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May 12th, 2017

That Bible Also Warns That As You Sow…

This came across my newsfeeds this morning…

Gay people ‘deserve to die,’ SLO High teacher’s letter to student newspaper says

In a letter to the student newspaper, a San Luis Obispo High School teacher quoted a Bible verse saying that people committing homosexual acts “deserve to die,” drawing outrage and concern from students, teachers and parents, and a call for calm by administrators.

Read the letter Here.

Dad’s side of my family is from that part of California, not very far down the coast, and many still live in the area. I visit there whenever I can and my plan ‘A’ for retirement is to return one day to the Garrett ancestral homelands. It’s a lovely little slice of coastal California paradise. My brother often says he lives in a postcard. Every time I return to it something deep down inside me aches to stay. This is where you belong it says: this is where you have always belonged. The climate is nice, the landscape stunningly beautiful (if occasionally prone to movement) and most of the folks I encounter are nice, decent, laid back Californios. I would feel absolutely comfortable living there as an openly gay man. But et in Arcadia ego, this kind of venomous hate is everywhere, and in the current political climate, when a leading candidate for President of the United States openly courts religious right figures that call for death to homosexual people, you need to expect this sort of thing. Even so, seeing it coming from a grade school teacher to his students still manages to shock.

An update to this from the local paper says the teacher in question has resigned amid death threats. But he was a new hire on his probationary period and the district had already decided to let him go when the current school year ends. You have to assume there were already signs that teaching schoolkids was probably not a good fit for him. This may have been his way of giving everyone the finger before he left. As to the death threats, he’d thrown one not only at every gay kid in that school, he basically gave every kid in that school permission to violently attack any gay person they might come across outside of school. In all the talk of how unsafe the gay kids in that school are feeling now, spare a few moments to think about the larger community that school draws from, and the gay adults who might be in it. And now he’s complaining someone(s) threw that back at him.

Understand this: A teacher, in a public school, was advocating violence. When all is said and done, the name of the target isn’t as significant as the fact that a teacher basically said to his school kids that civilized norms can be disregarded and god says that’s not only okay, it’s your duty. The beast he released into that school, into that community, obeys no one. It will eat the one you hate. It will eat the one you love. It will eat you too.

by Bruce | Link | React!
January 16th, 2017

They Still Hate Him

…even some of us white Americans. This came up in my news feed this morning from the New York Times…

Which Martin Luther King Are We Celebrating Today?

“Every year on the third Monday of January, Americans of all races, backgrounds and ideologies celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He is rightly lionized and sanctified by whites as well as blacks, by Republicans as well as Democrats.

“It is easy to forget that, until fairly recently, many white Americans loathed Dr. King…”

Until fairly recently??  On what planet?  But never mind…  I lived through that period. I was an eighth grader when he was murdered. They hated him more than all the others back then. Malcolm X…Stokely Carmichael…Huey Newton… they hated King with a passion totally absent from their fear and loathing of the others. Because King claimed the moral high ground, and spoke from the roots of his religious faith in a completely authentic way that the segregationists could not.

Most of all they hated him for that.

Read this Times opinion piece for its clarity of the history of conservative appropriation and inverting of King’s activism…turning it against the very struggle for civil rights and equal justice that he championed, and eventually gave his life for. In the software trade we have a phrase to describe what the republicans did: Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.  

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on They Still Hate Him
December 11th, 2016

No More Excuses

If you vote for the racist because you think he’s better for your wallet, how is that not racism? If you vote for the sexual predator because you think he’s better for your wallet, how is that not enabling sexual predators? If you vote for the hate monger because you think he’s better for your wallet, how is that not enabling hate?

This is what pushes my button whenever I see otherwise decent people trying to excuse the election of Donald Trump on the basis of voter economic insecurity. For one thing, he didn’t win the popular vote, and that by a non-trivial margin. For another, he won the electoral vote by, so I’m told, a majority you could have fit inside Chicago Stadium. So it isn’t like an army of the economically disenfranchised suddenly decided to vote republican. Time and again we’ve read polls showing that Trump’s support was largely a middle and upward economic base. It wasn’t economics.

But even if it was, there’s still the man. There is unambiguously still the man. If you vote for the racist because you think he’s better for your wallet, how is that not racism? Bambi eyes and I’m not a racist because I never personally lynched a black man doesn’t get you out of that gutter, if you’re willing to enable the racism that gets black men killed, as long as it doesn’t get you killed too. But how certain are you that it won’t? The predator does not play favorites. We are all prey.

My frustration…let me tell you about it. Back in 1980 Jimmy Carter was running for reelection against Ronald Reagan…another vacant tool…who liked talking about welfare queens. Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign with a speech about states rights just a few miles from where three civil rights workers were murdered by klansmen for helping black people register to vote. Carter called him out on the racist dog whistle and our feckless news media had kittens, slamming Carter as though he’d committed some below the belt personal foul against Reagan, and never mind that a halfwit could have seen what Reagan was doing there. But the myth of the liberal news media dies hard. By then in the elevated testosterone atmosphere of the newsrooms they’d taking a loathing to Carter as a weak kneed wuss, and admired Reagan’s manly pose and they eviscerated Carter, and Reagan, not initially seen as beating Carter, won in a landslide.

If they’d called Reagan out on his racist dog whistling maybe we’d have a different America now. But the pattern held. Whenever a democrat called out republican racist dog whistling for the next eight shining city on a hill years they were summarily slammed by the establishment news media. But in 1981 Lee Atwater, who was working in Reagan’s White House at the time, admitted they were doing just what Carter and the democrats said they were

“You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.””

My frustration: dig it…in 1981 Atwater laid it all on the table…yes, we’re actually doing all that…And For The Next Several Decades our feckless rotting zombie corpse establishment news media kept treating the calling out of republican racist dog whistling as some sort of dirty politics, not the dog whistling itself.

And now we have a dangerous hate monger just days away from having his finger on the national security infrastructure, let alone the nuclear button And they’re still insisting everyone look the other way at republican hate mongering. Trump won because he spoke to the forgotten workers of America. Kindly ignore the firehose of raw bigoted hate he sprayed everywhere he campaigned.

For decades…arguably in fact ever since the Civil War…this country has not been able to have an honest conversation about race hatred, let alone the rest of it bubbling and churning down in the American gutter. We still can’t. Oh yes, we the hated Other talk about it. We try to get the attention of the popular culture to look at it. Every now and then we succeed…for a time. Matthew Shepard. Proposition 8. Pulse. But then the spotlight wanders off, and hate resumes its attacks on our lives out of sight, out of mind.

Now we are on the threshold of seeing that wilful blindness end the American Experiment. And I have no patience at all…none…for people who want us to keep making excuses for the elephant in the room. The time for fucking around is fucking over. It was fucking over when Ronald Reagan walked into the White House on the graves of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner.

I repeat, If you vote for the racist because you think he’s better for your wallet, how is that not racism? Trump played a bigoted game. He spoke directly, unambiguously, to the hate that’s never been far from the surface of American politics. And that is how he won. Barely. We will never save the American dream, if that’s even possible now, by trying to find some way not to have to deal with that fact.

At long last, can we, finally, deal with the fact of hate in America? Or do we just shrug our shoulders, reassure ourselves that haters will just keep hating, that we have to work around it…somehow…and dream of what might have been, while the fire next time burns it all down.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on No More Excuses
November 26th, 2016

Who Are The People That You Think You Are?

Fred Clark was tweeting about his Thanksgiving today. Seems it was more like the movie Twelve Angry Men…the Henry Fonda version…and himself in the Henry Fonda role, than a nice family get-together. His isn’t the only story of this kind I’m seeing out here. You begin to wonder if Thanksgiving or any family holiday is worth keeping in the new/old America. And it’s not just the blood family, but the chosen one too. So many people so suddenly dumbfounded that friends they thought they knew turned out to be perfectly fine with installing a racist, sexual predator in the White House, for whatever slippery self serving excuse they could come up with at the dinner table.

But this is good. Knowing where you stand and who is standing there with you after all, is always for the best, even when it’s painful. This is largely why I stayed home Thanksgiving. I had invites, I had a work related excuse to decline but I’d have stayed home anyway. You really don’t want to see me go nuclear. I expect the Christmas invitation lists are being rewritten even as I type this.

Good. Life is too short to be spending it in the company of louts. There’s a scene in Mary Renault’s novel The Charioteer which the main character, Laurie Odell, hears the man his divorced mother is about to marry take a cheap dig at a working class nurse…

“Well, girls of that class are often so unfair to themselves. I expect under all that make-up she’s really quite a nice little thing”

It tells Laurie everything he needs to know about the character of the man his mother is about to marry. Renault writes: Some events are crucial from their very slightness; because circumstances have used no force on them, they are unequivocally what they are, test-tube reactions of personality.

Just so. And this election was just chock full to the brim of such moments freely given to the public by the man now slated to sit in the oval office. From mocking a disabled reporter to pussy grabbing, Trump has left us no doubt as to the man he is. And it didn’t matter. To almost half the voting public it didn’t matter. And that, is also unequivocally what it is, a test-tube reaction of personality.

It has shocked us, the other half of the voting public. And who knows, maybe the rest of the nation too. And really…in retrospect…it shouldn’t have. We have always known this about them. We just didn’t want to know. And now we have to.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Who Are The People That You Think You Are?
November 10th, 2016

Perhaps, I Have Not Been Making Myself Clear All This Time…

A little something I just posted to my Facebook page…

Odd really, in retrospect, the little things you don’t expect to make you snap until they do and you reach for that UnFriend button. Like that Kermit The Frog drinking tea meme I just saw babbling about how funny it was that all the people who voted against hate were spewing so much of it now.

Fuck that noise. Seriously. Your LGBT neighbors are poised to lose everything we’ve struggled so hard to gain in the past few decades. The right to marry and have our marriages recognized across the country. We may go back to new era of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell or worse. A Trump supreme court could overturn Lawrence v. Texas and then we’re all back to being presumptive felons, unable to get security clearances and professional licenses. If you think that’s hyperbole take a fucking look at his transition team. He’s stacking it with the dregs of the anti-gay sewer. I just cancelled a Christmas trip to visit family in California because I am afraid to drive across the country I am seeing now.

Hate? Hate? You think you know what hate is?? I’m laughing in your face. Your LGBT neighbors have lived under a cloud of hate nearly all our lives, only to see the clouds part a bit in the past few years. And now the sky is getting ominously dark again. Thanks to some of you, who for whatever god forsaken reason decided to vote for the pussy grabber. We have lived in a torrent, a blizzard of unrelenting venom. We’re child molesters, walking disease vectors, destroyers of family and civilization, abominations in the eyes of god, walking signposts of the end of the world, bringers of doom to nations. Multi million dollar political action groups work 24/7 to generate attack ads that incite violent religious passions toward us. And It Gets Us Beaten, Bloodied And Killed. Every week…Every Fucking Week…I read about another attack somewhere.

You have no idea, not clue one, how hard some of us have struggled all our lives not to hate back.

And now, thanks to some of you, we who simply desire mates of our own sex, who have wanted nothing more than that same happily ever after you do, who have watched as our hopes and dreams of love and happiness get ripped out of us so other people could make their stepping stones to heaven out of them, we are seeing it all coming undone, and the darkness coming back down on us. And there was never any reason for any of it. We are not monsters, we are not a cancer on society, we are not sick, we are not degenerates, we are human beings, there is nothing wrong with us. There was never anything wrong with us. And yet, we keep getting these knives stuck in our hearts. Sometimes, so we are told, with Love. How wonderful it is to be loved.

If my reposts of all the eminently predictable hate incidents suddenly happening, against gay folk, against non-whites, against foreigners and immigrants, look to you like hate and not a warning about what this country is on the verge of becoming if you don’t Wake The Fuck Up then by all means defriend me now before I see one more little thing that makes me snap and I hit the button myself. Save me the trouble. If you can’t grok why I, and so many others are angry and terrified just this moment then you don’t understand my walk at all and we really aren’t friends after all are we. Go away.

I had one life. Once upon a time I fell in love. It was like something out of a Disney movie. No…really. The stars really did shine a little brighter. The birds really did sing a little more sweetly. I really did walk with a lighter step. It was the most wonderful thing in the world. And now some of you have elevated to the highest offices in the land the very same human gutter that took those moments from me and turned them into an empty barren wasteland. And now I’m old and it’s getting toward curtain time for me and it’s over, it’s all over. No chance of it now. None. And now some of you are all like, what…what did we do that was so bad…why are you so mean and hateful??

Go away! Just go away!

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Perhaps, I Have Not Been Making Myself Clear All This Time…
November 9th, 2016

No.

Considered wearing my pink triangle button to work today because I know exactly what lay ahead for people like me. Instead I put on my Tomorrowland pin because fuck the bastards.

me_tomorrowland_pin

If you want to live in a cesspool go right ahead, but I won’t live there with you. This country, and this good earth, is big enough, and richer enough in human spirit that I don’t have to.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on No.
October 9th, 2016

You Knew What Trump Was, Because There Was A Little Of Him Inside Of You

Jim Burroway, of Box Turtle Bulletin, posted his reaction on Facebook to something that’s bugged me long before the current Trump dump…

jim-burroway-trump-as-a-husband

That. All those criticisms of Trump from his former supporters that start out as a husband and a father… blah blah blah. In one sense I can see how horrified the one who has a daughter of their own might suddenly feel hearing Trump’s casual off-handed just talking among the boys leering predatory attitude toward women. On the other it’s pretty hard to understand how anyone could have been that oblivious. I’m a gay man. I have no children of my own, no daughter. I had no girlfriend. I will have no wife. I don’t need any of these, and neither did you, to see Donald Trump for what he was and be disgusted. But be honest; are you really shocked or is this something more like the feeling of a guilty conscience tapping you on the shoulder? Donald Trump’s character is a whole cloth of ego and contempt, greed and malice. If you didn’t notice, it’s because you were excusing it. Perhaps because you recognized some of it in yourself.

Maybe it was the racism. So uncouth where yours is genteel, and perhaps just ashamed of itself enough to make you think yourself the better man but not enough to make you actually try to see yourself in a black man’s face. Perhaps it was his xenophobia. So blatant where yours is more diplomatic. Your own grandparents were immigrants after all, but they were from a more civilized country. Perhaps it was his sexism. So vulgar compared to your mannerly chauvinism. Real men treat the weaker sex with respect. Whatever it was, you made excuses for Trump, because you made them for yourself. But that does not make you the better man. It is making you little by little, step by step, more like him.

Now suddenly it hits home. But you need to understand this: When he was talking about the black man, the brown man, the muslem, the gay man, the Other, he was talking about your wife. When he was inciting violence at his rallies, he was inciting it against your daughter. The predator does not play favorites. We are all loot. When you gave him your support despite everything you could plainly see about the man within, you gave him permission to grope your wife and daughter. If he finds them attractive.

Take a good hard look at what you will become if you don’t stop making excuses. Because the day is coming when you will be making those excuses for what a government run by Trumps will do to you, your family, and everything you ever held dear. And you will help them do it. And you will say afterwards that you didn’t know, still making excuses that nobody believes because how could you not. Never doubt it, there is where you are headed. Turn away. Now. While you can still be shocked by what he does.

donaldtrump

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on You Knew What Trump Was, Because There Was A Little Of Him Inside Of You
September 13th, 2016

The Man With No Conscience Rides Into Town…

I see the new Clint Eastwood movie is getting its first reviews beyond the right wing swamp

eastwood_sullies

Sully is, in theory, based on Sullenberger’s 2009 memoir Highest Duty (co-authored with Jeffrey Zaslow). “Until I read the script, I didn’t know the investigative board was trying to paint the picture that he had done the wrong thing. They were kind of railroading him,” says Eastwood in one promotional trailer. It’s not surprising Eastwood was ignorant of any railroading by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), since it’s a narrative absent from Highest Duty, or anything actually said or written by the NTSB.

Go read the whole thing to see the takedown of the movie’s central lie. This movie laughs in your face and lies to you. There’s just no other way to put it. Its central fact, that the National Traffic Safety Board tried to railroad pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles, is a lie. A damnable lie.

But a lie you could see coming in the first trailer released for it. This is Talks To An Empty Chair Eastwood telling the audience in the Fox News cocoon everything they want to hear about how evil the federal government is. In the process he’s turned people who lived these events into stick figures in an antigovernment morality play, meant not to tell the story of an American hero but to encourage Americans to fear and mistrust their own government. Eastwood spits in the faces good people who work diligently every day to make travel safer for all of us. Because in the libertarian mindset, a government that can require corporations to care about anything other than profit, such as customer safety, can only be evil.

It’s a damnable lie, easily seen for what it is with even a cursory fact checking of the sources. But Eastwood knows his audience. They don’t want facts, they want their bigotries validated. Even if it means that someday the aircraft they’re on crashes and burns because CEO compensation mattered more than their lives, and lawsuit settlements were seen to be less costly than fixing a potential life threatening problem.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Man With No Conscience Rides Into Town…
September 11th, 2016

Basket Of Deplorables

If I were to do a political cartoon today about a basket of deplorables, I would draw a basket and instead of putting the usual Trump supporters and right wing kooks into it, I would put a bunch of TV and Big Media logos into it. There’s your basket of deplorables.

You have to appreciate growing up in the 60s as I did, living through the great civil rights moments as a kid, coming of age politically in the early 70s, how the current media indignation at Mrs. Clinton’s calling out Trump’s racist supporters is a big reason why we still have a problem in this country with racism. As Nixon expertly calculated, cultivating the racist vote via calculated dog whistles is an easy way to harvest votes from a certain voting population that carries little to no political risk. And that is because of ostentatious media indignation whenever democrats call out these republican dog whistles.

I’ve watched it through the decades. Carter called Reagan out on starting campaign in the place where three young civil rights workers were killed by the Klan, with a speech on “state’s rights”. The media got all up in arms about it, as though Carter had committed some unforgivably rude libel against his opponent. But anyone with half a brain could see what Reagan was doing there. The dog whistles could have stopped right then and there if the media had jumped on Reagan instead, but they loathed Carter, hated the democrats, and so Reagan got a pass to continue with it. Which he did, and which the republicans have been perfecting now for decades. It’s been the song and dance ever since: calling out republican winks and nods to the American gutter is out of bounds according to the dictators of what is and is not civil political discourse.

Now we have Trump, who isn’t even bothering to dog whistle to the bigots. And media Still plays indignant when it’s called out. Meanwhile black Americans are still being held down, their lives cheapened, by systematic racism, and the media pays no attention until riots happen. And then they blame “both sides” for not finding solutions, as if both sides were equally to blame.

But both sides are not equally to blame. And the big corporate news media, by pushing back whenever democrats call out GOP racist dog whistles, have bought themselves a share in that blame. When the terms of “civil discourse” redline any discussion of how politicians cultivate the racist vote, it allows racism to stay alive and well politically in the Land of The Free And The Home of The Brave.

Is that because the boardrooms of the big American corporations are largely racist themselves?  I doubt it, but they like republican economic policies better than the democrat’s, and in the rarefied heights of Valhalla they see no reason to make such a big deal out of racism in America.  Especially if that discussion costs them friendly republicans in congress. Black Lives Matter? Oh mon dieu…Our Profits Matter!!

So I have a question for all the CEOs and VPs and Whomever It May Concern at the heads of these big media conglomerates who’ve been dictating the terms of polite political discourse for the past several decades, ever since Reagan found political deliverance in the heart of the old Confederacy. See that man at the head of the Republican ticket? You put him there. You put a piss ignorant bellicose narcissistic lout within arm’s reach of the nuclear button. Don’t be blaming the Tea Party or the Republican Base…you deliberately gave the race hatred that festered down there space to grow and gain power within the party. You not only turned the light off, you made turning it back on a political offense. Now look at what you accomplished. Does it bother you? Does it frighten you? Tell me…tell us all…how far down into the gutter are you willing to drive this country, for your bottom line? For your tax cuts? For your deregulation? For your gig economy where workers have no rights a boss is bound to respect?

How far into the gutter?  How far down is rich enough for you?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Basket Of Deplorables
September 4th, 2016

Perverts

This came across my Facebook stream the other day…

not_must_read

 

But the IPR’s most fascinating piece was published a few months earlier, in August 1993. The article, written by IPR Foundation senior fellow Col. Ronald D. Ray, purported to be an argument against allowing gays to serve in the military. “The homosexuals are not as a group able-bodied,” Ray urges. “They are known to carry extremely high rates of disease brought on because of the nature of their sexual practices and the promiscuity which is a hallmark of their lifestyle.”

That’s fairly conventional anti-gay obloquy, especially for the time. But from there, the polemic quickly descends into a stunningly graphic description of gay sex acts…

Link to the article Here.  Coincidentally, or not perhaps, I saw this a day after I was reading another online rant about how us gays are obsessed with sex. I say “perhaps not” because these things tend to percolate up from the sewer all at once and you just know someone read an article about how gays are preoccupied with sex somewhere and the next thing you know it’s making the rounds and all the usual suspects are repeating it as if it was some new groundbreaking discovery. But it’s an old lie, one part meant to dehumanize us, reduce us to a sexual urge, and one part projection. If we’re the ones so obsessed with sex, what are you then, so obsessed with talking about our sex.

There’s a scene in Patricia Nell Warren’s groundbreaking novel The Front Runner where Harlan Brown, the coach and lover of out gay Olympian Billy Sive, is having a chat with some old friends who work as sports reporters. They confront him on the rumors about his having a sexual relationship with Sive, and while Brown tries to stand up for the honor and the dignity of their love, the reporters, old friends, try to make Brown understand that in the mass media, honor and dignity won’t even buy you a cup of coffee. Which only makes Brown angrier…

“Did it ever occur to them that maybe Billy and I don’t merely go to bed together? That we love each other?” I was really getting mad now. “That neither of us wants anybody else? Do they know so little about human nature?”

“You’re the one’s a dummy about human nature,” said Aldo. “They want to think the worse…”

Finally one of the reporters, Bruce, suggests that they do an interview with the two of them which would hopefully allow the readers to see them as human beings apart from the ugly stereotypes of homosexuals common in those days.

Brown agrees, thinking it a great idea. Aldo pointedly asks if they can dispel the other rumors too…

“What other rumors?” I said.

“You really want to know?” Aldo asked. He was furiously tearing up a piece of bread.

He started to tell me. When he’d finished I’d had one more sociological revelation. Society had tried to teach me that the gay mind was an open sewer. Now I knew, beyond any doubt, that it was the straight mind that was the sewer…

The next scene is Brown back home telling Billy what Aldo had said to him…all the carefully specific and brutally ugly sexual perversions cataloged against gay people back in the early 70s when Warren was writing her novel. All I have to add to it is either Warren or her editor chose to keep a bunch of it away from the page, otherwise her readers might have become so completely disgusted they simply stopped right then, or she herself chose to stop digging into it when it got ugly enough. I’ve had a bunch more of it waved in my face since I read that book, and I’m here to tell you there is no bottom to the grotesque sexual fantasies of bigots. But it’s unfair to lay all that at the feet of heterosexuals. Now I knew, beyond any doubt, that it was the straight mind that was the sewer… No. It’s the mind of the bigot that is the open sewer. And the fact is, sexual corruption is something they throw at all the hated Others, be they gays or Jews or Blacks or (Hi Donald!) Mexicans.

They say gays are obsessed with sex but if you look carefully what you find is that it’s the bigots who are obsessed with it, to the point that it’s all they can see when they look at us. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex… We have to be inhuman, so persecuting us can be righteous.

Don’t take that “Must Read” in the Slate article headline there too seriously if that sort of graphic talk about sexual kinks bothers you. It bothers me but I’m use to it, ironically enough because A) the bigots keep waving it in my face and B) I got an eyeful of heterosexual kink back in the day every time I went to buy my gay newspapers, because back then the only places I could find them were in those seedy little “adult” bookstores you find tucked away in decaying strip malls or certain city neighborhoods. I’ve written about this before: for a period of time in my life I had to walk a gauntlet of heterosexual pornography just to get my damn newspapers. I mention it here so you know why A) I became inured to graphic discussions about sex at an early age and B) why I’m laughing in your face if you just tried to tell me gays are perverse in ways heterosexuals just aren’t.

Seriously, go browse the wares in any of the charming stores down in Baltimore’s The Block and ask yourself how you’d like it if your deepest most intimate feelings for the love of your life, all the wonderful moments you were in their arms and they in yours, were judged always by what the people on the covers of those magazines are doing. Would it make you angry? Ask me how it makes me feel.

The fact is that some gay people are horrible human beings. We can name a few: Roy Cohn, Joseph McCarthy’s right hand man during the red scare, Ernst Röhm, leader of Hitler’s SA, Jorg Haider, Austrian fascist leader who spent his last hours in a gay bar with a hot young blond. And that ugliness of character is bound to come out in the bedroom…

“Politics like sex is only a by-product of what the essential person is. If you are mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your sex life and it will come out in your politics when what really matters is that you are the sort of person who won’t behave like that.”

-Mary Renault, as quoted in Mary Renault: A Biography by David Sweetman

But it’s a mistake to lump all gay people into some faceless mass of humanity for exactly the same reason it’s a mistake to lump people together for the color of their skin, or their religion, or the color of their hair, or whether they’re right or left handed. And it’s a mistake bigots want you to make, because it’s one they make themselves. So they can see themselves as righteous people. So they don’t have to name the sewer they’ve made a home in.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Perverts
August 21st, 2016

Religion Is Not The Cause. It’s The Cover.

“Politics like sex is only a by-product of what the essential person is. If you are mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your sex life and it will come out in your politics when what really matters is that you are the sort of person who won’t behave like that.”

-Mary Renault, as quoted in Mary Renault: A Biography by David Sweetman

 

I keep coming back to this quote because it really gets to the heart of it, and to which I would only add Religion. If you are mean and selfish and cruel it will absolutely come out in your religious beliefs and practices too, though I concede some might say religion is just another kind of politics.

Someone I follow on Facebook posted a link to an article about this. Rather than copy the link here, since it goes into the theology of it, I’ll just cut to the chase…

Christian-Voice

Daley was deeply upset over his performance…so I’m told he was in tears afterward. And it does my heart good to see the static on Twitter Christian Voice is getting about this. But you need to see how prejudice works in a person, how that moment of weakness in the hated other amounts to the perfect time to stick the knife in. And of course, it didn’t stop there…

 

Christian-Voice-2

…because why on earth would they want to stop at all?  If prejudice is good at doing anything it’s taking away your brakes. That crack about Black seducing Daley is par for the course and just never you mind that the two of them saw it differently. The mindset is homosexuals don’t reproduce, they recruit. The thought that maybe love and desire work their way on gay folk the same as they do heterosexuals is never entertained. The notion that Daley saw something he liked that first time he beheld Black precisely because he was a gay man can’t be considered….

“I was in Los Angeles for the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, and a friend organized a dinner, and got there at least 45 minutes late. I’m not going to lie: I had no clue who Dustin Lance Black was, or what he did. I just remember thinking, Oh wow, who’s that? He was wearing a white T-shirt with a thin red hoodie, and a leather jacket over it, and I thought he looked like a swimmer, because he has quite broad shoulders. As the dinner progressed, I kept on looking at him, and he kept catching me, which was awkward at times, because I would always look away.” -Tom Daley, DLB + TD Forever, OUT Magazine, May 2016.

…because everything about the hated other must be seen as unnatural and perverse. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.

A brief perusal of the Christian Voice Twitter feed (I’ll not link to it) turns up the usual stuff. They’re very much pro Brexit, they don’t much like Muslims, or Europe, and of course…

 

Christian-Voice-3

 

Christian-Voice-5

But this is enchanting…

Christian-Voice-4

The Good News not being good enough for everyone’s ears apparently.

If it saddens or appalls you to see avowed Christians behaving like this, if you’re saying to yourself right now, Oh that’s how these religionists are, that’s because you’re paying too much attention to the religion and not enough to the person.

Politics like sex is only a by-product of what the essential person is. If you are mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your sex life and it will come out in your politics when what really matters is that you are the sort of person who won’t behave like that.

I have met many wonderful, decent, kind hearted Christian people. And likewise I have met a lot of knuckle dragging bigots who’ve called themselves Christian. They have come to me thoughtful and curious, as well as gleefully ignorant and suspicious. And I’ve said this before and I reckon there’ll be disagreement, but I’ll say it again: religion doesn’t matter. I say it to my fellow atheists, who see religion as a corrupting influence on humanity, I’ll say it to the believers out there, who see it as a path to hope and redemption. Religion does not matter. That is what my 62 going on 63 years of life on this good earth has taught me.

What matters is the heart. That is all that matters.

And sympathy, if only the size of a mustard seed.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Religion Is Not The Cause. It’s The Cover.
August 11th, 2016

Morals

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

trump-loving-christians

Since the late 1970s, conservative Christian leaders have claimed their political engagement is about morality. They have claimed it is about character. They have claimed it is about values. They have claimed it is about biblical principles. Pious preachers, thunderous televangelists, and moralizing activists have sold America a bill of goods about their pure motivation for decades. But evidence indicates that evangelical political engagement is really about cultural influence, social dominance, and power.

Full article Here.

I was raised in a Baptist household. A Yankee Baptist household, as opposed to a Southern Baptist, but let’s not go into that now. The backstory is my dad was…not the best of examples for a young boy and the elders of mom’s side decided that the best thing for his spawn was that he go into the ministry for the sake of the stain on his immortal soul. And also possibly, as a rebuke to the father. Well, it didn’t take. Most of it. But something of the pulpit thumping fire and brimestone tent revivals I attended did. H.L. Mencken once said “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.” But for me it’s step up to the pulpit, spit on my hands, wave the Good Book high and start pounding and sweating.

In the USENET days I argued against the bigots from what I regarded as the moral high ground. Once as I began a sermon, one of them shot back at me that I really, Really didn’t want to get into an argument about morality and homosexuality. I told him that was exactly what I wanted. Then I cleaned his clock. Because: what Jonathan Merritt says here. It was all just a fake. A fraud. A pose to sucker in the rubes. To reassure themselves they weren’t just a bunch of bar stool bigots. We are decent moral people who object to your imposing your sinful lifestyle on the rest of us. But no…Al Capon had more moral scruples than any of them ever did.

If I could say just one thing to my people it would be this and I’m stealing now from a certain author who I also despise, but had a few good lines: Reason and morality are the only tools that can deliver us to that better tomorrow. And now we see, in their wholesale support of Trump, finally, unambiguously, that the right has dropped them. Because ultimately their claim to them was false: They were unwilling to pay the price, to walk the walk not just talk the talk. So they just swiped them out from under the rest of us. And we, t the extent we bear any blame at all, let them convince us that reason, and especially morality, were against us. We were unbiblical, unnatural, immoral sexual outlaws. Our sexuality was irrational, a defiance of the natural order, perverted and degenerate. Reason and morality said so. They said. And we listened. But listen to them now. Listen to them venerate Trump.

Reason and morality. They say that men do not change, the reveal themselves. And so they have. Reason and morality. They were the ones who had no right to bear those things.

Pick them up: you do.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Morals
July 27th, 2016

Losing My F*cking Patients!!

So this happened this morning…

trump_democrat

 

Once again, distilled from a previous post here:

  1. If Trump wins, don’t blame me I voted for… won’t cut it. Don’t blame me I voted for the democrat, I tried to stop him…, is only marginally better. But this is our country, all of us. We are all to blame for what it becomes. In a time like this, it is not enough to wave the flag and strike a pose.

  2. I appreciate how it is that involving yourself in politics can make you feel morally dirty.  Perhaps this is why the old time protestant fundamentalists here in America so ostentatiously kept themselves out of worldly matters. But for those of us who care, and who cannot look away at injustice, that is not our destiny. At its best politics is still mostly compromise and consensus and you are presented with choices that you probably don’t like, but can live with, in order to get one small good thing accomplished. At its worst it is a bitter knife fight in the human gutter where you find yourself making decisions and backing choices you desperately didn’t want to make, in order to save ground you know you absolutely cannot afford to lose.

    But that is our lot in life. If the fight to make this a better world isn’t making you feel dirty, you are not in the fight. 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Losing My F*cking Patients!!
July 25th, 2016

Blame

I appreciate people have strong feelings about Mrs. Clinton as the democratic candidate. I completely understand how Mr. Sander’s supporters would be feeling angry at how the process went. I’m not exactly thrilled myself. Was the process rigged against him? You can make a strong case that it was. It’s harder though, to make an equally strong case that he’d have won the nomination if the playing field were level, or that he’d be any more likely to win against Trump in the general. You have to make assumptions in each of those cases that are nowhere near as certain as I’m hearing said in some quarters. But okay…I can see the disappointment and anger.

I have policy disagreements with Mrs. Clinton that are deep and profound. All in all I would rather it was Sanders than her. But I am getting really, Really tired of the she’s as bad as he is if not worse claptrap I’m hearing more and more of now…again in certain quarters. There’s a cartoon making the rounds now of a guy holding up a baby and asking another guy to choose between one of two horrible deaths for it, and when the other guy says nether the guy holding the baby says “lesser of two evils man!”

I’m going to be blunt: if you really believe that’s an intellectually honest comparison either you have not been paying attention this past week or you’re insane. It’s one thing to say that on this or that policy issue you cannot be moved, and another to say both these candidates would be equally that destructive to this country and the world at large. That’s not merely stretching a point, it’s claptrap.

I appreciate the moral quandary here. I’m not absolving myself of the moral implications of the choice I am making. But there’s an element of exactly that in the rhetoric I’m hearing now in some quarters. If Trump wins don’t blame me, blame the democrats for not running a better candidate. But it is not that simple. It’s one thing to take a moral position. But morality is not a cocoon. It is not absolution. It’s about choices. And responsibility. We are always to blame. The question is, did we fight the good fight, or just strike a pose. If the fight isn’t getting you dirty, you are not in the fight.

Most third party groups act like the presidency is all there is to government. But look at how the tea party has operated in recent years, regrettably to great success. They go after the local elections, the school boards, the city councils, and from there they have wielded great power, beyond their actual numbers, in the statewide offices. They go after the governorships, and the statehouses. Now they have congress, and enough strength in the Senate to stifle nearly everything president Obama has tried to do.

Where are the Greens? Where are the Libertarians? Beyond a handful of down ticket elections, they’re nowhere. And I can say as someone who collected signatures for the Libertarian candidates in the 70s, they never were. It was always the presidency and then when their candidate predictably lost, back to the media of libertarian magazines, think tanks and discussion groups and bellyache about how horrible Washington was. That is not a political movement, it’s a cult. And that mindset, that aim for the presidency first and foremost, is what keeps voter turnout appallingly low in off year elections. Not a presidential election year? Then who cares anyway. And there, in the elections few Americans pay enough attention to, the extremists have caused enormous damage.

If you can’t vote for Mrs. Clinton because her involvement in the human catastrophe in the middle east is too much, I respect that. But Trump’s rhetoric about keeping us out of foreign wars can’t rationally be regarded as anything more than another one of his empty promises, especially if he delegates policy to Mike Pence the way George Bush delegated to Dick Cheney, and Mrs. Clinton at least is much more trustable with the nuclear codes. But the fact is, she’s more trustable in a broad spectrum of policy issues that have a direct bearing on the lives of everyday people here and abroad. If your intentions are to help improve the lives of the common man and woman, being effective matters. Don’t be mocking all those republican thoughts and prayers every time there is another mass shooting and then vote for someone you know perfectly well cannot win, and allow a thug and his mob to burn everything down, that so many have died for to get us even this far.

Don’t blame me… If ultimately your argument is sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better, then you are not merely accepting that the worst will happen, you are making that it must happen a part of the plan. There’s your blame.

 

[Edited a tad…]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Blame
July 20th, 2016

The Gutter Speaks

Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco, talks about what he saw at the 2016 Republican National Convention in a video. I’d embed it here but Facebook makes that tactically difficult. But visit the link if you can, it’s worth listening to his passionate disgust at what he saw. And there’s no mistaking it, the republicans, just slightly more than a year after the Supreme Court acknowledged our right to equality in the marriage laws of this land, have written the most homophobic platform in their history. It is a snarling, in your face growl of contempt toward sexual minorities. But then, taken in context with the rest of it…the racism, xenophobia, hatred of women, hatred toward the poor and handicapped, it is of a piece. This is a convention of the human gutter. 

Newsome talks mostly about the conversion therapy plank, and you can argue that if any one of the anti-LGBT planks says it all it’s that one. I have a running thread of posts here on this blog about how reparative-conversion-exgay therapy was born in the blood of innocents. That’s not histrionics, it’s a plain statement of fact. The first exgay ministry was Love In Action, founded originally in San Francisco and later relocated to Memphis Tennessee. It’s first three clients included a young man named Jack McIntyre, who killed himself because the stress exgay therapy could only exacerbate within him became too much. That’s not conjecture, he left a suicide note that said in part:

To continually go before God and ask forgiveness and make promises you know you can’t keep is more than I can take. I feel it is making a mockery of God and all He stands for in my life.

What people need to understand is that lethal self loathing is the intention. Not necessarily that it kills, but that it is complete and overwhelming and crippling. It must be a ball and chain on our lives, on our souls. We have to hate ourselves. Because then we are good homosexuals. We hide, we apologise for existing, we don’t expect basic human dignity, let alone assert that our hearts are not there for them to scribble their graffiti on and our lives, our hopes and dreams are not their stepping stones to heaven. We have to bleed, so they can feel righteous.

To call forcing kids into it child abuse is imprecise. It is the rape of the soul. Adults and children alike. And in Cleveland now, these are its advocates. Unsurprisingly, they are also racists, xenophobes and misogynists, grifters, thieves and swindlers, sociopaths and paranoid cowards. Simply put, the human gutter. For generations, we have been dying for their sins because even the blood of Jesus Christ was not enough to get them clean.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Gutter Speaks
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