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April 21st, 2018

How To Incite Religious Passions For Votes And Get Gay People Killed

In California, the current republican candidate for governor is telling people lies he hopes will energize the only voters California republicans have anymore…

Would a Proposed Law ‘Ban the Bible’ in California?

A Republican politician and a right-wing television station grossly misrepresented California legislation that would amplify restrictions on “gay conversion therapy.”

Link goes to the Snopes article, which goes on to say…

n April 2018, the right-wing One America News Network (OAN) interviewed California State Assembly member Travis Allen, who is running for governor as a Republican, about Assembly Bill 2943, a proposed law currently before state legislators.

The bill relates to “gay conversion therapy,” but according to Allen and “Tipping Point” host Liz Wheeler, it would effectively ban the sale of Christian books, including the Bible.

You can read the entire exchange at the Snopes link. Note that it was the right wing media employee who suggested to Allen that the bill in question would ban the Bible, and then Allen happily went along with the talking point. This seems to be the new republican campaign paradigm: run for office and let the right wing billionaire funded media tell you why you’re running and what to say. Rupert Murdoch perfected it, but others like Sinclair and One America (sic) News Network are buying in.

Rhetoric like this does more than energize a fearful and resentful base, it gets gay people beaten on the streets and it gets us killed. Which is more than okay with the people funding and promoting people like Allen. Laws like the one in California banning conversion therapy on minors are sweeping through the nation because gay people have a voice now in the public sphere, and we’re telling our stories…

Gay conversion therapy survivors share painful legacy of ‘ex-gay’ treatments

“It’s wrong… it’s totally unacceptable. I’m an example of the enormous damage that it can do to people.”

That was Ron Smith’s reaction to Health Minister Greg Hunt’s refusal to condemn a controversial plan by a section of Victoria’s Liberal Party to debate gay conversion therapy.

The 71-year-old former Baptist minister is a survivor of electroshock therapy, a now discredited practice once believed to rid patients of their same-sex attraction.

“They … put a wiring on my private parts that measured temperature changes, and showed me about a thousand pictures of men and a thousand pictures of women over about a 10-day period,” Mr Smith recalls.

“When my body temperature rose when I saw the guys, which is natural for me, they delivered high voltages of electricity through wires that were attached to punish me for being gay and try to make me straight.

The linked article is to a story in an Australian newspaper, and the context is the motion filed last week by an anti-gay politician there for state legislation to allow health practitioners “to offer counselling out of same sex attraction or gender transitioning to patients who request it’‘. Bigots like to frame this as simply giving parents and kids a choice. Note the formulation “same sex attraction”. The dogma is that nobody is actually homosexual, but rather that people suffer from broken heterosexuality which can be repaired. Well, people who have been through the repair have something to say about that…

“Electroshock therapy — giving people drugs while they showed them gay porn so they’d throw up. Not giving them drugs while they showed them heterosexual porn so they wouldn’t throw up.

“It was all behavioural modifications.”

These practices were prevalent in the 1950s and 60s, but in some dark corners of the world are still in use today. They accomplish nothing other than pain and suffering for the patient, and a lifetime of nightmares and fear of their own emotional needs. More often now the so called therapy amounts to religious and pseudo psychiatric counselling to make a person so deeply ashamed and fearful of their sexual desires they wall off everything inside of themselves that might give them joy. We have to die inside, for the sins of bigots.

After embracing his sexuality at the age of 22, Mr Webb is now an active member of his Uniting Church community, and a leader of The Reformation Project, a bible-based support group for LGBTIQ Christians.

But he admits the shame he carried for so many years is still part of his life.

“Carrying that around I understand why I ended up getting an anxiety disorder, why I’ve struggled with co-dependency for so long … it does damage you for life in a lot of ways.

“I’m better now but sometimes those scars are soft to touch.

This is what opposition to ex gay therapy bans is all about. After decades of alleged therapy that has manifestly accomplished nothing other than making gay people hurt, and yet they insist they have some god given right to keep doing it to us, you have to conclude that making us hurt is the point. And if ex-gay therapy is outlawed they are fine with inciting the mob to go after us. It’s not after all, about fixing us, it is about breaking us. Either the clinic or the mob will do. But no, you do not have a right to make your neighbor hurt. No matter how much you hate them.

by Bruce | Link | React!
February 17th, 2018

Gunshots That Echo On And On And On…(continued)

More dead children. How did it come to this? I ask myself, as a sixty-four year old American male, and also as a gun owner who believes in a democratic right to own your own firearms. Firstly, there is a Scientific American article I would implore you to read…it’s a good one…science is our friend…let’s try using some…

4 Laws That Could Stem the Rising Threat of Mass Shootings

These are good…I enthusiastically support Every One of them, and especially the singling out of domestic violence as an indicator of future bloodshed. Seriously, if the one who loved you, who you took into your arms, is afraid of you, who the hell shouldn’t be? And if a child can’t trust you to at the very least keep them safe from harm then you are not a very well adult, and to whatever degree possible you need to be kept far away from any sort of weapon.

But here we are again. How did it come to this. Well you might say it’s the easy availability of guns, but I’m old enough to remember when they were even easier to get your hands on. Before the assassination of president Kennedy you could buy them in mail order catalogues and have them delivered to your doorstep. You could walk into most any hardware store and put your money down and walk out with one. Mass shootings, especially in our schools, were simply not as frequent then as they are now. Which is not to say they never happened either. There was the notorious sniper shooting spree at the University of Texas in 1966. To my knowledge they still don’t really know why he did it. Maybe I’m not remembering it right in my senior years, but that seemed to be a horrific exception. Now it’s happening almost monthly. What happened? How did it come to this? We are not helpless. And yet…we are…so long as we can’t talk to each other. And not just on this one issue either.

Fox News. Clear Channel and the Talk Radio screamers they promote. Right wing tabloids like the National Enquirer. Stealth propaganda outlets like Sinclair Broadcasting. What you need to understand about them, at long last, is they aren’t specifically trying to promote a policy point of view. They exist to sew discord and make the common working class citizens fear and hate one another. Because that is the only way the hard right can win elections, given how vastly unpopular its policies are. They’re good at it. And we are way too good at falling for it.

I feel sometimes like I have a foot in both these worlds. Most of my friends are liberal democrats like myself. Yet when another mass shooting happens I find I’m mostly just keeping my mouth shut while everyone around me is calling gun owners child killers, ammosexuals, Moloch worshipers, et al.  And even when temperatures cool down a tad I darent speak up when someone starts yapping about this or that devil gun de jour. It’s one of those issues where actually knowing what you’re talking about disqualifies you from talking about it. But if you want to make some actual progress on getting things back under control listening to one of us who isn’t an hysterical nothing else matters NRA single issue voter might be helpful. And since this is my blog let me just go right ahead and put something out here: maybe you’re the one obsessing on guns.

Listen to me. Now it’s the AR-15. Not all that long ago it was the AK-47. Who knows what it will be next time. There are lots of semi automatic rifles that are not functionally all that different in one regard, which is is why banning just that one rifle makes no sense and won’t get any traction: ban the AR-15 and you might just as well ban dozens of others. It’s not just that one gun. But yes, in another sense you’re absolutely right…there is something unique to these sorts of weapons that you can justifiably say puts them outside the boundary of reasonable personal, sport and self defense firearms. And no god damn it, it’s not the military style plastic grips and stock. No it isn’t the semi-automatic mechanism either. No. It isn’t. You Are Paying Too Much Attention To The Gun.

The kid who murdered 17 people last week came to the school, so I’m told, with a backpack full of 30 round magazines and he fired off something like 150 rounds in the space of just a few minutes. Look at that. No…really look at it. How was that possible? The problem isn’t the rifle.

Here’s the problem:

This is what makes the AR-15, and every other rifle and handgun that uses a magazine to reload vastly more dangerous. It takes maybe a second to drop an empty, slam another in the magazine well, drop the bolt, and away you go…thirty more rounds. Or more. Google “AR-15 magazine” sometime and get properly horrified. Then reconsider. It is not the gun. Forget the gun. It is the magazines.

California, my beloved land of my birth, for the past several decades has been trying to address this in various ways, each of which the NRA kook pews have found a too ingenious for their own damn good work-around to. But it’s a good path, and I propose going all in on it; and I say this as someone who owns firearms that take magazines. Go after the magazines. Here’s what I propose:

Firstly: any gun that takes a magazine needs to either have a magazine lock or be retrofitted for a permanent magazine, such that the gun now reloads with an en bloc clip like the M-1 Garand did. Limit capacity to only what a revolver would normally have, which would be five in the magazine and one in the chamber…six rounds total. Make higher capacity magazines illegal to own on the same scale as silencers (yes…I know…republicans…) and sawed off shotguns.

But with rifles like the AR-15, and certain handguns, you can go further. See how in the photo above, the cartridges are staggered, they don’t line straight up and down. That’s one way of stuffing more into the magazine. But it also makes them fatter. With a five round limit you don’t need that, so the magazines could be thinner. I’m showing my age here but I remember when we made the switch from leaded to unleaded gasoline and they made the fuel inlets smaller on cars that only took unleaded to prevent leaded from getting in and trashing the catalytic converter. We can do the same here. Make the magazines narrower and then require all new semi automatic weapons for civilian use to have magazine wells that will only allow the smaller capacity magazines to fit inside them, and require everything already out there to be retrofitted.

Secondly: (re: California and “bullet buttons”) require anyone who wants to manufacture new magazines to get a license from the Federal government and they have to make them to spec. Because sure as shit the NRA kooks will make them that are narrow at the top so they can fit in the smaller magazine wells and fatter below the magazine well. I know how they think…as I said, I walk among them.

This buys us three things. 1) It limits the firepower of semi automatic rifles in a meaningful and practical way. 2) Simplicity. Now we’re not playing whack-a-mole trying to define what is, and what is not an “assault weapon”. It’s moot. If it takes a magazine, it Must be limited as per above, end of story. Plastic faux military do-dads or not, it makes no difference. Every firearm that uses a magazine to reload must comply. Simple. 3) Political. We are not going after your guns, we are going after firepower civilians do not need and it matters not what sort of gun it is. You have a right to own a gun. But your privately owned gun is for pleasure/sport shooting or self defense, not criminal activity, armed rebellion or terrorism. And when they start babbling about how we need our guns to protect us from tyranny, push back, Hard, with, no…the ballot box is our defense against tyranny, and then pivot to a discussion about voter suppression and gerrymandering. Because as long as every American adult can cast an anonymous ballot in a free and open election, and all votes are equal, no government can become too oppressive.

I appreciate this is not going nearly far enough for some, and way too far for others. So I have a final proposal: Show The Carnage.  

Seriously. Show the public…everyone…both sides, all sides, all the grim horrifying pictures of the aftermath. Show Everyone what a bullet does to a child’s body. Show us the dead where they lay, trying to escape. Put the images out in the public view. I appreciate that family and loved ones will not want that because it would reopen terrible wounds all over again and again. Fine. Work with them. Listen to them. Respect their wishes. But surely some will agree this needs to be seen, to be adequately understood.

Then, maybe, hopefully, enough people will stop reflexively digging in their heels and we can work with each other to fix the problem. Please? Because we are not going anywhere, except into the trashcan of history, if we can’t work together, if we can’t talk to each other.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Gunshots That Echo On And On And On…(continued)
January 30th, 2018

The Sterile Lonely Temple Of Righteousness And Its Hollowed Out Worshipers

For some reason, it didn’t work out as planned…

Yearning for a ‘romantic attachment’ they never had — gay Mormon Josh Weed and his wife of 15 years are divorcing

A Mormon couple did whatever their church told them to for fifteen years, both knowing that the man was gay and the woman straight. They thought they could make it work. They believed. But the human identity isn’t a blackboard powerful men can simply erase and scribble their will on. There is a higher power: the hundreds of millions of years of the history of life on Earth we bear within us every moment of our lives. It will not be denied. And it should not.

Internalized homophobia and self-loathing at the core of Josh’s identity began to unravel at about the same time as Lolly’s need to be loved by someone who desired her began to expand…The husband and wife realized what they were missing: yearning, craving, longing, passion.

This is our heritage. It is the birthright of every human who ever walked this good earth. To be mean and selfish and cruel is wrong, is corrosive to family, neighborhood, and nation. See it now in the daily headlines ever since the last election. To love and desire and cherish is our nature, our birthright. Desire is not sin if there is love and kindness and trust in it. More than that, without love, without kindness and trust there is no civilization possible. Sex is not just for making babies. It is also for making adults.

But there are those who have no use for a world populated by fully functional, whole adults…

Unlike Winston, she had grasped the inner meaning of the Party’s sexual puritanism. It was not merely that the sex instinct created a world of its own which was outside the Party’s control and which therefore had to be destroyed if possible. What was more important was that sexual privation induced hysteria, which was desirable because it could be transformed into war-fever and leader-worship. The way she put it was: “When you make love you’re using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy and don’t give a damn for anything. They can’t bear you to feel like that. They want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour. If you’re happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother and the Three-Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot?”

-George Orwell, “1984”

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Sterile Lonely Temple Of Righteousness And Its Hollowed Out Worshipers
December 20th, 2017

“A Generation Of Sociopaths”…And Other Lazy Ignorant Stereotypes…

I was raised, as I’ve said often, by a single divorced mother. I’m not relating this to wear it like a badge, but offering it as explanation. The attitudes, mindsets, and behaviors we express in our everyday lives may well have their biological roots…as in for example the fact that I’m gay…but they’re almost certainly flavored by our life experiences. Different metals behave differently in the fire, but still the fire changes us.

It makes throwing labels around at people problematic. I understand the human need to identify, categorize, sort, put a name on things the better to understand them. But what you must always keep in mind, what Jacob Bronowski clarified for me in his Science and Human Values essays, is the concepts by which we understand nature are always imprecise and imperfect. You have to treat them with humility. What is a planet?

By this stage of my life I suppose I should be used to having labels slapped on me, and all the baggage that comes with them. In grade school I got the problem child label simply for being raised in a “broken home”. Among various family members I was granted the label of being my father’s son, and dad having died robbing a bank that label came with its own lovely baggage set. My maternal grandmother’s favorite name for me (when mom couldn’t hear it) was Stinking Rotten Good For Nothing Garrett Just Like Your Pap…not exactly something that’ll fit on checks or credit cards.

For being a slight somewhat girlish kid in grade school I received a variety of labels. Mom and I lived a very low budget life…another set of labels. In my senior year I came out to myself and earned the gay label, and all the ancillary labels that came with it that Facebook would probably censor if I posted them here. Ever since I can remember I’ve had the urge, the need, to express myself in various forms of art and Artist is the only label I’d willingly apply to myself except it feels so damn pretentious. But there are others: Cartoonist, Painter, Photographer. Sometimes I wear one of those. I took up building my own computers and programming them…another set of labels. I read a lot. I pay attention to political events. I like to travel. I like to explore. Nerd. Geek. Tourist. Wonk. I’m in my 60s. There’s geezer. Old man. Computers have allowed me to suddenly, late in my life, earn a good income. There’s Yuppy. I drive a Mercedes-Benz. There’s Bourgeois. It’s a diesel. There’s nerd again. I should be used to it by now. But it’s not the labels, it’s the baggage that comes with them. You want me to stick the Ignorant label on you, apply a label to me and then expect me to wear the baggage that comes with it. Especially this one: Boomer.

I used to wear it without too much discomfort. That nerd label…I saw it as merely a statistical description. I was born in 1953, therefor I am part of the post war baby boom, therefor I am a boomer. My generation was the reason so many new schools had to be built. So far, so good. But where once I was a trailing edge boomer, benefiting from the struggles of the older kids ahead of me that allowed me to wear blue jeans and long hair in school, suddenly one day I realized I was being lumped in with kids born in the 60s as though we all had the same culture, the same life experiences. Boomer. Never mind the political baggage. Anyone with half a brain who walks through life with their eyes wide open and their mind still curious cannot help but see how generational labels are as superficial and misleading as any other. There’s a history here that separates us Kennedy era boomers from the Reagan era ones, and I can sum it up with the name of a country: Viet Nam.

Some years ago I’m quietly standing at the balcony rail of the outdoor smoker’s lounge of one of D.C.’s gay bars, puffing on one a mini-cigar. A cute young guy walks over to me and gives me a look…

Me: Hi.

He: Are you a throwback?

Me: Sorry?

He: You lived through the sixties?  You know…the hippies and that stuff…?

Me: Yeah…but I wasn’t a Hippy.  There were a lot of different things going on back then.  Most of us were just along for the ride.

He: I know…I’ve read all the books.

Me: Throwback?

He: You know…from back then…

Me: I don’t understand your use of the term.

He: You’re about my mother’s age…

Well I hope “all the books” weren’t published by the same people who make biology textbooks for Liberty University.

Perhaps Ezra Klein and Sean Illing read the same ones. Klein this morning retweeted gleefully this Vox article: “How the baby boomers — not millennials — screwed America” Subtitled: “The boomers inherited a rich, dynamic country and have gradually bankrupted it.”

So I go to look and right there at the top of the page is…Oh Goodness There They Are…


Screen cap of Klein’s tweet…this is the photo that leads the article

…The Dirty F*cking Hippies “…dancing during an anti-war demonstration staged by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam at Golden Gate Park’s Kezar Stadium on April 15, 1967.” I’ll just bet they’re all smoking acid too. You two have read all the books…right? I haven’t seen such lazy cheapshit stereotyping since the last time I read an article on The Federalist about Teh Gay.

Illing’s article promotes A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America by Bruce Gibney. “The boomers, according to Gibney, have committed “generational plunder,” pillaging the nation’s economy, repeatedly cutting their own taxes, financing two wars with deficits, ignoring climate change, presiding over the death of America’s manufacturing core, and leaving future generations to clean up the mess they created.”

The boomers. The boomers. The boomers. I was raised by a divorced single working mother. My dad died trying to rob a bank. I grew up in a series of small apartments, wearing mostly second-hand clothes and going to public school, where in the 1960s, because I was the product of a “broken home” I was treated like a problem child even though I was pretty well behaved. That didn’t change until high school. I was the first male in dad’s side of the family to finish grade school and get a diploma. I did three semesters of community college and then had to go to work to support mom and me. For most of my life I had no idea how I was going to earn a living and resigned myself to a low income life lived in rooms rented in other people’s houses. Before I started earning a good living as a software developer I had no car, and no prospects. Seen from within, the life I am living now seems an absolute miracle to me. And I look at what the republicans and their billionaire money teats are doing to All Of Us let alone the next generation with a dull horror, Because I Led That Life, I can imagine perfectly well what it could easily have become had I not had the lucky break that allowed me to escape it, and I don’t want it happening to Anyone Else.

But no…I’m a boomer. And a Dirty F*cking Hippy. Who was doing Manpower temp jobs and living with mom when I was the age Klein and Illing are now, and I am a sociopath who doesn’t care who he’s screwing out of a future.

Whatever. If playing Wall Street’s game of Blame The Other Guy We’re Screwing Too works for Vox, Klein, Illing et. al. then fine. Enjoy the cheap thrills of the blame game while I watch people who wish to bury the past, and people who’ve read all the books, keep on grimly repeating it. And…pay attention now…I don’t particularly care if people who don’t know me from Adam hate me for being something I can’t help being. I was fine with that even before I knew that I am gay. I learned how not to give a flying f*ck about that even before my grade school teachers told me I was a problem child because my mother was divorced. I learned how not to care long before all that, while being hated, or at best patronized, by members of my own family for being my father’s son. And I will not wear your goddamned labels, and I will not carry your goddamned baggage. Go to hell.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on “A Generation Of Sociopaths”…And Other Lazy Ignorant Stereotypes…
October 30th, 2017

Seeing Events Through That Other Planet You Were Raised On

I’ve been pretty open about being raised in a Baptist household. Sometimes I even joke about it. But those are my roots and there are times, like now as I’m reading the story of Kevin Spacey and Anthony Rapp, that I find myself more than a little glad it was what it was when I was a boy, and wishing it left me with better eyes for understanding this world better than it did.

Mom, to her dying day, never once swore in my presence, never drank while I was growing up, and never once touched tobacco, let alone anything else. I remember going to a friends apartment for the first time and seeing his mom walk into the dining room and light up a cigarette and the shock of it, go ahead and laugh, is still something I can recall vividly. I didn’t know moms smoked, and there right in my presence was the living proof that some did. I felt uncomfortable being in his apartment after that. Later in her life, retired, content in her little southern Virginia apartment, surrounded by family and friends, I came to understand that mom would happily have a glass or two of wine every now and then. Amused, I often wondered if she did it knowing full well her mother was rolling in her grave. To her dying day, she never touched a drop of alcohol in front of her son. And even back in the day, those early 70s teenage days of parties with all sorts of things being passed around, I never let myself get drunk or stoned in front of her. At 17 I was beginning to see how lucky I’d had it, even accounting for our low budget lifestyle, and the fact that so many of my grade school teachers just assumed I would be a problem child because I was the Product Of Divorce. Behave in front of your kid, the way you want them to behave in front of others. And she did. Always. 

That upbringing put something into me…not only a sense of how I as an adult needed to behave, but also how adults behave around kids. Not so much out of a cheap sense of propriety and decorum but because one of the line items at the very top of the job description of ADULT is you keep the next generation healthy, safe, and prepared for their own adult lives. And what I’ve learned, from mom, and from walking through my adult life with my eyes wide open, is you do that almost exclusively by becoming the adult you want them to grow up to be. Preach all you want and it just goes in one ear and out the other. But they watch. You live it, and that will take. How much of all the crap we wade through in the news every day lately, is the end effect of adults saying one thing to kids and doing another.

So I’m reading all this about Kevin Spacey and how fourteen year old Anthony Rapp was there at a cast party, watching TV in a bedroom, and Spacey walks in drunk, hits the bathroom then comes out and picks the kid up, plops him down on the bed and lays on top of him. And the kid squirms away, runs into the bathroom, then after a while comes back out and gets the hell out of there. I appreciate that Spacey has apologised and said he was drunk at the time and doesn’t remember it. Spacey needs to appreciate something the ancients knew: in vino veritas.  

As I’ve grown older, and sat down in my share of bars, and downed a good amount of alcohol, I’ve come to find the I Was Drunk defense a bit puzzling…because if alcohol did anything to you it was to pull the curtain aside and let the inner you out. Maybe that was the person you were always hard wired to be. Maybe you let yourself become that person. But…whatever…in vino veritas. It wasn’t the drink. It was you. Spacey needs to ask himself how he became someone, some Adult, who could do those things, and especially to a kid at the age where sexual urges are just beginning to emerge.

Starting with…how could you just walk stinking drunk into a room with a teenager in it and not be deeply embarrassed? How do you even get that drunk at a party where there are kids. I’m sure a cast party can involve a lot of uncorking and letting go of stress and that’s fine. But that obligation to set an example never goes away just because it is inconvenient. Welcome to Adulthood! Arrange some adults-only get together for later, celebrate with the kids in the cast now, make it a memorable experience for them, send them off with visions of the future…and then retire to the grownup club and get it all off your chest There

If it seems like I’m fixating on the drunkenness over the sexual abuse it’s because it’s one of those telling little details that, at least for me, snaps the rest of the picture into place. He didn’t care there was a kid in front of him…and all the tomorrows that will ever be so long as there are kids to behold them. The way we treat children is our verdict on the human race. And…ourselves. As nice as it would have been to just let go and drink himself into John Barleycorn bliss at that cast party the instant Spacey walked into it and saw kids there he needed to be an adult and he couldn’t be bothered. There’s the problem. The rest of it was all of a piece.

But then, I grew up on another planet…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Seeing Events Through That Other Planet You Were Raised On
October 9th, 2017

The Power Of Stories

I posted a short cartoon below about how it was being a gay teenager growing up in the late 60s to early 70s. How, no matter which direction you turned, the message was you don’t exist, or if you did, you should not. At best you were invisible…something not spoken of in polite company. At worst…well…you probably don’t want to hear it here.

Now at least we are visable. We can’t be arrested simply for being visible. Before Stonewall that was a fact of life. The riot happened you may recall, when the police came to raid one of our few bars in New York City. Now we can live our lives openly. Now we can tell our stories in our own words. And now we are, tentatively, becoming part of the audience. Stories are being told, not just about us, but To us.

That’s a problem for some people, who would rather the old rules still applied…

“Black”, “Homo” And “Freaking Females”: Heated Scenes As Retailers Turn On Each Other At Marvel NYCC Q&A

This was about the recent trend in comics to include, or even reimagine characters as women, black and gay. A recent storyline in the X-Men series had younger versions of the team being transported in time to meet their adult selves. One of them, Bobby Drake aka Iceman, is forced to come to terms with his sexual orientation that his adult self relentlessly denied. It made for some amazing and heartfelt drama, of the sort you didn’t use to see in the comics, especially of the super hero kind, and yet which you could have only have found within that genre…

Marvel Comics – Uncanny X-Men #60

This was just amazing, absolutely amazing storytelling. It took the gay generation gap and played it at an angle only this, or a science fiction tale could do, and in doing it made plain the horrible burden the older generation lived under due to the prejudices of their day. What do you do when the kid you once were, comes face to face with you and asks why he should have to live his life in the closet? It’s one thing to tell how it was to the new generation that doesn’t have to live it the way you did, doesn’t have to make the bargains with hate that you did. They need to know this history, if only to keep their watch against it all coming back. But how do you justify it to the kid you once were? What do you say to him?

This is what those retailers, and the readers they speak for, were protesting. And what you reliably hear is something along the lines of hey I don’t have anything against the gays, I just don’t want it shoved in my face. ‘It’ being the fact of our existence. Yes, you don’t have anything against the gays…so long as you don’t have to know we’re there among you. But it’s more than that.

Stories have power. Stories are how we pass down knowledge of what it is to be human. How are we supposed to grow and mature and live our lives as fully realized human beings if we are not allowed to know the stories of the lives of others like us. How are we supposed to grow as decent people if we cannot hear the stories of others who are not like us. How do we see the common human heart we all share. The myths, the legends. The hero’s journey.

The answer of course, is we’re not supposed to grow at all. Black…homo…freaking females. We have to stay where we’re told. In our place.

Marvel Comics – All-New X-Men #17

No we don’t…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Power Of Stories
September 18th, 2017

The Soul Eaters

This came across my newsfeed today…

Mormon apostle’s gay brother shares his religious journey, preaches love for his former partner, faith and family

This story is almost unbearably sad. And…angering. 

I am now a sixty-four year old gay man who has had to try and find love in a world where my hopes and dreams, and the hopes and dreams of thousands like me are turned into other people’s stepping stones to heaven. I’ve written about it extensively. And these stories never get any easier to bear to read.

The choice for gay Mormons themselves, however, is more stark and inescapably painful: Either pursue an intimate same-sex relationship and possibly be cast out of the church or live as a celibate within it.

Christofferson tried both, but ultimately made an agonizing decision. He picked the church.

…and basically left the man who loved him. First story like this I read ages ago ended with the slow decline into drugs and depression of the one left behind, ending with their suicide and some very bitter regrets by the one who walked away because their religion told them to. Or more specifically the heterosexual gatekeepers of religion.

Dig this…

Still, the ever-optimistic Mormon hoped he and his partner could continue their “emotional relationship,” after giving up a physical one.

It proved impossible.

No shit Sherlock. The physical and the emotional are of a piece, a single seamless weave, or it isn’t that kind of relationship. And it’s hard for two people to share a house together that one burned halfway down. Oh look…the other half is still there…what’s your problem?? He told man he had loved that their every intimate moment was something he was now ashamed of, and seems to not understand what that did to him in that very deep place only the lover shares. 

I know that feeling. The hurt never goes away, nor with it, the deeper feelings of rejection, inadequacy, of insufficiency, of unworthiness for love. It’s excruciatingly hard to pick yourself back up again, and try again to find love. I know from hearing it often how this is so for broken hearted heterosexuals. We gay folk live in a world that keeps telling us from all directions that this is but our lot in life. We are damaged goods, not to expect much by maybe pity…from those who put the burden of their prejudices onto us. But of course, as they keep reminding us, it’s all done out of love. Love!

I have to, when I read these, put aside my feelings about the one that was left behind, and try, try very hard, to recognise that they’re both victims in this despicable endeavor powerful men engage in where the dashed hopes and dreams of some people, gay and lesbian people, are made into charms for church bracelets, proofs of devotion. The more gay hearts you break, the closer you get to sit to the throne of Christ.

“This is a story of love for him and his partner and love between those two men, whom I respect and understand,” the former stake president says now. “But it’s also about hard choices.”

Hahahahahaha… Don’t let it break your heart Mr. Former Stake President. The gay man chose you over the one that actually loved him, so you got another stepping stone to godhood out of it.

Two hearts were broken here, and every time a gay person is taught to fear wholehearted love and desire more than the approval of the men behind the pulpit. The one who walked away from love, and the one who was left behind. And this poor world loses something irreplaceable, and becomes a little more lost and lonely, a little more fearful, a little more angry.

Which suits the eaters of souls just fine. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Soul Eaters
August 4th, 2017

That Empty Place Where A Heartbeat Should Be But Isn’t

I came out to myself in December of 1971. I’ve been in this struggle ever since. When I got my first dial up Internet account in the early 1990s, I discovered Usenet newsgroups and for almost a decade engaged a spectrum of homophobic bigots and just very confused individuals on topics of gay people and our place in this world. There are very predictable patterns that keep emerging, certain expressions, mindsets, tautologies, circumlocutions that you just come to expect to see when some event, some pop culture thing suddenly takes hold, and gay people are seen for a brief moment as fully realized human beings complete with recognizable human emotions and motivations. For a brief moment the gutter seems a bit stunned and speechless.

But not for long. And then the usual tropes, the usual slogans, usual bile comes pouring out. And in the bedrock there is always this one, absolutely unmovable conviction, that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.

My new exhibit ‘A’ is In A Heartbeat. For most of the week since its Monday general release on Vimeo and YouTube the gutter was amazingly silent. I say amazingly because the howls of outrage usually come pretty fast and furious whenever something positive about gay people takes hold in the pop culture. But for almost the entire week the gutter was mostly silent. But it’s finding its voice now. Just this morning an article on the film from the Facebook page of People Magazine showed up in my newsfeed. Clicking on the link took you to the Facebook post complete with all the comments on it. I’d been expecting this sort of thing ever since Monday…

 

people magazine IAH comments-6

people magazine IAH comments-7

Produce a sweet little film about that first romantic crush, something that would provoke a torrent of how sweets how cutes how adorables if it was an opposite sex couple, but make it about a same sex couple, and the criticisms immediately fixate on sex, and a floodgate of sewage straight from the human gutter opens up.

Why are you introducing sex into a children’s cartoon? Why are you pushing sex on children? Stop trying to sexualize our children! The only thing about this routine that I’ve seen change over the decades, is nowadays it’s occasionally bundled with a Some Of My Best Friends Are disclaimer. We really have nothing against gays we just don’t want them flaunting it in front of the children. ‘It’ being sex.

What…you say there wasn’t any sex in that film? Yes there was. It was about gays, so it was about sex.

That’s the mindset. They can’t or won’t see the people for the homosexuals. And there’s a word for someone like that. Bigot. It’s not an ad hominem, it’s not an insult hurled at people for disagreeing, it’s a good old fashion English word and it means something. And a bigot’s mind is like an eye: the more light you shine on it, the tighter it closes. This sweet little film shines a light on gay hearts. Now see the eyes close tightly…tightly…more tightly…

So much, so obvious. But I’m not sharing this so you can go read the comments and stare into Nietzsche’s abyss. There’s actually some lovely sunlight in there. Because not everyone is a bigot, this sweet little film is getting all the how sweets how cutes how adorables from a lot of heterosexuals, many of whom are just now encountering that immovable denial of the humanity of gay people, and more specifically gay kids, for the first time and they are stunned.

I came out to myself in December 1971. I’ve lived under the cold icy gaze of that denial of my humanity ever since. Glad to see some of the rest of you are noticing it now. Oh…And you’re seeing it in people you might have otherwise thought were decent moral human beings too! Surprised? Appalled? Don’t take it too much to heart. If the human race was made of people like that there would be no civilization.

This is actually good. Let the gutter howl at this film. This is how things get better.

At the end of The Wonder Years the narrator, little Kevin Arnold all grown up now, says…

“Once upon a time, there was a girl I knew, who lived across the street. Brown hair, brown eyes. When she smiled, I smiled. When she cried, I cried. Every single thing that ever happened to me that mattered, in some way had to do with her. That day, Winnie and I promised each other that no matter what, that we’d always be together. It was a promise full of passion and truth and wisdom. It was the kind of promise that can only come from the hearts of the very young.”

There are people who will never see, no matter how often it gets in front of their noses, that this is something gay kids feel too, for the one that stole their heart. There’s a word for people like that. It isn’t an insult, it’s a description.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on That Empty Place Where A Heartbeat Should Be But Isn’t
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 | Comments Off on That Bible Also Warns That As You Sow…
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
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