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Archive for July, 2008

July 31st, 2008

The Many Moods Of Orson Scott Card

So I decided to take a stroll through the archives at Mormon Times (When I looked their banner read: "Have peace with one another – Mark 9:50".  Presumably this only applies to Mormons…).  On July 3, Card had a column in which he wrote:

I happened to be visiting a singles ward in California when the First Presidency’s letter concerning LDS support of the pro-marriage amendment to the California constitution was read out.

The bishop added comments from the stake president dealing with the rules for talking to the press (not inside the church building). Then he added his own comments, reminding the Saints (but not in these words) that this is not a declaration of war against individuals, but a defense of a vital institution. We should not forget our compassion amid this struggle.

I add my words to his: We are not angry with those whose lives have been shaped by desires that most of us don’t feel. 

So this would be conciliatory, Love The Sinner Orson.  Intrigued…I read onward through the column, eventually coming to this…

I say this knowing that several of my friends have already entered into "gay marriages" and have done so in the firm belief that it will lead them to greater happiness, that they harm no one by doing it and that it is wrong for society to withhold from them what is so freely given to others.

These are good-hearted people. They cannot help having desires that most other people do not have, or lacking desires that might lead to happiness within traditional marriage. They look at our traditional marriage laws and see, as Ellen DeGeneres puts it, "we’re being told to sit in the back of the bus."

I don’t want to make any statement that would condemn these friends of mine or even hurt their feelings. I believe that they are mistaken in their belief that their "marriage" harms no one.

Friends let it be said, whose highest allegiance is to their membership in the community that gives them access to sex.  Then, twenty-one days later, presumably still not wanting to condemn or hurt the feelings of "some of my best friends are", his column contains this:

That a few individuals suffer from tragic genetic mixups does not affect the differences between genetically distinct males and females.

That many individuals suffer from sex-role dysfunctions does not change the fact that only heterosexual mating can result in families where a father and a mother collaborate in rearing children that share a genetic contribution from both parents.

I’m sure that didn’t hurt a bit.  And as many people now know, there was also this…

Because when government is the enemy of marriage, then the people who are actually creating successful marriages have no choice but to change governments, by whatever means is made possible or necessary.

and this…

How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.

That Card is playing with fire here is not mitigated in the least by his gloss that the war is not to be waged against individuals, by which he presumably means gay people.  What does he seriously expect to happen if it ever came to the second American civil war he earnestly desires, and the rallying cry is Save Humanity From The Homosexuals?  He knows damn well what will happen. 

James Carrol, author of Constantine’s Sword, wrote in The Bostan Globe, about the fire that Card is playing with.  He speaks of Bush and the republican’s effort to demonize gay people for political gain, but replace Bush with Card and it still applies…

…When quasi-hysterical fearmongering replaces reasonable debate, dark forces can be set in motion that outrun anyone’s intentions, and that is especially true when the question involves a segment of society that has long been subject to irrational bigotry. To define the wish of homosexuals for equal access to marriage rites and rights as a mortal threat to the social order, as Bush does, is to put gay people themselves in an unprecedented position of jeopardy. Bush and a conservative punditry, out of crude self-interest, are working hard to reverse the evolution of attitudes that has blurred the boundary between blue America and red. Bush wants that boundary bright. In an election year, it may work. But it is dangerous.

The phrase "culture war" comes from "Kulturkampf." That word was coined in the 1870s when Germany’s George W. Bush, Otto von Bismarck, launched a "values" campaign as a way of shoring up his political power. Distracting from issues of war and economic stress, the "Kulturkampf" ran from 1871 to about 1887. Bismarck’s strategy was to unite his base by inciting hatred of those who were not part of it.

His first target was the sizable Catholic minority in the new, mostly Protestant German state, but soon enough, especially after an economic depression in 1873, Jews were defined as the main threat to social order. This was a surprising turn because Jewish emancipation had been a feature of German culture as recently as the 1860s. By 1879, the anti-Jewish campaign was in full swing: It was in that year that the word "anti-Semitism" was coined, defining not a prejudice but a public virtue. The Kulturkampf was explicitly understood as a struggle against decadence, of which the liberal emancipated Jew became a symbol. What that culture war’s self-anointed defenders of a moral order could not anticipate was what would happen when the new "virtue" of anti-Semitism was reinforced by the then burgeoning pseudo-science of the eugenics movement. Bismarck’s defense of expressly German values was a precondition of Hitler’s anti-Jewish genocide.

One need not predict equivalence between the eventual outcome of Bismarck’s culture war and the threat of what Bush’s could lead to. For our purposes, the thing to emphasize is that a leader’s exploitation of subterranean fears and prejudices for the sake of political advantage is a dangerous ploy, even if done in the name of virtue. No, make that especially if done in the name of virtue.

Card may even shed a tear or two for his gay friends if they should meet the fate of the gay character in one of his Homecoming books who had his testicles cut off by a mob and rammed down his throat. 

Or not.  While digging around for Card references, I stumbled upon this blog post titled, Orson Scott Card Has Always Been an Asshat, which led me to dig for, and finally find this one titled, Ender and Hitler: Sympathy For The Superman.  Go read them both for some insight into how deep the facist strain runs in science-fiction and fantasy circles (assuming you haven’t already read Norman Spinrad’s The Iron Dream…).  I’m not entirely convinced that Card was deliberately patterning Ender’s life after Hitler’s…you could probably find likenesses to Ender’s life in any number of historical figures just by random chance…but that some inner sympathy for Hitler’s situation, if not the man himself, animates Card deep down inside is unmistakable to me.  Card’s protestations that some of his best friends are notwithstanding, we are as much a threat to the survival of humanity in his eyes, as the Jews were to a whole lot of people in the days just before they were being crammed into showers and dosed with insecticide.  When he waves the gay menace scarecrow at his readers he knows exactly what he’s doing and why.  And like every other hatemonger who ever walked this earth, he doesn’t want to be held responsible for the consequences because he didn’t Intend them.  He says.  He may even believe it.  Ender isn’t Hitler but Card himself, who causes the buggers to be wiped out of existence, but is himself innocent of genocide.

Because his motives were pure.  He didn’t hate the sinner…he loved them.   We should not forget our compassion amid this struggle…

In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him,
then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody,
what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.
And then, in that very moment when I love them…. I destroy them.
I make it impossible for them to ever hurt me again. I grind them and grind them until they don’t exist.


Loving the sinner.  


by Bruce | Link | React! (7)

July 30th, 2008

Publish In Los Angeles Much?

Today’s LA Times headline:

Will Chino Hills earthquake shake L.A. out of complacency?


This has been another edition of Simple Answers, To Simple Questions… 


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Publish In Los Angeles Much?

July 29th, 2008

It’s Not Genocide If You Think It’s Just A Game

In relating Ender Wiggin’s childhood and training in Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card presents a harrowing tale of abuse.  Ender’s parents and older brother, the officers running the battle school and the other children being trained there, either ignore the abuse of Ender or participate in it.

Through this abusive training Ender becomes expert at wielding violence against his enemies, and this ability ultimately makes him the savior of the human race.  The novel repeatedly tells us that Ender is morally spotless; though he ultimately takes on guilt for the extermination of the alien buggers, his assuming this guilt is a gratuitous act.  He is presented as a scapegoat for the acts of others. We are given to believe that the destruction Ender causes is not a result of his intentions; only the sacrifice he makes for others is.  In this Card argues that the morality of an act is based solely on the intentions of the person acting.

The result is a character who exterminates an entire race and yet remains fundamentally innocent.  The purpose of this paper is to examine the methods Card uses to construct this story of a guiltless genocide, to point out some contradictions inherent in this scenario, and to raise questions about the intention-based morality advocated by Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead.

-John Kessel, Creating The Innocent Killer.

I wrote some time ago of Orson Scott Card’s decent into Timothy McVeigh land.  I wrote again sometime later of his second American civil war fantasy.  Step by step, he is taking the journey Timothy McVeigh once took.  I guess the only question now is does he have the nerve to actually do it, or is he just hoping he can incite one of his fans to?

Via Slog…

I’ve known for a long time now that Orson Scott Card is a homophobe. It’s why I haven’t read Ender’s Game, despite the recommendation of literally dozens of readers whose opinions I respect.

But this story informs me that things have escalated a bit on the Orson Scott Card front:

According to science fiction author Orson Scott Card…recent court decisions in Massachusetts and California recognizing same-sex marriage mean “the end of democracy in America.” As such, he advocates taking down our government “by whatever means is made possible or necessary.”

The article links to a hate-filled essay by Card in the Mormon Times. Here is his explanation why gay marriage is an abomination:

There is no natural method by which two males or two females can create offspring in which both partners contribute genetically. This is not subject to legislation, let alone fashionable opinion.

Human beings are part of a long mammalian tradition of heterosexuality. No parthenogenic test tube procedure can alter what we, by nature, are. No surgery, no hormone injections, can change X to Y or make the distinction nonexistent.

That a few individuals suffer from tragic genetic mixups does not affect the differences between genetically distinct males and females.

What’s I found interesting in the Mormon Times article is that Card is at least now willing to make a rhetorical nod to the vast body of modern science showing that gay people aren’t gay by choice, and to the reality that heterosexuals themselves are a bigger threat to the institution of marriage then same sex couples could ever be.  But his heart isn’t in it.  Here’s where the heart is:

Because when government is the enemy of marriage, then the people who are actually creating successful marriages have no choice but to change governments, by whatever means is made possible or necessary.

Society gains no benefit whatsoever (except for a momentary warm feeling about how "fair" and "compassionate" we are) from renaming homosexual liaisons and friendships as marriage.

Married people attempting to raise children with the hope that they, in turn, will be reproductively successful, have every reason to oppose the normalization of homosexual unions.

It’s about grandchildren. That’s what all life is about. It’s not enough just to spawn — your offspring must grow up in circumstances that will maximize their reproductive opportunities.

Why should married people feel the slightest loyalty to a government or society that are conspiring to encourage reproductive and/or marital dysfunction in their children?

Why should married people tolerate the interference of such a government or society in their family life?

If America becomes a place where our children are taken from us by law and forced to attend schools where they are taught that cohabitation is as good as marriage, that motherhood doesn’t require a husband or father, and that homosexuality is as valid a choice as heterosexuality for their future lives, then why in the world should married people continue to accept the authority of such a government?

What these dictator-judges do not seem to understand is that their authority extends only as far as people choose to obey them.

How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.

Biological imperatives trump laws.

You need to keep in mind, this is a man who made his fame and fortune with a story about a boy who wiped out an entire species of intelligent beings, yet was morally innocent of genocide.

There’s always moral instruction whether the writer inserts it deliberately or not. The least effective moral instruction in fiction is that which is consciously inserted. Partly because it won’t reflect the storyteller’s true beliefs, it will only reflect what he BELIEVES he believes, or what he thinks he should believe or what he’s been persuaded of.

But when you write without deliberately expressing moral teachings, the morals that show up are the ones you actually live by. The beliefs that you don’t even think to question, that you don’t even notice– those will show up. And that tells much more truth about what you believe than your deliberate moral machinations.
-Orson Scott Card

Yes it does Orson.  And not only in a writer’s fiction either.

by Bruce | Link | React! (5)

July 28th, 2008

Beware The Obvious Conclusion

You’ve probably heard by now about that church shooting in Knoxville, Tennessee.  You may have even heard that the church, a Unitarian congregation, has just put up a sign outside affirming of gay people.  The reflex, and I understand this perfectly as it was my first one too, is to connect the dots.  But it’s not so simple at this point

The man accused of a mass church shooting this morning was described by his Powell neighbors as a helpful and kind man, but one who had issues with Christianity.

Jim D. Adkisson, 58, has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, which killed one and injured eight others.

He is being held on $1 million bond.

"He had his own sense of belief about religion, that’s the impression I got of him," said neighbor Karen Massey. "We were talking one day when my daughter graduated from Bible college, and I told him I was a Christian, then he almost turned angry.

"He seemed to get angry at that."

According to Massey, Adkisson talked frequently about his parents who "made him go to church all his life … he was forced to do that."

Another story out there says the cops found a letter in Adkisson’s car…a "manifesto" according to the story.  The police are being tight lipped at the moment about what was in it.

So.  At this point all I know is that a man walked into a church full of people and started shooting.  He killed one person who confronted him at the door instantly with a shotgun blast.  He killed one more before he was tackled by other church members.  The usher who was killed first is being called a hero for acting as a human shield to protect the children’s choir that was singing when Adkisson walked in. 

A man walks into church and starts shooting.  Maybe it was the sign affirming gay people.  Maybe he had a grudge against Christianity and that church was just a random target.  Maybe it was something else entirely.  Hate has its own reasons. 


The Knoxville police chief says Adkisson targeted the church because of its "liberal views".  The letter in his car apparently shows he was frustrated at being out of work, and that he had a hatred of "the liberal movement".  I just saw this in an AP article which I’m not linking to because of the blogger AP boycott.  But probably this will be showing up in other news outlets later.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Beware The Obvious Conclusion

July 27th, 2008

If You Find Him You Should Probably Not Make Him Angry

Many years ago, I saw someone get hit by a train.  I won’t describe it in more detail then that here, other then it wasn’t anyone I knew and I wasn’t all that close to it so I don’t have to remember it in too much detail.  But to this day I can recall the sickening moment when I saw it was about to happen.

So today I’m reading some random Internet news headlines and finding myself very grateful that my nightmares didn’t include him getting up and walking away afterward…

Person hit by train, walks away

Paramedics responded to reports of an individual being hit by a train at Bardwell Park, in Sydney’s south, at about 8.20am (AEST) today.

However, police and paramedics did not find anyone or any sign of injury at the scene, NSW Ambulance says.

Authorities watched CCTV footage of the incident, which showed someone stand up and walk away after being hit by a train.

The rational thing is to be glad that he survived.  But rationally it’s hard to imagine someone just standing up and walking away either.  A train is Massive.  Adding to the creepiness factor, there isn’t a lot of detail in the story, and so the mind naturally fills in the blanks. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on If You Find Him You Should Probably Not Make Him Angry

In A Baptist Family, It Is Never The Wrong Time To Preach

So someone in the Baptist side of my family tree emails me to tell me that a relative had a near fatal head-on collision with some jackass in a pickup truck.  She escaped with enough damage to go to the hospital, but not so much that she had to stay overnight, which is a relief.  But of course, then comes the sermon to a wandering family lamb: It just goes to show, you better be ready to meet the Lord at any moment…

Please.  In the past couple of months I have flown to Mexico and to Portland Oregon and morbid as it was I took some care to make sure my brother knew all my important passwords (not my work passwords obviously, but this blog and my household computers…) and the combination to my safe where my will and the deed to my house is.  If I should die in the next moment there should be enough money between the life insurance and selling the house for him to pay off my debts, cremate my remains and scatter them somewhere on a nice hillside overlooking the sea near Oceano, and have a tidy sum left over for himself and his kids.  That’s the extent to which family rightfully needs to worry about how well prepared I am to meet my maker.  The rest is my affair.

I appreciate your concern for my immortal soul.  I appreciate that you want us all to be together again in the hereafter.  You need to have faith that God, assuming God even exists, is good.  That’s all.  Just have faith in that. 

“I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on In A Baptist Family, It Is Never The Wrong Time To Preach

Home Again Home Again Jiggity Jig…Good Evening J.R….

[Geek Alert!]

I just have to figure that Mowgli, my main workstation, hates me leaving it alone for very long.  Every time I come back home from an extended trip it has to give me several hours of balk before it starts running again.  I have no idea why, but it seems to be a combination of hardware and software issues that just scream in my face every time I come back home.

Mowgli has a strange keyboard issue, which may have something to do with the fact that I prefer typing on an IBM "M" series keyboard and that might be a tad old for the newer motherboards.  I like the old IBMs so much I keep several spares here at Casa del Garrett, and use one at work too.  The only theoretical drawback is there is no special ‘Windows’ key…but some of us don’t consider having hardware that doesn’t do Windows Only things a drawback.  The problem I’m having is that occasionally the keyboard and motherboard get into a state that prevents Mowgli from starting up.  I hit the power switch and nothing happens.  So I have to unplug the keyboard, hit the front panel power switch, and when Mowgli turns on immediately turn off the power at the power supply, then turn the power supply switch back on and plug the keyboard back in, then hit the front panel power switch again.  Then Mowgli will start.  Note that if I plug the keyboard back in Before I turn the power supply switch back on Mowgli still won’t start back up.  It all has to happen in just that particular sequence.  I have no idea why this happens, but I suspect there is a strange bios thing going on between the new motherboard and the old IBM keyboard.

This time, when I went to Portland, I decided to just unplug the keyboard before I left.  Fine.  So I got back home and plugged in the keyboard and started Mowgli.  Mowgli started up without a htich.  Feeling satisfied with myself, I sat and watched it boot.  Mowgli is currently running CentOS and when the GRUB boot loader came up it told me there were no kernels installed.  What!??? 

You always have to give me shit when I come back home, don’t you?  I have no idea what happened, other then I’d run Yum to update the system before I left for Portland and it all seemed to go fine, except I didn’t reboot to test the new kernel, I just shut down.  I’ve done that before and it never bit me until now.  Growl.  So there’s GRUB cheerfully offering to boot "other", which was the only choice available, because it thought I didn’t have any Linux kernels installed. I entered the GRUB command line instead, to see if I could fix it from there. 

I pointed root to the system drive and tried to read the GRUB config file and the menu files.  GRUB kept insisting the files didn’t exist.  Since I’d never used the GRUB command line before I wasn’t even sure I was using it correctly.  I tried manually booting the kernel but since there is no way to get a directory listing from the GRUB command line I had no idea what it was named.  Linux Kernels are named something like "vmlinuz-2-2.6.18-53.1.4.el5", with the version numbers obviously part of the filename.  That’s not exactly easy to remember.

So I gave up on GRUB and re-booted with the CentOS install CD loaded.  When the installer came up I entered "linux rescue" at the prompt.  The rescue routine will try to find your installed kernels and mount one in /mnt/sysimage.  It searched my hard drive and found the kernel I had there, mounted it, and gave me a prompt.   I’d never had to use this before so it took me a little while to figure out I had to chroot to the newly mounted system drive before I could use it.  Once I figured that out, I was able to  go to the /boot directory on my system drive and try to figure out what had happened.

The kernel was there, but when I went into the grub directory, the menu.lst file didn’t have it listed.  There was only the entry for "other".  So I had to manually re-add the entry for the kernel I had (which I could now see the name of).   Fortunately I had a previous menu.lst file printed out and I was able to use that as a template for adding the entry for my kernel.  Once I did that, I rebooted again and then everything came up normally.

Welcome home Bruce.  Damn.  Even cats don’t give you the attitude some computers do…

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

July 25th, 2008

The Newsstand At The Corner Of Batshit And Crazy

You may think it was aliens from another planet who came out of that UFO and abducted you in order to perform hideous experiments on your body.  But in fact it was the demonic minions of Satan, disguised as aliens, and sent to earth to test your Christian faith.  No, really

Former Apollo 14 astronaut, Dr. Edgar Mitchell, has recently made it public knowledge that aliens exist and that NASA officials have had contact with them. Dr. Mitchell says that there has been a sixty-year cover-up by our government of the existence and reality of aliens.

No doubt, all this will be used to support evolution and discredit the Bible. The fact remains, however, that science has shown that only micro-evolution (variations within a biological kind such as varieties of dogs, cats, horses, cows, etc.) is possible but not macro-evolution (variation across biological kinds or from simpler kinds to more complex ones). The reader is encouraged to read the author’s article ‘The Natural Limits of Evolution’ at Mathematical probability alone has shown that it is not rational, logical, or scientific to believe that life could originate by chance.

Alien beings cannot wait millions of years to evolve complex and necessary organs for survival anymore than species on earth. Imagine a species waiting millions of years for reproductive organs to evolve so that it can finally reproduce!

Then, how do we explain aliens if they are for real? The Bible teaches that Satan and his demons (the fallen angels) can take on take all sorts of shapes and perform all sorts of miracles in order to deceive mankind. In fact, some who have been claimed to be abducted by aliens say that these aliens have told them things that undermine the truth of the Christian Scriptures and the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

This is not say that God cannot create life on other planets, but the point being made here is that the supposed alien contacts popularly mentioned are not actual alien beings at all but the work of dark supernatural forces.

Thus Spake The Conservative Voice.  And lest you think this guy is just another babbling street corner nutcase, I’m telling you he’s got credentials

The author, Babu G. Ranganatha, has his B.A. degree with concentrations in theology and biology from Bob Jones University, and has been recognized for his writings on religion and science in the 24th edition of Marquis Who’s Who In The East.

That’s Bob with a ‘B’ Jones University my man.  They don’t hand out diplomas to just any old crank who walks in the door let me tell you.  I mean…imagine, just imagine, a species waiting millions of years for reproductive organs to evolve so that it can finally reproduce.  Just…imagine.

So now I’ve seen UFO conspiracy theory, Creationism, Darbyist fundamentalism, and right wing conservatism all rolled into one.  Who needs drugs when you’ve got reality?

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

July 24th, 2008

The Difference Between Helping Children And Kicking Them In The Face

PFOX, (Parents and Friends of eX-Gays), would have you believe it’s different from P-FLAG, (Parents and Friends of Gays), in that PFOX supports people who are "struggling with homosexuality" and P-FLAG does not.  But that’s not it. 

Here’s the difference:

Anti-Gay Distortions of Research

Take a look at this story at OneNewsNow, which begins:

Quoting a recent study, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) is warning of the increased risk of suicide that is linked with young people who identify themselves as homosexuals before achieving full maturity — a process encouraged by many homosexual high school clubs.

The study in question, as it turns out, is a seventeen year old work published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, back in June 1991.  Not exactly recent…but never mind.  What PFOX is saying there is that supporting gay teens as they come out to themselves puts them at risk of suicide.  Their solution?   

Schools should not be encouraging teens to self-identify as gays, bisexuals or transgendered persons before they have matured. Sexual attractions are fluid and do not take on permanence until early adulthood. Rather than affirming teenagers as ‘gay’ through self-labeling, educators should affirm them as people worthy of respect and encourage teens to wait until adulthood before making choices about their sexuality. If teens are encouraged to believe that they are permanently ‘gay’ before they have had a chance to reach adulthood, their life choices are severely restricted and can result in depression.

So says PFOX Executive Director Regina Griggs.  Note the doublespeak there about affirming them as "people worthy of respect".  But how much respect is it, to tell a kid gay kid they don’t have to be gay if they don’t want to?  Look again, at what came slyly out of the other side of her mouth there…

Sexual attractions are fluid and do not take on permanence until early adulthood.

Thats religious rightspeak for There Is No Such Thing As A Homosexual.  Don’t believe me?  Look again…

If teens are encouraged to believe that they are permanently ‘gay’ before they have had a chance to reach adulthood, their life choices are severely restricted and can result in depression

Permanently ‘gay’.  Note both the quotes around the word gay and the word permanently preceding it.  You don’t have to be gay if you don’t want to.  Change is possible.  This is what PFOX wants teachers to tell the gay kids that come out to them, and/or to their peers.  Griggs is sliding that under the radar their, in a cotton candy cloud of PFAUX respect.  But in today’s hostile school environment, where the word Gay has itself become a generic put-down among school kids, a kid who comes out, almost certainly already knows how impossible change actually is for them.

And that has consequences.

But leaving aside the fact that a 17 year old study was cited as "recent" and was cited as evidence against the existence of GSA clubs, which didn’t exist at the time of the study, this argument also makes a causal claim that can’t be justified by the study itself (see the full text of the study here).

First of all, they make no distinction at all between correlation and causation. If a higher percentage of those who self-identify as gay or bisexual early attempt suicide compared to those who self-identify later, is that a causal relationship or might both factors be effects of some other cause? Griggs makes no attempt to analyze this, it is enough for her that there is a correlation.

It never occurs to Griggs that those who attempt suicide soon after self-identifying as gay do so because that is when they first become aware that their identity is in such stark conflict with societal expectations. As any gay person can tell you, the initial coming out period is the most difficult because it often leads to serious conflicts with friends and family (and that was even more true in 1991 than it is today). She also ignores all of the other far more important risk factors that are obviously more likely to be causal. The study notes:

In 44% of cases, subjects attributed suicide attempts to "family problems," including conflict with family members and parents’ marital discord, divorce, or alcoholism. One third of attempts were related to personal or interpersonal turmoil regarding homosexuality. Almost one third of subjects made their first suicide attempt in the same year that they identified themselves as bisexual or homosexual. Overall, three fourths of all first attempts temporally followed self-labeling. Other common precipitants were depression (30%), conflict with peers (22%), problems in a romantic relationship (19%), and dysphoria associated with personal substance abuse (15%).

There are far more serious risk factors for suicide in the study, all of which are ignored by Griggs and PFOX. For instance, 61% of those who attempt suicide were sexually abused, while only 29% of those who did not attempt suicide were sexually abused. There’s an obvious causal factor. Those who attempted suicide also reported much higher rates of friendship loss due to being gay, drug use and having been arrested. Again, these are far more rationally viewed as causal factors in suicide than the age at which one self-identifies. Griggs ignores all of this because it doesn’t fit her ideological preferences.

But to call it ‘ideological’ ennobles it.  This isn’t ideology, it’s hate.  A hate so bottomless it will cheerfully let children kill themselves rather then allow them to have the support they need at that critical moment in their lives.  What Griggs is saying there to kids, stripped of its PFAUX respect, is that thinking you are gay will make you kill yourself.  That is, seriously, the message they want kids who are just coming into puberty and feeling same sex desire for the first time in their lives to hear, and internalize.  These feelings are going to make me kill myself.  And when they can’t stop themselves from having those feelings, feelings they’ve never had before, feelings that seem to come out of nowhere whenever an attractive classmate walks by, feelings that they have no control over whatsoever, what do you think is going to happen?

Here’s what: Griggs will cheerfully blame those of us who want gay kids to feel good about themselves when those kids take Griggs message, that thinking you are gay makes you want to kill yourself, to heart and actually do it. 

And there is the essential difference between P-FLAG and PFOX.  One group supports gay people.  The other, ex-gays.  And it doesn’t get any more ex then dead.

[Edited a tad for clarity…] 

by Bruce | Link | React! (6)

July 23rd, 2008

In Which Bruce Tries To Draw Like Jack Chick…(part two)

Explanation Here.



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July 22nd, 2008

Best Sleep Ever

So I’m in Portland for the fifth year in a row at the OSCON Open Source Developer’s Conference.  And as in prior years, the Institute has put me up in the DoubleTree just a couple blocks away from the convention center.   That’s do-able largely because of the deep discount the hotel gives to OSCON convention attendees. 

The rooms I’ve had have ranged widely from the small to the large.  Last year they put me in a really nice deluxe room.  This year it’s one of their smallest.  What’s going on I found out, is that the hotel basically fills in the blanks with conference goers.  We get, at a very nice rate, whatever the hotel couldn’t book at the regular rate.  And I am not complaining.

DoubleTree beds are decadent.  I’ll reliably stay at a DoubleTree whenever I can afford it for the bed.  I get, hands down, the best sleep ever on these beds.  The chain has them custom made to their own specs, and you can actually buy one yourself.  Swear to god one of these days I will…but they are not cheap.

It’s not just the mattress and box springs, it’s a whole system including a cushioned mattress cover, box baffled down blankets and triple sheets plus lovely jumbo down pillows.  I was so looking forward to getting to my hotel after a long day’s flight, crammed into a tiny passenger jet seat, and lay down in one of these lovely beds.  It’s been two nights of heaven so far.

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

Paul Cameron’s Real Gift To The Anti-Gay Industrial Complex

Every time someone mindlessly parrots the notion that gay people have shorter lifespans then heterosexuals, the religious right gives a nod of thanks to Paul Cameron.  Ever since the Reagan years, Cameron has been chugging out a torrent of bogus research aimed at demonizing gay people in the public mind.  Where Falwell, Dobson and Robertson waved the bible at gay people, and social conservatives waved family values, Cameron became a fountainhead, a one-stop shopping center for anti-gay junk science.  From his often used claim that gay people have shorter lifespans, to his claim that lesbians are more likely to be involved in car accidents, Cameron gave their cheapshit hatreds a gloss of dispassionate science. 

Cameron was eventually thrown out of the American Psychological Association for distorting the work of other legitimate researchers.  But to the anti-gay right, which builds museums to creationism and attacks the teaching of science in schools, real science was always the enemy.  Cameron is gold coin to them.  But in recent years, as more and more of mainstream America learns what a charlatan Cameron is, they’ve had to take more care not to put Cameron’s name in their pamphlets.  Some years ago, William Mr. Book Of Virtues Bennett got caught parroting Cameron’s lifespan claim he had to backtrack.  First he claimed someone else had said it too, but when it turned out that person had cited Cameron too, Bennett mumbled something about not trusting that figure anymore and went back to his favorite casino.  I’ve heard though, that lately Mr. Book Of Virtues has been citing it again.

But in the end, Cameron’s biggest contribution to the Kultur Krieg may well be not his bogus statistics, but his method.  Jim Burroway over at Box Turtle Bulletin, has uncovered a new scam by the Family Research Council in their fight to repeal California’s same sex marriage law, that has the trademark Cameron technique but apparently was entirely a homegrown effort.

They cite the "Dutch Study" Stanley Kurtz bastardized some years ago for their claim that gay relationships don’t last very long and are never monogamous.  Burroway did a wonderful job some time back of debunking this, and all I’ll say about that now is that when you look at the data from a study that excludes monogamous couples, don’t be surprised when you don’t see any monogamy in the data.

But it’s the follow-up claim that’s interesting here.  FRC is claiming that same sex couples are inherently more violent, more prone to domestic abuse…

The third point the brochure is built on is this:

Intimate partner violence: homosexual and lesbian couples experience by far the highest levels of intimate partner violence compared with married couples as well as cohabiting heterosexual couples. Lesbians, for example, suffer a much higher level of violence than do married women

They base this claim on the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Violence Against Women Survey (PDF: 62 pages/1,475 KB) If you want to see how they construct this particular distortion, I encourage you to download the report yourself and we’ll go through it step by step. Believe me, it’s worth it because this is a classic example.

It is.  You should go read Jim’s entire debunking of it to get the whole stinking rotten smell of it.  But I’ll give you the executive summary here.  Basically, they took the data for individual victims of domestic violence who were in, or had ever been in, same sex relationships and compared that to the data for victims in opposite sex relationships. But much of the violence against people who were in same sex relationships was committed by an opposite sex partner.  In the case of the men who were or had been in a same sex relationship, almost half of the incidents were attacks on them by wives, former wives or girlfriends.  In the case of the women who had been or were in same sex relationships, as I read the figures, about three out of four incidents were attacks on them by husbands or boyfriends.

Dig it.  The FRC took incidents of straight on gay violence, and included them in its total figure for gay domestic violence.  In point of fact, if you look at the data for Couples, as opposed to individuals, what you find is that a gay man is statistically safer living with a male partner, then a heterosexual woman is living with a male partner. 

This is what passes for traditional values over at the Family Research Council.  If there is a devil in Hell below, then he is smiling proudly at the runt at FRC who came up with that one.  And Paul Cameron is probably smiling proudly too.  He taught them how.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Paul Cameron’s Real Gift To The Anti-Gay Industrial Complex

July 20th, 2008

Deep Thought For The Day…(another)

One thing you tend to forget about when you take a yearly cross-country road trip is jet lag.

(It’s What time???)

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Deep Thought For The Day…

As it turns out, turbulence while taking off is even more nerve wracking then turbulence while landing.

(Safely in Portland)

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July 19th, 2008

Heading Out To Portland…

…and the OSCON Open Source Developer’s Conference therein.   This’ll be my fifth year at this particular conference and I really enjoy the company of so many fellow computer revolutionaries.   My all time favorite T-Shirt slogan is from last year’s:  In A World Without Fences, Who Needs Gates?

I’m flying out from Baltimore first thing tomorrow, with neighbors and Brinks looking after Casa del Garrett while I’m gone.  And I’ll be real busy at the conference so posting may be a tad infrequent until I get back.  I’ll try to post some photos of the scenery out there when I can.  Some of it is just lovely.  And Portland’s not bad either…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Heading Out To Portland…

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