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December 10th, 2013

The Persistence Of The Closet…(continued)

Slate today runs an article riffing on the New York Times article I linked to yesterday. They headline theirs The American Closet Is Bigger Than We Thought.  I assume the ‘we’ in that headline is “heterosexuals’, with maybe a side of ‘those of us also in the closet’, because you don’t live in this country as a gay person without seeing or at least glimpsing that vast nation of the closeted first hand. No kidding there’s more of them than you thought…

But if that Times article helps the heterosexual majority to see, really see, the damage that was done, and is still being done, then good.  Seems a lot of folks are noticing that bit in the Times article, about wives in less tolerant states checking Google for advice on whether their husbands are gay. But there was also this…

Craigslist lets us look at this from a different angle. I analyzed ads for males looking for “casual encounters.” The percentage of these ads that are seeking casual encounters with men tends to be larger in less tolerant states. Among the states with the highest percentages are Kentucky, Louisiana and Alabama.

Back in the 1980s, what I think of as the BBS days, I did volunteer work for a gay community BBS whose creator intended it not to be a hookup site but a serious information and educational resource for gay people.  He realized back then, as I did when I connected to those first primitive amateur computer networks, what they could do for us as a people.  The BBS advertised in the local gay newspaper, and I think in one of the alternative City Papers, and the ads included a phone number for help getting connected.  He told us he would get desperate phone calls on that number in the middle of the night, from men who’d been caught in police vice stings…trolling the parks or some public lavatory…needing emergency legal advice.  He said without exception, without exception, those men were all married, and none of then identified as gay.  At least, they wouldn’t over the course of that phone call.  That was the 1980s.

It’s still going on…

One could leave these findings angry at all these men for not coming out, but Stephen-Davidowitz’s concluding anecdote—about a retired professor who has been married to a woman for 40 years and “regrets virtually every one of his major life decisions”—articulates my overwhelming emotion: sadness.

That’s fine, but anger is still a good reaction to have and I hope the heterosexual majority cultivates it…not at the closeted, but at the Righteous and the Upstanding who keep teaching young gay people to hate themselves, so that they can have scapegoats, someone to gloat over, so they don’t have to look at their own failures of moral character. Be angry at them. Ask yourselves what kind of person turns anyone’s basic human need for intimate companionship against them, makes them deeply ashamed, even fearful, of their own human heart…

Sometimes even I get tired of looking at aggregate data, so I asked a psychiatrist in Mississippi who specializes in helping closeted gay men if any of his patients might want to talk to me. One man contacted me. He told me he was a retired professor, in his 60s, married to the same woman for more than 40 years.

About 10 years ago, overwhelmed with stress, he saw the therapist and finally acknowledged his sexuality. He has always known he was attracted to men, he says, but thought that that was normal and something that men hid. Shortly after beginning therapy, he had his first, and only, gay sexual encounter, with a student of his in his late 20s, an experience he describes as “wonderful.”

He and his wife do not have sex. He says that he would feel guilty ever ending his marriage or openly dating a man. He regrets virtually every one of his major life decisions.

He regrets virtually every one of his major life decisions… What kind of person does this to another, takes pride in doing it, and can look in a mirror and see a righteous person?  Look at that.  Really look at it.  It’s okay to get angry after looking down into that Pit.  But don’t look into it for too long, because Nietzsche was right about an abyss gazing back into you.  Just remember what you saw the next time you hear one of them yapping about their sincerely held religious beliefs.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
November 5th, 2013

Spitting Into The Mirror

From Politico today, which I will not link to because…Politico…

Reince Priebus: President Obama’s ‘culture of hatred’

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus ripped President Barack Obama for creating a “culture of hatred” in which Democrats are likening the GOP to the Ku Klux Klan.

“It’s the culture that the president’s cultivated here. A culture of dishonesty, a culture of hatred,” Priebus said Monday on Fox News’s “Hannity.”

You don’t say…  A culture of hatred…

Hatred…

Hatred…

like the ku klux klan…

Carefully cultivated…

Carefully…

Carefully…

Carefully…

Carefully…

Cultivated…

And your problem with cultivating hatred for votes is…what exactly?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
October 6th, 2013

The Noble Work Of Public Service

This came across my Facebook stream this morning…a status post from a frustrated federal employee…

I’m really tired of being vilified as a federal worker. I WANT to WORK. I want to support myself. My colleagues do as well. We want to be productive and we don’t deserve to be accused of living off the backs of taxpayers or lazy and worse. I’m truly offended that members of my own family and some that I thought were friends have bought into this crap. I’ve tried to hold my tongue but I’m pissed off! If you truly feel that way, then unfriend me and don’t let the door hit you on the way out of my life!

I remember a time, in the afterglow of the FDR days I guess, when “public service” jobs were considered noble work done for the good of the nation. I have watched the right wing, over time, chip away at that notion, not because they genuinely thought that government workers were lazy but because they hated democratic government and all that liberty and justice for all stuff. It seemed in my lifetime to culminate in that famous Ronald Reagan campaign quote, “”The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

Think about what he’s saying there, the next time you call for a policeman or a fireman, or listen to the hurricane track forecast from the national weather service, or you throw away some food in your pantry because it was recalled due to salmonella and you’re glad you heard the warning before you ate any of it. Think about it the next time you drive on the Interstate Highway System, or fly somewhere. Private enterprise wants to help only its bottom line. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a different thing from work that benefits the nation as a whole, and we have seen clearly now since the phrase “trickle-down” became an economic policy how that simply does not work.  The libertarian pipe dream of a society that magically assumes a stable, productive shape solely by the force of the invisible hand of the marketplace is a fantasy held on to by people who want that free lunch of a nation they don’t have to be bothered with the work of maintaining.  When it’s not the carefully crafted propaganda of sociopaths.  A civilized society needs people to work for the government and be here to help us all.

Once upon a time the saying on Wall Street was what’s good for business is good for America, but that has it backwards, tragically, woefully backwards. It’s what’s good for America is good for business. What’s good for democracy is good for business. What’s good for the people is good for business, because without customers no business can prosper. But there are some who don’t give a good goddamn about America…or business. They care only for their own private wealth, their own power and glory. Reagan was half right about those words being the most terrifying words in the English language. To him and others of his kind, second only to the words “Liberty and justice for all.”

[Edited a tad...]

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)
October 4th, 2013

Belief In Soulmates

@Sherman_Alexie: “#2 reason for divorce: Belief in “soulmates.” #1: shagging someone else’s “soulmate.”"

I guess he hasn’t seen very many long lived couples.  I have.  Soulmates is a real thing.  But not everyone has that temperament for monogamy.  People who don’t should leave people who do alone, and vice-versa.  I would submit that a big cause of divorce is our culture places too much emphasis on monogamy and not enough on trustworthiness.  But before you can be honest with others you need to be honest with yourself.  You need to cultivate that habit of truth telling internally.  The culture that discourages that is cutting its own throat.  Not everyone is heterosexual. Not everyone is innately monogamous.

Some of us are.  And we who are and those who are not seem always to be staring at each other in disbelief and fussing with each other about all the wrong things.  Belief in soulmates isn’t a problem…soulmates are a real thing…belief that only monogamy is moral is a problem.  Cheating is immoral.  Lying just to get inside someone’s pants is immoral.  Sex for its own sake is not in and of itself immoral.  You live long enough and you will see lots of long lived happy couples and lots of thoroughly decent moral trustworthy people who’ve had lots and lots of lovers.  Monogamy is a temperament, not an ideal.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
July 14th, 2013

But This Is Not That World.

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

Scott Spencer-Wolff: “I imagine a world where George Zimmerman offered Trayvon Martin a ride home on a rainy night.”
[Diana Butler Bass]

But this is not that world.  Spare some anger today (assuming you are angry) to think about why that is.  Because that’s the problem.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
July 11th, 2013

The Vigilante Or Civilization…Pick One

Digby:

The facts show that George Zimmerman armed himself with a gun loaded with hollow point bullets and ended up killing an unarmed teenager who was just out buying some snacks. How that happened is disputed but to me it’s obvious that when you strap on a gun, go looking for trouble and end up stalking and killing an unarmed 17 year old, you’ve done something wrong.

Digby goes on to say “To me, the carrying of that gun morally requires that he be held liable in some way for the unarmed Trayvon’s death”, but there is where I often part company with my fellow liberals on the issue of guns: I am fine with the concept that you have a right to own a gun and defend yourself with it. In fact, I consider that right to be a fundamentally democratic thing.

What isn’t are things like vigilantism and racism.  These are poison.  They are poison to the person, they are poison to the nation.  This case is positively dripping with racism that nobody in the corporate news media wants to look closely at, because we’re all supposed to be beyond all that now. Except we’re not. Zimmerman’s suspicion and fear of Martin only makes sense in the context of Martin’s race, his sex, and his age. There is literally nothing else there but those three things. Zimmerman stalked that kid because of those three things, and his rational for killing an unarmed teenage boy who was out buying snacks can only seem plausible due to those three things. Fear the black male, and especially, fear the young black male.  Look, for as long as you can stomach it, at the breathless agreement that Martin posed a threat to Zimmerman’s life, solely on the basis of Zimmerman’s say-so, and the ephemeral signs of a fight on his face and head.  That was no beating.  You want to see what a beating looks like, look at the photos of recent victims of gay bashers.  But it’s simply an accepted fact in certain quarters of the country that Zimmerman’s life was threatened. Were Martin white it would not matter what the race of his stalker would be, other than if his stalker was a black man he’d already have been convicted and on Florida’s death row. Picture it: a white teenaged boy stalked by a strange man, fights back and is found shot to death. Would anyone doubt the adult male had done something horribly wrong?  Why is it never considered, that Martin was standing His ground when Zimmerman confronted him? Well, of course a young black male has no such right.  Racism was always at the rotten core of this.

But if Zimmerman was a racist, he was also a vigilante and if you approve of vigilantism anywhere outside the pages of a comic book you are no friend of civilization let alone democracy.  All those people waving around the second amendment as a defense against tyranny are no defenders of democracy…if anything they are the useful tools of anarchy.  The gun is what you need when the the peace is broken, so the first thing, the basic responsibility of the believers in civilization and democracy is to preserve the peace.  That means the rule of law and the ballot box as the agent of change.  Peaceful disobedience, where the conscience requires disobedience, and responsibility for ones own conduct toward your neighbors.  Responsibility.  What a concept, that.  Zimmerman acted like the gun came with a badge and they don’t. But more than that, he acted as if he had character enough to bear the wearing of a badge and it’s sickeningly obvious he is no such person.

However this trial turns out, if nothing else this case really raises a lot of questions about the kind of nation we are, or should want to be. So many virtuous moral all-American values types cheering on what Zimmerman did. It’s been a while since I’ve been this completely disgusted. Digby’s right, what would be a just punishment for what Zimmerman did isn’t obvious, but what is staringly obvious is that he did something terribly, horribly wrong. A teenage boy went out for snacks and never came back home, because Zimmerman saw a young black man somewhere he thought a young black man didn’t belong, and took that matter into his own hands.

[Edited slightly...]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
June 8th, 2013

In Theory You Could Add A Check…

The EFF as usual, gets it right

In response to the recent news reports about the National Security Agency’s surveillance program, President Barack Obama said today, “When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls.” Instead, the government was just “sifting through this so-called metadata.” The Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made a similar comment last night: “The program does not allow the Government to listen in on anyone’s phone calls. The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the identity of any subscriber.”

What they are trying to say is that disclosure of metadata—the details about phone calls, without the actual voice—isn’t a big deal, not something for Americans to get upset about if the government knows. Let’s take a closer look at what they are saying:

They know you rang a phone sex service at 2:24 am and spoke for 18 minutes. But they don’t know what you talked about.

They know you called the suicide prevention hotline from the Golden Gate Bridge. But the topic of the call remains a secret.

They know you spoke with an HIV testing service, then your doctor, then your health insurance company in the same hour. But they don’t know what was discussed.

“In theory, you could add the check of exposing the system to the light of day, but that means wrecking much of its intelligence value”, they’re saying over at Volokh, exposing to the light of day the usual contempt wingers have for democracy. That would be the Voters you’re talking about there Baker, and why goodness gracious the system Was exposed to the light of day, otherwise known as the Voters, we’re all arguing about it now aren’t we, and if they ever catch the whistleblower who let the voters know what their government was doing to them that person will think Bradley Manning had it easy.

But I am just a computer geek who just happens to be working on a space science program which will itself fling a fucking torrent of data back at planet earth for astronomers to make sense of. Every now and then I get a bit worried when I see the disconnect between my understanding of how electronic information systems work and everyone else’s. Then I see articles like that Forbes Magazine one where they described how Target figured out a teenage girl was pregnant before her parents did and sent her helpful offerings of child care products and I feel a little better. Then I see this. Oh they’re not listening to our phone calls, just capturing the metadata…nothing to worry about citizen.

But never mind the metadata. If the deep secrecy going on here, where not just court orders are secret but the government’s interpretation of the laws its supposed to be following are secret too isn’t scaring the hell out of you then I have to wonder why you even bother following the news or taking the trouble to vote.

I am not an anti-government crank. I am a liberal FDR democrat. I believe in democracy. But for democracy to work you need elections, and for those to work you need voters who know what the fuck is going on. Oliver Willis stupid shit reductio ad absurdums notwithstanding. Nobody is demanding Geraldo Rivera follow CIA agents around with a TV camera while Jerry Springer provides a running commentary. But when oversight itself becomes a state secret, when the governments own interpretations of the laws binding it are kept from the voters, then it’s a catastrophe waiting to happen. I am not an anti-government crank, I am a liberal FDR democrat, and I believe in democratic government. And one reason I believe in democratic government is power corrupts. The light of day is a good thing.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
March 21st, 2013

Seeing Your Gay Neighbor Through Prejudiced Colored Glasses

The struggle for gay civil rights is merely homosexuals seeking approval of their lifestyle…

Young Opponents of Gay Marriage Undaunted by Battle Ahead

“The primary challenge that our side faces right now is the intense social pressure,” said Joseph Backholm, 34, the executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington. “To the extent that the other side is able to frame this as a vote for gay people to be happy, it will be challenging for us.”

The more things change the more they stay the same.  As far back as Anita Bryant’s rampage on Dade County’s anti-discrimination law, the rhetoric has been that all the fuss about gay rights is merely the homosexuals demanding societal approval of their lifestyle.  No matter how you phrase that, (a vote for gay people to be happy) it is ignorant.  All you’re telling us there Joseph, is you can’t see the people for the homosexuals.

Anyone who thinks this struggle is only about approval or some frivolous desire for “happiness” has ether never loved or does not think gay people are capable of love.  Happiness is in your lover’s smile, and the touch of their hand in yours.  All the approval you could ever need is in their eyes when they look into yours.  You would know this if you ever loved Joseph.  You would know why we fight for the honor and the dignity of it if you could see the people for the homosexuals.  We are not asking for approval from the likes of you Joseph, let alone happiness.  What we need from you is to take the damn knife out of our backs.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
March 16th, 2013

The Lost Cause

Ever wonder how so many southerners can claim with a straight face that slavery was a benign, even beneficial institution toward black people?  Ever find yourself chuckling under your breath when you hear one of them refer to the civil war as The War Of Northern Aggression…?

The South still lies about the Civil War

The Civil War is like a mountain range that guards all roads into the South: you can’t go there without encountering it. Specifically, you can’t go there without addressing a question that may seem as if it shouldn’t even be a question—to wit: what caused the war? One hundred and fifty years after the event, Americans—at least the vast majority who toil outside academia—still can’t agree. Evidence of this crops up all the time, often in the form of a legal dispute over a display of the Confederate flag. (As I write, there are two such cases pending—one in Oregon and the other in Florida, making this an average news week.) Another common forum is the classroom. But it’s not always about the Stars and Bars. In 2010, for instance, Texas school officials made the news by insisting that Jefferson Davis’s inaugural address be given equal prominence with Abraham Lincoln’s in that state’s social studies curriculum. The following year, Virginia school officials were chagrined to learn that one of their state-adopted textbooks was teaching fourth graders that thousands of loyal slaves took up arms for the confederacy.

At the bottom of all of these is one basic question: was the Civil War about slavery, or states’ rights?

Read the whole thing and if you’re of a certain age you find yourself remembering how the further south you went, the more ridiculous their version of the civil war became.  And you remember something else…how you just laughed it off and went along, because there was no sense rubbing their noses in it after so long.  The war was a thing of the distant past…a relic of history, a plot device in spaghetti westerns and TV shows.  The union won, slavery was defeated, a new South was born from the ashes.  Well…yes…but so was the Ku Klux Klan.  And almost one-hundred and fifty years after the war the party of Lincoln is now the party of John C. Calhoun, the intellectual godfather of the confederacy.

That has had consequences, among them being continuing and relentless political attacks not only on the rights of minorities, but more basically on the union itself that so many northern soldiers fought and died for.  And since the nation’s first black president was reelected it’s only gotten worse, the outright calls for succession louder.

How did it happen that we seem right back where we started, minus only the slaves in chains but little else. It was the bloodiest war this nation has ever fought and in the spirit of healing and reconciliation the valor and bravery of confederate soldiers was honored, even as we all seemed to agree that the cause of the war, slavery, was a stain on both the southern slave holding states, as well as the northerners who kidnapped black Africans and and sold them into southern slavery.  But almost immediately the south began denying it had any culpability at all in that war, and the victorious north eventually just accepted it as yet another of the south’s peculiar institutions.  It was a mistake.  When I was a kid in the 1960s we treated the lost cause mindset as the source of lighthearted joking…


My boots have touched Yankee soil! Now I’ll
have to burn them!

Yes, yes…war of northern aggression…whatever… But it is no joke. Compare modern Germany’s acknowledgment of its Nazi past, and the horrific crime of the Holocaust with the south’s of its antebellum past and slavery, and then compare the political mindset of even conservative Germans nowadays with that of the southern republican base and you see what cultural denial buys you.

This:

CPAC Participant Defends Slavery At Minority Outreach Panel: It Gave ‘Food And Shelter’ To Blacks

…an audience member from North Carolina, 30-year-old Scott Terry, asked whether Republicans could endorse races remaining separate but equal. After the presenter, K. Carl Smith of Frederick Douglass Republicans, answered by referencing a letter by Frederick Douglass forgiving his former master, the audience member said “For what? For feeding him and housing him?” Several people in the audience cheered and applauded Terry’s outburst.

They cheered. They didn’t look away in embarrassment and discomfort, the way a German audience would if some lout among them defended Hitler for improving the lives of Jews by taking Germany out of economic depression.  They cheered.  They cheered because they grew up in a world where all their comfortable conceits about themselves and their history are never disturbed, lest they find themselves asking troubling questions about whence they came and who they are.

We did not start a war that killed more Americans then all our other wars combined just so we could keep other humans in slavery…we did not kill hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans, our neighbors, for the cause of white supremacy…it’s a lie…we’re good Christian people…

And thus the sins of the fathers became the pride of the children, and all the racism, sexism and homophobia, all the bitter hatred of a democracy that protects the right of black people to vote, let alone drink from a white man’s water fountain, and all the acid resentment toward a world that insists on moving forward to that better tomorrow, despite their best efforts to hold it down so they won’t have to acknowledge what their Heritage actually Is.

After the presenter, K. Carl Smith of Frederick Douglass Republicans, answered by referencing a letter by Frederick Douglass forgiving his former master, the audience member said “For what? For feeding him and housing him?” Several people in the audience cheered and applauded Terry’s outburst…

The lost cause isn’t lost because it was defeated, it is lost because it leads people into an endless darkness from which few ever return.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
March 15th, 2013

Your Son Will Die Of AIDS…Not That We’re Praying For That Mind You…

Now drops the other shoe, as it reliably will…

Conservatives Target Rob Portman’s Gay Son For ‘Harmful Choices’ That Will ‘Kill Him From AIDS’

Two things that people need to see to realize what this fight has always been about are the humanity of gay people and the bottomless vitriolic hatred of our enemies. Behold that process in action: a son comes out to his father who sees the son he loves, not a homosexual monster. This father declares his love for his son has opened his eyes. Thank you Mr. Portman, but reality isn’t through with you just yet. Now that your eyes have opened, you get to see who the real monsters are.

Prepare yourself. You may think you have seen the bottom of the human gutter.  But it has no bottom.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

When The Homosexual Menace Is Your Own Kid

I’m reading these headlines yesterday…

G.O.P.’s Portman, Saying Son Is Gay, Now Backs Same-Sex Marriage

And thinking pretty much what Matthew Yglesias tweeted this morning: “Glad Rob Portman’s for marriage equality, but wish conservatives could muster empathy for problems that don’t directly affect their family.”

On the other hand he didn’t go on a warpath against homosexuality like some conservatives have when they found out they had a gay kid (Hello Phyllis Schlafly…William Knight…Alan Keyes…).  Let me make an educated guess here: Portman thinks love is an integral part of marriage.

How many times have you heard them saying in the kook pews, in the context of arguing against marriage for same-sex couples, that marriage isn’t about love?  How many of those are the sort of people who you would expect to have their eyes opened when a child comes out to them?  At some point you have to conclude that this entire battle has been over the sanctity of love, and nothing else.

All some people seem to be able to see in the trappings of marriage is the authority part.  I now pronounce you… They forget the part about What God has joined… I don’t think you have to be a believer to see the truth in that.  The higher power isn’t in the part played by the clergyman or whoever is officiating at the ceremony.  The ceremony is an act of acknowledgement; a mutual recognition, on the part of everyone concerned, of a fact that has already occurred.  The higher power, the actual presiding authority, has already acted.  Think of the officiator as a conductor for an ancient score.  Public declarations are made, promises sworn between a couple, and between them and their community.  We are here to witness… The higher power is love.  What it has joined, let no one cast asunder.

What sort of person says that love is not the central fact of marriage?  The same sort who throws their gay child out into the streets, that’s who.

[Update...]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
February 27th, 2013

No…I Will Not Stand Side-By-Side With The Likes Of You…

A one time shooting buddy of mine offhandedly remarked that my support of gun control democrats over right to keep and bear arms republicans  was, of course, all about my favoring sex and my sexual orientation over my right to self defense.  I countered as I usually do when that comes up, simply by stating that while I think a lot of gun control rhetoric is simplistic and naive at best, at least it’s grounded in one basic fact, that guns are dangerous, whereas getting whipped up in a hysteria over homosexuality not only makes no sense whatsoever, by attacking people’s ability to love and accept love from another you’re actually making civilization that much harder to sustain.  To nurture civilization, nurture things in its people like love, sympathy, trust, kindness. A little more love, or for that matter even a little more carefree happy sex, would probably go a long way toward making this poor angry world a much more peaceful one.  If I have to come down on one side of it, I will come down on the side of love, Every Time.

But there is also this…

Larry Pratt Agrees Race War Will Pit ‘Christian, Heterosexual White Haves’ Against ‘Black Muslim and/or Atheist…Have-Nots’

Last week, we reported that Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America joined conservative talk show host Stan Solomon to warn about President Obama’s alleged plans to incite violence and bring about a race war against white Americans.

I can’t begin to describe how much I despise it that people like this man have so thoroughly identified their cheapshit racism and hatreds with gun ownership.  I can appreciate how it is that bigots and thugs like guns.  But in a decent world they’d be keeping their mouths shut about it for the same reason Klansmen kept their faces hidden.  No sense in telling the cops who to talk to when there’s been a beating or a lynching.

Behold, the human gutter…

Later, Solomon mused that “the best thing that can happen to a liberal is to be mugged,” and wondered why Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) still supports gun control after she was mugged in 1995, to which Pratt replied: “Well, maybe she liked it.”

There’s the other reason I’ll stand with the democrats on this issue, even if it means they go further than I’d care to see on it. This element needs to be thoroughly defeated, humiliated, at the polls, so we can set about building a more peaceful and prosperous tomorrow.  The root of violence, the root I put it to you of all criminal behavior, is right there, in that man’s sneering contempt for a women who was mugged.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
January 9th, 2013

Dangerous

This flitted across my Facebook stream a while ago…I really wish I had the original because I’d caption it differently…

Having had and witnessed so many arguments with anti-gay bigots who say that marriage isn’t about love, I’m pretty sure this would fail miserably at getting the point across.  You simply can’t make that point with the hard core bigot, they just don’t get that “love” stuff to begin with, or to any degree they do they regard it with contempt as a sign of weakness.

This is a good argument to make with everyone else who is open to hearing to our stories and seeing our shared humanity.  But there’s a another one.  I’d caption the picture above something like this:

In a world bleeding itself to death with violence and war, how rational are those
who warn that it is dangerous to allow men to love other men?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
December 20th, 2012

Our Molochs, Ourselves…

Fred Clark, one of the most completely decent people you will ever read online, posts a link to this column by Garry Wills that makes me want to throw up my hands and give up on any chance of reasoned discussion concerning guns, let alone violence, in the land of my birth and my heart…

Our Moloch

Few crimes are more harshly forbidden in the Old Testament than sacrifice to the god Moloch (for which see Leviticus 18.21, 20.1-5). The sacrifice referred to was of living children consumed in the fires of offering to Moloch. Ever since then, worship of Moloch has been the sign of a deeply degraded culture…

You just know where this is going…

The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).

…and with that I just want to say I’m Done! Done will the lot of you.  Hurl yourselves at each other with your lizard brains rattling at full throttle, I just don’t fucking care anymore.  There will be no rational discussion of guns Or violence in this country in my lifetime obviously.  Or as Wills says without any apparent irony…

The fact that the gun is a reverenced god can be seen in its manifold and apparently resistless powers. How do we worship it? Let us count the ways:

1. It has the power to destroy the reasoning process.

Sure did a number on yours didn’t it Gary.  You could wish those first and second commandments were a tad more exact.  There are no other Gods…Period!  Idolatry is a lie.

Also…I really meant what I said in number nine! But…no.  We always have to take this argument into culture war territory.  Always.

Here’s the thing about idolatry…when you worship an idol you are surrendering what makes you human to a piece of stone. But point your finger at the idol worshiper if you like, attacking that piece of stone as if it were a god-object is the same thing as worshiping it. By tearing it down you are acknowledging it has power.

No. The power is within. The power is always within. Actually Gary, guns Are mere tools, bits of technology, and a political issue we really need to discuss.  But that political issue exists in a context of a culture that is astonishingly violent and discussing the one without the other is as pointless an exercise in generating hot air as I can imagine.  If you could reach around that rattling lizard brain getting all offended at the other tribe’s god to the part that’s capable of reason and empathy you could see that.  But idolatry has made you weak.  You think that if you can just smash the idol it’s power will be gone, but unfortunately Gary it is not Moloch you are dealing with but human beings, and the fault dear Brutus is not in our guns, but in ourselves. Guns. Don’t. Matter.

I posted a wee rant on Facebook the other day, about Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin and his one last swing at gay people before leaving congress.  I wanted people having this argument about “the gun lobby” to please notice something.  Yes, they are part of the problem, but not because they defend the right of citizens to own guns. So long as people keep thinking of them as a gun lobby they are missing it. This man, Todd Akin has their lifetime ‘A’ rating and the NRA supported him in the 2012 elections Even After he began yap, yap yapping about “legitimate rape”.  So women can own guns, but not their own bodies?  No…just, no. That simply isn’t how people who are genuinely concerned about freedom, individual rights, and “big brother government” think.  They are not that.

Can we please stop the idol worship and look at this…really look at it.  They are not a gun lobby, they are a right wing political action committee that pushes people’s buttons about government taking their guns away to get right wing extremists elected.  Guns are to them, as the bible is to the Family Research Council. They are tools the right uses to drive people to the polls and vote against their own interests.  So is abortion.  So is The Homosexual Menace.  So is the Angry Black Man.  So is The Illegal Immigrant.  That is how idolatry works.  That is what it does to otherwise rational human beings.

Why are we such a violent society?  Well…the right certainly has its opinion about that:

Top Conservative Publication: Shooting Occurred Because Women Ran The School

National Review, whose in-house editorial suggested Newtown was the price of the Second Amendment, published a piece on Wednesday from anti-feminist Charlotte Allen suggesting the reason the shooter was able to kill so many students was because Newtown was a “feminized setting”…

Actually, if our culture wasn’t so out of balance when it comes to male verses female leadership it would probably be a whole lot less violent.  Which is almost certainly why the hard right (religious and secular) is so relentlessly against female leadership.  There’s the problem.  Or at least a big part of it.  Men must either dominate women or be emasculated by them. What does this right wing trope accomplish other than making males more aggressive?  Yes, we can and should talk about sensible restrictions on firearms and firearm ownership.  But can we talk about this too?  Because if we can’t nothing, Nothing we attempt to do regarding gun control will do any damn good whatsoever.  Nothing.  And it’ll just be wash-rinse-repeat every time another horrific crime of violence happens.

So long as we are busy fighting a culture war of the right wing’s making, that only the right wing benefits from, discussions about the roots of violence just aren’t going to happen.  It’s a win-win, not for the culture of guns but the culture of hate.  Please…just stop.  And…Think!

A lot of the people you see (I’ve seen and talked to myself) at gun shows are or were once blue collar union workers, who have been systematically cleaved from the democratic party over this one issue by the NRA.  A lot of them, not all of them certainly, but perhaps a critical mass of them, could be won back if democrats would bother talking to them, and not screaming at them that they’re responsible for the deaths of 20 children, let alone that they are Moloch Worshipers.  Those people have children too and they love them very much.

Also…I really meant what I said in number nine! The first person dragged down into the gutter when you lie about your neighbor, is you.

[Edited some for clarity...]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
December 14th, 2012

Cold Hearts, Bloody Streets

For a technologically advanced country as wealthy and capable as this one is, we are an astonishingly violent country. Whenever one of these mass killings happens I keep finding myself forlornly wishing we could have an honest national conversation about why. But we won’t. Already it’s instantly turning into yet another argument about guns and then it’s all just flag waving and static and nobody is listening anymore, except to themselves.

I wish we could have a conversation about violence. And in particular, about male violence. I honestly don’t think the image of the sex driven violence prone human male is accurate. I think it’s a careless stereotype. I think, like the way it can be with certain dogs, you beat it into males one way or another. You annihilate their capacity for sympathy, kill their ability to trust and love, and what is left, that all too human capacity for aggression and hate, well you just let it take root and grow, uninhibited. You beat the heart out of a boy, one way or another, and then you fill the void with hate…and it doesn’t matter who they hate, just that they hate, and that they are afraid not to hate.

From the bully culture in grade schools, to the pulpit thumpers who preach male supremacy over women, to the militaristic warrior culture that reaches from the pentagon to Wall Street, teaching a kind of human law of the jungle, dominate or be dominated, we systematically dehumanize our male citizens. Some days I look at what school kids have to go through, at the casual acceptance by our courts of male domestic violence, at the routine business-as-usual culture of predatory capitalism, at a conservative politics that claims letting working citizens to perish of sickness and disease is the highest kind of social morality, and I wonder that we aren’t even more violent than we already are.

I wish we could have this conversation. But no. We will have another bitter pointless argument about guns, and wash, rinse, repeat, until the next time some walking time bomb goes off and kills. And then we’ll do it all over again. And the bullies will still rule the school hallways, young men will still be fed the idea that their manhood depends on dominating women, predators in business suits will still raid and loot the life savings of working people and be exalted as job creators, preachers will still preach that god hates atheists, liberals and homosexuals and that god made man to rule over women, and politicians will win votes by promising to take food out of the mouths of poor people and be regarded as statesmen in their hometown newspapers. And we will go to bed some nights when the news is horrifying, wondering why oh why can’t Americans look at one another and see a neighbor whose life is worth cherishing too.

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)
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