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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…
August 15th, 2012
The Ends Are Not Separable From The Means
by Bruce |
A movement dedicated to the right to love and be loved does not employ violence toward its end. With what arms will we embrace the lover, after we have killed in the name of love? With what what hands will be touch their flesh, that have wielded the weapon? With what eyes will we behold the lover, that have gazed upon the dead?
August 7th, 2012
No…Not “Goodbye Dad.” A Dad Loves His Son. You Are Not A Dad.
by Bruce |
This is making the rounds on Facebook and over at Truth Wins Out…
My own Dad ended his life badly, by way of robbing banks. I’ve said before that if I had to choose between being raised by him and being raised by any of these self styled godly men, I would unhesitatingly choose to be raised by the honest crook.
Strangers can gay bash you, they can take your life from you, but only family can chew your heart up and spit it out. But consider not only the man who wrote this. Take a moment to wonder about the person, most likely but not necessarily someone who gets up behind a pulpit every Sunday, who taught this man to hate his own son so terribly much.
Put aside for a moment if you can, your feelings toward this man. Think about the kind of person who teaches parents to hate their children and considers it righteous. Think about the kind of person who does it as a campaign strategy and considers it patriotic. What do you say to someone like that when they tell you about their deeply held moral values?
[Update...] Via Towleroad, the son who got this letter says…
It’s important to know just what this zealotry from Bryan Fisher, Maggie Gallagher, Dan Cathy, et al., does to everyday people. I’ve never done drugs, was an excellent student, an obedient child (far less trouble than many of my classmates), didn’t drink until I was 22 because it terrified me, and have had just 1 speeding ticket in my life. Yet I am still seemingly deserving of this terrible act of hate and cowardice that one person can place on another. 5 years on and I am still doing fine, though this letter saunters into my mind every once in a while. When it does, I say without hesitation: F**k you, Dad.
There was a poem I read many years ago…I just tried to Google it and couldn’t…I think it was about a PFLAG mother attending a gay pride march with her son, seeing all the other lost children standing on the sidelines, watching the march go past, and upon seeing her their faces light up with a painful joy at the sight of a parent proud enough of their gay child to walk with them publicly. But behind that joy she saw also a hopeless longing. Would you be my mother…? So many lost children she sees as she walks with her own son, and she could not take them all in. It isn’t just the children who have to be carefully taught to hate, it’s the parents too. When the likes of Bryan Fischer, Maggie Gallaher, Dan Cathy, et al., speak of family values, laugh in their face.
[Update...] Fixed the Towleroad link.
[Update...] In the comments, Alsafi found the poem I was referring to, Here. Amazing how it stuck with me so long, even after I’d forgotten nearly all of its words. Which I guess just goes to show that words are just the stepping stones a poem takes you somewhere on. It’s the somewhere that’s the thing, the imagery it conjures up, not the words.
July 31st, 2012
You Say “Succeed” Like It’s A Good Thing…
by Bruce |
Every election cycle the republicans run on deregulation, lower taxes and more jobs. And when they get power then it’s all about the culture war and everything they do seems to cost people jobs and depress the economy more and more. You wonder if they even care about the economy.
Get a clue: a productive economy, technological progress, and general prosperity, are the most destabilizing things for authoritarian cultural norms and religious fundamentalism. Religious fundamentalism and right wing authoritarianism flourish in stagnant or declining economies.
I’m not saying it’s a plan, I’m saying it’s a reflex. They act like they don’t want Americans to prosper because they have an allergic reaction to prosperity anywhere below the top 1 percent. Prosperous happy people don’t obey orders and generally don’t take a lot of crap from authoritarian louts.
July 20th, 2012
Today in 1969. 1969. 1969!
by Bruce |
On July 20, 1969 I was 15 years old and sitting in front of the family TV with my little Kodak Brownie Fiesta, and I snapped this shot off the screen…
The TV was a monochrome unit powered by vacuum tubes and had a tuner that picked up VHF channels 2 through 13 and maybe also UHF channels too, although there wasn’t much to see on UHF and on VHF you just had the three major networks and maybe one or two local independent stations. It got its signal with rabbit ear antennas. Cable TV was for the rural folks who lived too far away from the city transmitters to get a good signal. The household telephone (there was only one) was hard wired into the wall and had a rotary dial. The household music player was a German made console unit, also powered by vacuum tubes, that had an AM/FM radio that also picked up four shortwave bands, plus an automatic turntable you could stack up to five records on. It would play record speeds of 16, 33 1/3, 45 and 78 rpm. It was however, not a stereo unit. We wouldn’t get a stereo record player in the house until I was 17 and mom bought me a small portable unit for Christmas. Cameras used photographic film, you wanted to read the news you bought a newspaper, school teachers handed out assignments and tests printed on mimeographs, and if you wanted to listen to music on the go, something small enough to fit in your pocket say, you bought a small transistor radio. These typically only picked up AM radio signals and had a jack for a single earphone to plug into one ear. The Sony Walkman would not appear for another decade. Computers took up entire floors and were programmed with punch cards and paper tape, and the “user” was considered to be the programmer who submitted the job, not the poor schlep who needed the output. I was sitting in front of the TV with a camera on that day because the first mass market home video recorders would not appear until 1975.
And we were putting human footsteps on the moon.
It was 1969.
July 18th, 2012
by Bruce |
How the game is played in the pews of the church of righteousness, godliness, and moral values…
Ladies and gentlemen, who was it that abolished the institution of slavery? It was the Republican Party, it was a Republican President, it was a conservative who abolished the institution of slavery.
Who was it that filibustered the Civil Rights Acts in the Sixties? It was liberals, it was progressives. It was conservative Republicans that voted in greater percentages that voted for the Civil Rights Act then Democrats did.
Who where the ones that were standing hosing people off with fire hoses? Those were Democrats, those were liberals that were doing that.
But Fischer is no ignoramus. He knows his history, he knows the subtle as a serpent lie he’s telling his listeners. The slight of hand here is when he says, correctly, that it was democrats who manned the fire hoses against civil rights protestors back in the 1950s and 60s. What he conveniently fails to mention is how they switched parties in droves after LBJ signed the civil rights act. Yes, they were democrats. No, they weren’t liberals.
And the Nixon republicans welcomed them in, seeing a path to breaking up the New Deal coalition and winning elections finally. When LBJ said after signing the civil rights act into law that democrats had lost the south for a generation he was only foretelling part of the tragedy. The democratic party lost the south, and the republican party lost its soul.
July 17th, 2012
On My Honor, I Will Do My Best, To Hate The Stranger…
by Bruce |
Bill Browning argues that there was no secret committee…that it was just a hastily assembled pile of bullshit they threw together because they were getting pressure from some pretty big sources to rethink their cheapshit prejudices.
I don’t believe them. Their story has too many holes in it to be remotely believable. This is a spin put in place to cover their ass at the recent blowback they’ve been getting as opinions change on gays and lesbians. There’s more holes in their statements than a block of Swiss cheese.
I’m inclined to agree…this was the first thing that crossed my mind this afternoon when I saw the stories about this go by in the news stream. But it makes no difference. You had to know this organization, whatever noble work it initially set itself out to do, had become corrupted by hate long ago when they started in earnest kicking good kids out of their ranks when they dared to be honest about themselves. Prejudice and morality do not co-exist within the same heart. Whether or not the BSA leadership is lying through its teeth about this secret committee is beside the point. They are lying to every kid they take into their ranks now, and to their parents, and to their country.
I would like to point out since it seems to be getting lost in the conversation here that it’s not just gay kids that the BSA deems unworthy but also atheist kids. Basically what BSA is pushing is a mindset that gay kids and non believing kids cannot aspire to the moral character of a boy scout. It’s a mindset they’re determined to keep pushing on kids, both straight and gay, believing and non-believing. Picture a Cub Scout happy to belong to his troop, working hard for his badges, winning the approval of his parents and troop leaders. Picture that kid as a teenage Scout, at the threshold of adulthood, coming to terms with his sexual orientation. He’s gay, he knows it, he’s not sure what it means for him and the adult life ahead of him but he’s at the point now where he knows he is gay. And because a Scout is brave and a Scout is trustworthy and a Scout is honest he comes out to those he trusts most. And for his trouble he’s kicked out of the organization that taught him the moral values he now holds. What’s the message here? The message is obvious: you are not worthy to wear this uniform, because you are a homosexual. And homosexuals Are Not And Can Never Be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
Forget all the values we have taught you. You have failed them all. You are not worthy to bear them in your heart. That’s an absolutely disgusting attack on the self worth of children, but also on American society. It is enforcing, under the guise of teaching important moral values, nothing more noble then cheap bar stool prejudices, teaching fear and loathing of neighbor against neighbor, and starting it young. You’ve got to be carefully taught…
Prejudice and morality do not co-exist within the same heart. One will eventually drive out the other. As long as Scouting teaches kids to distrust if not hate each other outright, whatever other moral values they claim to teach are rendered moot in the process. You cannot teach both moral character and prejudice at the same time.
June 18th, 2012
So Who’s The Bigger Creep Will…The One Who Writes Hate Propaganda Or The One Who Writes Excuses For It?
by Bruce |
Over at The American Prospect, E. J. Graff asks…
Why is William Saletan Apologizing for Slate’s Mistake?
Regnerus knows what he did. He set up a study that would make it seem that anyone who ever slept with someone of the same sex hurts their children by doing so. Instability is well known to be harder on children than stability. Decades of research are clear on this: Children do better with parents who stay together and have relatively low-conflict relationships than they do in high-conflict structures. The new parenting studies that are trying to measure whether the gender of your parent’s partner matters are following families where same-sex parents are together from the beginning – and comparing them with families whose different-sex parents are together from the beginning. That’s how you tease out the effect of gender from the effect of instability. Regnerus did the opposite.
Regnerus is smart enough to know this. He did one thing while purporting to do another. He compared fidelity with adultery. He compared stability with instability. Then, in Slate, he said he was comparing different-sex parenting with same-sex parenting—conflating the effect of family explosion with the effect of parental sexual orientation.
Anyone who can write the words, “Liberal War On Science” in anything other then the purest irony is a bigger asshole then even the right wing culture warriors who are have been engaged in just that thing for decades now. But never mind. The reason William Saletan is defending Mark Regnerus’ right to defame loving families is because he’s exactly the same sort of double talking faker Regnerus is.
In the article above E. J. Graff points out in sickening detail how Regnerus talks out of both sides of his mouth; first admitting his data does not say anything about same-sex households, then when in friendly territory (like…oh…Slate…) saying he’s proven the conventional wisdom about same-sex families is terribly wrong and that children of same-sex parents have suffered devastating effects from being raised in such households. Never mind that it’s flatly untrue his data shows any such thing…in the he-said/she-said journalmalist world of William Saletan talking out of both sides of your mouth isn’t a sign of untrustworthiness, but the highest sort of journalmalistic integrity. It’s people who insist that facts matter who are the creepy untrustworthy ones. Saletan comes to Regnerus’ defense because he sees a soul mate…someone who knows that there are no facts just opinions, truth is whatever someone says it is, and people who frown on playing fast and loose with the evidence are dangerous ideologues. Maybe even dirty fucking hippies.
That Mark Regnerus spent nearly a million right wing dollars on an anti-gay hit piece is just a matter of opinion. Like the humanity of gay people is just a matter of opinion. These are controversial matters…no one has a monopoly on the truth…and especially not gay people when it comes to the truth of their own lives. We must respect both sides… Saletan understands him perfectly.
May 30th, 2012
It Seems The More You Make The More Entitled To A Free Lunch You Are
by Bruce |
Considering all the bellyaching going on around here about the just enacted Maryland state tax increase on wage earnings over 100k I figured I might have to sell the house and the Mercedes and go live on a steam grate. Preferably one that was close to work. Except those might all be full of students who coudn’t afford to pay back their student loans after they graduated and found out there isn’t any work. So I was bracing myself to finally lay eyes on the awful horrible details and trying to decide if I could get accustomed to the taste of dogfood. I was thinking maybe if I deep fried it and sprinkled it with a little Old Bay.
So finally I see the extra I’m being asked to chip in for running the state of Maryland. Under $300 more a year.
Wow…I just don’t know if I can spare another $300… Oh bullshit. I make six figures and I’m being asked to chip in an additional < $300 and I’m supposed to be outraged. Swear to god it’s a good thing I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family expecting to make the kind of money I’m making now or I might not know how good I have it and how hard everyone else is struggling and I might be making the same kind of jackass fool of myself other six figure earners in this state are making of themselves right now. $300! $300! Lawd have mercy I’ll be penniless! Penniless I tell you!
You there…peasant…fetch me my free lunch…
I appreciate that government should not spend tax money wastefully. I also appreciate that one taxpayer’s waste is another taxpayer’s necessary program. I do not appreciate a lot of jackass babbling about high taxes without any sort of follow-up about what it is you’d like to see cut. Don’t just give me this crap about taxes being too high. It costs money to run a state government. When the statehouse is taking in more money then it spends, and it has no debt it needs to pay back, then I’ll agree with you that taxes are too high. I don’t want to hear one more fucking word about high taxes. I don’t even want to hear that phrase ever again or I will simply tune you out because you aren’t being serious you just want to complain that you’re being asked to pay for services rendered. Tell me that government expenditures are too high. Tell me what the fuck you want to cut out of the budget. Tell me why anyone should think cutting it is a good idea. Or just shut the fuck up.
Pardon my liberal use of the f-word here. But I am getting really, really tired of this crap.
[Update...And Furthermore...!] Just so we’re all on the same page here, listen…if the government is running a deficit and you believe in a balanced budget then either government expenditures are too high or taxes are too low. Do not babble at me about high taxes. I can see arguments for deficit spending, particularly during an economic downturn, but regardless of where I or anyone stands on that matter, taxes cannot be too high if government isn’t taking in enough money to pay its bills. Spending might be too high. Fine. If you can get enough voter agreement to cut spending here and there, do that. I might be with you on it depending on what it is you want to cut. Do not cut taxes without first cutting spending and then tell me that you are a fiscal conservative, I’ll laugh in your face.
May 22nd, 2012
Sowing The Wind…(continued)
by Bruce |
There’s a quote I read somewhere running through my mind right now, about how the way you get to peace is to work for peace…
A pastor turned Mississippi legislator is fearing for his life after activists say he endorsed the killing of gay men on his Facebook page.
Rep. Andy Gipson cited a Bible passage earlier this month to slam President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage, saying he believed that homosexuals shouldn’t have the right to marry.
“The only opinion that counts is God’s,” he said, then quoted a Bible passage that he interprets to say that being gay is a sin.
He also quoted another passage:
“If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
The man behind the pulpit cites a passage from Leviticus, the one saying that God detests homosexuals and gives everyone a free pass to kill them, and now he’s worrying about death threats. Worry’s kinda like hindsight isn’t it…always 20/20. Here’s the thing about death threats…they’re worse then bullets. Bill Cosby gave a talk once about inner city gun violence in which he said that once you pull the trigger you can’t call that bullet back. Death threats are like that but worse. You can’t call them back and they multiply faster then tribbles. Some of them might come back home to you. Some of them might go zipping off to find people you love. I think the bible had something to say about that too…preacher… For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind…
Ah…here’s what I was looking for…
“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ends and means. Ends and means. Look at your means…there’s your ends. All you pulpit thumpers out there, pounding away, waving your arms at your flocks about the homosexual menace…do you not understand you are talking about your neighbors…and all the people in your pews looking back at you, hanging on your every word as you wave the bible around like a damn trophy…it’s their neighbors too that you’re babbling about. Don’t you get that? Their neighbors. And their kin. Their homosexual children. Their homosexual brothers and sisters. Their homosexual aunts, uncles, cousins. Their kin. That blood that verse talks about, the stuff that’s on the heads of homosexuals…that’s their blood too you moron! And yours…assuming you’ve got any in you.
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