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January 9th, 2013
by Bruce |
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?
December 20th, 2012
Our Molochs, Ourselves…
by Bruce |
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…
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:
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...]
December 14th, 2012
Cold Hearts, Bloody Streets
by Bruce |
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.
November 28th, 2012
Feelings. Hungry, Hungry Feelings…
by Bruce |
“Here’s what we know about life. I have all kinds of natural feelings in my life and it doesn’t necessarily mean that I should act on every feeling. Sometimes I get angry and I feel like punching a guy in the nose. It doesn’t mean I act on it. Sometimes I feel attracted to women who are not my wife. I don’t act on it. Just because I have a feeling doesn’t make it right. Not everything natural is good for me. Arsenic is natural.” -Rick Warren
Hate is natural. Prejudice is natural. Who to hate is learned, but the capacity to hate is there, deep in the ancient pit within the human consciousness. We all carry the history of millions of years of life on earth within us every moment of our day. Tribalism is natural to us. To be afraid of the alien other, and to hate them, is natural to us. Blind obedience to the alpha leader is natural to us. The unthinking, bloodthirsty mob is in our blood. But so is love, so is kindness to the stranger, so is curiosity, and the yearning for truth and meaning. We are, by nature, civilization destroyers, but also civilization builders. The mindless beast is within us all. The good person is the one who will not unleash it within themselves, or in others. Do you want to be that good person Rick, or do you want to feed the beast? Every moment of your day Rick, it’s one or the other.
You’re right Rick. Just because you have feelings that does not make them right. What makes them right, or makes them profoundly evil, is how your feelings translate into acts. Do you help your neighbor in this life, or do you let the beast eat them? Who is your neighbor Rick?
November 27th, 2012
by Bruce |
This just came across my Twitter stream…
Joseph Weisenthal @TheStalwart There’s no empirical evidence or theoretical basis for arguing that cutting taxes is a means towards smaller government.
After the recent revaluations from former Florida GOP members that all that talk about voter fraud was itself fraud, you’d think people would finally stop listening to the rhetoric, and pay more attention to the behavior.
Yes, yes…they yap about “smaller government all the firggin’ time, but you need to understand what is meant in the first place by “smaller government”. It was never about reducing its staffage or its costs. Size is a relative matter.
What they’re talking about isn’t size, it’s power…specifically the power of the federal, not state level government. They want it small enough it can’t enforce equal rights laws. They want it small enough it can’t stop Wall Street and big corporations from raping the middle class. They want it small enough it cannot defend the rights of women, minorities, the poor, and the powerless. That is all that was ever meant by the term, “small government”.
November 20th, 2012
Lazy Bums On The Government Dole…
by Bruce |
This came across my Facebook stream this morning…
This seems like beating on a dead horse…probably everyone knows by now that WalMart pays food stamp wages…but there’s a point here that needs constant hammering on. If you like WalMart’s Low, Low Prices! fine…except WalMart workers are living on food stamps and probably other public support too, and that’s a large part of how WalMart keeps its prices down (another part is their pressure on companies to manufacture goods in low wage countries abroad, thereby costing American families their livelihoods and decimating this country’s industrial base). So…the difference between what you paid for your WalMart goods and what they would actually cost if WalMart simply paid its workers a living wage is the part paid for by food stamps. If you shop at WalMart, you are on the dole too. Except you could probably afford not to be.
So who’s the lazy bum wanting a government handout here, because it isn’t the WalMart worker.
November 8th, 2012
…We Admitted That Our Lives Had Become Unmanageable…
by Bruce |
Put the bottle down. Please. For everyone’s sake…
The polls were not skewed. Nate Silver was not making things up. Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. He did not raise taxes. The unemployment figures were not faked. Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction. Climate Change is real. Evolution is real. FEMA is not building concentration camps. Christians are not being treated like Jews were in Germany in the 1930s…
November 7th, 2012
Moral Nihilism Isn’t Only Believing In Nothing…
by Bruce |
I just finished watching Rachel Maddow deliver a smokin’ hot riff on republican shock and confusion, as displayed on Fox last night, that the numbers they were certain were going to go massively in Romney’s favor didn’t. She showed clips from past Fox News predictions of a Romney landslide, showed that stunning live TV moment that’ll almost certainly go down in television history, when Rove got angry that the Fox News vote analysts called Ohio for Obama. Then…brilliantly…she added that no, the polls were not skewed, Obama was born in Hawaii, he didn’t raise taxes, the deficit hasn’t gone up, unemployment figures were not cooked, Saddam didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, climate change is real, evolution is real, FEMA isn’t building concentration camps…
…and god I hope I can get my hands on a video clip of it because it really said it all…especially how at the end of that grotesque litany of decades of republican right wing and religious right hallucinations she said that it is profoundly damaging to our democracy when one party is trying to cope with things as they really are and the other is living it it’s own detached insular fantasy world.
We need, she said thumping her pulpit, honest, good faith arguing and debating about policy…real argument not phony crap ginned up just to drive people to the polls or satisfy the pathetic conceits of religious and political fanatics…because it is in that honest debating of the issues that we have the best hope of finding answers that work. By cocooning in their own fantasy world the republicans have made that honest, good faith arguing and debating nearly impossible.
She said she hoped the shock of that collision with real numbers and real reality last night might break the bubble. I’ve heard others expressing this since last night, but I am not so sure. But there is the problem we face as a nation. It’s the problem we need to address before we can really and truly get down to addressing any of the others. The polls were not skewed. The unemployment numbers were not rigged. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Climate change is real. Evolution is real. FEMA is not building concentration camps. Homosexuals are not demon possessed tools of satan. Two plus two equals four. If any of this distresses you be assured that reality does not care about what you believe or about you. It just is what it is. You need to care about reality. If you can’t bring yourself to do that critically, honestly, with your eyes wide open, without letting your cherished preconceptions blind you to simple facts, don’t be bellyaching about the moral relativism, hedonism, nihilism whatever of the world around you. The nihilist is you.
October 28th, 2012
Dear Values Voters…
by Bruce |
If you’re still committed to vote for this man admit it…you don’t care that he’s a brazen in-your-face liar. You care about something else. Maybe it’s the president is a darkie. Maybe it’s the homosexuals are after your children. Maybe its rape is a gift from God. Whatever.
You’re going to vote for the liar. Because he shares your moral values.
October 1st, 2012
You Have To Cut The Heart Out When They’re Young
by Bruce |
One small step taken against a widely practiced form of child sexual abuse yesterday in California…
The thing to remember here is this only applies to licensed therapists, not pulpit thumping hate mongers who are still as free as ever to stick a knife in a kid’s heart and twist it in the name of Christ, and then twist it again in the name of love. But already the usual suspects are screaming bloody murder…
In a statement on NARTH’s website, the group says the law will seriously jeopardize the livelihoods of “licensed therapists in California who would otherwise be willing to assist minor clients in modifying their unwanted same-sex attractions and behaviors.” It also will “supplant the rights of parents,” the group says.
Note the reliable appeal to the rights of parents. But no parent has the right to subject their child to sexual abuse and ex-gay therapy is just that. If you think that’s hyperbole I strongly recommend you listen to the stories of the survivors of ex-gay therapy and compare them to the survivors of other forms of sexual abuse.
Kendall said the therapy he underwent “led me to periods of homelessness, to drug abuse, to spending a decade of my life wanting to kill myself. It led to so much pain and struggle. And I want them to know that what they do hurts people. It hurts children. It has no basis in fact. And they need to stop.
The self loathing. The shame. The despair. Blaming yourself for what happened. People need to look at what this practice does to children. And not just ex-gay therapy but the general cultural shaming and bullying of gay kids. Really look at it. This is sexual abuse.
But the abusers won’t stop of their own accord. Oh no…the kids really wanted it you see…
…the law will seriously jeopardize the livelihoods of “licensed therapists in California who would otherwise be willing to assist minor clients in modifying their unwanted same-sex attractions and behaviors…
What those kids want is to be loved. They don’t want to be abominations in the eyes of God. They don’t want their parents breaking down in tears, screaming at them that they’re ashamed to be their parents. They don’t want to be monsters. But who told them they were? No Mr. Nicolosi, those kids didn’t want you feeling up their souls, poking around in the most secret private places of their hearts, you just told yourself they did. That’s how it usually is with the seducers of the too young to understand.
The only purpose this practice ever had is to make gay people hate themselves, and incidentally to excuse the righteous for hating them. You don’t have to be gay, so it isn’t our fault for making your lives miserable, it’s yours for being gay. You choose to be gay, so you choose to be persecuted. There’s a political side to ex-gay therapy, as justification and cover for anti-gay politicians, but beneith the surface there’s the core value: homosexuals must hate themselves, must accept they are society’s outcasts.
The pulpit thumping homophobe who gets caught preying on minors. The bar stool moralizer with a gambling habit. The family values politician who goes for a hike on the Appalachian trail. It’s the homosexuals who are destroying the moral fiber of society, surely not any of these. Our enemies say they are fighting against the normalization of homosexuality. But it isn’t what society and culture think of us, it’s that we might stop hating ourselves they won’t endure. If open homosexuality stops being the touchstone of moral decay, then where will the fingers point when another righteous culture warrior gets caught with their pants down? It’s having to look in a mirror and admit the crying wreckage they’ve made of their own lives was their own doing they’re fighting tooth and nail to prevent.
So the scapegoat must never think themselves worthy of being loved, must never know what it is to love, and be loved. Because love is patient, love is enduring, love can nourish and sustain through the worst of times. Because love can move mountains. Because the one thing you never want the scapegoat to be able to do is move mountains.
To make a scapegoat, you have to cut the heart out when they’re young.
September 28th, 2012
by Bruce |
The culture war is a battlefield with many dead hopes and dreams, mostly unseen and forgotten…
Tucked in a corner of the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender closet is a little-known group: straight women and men in heterosexual marriages whose husbands or wives come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender after marrying them as “the right thing to do.” Finding the marriages too difficult to maintain due to their hidden sexual orientation or gender identity, they eventually say, “Honey, I’m gay,” or, “I need to become the woman or man I am,” or their mates discover signs of a same-sex lover or an opposite-gender wardrobe. Though some couples work out ways to stay together, most divorce, their children now in a broken family. As divorced LGBT partners begin to live their lives with integrity, their straight ex-partners are left in shock, their own identity, integrity, and belief system shattered. The spotlight on the disclosing partners, few outsiders think about their wives or husbands. “They’re straight! They’re normal. No problem.”
No problem… For the culture warriors anyway. Years ago, when I became involved in the struggle of a gay teen who was forced into ex-gay therapy against his will, I had my eyes opened to a bitter little corner of the culture war that was mostly under the radar of mainstream notice. The many good and decent people scarred horribly from the experience of putting themselves, or having been put through, a relentless gauntlet of shame, allegedly for the sake of saving their souls. But as is usually the case, the saviors were less interested in the people they were theoretically saving then in building their own stepping stones to heaven. They didn’t follow up, they didn’t give a shit whatsoever about the fate of the saved. It was all just theater. Grist for their bar stool conceits about their status as God’s own right hand. And you never saw it more clearly then in the human suffering of straight spouses, mostly heterosexual women, who were nothing more then useful tools for the haters of homosexual people.
Straight spouses are injured by the very anti-gay or anti-trans/pro-straight factors in our society that caused their mates to marry them — “collateral damage,” some say. Those in mixed-orientation marriages, like their partners, feel unfulfilled by the sexual mismatch, often blaming themselves and accommodating their partners’ wishes at the expense of their own.
There were the gay folk themselves, but also parents shamed into believing that their son’s homosexuality was their fault. And there were the spouses of homosexual men. One thing you notice right away listening to the stories of the survivors of ex-gay therapy is how little attention is paid to women. In the manner of righteous misogynistic patriarchal thugs, those women never mattered. Lesbians were seldom a target of the ex-gay outfits. They were focused almost exclusively on male homosexuality. And so of course, heterosexual women lured into marriages with gay men didn’t matter, except as tools to cure men of their homosexuality.
Once they know the truth, the vast majority divorce and must pick up the pieces of their fractured families to create a semblance of normalcy for their children. In addition, a number keep their ex-partners’ “secret,” wanting to avoid the latter’s rejection by community, workplace, or place of worship, and to protect their children from taunts. If their partners disclose publicly, they are rightfully praised for their courage, while their straight ex-spouses are forgotten. Keeping the secret or feeling discounted, straight spouses retreat into their own kind of closet, invisible. Some find peer support through the Straight Spouse Network. Few find the knowledgeable professional help they need.
There is another victim of this human tragedy as well, unseen, unacknowledged, possibly even unaware themselves: other gay men, who might have loved, and been loved by those gay men, had they grown up in a world where their sexual nature was not used against them, for the sake of the righteous.
So much love lost to the world, to so many hearts left to wander the world alone. So the righteous could make their stepping stones to heaven out of other people’s hopes and dreams of love.
I am not an atheist because I have a grudge against religion. I stopped believing simply because I had to finally admit to myself that belief had stopped making sense to me. But I will acknowledge that it was helped along by that relentless torrent of hate flung at me and at so many other good hearts simply for what we were. It forced me to question the biblical truths I was raised to believe. I think eventually the questions would have come anyway. Having had the father I did, the whole concept of original sin, and being held guilty for acts not of my own doing, struck me as monstrously grotesque the moment I began of fully understand it. But there is no doubt the questioning came sooner, and more forcefully, because I had to think about why such a wonderful, beautiful, life affirming thing as falling in love was, for me, proof that I was an abomination.
I’ve had it good, golden even, compared to what other gay people have had to endure. I was never thrown out of my house, never had to hear my own parents tell me they hated me for what I was. But I am alone. I have been alone my entire life. And I have seen the faces of others, so terribly alone as am I. We homosexuals are a minority. In the best of all possible worlds it would still have been a harder road to that place of peace and joy for us. It didn’t have to be made worse. Yes mother, yes father, I will take my heart, and all its hopes and dreams of love and devotion, and put them in this little coffin and bury it. Because I am your good son…
I am an atheist. I love life, and this good earth, and I try to love the people who come my way in it. I try to be a good neighbor. I want love to succeed, if not for me then for others. There is no despair in me in knowing that the end is the end. It means that this life I have now is what I have to make right, make good. To leave this world in some better way because I have walked in it is enough. There is nobility there for me. And hope. But if there is a judgment day coming, I would rather answer for the life I’ve lived then have to answer for the life of someone who told a gay man to get himself married so God would not abandon him, and then be shown all the broken and destitute hearts that he thought on that day would be the proof of his love of God.
Atlas Stiffed His Waitress…
by Bruce |
…of course it was to teach her self sufficiency, not because he wanted a free lunch. I saw this graphic go flying by on the net yesterday…
And a lot of the time they’re drowning in it because of the greed and avarice of people who like to yap about how there aren’t any free lunches. Cheap labor, sure. The cheaper the better.
I know a little about how it is to be working poor. Not as much as many. Somehow I never went to bed hungry or without a roof over my head. And I didn’t have children to support. But there was a time back when I was in my late thirties that I lived in a friend’s basement and mowed lawns and did Manpower jobs to make ends meet. This was after the Savings and Loan crisis had cost me the small but steady income I’d had as an architectural model maker. Time was I couldn’t afford a car and sometimes not the bus either.
I had this geeky little mindset for fiddling around with electronic gismos. Mom always said I got it from her dad, a man who opened one of the first businesses in his area building and servicing radios back before World War II. But there was never enough money to send me to a nice college and I had to go to work right out of high school. I had one low wage job after another, mostly stock clerk and warehouse work, and no idea what to do with my life. I liked to paint and draw, and I had done some photography for a couple local newspapers. But you need time to pursue a career in either of those and I had to bring money into the household. Eventually I got a job working for a man who went to the same church mom did, and who ran his own business making architectural models. It was work that tweaked my artistic side and I loved it, but my new boss was a fundamentalist nutcase who wouldn’t leave his employees alone about religion and he had an explosive temper. One day right before Christmas I and most of his other employees bolted after one of his outbursts and I was on my own again.
But I liked doing that work and eventually established myself as a freelance model maker with several big customers and one former co-worker who brought me into the shop he’d established. During that time I bought a Commodore C64. I had little use for computers before then, not even as video game playing devices, but the price of the Commodore had come drastically down and when I discovered I could write pretty decent job proposals on a word processor and figure out my costs with a spreadsheet I snapped one up. That little computer turned into a sort of hobby with me as I taught myself how to write programs in its BASIC interpreter and began to tentatively explore the emerging online world of Computer Bulletin Boards, in hopes of finding a gay community I could socialize with there instead of in seedy pickup bars.
Eventually and I was able to build an IBM PC clone from parts I got at a HAM Fest and with its for-its-day vastly greater horsepower and tons of software tools available for it I really started getting pulled into that world. While my customers for my freelance architectural model making business were going belly up all around me I kept dinking around with my PC clone because computers interested me, and because they had become my social outlet. But I had no college degree and no money to go get one so I never seriously considered trying to earn a living with it. Eventually I found a community of fellow gay geeks online and began doing support work on a local gay community BBS system, using what I’d learned dinking around with my own computer. That eventually led to my getting a few one-off jobs writing software. One job was for a local gay community organization that wanted a membership database and form letter generator. I did it in dBase IV, a little Word Perfect macro programming and a little Microsoft Quick Basic. Then, through that same gay BBS, I got another one-off job. And another. And another. Just at a moment in time when having even any sort of IT experience you could put on a resume meant you could get a job at decent pay and you didn’t need to have the college degree that I didn’t.
The dot com boom lifted me out of poverty almost overnight and I managed to hang onto this new career path after it faded. Otherwise I have no idea what would have become of me. I was 38 years old the day I could finally afford to rent my own place, a little one bedroom apartment in a Baltimore suburb. And it was all because of some really lucky breaks. Yes, yes…clearly I have the aptitude for the work I do and a good work ethic or otherwise I wouldn’t now be making a six figure salary and working on the James Webb Space Telescope project. But don’t even start telling me that my income level today is because I am a highly motivated and intelligent person who worked hard to get ahead. I was all of that when I was living in a friend’s basement and mowing lawns to make ends meet. I was all of that when I was standing in an unemployment line because I needed that government handout to put food in my mouth. I had some damn lucky breaks. And…support…when I needed it badly…from my friends, and from my fellow citizens. That is why I’m making the living I am now.
So I get a little ticked off whenever I hear some winger yap, yap, yapping that the unemployed are just lazy and unemployment checks amount to freeloading. There were times in my life I took unemployment and gladly. And I needed that money not because I was lazy and didn’t want to work, but because my jobs had been yanked out from under me. Because Wall Street bet on red 25 when they should have bet on black 17. With other people’s money. Then they wag their fingers at the unemployed and tell them they’re lazy.
Not everyone gets the break I got. Poverty does not equal stupidity or laziness. People who work two grueling minimum wage jobs to make ends meet are not lazy, and particularly if they have children to support. There is a serious lack of opportunity out there and some of that is deliberately crafted to keep wages low and Wall Street profits high and it is obscene for those financiers and their sock puppets to be wagging their fingers at people they’ve basically trapped in low wage lives and the unemployment line and calling them irresponsible.
You want responsibility Mr. Romney? How about taking responsibility for costing people their jobs? How about taking responsibility for trashing the hopes and dreams of all the workers and their families after you Bain raided their companies, and/or shipped their jobs overseas? How about taking responsibility for the fact that the American Dream is smaller and further out of reach of so many hard working Americans because you needed a car elevator? All the luxury that surrounds you every day…it could have been a reflection of the wealth you brought into this world, not the wealth you took from it.
Am I better off now then I was four years ago? No doubt your kind thinks it’s the most important question of all but it’s the wrong question. It isn’t all about Me, it’s about US. As in U.S.. We’re electing a president of the United States. That calls for a different question. You had wealth, which means you already had power. Now you want more. Well of course, lots of people want more power. And…wealth. There’s just never enough is there? The question is, is your country is better off for your having used the power you already had.
[Update...] Someone else who isn’t biting the hand of the neighbors who helped them when they needed it most…
September 24th, 2012
The Libertarian Facade: What John Birchers Wear When They Want To Look Cool
by Bruce |
Winger Eugene Volokh of the ersatz libertarian leaning Volokh Conspiracy gleefully passes on notice this morning that a lawsuit against Avis for discriminating against a straight customer can proceed. The gist of it is that because Avis gave a discount to the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce they were discriminating against heterosexuals by charging them more in violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. If you thought that libertarians were opposed to such laws to begin with you’d be right. If you thought that most people who oppose such laws are libertarians you would be sadly mistaken. And especially when they claim to be libertarians.
Another thread of argument runs through AVIS’s briefs: … since Plaintiff could have become a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association or the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and thus qualified for its favored discounts …, there was no pricing discrimination…. [But this] assumes an evidentiary showing which has yet to be made…. [A]lthough AVIS repeats it often as fact, there is no evidence that membership in either International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association or the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce was open to Plaintiff when she rented her car….
Okay…but where was the evidence that membership in either organization was not open to this Plaintiff? There isn’t any. And even if it was, that still doesn’t make a case that Avis itself is discriminating against heterosexuals. Perhaps they give a membership discounts to the International Heterosexuals Butthurt Because Gay Bars Can’t Be Raided And Their Customers Thrown In Jail Anymore Association as well. Surely Plaintiff could have found solidarity there.
But never mind that. Didn’t I hear somewhere that libertarians don’t like anti-discrimination laws to begin with? Hahahahahaha….
Volokh commenter 1: “Is it me, or is this a case where the discrimination laws are shown to be working across the board, that is against gay discrimination against straights as well, and yet the two most ‘voted up’ posts here are of the ‘gays get special rights under this law’ variety. What in the world?”
Volokh commenter 2: “It’s not you. It’s principled libertarians exercising outrage and protesting about a private company’s business decisions, as they always tell us disadvantaged minorities (like straight white people) should do.”
Except of course, this is not a case about discrimination and that first commenter needs to look, really look, at why it’s getting applause from the gays get special rights pew. Special rights are when that smaller kid you enjoyed beating up gets a protector and now you’re having to answer for your abusive behavior and being a bully isn’t fun anymore.
A libertarian would tell the person filing this lawsuit to go to hell, Avis can do as it damn well pleases. Eugene Volokh and his peanut gallery enjoy the spectacle of laws intended to protect a despised minority being used against them. How dare they think they were entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
August 23rd, 2012
Even Nice People Have Limits…
by Bruce |
…and I am not the nicest person I have ever met. That would be mom. Mom loved everyone, tried to see the best in everyone and everything, and was a ray of sunshine everywhere she went. My Baptist grandma was another story, and proof that the fruit actually does fall very far from the tree every now and then. Misanthropy was her hobby. She frowned at racists not because they were racist but because they thought their own race made them something. She didn’t think black people were good for nothing because they were black. Black people were good for nothing because they were people. And I was especially good for nothing because I was dad’s son. Dad didn’t give a good goddamn what anyone thought. Mom loved him until the day she died, but often said he couldn’t walk past a mirror without looking in. Sometimes I think grandma loathed dad more for that then that he was a crook. If homosexuality is the biggest sin of all in some Fundamentalist circles, vanity was the unforgivable sin in grandma’s. Not knowing you were good for nothing was wicked in the eyes of the Lord.
I like thinking of myself as having all their genes.
So I drop folks from my Facebook “friends” list advisedly. Who am I, a stinking rotten good for nothing Garrett just like my pap, to set myself above all the other good for nothings in this wicked sinful world? It isn’t exactly a list of friends…there are friends in there, but there are also family members, co-workers, fellow travelers in the Militant Homosexual Conspiracy, and folks who’ve stumbled onto this blog, or my cartoons and friended me on Facebook because of that. It’s all good. But every now and then someone in there will piss me off and I have to let go. I love all the good for nothings in this life that is but a mere vale of tears but I will not endure cheapshit prejudices for very long, especially when they’re flung at people who get kicked around a lot as it is. All us good for nothings need to be rays of sunshine for each other, and if you can’t be that at least try not to spit in the other guy’s mirror.
August 18th, 2012
Pissing On Edward R. Murrow’s Grave…(continued)
by Bruce |
Via friend and fellow Truth Wins Out Blogger Michael Airhart I get this link to John Aravosis going on a righteous tear as to why the Family Research Council isn’t merely a pious group of conservative christians who just happen to disagree with same-sex marriage but is, in fact, an organization of calculating hate mongers who will shrink from no lie they think they can get away with. And thanks to useful tools like The Washington Post and Dana Milbank they can get away with a lot of them.
At one point, I had the Congressional Research Service send me a copy of every single document the Family Research Council had written about gays, and then I had CRS get me every single document listed in the FRC doc’s footnotes. I.e., all the “original sources” for the Family Research Council’s anti-gay claims.
And there were a lot of them. At the time, FRC’s list of footnotes could be nearly as long as the written part of the document itself.
What did I find when I went through the original sources cited in the footnotes? I found that nearly every single footnote was a lie. Not a lie in the conventional sense – meaning, they didn’t make up a source that didn’t exist. Rather, they did things like quoting a damning opinion from a judge in a court case without mention that the judge was in the minority, that the gays had actually won the case they were citing.
Or they’d quote a study with a hideous conclusion about gays and lesbians, only for you to realize later that the actual quote in the study was rather benign – instead, FRC “forgot” to put and end-quotation mark on the quote, added an ellipse, and then put their own damning conclusion. Let me give you a made-up example of a quote about gays to who you how the family research council did this.
“This study looked at 45 gay men, and 35 lesbians. It was clear from the subjects that gay men and lesbians face greater societal pressures in their day to day lives… which makes gays and lesbians much more likely to rip the heads off small bunnies.
Wow, rip the heads off small bunnies – that’s pretty bad. But hey, it’s a real study in a real journal, so it has to be true. Except of course that the real quote from the actual study ends at the ellipse, while the FRC added its own opinion after the ellipse, while “forgetting” to put the end quote, so it looks like the FRC’s opinion is part of the official quote from the reputable study.
Gosh, I wonder how that happened?
It went on and on like this, through hundreds of footnotes. I went through the original research of the various studies they cited and found that the study reached no such conclusion like the FRC claimed it did. And on and on and on.
These are not honest people simply expressing a contrarian view of politics, like Democrats and Republicans do every day in Washington.
Tony Perkins, FRC’s head, got on TV a few months ago to debate whether gay parents were as good as straight parents. Perkins said “no,” and he had the study to prove it. Perkins explained how studies have proven that kids need a mom and a dad. What Perkins didn’t bother telling you was that those studies compared kids with a mom and a dad to kids with a single parent. The studies never looked at the relative merits of gay parents. Gay parents might have been just as good, or heck, even better than straight parents. The study didn’t even look at it. But Perkins cited the study as proof that straight parents were better than gay parents, when the study had nothing to do with it.
And again, Dana, if you actually go through the FRC’s “research,” you will find this kind of “mistake” happening again and again. It happens so often, it’s happened for twenty years now that I’ve been tracking them, that you come to realize that lying for the Family Research Council isn’t a flaw, it’s a feature.
There’s more…you should read it. That the beltway media has a habit of looking the other way at conservative hate groups so long as their talking heads dress nicely and refrain from wearing hoods, never gets any less repulsive no matter how often you see it. But it stopped long ago being just a problem for the gay community. This endemic disdain for what used to be journalism’s basic function, to get the facts, get them right and get them out to the public, is a big reason why one of our two major parties has walked off the crazy cliff, and now threatens to take the United States of America with it.
As your gay neighbors have watched the fanatics in the course of waging their scorched earth culture war shove any pretense of honor, reason and morality from their way, so we have watched one news organization after another, one journalist after another, tuck their tails between their legs and run, run away from democracy’s front lines. Speaking truth to fanaticism, let alone to power, will never get you the big bucks. When calling a fact a fact and a lie a lie means raising the ire of the rich and powerful, or perhaps one or more of their batshit crazy friends, it’s safer on the paycheck to just stick to stenography. There are two sides to every story, but never a factual side to any story. Print the controversy, pass along the press releases and hit the bar at days end. It’s only a job. Remember how, in the aftermath of the Proposition 8 trial, so many mainstream journalmalists were shocked, shocked, to discover there was so little substance to the opposition to same-sex marriage? What did we know…it’s not like our job is digging up and reporting the facts or anything…
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