rights that isn’t absolute either. Freedom of speech for example, doesn’t mean you can shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. It doesn’t mean you can slander someone without there being consequences. The right to own a gun isn’t absolute, and especially so where our commonly shared public spaces are involved. Simply requiring a background check does not infringe on your right to own a gun, it just means that right comes with the responsibility to be peaceful and law abiding. Everyone has to be that. Simply restricting the capacity of ammunition clips does not infringe on your right to own a gun, it just means that your gun is for your personal protection not for criminal activity, waging armed rebellion, or terrorism. Simply restricting weapons fit only for military uses to just the military does not infringe on your right to own a gun, it just means if you want to be a solider you need to join the Army.
“But yes, you have a basic second amendment right to own a gun.”
Yeah…if only we could have that conversation. But it isn’t just one side of the argument that isn’t interested.
June 11th, 2013
How It All Ends
by Bruce |
This from Truth Wins Out…
Several weeks ago, Tennessee student Marcel Neergaard made a lot of news when he, at the ripe old age of eleven, led a campaign to have an education award rescinded from vehemently anti-gay Tennessee lawmaker John Ragan…
Bullied eleven year old stands up to political bullies in the Tennessee statehouse. It’s a very heartwarming story. And there’s a follow-up everyone should have expected, but I’ll bet his parents didn’t completely…
Sharon Kass is one of the strangest anti-gay activists out there. As far as I can tell, she’s never actually held any official position with an anti-gay organization, so she’s not making money off of being unhinged. But unhinged she is. That may be putting it lightly…
She wrote a letter to the kid’s parents. You can read it in full at the link above and be completely disgusted, as any sane person would be. But this is how the struggle ends. This is how the heterosexual majority finds out this fight has always been between all that is fine and noble in the human heart, verses the human gutter.
It has always been that fight. We win it when heterosexuals finally come to see we all share a common human heart after all. And when they do, they become the enemy too, and the gutter will turn on them as well. And when they finally, Finally see the honest face of what has been preaching at them all these centuries, this fight is over. That is how the story of this struggle ends.
Not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with a tiny little tin voice babbling on and on and on and on and on about gayism.
June 8th, 2013
In Theory You Could Add A Check…
by Bruce |
The EFF as usual, gets it right…
In response to the recent news reports about the National Security Agency’s surveillance program, President Barack Obama said today, “When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls.” Instead, the government was just “sifting through this so-called metadata.” The Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made a similar comment last night: “The program does not allow the Government to listen in on anyone’s phone calls. The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the identity of any subscriber.”
What they are trying to say is that disclosure of metadata—the details about phone calls, without the actual voice—isn’t a big deal, not something for Americans to get upset about if the government knows. Let’s take a closer look at what they are saying:
They know you rang a phone sex service at 2:24 am and spoke for 18 minutes. But they don’t know what you talked about.
They know you called the suicide prevention hotline from the Golden Gate Bridge. But the topic of the call remains a secret.
They know you spoke with an HIV testing service, then your doctor, then your health insurance company in the same hour. But they don’t know what was discussed.
“In theory, you could add the check of exposing the system to the light of day, but that means wrecking much of its intelligence value”, they’re saying over at Volokh, exposing to the light of day the usual contempt wingers have for democracy. That would be the Voters you’re talking about there Baker, and why goodness gracious the system Was exposed to the light of day, otherwise known as the Voters, we’re all arguing about it now aren’t we, and if they ever catch the whistleblower who let the voters know what their government was doing to them that person will think Bradley Manning had it easy.
But I am just a computer geek who just happens to be working on a space science program which will itself fling a fucking torrent of data back at planet earth for astronomers to make sense of. Every now and then I get a bit worried when I see the disconnect between my understanding of how electronic information systems work and everyone else’s. Then I see articles like that Forbes Magazine one where they described how Target figured out a teenage girl was pregnant before her parents did and sent her helpful offerings of child care products and I feel a little better. Then I see this. Oh they’re not listening to our phone calls, just capturing the metadata…nothing to worry about citizen.
But never mind the metadata. If the deep secrecy going on here, where not just court orders are secret but the government’s interpretation of the laws its supposed to be following are secret too isn’t scaring the hell out of you then I have to wonder why you even bother following the news or taking the trouble to vote.
I am not an anti-government crank. I am a liberal FDR democrat. I believe in democracy. But for democracy to work you need elections, and for those to work you need voters who know what the fuck is going on. Oliver Willis stupid shit reductio ad absurdums notwithstanding. Nobody is demanding Geraldo Rivera follow CIA agents around with a TV camera while Jerry Springer provides a running commentary. But when oversight itself becomes a state secret, when the governments own interpretations of the laws binding it are kept from the voters, then it’s a catastrophe waiting to happen. I am not an anti-government crank, I am a liberal FDR democrat, and I believe in democratic government. And one reason I believe in democratic government is power corrupts. The light of day is a good thing.
June 7th, 2013
Nothing To See Here…
by Bruce |
He created a TV series whose central plot hook was wiretapping…his business is entertainment…which gives him more credibility as to how modern computer networks, data storage and data archiving and mining technologies work than the news media. Yes, Mr. Simon, you may well be right about that. Sadly. However…
When the Guardian, or the Washington Post or the New York Times editorial board – which displayed an astonishing ignorance of the realities of modern electronic surveillance in its quick, shallow wade into this non-controversy – are able to cite the misuse of the data for reasons other than the interception of terrorist communication, or to show that Americans actually had their communications monitored without sufficient probable cause and judicial review and approval of that monitoring, then we will have ourselves a nice, workable scandal.
And in fairness, having the FISA courts rulings so hidden from citizen review, makes even the discovery of such misuse problematic.
I’d have to say that is eminently fair.
“Frankly, I’m a bit amazed that the NSA and FBI have their shit together enough to be consistently doing what they should be doing with the vast big-data stream of electronic communication.” I’m sure you are Mr. TV writer sir. Because like a lot of people you’re focusing on the amount of the data. Yes, it’s very large isn’t it. Huge even.
I am but a mere computer geek who happens to be working on a space science project that does, in fact, involve capturing a fucking torrent of data, archiving it, and providing tools to researchers to help them make that data make sense. Before that I did the same as a contract software engineer designing and implementing business systems. I’ve been working in this world for decades now. You’re looking at the wrong problem.
Let me tell you something about data Mr. Simon. Data doesn’t matter. It’s the connections between the data that matter. It isn’t what you said, it’s who you talk to and who they talk to and who they talk to, that tells a story about your life, about who you are. You remember don’t you, all the fuss not very long ago when someone showed Facebook users how much information about their private lives anyone could glean, simply by looking at their friend’s lists? Remember that Forbes Magazine article about how Target found out a teenage girl was pregnant before her father did? They didn’t have to read her email or private text messages and it was easy. All they needed was enough data to make good connections between products and lives.
Do research for your TV shows do you? A bit surprised that NSA and FBI can do anything with that “…vast big-data stream…” are you? Hahahahahahahaha. The bigger the data stream, the more precise your profiles. Sure, if you had to listen in on every goddamn phone conversation in the United States of America, as opposed to just the phone calls of a few drug dealers in Baltimore…
…you’d be swamped. You couldn’t possibly make sense of it all. But that’s not what happens. For their purposes Mr Simon, more is better. Much, Much better.
Conversations are noise. It’s the connections that matter. You’re looking at the wrong problem. But that’s okay. That’s where you’re supposed to be looking.
April 3rd, 2013
Without Shame What Good Is Marriage?
by Bruce |
Via Andrew Sullivan…Mark Oppenheimer, who thinks same-sex marriage might just pass muster as long as we still get to stigmatize someone…if not the homosexuals…
So here’s my question to Douthat, Maggie Gallagher, Ross Douthat Brian Brown, the world of conservative evaneglical preachers, and others who are so concerned about same-sex marriage: What does it do your perception of Ronald Reagan that he was a divorcé—and in being the first divorced president certainly helped remove any last shreds of stigma? Would you have voted against him for that reason—as many would have in 1952? Would you discourage people from listening to radio hosts who have divorces in their past (Limbaugh, Dennis Prager), or voting for divorcés like John McCain? If our goal is to work our way back to 1950 Marriage, how are we going to re-stigmatize divorce for wealthy white people? How are we going to make their divorces seem unseemly? In 1950, when a divorced woman moved into the neighborhood, people whispered about her. Are we prepared to whisper again?
As they used to say back in the day…matter of fact as some of my elementary school teachers used to say to my face…I’m the product of a broken home. Oddly, I would not have known my home was “broken” had it not been for so many helpful adults back in the day. Kids hear those whispers too Oppenheimer. But that’s part of the fun isn’t it?
Here’s my problem with shaming divorcees..
That’s my dad under that sheet. Mom divorced him when I was two and raised me herself. And but for the fact that mine was a household with a single divorced women at the head of it, you might even say that I was raised in a good Baptist home. But for that one fact. I remember how mom was treated back in those days. I remember how she raised me by setting an example. Never mind church. Yes I got taken to church. She never cheated anyone, never took advantage, never said anything about anyone in my presence she wouldn’t have said to their face, never drank or uttered a curse word in my presence, paid her bills, lived frugally (well…we had to…) kept her promises and when she passed away people in the town she retired to would come up to me on the street and tell me what a ray of sunshine she always was. But no…it was a shameful thing being a divorced woman. The head of my household growing up should have been the crook. Why, I might not be homosexual if my father had been there. A boy needs a father, and better to grow up learning how to rob people of their savings than to be a homosexual. Provided of course I share some of the loot with a few conservative think tanks.
Dad, let it be said, was always nice to me, and nice to mom. To other people…not so much. And mom loved him until the day she died. But she knew better than to let me be raised by him. Let me tell you a brief little story about that. When I was a teenager dad was earning a semi-honest living driving trucks and cargo around the country. More about that “semi-honest” part in a bit. One summer mom felt comfortable enough letting dad take me with him on one of his cross-country runs and one afternoon we stopped somewhere to eat and rest up a bit. I chowed down in the restaurant and Dad went into the bar next door. He came back, sat across the table from me and with a cheerful smile pushed some papers and a pen across the table at me and asked me to make a mark on the dotted line. I must have raised an eyebrow. Just make a mark there, he said. You want me to sign it, I asked? No…just scribble something. So I’m the obedient son and I did it, and he took the pen and papers back, folded them up and put them in his jacket pocket and smiled warmly at me and said, “You just made your dad five-hundred bucks.”
Aw gee Dad…
So I have this…hunch…that if he had remained the God Ordained Head Of The Household like he was God Ordained supposed to be I probably would not be the sort of person I am now, capable of passing the background check I could so I could be doing the work I do now at Space Telescope. Still, he was my dad and I loved him all the same and I feel these bitter little smiles come out of me whenever I hear some jackass homophobe saying that you can love people without sanctioning their behavior. You don’t say? Know something about that do you? And one day when my brother and I discovered he had no stone for his grave I bought him one, and my brother paid to have it placed, and it reads “Beloved Father” because sometimes you do things not because of what was, but because of what ought to have been.
I have never regretted mom’s divorce. Regretted dad couldn’t have been a better dad, but I suppose he actually did the best he could, the best that was within him to do, and he loved his sons and his wives (he married again…and…divorced again…) as much as it was within him to love anyone. But without a doubt was absolutely for the best for both mom and me that I was not raised by him. And piss on you Oppenheimer, if you think whispering shame at divorcees is a good thing. Never dawns on the likes of you that divorce might actually be a good thing does it? Never dawns on the likes of you that the shame you throw at single mothers is felt by their children does it? We’re just collateral damage in your little culture war aren’t we?
Here’s the problem with jackass social conservatives like him…they seem not to be able to function socially without a bunch of arbitrary rules that can never be questioned lest they get utterly lost in the human relationship thicket. They have no idea what the rules are for, other than they’re there to prop up some sort of civilized behavior, the reason for which they have no clue whatsoever. Homosexuality is shameful because it’s against the rules. Divorce is shameful because it is against the rules. The rules are Very Important because without them we wouldn’t have a fucking clue how to behave toward our neighbors.
I have a wee suggestion. Instead of shaming divorce, how about we shame spouse abuse. How about we shame cheating. How about we shame not setting a good example for children. How about we shame not taking care of children. Ah…but spouse abuse was never one of the rules…was it? Women having to submit gracefully and all. And children…the only thing they’re good for is a reason why same-sex couples can’t get married and women can’t own their own bodies. It’s not like we give a good goddamn about their health or feeding or educating them.
This Really Isn’t About God Is It….
by Bruce |
Someone in North Carolina complained that some county commissioners were starting their meetings with a prayer…and this was the response at the statehouse
Republican North Carolina state legislators have proposed allowing an official state religion in a measure that would declare the state exempt from the Constitution and court rulings.
The bill, filed Monday by two GOP lawmakers from Rowan County and backed by nine other Republicans, says each state “is sovereign” and courts cannot block a state “from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.”
Arguments about religion are usually arguments about Who’s In Charge rather than arguments about religion. Same thing with arguments about Intrusive Government. Reverence allegedly paid to God is actually directed at the Tribe, in whose name God serves. Figure they’ll be holding a conclave down there somewhere in the old confederacy to elect the first Baptist pope any day now.
March 19th, 2013
A Splendid Little War…
by Bruce |
Andrew Sullivan has been relentlessly digging up and reposting his horrible Iraq war posts as a kind of public confession and mea culpa. So very Catholic, and I mean that in a respectful way. For all the hostility I threw at him back then I must say now that he has my respect, being one of the few Bush cheerleaders I’ve seen to change their minds about both the man and his war, and while you can argue that this is just a matter of plainly seeing the facts for what they are and you don’t pat someone on the back for doing what they ought to have been doing in the first place, that’s ignoring some hard truths about human nature and what can happen to any of us who get caught up in a mob. Sullivan deserves a great deal of respect in my opinion for so publicly eating crow and more to the point, for setting an example. If more of us owned our mistakes in life instead of passing the buck this would be a much better world.
The rest of us who were right all along need to look squarely at the fact of our utter uselessness. We tried, we failed, and way too often it seems to me, we settled for the sanctimony of being right over making a difference.
Flashback…Washington D.C…March 18, 2003
Tuesday afternoon. I am attending a conference on open source software in government being held at George Washington University. I am here because my project manager is investigating the possibility of moving the system I’ve been working on for the past several years to open source software. Work on the Hubble Space Telescope will go into maintenance mode shortly, and the thinking is that the Institute doesn’t want to spend a lot of money it won’t have on software upgrades, simply because a certain vendor has a business cycle that requires you to do that. At least with open source we would have the option of making any small fixes we absolutely needed to have before the end of the mission ourselves, without breaking our systems that depend on it. The alternative is to stick to the vendor’s upgrade cycle, and pray the new versions don’t break anything in our software, or introduce new bugs and security holes.
Between conference sessions, I wander around the Foggy Bottom area, and back and forth to my hotel, which I paid for out of my own pocket, rather then hassle with Washington traffic, which is a nightmare. The hotel has a nice little kitchenette, which allows me to eat reasonably well without further damaging my budget for the month. Around noon I begin the walk back to my hotel for lunch, stopping to examine a decrepit building right next to the conference hall, that I assume is one of the student dorms. It is, and I see by the bronze plaque by the door that this one is named Lafayette Hall. I read the inscription, which briefly describes the history of Marquis de Lafayette, who fought beside George Washington, taking a bullet in the process, for the freedom of a nation that was not his own, and who later attended the first commencement ceremonies of the university that bore his friend’s name, shaking the hand of each of those first graduates. While I am reading, a snarky voice in the back of my mind is saying Freedom Fries…Freedom Toast… An old friend of mine I’d had breakfast with that morning, told me a joke he’d heard about a man who, while visiting France recently, asked a random Frenchman, “Sir, can you speak German?” When the Frenchman replied that he couldn’t, the American said, “You’re welcome.” I told my friend the Frenchman could just as easily have asked the American, “Sir, what is your king’s name?”
My hotel is somewhat oldish. My room is on the sixth floor and the elevators are small and slow. I press the button and when one finally appears, I see that there are already two businessmen inside. It’s a tight fit for three. As we go up I feel the hair on the back of my neck rise. There are some who you would never know from the look of them to be of the right wing thuggish persuasion, and there are others who hit you with it in waves, in the cut of the clothes, the bullying posture that is as second nature as breathing, and the coldness of the face, particularly when smiling at nothing in particular. I tune them both out, pulling out from a space within me I’d almost forgotten about, a “Yes I’m a longhair, yes I know you hate my guts, and no mister establishment person sir, I really don’t give a flying fuck” attitude, close my eyes, and listen to the elevator floor counter click off the floors to mine. I toy briefly about writing a book, “Everything I know about living under Bush II, I learned from Nixon”. The old elevator rises slowly. I hear one of my companions say, “I hope they don’t cancel our flight out Thursday.” The other chuckles and says, “The war will be over by then.”
February 27th, 2013
No…I Will Not Stand Side-By-Side With The Likes Of You…
by Bruce |
A one time shooting buddy of mine offhandedly remarked that my support of gun control democrats over right to keep and bear arms republicans was, of course, all about my favoring sex and my sexual orientation over my right to self defense. I countered as I usually do when that comes up, simply by stating that while I think a lot of gun control rhetoric is simplistic and naive at best, at least it’s grounded in one basic fact, that guns are dangerous, whereas getting whipped up in a hysteria over homosexuality not only makes no sense whatsoever, by attacking people’s ability to love and accept love from another you’re actually making civilization that much harder to sustain. To nurture civilization, nurture things in its people like love, sympathy, trust, kindness. A little more love, or for that matter even a little more carefree happy sex, would probably go a long way toward making this poor angry world a much more peaceful one. If I have to come down on one side of it, I will come down on the side of love, Every Time.
But there is also this…
Last week, we reported that Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America joined conservative talk show host Stan Solomon to warn about President Obama’s alleged plans to incite violence and bring about a race war against white Americans.
I can’t begin to describe how much I despise it that people like this man have so thoroughly identified their cheapshit racism and hatreds with gun ownership. I can appreciate how it is that bigots and thugs like guns. But in a decent world they’d be keeping their mouths shut about it for the same reason Klansmen kept their faces hidden. No sense in telling the cops who to talk to when there’s been a beating or a lynching.
Behold, the human gutter…
Later, Solomon mused that “the best thing that can happen to a liberal is to be mugged,” and wondered why Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) still supports gun control after she was mugged in 1995, to which Pratt replied: “Well, maybe she liked it.”
There’s the other reason I’ll stand with the democrats on this issue, even if it means they go further than I’d care to see on it. This element needs to be thoroughly defeated, humiliated, at the polls, so we can set about building a more peaceful and prosperous tomorrow. The root of violence, the root I put it to you of all criminal behavior, is right there, in that man’s sneering contempt for a women who was mugged.
House Of Cards Much?
by Bruce |
So in my Google News stream I see that Ex-Gay For Pay Christopher Doyle has penned an article for the “Christian Post” in which he suggests that people who oppose ex-gay therapy are basically like the night man at the Hotel California telling gay people they can check out but they can never leave. You may suppose he’s not one of the pretty pretty boys dancing to remember.
There are things that make my eyes glaze over whenever they hit them…Paul Cameron, Gay Lifestyle, Love The Sinner…and one surefire one is when they keep asserting that Kirk and Madsen’s After The Ball represents some sort of playbook for the Vast Homosexual Conspiracy. No, Chris…After The Ball’s biggest problem in achieving the goals Kirk and Madsen laid out wasn’t then and is not now is the advent of “the former homosexual, or ex-gay”, but something they pointed out themselves in the book…
“There’s no point in mincing words: the current condition of organization and fundraising in gay America is deplorable, and makes a pipe dream of our [Kirk and Madsen's] plans for an effective campaign. Without a unified national movement, led by an organization with sufficient resources to produce and guide the campaign, gay America hasn’t nearly the “strength to bring forth.”
-Kirk and Madsen, After the Ball“, p248.
They’ll figure out how to herd cats before the gay community ever gets that organized. If anything Kirk and Madsen got laughed at and then ignored back in 1989. Yes, yes…if only we had some Madison Avenue guys who could lead us out of Egypt…
And no, the “whole foundation of ‘born this way’” isn’t much likely to tumble “like a stack of cards” at the feet of the feet of the “former homosexual, or ex-gay”…all things considered…
Seriously tragic how them little gay babies just keep doing what them little gay babies were born to do, ain’t it?
To keep insisting there must be some sort of organized gay agenda is entirely of a piece with the authoritarian top-down social order mindset. In the leaves of grass it does not work that way. And reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, does not go away.
Religion As The Mirror In Which You See God
by Bruce |
The author Mary Renault once said (and I’m paraphrasing now because I don’t have that exact quote) that all politics, like sex, was merely a reflection of the person within, and that if you are mean and selfish and cruel it came out in your sex life and in your politics when what really mattered is you aren’t the sort of person who behaves like that. To that I would only add religion. If you are mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your religion too, when what really matters is you aren’t the sort of person who behaves like that…
A provocative new study is challenging assumptions about the deterrent effect of religion on criminal behaviour.
The U.S. study found that through “purposeful distortion or genuine ignorance,” hardcore criminals often co-opt religious doctrine to justify or further their crimes.
Among the interviewees…
A 25-year-old criminal nicknamed “Cool” said he always does a “quick little prayer” before committing a crime in order to “stay cool with Jesus.” As long as you ask for forgiveness, Jesus has to give it to you, he said.
He also suggested that if a crime is committed against another “bad person,” such as a dope dealer or child molester, “then it don’t count against me because it’s like I’m giving punishment to them for Jesus.”
The interviews show that criminals will often employ “elaborate and creative rationalizations” to reconcile their belief in God and their serial offending, the researchers concluded.
As you read this article it isn’t hard to hear in the voices of these criminals every justification the religious right uses to prey on other people. Here is the voice of predatory christianism as if spoken on a minimalist stage. Strip the frippery away and you have a prison gang. How is it that murderers, robbers and thugs don’t see themselves that way? Well, don’t blame religion for it either. Humans have an amazing capacity to see only what we want to see…to lie to ourselves even when it is killing us, rather than admit an uncomfortable truth. Yes, actually…I’m a dick… The religious right uses Christianity the way a thief uses a crowbar. Here in that study, are the professionals.
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